I was sitting in the back of a taxi driving from Mumbai to Pune. It was my first time in India and the traffic was taking a little time to get used to. I decided to stop looking through the front windscreen and concentrate on enjoying all that was going on without the constant fear of crashing that the front screen provided. As I looked left whilst we were stationary at a major junction surrounded by a sea of TukTuks, mopeds, scooters and a cow, there they were; a gorgeous couple on a vintage looking Royal Enfield motor bike. She was a young woman sitting side saddle in a brightly coloured sari, leather jacket with her long black hair cascading down her back, he was slightly older, equally black hair but tight white tee shirt and classic jeans. For a moment they were there and then they were gone weaving effortlessly through the carnage of the Mumbai afternoon road system. It was at this point that I realised wherever you go in the world there are “cool kids”.
One of the things India showed me was that cool kids, or at least the essence of cool kids can be seen in many other places, not just the fashion cool. There are always intelligent people. I was delighted to work with an enthusiastic group of largely under 30 year olds who were all really bright. They knew the technical side of what we were working on so well – they made it look easy – a bit like the cool kid makes riding a motor bike in traffic look. It was a joy to watch and be a very small part of. If you have a skill do work at it and try to get really good.
Then there are people who surprise you. One of the things about cool kids is they can do things in way you didn’t expect. Just when you think you have the world sorted someone says something or does something that catches you from out of left field. Sometimes it makes you laugh, sometimes cry but for me most often it just makes me readjust my thinking. I never expected to see a woman in a sari on a motorbike, but India surprised me in other ways. I was sat at dinner with the team and 3 of them left on or around 10 o’clock saying their mothers were on their own and they needed to get home. I realised I had never heard anyone use that reason in the UK – particularly not a 30 something year old (or younger). This is lovely, in the growing commercialism of the Indian economy they have not yet lost that sense of community and family that is so special.
So today look for the cool kids and enjoy their effortless confidence, look out for those who make things look easy intelligent people, sports people and entertainers. Learn from them how to make life a bit easier but most importantly be open to the people who surprise you – the way we do things may not be the best – it may just be what we are used to.