Letter from Mumbai

mumbai.jpgMUMBAI (Chemicals Confidential)–The coolest place to be at APIC in Mumbai is the main conference auditorium, especially in the back rows where a nice chill breeze is blowing across the suited delegates. It’s a pleasant relief after the crazy traffic to get here – an hour to do a 10 minute journey from the hotel – and the heated exchanges around the registration desks.

The communal networking areas are a step warmer, but my heart sinks when I enter the lunch marquee and see that it is a stand-up buffet, and as the delegates file in, the temperature rises.

We give up balancing our plates and drinks, and elbow our way to make up an aromatics table. By the time we have finished eating, the men are dripping sweat and we ladies are glowing as our hair turns to ringlets. We laugh at one of our trader friends from Singapore who is clearly not used to hot indoor working environment.

Inside the conference auditorium it’s a huge crowd – it looks like a thousand people to me – and the staging is impressive with four big screens running the width of the room.

When I go into the auditorium after the morning coffee break, all the seats are taken. Some people have left, but reserved their seats with the bulky black delegate bags. People Power breaks out and latecomers remove bags so that we can sit down. When people return to reclaim their seats, they find their indistinguishable bags in a pile on the floor, but it’s all quite amicable.

For one heart-stopping moment during my pal Vince’s styrenics presentation, the sound system packs up – every speaker’s nightmare. Within five minutes it’s back again. I particularly like his slide of a dog mutating into a cow (dog product turns into a cash cow, gettit?)

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