Big Bazaar = Wal-Mart

It’s been about 3 weeks since I landed into India and things are finally falling into place. I got an apartment (or flat) in Sion, which ain’t the most hip place in Bombay but it’s one of the most convenient locations to my office, South Bombay and Bandra. I initially was only looking at Bandra or South Bombay but after 2-3 days in traffic from both locations I realized how good I had it in LA traffic. The traffic in Bombay is UNREAL just to go 5 kilometers might take 45 minutes. And, if you travel without an air conditioned car, you will end up smelling like exhaust fumes, dirty and sweating (yes, this description even makes me sick). Luckily I have an AC car and driver. I’m finally getting into the daily groove:

7:15a – wake-up 8:00a – maid arrives to make chai and breakfast
8:30a – driver shows up and asks for the car keys and washes the car, then the ironing guy shows up (rate is Rs. 2 per item – 4.5 cents)
9:00am – Driver gets me to the office in usually 20-25 minutes, which in Bombay is damn good 1:00p – Other maid comes to clean the place up

Once I settled into the flat, I had to buy a bunch of small things so I headed to India’s version of Wal-Mart called Big Bazaar. I went on Sunday at 9pm thinking it would be dead. Apparently, I went at the height of shopping rush hour. At one point there seemed to be more people in the store then merchandise. If you have any concerns whether there really is a retail revolution occuring in India, I suggest you checkout Big Bazaar.

Pics from a Navratri event I went to at Cricket Club India in Bombay.
Click for more info on Navratri.

Hurricane Refco

Things were fairly calm on Monday Oct 10, with the exception of a tropical depression via a press release from Refco about it’s CEO resigning. However, by Friday it was a full fledged Category 5 hurricane called Refco. I always wished people knew the name Refco, well my wish has come true and sadly it’s going down the same path as Enron, Arthur Andersen, Adelphia, etc… I got several e-mails from people on Monday along the lines of “hey, aren’t you running a hedge fund with Refco, does this affect you?” Of course, I was sure this was a small hiccup and that Refco was a cleanly run company, Thomas H. Lee was the private equity group that took Refco public and they are viewed as solid players. How wrong I was, within 5 short days we went from the impending launch of India’s first ever commodity based fund to not knowing whether Refco will be around. Already, Refco USA has shut 3 of it’s operating units and there is definitely more fallout from hurricane Refco…stay tuned.

First week down in India

I have been in India for about a week now and STILL cannot work a damn landline phone. They seem to change the dialing sequence everytime I land into India. Then once i master it, i step inside a business office and have to deal with the nuances of a PBX…argh. But i figure if that’s my biggest issue then i’m fine. I still have no clue where i’m going to be living in Bombay or how i’m getting to the office everyday, but that’s the beauty of India, in some crazy way it all works out. The first night i was in town we hit up a club called H20 in Bandra. Great crowd, good music, potent drinks and more importantly massive air conditioning units. Then last night went to a eatery called “Just Around the Corner” also in Bandra. I saw my twin in India, he also had a Apple 15″ PowerBook, which i’m realizing is about as rare as finding Paris Hilton in a sober state. Bandra is like Melrose Ave, all kinds of people from wacky designers to “models”. Great vibe. That’s all for now.