Friday, April 11, 2008

First Impressions

You don't become an expert on a country of over a billion people in only 24 hours, so it's a good thing I'm here for a full four days. At first look, India most resembles China. A lot of people, everywhere, enough to make a Manhattanite feel like a farm boy in the city for the first time. Then there's the sharp contrast between the crumbling buildings of the old poor India and all the new construction and industrial parks of the new India. The country is undergoing a rapid economic transition, big-time future shock.

Still, Pune is not Calcutta (or at least my image of Calcutta); you don't see the streets teeming with beggars. Instead, you see countless vendors selling everything, and tons of dilapidated buildings, many of them missing part of their facade, as if the city had been bombed recently. But Pune is a city on the rise, home of InfoSys, the Indian software giant, as well as other major IT companies. The big news is that Microsoft is opening a major center in Pune and will be moving much of their development work here. And it is also a university center, the "Oxford of the East," or perhaps the "Boston of India." It is also becoming a major animation center, the back office for the major Bollywood studios 150 km. away in Mumbai (Bombay).

India also seems, at least to my eye, less exotic than China, more familiar, but that may simply be because (thank you, British imperialists) English is so widely spoken. And although China has become a very capitalist country, there's still that "communist" dictatorship lurking in the background, making everyone tread very lightly.

Didn't have much time for photography yesterday, but here are a few...

1) Pune Street

Info Sys Headquarters:

3. Indian Buffet (plus Mandarin fish and Irish stew)

4. & 5. "Saturday" Castle, built in 1700s


rbk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rbk said...

Why is it called the "Saturday" Castle?

Louis said...

Joseph made curry chicken, tonite. I would fly 17 hours each way for all you can eat Indian, but that's not news. Nice effect with the white chairs. And yes, why is it called "Saturday" Castle.