Friday, December 14, 2012

Newtown's Massacre, America's Tragedy

It is hard to come up with words to encapsulate the sense of loss we all feel today in light of the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  

President Obama's tearful statement summed up the mood of much of the nation when he said, "as a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago — these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics...  May God bless the memory of the victims and, in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds."

While today is perhaps not the day to discuss the policies we can adopt to reduce the number of these tragedies, the time is here for us to address the systemic problems that turn the world's most prosperous and amazing country into a suburban battlefield fueled by handguns and semi-automatic weapons. Surely, as today's tragedy in China, in which a knife wielding assailant attacked and injured 22 children, shows us, guns are not the world's only source or vehicle of violence. That said, guns surely augment the fury and impact of the violence wrought upon us. According to the United States Census, two thirds of all homicides in the United States from 2000 - 2008 -- 86,112 deaths -- were caused by guns. The next largest cause, knives, accounted for a mere 13% of homicides over the same period. If you are a victim of homicide, it surely won't matter whether a gun or knife took your life; as a society, however, it surely matters that over the period covered by the Census, you were five times as likely to be shot to death than killed by a knife.

Today's tragedy provides a complicated problem. On the one hand, the complete absence of guns in our society would likely have prevented today's tragedy. On the other hand, we live in a society that has nearly as many guns as residents. If one of the adult victims who fell today had a weapon, perhaps one fewer death might have occurred because the assailant might have been met with a force sufficient to stop him. Yet, that is also not a certainty. One gun owned by one owner might counter one attack. Yet, will one million guns counter a million attacks, or will some of those guns start creating their own chain violence? As I mentioned in a response to a facebook post from a friend earlier today, the issue isn't just what makes each of us safer individually. The issue is what makes us safer collectively. While I have little doubt that ownership of a gun by a friend I trust won't cause me harm, I also have little confidence that collective gun ownership makes me safer. Long story short, a world with almost no guns is safer than a world armed to its teeth. While we seek a world without nuclear proliferation, we endure a society in which it is easier to buy a gun than it is to vote. I can't see the logic in that.

Amidst all this uncertainty, what is certain is gun violence has become America's internal source of terror. It must be stopped. We must engage in an intelligent discussion to tackle the scourge of gun violence once and for all. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution must be understood as the part of the broader Bill of Rights. Let us not allow the protection of one part of the Constitution to consume the protections afforded by the entire body of its work. It is time, America, to act to stop this escalating cycle of gun violence.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Google Maps is back to rescue Apple's iOS6

Google Maps for iPhone is back!

For those of you who are joined at the hip to your iPhone, there is good news to report. Google Maps is back on Apple's iOS. The Google designed Google Maps for iPhone, now available on Apple App Store, rescues the iPhone's from its self imposed irrelevance in mapping after the debacle that was Apple Maps. I encourage you to download Google Maps if you have not already done so. The New York Times review of the new app can be viewed by clicking here.

Sorry, Apple Maps.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What can brown do for you?

Bobby Jindal in 2011.  Photo by Gage Skidmore

Mitt Romney's latest remarks about why President Obama was re-elected have sparked some discussion among his public supporters, including this recent comment from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

While I'm not a fan of Bobby Jindal's politics, he does have a huge opportunity for power in a Republican party starved for minority outreach. Michael Steele wasn't the right approach and neither was Herman Cain. Jindal's politics preach to the base while his ethnicity allows him leeway that Romney just didn't have.

Heck, if my political principles and ethics were as fluid as Mitt Romney's, I could run for office as a Republican and make out like a bandit. Thank god they're not.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hotels On Point But Off The Beaten Path

Looking for hotels in Aix-en-Provence, France; Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; Malmagen, Sweden; Oletta, Corsica; Puglia, Italy; Zafferana Etnea, Sicily; Istanbul; or London but tired of the big brands and being treated like a number by their loyalty point programs? Check out this article by Odine Cohane and Gisela Williams in The New York Times for some cool hotels off the beaten path.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Challenges Remain for FDI in Indian's Retail Sector

My friend Vikas Bajaj's article, India’s Embrace of Foreign Retailers, The New York Times, Oct. 9, 2012, touches on an important policy debate raging in India's political circles. The outcome affects much more than retail. Retailers like Walmart bring logistics and infrastructure on the back end that have far greater benefits to the country than policy makers who oppose foreign single brand retailers understand. Unlike developed countries, India desperately needs the logistics and infrastructure improvements if the country's economy is to be competitive globally.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Florist Express Just Isn't...

Those of you who read my blog posts know that my tolerance for bad customer service is relatively low especially when I work with a particular company frequently. I had an experience today that I think it is important to share with an e-commerce company called Florist Express. I usually order gifts and flowers from a company called ProFlowers, which I've had generally good experience with. Today, I needed a birthday floral arrangement delivered the same day, which ProFlowers sends to their "preferred partner" Florist Express. I'm assuming given the co-branding on certain pages, ProFlowers has a revenue sharing arrangement with Florist Express whereby Florist Express takes and fulfills same-day delivery orders.

Florist Express is a "preferred" and co-branded partner of Proflowers.

I placed my order for flowers and birthday balloons this morning. The web site indicated that I had to place my order for the zip code I was delivering to by 2:00pm. With hours left to go before the cut-off, I  placed my order and went on with my day. The number of places on the site that list reassuring messages about the company's abilities suggests that it takes its responsibility for same day delivery seriously. The main page banner has the company's phone number and tagline "florist arranged bouquets delivered today." The very next banner reads "all products on ProFlowers Florist Express can be delivered by our local florists TODAY!" The very next logo has large text that proclaims "Flowers Delivered TODAY!" along with a "100% On-Time Florist Express Guarantee." Several additional locations on the page suggest or guarantee that this company can get your flowers to their intended recipient not just today, but TODAY!

The number of places on the site that list reassuring messages about the company's
abilities suggests that it takes its responsibility for same day delivery seriously.

Imagine my disappointment and chagrin at receiving a phone call at 5:15pm EST on Saturday evening advising me that despite all the assurances on the site, the order could not in-fact be delivered today. Hours after I might be able to place a replacement order with someone else, Florist Express left me high and dry, up the proverbial creek without much of a paddle. There goes the company's "100% On-Time Guarantee."

The customer service agent quite formulaically offered to deliver the same order two days late, with a (presumably) form letter apology from the company suggesting that it had been the company's fault that the order was not delivered. I would still pay full price for the non-delivered flowers but apparently rest my consolation on the heartfelt computer generated apology produced by the same company that had made and broken its promises. I suggested to the customer service agent that the company should, at minimum, refund the order amount and still deliver the flowers as a gesture of true apology. "I wouldn't be able to do that sir," came the response from my helpful Florist Express agent. Having made a mockery of Florist Express' on-time guarantee, the agent's offer to me destroyed the company boldly stated "satisfaction guaranteed" promise. I wasn't satisfied and the company didn't care.

So, a word of caution to you those of you who view flowers as mission critical. Birthday, anniversary, or funeral? Order from Florist Express ( and you may just miss it by a few days. But don't worry, I'm sure the form letter apology will suffice.

There goes the satisfaction guarantee too: I wasn't satisfied
and the company didn't care.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Democratic National Convention - First Night Recap

I spent part of my evening watching the DNC's convention being held in Charlotte. The speech of the evening belonged to Governor Deval Patrick, from my home state of Massachusetts, who gave the audience the gem that Mitt Romney, as governor, was "more interested in having the job than doing the job."

I thought Governor Martin O'Malley, who was Mayor of Baltimore when I was a law clerk at the Federal Court there, was good, on point, and got his message across that America should move "forward, not back," a message that was reinforced by convention goers wielding placards.

The keynote was delivered by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who was the first Latino keynote speaker at a Democratic National Convention and was introduced to the convention by his twin brother who is running for US Congress.  His performance, with a touching tribute to his immigrant grandmother and mother wasn't as strong as I had expected. While his focus on investments in education as a necessary condition for future economic growth in America is on point, he didn't have the depth to really move the convention. That said, he was better than many of the speakers at least week's RNC convention in terms of audience response.

The last big speech of the evening belonged to First Lady Michelle Obama, who spoke passionately about the President and her role as a mother and First Lady. I thought she humanized both the President and the basis of his decision making, suggesting that his was a personal cause not a political one. Her tribute to her father and her emphasis on her roll as "mother in chief" as she called it, was moving.

I agree with CNN analyst and former advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton, David Gergen, that the Democrats showed up ready for prime time and are on track to handily beat the impact of last week's RNC convention if their performances continue at the current pace.  Not hard to agree with Gergen given how bad some of the RNC speeches were, including the bizarre one from Academy Award winner Clint Eastwood.

Stay tuned.

Elizabeth Warren for US Senate

I like Scott Brown.

He seems like a nice guy. But, in this age of national and global turbulence, I believe Massachusetts deserves better than nice.

Economic reform. Healthcare. Abortion. The Supreme Court. Welfare. Our basic liberties.

Nice is good. We deserve the best.

I'm with Elizabeth Warren.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Star Micronics vs. Epson: Sometimes better to stick with the market leader

I have always been one to support companies that herald innovation even if they are not market sales leaders. That would explain my avid support for Audi in the 80s, despite lackluster sales in the US, support for Saab in the 90s, and innovative software and computer hardware solutions from smaller vendors. Often, my decisions lead me to interesting and positive.

Sadly, sometimes they don't. Today, I was reminded why sticking with the market leader has value.  As Boston East India Hotels re-engineers The Sol hotel, which is part of our portfolio, I decided to leave the point-of-sale solution we had been using for years and adopt another solution made by a small company in Belgium. We have an event at The Sol that requires faster food and bar ordering, and we decided that the POSiOS system would be right fit. The only drawback was that the software that comes with the POSiOS solution requires printers made by a small Japanese company called Star Micronics, which has very little presence in India. The clear market leader is Epson, another Japanese company, which is supported by several other software packages I was evaluating.

The Sol currently uses Epson.  Against the advice of my food and beverage director and senior advisor, I placed my faith on the sales and support team of Star Micronics to deliver what they promised. I ordered a Star Micronics TSP-743LAN (which I was told is compatible with a Star Micronics TSP-143LAN), paid by immediate wire transfer as was urged by the Star sales team, and was promised delivery the next morning. Alas, the morning came and went, and the printer hadn't arrived. When it did finally arrive, it came without the LAN port, which enables the printer to connect to a network to receive print signals. In short, the printer can't print. The distributor for Star Micronics in India, POS Solutions Pvt. Ltd. lied to me and advised me that the LAN port had been shipped and would arrive later in the day. Alas, it hadn't. Upon further review and only after several hours of trying to locate support, I learned that the LAN port might arrive an entire day after the event for which we had adopted the new POS solution.

So, I'd like to publicly thank Star Micronics and POS Solutions for reminding me why some companies become market leaders and why some don't. If you are considering Star Micronics or POS Solutions in India, I'd highly recommend reconsidering. Stick with Epson and thank me later. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Sol presents The Suburban Jazz Ensemble

I'm looking forward to the first public event under our management at The Sol in Goa. Kudos to James Foster and the BEIH team for putting together what promises to be an amazing evening of Jazz in the monsoons. Come one, come all!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mumbai Unite!

While I left Mumbai before the unbelievable crackdown on people's liberties and right to congregate, I believe passionately about this issue. I urge you to sign the petition and read more about this worthy initiative.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Romney's Abortion Free America?

Mississippi would likely have company in being virtually abortion free if Mitt Romney were to become our next President. Political chameleons like him have no qualms about appointing more Justices like Scalia and Thomas to the Court. Is that what you really want, my fellow citizens?

The 2012 Supreme Court
See The New York Times article, US Judge Temporarily Blocks Miss. Abortion Law, for more information on how Supreme Court decisions since Roe v. Wade allowing state regulation of abortions in the first and second trimester have eroded the exercise of a woman's right to choose to safely end a pregnancy through the imposition of regulation which effectively force abortion clinics to close. The next President will likely be nominating at least one Justice to the Supreme Court, if not more. 

Obama's Bad Weed Trip

I have recently taken to the web to decry President Obama and Attorney General Holder for their misguided and overzealous enforcement of federal law in an area where both their political philosophies and latent campaign assurances did not require it. The current stance could very well lead the Roberts court to another restriction on Federal power and has already led many reasonable Californians away from Obama.

See The New York Times article, Cities Balk as Federal Law on Marijuana Is Enforced, for more information on the somewhat arbitrary enforcement of Federal law in California and the disarray it is creating in the reasonable regulation of California's medical marijuana statute.

This November's election, in which voters in several states including Colorado and Washington approved the legalization of marijuana has further heightened the conflict between federal and state laws governing pot use and possession. This interesting Seattle Police Department post entitled Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle further demonstrates the dilemma now faced by state officials, including police officers. Kudos to the Seattle Police for their brave position in the face of the currently enunciated federal law. To their further credit, the Seattle Police Department wrote the guide in a lighthearted manner, as noted by NPR in What Are They Smoking In Seattle? Check Out Police Dept.'s Guide To Pot Use, including a link to this Lord of the Rings clip:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A tribute to Professor E. Graham Ward

It is with great sadness that I pass along news of the passing of a dear friend, professor and mentor at Brooks School. Prof. E. Graham Ward is one of the people most responsible for my ability to write and appreciate the power of the written word. It was he who awarded me the Brooks School Journalism Award, a prize I still cherish today. Professor Ward's decades of service at Brooks School brought him in contact with approximately one-third of the entire alumni population of the school.

The following tribute, written by Professor Mark Shovan, one of Professor Ward's contemporaries at Brooks, himself a legend at the school, is fitting and worthy of a few minutes of your time. Farewell my dear and beloved Professor Ward, you are and will forever be missed.


An hour after reminiscing with Doug Burbank about Graham Ward's masterful approach to teaching, I received the call: Graham had died that morning of cardiac arrest.

E. Graham Ward (Graham, never Edgar) was so patient with those less intelligent than he; simply said, everyone. I am still dumbfounded how a man who said so little could convey so much. A man of few words both in the classroom and on the wrestling bench, Graham believed in stepping away from center stage and letting the learning process unfold through discovery aided by his moderate guidance. Forty some odd years ago, Jim Moffett and Graham Ward, both of whom once taught at Exeter began collaborating on a curriculum entitled Interaction, a student centered approach to learning. The Interaction series employed a sound theory of discourse and the use of varying levels of narrative voice. It became a widely circulated program of several varying texts published by Houghton Mifflin in 1973. Graham also wrote a biography of Frank Ashburn; Graham was a newspaper reporter; he wrote for Offshore Magazine; he most recently published a series of World War II letters from his uncle a combatant in Europe to the (McCallum) family back in Falmouth.

Graham was the Chairman of the English Department well before he hired me in 1968 until his retirement in 1997. Under Graham's leadership, the department moved from a program my grandmother might well have recognized in her secondary school education to a more forward-looking, cutting edge, much imitated but never duplicated department: The Brothers Dunnell, Todd Spader and others were all giants of this boarding school/ English Department life; it was indeed a life in this place called Brooks.

Let it be said that Graham was a gentleman too- a gentleman to all but fish: blues, stripers, bonefish and king mackerel all of which he pursued relentlessly in the waters off the Cape and off the Florida Keys. Graham died shortly after having put in his boat in Quissett Harbor. Maria, his wife said, "he was so pleased." He probably would have been out this evening to wet a line.

Graham was my mentor, my hero, my old friend without whose gentle guidance and succor, I would never have begun to have learned the little I know about teaching. Everything I ever, ever learned about teaching English, King Lear, negotiating the waters of secondary school, about honing intellect, about crafting independence and wearing an ascot, I learned from a fellow who looked more like Ernest Hemingway than Ernest Hemingway. I simply and greatly miss him so.

- Mark J. Shovan

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Why I am leaving Mumbai, and why I will never leave...

The journey which began with a leisure trip to India in December 2005 has come to an end; today is my last day in Mumbai (or, Bombay to the faithful). My trip to this land and city started initially as a two year stint with a hotel investment firm. I came to India to help usher in a new era of institutional hotel development and investment in a part of the world that badly needed it. End corruption, fix infrastructure, improve market efficiency, increase transparency -- those were the goals I thought I could promote. In short, I wanted to change India. In the end, India changed me much more.

When I moved to Mumbai, I was a disaffected corporate lawyer from Boston seeking a thrilling new professional avatar.  I had lived in a variety of American cities -- but never in India.  As I look back at my first few days, weeks, and months in Mumbai, I chuckle at the rookie mistakes I made (my expense reports from China House are just the tip of the iceberg).  Because Bombay is a functioning dysfunctional cosmopolitan city, those mistakes are inevitable and valuable. I feel as if the city forces you to get things wrong before you are blessed with getting them right. The bigger the first mistake, the better the final outcome.

As a child, when mom dragged me to Mumbai to visit my relatives, I'd count the days until I could return home. That has changed. As an adult, having now spent more time in Mumbai in one stretch than in any other city since before law school, I can't ignore the amazing magnetism that this city exudes.  This isn't New York, Paris, Milan, San Francisco, or Boston. No, folks, Bombay is a different breed of animal. This city amazes you because it can be poor and rich, beautiful and ugly, harsh and kind -- all at the same time.  In Mumbai, an emaciated homeless man at the fringe of humanity finds shelter under an overpass adjacent to the Rolls Royce dealership.

So, why am I leaving? After losing my aunt this January to lung cancer and watching her yearlong battle, I decided I needed to make wholesale changes to my life. Months away from my parents at a stretch had to become weeks away. Corporate bureaucracy had to become start-up efficiency. A life of excess had to transform into a life filled with value and values. My new company's first two major projects are based in Goa, which is a 45 minute flight from Bombay. Having considered and seriously contemplated working from Mumbai, I realized that moving to be with my team would allow me to be more efficient and squeeze more time to be in the US with friends and family. Having made the painful decision to leave, I started to reflect on what lessons Bombay provided me.

Bombay has taught me more than I can write in this short piece. It has taught me about the vibrancy and energy of people both strong and weak; the power of good friendships and the danger of bad ones; to follow my passions and embrace my fears; that Indians like to drink and can't really drive; that white folks love to dance to Bollywood; that while divorce might be rarer than in the West, cheating isn't; that commuting more than a few minutes each day is generally wasteful to life; that while clubs may close earlier than in New York, the nightlife doesn't; to crave Holi and enjoy Goa; and to be thankful I don't live in Delhi. While there may be no single unified theory of this place, it is the third rail of metropolitan cities.

I leave behind some of the closest friends I have ever had the fortune to meet. While distance and time do filter out the friendships too weak to handle them, I know that I have met an incredible group of amazing people with whom I shall hope to share many years of meaningful experiences. Most of them, like me, came to Mumbai seeking something. The came, they stayed, they shared, and they lived. Thank you to all of you who are part of that group for enriching my life beyond imagination.

While it is true that I'm leaving Bombay today, I doubt that it will ever leave me. Goodbye for now, dear friend. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sick in Goa? Beware of the medical talent available to help you...

Thoughts on Nerul Polyclinic's Dr. Archana Salgaonkar:

So, I am in Goa tonight. I'm staying at The Sol, located next to the "Nerul Polyclinic," which advertises itself to be a 24x7 medical clinic and emergency room. I drove to the clinic with an eye infection (I feel fairly strongly that I've pet one too many stray dogs, a weakness of mine). Dr. Archana Salgaonkar, the attending physician at the clinic, after barely viewing my clearly infected eye, suggests only that I should return the next day, despite the availability of available eye disinfectants. "Wash your eye with tap water," she offers me.

I love Goa -- but if this is the best medical care we can get, I feel we should all be concerned.

Monday, March 05, 2012

In Memoriam: Swapna Das

Many of you have asked me to post the eulogy I delivered for my aunt Swapna, who passed away on January 15th. As I prepare to head back to India after a month with family, I am posting the transcript of my remarks in her loving memory. 

Swapna Das

I hope you will excuse me for reading this tribute to my aunt Swapna, who I called Rumu Kakima. It is not for lack of preparedness. Rather, I can honestly say that the thoughts I am about to express are among the most important I have ever uttered. In preparing my words, I thought long and hard about the tone I wanted to set. Would this be a tearful goodbye to an amazing woman we all loved or was this to be a lighthearted remembrance of a beautiful lady with an irresistible smile? George Bernard Shaw wrote that “life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.” 

As much as I have cried over the past year about the possibility that we would be gathered here today for this purpose, I still cannot help but smile and be happy at the mere mention of my Rumu Kakima’s name. In a world where uncertainty is the only thing that is certain, I could always count upon Rumu Kakima’s warmth, kindness and boundless love. She was everyone’s favorite simply because she said what she meant and meant what she said. She made it her job to understand those she loved – to understand our fears, our passions, our challenges, and the lives we lead. 

Those of you that know my history may know that my aunt helped mom raise me when I was a young child. You may not know, however, that my Rumu Kakima was also my first love interest. Yes, indeed. At the ripe old age of two, I decided that my aunt Tumu – I was not yet able to properly pronounce my “R’s” -- was to be the woman I wanted to marry when I grew up. So enamored was I by her care, that I was apparently prepared to become the world’s youngest home wrecker.

In the nearly 38 years that she has been in my life, Rumu Kakima taught many important lessons:

First, she introduced me to the power and magic of Bengali sweets. A great chef by any standards, she really excelled in producing some of my favorite sweets of all time. I’ll put my Rumu Kakima’s chom chom – which she knew I loved to eat with a hearty dose of Rice Krispies – up against the world’s finest desserts. 

Second, she taught me the power of presentation and finesse. Whether it is modulating your volume and tone for an occasion or room – something us Bengalis really don’t handle well as we shout through life, or ensuring your tie is the right one and tied with an attention to detail, no matter what you do in life – Rumu Kakima first taught me to take the small additional effort to do it well – your audience will appreciate you for it. 

Third, she taught me the importance of family. For as much as we squabble, observing her raise my cousin Raja, who is an exceptional human being or watching our family come together over the past twelve months and especially the devotion and love of my uncle Subhas – my Bachu Kaku – I can truly say that I love each of you more today because Rumu Kakima once lived.

Last but definitely not least, Rumu Kakima taught me the value of life and that the journey is often more important than the destination. The Thanksgiving before she was diagnosed with her illness, during a call that now seems prophetic, she urged me to return to the US to be with my parents and family. Your parents are not getting any younger, she advised me, it is time to spend quality time sharing your life with them. All the money in the world, she told me, could not replace the time spent away from loved ones pursuing that wealth. I can say that my Rumu Kakima’s advice and subsequent illness is the single most important reason I quit my job with Hilton in October and has become a guiding principle in my life. Knowing that she would not be with us for very much longer helped make one of the biggest decisions of my professional an easy one. All my fears and worries about making the decision I needed to make were trivial compared to the battle she waged for her life. When I surprised her this October with news that I had finally quit my India based job, her beautiful eyes welled up with tears as she wept joyfully. 

Rumu Kakima’s illness, and advice to me can be summarized as follows:

Live life with purpose.
Live life with dignity.
Live life with love. 

Live life surrounded by those you love and who love you. 

Live life remembering that for all of us, it shall end someday.

In short, live a life worth living.

I cannot thank you enough, Rumu Kakima, for being such a powerful force in my life. I can’t believe I’m standing here today and it shall take some time to understand and come to terms with the fact that God has moved you on. But, I take solace in the fact that someone as amazing and loving as you is now looking upon and guiding us from above. 

I’d like to end my remarks with an old Vedanta prayer:

Oh Lord, 

lead us from the unreal to the real;
from darkness to light;
from death to immortality. 

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

See also: Facebook Memoriam

Monday, January 30, 2012

Farewell, Hilton...

For the past four years, I have served as a senior member of the Hilton Worldwide team in India; today is my last day in that role and marks an important professional and personal milestone for me. When I moved to India in late 2006, it was for a two year stint as a hotel advisor. Back then, I was a bored American lawyer looking for the thrill and challenge of working in India.

When I joined Hilton in 2008 the company had no hotels operating in India and was coming off a largely failed joint venture. Today, the Hilton flag flies proudly over seven hotels in India, with nearly that number opening this year and dozens of hotels under construction and in the pipeline. I am proud of the time I've spent at Hilton, my fellow Hilton team members, and the wonderful people I've met and done business with along the way. It has been a ride I could not have imagined six years ago. Tomorrow, we officially launch Boston East India Hotels LLC, an American hotel ownership, development and management company of boutique and branded mid-scale and lifestyle hotels that will operate in India and the United States. Today, I celebrate and salute Hilton Worldwide.

Thanks for the amazing opportunity.