Impressions of India



Having wanted to travel to India for many years, I have now finally had the chance to spend a week there. What I found when I got there wasn’t quite what I’d expected. I had imagined back-packers, hostels and street food, instead of which I found myself in a business suit and a very smart hotel, the Trident, Bandra Kurla, Mumbai. We were very comfortable throughout our stay there.

At first I was baffled by the Indian head shake which means ‘yes’, but within days I found myself gently shaking my head to agree to things.

We attended the 8th India Rendezvous conference, organised by The Asia Insurance Review where we met many of the insurers and reinsurers in the India market.  We were able to explain to them about our India flood hazard maps and probabilistic flood model, which was received really well.  Flooding was a common theme through many of the conference talks. The recent floods in Jammu & Kashmir in September 2014 have really drawn attention to the high exposure to flood in the country. A talk by Swiss Re on lessons from recent floods in SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) markets really enforced this message and emphasised the need to understand natural catastrophe risk through mapping and modelling to assess expected losses.

For a post-conference wind down we had a whistle stop tour of Mumbai, visiting the gateway of India, a Gandhi memorial museum, the hanging gardens, an amazing laundry, coastal defences and numerous sites which looked so English they could have been lifted directly from Oxford University. With the exception of the palm trees, landmarks such as the Victoria Terminus (below) built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria could have been anywhere in England.

My lasting impression of India was a feeling of being welcomed as a visitor and always very well looked after. I’ll definitely be returning to explore more of the country - probably with a back-pack and no suit next time!

Author: Naomi Booth, JBA Risk Management - Catastrophe Analyst.