Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Samurai Revisited: Theoretical to Theatrical

“What NONSENSE!” thunders Vinay Avasthi,
These morons have made e-business a travesty,
Idiots are running all the Internet business,
None with intelligence, it’s plain craziness.

What I’ll do, I’ll finally start ARRIVING,
Gonna stop my mindless cross-country driving,
Will set up my new business, with new criteria,
You guys want in? Have any good idea?

Milind: Yes, Yes. Washington taught me many new skills,
With these stupid environment laws, you can make a few kills,
Though my business acumen makes my family go pale,
My only real problem is- I don’t know how to scale!

How market leaders take the monopoly way,
Shiva got business ethics from MS the hard way,
In competitive marketing, I can show you the way,
Boycott canteen, eating out daily is the only way!

Swapnajit complains, yaar this is simply not fair,
I just want a Thesis idea, and no one seems to care?
I will join as soon as my proposal is finalised,
And will ask the prof how yours should be crystallized!

Srini grins, Sorry guys, I woke up late,
Yes, social media, twitter can open up a floodgate
Intel from fourth estate to data mining can be our spectrum
And ‘Early to bed early to rise’ should be our dictum!

Vinayan: You see, just what I was afraid of,
Corruption! Even before your business has taken off!
You are already following a corrupt method
All this estate, mining, spectrum, will go the Vigilance road!
Habeeb: So So So and So, whatever it is that you wish,
Tell us in two lines; don’t beat about the bush,
I can well be a part of your paraphernalia
As soon as I sort out my Europe and Australia!

Rohit: It’s just a problem of project management,
Put it all into a PERT/CPM arrangement
I don’t mind becoming your consultant,
As long as my profit is a sure resultant!

Getting rich is what sets Tarit on fire,
Other than jalebis I have just one secret desire,
But surely I’ll join your Corporation,
If for the above secret desire, I get your cooperation!

What nonsense! Avasthi thunders,
How can I work with these idiots, he wonders,
They don’t have even one chance out of five,
Hell with them, I’m going on a cross country drive!

Written between 1100 and 1140 on 4th Dec 2013 in Room 213 IIM Indore
(Thesis presentation of the FPM I Guy)
By Vinayan J

Monday, December 2, 2013

Class 1 Officers

I am currently at one of the "premier" management institutes of India doing my course work. Yesterday, late night, I was sitting in the lobby of the places where I am staying, three elderly gentlemen walked into the lobby and an interesting conversation ensued.

Elderly Gentleman 1 : Get me some tea!
Reception Man: Sir, this is late at night, almost the dinner time, there is no tea.
EG1: Tea has no time!
RM: I am sorry sir

EG2: क्या यार, क्लॉस वन ऑफिसर को चाय कैसे नहीं मिलेगा। (How can a class 1 officer not get tea)
RM: Nobody is there in kitchen, you can get tea only in the morning

EG3: At what time will I get tea in the morning
RM: Between 6-7 the tea is served in cafeteria

EG1: रूम में नहीं मिलेगा। Won't I get it in my room
RM: No sir, the team is served in cafeteria

EG2: क्या हाल है, क्लास वन ऑफिसर को चाय के लिये भी इधर उधर भागना पड़ता है।

At this time I had almost had enough of this class one officer business when one of those gentlemen turned towards me. From my dress, I looked like waiter of a highway dhaba.

EG1: पेपर किधर है।
Me: मैं तो पेपर को एक महीने से ढूँढ रहा हूं, आपको मिल जाये तो मुझे भी बता देना।

At the end of this conversation, I am thinking why have these guys been sent to a management school by the government. I am sure they have no interest in learning anything here. They are already missing their class 1 officer status. Let them enjoy it in their place of work and leave this management institute alone.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Food security bill and middle class hypocracy

Off late I have decided to disengage myself with political conversation because the political discussions are so polarized now-a-days that any time you express you view which does not tally with somebody else's view you hear back abuses rather than arguments.
Today being the day when Lok Sabha passed the Food Security Bill is another such day. The argument went something like below.
A Gentleperson: Why this UPA government is destroying the country, now this food security bill, 2G, Coal Scam...
Me: I think we need food security bill because there are people who don't have food and it is a shame that in this country people don't get sufficient food.
AG: This is all for corruption, what good has come out of the PDS system. Whole of the food is diverted to blackmarket. It is our tax payer's money....
Me: Those need to be fixed, but somebody who is not getting food, if he has better chances of getting food, I think it is worth it.
AG:No, we need to stop all these things, till the time we fix corruption, we can not give these subsidies, all the tax payers money....
Me: Ok, so since there is black market in gas cylinders, should the subsidy be stopped there as well. Let's stop that subsidy as well and when we can build a corruption proof system, we will give gas subsidy.

At this point, the discussion turned into an abusive slanging match which I had feared to start with. I think I will stick to my stand of now having political conversations.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Aadhaar card enrolment, an experience

Since the day GoI declared that in not so distant future, the cooking gas (LPG) subsidy would be delivered directly to the customer through a scheme called direct benefit transfer (DBT), Whole of India is running after getting an elusive piece of number called Aadhaar number. I never bothered to go for it, because it involved standing in a line for hours.
Yesterday, I saw this website that had a method where I could get an appointment online, fill the form online and then only show up at the enrolment center for document verification and biometrics, so I decided to give it a try. Here are my experiences for getting enrolled for Aadhaar.
  • Getting an appointment was easy, may be because the website is new and not many people are aware of it. But I could get the appointment for next day and there were many slots open till the evening.
  • I also filled all the forms online but since I was not certain of how the data would be made available, I also took physical forms and filled them and carried them with me.
  • As I reached the enrolment center, I was pleasantly surprised to find a person sitting there with a list of people who had taken the appointment for document verification. He verified the documents and asked me to go to the adjacent room which had the setup for enrolment.
  • This is where proceedings took a turn for the worse, The guys who were actually doing enrolment, had no clue of the appointment system. It was every individual for him/her self. The person with the loudest voice was the next person in line.
  • We waited for an hour hoping that somebody would call us but nobody called up.
  • To make things further complicated, there seems to be another system at which is also issuing appointments at the same center with same timings. The center does not have list of people from this system. They only have list of people from the system I mentioned earlier. This is resulting in the people at the center getting overloaded since they have twice as many people showing up.
  • Anyway, we also used the loudest voice method to get ourselves scanned for biometrics and got our enrolment done.
  • The data that we entered online, is not available at the center so it has to be entered again and that is extremely time consuming.
In nutshell, like most of the other ideas of GoI, it is a brilliant idea gone horribly wrong in implementation. I only hope, as time goes along they fix it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Logistics: Why we suck

I needed to buy two components that go inside of a PC. One of them was available with IT Depot which is based in Chennai. Other item was not available with any retailer in India, so I decided to order it with a vendor in US.
The vendor in US (Amazon) did not ship that item to India, so I decided to use one of the address forwarding services (Borderlinx).
Both the orders were placed one after another on June 06, 2013 around 1:30PM. Today is June 12, 2013. I already received the order placed with US retailer yesterday night, while the order with Chennai retailer is still showing a status of "Ready to Ship".
How is it possible that these online retailers based in India can be so pathetic for an item that they claim is in stock and was paid for so long ago.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Seven jyotirlings, Thirteen days

This summer (2013) we decided to drive around and try to see maximum number of Jyotirlings that we can see in 11 days. This post is just to capture what happened. Following were the jyotirlings that we covered as part of this trip.
  1. Ghrishneswar Temple near Aurangabad in Maharashtra
  2. Bhimshankar Temple, Maharashtra
  3. Trimbakeshwar Temple near Nashik, Maharashtra
  4. Somnath Temple, Gujarat
  5. Nageshwar Temple near Dwarka, Gujarat
  6. Omkareshwar near Indore, Madhya Pradesh
  7. Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
Following is the itinerary that we followed.
  1. 06-April-2013 Left Bangalore, reached Pune for night stay
  2. 07-April-2013 Left Pune and reached Aurangabad, planned night stay in Aurangabad. In the after noon, visited Ghrishneshwar temple and Ellora Caves. Both are next to each other
  3. 08-April-2013 Drove to Bhimshankar, after darshan continued to Nashik and stayed night in Nashik
  4. 09-April-2013 Went to Trimbakeshwar. Darshan took longest here. Temple seems very popular with devotees so one must plan for couple of hours for darshan even on lean days. Continued driving to Ahmedabad for night stay
  5. 10-April-2013 Stay in Ahmedabad for relaxation.
  6. 11-April-2013 Drove to Sasan Gir stayed night
  7. 12-April-2013 Stayed in Sasan Gir for safari
  8. 13-April-2013 Left for Somnath Temple. Reached around 10am. This place looks most commercial of all the jyotirlings. Continued driving to Dwarka. Stayed night
  9. 14-April-2013 Did darshan at Nageshwar Temple and also visited Dwarkadhish and Bhet Dwarka
  10. 15-April-2013 Drove to Surat. We decided to drive to Indore via Surat because we got very bad opinion on direct national highway from Ahmedabad to Indore. We were sure that road to Indore from Surat via Dhule is good, so we decide to drive longer.
  11. 16-April-2013 Drove to Indore, reached night
  12. 17-April-2013 rest day
  13. 18-April-2013 Visited Omkareshwar in the morning and Mahakaleshwar in the evening.
Most of the route that we followed, roads were good. Detailed travelog for the journey would come up later at my other drive blog at Bimmer India.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Life, what can I say, is interesting

As I am driving around the country, I landed up in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. I generally would have waited to write this post till the end of the trip, but life turned so interesting today, that I had to do it now before I regained my composure.
I am staying in a no-service chain of a popular five-star hotel in the city and because of them being no service hotel, they don't have an in-house restaurant. There is another restaurant in the same building which is called Asia Kitchen.
I visited them yesterday and the food was really good quality. We were generally satisfied with the food and service. When I reached the hotel room and was generally looking at the bill, I realized that they had charged me Rs. 125/- for a bottle of water. That sounded little excessive to me because even in Bangalore five star hotels the bottled water was never that expensive. Also, this was no fancy water brand, it was regular Himalaya. Just to confirm, I looked at the water bottle, which is generally priced Rs. 20/-, was labeled Rs. 40/-.
So, when we decided to visit next evening again for dinner, we picked up a couple of water bottles from the vending machine in the hotel where it still cost Rs. 15- for half-liter bottle. Our decision made life really interesting. As we landed up at the restaurant and got a table, here is the conversation went on.

Waiter: Sir bottled water or regular water?
Me: We don't need water, we have our own.
Waiter: No sir, you either take bottled water or regular water, outside food item not allowed.
Me: What? you won't allow me to bring my own water, I can't drink regular water and your water is priced Rs. 125/-
Waiter: No sir, that is our policy
Me: Please let me know if you won't allow to drink our water, then we can leave and go somewhere else.
Waiter: (mumbles something...)
Me: Can you confirm with your manager? Let us know and we will leave if you don't want us.
Waiter: Ok.
At this time the waiter leaves and in a few minutes, the manager comes to our table.
Manager: Sir, it seems you have got the bottles from the hotel vending machine, it is Ok. 
Me: How can you recognize that these are from the hotel vending machine? I could have brought it from anywhere. How can refuse somebody to bring their own water? At this time my wife chimes in that one many have special needs for water e.g. boiled water etc. and they may bring their own water.
Manager: Sir, we are just following what the owners have decided for us.
Me: I get that, but can you give feedback to your owners that they are marking up water too high, even higher than most five-star hotels.
Manager: Ok, sir I will do that and I apologize but you should understand that we are just employees and we don't decide on prices.
Me: Ok.
At this time life suddenly turns super interesting. There is a European couple in the table next to us who joins the conversation.
European Couple Husband: I think you should leave this restaurant.
Me: Maybe I will, but that is for me to decide.
European Couple Wife: They are running a restaurant and they need to make a profit.
Me: Yes, but not by marking up packaged drinking water.
ECH: I think you should leave this restaurant.
Me: (ignores)
At this time the hotel staff is feeling very nervous, the manager is already apologizing to us and another employee goes to their table and starts apologizing to them.
ECW: I think you should never visit Europe?
Me: I am not in Europe, am I?
Now I am furious, I almost want to do some physical damage somewhere, but in the name of "Incredible India" and " Khushbu Gujarat Ki" I decide to keep quiet and not continue the conversation anymore with hotel staff or guests.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Why restaurant business in India is hopeless

Of late I have been thinking about the fact that the quality of service in almost all the restaurants has gone down to abysmal levels. What could be the reasons for it. The only places where one can expect decent service is the restaurants situated within five star hotels.
I realised that this general decline in service happened around the same time when almost all the restaurants in town started charging something called "Service Charge" which resulted in almost all the customers stopping to pay tips.
Now most of the restaurants are nothing but almost like public sector undertakings, guaranteed salary with no incentive to work better.