Monday, November 10, 2008

Graduating glasstec

It's been a couple of weeks since I returned from Düsseldorf, but I am still digesting the fact that I had the chance to cover the world’s largest glass show. I feel so grown-up in glass age!

The enormity of it hit me while sitting on the plane headed to Düsseldorf and looking at the floor plan of the show. Nine halls? I was going to cover more than 1,300 exhibitors spread over more than 73,000 square meters of net exhibit space? My panic radar was on red. I tried to collect myself thinking about Nicole’s advance pep talk: “Do the best you can, I know you will, and remember, you can’t cover it all.” Nicole hadn't missed a glasstec in more than a decade, but had to cancel this trip at the last minute due to a family emergency. She knew what I was heading into.

“You can’t cover it all.” Invaluable words, as far as glasstec is concerned. Of course, it didn't hit home until I was at the show. As I walked to the fairgrounds from the tram stop the first morning, I remember thinking to myself, “it’s not that bad that I’ll miss my workout the next few days, because if I walk briskly, this hike will tide me over.”

And then I got to the fairgrounds.

It took me a couple of days to orient myself--yes, I am directionally challenged--and then it was a matter of very precise planning to get to places that I needed to get to and at the time specified. For instance, the press office was nearest to Hall 17 and our booth was at Hall 13--long hike; Glaston’s press conference was in Room 1, Conference Center South, and the Messe press meeting was right after at the press center--short hike; meeting with Lisec folks in Hall 17 and a symposium at Hall 11 right after--long hike.

You get the picture. The walk from the tram stop to the fairgrounds was peanuts in comparison to walking the floors.

Eventually, I bettered my sense of direction and knew exactly--down to seconds--how long it would take to walk from one hall to the other. And once I got that down, I couldn’t get enough of the show. I had a hard time dividing my time between symposiums and booths, choosing one symposium over another, and constantly got distracted by the amazing products on the floor while on my way to a particular booth for a meeting. All my meetings took longer than I estimated, and that’s probably just European. They make you sit, have a drink, chat about various issues that don’t have much to do with glass, and by the time you get to their product, it’s time to rush off to another meeting.

At the end of the day, it was an experience of a lifetime to cover glasstec. The products and the technology were mind-boggling, and all that walking reminded me of good old India. We walk a lot in India, but 14 years in this country, and I have gotten spoiled rotten.

And funny thing, even after walking the halls for five days, I had it in me to walk more in the Altstadt, Königsallee or the Kö, and go for a long stroll along the Rhine, up to the harbor, to watch the night skyline of the city. It was almost as cool as the show, but not quite.

"Cool." Now, is that a word a grown-up would use?

Click here to read glasstec coverage.

By Sahely Mukerji, news editor/managing editor, Glass Magazine

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