It was ‘good-bye’ Dublin – early this morning. ‘Always feel a ‘pang’ when I leave this City.
After a change-over at Frankfurt, and a 10 hour flight, I landed in Atlanta at 4 pm. The immigration formalities are always painful because they take so long. The immigration officer however was a friendly type. When I told her that I represent a company that makes a chemical for chewing gum, she seemed quite scandalized. She was chewing gum, and suddenly her jaws stooped moving –she was wondering what kind of hazardous chemical she has been chewing for years ! I assured her that if nothing bad has happened to her after years of chewing gum, it’s almost certain that nothing will.
Post Geromino – KIA, America has probably braced up from some response from the ‘bad guys’. They did not want it to be obvious, but one can feel it – at the airport. There’s additional security, and for the first time, I experienced a security check on arrival ! You had to pick up your bag in the baggage claim area, and drop it at another belt, for another security check. Then there was a personal search, and finally a transfer to another terminal by the ‘sky train’ to pick up your bag in another baggage claim area.
The weather was a welcome change from the cold wet Dublin. Its warm in Atlanta – though not as much as back home. Since I have this evening all to myself, I decided to renew contact with my ex Boss in Coca Cola – Abraham Ninan who continues to work for the Company in their Headquarters in Atlanta. Despite being hard pressed for time, he did manage to drop in for fifteen minutes, to meet me. Its good to meet old friends – and I use the word ‘friends’ deliberately since Abraham was as much a friend to his team, as a hard taskmaster.
Abraham brought along with him a copy of the Coca Cola Company’s Annual Report. A cursory glance at the numbers is mind boggling. The turnover of the Company stands at 35 billion dollars. If you were to distribute this money to the 1200 crore Indian population, each family of four Indians would get a gift of Rs 50,000 !
It was nice to be informed by Abraham that India’s is one of Coke’s fastest growing markets. However, in terms of the per capita consumption of Coca Cola beverages, India is right at the bottom of the list Worldwide. Here’s a sample – India’s per capita consumption stands at 11, (roughly explained – this means an average Indian consumes 11 servings in a year). Whereas our neighbour – Pakistan is ahead of us at 15. And consider this – Kenya is at 40, Turkey at 159, and – hold your breath – Mexico at the top of the list, is at 675. An average Mexican drinks almost two Cokes everyday of the year !
Drink more Coke – for National pride, I say !
Tomorrow we drive to Gainesville, a small town about one hour away, for a meeting at one of Wrigley’s factories. And Saturday morning, I am off to Chicago.