On a Plane to Bombay

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On a plane to Bombay…

What is this huge nation that is taking U.S. jobs…creating billionaires… and growing at almost 10% per year?

Its teeming multitudes of poor…it’s hot and sweltry streets…its booming, dusty factories…it pulsating construction sites…and cruel slums. We don’t know much about it.

So, we have decided to go and have a look ourselves.

We aim to find out all we can…or at least all that can be learned without leaving the luxury of the Taj Mahal hotel.

More to come…

Last weekend, in Paris, we took a stroll around town. ‘Flaner’ is a verb in French. It means to go around without any particular destination. It’s supposed to be fun. But we found it to be a dismal waste of time.

In the square in front of St. Sulpice there was a ‘fair’ set up – with bright Christmas decorations upon log-like cabins that served as stands for merchants and exhibitors. The fair was dedicated to ‘Fraternite.’ Already, we were suspicious. We are all for Liberte. Egalite makes us squirm a little. But at least we know what they are talking about…taking a man’s property away from him and giving it to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Fraternite, on the other hand, has always been a bit of a puzzle. What is it, exactly?

Several of the booths celebrated organizations dedicated to helping people. Many of the stands were simply places to buy ‘fair trade’ coffee and other soothing swindles. But the big hit of the show was in a large tent, where a man in dreadlocks showed people how to pound on a bongo drum. Old and young – people seemed to want to hammer away. This was another puzzle to us. Why would a person want to pass his hours making such a racket as to irritate his neighbors and alienate his family and friends? We could think of no explanation for it. It seemed, in fact, like an activity as anti-fraternal as hogging two parking places.

Then, walking around…with the spirit of fraternity pulsing in our vessels like a flood in the Paris sewers, we spotted a well-dressed man with his wallet sticking out of the back of his pocket. So open and exposed was it that we could practically read his credit card numbers.

Paris is famous for its pickpockets. We wondered, what to do? Either the man was working for the police as bait…or he was incredibly stupid. But then, the spirit Fraternite grabbed hold of us again…and we decided to do the right thing; instead of stealing the wallet ourselves…we left it for some pickpocket who really needed the money.

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
Bill Bonner

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