Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Indian IT market

I mean, the IT market in India, from an end-customer perspective. IBM leads the pack here (via Bangalore Tigers). What? No Infosys, Wipro, TCS or Satyam? Well, TCS and Wipro have been active in this market while Infy has only sold its Finacle platform here. Satyam too is not a very active player in the IT services arena here beyond their network management piece.

This is not a real surprise, if you have followed recent important deals, including the big Airtel network contract which went to IBM.

If you drill down on IBM's service contracts in India you see that they're mostly high-end deals. Indian companies and government agencies are picking IBM for its deep technology and services expertise. Many of these are transformational engagements. For example, on June 11, Delhi International Airport Ltd., which is conducting a massive expansion and modernization of Indira Gandhi International Airport, chose IBM to implement a massive new ERP system.

Steve opines,

Up until recently, only TCS among the Indian tech services leaders put a lot of effort into the home market. But that's changing as India's economy surges. Wipro has notched up its effort in the past few years. I expect IBM's competition to get much tougher from here on out.

I think not. IBM will continue to lead in the Indian market, despite competition from TCS and Wipro and there in lies a story...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Whistle Away

Mumbai cops - my take - do their job far far better than counterparts in most other states. The sight of a cop will make every car driver - put his seat belts, reduce the speed (if the cop carries a speed gun) and of course never ever jump a signal.

The whistle he blows makes every driver turn back and check if he is not the one being caught/ pulled up for. The cops also regulate traffic, keep the vehicles moving by blowing these whistles. How they do it is a different point, a mix of bribes, fines and what nots - but it works.

Incidentally the same whistle that makes one drive faster as soon as the signal turns green and makes one alert are borrowed by Mumbai's very own BEST drivers and conductors. These buses do get stuck in traffic jams quite often and to get the cabs and the rickshaw's of Mumbai moving the driver/conductor keeps blowing their whistles every now and then - and in Mumbai, air horns are banned- not whistles, not yet. And it works. Talk of ingenuity.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I, Salaried class

I am the salaried citizen in India. I work in so called "glamorous" IT or in other sectors like manufacturing or even government enterprises. I am, perhaps the most law abiding class of citizen in the whole country, yet most tax laws are made to target me, while criminals, gangsters, politicians stay conveniently outside, usually forming the laws, for me, the law abiding salaried citizen.

I, the salaried citizen pay the taxes expected out of me. In fact, they are deducted at source. The Income Tax, which is the single largest direct tax to the kitty. About 35 million of the population (via) thats about 3.4 percent (some say it is just 2 percent) of this country of a billion pay income tax. The rest, well, they dont pay any income tax. I subsidise them. Dont they earn money? Oh yes, they do, but they are not taxed. Lets keep it simple. Theres also something known as tax evasion - I do tax planning and the honourable finance minister and tax officials try and curb this as much as possible, since there is little they can do about tax evasion.

I, the salaried citizen, earns white money. For most of the rest black money rules. The difference is that the laws pretend black money doesnt exist - like the dark lord in a popular series - the money that must not be counted. There is an entire parallel economy here which is not recognized anywhere and with a nudge and a wink you can convert any transaction into black. I cannot do it since my money goes directly into a bank and if I withdraw my own money, more than 50K, there are chances that the taxman will take a second look at me. The rich have hawala, the richer have Swiss banks and then some gold and real estate, farm land etc.

I, the salaried citizen also in most cases, pay most of the service tax, the value added tax and the central excise too; directly or indirectly it all hits me. In some cases, I pay it in full since my grocer passes it on in entirety to me or in some cases, I pay more than it since the pharmaceutical shop charges all taxes and "extra" local taxes that I have to pay - or else he wont give my medicines.

I, the salaried citizen. If I take the service of any accountant - even to straighten out my taxes, lawyer, doctor or any self employed professional, chances are that I will pay him his share of service tax and income tax depending on how much of it he shares with the taxman. Every tax levied on the end user is ultimately paid by me.

I, the salaried citizen. I cannot even convert myself to a firm, like many well off individuals do. If I called Salaried Citizen Corporation Limited, I would be well off from almost the next day. All I need to do is show a loss on my income, which is quite easy, with the services of some of the above worthies, even after paying their service tax.

I, the salaried citizen. I belong to no caste, no formation, too fragmented to form a vote bank for anybody and never riot. Therefore, I am not targeted by any politician for any votes and therefore know that this tax system will never change. And there are some people who want to remind me of my responsibility. Thanks!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Watch TCS

This blogger has for long believed that TCS is the leader in Indian IT, albeit a low key one as compared to its more newsy peers. Watch its last few steps. It recently bought out its partner in Brazil. Do any of the other Indian IT companies have a foothold here?

Even as I was composing this post, heres a post on Bangalore Tigers.

TCS isn't just the largest Indian outsourcing firm: When it comes to branching out to globalize its workforce and do collaborative research with overseas universities, it's the most aggressive. This helps explain why the company ranks highest among the Indian tech services outfits on BusinessWeek's annual InfoTech 100 ranking, which was published online on June 21.

Read the full post there, where he writes about its strategic initiative with University of Massachussets in addition to its other initiatives with many other universities. The other is a center established in Mexico.

TCS, I have long maintained is the frontrunner in the Indian IT horizon, even going back in the past. By the time Indian IT discovered Japan, TCS was already there. Ditto for Europe and Latin America and Australia. (I recall a conversation with a friend - yea Kishor- a few years ago when the business development chap from a Tier II company was frustrated that every prospective client he met had been met by TCS and they were disappointed that he was not TCS.) By the time the slowdown had hit, TCS had changed its hiring patterns and by the time they started re-hiring, the slowdown was fast becoming an upswing - their reading was better than the other IT majors.

The next few years will differentiate how many of Indias service providers remain service providers, grow, innovate or are outgunned by others. TCS, I believe, will be one of the long term leaders in the industry.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Super job creator, but

According to an OECD report India created the maximum number of jobs in the world from 2000 to 2005. Excerpts:

India generated 11.3 million net new jobs per year on an average during this period, higher than 7 million in China, 2.7 million in Brazil and 0.7 million in Russia. In contrast, the average was 3.7 million in the OECD area as a whole.

The OECD report said India also had the lowest percentage of jobless people among the BRIC nations. The country's unemployment rate stood at 6 per cent in 2005. In contrast, China's unemployment rate was at 8.3 per cent, Russia 7.9 per cent and Brazil 9.3 per cent during 2005.

But the employment to population ratio was also lowest in India, the world's second most populous nation after China, at 50.5 per cent in 2005. In comparison, this ratio stood at between 66-71 per cent in the other three countries.

"In China and India, the rural sector is characterised by excess labour and remains large: despite significant rural-urban migration, almost two-thirds of Chinese workers are employed in rural areas and 79 per cent in India."

Just a few months ago, there was a huge outcry in the blogosphere on jobless growth. Where did that go? Ha, here they are, the vultures are a circling...

It may be celebration time for Indians, but is this also the right time to reflect on aspects that could bring the party crashing down? Please to be taking notes.

Meanwhile, the report itself notes, This suggests that these economies need to grow rapidly in order to be able to absorb the relatively high number of young people who will enter the labour market over the next few years.

Growth is the prescription, not the cause, experts please note...

Reality check

That Mumbai is a tough place to shop for a residential accomodation is very well known - It has been so for quite a few years now. Yours truly has been hunting for a place - and the search has been frustrating.

I first thought mid suburbs were affordable - till I realized the jaw dropping prices for pigeon hole spaces - then decided out-of-Mumbai limits are better. Only to find jaw dropping prices for slightly bigger pigeon hole spaces. High prices keep going higher !! Citius, Altius, Fortius indeed.

Now, like Bollywood films, logic is thrown to the winds, when it comes for a reason for a high price. Reasons that I have been given as to why a particular area commands a "high price" range varies from proposed Airports / shopping malls/multiplexes/metro stations to anything as one realtor told me "this building has capsule lifts - which no other building can boast of ". Oy vey!! (Electricity was almost touted as a reason, as was water). I also happened to visit an acquaintance and ended up asking if they had any vacant houses - and they went "every one wants to come to our society - we have none". (indeed - the entire world is at your feet !!)

Of late however, I have started witnessing discounts being offerred though in an implicit way. Rsxxx/sq. foot - all inclusive (parking + society charges) unlike earlier ...or if I got to a broker he says I can offer at a discount as compared to a builder. So, does this mean, that the market is slowly going to slide? Is it the begining of the decline? Cant say right now- the jury is still out on that. However, with the amount of money real estate developers have raised (both in Indian markets and in AIM) probably they can hold on to the prices much longer than before and delay or soften, if not prevent the inevitable slide !!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Vishal Megamart

Had a visit to Vishal megamart recently. It is surely not upmarket, indeed, it is quietly downmarket. There are no branded clothes, not as far I saw it, mostly unbranded stuff the kind you find in local markets in Bombay and Delhi. The rates are low, and the designs and quality mirror that. The groceries are cheaper and here they stock some good brands, indeed all good brands.

Overall, the ambience is that of your local market in an airconditioned environment. The store makes no pretensions of its downmarket tilt. Going by the crowd and the shopping that was happening, it seems to have hit a sweet spot in Indian retail which is about breaking a mindset.The mindset being that you walk into an airconditioned outlet and everything is more expensive, Vishal, coolly, breaks that.

If you see where their outlets are located, including a lot of second and third tier cities, they are in the right market. Competition for Big Bazaar? We will know.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Advertising for email

The lessons of the dot com are well learnt, yet, Zapak.com, an online gaming site is all over the place on radio, print with its ads for zapakmail, which it claims is fast, simple and unlimited.

Zapak is a gaming site, so why advertise for email on a gaming site? Advertising for gaming would make more sense and if I as a gamer, am hooked to the site, I will like my email there. Will a non gamer get attracted to free email at this stage and go to Zapak? I mean, theres Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Rediff, Indiatimes and then some. It is the least distinctive/most crowded service offering that is possible. Getting people to switch email accounts is not the easiest too...

I think Reliance ADAG is burning its money on advertising which can be well spent.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Stop!


A used chemical drum doubles up a prop for a STOP sign.

Yes, there is a jobs boom on

Yes, there is a jobs boom on, but India Inc is riddled with quite a few unprofessional setups. They will lose soon, hopefully, as more and more corporate and professional players come into the picture. The entry of the organized sector has time and again contributed to professionalism in any job sector.

IT was badly managed as it could get. Pigeon holes, desk sharing, dingy offices were the hottest thing around in bodyshopping, until it got a nice whack from IT organizations. IT itself has done more for workspaces and offices and work environment than the CPI ever did.

Accountants were a troubled lot in many of the single person firms. With the entry of the big five and then some, people found it difficult to retain good employees with their non existent policies. There are still pockets of discontent here, but thats where some of these smaller firms take up Inter CAs (not cleared final) and extract as much work as they can from them. Again, the long arm at the end of the globalization chain is coming up here too to "improve their lot."

Then there are the garment workers and many of their ilk.

Did I mention architects? Aha, like the accountant firms some of which still exist, many of those mom and pop shops are temples of unprofessionalism. Many of them never take employees (they are always on contract), never pay them by cheque (only cash), employee benefits are unheard of and create a slew of sister and brother organizations so that they stay conveniently under all legal radars. (How do I know it - just trust me on it - industry sources). Fortunately, help is at hand with the real estate boom. Some companies like Sobha, Jurong treat their employees very well.

Thats all that I know. Comments?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mobile airtime as currency

Who needs money, when airtime can buy you everthing. No, not in India, not yet. This is Africa, bottom of the BoP.

Just read the whole piece, too interesting for an excerpt. (Hat tip, Manoj)

Indian on strike

Can somebody please tell these people that they are shooting themselves in the foot, whatever be their grievance (I want promotions - waaah)? And did anybody notice that they were on strike?

As it is, there are no lines at Indian (Airlines) counters. As it is, they are dependent on government patronage and largesses to keep their white elephant flying. As it is, Kingfisher, Jet and even Deccan are taking away their passengers, not to mention Goair, Spicejet et al. So what is the best thing to do at this juncture?

Go on strike and lose whatever little customers you have. In turn that will further hit your operating efficiency (if you could ever apply that to this airline), profitability and gain more negative mindshare, reducing your own companys profits and making it all the more difficult to pay you?

Oh, I forget, they depend on the charity called the government - did I say profits? They depend on me, the taxpayers money to keep them afloat, sorry, airborne.

Since the last 10 odd years, I have never flown Indian. Indeed, I have barely checked Indian fares twice or thrice. Why? I know they are unpredictable, service may not be great and then this tendency to go on strike at the drop of a hat. Be Indian, dont fly Indian, except that at times it is the only one which flies to certain remote locations (Deccan is a close second, but till then...)

Farmer bana entrepreneur

A lot of rich farmers in Punjab are into many other businesses. Getting into selling what they produce directly is an obvious thing to do. They are actively getting into retail says this Indian express piece.

This is a good thing to happen and I hope more farmers, farmers cooperatives follow this example and provide employment to poor fellow farmers (no, not the Bollywood kind) and sell local.

I hope they pay their taxes though.

On selling

Some months back, we were waiting at a bus stand, Ernakulam to be precise and there were these hawkers who try to sell stuff ranging from maps to candy to bus routes to magazines just before a bus leaves - pretty standard stuff - you see that in Bangalore too even today. Most of them did a bit of advertising on what they were selling. One of them stood out.

He came in with a few books and took his position at the front of the bus and began to ask questions. Questions for which nobody had any answers (unfortunately, I dont remember them now). Challenging the denizens of a 100% literate state on their "knowledge and awareness"? . Then he distributed at almost one a book ratio and even as he did so continued to rattle some more questions, which stumped almost everyone in the bus. No, he did not give a single answer out, because that was in the book. "You want the answers to those questions, get the book."

In between his narrative he also mentioned that these questions are trivia - for timepass or for kids to sharpen their knowledge. What a broad range! And at 10 rupees, he promised a storehouse of knowledge.

Needless to say, his compelling narrative found him quite a few buyers - from then to the destination, you could read this thin book. Most people will never take a second look at that book - I have one that my mother picked up on "natural health" or something like that. It lines the oily dabbas in the kitchen now. Sometimes, the compelling narrative of a salesman makes you buy stuff - in this case try and buy it and you never use it again...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

BYOTR

Every time Pantaloon or some other garment store has a sale ...I am scared to attend them, since I know there will be serpentine queues ahead of every trial room.

I really think this is one thing that acts as a dampener on any "SALE"- apart from the fact that you really got to be early in every sale or it is no longer a sale, but s(t)ale. So, do shops do anything about it? I am not sure, they do, but they also lose a certain percent of sales just because of the daunting queue in front of the trial room.

(Bring Your Own Trial Rooms)


Sunday, June 10, 2007

The deglorification of phoren

Once upon a time in India, around the time I grew up, foreign (variously spelt phoren, forin, for rin etc.) was a big thing. It was so big that, in fact, it was the only thing. People wanted to talk foreign, walk foreign and be foreign. People prayed to god in all temples so that they could go abroad, somewhere, somehow even if it was to pray in a temple abroad. That is how some people ended up in the jungles of Lanka, Nepal and even Kazakhstan since god is not very choosy of the place and they did not specify the country in their prayers. There were visa temples, visa pilgrimages and even visa archanais. There were visa agents, visa bureaus and visa exchanges. There were homams for visas and horoscopes were scanned for the visa factor in them. Research institutes published a statistical probability of certain gothrams based on travel in the last 40 years and concluded that some gothrams had a better chance than others to get a visa. (The American embassy has a list, claimed a source.)

In the scarcity fed economy of the 70s and 80s, the only things that were good were foreign. So, one hoped atleast for foreign goods from the returnees from those who went abroad. This obsession was exploited by the returnees. It obviously, was a very welcome thing for those who came back, filled with Yardleys, Toblerones and Hersheys Kisses. It seemed to be an unwritten code amongst all travellers, that Indians over a generation came to believe that there was nothing more to phoren than these three brands. Only much later have we realized that they were the cheapest brands available, but I digress.

The 80s were also the age of the gulf fuelled bodyshopping boom. An insatiable appetite for workers led many Indians to the Gulf. So, going abroad was a big thing for earning money, career be damned. (In any case there seemed to be no career in India back then.) Maamas, uncles trooped to the gulf to realize their lifes ambitions - they became plumbers, mechanics, drivers - all thanks to an engineering degree which they really did not need to do the job they were asked to do. Over time, the Gulf lost its charm, except for perhaps, real plumbers and mechanics.

That age ended almost as the other age began, the IT bodyshopping boom combined with the rush of students out of India - to the US. Students went to study abroad, engineers and programmers went abroad to work. Family forests threatened by global warming longed for a branch in California evan as entire families traced their genealogy in California and San Jose was as close as Matunga or Vrindavan colony. But all through these ages, going abroad was an elitist phenomenon, even for students, since it cost a fair sum of money to get through the GMATs and GREs and the admission process. So, the parents of these students travelled abroad and spoke about it in social gatherings and the elitism of going abroad was well cultivated and harvested. All was well with the world.

Like some forms of evolution (like almonds), this was turned around on its head thanks to the IT and BPO boom (and a few other things).

Once the Indian software biggies and BPO biggies got into the act, almost anybody could travel abroad. Once it was a preserve of engineers, but now, everybody could travel. Be calm graduates, bee aye graduates - there was no distinction, you could bump into them at Tilak Nagar or on Times Square and talk about Times Square and Tilak Nagar respectively. Going abroad, suddenly to the disgust of the "entitled" was not a big deal at all.

Then came the low cost airlines and that really was the last straw for the flying elites. Thanks to them, flying to the Dubai shopping festival was easier than getting out of your house to reach a mall in the center of the city (Dubai has very good traffic, ketto). Going to Singapore was cheaper than getting to Delhi, if you were in Chennai and then some. A honeymoon abroad was almost a given with Mauritius being a favoured destination. Thatha and paatis swarmed Singapore and Malaysia in a rash of saris and ill fitting jeans while breezing through Mustafa. Low cost airlines filled with the smell of thepla and chundo suddenly began to ferry tourists all over the world. Many cooks travelled with such chartered groups and gained international cooking experience too.

Suddenly, social gatherings from Subhash Nagar to Vadapalani were about the changes in Singapore since the last time someone visited it to the shopping in Dubai.

The dollar stores opened their branches in India and put one more straw on the back of an already bored camel. Once a brand is seen in dollar stores, it loses its significance in the mindshare of any literate Indian like a stone plonked into water. Any relatives who brought those brands to India were marked for deletion from the invite list for the next wedding in the family. The Toblerones, Kisses and Yardley found their rightful place in the graveyard of brands.

Slowly, but surely, going abroad has gone from a big deal to a non topic. Like mobile phones. Like the accent that you acquired from your last visit - the BPO boy next door does it better and has a pretty packet to show for it.

10 commandments for Dr. Singh

After the austerity speech, Swaminathan S Aiyar offers 10 commandments to the austere PM on politics...

Must read...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

On coaching...

The Indian cricket teams recent experience with Greg Chappel will fit into this post by Seth Godin, very aptly, on "coachability". All almost all of his observations, seems to fit right there. Now if somebody showed this to the BCCI and to our stars - are they still sportspersons, much like some Bollywood actors are farmers?

Symptoms of uncoachability:

Challenging the credentials of the coach
Announcing that you're being unfairly singled out
Pointing out, angrily, that the last few times, the coach was wrong
Identifying others who have succeeded without ever being coached
Resisting a path merely because it was one identified by a coach


Read the whole post...

Chaat

A new look - the fast food chain style as compared to the homegrown style.

Quite a few restaurants use this style - a neat display, better hygiene on the face of it and well, more appetising!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Micro offshoring

Got this link from Bangalore Tigers, and its a great idea to all those IT guys who would like to work from home and for die hard coders too.

Craiglist, Rentacoder and now, oDesk. Neat.

Maruti and innovation

Maruti realizes that there is more to cars than selling cars. Two recent things come to mind on this. One is the "Dil Se" offer that allows NRIs to gift a car. The other is their driving school initiative. (They have a few other services like "True value" - but I look at that is more of a standard offering than something really innovative.)

These simple things make it more than just a car manufacturer. A good driving school is an oxymoron in India, where the focus of a driving school more than imparting a skill is around getting a licence to the customer, somehow. The Maruti driving school is hopefully a welcome change as compared to the rudimentary services being offerred by the current lot of driving schools.

I have only seen the new white and yellow vehicles. They are new firstly, which is a big change (I learnt my driving in the old lot of driving schools and they just offer boxes that manage to run somehow), and they are air-conditioned. The website says (which also gives a picture of their cars) and I quote

"With advanced training methods, well-trained instructors and above all, state-of-the-art facilities, MDS provides immense opportunities to learn driving and develop confidence"

I think its has far reaching impact beyond the "learn driving" part. It "enables" ownership of a car for many for whom owning a car is a "leap of faith". That apart, it wins confidence of customers, the trust and what the Fords, the GM's and the Hyundai's of the world haven't done in India - Maruti seems to do it time and again (they were pioneers in making a Maruti 800, which even today is the cheapest car yet, Swift was the amongst the first car that offered ABS, air bags in a compact car).

It is small touches like these which makes Maruti continue in a leadership role in the automobile segment in India.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Knocked up, a movie...

Got this link from Marginal Revolution.

This humorous and philosophical film -- strongly recommended -- also offers an implicit market failure argument: raising children is the main thing that goes on in a marriage, yet few of us choose life partners on that basis. The film suggests that a random allocation might be better than selecting a partner on the grounds of smarts, common interests, attractiveness, how good he or she makes us feel, and so on.

Read the whole post...

Market failure.
Utility function

Airtel launches IM

says this piece. How far are we from a Twitter lookalike?

Retail tail

The Indian retail story on the street seems to be going through a funny phase. Newer names are coming up, some stores are folding up, while others seem to be going through an identity crisis.

Subhiksha, touted as the next best thing to happen in Indian retail (even by streetside bloggers), suddenly seems to be going through a lean phase. The mango rain, has neither rain nor mangoes at some of the stores. Stocks are going down (it looked in between that this phase had been taken care of)- this is a dangerous thing to happen to a spartan model like Subhiksha. Consumers who walk in, are aware, if not right away after a couple of visits that this is a limited items store. You are not going to get the choice between too many brands and you have to pick what is available. On top of this, if you get to see empty shelves, it does not exactly build confidence in the brand. Vegetables, fruits are in short supply too, apart from regular groceries. Will Subhiksha see this through?

Big Bazaar on its part seems to have taken the "sasta" mantle too seriously. Sasta as a value proposition can only take them so far, they have to build on the quality aspect, if they need to attract more people. To use an old combination, "Sundar, Sasta, Tikau" (beautiful, cheap, durable) is the trident you need to capture the Indian consumer.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Travel, tourism

Seems like everybody who is connected with travel is getting into tourism and vice versa. Seems like everybody connected with real estate is getting into hospitality and then into tourism. Seems like everybody is getting into everything.

IRCTC, of the Indian railways ticket booking site, one of the sites which makes a lot of money out there in the Indian websphere (yes, not social networking, not mail, not auctions, but booking tickets seems to be the biggest thing on the web in India!) is now into tourism. They have a site called Railtourismindia which allows you to book a whole trip instead of booking for a train ticket and then a car and then a hotel and wonder if it will all fall in place. At this point, it appears to be more of booking special tourist trains than anything else, but for the railways, this is a great selling point, if they can get their bureaucracy to think in terms of customer service and upgrade services and a do a million other things.

Then you have the airlines. Air Deccan recently announced a package thing that included tickets and hotel stay - I couldnt find that anymore, but they are in an arrangement with one of the Travel websites - Travelguru to book your own tourism package. For both Railways and airlines, it is an obvious thing - to get into tourism. A Deccan aviation promoter, is into it too, per this report.

Some real estate companies are getting into resort building and that sort of activity that includes tourism. Prestige is a good example, though by no means the only one. There are real estate promoters who offer, apart from timesharing options, an option for people to own a house in popular tourist areas - some even maintain it for you and share the income stream with the owners.

There is definitely money to be made in the tourism sector in India. In India tourism is a fairly unpredictable and unorganized activity once you reach a place. The travel part of it is usually the best and that isn't saying much; the accommodation usually leaves you wanting for more or with unfulfilled promises and everything other than that seems a rip off. There are exceptions, and there are some very good places but that apart, it does not always seem to be a fair deal.

Nobody in this line seems to be thinking differently yet, so there is space here. But at the same time, with so many (railways, airlines, travel portals, real estate companies) getting into the tourism business, one cannot but get the feeling that at some point, there will be a shakeout.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Breakdown...

If a vehicle breaks down on the road, apart from the usual stones on the road, for some strange reason, people cut off leaves from some nearby tree and tie it on the vehicle.

Why? My guess is as good as yours...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Small wonders...

How small is a small shop? Here are two examples, though these are not the "smallest" businesses/shops.
The first one is a small shop in a gully in one of Bangalores old time markets.
The second is a small pan shop, a standard one found in many parts of India.
In the space of these shops, you can find a hundred things and there is enough space for this shopkeeper to sell his wares. Some of these small wonders have a small TV too. And you would be amazed at the amount of stock that these chaps have and they use space ingenuously too. There are many variations of this configuration, but all of them basically thrive on the smallness of their space and variety of what they stock - though mostly in a single product.

This is contrary to the mall culture of more space. There is not too much room to browse on your own - you describe or point what you want and the shopkeeper takes it out for you. All that is his space. This one thrives on less space, maximizing margins by spending less on display, space and perhaps even time. No time to browse, give me "this", I am done...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

White wash...

Recently had been to a resort of considerable repute. Everything was spic and span, as it should be in a place with that kind of reputation. The tables had white sheets, but right under the white sheet was a table, so badly maintained, that it would not be seen even in a dhaba.

In marriage receptions, there are chairs draped with white, but under the white there are sharp edges, torn cushions and what not.

It is easy to drape everything with a white sheet and pretend that things are good. It is another thing to look under it and make it really good.

For some customers might lift the white sheet. If your chair or table is like this, how would your kitchen be?