Friday, March 30, 2007

heart of darkness, Mumbai 2007

I suppose it serves me right for reading the Report on Business that came with the Globe and Mail that some friends brought home today, but my god!

There is an article in the latest issue about a Canadian hotel magnate named Kurtz Izzy Sparks, and how he's building a Four Seasons monstrosity in Mumbai on the border of some slums, and how he'll be charging $400 USD a night but paying $200 USD a month to employees, and what a great business case that is!

And there is a photo of sweating Indian workers in tattered workpants and dusty undershirts who are constructing the hotel, and the article EVEN COMMENTS ON HOW THEY DON'T WEAR HELMETS OR STEEL TOED BOOTS, you know, no safety standards, but treats this fact as a curiosity and not a horror. The article looks at the whole thing from the angle of "the challenge of leveraging business opportunities in the developing world".

The article describes a recruitment seminar, and notes with admiration how a Four Seasons executive announced to throngs of would-be applicants "We are about luxury". (It is important to make very clear the level of quality that will be required from employees.) If hotel guests want to go for a run, they will be shuttled past slums (perhaps in a windowless van?) to a guarded racetrack a few blocks away.

Think of the challenges, folks. I mean how on earth can they have a showered-daily uniformed bellhop who can be sure to speak English (without too much of an Indian accent) when this vulnerable hotel chain, they have such a weak pool of uneducated slum-dwellers to draw on? (Oh! The challenges!)

UPDATE: I think I'll get some quotes from the article up here so you get the truly rancid taste in your mouth. There is also a photograph of Mr. Izzy Sparks himself, standing proudly on a vast, perfectly manicured and pesticided lawn (I think an apt symbol of the forced prostitution of Izzy's Planet Earth -- shaved snizz, poisoned veins and all), gazing off into space like the manly visionary he surely imagines himself to be, chains of man-jewelry around his neck (the kind that will no doubt morph, in the afterlife, into the Jacob Marley variety), loud Hawaiian-style shirt billowing lightly in the breeze.


At April 02, 2007 12:32 p.m., Anonymous blackbeltbarrister said...

Hey, I feel that property developer's pain. but the Globe & Mail? not a hint of awareness?
'It is becoming an increasing challenge to totally rip off the developing world.'
'For today's entrepreneur, a canny sense of when to be sufficiently cruel and greedy is essential when dealing in the South Asian markets.'


At April 03, 2007 2:32 p.m., Blogger John E. White said...

I think the best way to get the real news is to read the business section. It's always just so NAKED.

At April 04, 2007 12:42 p.m., Blogger Hooker said...

You want some craziness? Google "ship breakers".

I went downstairs one night at work to the salesman's swanky bathroom. They have reading material in there.

There was an article on ship breaking. It's incredible. In a not good way.

I intend to paint about it some time.

At April 04, 2007 3:09 p.m., Blogger John E. White said...

Wow. Just googled 'ship breakers'. Had no idea this was going on, but of course it is!

At April 22, 2007 9:55 a.m., Blogger Jonathan said...

Don't worry - the corporate world will start to realise when they don't get any customers. Granted, the current generation will pay no attention, but their children will.


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