India: Let's pack...for a client meeting

I’ve been watching a lot of season four of Mad Men lately, mostly due to the fact that it’s one of the few American TV shows that air in the evenings here. Secondly, because it’s a great show that I can rewatch and always see something new.

An episode I caught the other day involved Faye Miller explaining to Don that she wears a fake wedding ring to client engagements so that they can all just get down to business.

So let’s talk about doing business here as a woman in an incredibly male-dominated industry, culture, country. Judge all you want; in the next post I’ll attempt to validate the commentary below.

1. Enormous bag. I lug around an 8lb HP laptop and because it needs to run heavy graphics software the screen is huge. Finding a bag that will fit a 17” laptop is pain; finding one that will zip closed once said laptop is inside is a monumental task. But that’s the key – the bag must zip shut. You walk a lot of places here. Be smart about your belongings.

2. Receipt pouch. You live your life out of a suitcase and your finances (mostly) out of the company’s wallet. It’s one thing to misplace a few receipts for a couple of days’ worth of travel. It’s another thing to lose almost two months of expenses. A friend gave me a chic set of travel accessories a few years ago and they are winning my heart over every day. It’s easier to keep receipts out of my wallet since many bills of sale are full sheets of paper.

3. ID/Credit card holder: Same deal as discussed in packing for a weekend outing.

4. Memory stick: This little gadget has saved the day multiple times. I’ve found that at many client sites the company does not want you to plug your computer into their systems, or their electrical outlets don’t have adapters, or your adapters don’t work. You can’t always rely on an internet connection here so emailing is out. Circumvent those technical difficulties and bring a memory stick as the pinch hitter.

5. Lip stain. I put the stain on before the meeting then heavily blot. The color saturates the lips enough that you can wipe away almost all of the product itself. This cuts down on the chances of having lipstick on your teeth. (Shown here is Clinique Bitter Honey. I love the name as much as the make-up.)

6. Business card holder: Trading business cards here is a bigger deal than at home. It’s almost ceremonial.  Since presenting cards is important you don’t want to be the slob of the bunch.  As such, just stuffing some in your bag won’t work; they’re bound to get soiled.  A sturdy card case will pay dividends.  Mine was a gift from a another friend when I changed jobs. It’s engraved with my initials, which is super sweet, but perhaps the best thing about this case is that its reflective surface doubles as a mirror. Tea and biscuits are served at every meeting. Sometimes twice. Eating in front of people can be tricky but to not partake would be rude. So, when I’m looking down to pull out cards I pretend I’m smiling at something someone has said. Really, though, I’m doing a quick teeth check.

7. High heels. It’s no secret that most, if not all, women sport a particular pair of power heels when they need to get their point across in a meeting. I wear these heels a lot, even to those meetings where I know I won’t say a word. Plus, they double as noise makers to scare off rats when going up and down the stairs.

8. Rings. See Faye Miller reference above.  But more so because I promised to wear them. :)

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