So, what has changed? What has dampened my enthusiasm for US trips? (And I am saying this having visited the US twice in 2004.) The simple answer would be the very thought of going through all the security checks and opening bags at every airport. Because I tend to have one-way tickets (I buy a round-the-world ticket) during my US visits, I am subjected to all the special checks. And I dont particularly enjoy those. Bags are opened and then have to be repacked. But at best, this is a minor irritant. This cannot be the real reason.
As I thought deeper about this question, a few other factors came up.
For one, blogs have definitely reduced my desire to visit to the US. Earlier, I used to feel quite isolated at an intellectual level. Visiting the US was like getting a fix for my brain. It was incredibly stimulating listening to people talk about the new ideas and innovations. Now, blogs do pretty much the same thing. Yes, I do miss meeting the people, but I can now get a daily dose of the best brains sitting right here in Mumbai.
Second, during my last few visits to the US (and meeting people from the US in India), I thought I found people in somewhat of a holding pattern waiting and watching. Each week seemed to be a cut-and-paste of the previous week. The zeal for entrepreneurship, for taking risks seemed to have diminished. And with it the flow of new ideas. This could simply have been a result of lack of venture capital than anything else. Or it could be a portent of something deeper. Perhaps, a lingering uncertainty of the future. After all, the US is at war. Whatever be the case, that infectious enthusiasm which so charged me on my earlier US visits seemed missing.
Third, and perhaps most important, I have begun to look inward at India and the opportunities within. The last couple of years have seen rapid growth in India. 2004 saw India at the centre of attention due to the outsourcing phenomenon catching the eye of the US politicians. Malls are sprouting all over. New residential and office construction of ever improving quality abounds. There are signs of improvements albeit small ones everywhere. Be it the airports where we admittedly started off from a very low level or the roads in Mumbai being widened or the connectivity options available or the exploding TV channels it almost feels that if you blink you will lose out on something new that just happened.
Finally, in the areas of my interests broadband, mobility, tomorrows world I found that the real action was happening not in the US, but in Asia. Japan, South Korea, China were the models to reflect on and emulate. Especially in mobility, the new innovations were coming from the East, rather than the West. The Control was Shifting.
And so it was that when I wanted to understand the state-of-the-art in communications, I chose CommunicAsia in Singapore rather than SuperComm in Chicago.
TECH TALK Shift-Ctrl+T