Mobile Jewellery Shop – Lalithaa

Disclaimer: Most of what I talk about below – are my observations from Southern parts of India, and might not be applicable to Northern parts, which I am not very familiar with.

Lalithaa Jewellery seems to have introduced a mobile jewellery shop in the form of a modified long chassis bus. I think this is a darned good innovation. There used to be a time when the predominant way of doing jewellery was to go to a jewellers shop, where you discuss patterns, weight, wastage etc, and then the jeweller would custom make it for you.

Some of these jewellers in Tier 1 towns (such as NAC etc), who had access to capital and fast business movement, had ‘some’ ‘readymade’ stuff – things such as small silver tumblers, chains, rings etc – which are mostly impulse buys. In recent times, large box format stores (mostly chains which have large capital) have started making their presence (Malabar, Jos Alukas etc). These stores started off in Tier 1 cities, and now started slowly moving towards Tier 2 towns as well. Accessibility to ‘readymade jewels’ is significantly improved because of this. A ‘trip to the city’ is usually saved.

While accessibility is improved, it is not economical for these large format stores to go to every Tier2 and Tier3 towns. I think this is the market that Lalithaa is targeting. For some context, Lalithaa is one of those hybrid stores, which does some custom jewellery, but has predominantly large inventory of pre-made jewels. This bus looks to be a modified shell with a proper jewellery shop facade, counters, staff etc inside. The bus is now stationed in Theni (a Tier 2 town in the border of TN and Kerala), in a fair ground.

These large box stores do a ton of advertising on main stream cable/satellite TV – whose penetration in India has just exponentially risen in the last decade (next only to telecom). With the brand visibility already present, with the store coming to you, I think it is a novel technique to increase the reach.

Couple of feature-y things that come to mind –

a) Some rough schedule of the bus (perhaps a loop), so that folks in towns know when the next bus would be here next. Maybe even a call center or recorded info about the bus whereabouts.

b) Some form of demand capture – phone perhaps, (and in the long run through learning from data).

If this is successful (or not), I see this as a model that should be tried across other verticals too. Very interesting. #SolveForBharath

Wayanad-Kozhikode roadtrip – May 2017

Started off early at 6:15AM on a Thursday morning. Route plan was Bangalore – Nice Road – Mysore Road – Ramanagara. Breakfast at Kamat Lokaruchi. Took roughly an hour (usual time) to get there.

The route from Ramanagar is – Mysore Bypass – Nanjangud – Gundlpet. At Gundlpet, you fork off towards Wayanad/Sultan Battery (the other road goes towards Ooty). After a few miles from Gundlpet, you get into forest territory. Awesome road and scenery all around.

Super roads all the way. Took another half hour to get Windflower Resorts. Reached around 1:30PM – right in time for lunch.

If you went all the way to Vythiri town, you went too far. There is a town just before it called Chandel Junction. At Chandel, look out for Canara Bank and SBI ATM on the left, and a road that goes down hill right opposite it. The corner is also an auto stand. Easy to miss. You go down the road, or what is called a road for 3.5km. Horrible horrible driveway. Apparently they have not repaired the road because it is under some court stay order.

The resort is just fantastic. Isolated. But beautiful. We had booked a villa with a private jacuzzi. Totally enjoyed the room and the resort. Some pictures of the resort below.

Windflower. Vythiri. Wayanad. #wayanad #vythiri #roadtrip #prisma

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Infinity pool. Windflower resorts. #wayanad #vythiri #prisma

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The patio. Windflower resorts. #vythiri #wayanad #prisma

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Room with a view. Windflower resorts. #vythiri #wayanad #prisma

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We went to Pookode lake one of the days, and totally not worth it. Super crowded small (compared to Ooty/Yercaud) lake. There is also a view point on the Kozhikode road that is pretty darned good. But we had to run off quickly. Too many rowdy monkeys demanding stuff from the tourists.

There is one other place near by, called Banasura Dam. It is the second largest earthen dam in Asia (largest in India). You can do a speed boat ride (super awesome – my son loved it!) and just get some awesome views of the dam and the Kabini river.

We stayed there Thursday and Friday. We were planning to leave Saturday back to Bangalore. But we realized that Kozhikode was just 2 hours away. And the beach beckoned. So we made a flash decision. Was able to snag a room in a beach resort in Kappad beach, which is 20 km from Kozhikode. The resort (Renai Kappad Beach resort) is separated from the beach by just a small road. We did Banasura on Saturday morning, on the way to Kozhikode. Reached Koppad beach by lunch time.

Evening was spent on the beach. Super time was had.

Beautifully pristine Kappad beach. #kappadbeach #kozhikode #prisma

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Oh boy. This sunset is gonna be fun. #kappadbeach #kozhikode #prisma

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Back to Bangalore on Sunday morning. Had breakfast in Kozhikode. It is a long ride back to Bangalore. Almost 10 hours including breaks. Lunch was at Gundlpet. There are a couple of decent restaurants just outside of the town. Reached home around 6PM.

 

Disclaimer Generation

This is my opinion, based on my research and preferences. You should do your own, to figure out, yours.

I overheard a young man say this to his father last weekend. Somehow, it just stuck inside my mind, and kept coming back. Today morning, I thought about it a little more. I stepped back, and realised that, I do this too. With family, with friends, with colleagues, with everybody. Step back yourself, and think for just a minute, on how you respond, when someone asks you for an opinion.

We are currently a generation, which gives opinions and recommendations, only with disclaimers. We are afraid of telling it as what it is. We are afraid of people coming back and saying – “you said so.”. I don’t remember it being so hesitant, when I was growing up. There are so many things, that I have done, because I trusted someone’s opinion, went to them, asked for the opinion, and just did exactly this.

Now, where am I coming to, with this? Is this a bad thing? Probably not. The newer generation is becoming more aware. They are making more informed decisions. However, I am just a little sad, that the trust factor is diminishing. Every time, I say, “This is my opinion, you should also do your checks”, it kind of feels like, I am washing it off of me.

What do you guys think?

Sita, Hanuman, Hulk, Spiderman …

hanuman-hulk-spidey-dora

I usually do not forward or propagate ‘forward-emails’ – emails which say that, this happened to my friends brothers sister-in-law. But this one brought with it major entertainment. This is about a little girl who went for a UKG interview in one of the premeire schools in Chennai. The Principal asks the girl to tell a story, to which the kid asks if she can narrate a story that she has written, or a story that she has just read. The surprised Principal asks her to read the story that she had written. If this is really true, God bless the kid – she is going to go places.

Ok, tell me story which you have written.

Sarithra said “Ravanan kidnapped Sita to Srilanka”

Opening scene failed to impress the Principal but still she encouraged the child to continue.

“Rama asked Hanuman’s help to rescue Sita. Hanuman too agreed to help Rama ”

“Then?”

“Now, Hanuman called his friend Spider man.” No one expected this twist in the story

“Why?”

“Because there are lot of mountains between India and Srilanka..if we have Spiderman we can go easily with his rope.”

“But Hanuman can fly isn’t it??”

“Yes. But he is having Sanjeevi Mountain on one hand, so he cannot fly very fast. “
“Hanuman and Spiderman flew to Srilanka and rescued Sita. Sita said Thanks to both”

“Why?”

“When you are helped you should say Thanks”

“Hanuman now called Hulk.”

All were surprised. She realized our curiosity and said ” Now Sita is there, so to take her safely back to Rama..he called Hulk”

“What logic???” the Principal asked.

“Hanuman can carry Sita right?”

“Yes. But he has Sanjeevi Mountain in one hand and has to hold spider man on the other”

The Principal could not control her smiles. ” So when they all started to India they met my friend Akshay”

“How come Akshay there now?”

“Because it is my story and I can bring any one there”

Now the Principal didn’t get angry but waited for the next twist

Then all started to India and landed at Chennai’s Velechery bus stop

Now I asked,”Why they have landed In Velechery bus stop? ”

“Because they forgot the way..& Hulk got an idea and called Dora”

“Dora came and she took Sita to Velechery Venus Colony…that’s all.”

Finished the story with a smile

Now the Principal asked “Why Venus Colony?”

“Because sita is there & I am Sita!!!”

Padhinettaam Peru

adiperukku

(image courtesy – subbu’s kitchen – where you can find some yummy recipes as well for this festival)

Today is Padhinettaam Peru, or as some people call it Aadi perukku – the 18th day of the Tamizh month of Aadi (mid july – mid aug in the Julian Calendar). On the average year, this is a typical spring day. This is celebrated as a Spring Harvest Holiday. This is not a typical harvest festival to thank the Gods – that is Pongal (Sankranthi). The ritual in this festival is to make simple mixed rice dishes (such as lemon rice, tamarind rice, etc), take it to a river bank or beach, and have a picnic. I kid you not, that is the ritual, and people did it a thousand years ago, and still do it. What a beautiful culture that we have.

If you want a detailed description, read the first chapter of Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki Krishnamurthy. The first scene is when the protagonist, Vandhiyathevan rides into the sunset, along the banks of the Veeranarayana Lake, fed by the Ponni river.

If you just want to read an abridged version, here is my PS-Chapter-1.

Read the rest of the abridged volumes here.

Happy Yoga Day!

Image courtesy MEA India.
Image courtesy MEA India.

Today, the 21st of June is being celebrated as the United Nations International Yoga day. If you want reference to a few basic aasanas, the government has released a booklet describing how to do these.

http://idy.nhp.gov.in/UploadFiles/files/jk_IDY%20common%20yoga%20protocol_book.pdf

However, it is always recommended to do this after training from a Yoga guru.

Ponniyin Selvan Book 1 Vol 2 is out!

Book1Vol1Vol2

The second volume was released early today morning. Follow along with the adventures of our hero warrior – Vandhiyathevan and his encounters with the veera vaishnavite – Alwarkadiyaan Nambi, Nandhini, the seductress, and the beautiful Princess Kundavai.

Buy the two books here -> Book 1 -> Vol 1 and Vol 2.

 

Sutta ….

I got down from the auto at the Trinity Circle. And that is when I saw him. He was walking towards me. His hunch showed his age. The wrinkles on his face spoke about all the hardships he had been through. All the scowls, all the smiles, and the anger that has now dissipated into just crumples of skin near his jaw. His eyes were sunken. It had seen the world through lenses of suffering and joy. He walked slowly towards me. I stood there in the pretext of putting the change that the auto-driver had given me into my wallet. He walked with a slow gait almost like the trundling of an aged elephant. He slowly started lifting his hand as he neared me. I was almost certain that he was going to ask me alms. I still held my wallet in my hand and had not put it back in my jeans pocket. The slowly, almost bionic, bony arm went up, and wait, it did not stop midway. It went all the way towards his now emotionless face.

From within his fingers, jutted out a tiny remnants of a beedi and he took in a long drag and continued walking past me …..

4 things I would love to see Mast Kalandar do

371609-mast-kalandar-old-airport-road

As most of my reader base know, I am die hard fan of Mast Kalandar. From the time, when I ‘converted’ to MK, because it was the only pure veg chain, to now appreciating the various initiatives, and their prompt social media presence.

As I do for most things I am a fan of, I am never satisfied. I always want more. See my wish list for BigBasket here. And MK is not getting excused either 🙂 So here goes:

Mobile App: Well, hellooo ! Are you guys sleeping or what? Why is there not a Mast Kalandar app yet? I want to be able to order my food through the MK app. I want to be able track the delivery through it (yes, I order home delivery quite a bit). What would I like in the app? That is a bigger post for a different day. What is even more irritating is that, their website itself is not even mobile optimized. Sucks to even to take a look at the menu on a mobile. Guys, please — develop a mobile app (android/iphone/winphone). And please mobile optimize your website. I tried reaching out to their twitter handle (@mastk) about a year ago, and they said they were working on it. A year, and it is not yet ready? Oh cmon.

Packaging for Roti/Kulchas: As I said earlier, we do order home deliver often. Have you considered alternative packaging techniques for rotis/kulchas? Rolling and wrapping in aluminium foil is so yesterday. Sure, it retains the heat, but it just spoils the taste. The humidity just makes the rotis/naans become hard. I am not an expert in packaging, nor have I done experiments, but have you tried perhaps some form of a pizza box type packaging. Maybe they would stay warm and also retain freshness? Worth a try na?

Indian salads: Have you guys tried creating Indian salads? The Indian market for healthy food is heating up like anything. Have you tried salads with traditional indian veggies and even more traditional chutneys as dressings? Perhaps a try? And I am sure, with the whole patriotism (Make in India, Eat Indian food, whatever), this will catch on pretty well.

Food for train journeys: Guys, you need to do this. There are so many times, I had wished I had ordered food through MK, and they deliver it to me either in the platform. Also, you should explore a rail menu. Stuff that does not get bad even after a few hours. There was a time, when I had packed something from MK (I dont remember what?), but it got bad after a few hours. I am not blaming MK for it – perhaps the ingredients were such. But I am sure you can come up with a menu with stuff that stays for a few hours. Combine it with the above mentioned ability to order through a mobile app, and good solid pizza box style packaging, this would ensure a hearty comfortable meal to eat, even in a moving train.

Well, thats it for now. I sure wish someone from the product management team in MK reads this.