Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Delhi - Temples, Feng Shui and diplomats

     On March 25, what an amazing day.  We met dozens of fruit importers as we drove around the city, visiting the national monuments and two temples, one Hindu and one Sikh.  Along the way we had our first car accident, we were rear ended while driving to the Presidents House.  Fortunately no one was hurt and since the lady who hit us was clearly at fault, she just shrugged her shoulders and drove off with her crumpled car.
     The temples were interesting but photos were not allowed inside the Hindu one. Some of the people there were really giving us the evil eye.  The Sikh's were much more open, even giving Todd  and I headscarfs to wear and allowing us to wander anywhere once we had walked through a foot bath.  By mid morning we were ready to go to work .  We held a press conference with our own Feng Shui expert who touted the virtues of having a bowl of Washington Red Delicious apples on the table.  She was quite serious and claimed that red apples, in particular long typy red apples from Washington, are very harmonious representing all four elements, earth, fire, metal and water.  She was quite convincing and the journalists took her very seriously. We have been very successful in promoting the Feng Shui connection with apples in Taiwan and in Singapore so our local advisers, The SCS Group, hoped it would be well received in India.  The speaker is a regular columnist in The Times of India and she is highly regarded. In the Q & A period following the presentation, some of them argued with her about the validity of Feng Shui, but they were respectful and interested.  I was interviewed by a reporter  named Nagmani from Cityplus .  He asked me if I believed having a bowl of red apples in the house would bring good "feng shui" to the house.  I smiled and said: "I don't really know much about feng shui, but when I walk into the kitchen and there is a bowl of apples on table, it just makes me feel better."  He wrote it all down, so we will see how the press covers the event.
     In mid afternoon we met with Holly Higgins, the Minister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the US Embassy.  It was a very positive and productive meeting.  She and her staff have done a very good job helping us convince the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that the wax coating on Washington apples is not a violation of any law or policy. (USDA GAIN Report IN8019  March 5, 2008)  It is very valuable to have people like Ms. Higgins in India and all the 50 plus countries where we sell apples, to help us with government, tax and trade issues. We know that apples are about as healthy as any food imaginable, but often local competitors try to use an issue like "wax" to prevent us from importing apples.
    All evening we held a reception for all the importers of Washington apples.  Over 20 people came and we had a very nice opportunity to thank them for buying 1.392 million boxes of apples last season.  They all loved our fruit and said they expect we can increase sales 20% per year going forward as the market for top quality apples in India continues to grow.  Finally, about midnight, we returned to the hotel, exhausted but pleased.

No comments: