Category Archives: Mumbai

Redevelopment of a home to a house

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As a metropolis, there is never enough space in Mumbai. The city of dreams. Everyone wants to buy a house in this city. As a result, a lot of old buildings are brought down to be ‘redeveloped’ into large swanky skyscrapers. The flat owners love it as they make a neat sum and get a larger home. The developer makes a large bundle of money. This is one such building that awaits demolition. None of the residents who called this their home are inside. I wonder what these walls, now on death row, that once kept them and their kids safe would say. The memories the families shared outside their doors as they greeted each other when they met on the stairs. The festivals they celebrated within these compounds. The things they did that defines this city – helped each other. Well, they’ll all be back in a couple of years, with big smiles. There will be new walls then, they’ll keep them safe too.

They trades their homes for a bigger house. Then they move into the reconstructed building, and piece by piece reconstruct their home inside the new walls using old and new memories as the brick and mortar. The house becomes a home again. And hopefully as good as the old one.

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Conversation in a Delhi Metro

This conversation took place about 4 months back.

I was in Delhi for the Half Marathon and after I finished the run, I took the Metro to go from the venue to my friend’s place. Next to me sat a 16 year old boy, clearly belonging to SEC A. This boy saw me in my shorts and decided to ask me a few questions:

Boy: You just ran in the Marathon?
Me: Yes
Boy: What distance?
Me: The Half-Marathon. 21 kms.
Boy: You have run before?
Me: Yes, this is my 4th.
Boy: Ok, can I get the medal you got there for finishing the run?
Me: No. It is a souvenir.
Boy: Where are you from?
Me: Bombay
Boy: You keep going around just to run?
Me: Trying to.
Boy: So where in Bombay are you from?
Me: Thane.
Boy: How is Bombay?
Me: Good. I love it.
Boy: So you keep seeing movie stars?
Me: Errrrr, not really.
Boy: Was there any celebrity here in Delhi for the Marathon?
Me: Shah Rukh Khan and Bipasha Basu flagged off the run. 
Boy: You met them? Clicked pictures?
Me: No, I just saw them with a flag in their hand.
Boy: How many celebrities have you seen in Bombay?
Me: Errrr, this is my stop. Got to go.
Boy: Ok.
Me: You should start running.
Boy: I am giving my boards this year.
Me: All the best!
Boy: Thanks.

I don’t know why this conversation still amuses me. 🙂

Sales ‘Train’ee

Its been a long time since I have blogged about marketing or sales. Its been a long time since I have blogged actually. But something happened today which must be shared.

Most of you by now know that I am currently working with HCL Comnet as an Account Manager in the India Sales division. Being practically 'in training' for the past month and half, my eyes and ears are beginning to get attuned towards anything sales. Being a resident of Thane as I have often mentioned in my earlier posts, any place else in Mumbai is far away. Today I chose to come back home by train having had enough of traffic on the road. 

I am predominantly a train traveler and would prefer trains over buses anytime. Most of you who have traveled in the Mumbai local trains – otherwise called 'locals' – would be aware of the frequently annoying salesmen who travel along. Selling everything from pens to pens that are torches. Anything you buy normally costs 10 bucks. They come with loud noises making limericks and poems which makes you feel you would be robbing HIM if you buy his product for only 10 bucks!

However, today I saw a very different kind of salesman in the train. He boarded the compartment at the peak hour of 9 PM and stood in the most crowded part between the seats. Standing there, he started talking as if he was talking to his friends. It felt like he was giving a discourse! Extremely calm and extremely patient. He started explaining home remedies for common ailments that anyone in a family can suffer with. For some time I could not understand what this man who has the attention of everyone who can see him is trying to sell. His way of explaining was unique and his concern for the well being of my family seemed quite genuine. Finally, after almost 15 minutes of his well practiced and articulated speech, he started talking about a book which has everything he just spoke about and more! And guess what the price of the book was!

This guy according to me is brilliant! He came in calmly with a product which would be difficult to sell by just yelling out to everyone who does not want to hear. He surprised everyone by calmly talking about problems that everyone has had. So much so that people were leaning in to listen to him! In the end he sold 9 copies, made 90 bucks in 20 minutes and moved to another part of the compartment.

This guy:
  1. Knew the problems you have
  2. Knew how to tell you about those problems
  3. Had simple solutions to those problems
  4. It was cheap
  5. He made sure you noticed it was cheap. After all you spend 2 bucks a day on news, why not spend 10 for your family (says he, not me)

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I Ran

I ran in the dark.

I ran in Bandra.
I ran on The Linker.
I ran with the rising sun.
I ran in Worli.
I ran along Worli Sea Face.
I ran looking at Ducatis, Rolls Royces, Land Rovers and Jaguars.
I ran alongside Mahalaxmi Race Course.
I ran near Haji Ali.
I ran on Peddar Road.
I ran on Marine Drive.
I ran in Churchgate.
I ran in CST.

It was an experience that everyone should go through. Running on the streets of Bombay. Will not happen otherwise. Saw Bombay like I have never seen it before.

The best sight for me however was watching the African contingent running in sync with each other at sprint pace while we were jogging along. It was like watching horses galloping down the road, all in matching yellow shoes. Absolutely beautiful!

Run Mumbai Run!

I finally got my running number (14330) bib from WTC today. Yes, I am still running the half marathon. Although I did not write anything in terms of updates on my preparation for race day after the first post, I have somewhat done some training in the past week and more (ya, I know it is not enough). Anyway, the bib collection counter was at WTC (Cuffe Parade) at the Get Activ Expo. I had no clue what this was going to be. 

I went there half expecting to see just a few counters handing out the bib and my goodie bag :). However, it was a whole marketing machine at work there. The Expo was an entire hall at the WTC and all the sponsors had their own stall. The bib collection stall was at the absolute corner to make sure you pass each and every stall on your way to collect your bib. The bib collection itself took a couple of minutes and then later I was directed to get my time chip verified and collect my goodie bag. I did not stop at any of the stalls as all of them were a bit crowded. There were quite a few deals on running equipment by Nike, Reebok and the event sponsor Basic.

Coming to the goodie bag. Every year SCMM gives away goodie bags to all the participants when they collect their bibs. This goodie bag contains all sorts of stuff that a health conscious or a self conscious person would require for their daily needs. This year, the goodie bag is bigger than ever with goodies worth Rs. 450! So, effectively, you can pay Rs. 300 as entry fee for the Dream Run and get goodies worth 450! I however have paid Rs. 500 for my half marathon.

This is a very nice way of giving away free samples. You as a marketer are assured that the person getting your sample is someone who can spend a minimum of Rs. 300 on what is basically a pleasure activity. In a country like India, I doubt there is a better way of distributing free samples. Also, you are assured that a minimum of at least 75% of the participants are those who care about their health. The target is acquired. Apparently, Marico and HUL have spent around Rs. 14 and Rs. 27 lakh each with Piramal Healthcare spending a massive Rs. 50 lakhs on free samples. Only time will tell if it is really worth the money spent for the brands. My money spent however is totally worth it 🙂

The following are the items that I found in my goodie bag:

1 Packet of Aliva Crackers (Classic Salted) worth Rs. 12
1 Water Bottle sponsored by Kingfisher
1 Trial-pack of Sugar-Free Gold
1 30 gm trial-pack of Quaker Oats (Strawberry)
1 20 gm pack of Kuber namkeen worth Rs. 5
2 Nasal strips from Breathe Right
1 15 gm pack of Hippo chips (thai chilli) worth Rs. 5
1 20 gm pack of Bingo Mad Angles (Achaari Masti) worth Rs. 5
2 Sample sachets of Volini Gel
1 100 ml bottle of Clear Anti-dandruff shampoo worth Rs. 69
1 400 ml bottle of Minute Maid worth Rs. 20 (with a free Kitkat worth Rs. 5)
5 Mint-o Gol Mint Chew worth Rs. 2.50
1 Sunfeast Marielite worth Rs. 5
1 bar of Nature Valley's Cruncy Granola (Oats and Honey) worth Rs. 15
1 RitBite nutrition bar (Merry Berry) worth Rs. 15
1 Parachute Advansed aftershower gel worth Rs. 35
1 Lacto Calamine Classic worth Rs. 11
1 Lacto Calamine Aloe Moisturiser worth Rs. 32
1 Sample sachet of Nivea for Men Moisturiser
1 Dabur Gulabari gulab jal worth Rs. 12
1 Pack (8 capsules) of Supractive Complete energy supplements from Piramal Healthcare
1 Fridge magnet from Standard Chartered telling me to get my eyes checked
4 Information leaflets. One each from Quaker Oats, Lacto Calamine, RiteBite and Nature Valley

So, on to tomorrow when I attempt to complete my 21 KMs. Yes, that is all that I am trying to do, complete it.
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Confused in translation

Everyone who lives in Mumbai is by now used to seeing thousands of hoardings all over the place. It is everywhere! The moment you raise your vision by 30 degrees vertically, you will spot atleast 2 hoardings no matter where you are. This, at the same time of course, is also true for any metropolis anywhere in the world.

No, I have nothing against these hoardings. Actually I do, but that is not what I am pointing at. If you have paid attention to most of these hoardings, the product they are trying to advertise are mass market products, given the reach that these hoardings can achieve. If these products are mass market, the obvious language that they need to communicate in, is Hindi. However, all of these hoardings are in english. Atleast they are written in english. What I mean is, even though they are written in the english language, they are actually Hindi words! Now, why would anybody do that?

I have been seeing this trend for a couple of years now and I am still confused about what the possible reason could be. For example, just two days back I saw a Castrol Activ hoarding. This one was a compliment to the new TV ad campaign with the two Sardars on the bike where the dad is teaching the son to ride a bike. The hoarding has the same picture of the father and son on the bike and next to them is written, ‘Stop – Go Traffic Mein All-Round Protection’. ‘Mein‘ here is a Hindi word which means ‘in’. So, not only is there a Hindi word in the midst, the sentence itself is supposed to be in Hindi. Of course it makes sense to keep a Hindi sentence as all the TV ads are also in Hindi and this is a product for the masses. However, if a person cannot read english, how will he understand it in the first place? And this is true for hundreds of such ads for products, services and the ones that use this the most, Hindi General Entertainment Channels! I mean, ALL their shows are in Hindi! Most of their audiences are non english speaking women! How can you do this to them?

Now the answer to this conundrum might be in the following questions:

  1. Do they mean that only if someone can read english can they buy their product?
  2. Have they figured out that Indians living in Mumbai like believing that a hoarding in Hindi script is unattractive?
  3. Do Mumbaiites believe that Hindi script is LS?
  4. Do the television channels believe they have all the non english reading people wrapped up and all they need to attract are english reading folks who think in Hindi?

The answer might be, that even though people in Mumbai like reading stuff in english and find it more convenient, they still think in Hindi. All their thoughts are in Hindi. This is what makes it easier for them to relate to a hoarding or an ad and most of the people who are driving are anyways people who can read english faster than Hindi.

Ahaan! Maybe I should have blogged about this earlier, I would have found the answer faster!

You think this is the right answer?

The Linker – Just a bridge?

It is absolutely poetic. An example of beauty. A symbol of progress. A massive achievement of engineering. A tribute to Indians.
 
Yes. I am still talking about The Linker aka Bandra Worli Sea Link. Didnt matter that it took me twenty five minutes to get on it. What mattered was that I got off it in the shortest fifteen minutes of my life.
 
For those fifteen minutes I felt I was not in the real world. There was something about this monstrosity that enchanted me and I couldnt take my eyes off her. The glistening black road helped by the light drizzle was a perfect contrast to the cables illuminated by brilliant white lights. It transcended me into the surreal.
 
It was anticipation that took me till I reached the portion enforced by the giant cables; and when I did reach them I could not stop looking up. The cables looked like they were suspended in mid air with the support of the bridge and not the other way round. I now can totally understand everyone who took a U turn to go back on it just to have another look.
 
It was midnight and this was already a local attraction. Dont know what tourists will do. This is much more than a bridge linking two destinations to reduce traffic. This is a symbol. A symbol that will mean so many different things to so many different people. To me, it reinforces what Dr. Manmohan Singh said (he was quoting Victor Hugo) before presenting the 1991 budget, “No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come”. Yes, I am in love with that idea.
 
That is what this bridge means to me.

10 things the Bandra Worli Sea Link will be used for

Now that the pre-launch euphoria has ended and the post-launch
euphoria has begun, let us take stock of this behemoth of a structure.
Here are my 10 things for the BWSL or what I call – ‘The Linker’.

 1. Mumbai Darshan. This ones an obvious one with the making sure this
is a tourist attraction thanks to it being a national landmark. Look
out when your cousins next come to town and ask you to show them The
Linker.

 2. Political leverage. Well, we are already seeing parties having
issues with the name. Come on, get a life! But the Congress is lucky
to still be in term while The Linker was opened. No wonder with the
elections coming up they opened atleast half of it.

 3. Posters. It is that pretty isnt it? The gorgeous Linker.

 4. Drag races. Come on! This ones easy. Cant you see it? Its long,
straight, smooth, pretty and on the sea, what more does a racer need?
This one I would love to see.

 5. Income for cops. Inspite of all the speed cameras and speed guns,
how can you not floor it beyond 50 (limit will change to 75 later)?
Its all green for cops.

 6. Movies. This one you saw coming. Maybe a movie about drag races on
The Linker.

 7. Ads. This ones easier. Look out for the next few car and bike ads.
They dont need to go abroad anymore.

 8. Artists. Paintings of The Linker against a setting sun anyone?

 9. Suicides. This is the most common use that bridges the world over
have been put to. And dying on The Linker? B E A Utiful!

 10. Wedding. Lets wait and watch how long this one actually takes. You
two will probably be alone and behind bars by the time you are in holy
matrimony.

 So there you have it. 10 brilliant ideas if The Linker doesnt end up
easing traffic and as a result is refused to be used for its original
purpose.

 P.S. This is another blog post from Powai 🙂

10 things to do when you are stuck in traffic at Powai

As I have mentioned in my earlier posts, I travel to work by road and this route goes through Powai. Now Powai, apart from the IIT, Powai lake and
Hiranandani, is also very well known for its infamous peak hour traffic. So, I have come up with 10 things that you can do when you are stuck in
Powai (which you will be).
 
1. Take a walk. As Abhishek Bachchan says in the idea ads, walk when you talk. Start walking by getting out of the car. If you are in the bus, walk in the bus. There is nothing better than a morning walk surrounded by carbon monoxide.
 
2. Interact with IITians. This is your chance to interact with the brightest minds in the world! Just walk across the road and talk to any guy you meet there. Strike up a conversation about the latest discovery in astro-physics or the launch of the iPhone 3Gs. You can even walk when you talk! Don’t worry about your vehicle. It will still be there when you come back, and so will all the other vehicles around it.
 
3. Shop! Yes, shop! There are many shops in the vicinity and they are eager to sell. Finish your weekly shopping here so that you don’t have to do it on a Sunday. Imagine the sleep you will get on Sundays.
 
4. Sell! Let us take the previous suggestion to the next step. Get anything that you think is clutter at your home and trade it for something else.
After all one man’s garbage is another man’s…..well, something. Now that I think of this again, it is a brilliant idea! If this takes off, Powai will
become the biggest flea market in the world! Imagine the gadgets the IIT guys would want to sell there! God I am brilliant!
 
5. Call the lost ones. Call all those people who you thought you never had time to call. Call them and yell at them for not calling you all this while.
Listen to Aby Baby and walk when you talk. Basically get your social quotient high.
 
6. Sleep. Catch up on your sleep. Nothing more needs to be said.
 
7. Boat ride. Go to the Powai lake and take a boat ride. This is excellent exercise and will strengthen your back muscles and arms like nothing else. Come on, so what if the water is dirty?
 
8. Read up. Buy 4 newspapers and read them cover to cover. Yes, it is possible. Very much so! Moreover, this is bound to help you in the interview you will soon be giving thanks to your late arrival at office everyday.
 
9. Talk to other drivers. So what if the car next to you is a cab? What is a cab today can be a cute girl tomorrow. Get into the habit. Talk to the
driver next to you about everything except the traffic.
 
10. Blog. Just like I am doing 😛

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MMS CET 2009 final results out

Yes, they are out and the next batch of MMS students will now be working towards making their choices for the colleges.

Hope you make an informed choice and get what you deserve.

Here is a list of top ten colleges in MY opinion. This is my opinion only and it is meant only for guidance and not as any advice (not on my conscience will I take that).

1. JBIMS (No question about it)
2. K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research (SIMSR) (NOT because it is my college)
3. WE School (Welingkar)
4. Sydenham (Has lost its old charm)
5. N L Dalmia (One of the best for finance)
6. SIES (Was better than Dalmia a couple of years back)
7. MET (Trying to get there)
8. PUMBA (Strong alumni but no alumni network)
9. St. Xavier’s Institute of Management Studies (Will climb this table soon)
10. IES/ Chetana (It becomes difficult to choose at this point)

All the best to everyone who is going to fill out their option forms soon.

P.S. I am an MMS student at SIMSR and this is my opinion and I don’t expect anyone to agree with me.

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