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21 May 2006

Being late

AT THE BANGALORE domestic terminal this afternoon, the PA announced a 40-minute delay of the Kingfisher Airlines flight to Mumbai due to, uh, a delay of their flight from Mumbai. My thoughts went quickly to those passengers who had to suffer the inconvenience in an airport with uncomfortable seating, poor air-conditioning, expensive coffee, and no book store in sight.
But then again maybe those passengers, particularly the Indians, are used to delays from Kingfisher. Mark Bell, British visual merchandising specialist with whom I was traveling around India this passing week, told me the other day that Kingfisher is known for flight delays. I found this quite hard to imagine. My Kingfisher flight from Mumbai to New Delhi departed on time last Tuesday; more importantly, the local airline is positioned heavily as an “experience like you've never had before”.
Vijay Mallya and Kingfisher. Photo by BBC(Well, perhaps. Vijay Mallya, the savvy, if not flamboyant, founder of Kingfisher Airlines, seems to flaunt this by using sultry female flight attendants in flaming red body-hugging mini-skirts. With flaming red shoes to match, naturally.)
Habitual tardiness of vendors and contractors has so far been my one big test while working in India. In visual merchandising, so dependent on materials for display, late deliveries of custom-built materials jettison all subsequent work. Unfortunately, this obvious fact does not seem to be either accepted or understood, at least amongst Mumbai contractors. There is always an unapologetic reason for being late (getting caught in traffic is in the top three). Oftentimes, I end up adjusting schedules to accommodate late submissions.
Why worry over things you can’t control?At the end of the day, to preserve my sanity, I ask myself, “Why worry over things you can’t control?” Given India’s massive population, demand for goods becomes so heavy that sub-standard work is acceptable. Extremes in weather create physically taxing environments for efficient work. And Mumbai’s road infrastructure is impossible to work against.
I am gradually learning. At the end of the day, patience and perseverance are things I can control. And they make me a happier man, with or without those flaming red skirts flying in the skies.

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