Setting off for Chennai and our first change of team

After an eventful end to last week, it’s now time to leave Bangalore and make our way in the direction of the East Coast, more specifically to Chennai. Unfortunately, we’re having more bad luck on the Editourmobil front. Although the vehicle rental company has tried frantically to get the situation in hand, it’s not looking good. The red tape surrounding the two vehicles, both the original Editourmobil and the replacement vehicle, seems to have been delayed even further by the parliamentary elections in India. The consequence of this is that now neither motorhome is able to leave its particular state. Nothing helps. We just have to wait even longer to see how things develop. After all, India is the land of patience and sometimes of rather long-term solutions. As my colleague Rolf and I must reach Chennai somehow, we take an internal flight. Because of our original plans, we have far too much luggage between us; much of this was to have been transported in the Editourmobil. Rahul, from the vehicle rental company, suggests that we simply have the rest of our luggage sent by courier service. Apparently, it’s cheaper. So, at midday on Monday we board an Air India flight for a relatively short hop to Chennai (along with a bottle of Bisleri’s “Fonzo” drink), where I’ve booked some very simple but peacefully situated accommodation for us downtown.

I was last in Chennai around ten years ago and already on the one-hour journey from the airport to the hotel I can see plenty of new sights. There has been a great deal of development here in recent years. Arriving at the hotel, I use this rest day to do some writing on the hotel’s pleasant rooftop terrace, where Rolf and I find a shaded corner that eases only slightly the outdoor temperature of 40 degrees.

Today is Tuesday and we visit the factory of our tour sponsor, Husky Injection Molding, in Chennai but two hours outside of the city in the Mahindra World City Industrial Zone. We arrive at the enormous site almost at the same moment as PET Sales Account Manager Ajith Sivakumar, whom we already met several times when he was representing Husky at meetings in Bangalore. Unfortunately, our interview partner Dinesh Budapanahalli, Vice President -Service & Sales Hot Runners, is unexpectedly unable to attend so we meet with Rajasekar Yesudoss, Human Resource Manager for the SAARC Region, who shows us the factory. Here, Husky makes hot runners, has a small refurbishment shop and its own design team on site. On our way back, Ajith takes us in his car towards the city centre and I learn the word “Tollywood” for the first time – this is the name for the local Tamil Nadu film industry and its productions. Previously I had thought that Bollywood was the principle hub for the Indian film industry. Looks like I was wrong.

Back in the hotel once more and no courier has yet arrived with our outstanding luggage. Obviously it’s caught up somewhere, as Rahul tells us. Well. In the meantime, my colleague in Germany, Till, has arranged to send us a box of our new PETplanet Insider edition, which is also to come to us by courier. As we do not know precisely how the Editourmobil situation will develop, we decide to extend the hotel stay on a day-by-day basis. As we have our last meeting this week the next day, which is Wednesday, and our team is to be refreshed by Michael Maruschke who flies out to Chennai but does not start his meetings until the middle of next week, we can afford to relax a little.

We are on our way to our last meeting for this Chennai section of the tour. Our destination, around an hour and a half away, is called National Polyplast. Here we meet our devoted reader Alok Parak – unusually in his automotive factory, as he has to be on site here today. The company has a second prong to the business so is also one of the largest preform producers in India, which is of course the only reason for our visit. The special feature here is that National Polyplast produces solely on Husky machines and delivers a significant proportion of its preforms to Pepsi. However, after an interesting interview, I decide not to take the tour. Countless plastic vehicle parts are injection moulded here for the widest variety of internal and external applications.

After this, we go to eat in the shiny new hotel opposite before taking our leave and setting off back to the city, where, much to our disbelief, our luggage is said to have arrived.

It’s Thursday. Unfortunately, the magazines that Till sent have not yet arrived; according to the shipment tracking, they are somewhere in Chennai. Meanwhile, Rolf and I have decided to change hotels again as there is a nice hotel with a pool for the same price in the south of the city. This evening our colleague Michael Maruschke arrives; he will continue the tour from the weekend onwards. Unfortunately, there is still no news of the Editourmobil and we are still being put off from one day to the next, which is pretty annoying and means we can’t make any sensible plans. Michael doesn’t yet know what luck has in store for him…

In the afternoon we reach our new and last hotel before it will be time for us to return to Germany. The pool is super and I set myself up there on a sunbed with my laptop, honestly the very best workplace for the well-travelled editor (if there’s no Editourmobil, of course!).

My and Rolf’s last day in India has arrived. It’s Friday and we are flying back to Frankfurt tonight. Michael has survived his arrival very well and is now on his way from the airport hotel to our hotel, where he will have to spend the next few days, as there is still no motorhome. If we had known this in advance, he could have flown directly to Kolkata, where the next appointments are scheduled. In a cheery mood, he meets us at the pool and tells about his first impressions of India. He himself has lived in Thailand for years. We use our last few hours to clear up any outstanding issues and to discuss the overall situation, meetings and other procedures. After having dinner together, we do one last tour of the pubs before it’s time to take our leave.

My five weeks in India, including the tour break, have been another great experience, even though things did not always go quite as smoothly as they should have. But, and this is typical for India, sooner or later there is a solution to everything! Now, Rolf and I are sitting at the departure gate after a final Chicken Tikka and we are called to board our Lufthansa flight.

That’s all from me but I hope you enjoy reading my colleagues’ articles through many more exciting weeks of the tour!

Warmest regards
Kay Barton