I remember being welcomed and escorted by a charming young lady along winding corridors to a quite magnificent suite in the old building looking over the British colonial era Gateway of India. It was the early 1980s and the first time I stayed at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel in Mumbai. The impression the hotel made on me during that visit has lived with me since and I have always stayed in Taj hotels wherever possible since. For a while they had a fine advert in the Economist showing the service desk on the concierge floor of their hotel in Delhi to promote the exceptional 24 hour service it offered. The advert impressed me as I had reason to turn up in India from Kathmandu late one night and arrive without a booking at 3am on just this floor. The service was magnificent and the very desk clerk whose picture was in the advert organised my room and while I was asleep my onward travel to Tokyo. Yes, I love the Taj group of hotels.
My strong feelings for India came from these visits and began as a result of a contract with TATA Leather in Dewas, near Indore, to help put in a computer system to organise procedures in the tannery. The tannery was impressive even then and TATA computer experts quite outstanding. I laid out my specification over two weekend days in the company guesthouse in Indore and was told to return in six months. When I did return the system was largely in place and staff throughout the tannery could follow stocks, work on drum processes and the like using a system that was clear decade ahead of anything to be found elsewhere.
I was in Dewas for the ten year celebration of the founding of Tata Leather as part of TATA Exports and rather famously missed an open goal in the football match. The staff from the Taj Mumbai were brought over to provide the food and service, as of course the Taj hotel group is a part of the larger TATA organisation. That indeed was why I went to Mumbai as they wanted advice on putting footwear boutiques into the hotel.
Chennai 2009 will be special
India has always been a country with close UK ties in the leather industry from the ancient days of the EI kips through to a huge supply of cut uppers. Its links into Leathersellers and of course the BSLT have also been very strong and this remains the case today. India remains one of the strongest sources of students for our leather courses and we are also delighted with the progress of our relationship with the CLRI in Chennai.
Dr Wilkinson and I will be in Chennai for LERIG and IILF so if any Corium Club members who are going to be present would like to suggest a venue for us all to meet (a local restaurant?) one evening, we could get together. Email Mark or get hold of me directly at email@example.com
But India’s importance goes beyond just the Chennai fair as we will back with the Master of Leathesellers and the Clerk after the Hong Kong APLF for a number of important visits with him. Of course the big event fo the year for tanners who travel is at the APLF. Put the the Corium Club Reunion on 31 March 18.00 Rooms 209/210 HKCEC in your diary now.
14th December 2008