Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

India 2009

(photos of India to follow!)

Ok, for those of you who are counting, and I’ve had vocal reminders from a couple of peeps (thanks for the encouragement!), its been a month (again) without an update. I’ve been travelling across Asia fighting poverty. Ok, that sounds a bit too grand. I’ve been travelling to India and the Philippines making presentations on Social Performance Management (SPM). That’s better.

There’s so much to cover. I’m going to start with an update on the India trip today. An update on the Philippines and what I’ve been up to in Australia can wait for another day (not in a month I promise!).

So, India. This was my most rewarding trip yet. Though it was the second workshop that we’ve had with our partners, it felt like a new kind of experience to me, as I had so much more face-time with the CEOs. It helped that I had the chance to introduce the event and talk a lot about my pet subject, which meant I was pretty much front-and-centre for the two days of the workshop.

I’m really pleased with how things are progressing. This is an important project for us – giving us the opportunity to introduce a new method of establishing and reporting on the impact that we are having on poverty, so it was very encouraging that so many of our partners are enthusiastic about SPM.

I was exhausted by the end of the week and after a bit of shopping on the Friday night (Delhi malls are a great place to get some bargain clothes) I was more than ready to head home. And there the fun began. After six trips to India without mishap I was fairly blasé about the risk of Delhi belly. But as soon as I woke at 3am on the Saturday morning I knew the trip home was gonna be deeply unpleasant!

As always with Delhi belly it started at one end (what do you mean too much information?) but it wasn’t long before the nausea kicked in. I left the hotel for the airport at 530am with several plastic bags to hand (cue worried looks from the driver). Amazingly (and to the driver’s delight) I made it to the airport, and indeed on to the flight without using the bags. But I knew was in real trouble when we had to queue on the tarmac for 20 mins before take off.

I know the old saying about a kettle, but truly it is a watched ‘fasten seat-belts sign’ that never goes off. With sweat running down my forehead I willed 200 tonnes of Boeing 757 off the runway, into the air and up to a safe cruising altitude. As soon as the light went off I sprinted with unrestrained panic to the toilet. And I made it. Just. But it was a long time before I came back out again, and I certainly wasn’t touching any of those foil wrapped meals with the strangely rubbery green-beans (always rubbery green-beans, no matter the continent or airline).

It was a very long trip back to Sydney and I didn’t really feel right for days. But I made the sprint to the loo and for that, I (and my fellow passengers) will always be grateful! Sadly though, this turn of events means I have had to give up a title. At work, I had become known as ‘cast-iron stomach Scott’ for my ability to disregard normal precautions when eating and drinking abroad, and never becoming ill. Now that title has gone, and I’ll think twice before I visit a Mexican restaurant in India again…

Talking of airplane food reminds me of that fantastic complaint about Virgin from a few months back ( And another complaint on the news today has tickled me too. Katie Masters, who is 109 wrote to the Queen to complain that the birthday cards she was getting every year had the same photo of the Queen on the front. I think that’s bloody marvellous! And obviously the PR department at Buck Palace has improved somewhat in the last ten years as they sent Prince William to visit her to apologise. Maybe the British rarely complain, but when they do they do it in style. (It’s your hamster in the box Richard, and he’s not breathing!)