A venture to India

Being stripped of my sense of control is uncomfortable but grounding, and having to rely on others is not a sign of weakness but rather of strength. I gained these insights while on my first business trip to India.

I was introduced to PATSIndia (Perfect Aptitude Testing Services Limited) by a friend at the ecentre. PATSIndia offers training for students preparing to sit key entrance exams to a wide range of professions; civil service, defence forces and others. They also provide services to schools and build them. Their understanding of the education market in India is exceptional.

They regarded The Story Mint as complementary to the service they already offered and we were happy to sign an exclusive distribution deal with them.

Before I left I decided that PATSIndia knew their customers well and my role was to support them in any way they wanted me to. I was indeed privileged to be hosted by them and to have them add The Story Mint to the suite of services they offer. I learnt quickly that I had to listen, give specific information as required and to offer help wherever I felt I could be helpful. This was their country and I was the guest.

The lesson of being stripped of control began with chaos at Auckland Airport. They were changing from a manual system for checking in bags to electronic do-it-yourself labelling. Nobody knew what they were doing. Voices were raised and people milled about trying to understand the new system and asking each other questions no one knew how to answer. Finally, I gave up and asked for help from a woman wearing a ‘helper’ badge. She was in high demand and barely able to concentrate on any one person. Although it was hard to miss that she appeared to have plenty of time to help out a couple of handsome young men who seemed to know exactly what they were doing!

I arrived in Delhi at 11pm and discovered my luggage had decided to do a stop-over in Singapore. The genesis of the problem probably rested with the confusion in Auckland. However, after flying for 26 hours (17 in the air) I could not believe my luggage could be so wayward. Dazed, I filed a lost luggage report. As I did, I noticed bags by the luggage belt without owners. So I wondered, in my somewhat befuddled state, if the luggage had come on ahead and left its owners in Singapore.

This was my first impression of India - wayward luggage, no toiletries (I am quite vain and not being able to do my hair was a concern). As we travelled to the hotel I was told I had a presentation to a school in the morning and that I would be picked up at 8.30am.

Luckily I had a toothbrush and paste I had picked up during the flight. That certainly was welcome.

In the end I decided to heck with it….that was the way things had panned out and I had no choice but to go with the flow. Of one thing I was aware, my hosts needed me to perform well, as their credibility was on the line. They had arranged for me to speak at the elite Delhi Public School which was one of several in the city. If I did badly . . . well, that was not a thought I allowed myself to entertain.

I already had felt the cold shadow of disapproval drop over me when I was asked which writers populated the database behind the Style Guide™. My mind went absolutely blank. All I could recall was Stephen King. No one else!

This was amazing when I can usually quote authors and the extracts we had used. My credibility plummeted and my stomach twisted into a knot.

But then I stood before the 160 students and I realised how privileged I was, and with that came a flood of energy which was all about the joy of sharing knowledge. There were two very beautiful young women in the front row and as I spoke they nodded and smiled. I began shifting my gaze around the room. The students laughed when I asked if they had noticed how luggage had become very wayward. I relaxed and we were away.

It was a wonderful experience to be in front of young people who were eager to learn. When we showed the students the Murrays Bay Intermediate video, they leaned forward. Here were students their own age using the Style Guide™ .The results page features a selection of the authors in the database. I pointed them out to the teacher who had asked the earlier question. He smiled and nodded. They were names he recognised, writers of great literature. However, at the first opportunity I went into the Style Guide™ and made a list of several names so I was never caught out like that again.

So I was into the first day of a five-day trip. Despite being without luggage, no make-up (only another woman would understand the magnitude of that disaster) and with unsuitable shoes, I had survived.

Thanks to the hard work of my hosts, my bag was waiting for me in the office of the hotel when I got there. Never was I more delighted to see a bag than when I saw the purple rebel standing upright contritely facing the corner. I almost gave it a hug.

The lesson for me that day was to give ego the flick and trust others.

There’s more to come on our Indian venture.


Congratulations on your exclusive distribution deal with PATSIndia! What a mutually beneficial relationship this will provide. But, to the writing! What a wonderful first, albeit short, paragraph. So much said, so many emotions visually created, in so few words! And such humour after such stress at the airport, and lack of sleep! That must be what a true professional is all about. I was almost angry that the teacher should ask such a question, requiring information at one's fingertips, after such a long trip, obvious jet lag -- and 'wayward baggage!' But good on you and the presentation! This blog, as informative as it is, is a pleasure to read.