Letter from Bombay

Those of you that have read Shantaram would know of Leopold’s, the cafe from where I write. Here in the Colaba neighborhood of Bombay where I grew up, life is fast and slow all at once.

At Leopold’s itself, there is an air of resilience married with a quiet hospitality that comes from being a business serving the community since 1871. When I used to walk by on my way to school, the grandfather of the current proprietor used to give me a glass of milk because he said I looked thirsty.

Leopold’s was one of the sites attacked in the terrorist events that shook Bombay ten years back. They left one of the bullet-riddled windows intact as a reminder.

When President and First Lady Obama visited Colaba and stayed at The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, they left this inscription: “Thank you for your extraordinary hospitality. Your staff is a symbol of graciousness and resilience.”

The hotel was devastated during the attacks and was closed for a year while having to be substantially rebuilt. The owners, the Tata family, saw to it that all staff were paid during this entire period and that all medical and funeral expenses were covered.

I think the mix of resilience and hospitality is potent and is one that we can employ in our business development efforts. Are we being hospitable to our clients as we craft solutions? My partner Nat wrote eloquently on the power of hospitality following his recent holiday in Mexico.

Are we resilient with ourselves as we work to build our books of business? I posit that to increase one’s success rate, you have to increase your failure rate. That takes resilience.

I leave you with one last image of resilience. There is a street dog I have nicknamed Lucky that I always hope to see every year. She loves to be praised and enjoys eating biscuits. It takes resilience to survive on these streets. Here she is:

I will be home soon and look forward to being hospitable as we have the privilege of being of service.

Happy New Year.

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