Lead Story

The new French colony

Companies from the European nation are quietly making inroads into India

There is a glint in Arthur de Montalembert’s eyes when you ask him about his first trip to India, in 1974. “I decided to take two months off to come here,” he starts. The 23-year-old student landed in Bombay accompanied by a friend and a small suitcase stuffed with jeans. The first stop was Ajanta, after which they travelled to Bhopal, Jaisalmer, Delhi, Agra, Varanasi and Calcutta. “We travelled by train, bus and even a truck. From Calcutta, we went to Bhubaneswar and then to Hyderabad and Hampi,” recalls de Montalembert, chuckling about his bout of Delhi belly on a long-distance train. “I was sure I would come back.”