Sunday, January 30, 2005

The progress of time

Are we the luckiest generation? When we started out ( say about 30 years ago), television was in its infancy, there were no computers, phone services were elitist in most parts of the world and the world was deeply politicised. We kept in touch with letters and collected stamps. Today, we are at the threshold of a revolution. Everything is online, phone services are dirt cheap, computers are all over the place and world looks more and more headed to peace.
But thinking about it, our previous generation feel they are lucky. Back then cooking gas was in its infancy, mass transportation was dusty and steamy, telegraph was available for fast communication and everybody was a little more friendly.

I guess, human history has been a history of progress. Every generation is lucky in its own sense. Are we the luckiest? Time will tell!

Friday, January 28, 2005

A Blog a day!

Everyone has a blog. Why, even I have one!
Blogs are truly amazing. Blogs cull the best postings (from the bloggers perspective) for a particular day and then some. Havent thought of a better way to begin my day than to read some thought provoking post.

I was reading Tom Peters Blog sitting at my office. I have no idea when I will ever get to meet or talk or interact with Tom Peters or Seth Godin. Reading their blogs is as close as it can get to interacting with such "thought leaders" without it passing through filters like editors, space constraints etc etc.

My favourite list of blogs just goes on increasing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Maxi cabs...

This weeks issue of Business World India has a story on infrastructure. One of the pictures it has is of Bangalores crowded ( Asias largest, for the record) central bus stand. Since the new government came into power, basic necessities like paving a road have been forgotten. This has been written about in a thousand other places, this one is about the maxi cabs that ply in the city.

Maxi cabs as the name suggests are mini vans or a big cabin on wheels which are authorised to carry about 12 passengers. In reality they carry a lot more. They pack passengers worse than luggage ( and people obligingly get into these vans) into it and usually charge a rupee less than the bus service. These maxi cabs are nuisances on roads. They are old ramshackle vehicles, staffed more often than not by child labour and are dangerous as they are inside to those outside. They ply on the road with a disregard to most rules. They stop anywhere they please ( to misquote PGW, even if someones eyebrow twitched, they race from the centre of the road to the side in the hope that he would get in). They solicit passengers with open doors at speeds of about 3 kmph but keep on interminably waiting in front of bus stops or any such place. (Hope to put in a picture here soon)

So, why do they ply? I have no idea. I can hear the usually heard choruses of unemployment and public transport, but both reasons are wrong. True, some chaps get employment, but they are exploited by those who ( some rich man who knows how to bend the rules) own these things. Public transport, did someone say ? If so, get rid of the BMTC buses.

If this is the state in "Indias Silicon valley", infrastructure is a long long way off in any other part of the country (Mumbai, NCR and Chennai are marginally better off).

Lost thoughts!

I wanted to tell you something, but it just slipped my mind.
It is important to note that idea when it hits the brain, or atleast for me, because, I tend to lose it.
Its like forgetting what (or that) you are searching for during the search itself. Sometimes retracing the steps helps, sometimes it doesnt. An idea gone is an idea gone. I use an idea book to note down stuff that I dont want to forget, but sometimes I forget my idea book itself. Thought of "a thought provoking post", but that vanished alongwith the whistle of the pressure cooker. Hope I get that thought back.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Toothbrush anyone?

Recently, I shopped for a toothbrush. There are mindboggling varieties of toothbrushes, for a person, perhaps more than the number of teeth. Toothbrushes for canines, incisors and molars are the only missing part of a strategy by toothbrush manufacturers to get people to buy more toothbrushes.
Apart from the fancy electric toothbrushes and floss (which, despite the best efforts of marketeers, have not found a market in India), the range of "ordinary" toothbrushes is mindblogging.
There are regular brushes (no frills). There are ones with soft and hard bristles, circular ang angular bristles. Handles flex, sometimes the head flexes, sometimes it rotates 360 degrees and can do god knows what contortions. There are curves at the right places for holding it the right way or so they say. It was all to confusing for me, so I compared prices. I wasn't sure how much I want to spend on a toothbrush.
Finally, I bought a toothpaste which offered a freebie. No prizes for guessing, the freebie was a toothbrush!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Reliance Education SMS

Just received an SMS from my friend Bharat which says
"A poor ill educated man created a $20 bn business empire. 2 Business graduates from Stanford and Wharton are busy breaking it up, thats education"

Even though thats only partially true, its worth a thought. (Its about Reliance, in case the sms did not ring a bell)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Of Languages, bureaucracy and computers

Languages provide a competitive advantage for the bureaucracy in India. A few days back at the local RTO (Regional Transport Officer) office, I was handed over a sheaf of forms in a local language. There were no translations available, said the glum face behind the "may i help you" desk.

Sure enough, 'helpful' translations of older versions of forms were provided, but there were no translations of any procedure.

Sure enough again, there were English versions at the kiosks below the building which housed the RTO. Of course, India has a uniform Motor Vehicles act. If someone could get all these forms and procedures online with a click to download versions in any language, the sand castles of these officers would crumble.

There is also a signboard which says "Do not approach middlemen", but true to their style, you do not have to approach middlemen, they approach you. Nothing like a few hundred rupees to "translate and facilitate" the myriad procedures of an RTO.

Knowing local languages, quirks and traditions can be a great competitive advantage (as can having a babelfish handy) as polyglots/travellers/businessmen would affirm.


Reactions - muse

Is there a logic behind peoples reactions? When they react, are they reacting as themselves or as a reflection of their social status and or their and the respondents "perceived social status?" Would they react the same way if they or their respondents were of a perceived different social status? Perhaps there is a so-called "cost justification" behind every reaction..."I can react this way since I wont lose anything"

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

David v/s Goliath - retail

Every alternate issue of business magazines have an article on the imminent demise of the small retailer, yet my grocer survives all doomsday predictions. I wonder why. If I have to buy a small amount of something, I find it convenient to walk up to him and buy it on my way back from work rather than walk through a maze of supermarket style aisles search, stand in a queue at the counter and go home with a 500 gram pack of coriander seeds though I want just 100 grams. On the contrary, if I have a huge order, I give him a list and he delivers it home. Both these prevent me from "impluse shopping".
He also knocks off a few rupees from retail items (supermarkets usually charge MRP or offer reduced prices on a combination of items one or both of which I dont want or a discount if I shop worth a lakh or so)
If I dont have money on me for some reason, I can always pay him later and pick up something I want without having to reach for a credit card.

I go the supermarket only when I am in a leisurely mood. Recently my company offered me coupons which I could use. My grocer lost a valuable client. For a few weeks my shopping happened at the supermarket. I bought a lot of junk on impulse and it looked like the doomsday prediction for the neighbourhood grocer was coming true in due course.

As I went to him a few days back to buy yet another 100 gm of something that the supermarket wouldn't offer anything less than half a kilo, I saw a small notice "food coupons accepted". Needless to say, I am back with him for shopping. Impulse shopping is gone, for now.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Insight: from Emergic.org

Insight

Innovation Weblog offers an excellent quote by Gary Hamel: "Today you can buy knowledge by the pound -- from consultants hawking best practice, from the staff you've just hired from your competitor, and from all those companies that hope you will outsource everything. Yet in the age of revolution it is not knowledge that produces new wealth, but insight -- insight into opportunities for discontinuous innovation. Discovery is the journey; insight is the destination. You must become your own seer."

Stocks 2005

It was a great rally for the year 2004. Whats it gonna be for 2005?
No predictions, just trying to guess which way is it gonna go.

Textile is free of quotas.
Outsourcing still seems to be wetting its feet on the beaches of the outsourcing ocean.
The next budget, notwithstanding the zeitgeist of UPA, could be more middle class friendly.

And after all this the market could still go down. Hold tight on the rollercoaster!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Ringtones

Wish you all a happy new year.

Diving straight to the point. The profusion of ringtones has increased the confusion in my life. My washing machine sounds like my cellphone. I cant differentiate the WLL landline ringing from washing machine when it signals for something. The car backing up in the basement sounds like my landline. I am at a loss to figure out if its my calling bell or a kids bicycle horn.

There really are too many ringtones. Why is my computer sounding like a cellphone now?