Definitely further along than 15 or 20 years ago. Whilst the West was mesmerized by China, the subcontinent quietly developed into one of the twelve most important industrial nations in the world. With annual growth rates of between four and nine percent and a new, predominantly urban, middle class, which in ten years is estimated to represent 130 million households. This represents not just buying-power but also a middle class that is receptive to the rest of the world.
Mini Nair is already in the second generation of this middle class, and she has a serious hobby. She writes, as often as she can find time for it. Her first book was a children's story, which was followed by a biography of the Indian pharmacologist B. V. Patel. Then there was a novel in 2011 »The Fourth Passenger«: a story of four women who overcome fundamentalism and riots during the clashes between the Hindus and the Muslims in Bombay in 1992. In addition she writes a blog (http://minieatsinbombay.blogspot.com), in which she can be almost anything: socialist from a sense of justice, fashion icon, poet, patriot, feminist, and passionate cook.
Colleagues and lecturers, companies and publishing houses: these are all very different worlds that she flits between, but this isn't a problem for her. On the contrary: »As an author I can read the subtext of what isn't said in negotiations. That's a distinct advantage for me in my job.« And what does it mean to her apart from the salary? »A platform for me to prove myself, to express myself... effectively where I can be myself.«
Bom Bahia, good bay – this is what the Portuguese sailors are believed to have named the area with the seven islands off Maharashtra's coast. The marshland between the islands was reclaimed and later the British were to found a complete city on it, from where they shipped what effectively turned into gold to the rest of the world: ginger, silk, saffron and tea. The first global trade was with very one-sided preferential treatment. Over time this has grown into the largest city in the subcontinent, with more than 18 million inhabitants. This is where the heartbeat of the world's largest democracy beats: 1.2 billion people in 36 states including union territories. Only now it's no longer spices, but software, pharmaceuticals, and entertainment that drive the pulse.
The chemical engineer T. N. C. Nair also tried his luck when he moved here in the 60s with his wife. From Kerala, the state with the green landscape and red soil, he brought with him an excellent education and the original spirit of the south. He passed both on to his daughter, who grew up in central Bombay with all the privileges of a son: school, college, university. A »pampered only child,« she admits with a laugh in order to deflect possible criticism. »My father taught me to break all the barriers,« she says. »He was also the person who said to me, the world is your oyster...«