Friday, October 26, 2007

Indian Puja in Brussels

Just look how closely and respectfully an Indian man and a Belgian woman greet each other. The man is Naresh Goyal, number 36 on the Forbes list of the richest Indians and the (young) lady is Freya Van den Bossche, number two in the Belgian political scene, or (retiring) Vice Prime Minister. Mister Goyal called Freya the most beautiful female minister he’s ever met. I can imagine. And what would Freya have thought when she was shaking hands with Naresh this week for the opening of the world’s most luxurious airport lounge? By that I mean Jet Airways’s lounge in Brussels Airport, the airline of which mister Goyal is the founder and chairman, or rather the owner. I think she must have thought: ‘Oh God (or Vishnu), that Naresh really is a roguish, fun business dad!’ That’s what I think. During the press conference I was poised on the edge of my seat twice. Once for the ritual blessing by a Hindu priest (see photo). I have resolved to find out more about Puja, because that’s how they call this blessing. And the second time I didn’t only spring to my feet, but my ears were burning as well. In his speech Naresh was telling that there are 30,000 wealthy Indians and 300,000 upper-middle class people. Meanwhile, I’ve learnt that India has one billion citizens since May 11, 2000 at 8:44 AM. In the meantime that number has grown to 1,051,000,000. What potency and what economical power! Now I understand Naresh’s vision: creating a global Indian brand. And Brussels is also reaping the Indian fruits because Jet Airways’s hub is Brussels. I can hear Bernard Guisset and Michel Van Caster saying: ‘That orange-blue bird is already perching on Brussels ground six times a week now. And it keeps on going!’ A fun detail: Naresh started out as a help in a travel agency!

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