Saturday, 4 December 2010

There is always a Hope...

“You can’t do this to me! You gave me a life and now…!” shouted Radhika appearing in Rajesh’s room out of nowhere.

“Who are you? What do you want?” Rajesh was stunned looking at a stranger entering his room and shouting at him. He stared at her for a while. He was meeting her for the first time yet her presence made him feel as if he knew her.

Rajesh kept his pen down and closed his book.

“You don’t know me?” asked Radhika with broken heart.

Rajesh gulped water from the glass kept on his table staring her from the corner of his eyes. He tried to recall but it didn’t help.

“Pardon me but not that I can recall you now! Please reveal the identity!” Rajesh replied with a guilt appearing on his face.

“I stay at Vasant kunj. I am doing engineering in Mumbai. I like Saamy… Need I say anything more?” replied Radhika looking in Rajesh’s eyes.

“But how did you come here?” Rajesh pinched himself so as to check if he is dreaming or something.

“You are my creator. You took so much effort. You gave me such a beautiful life. Now why do you need to do this to me? All I am asking you is to give me my Saamy! Can you do that, please!” Radhika said to Rajesh and a tear rolled down her eyes.

Rajesh Purohit is a famous writer. He was busy writing his latest novel. He was writing the climax of the novel when the protagonist of the novel Radhika appeared before him.

“Sir, you gave me such an wonderful life. I thoroughly enjoyed my life… my friends… my parents… the struggle and the winning attitude that you gave me… but now as I am standing at the crossroads, it is time I get the love of my life!”

“Dear Radhika, you had been such a sport all this way. S Swaminarayan (Saamy) is a good friend of yours but he is a South Indian. And Aayush is your parent’s choice. Not just he fits in culturally but also he is charming and already won your parents heart. Try and understand.”

“And I like Saamy!” shouted Radhika. She composed herself and told her creator, “Aayush is a nice guy. I like him. He is a good friend but the chemistry which I share with Saamy can’t be matched. If you are trying to say that he being a south Indian and I being a Punjabi, cant marry, isn’t it such a conservative thought. The world is moving and changing every moment and here you are making your protagonist to suffer based on caste! Make this novel a landmark novel. You need to be open minded!”

“And what about the readers?” asked Rajesh with a puzzled face.

“Trust me they would enjoy it all the more. After all what matters is good people and not caste. It is we humans who have created casteism in the society and it is the learned like you who can help in changing the society’s psyche.”

“And your parents?”

“Ahhh… you are the creator of my parents too. You are the almighty! A twist is what is required and you are an expert!” replied Radhika cheerfully.

The novel went on to become a best seller in a month’s time. Mr. Purohit went on to receive several awards for addressing such a crucial issue existing in society through his book. The society needs to be freed from the hatred among the people because of different castes.That award night he thanked Radhika for defining the moment of his life!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: It is absurd to differentiate human beings based on caste, culture or tradition. Love human beings not the name or race he is associated with. It is the humanness that matters.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Fashionable Delhi!

Tale of Two Cities (Part Two)


Delhizens love to live in style. Some let sophistication speak for them and others believe in the theory of more is less! And if you thought the word ‘fashion’ is limited to the wardrobe of a Delhizen, then you got to live here to see how the word works around. Fad for fashion can be seen in the mobiles we use, cars we drive, gym we use and how do we exercise!

Food also makes a fashion statement here, where to eat to what is the hottest selling dish in town. Consider this; we gave India its national dish ‘butter chicken’ and even created an Indianised version of Chinese cuisine and call it ‘Chinjabi’. We could be a contender for the top most sushi consuming city outside Japan and gol guppas got a new meaning when flavoured water was replaced by vodka. 360 at The Oberoi is the most fashionable coffee shop in town where you don't go because it has the most exotic & lavish menu but to have the likes of Rahul Gandhi as fellow diners. There are two reasons for a place to become popular in Delhi, It is the best in its specialty or is high on social scales; O’ neva mind about the name, it depends on where is the freebie party tonight ;).

And to make it to the Pg3 column next day all you need to do is air-kiss- muwah! Muah! Take-up profession of an artist, writer, designer, model or claim to be a rich socialite and you will get an entry to the city’s full-on fashion frat scene and will be there on addressed as gliterarti or literarti. Art and theatre too became hot among Delhizens after they became ‘must-be seen’ at places.

What we wear and from where we buy is another high point. When Zara opened its doors in Delhi the store sales on the first weekend reported by reliable sources was more Rs. 55 lac. I visited the store and fail to understand if all that fuss was about that stuff which looked like second’s ka maal. But then, I looked around and realized the latest fad these days is to walk around in your bedroom attire, ganji, shorts and slippers with unmade hair and well manicured nails!

We looooove to show off! An observation based survey proves Delhi has the highest number of total paisa lutao shaddis, high on glam quotient. Gupta, Jain, Khanna wedding will make it to news because they got a ‘B’ town B-class actress to stand by the newly-weds. Of course they are also the ones who buy the top-end designer wear.

Delhizens have created trends that make a statement and speak for the city and its niche aspects! Here are the latest top ones;

  • Book cafés
  • Tea Houses where you can also do a tasting of the most exotic flavours
  • Fashion shows for hotel launches to charity events
  • Farm house weddings with minimum ten functions
  • High on glam parties with a mix of expats, glitterati & literati
  • Fab India Kurtas, Jeans & jhola, designer labels
  • Wine & cheese evenings
  • Select City Walk Mall & shopping where you have all top International brands under one roof

Forever in fashion

  • Shopping at Khan Market & Connaught Place, Chandi Chowk
  • Dilli Haat
  • India Habitat Centre for best of everything from the world of art/music/films/theatre …
  • Indian Ocean rock band
  • Karims for Mughlai, Kwality for choley Bhature, UPSC for Chaat, Oh Calcutta for Bengali food, Big Chill for the yummiest desserts, shakes and more grub, D’Pauls for cold coffee and Wengers for everything on its menu
  • Delhi Metro
  • Jahan-e-Khusrau festival
  • Walks in Lodhi Garden & India Gate

Author of this post came to Delhi when a trip to CP was high point of a holiday, shopping meant hob-knobbing at the state emporias’, ‘21 Love’ & ‘Hot Chocolate Fudge’ at Nirula’s were the most sort after flavours of ice cream! Since then she has attended a fair number of Pg3 dos and has witnessed all that has been listed in the post. She enjoys the buzz but prefers to be an observer. Shop only at Vintage in CP as that’s the only place she finds regular waist, straight-fit Levis. Even the store manager tells her, Ma’am jeans of your style are very difficult to find. But what to do she tell him, “This is what is most comfy & goes best with my pair of Bata shoes!”

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: After Mumbai -The City of Dreams, here is an account on Fashionalble Delhi... completing the Tale of Two Cities series. The two cities can not be compared and both outsmarts each other in some or the other aspect. However, Mumbaites and Delhizens will always be seen debating, claiming their respective city is better - showcasing love for their city!

PS: This series will also be published simultaneously on Delhizen’s blog

Monday, 30 August 2010

Mumbai – The City of Dreams! :)

Delhi, the National Capital of India and Mumbai the Financial. While Fashion & food are like two lifelines for Delhizens, its sensex, film stars and larger than life dreams which gave Bombay its identity. What to talk about those cities which are in news every day? What is that you already don’t know about them and we can tell you? The sole purpose of this two part series ‘Tale of Two Cities’ is to look at the cities from a perspective of two individuals who found everything here from work, home, friends- in short a new beginning to life!

For me, Mumbai is a city of dreams. So am I living my dreams, yes you can say that I am living in my dream city. And like me, millions of dream filled eyes come to Mumbai every year to make it big. And it is the place where dreams do become true. The city has something for everyone. So many times we have heard Shahrukh Khan saying, “When I came to Mumbai, I didn’t even have a penny in my pocket.” And he is just one among the many many people who came, saw and conquered. The city is kind to those who believe in themselves.

When you hear a morning 6’oclock alarm ring, you just can’t ignore it and sleep back. A minute extra sleep means you will reach the bus stop late. A minute late and you would be welcome by huge queue waiting for 6:50 AM - 461 BEST bus. A minute late at railway station means you will miss your 6:58 AM Churchgate fast local. The effect will be you would have to wait for the next train/ bus and the whole process makes you delay by 20-40 mins at your work place. So the system makes you disciplined. You start valuing time. You prioritise and plan ahead. Number becomes part of your life.

When you are in the office, you forget all the hassle you managed to reach the office. At the work place, you meet a hundred people, bright, young with one thing in common - all outsiders i.e. non Mumbaites. And if you happen to come across a localite, you can’t resist exclaiming, “Oh, you are a localite. Cool! Where do you stay in Mumbai?!” So you end up meeting people from various parts of the country and share different cultures but similar dreams – to reach at the top of the world!

In the evening, when it is the time to wrap up from the office, you get charged up once again to face the crowd and fight for your square centimetre of space in the local train. And again if you miss your 7:37 PM local from Fort station to Borivali, you get late for the dinner atleast by 50 mins. But you can always munch on a Vada pav. Cheapest and best snacks of Mumbai. There are people who survive only eating Vada pav, so if it is just a snack for you, you are a lot better off!

By the time you are done with your dinner, it is 10:30PM. You talk to your parents over phone and then you realise it’s time to signoff for the day. The next day is 6hrs away from waking and you need to rest before you gear up again! The sleep you get after toiling for the complete day cannot be bought from any shop. You sleep with a faith and wake up with a hope the next day! Are we missing something here? Oh Yes! This is just the starter and the main course and deserts are still waiting. You have only tasted first dish of the Chappan Bhog food. (Chappan Bhog – 56 variety of dishes served on auspicious events)

The day you feel life is getting monotonous, you need a break – you message your friends “Today evening at Marine drive, dinner at Jazz by the Bay.” So you meet up your college friends at the Queen’s Necklace. You chat with them, share stories, watch the ocean waves moving and stare at sky thinking. You land up at Pahlwan dhaba behind the historic and royal Taj President hotel for dinner. Paratha - curry with Coca cola and friends. You end up running towards station to catch the last local. Not that staying all night awake at the sea shore would not have been fun, but the next day office drags you home. A day well lived.

And the weekends are much awaited time. You sleep out till the noon. Do your pending work and plan for the evening. You hang out with your roommates at Juhu beach, go to Versova beach with office gang, at the ISCON temple with closed ones, Siddhivinayak, Mahalakshmi and Haji Ali with relatives, Hakone Go Carting with your friend’s group and now you are also part of that group, Water Kingdom water park with your project friends, latest flick with your ex project friends, English play with random friends (term I came to know in Mumbai itself), Lonavala on a rainy weekend with old friends. Your cousin visits Mumbai and he is a great fan of Shahrukh Khan so you take him to Mannat (SRK’s bunglow) at Bandra.

The city never sleeps. And not just in the literal sense but also when it is gripped by foreign attacks. 26/11 the biggest terrorist attack in the history of India – yet next day offices was open. Life was at normal, up and running in few days time. The city has its own challenges. The traffic is maddening at times, slums is as much an integral part of the maximum city as the Sensex, Bollywood and politicians, food is cheap but living is expensive, yet “Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota, usse perfect banaya jaata hai!

The post would remain incomplete without the mention of vigilant and agile Mumbai Police. They are the once who keep crime under control and ensures fearless mobility. They are the once because of whom people like me can go to Juhu beach at morning 3 o’clock and sip road side ginger tea!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: There has been a Harshad Mehta and there is a Ratan Tata. There has been a Dawood Ibrahim and a Hemant Karkare. Monika Bedi or a Priyanka Chopra. Or you can be larger than life, Sachin Tendulkar is an example. This is ‘the’ city where people come to make their career and end up making their life, it depends what dreams you want to realise!

*This series will also be published simultaneously on Delhizen’s blog Part II titled ‘Fashionable Delhi’ will be posted in days to follow!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Jab We Met! Indiblogger meet, Mumbai...

I saw her. She was standing at quite a distance from me. I was surprised to see her, I wasn’t expecting her. I stared her again to make sure that I was not imagining and she was actually there. Oh! Yes! She was actually there. A gush of excitement rushed through my bloodstream. I started moving towards her. Huge crowd was standing on my way but I managed to get through. In moments I was standing right next to her. Two guys were talking pic with her. So I waited for my turn. I cursed myself for not carrying camera. It was my turn. She was stunningly beautiful. Tall and mesmerizing. I was a bit hesitant. And by the time I could move closer, a bunch of people flocked infront of me to talk pic with her. I waited. And then I decided that I am taking the next turn. She was holding a cup of tea and was about to sip through it. I patiently admired her and allowed to enjoy that sip. “Gul, can I have your autograph please?” and I pushed paper and pen. “Sure”, smilingly she replied and two sweet dimples appeared on her cheeks. “Gosh she is prettier than what she appears to be on the big screen!” my mind said to me.

I was at Hotel Sea Princesses, Juhu, Mumbai. The occasion was Indiblogger Mumbai meet. A meet where 250 bloggers from Mumbai came, saw and conquered. Virtuality met reality. I met so many people who follow my blog and regularly comment and also people whom I follow.

As I reached there, I really didn’t know what to expect. Initial few minutes were grueling. I went alone and didn’t know anybody. But as time passed I started conversing with people and the ball was set in motion. One of the segments of the event was to introduce oneself and brief about their blog in 29 secs. It was kind of fun listening to people and I admit some of them were too good. The story teller or the guy who had a breakoff, they gave wackiest introduction I guess. In another segment we were given a big cardboard attached with a string. We were supposed to wear it with card hanging on our back and ask people to write comments on that cardboard – kind of you scratch my back, I scratch yours! (I used same cardboard to take Gul Panag’s autograph).

It was time; I had to take pic with Gul. So I went to my photographer blogger friend magiceye. “Hello Sir, I want a pic with Gul but I am not carrying camera.” I said to him with a puzzled face, smiling hoping he agrees to take my pic. “Oh sure, why not!” he replied. We moved towards Gul. She was sitting with someone. “Hey Gul, would you mind a pic with me?” I said and I knew she won’t mind. In next few seconds I was standing right next to her, smiling and magiceye talking a shot. First click. “No wait it hasn’t come good” magiceye said. And then he took I guess 35-40 secs for adjusting camera settings and we were standing with a smile on our face. And after 40 secs, he said to Gul, “I think he wants to be with you for some more time!” and we broke into laughter. He took final click in next second and I thanked both of them.

Then was an interesting session. Gul Panag was the moderator and the house was divided into two groups - the Youngistan with age less than 27 years and the senior citizens with 27+ age. We were discussing the role played by bloggers in the education system. How we bloggers have made a difference in the society where media is generally biased and doesn’t represent the complete society. It was a good session with both sides did try to outsmart each other. But I was amazed by Gul herself. This beauty has brains too! Her perspective and knowledge was very sound. Each time she spoke, she was adding a new dimension to the subject. People got so much involved in the session that Renie, the Indiblogger founding member and the team had to forcefully rap up session. And then it was time to screen ‘Soch Lo’ movie, before its release, especially for the bloggers. It was first of its kind promotion strategy. I was glued to the movie for most of the time, just that I missed the popcorn!

All in all it was a fabulous experience to meet people whom I knew virtually till that day. Kudos to the team of Indibloggers for putting up such an eventful show. Kudos to all the bloggers for their active participation.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: For those who aren’t into blogging, start one; you never know with whom you would meet luck by chance! Will I be seen pairing with Gul in my first movie, who knows! And those who are already into it, don’t miss any blogger’s meet! :)

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Indian at HeArT!

The North, the head is covered with snow. Beautiful Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Punjab mesmerizes with its natural beauty. The Himalayas stand tall guarding the country from calamities and intruders. Rivers originate and flow across the country talking care of the mankind. The Dal lake and Gulmarg, Leh - Ladhak, Buddhist monastery and divine beauty of Dharamshal in the north. Majestic Sikkim, tea plantations in North east, Water falls, National parks and beautiful architecture at India ka Dil – Madhya Pradesh, Portuguese churches, and excellent beaches at Goa, beautiful Konkan in the west, the golden beaches at Visakhapatnam, Jog falls of Shimoga District one of the highest waterfalls in Asia. South is blessed with wildlife sanctuaries, National parks and home to more than 500 species of birds. The natural beauty doesn’t require any introduction. God’s Own country – Kerala and the southernmost tip where the three great oceans confluences, a sight to freeze in eyes! From snow covered white land to sandy deserts, mountains to plains, waterfalls and forests, plateau and dense vegetation, the mother land has it all. She is very beautiful!

The country has been ruled by so many rulers who left behind their trademark architectural styles. It is evident in temples, forts and palaces. Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, India Gate, Lotus temple, French colonies at Pondicherry, Charminar, oh, I can go on and on… I guess a life time will be insufficient to explore the land completely.

A nation where a single God is worshipped in 33 crore different forms and names. Tirupati, the abode of Lord Venkateswara, the Dilwara temple at Mt. Abu, Ajmer sherif, the Hindu holy shrines of Amarnath and Vaishno Devi, twelve Jyotirling situated across the nation, the Puri temple and the Golden Temple in Amritsar are few famous temples among the millions worshiped in India.

The country is united by forming states on the basis of languages. Each state has its own peculiarities. It is diverse in culture, traditions, languages and outfits. The festivals are celebrated in different ways yet the spirit is the same. The food is prepared differently and tastes different yet it smells Indian! Be it Dal Makhani, Aaloo Paratha, Sarso da saag – Makke di roti, Daal Baati, Puran poli, Thepla or curd rice…there is an Indian-ness in the aroma!

And about people! Aahhhh… trust me nothing like an Indian! You call them Gujrati, Marwadi, Bengali, Tamilian, Mallu or a Delhite - they all remain Indian at heart. ‘Atithi Devo Bhav’ is an integral part of the Indians. They are the best in hospitality. No matter how much the guest would refuse, he atleast gets a tea to drink. Warm at heart, generous in attitude and helpful by nature. He may be wearing a branded suit, a dhoti or a pyajama, she might be wearing a saree or a salwar suit or a jeans top, billion heartbeats are united by a single spirit of patriotism. Cricket is religion. When Sachin Tendulkar gets out, the television sets gets switched off. India might be at a verge of losing the match, something like 56runs for 5 wickets and need 230 runs to win, yet there is that corner of the heart hoping and praying, give us victory God.

It is a young vibrant nation. People elect the government in the democratic constitution. It is a land of great leaders. No matter how corrupt the politicians are, no matter how many times the aam aadmi is cheated, no matter how many holes the inflation has created in their pockets, they are alive with a hope. A hope of brighter tomorrow. A hope to lead the tomorrow in a better way. The middle class entrepreneur nature keeps the spirit high.

They display their unity in difficult times. Be it 26/11, Mumbai train blasts, Tsunami or the recent cloud burst at Leh, the love for fellow Indians bring them together. They have this amazing energy to fight odds and find a way out. They know they are just few miles away from becoming a super power. The world is watching them and sooner or later the world would start follow them. Or have they already started following?

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Temples, history, rulers, forts, - it’s a country to be preserved. Not just the flora and the fauna, not just the geography and season, it is the people who have made it a great nation!

"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where knowledge is free; Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls; Where words come out from the depth of truth; Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection; Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by Thee to ever-widening thought and action - Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake."
Rabindranath Tagore

PS: When I thought about writing on India, the holy land…I thought would I be able to comprehend my feelings in a post with limited words and unlimited emotions? On the eve of Independence Day… here is my tribute to the mother land. (Wanted to post it before 15th Aug, but it is a very difficult subject to express completely and yet keep it short.) I am still reading it over and over again and wondering if I have done justice in describing the mother land! :)

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Autobiography of a Monday! :)

“I am Monday. Just like my any other sibling, I have my own existence. I don’t know my fault but somehow I find most of the people cursing me for my existence. They begin as early as morning when they find difficult to get up. “Why does Monday needs to come?” They say ‘Sunday is cool, Monday is fool’. They want to colour me! 'Monday Blue' I don’t mind with the colour, blue is my favourite. But the association and real meaning of Monday Blue disheartens me. I give people a sick feeling! Really?

School going kids wait for me to arrive, on the eve of their school opening or re-joining. They are thrilled that Monday would come and they would wear new uniforms, new school bags, new classroom, and new books! This excites me and I get thrilled. But once the life becomes routine, they start hating me. They start crying or cribbing as I approach. They love my siblings Saturday and Sunday more. I am jealous of Sunday. Kids wait for Sundays to arrive. They get special breakfast, special weekend meal and outing with parents. But as the Sunday night approaches, and I gear up to welcome them, they discourage me. I feel sad.

The case isn’t different with the grown-ups. They do behave like kids only. For colleges going students, my sibling Sunday is the mostly awaited one. They unwind, they relax, cherish the day. I am always considered as dreadful because they have submissions and tests. Is that my fault? Is it my fault that you don’t go on a date on a beautiful Monday evening! Have I ever said no to celebrate! If your birthday falls on a Monday, you celebrate it in advance and again chose Sunday over me. All feasts and gatherings are scheduled on Sunday making it feel more important. Even I want to be a part of your cherished memories. But GOD has chosen a different life for me.

The working professionals are set of people who believe I should not exist at all! In fact they are all the more weird in their behavior. They call my brother Friday as ‘Friday fever’. They unwind in the evening. Meet friends, party hard and break free. In their conversation they always mention that on last ‘bloody Monday’ boss did this, boss did that! I wish they could associate more good things than bad experiences with me. It’s not that I only know people who curse me. There are people who wait for me like anything. There are kids who miss their school prayer on weekends. They love wearing school uniform. Riding bicycle to school and back home gives them adrenaline rush. There are people who love their work so much that they eagerly wait for me to arrive. They are all geared up and look forward for meeting me. And then there are people who have their own vested interest. They like someone at their work place. So just to have a look or talk to that person, they want me to arrive soon.

But look at me. I lead the work life from the front. I am the one who sets the ball in the rolling from a full stop. I ensure that my other siblings, to follow me, do not have any issue. Small daily wage earners begin the week optimistically. Teachers and professors are all set to begin the week with all new enthusiasm. Traders and investors get busy charting their action for the week. Other professionals look forward for doing their best, starting Monday. This feeling encourages me to come after every Sunday, despite the fact that most of you guys hate me!

If you really agree with me till this point, you would like to try out these things. Again I am trying to help you so that you enjoy me a bit more. Plan what you want to do on Monday and subsequent days on the last Friday, beforehand. This will give you clarity for an upcoming week. Listen to songs when you are getting ready on a Monday morning. Indulge yourself into your favourite chocolate right in the morning, before breakfast. Wear your best dress. You guys are smarter than me and can think better than me. So you can brighten this day too by showing your creativity!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: I want to see you smile and enjoy me as much as you enjoy a Friday, Saturday or a Sunday! Why can’t you play on Mondays? Why can’t you indulge in shopping on some Monday? Why can’t you watch movie with your loved ones on a Monday evening? Long drive? You can celebrate me also, can’t you?"

Monday, 26 July 2010

Did you shop from Coca Cola Footware or Mercedes Benz book store?

Apple Inc. A word enough to keep the techno savvy world on its toes. Innovation is what you look for after hearing the brand name. McDonalds’: I M Loving it – first thought in mind, a burger with cheese slice peeping out from the circumference, Coco cola – comfort, lifestyle, enjoyment! Nokia, Google, IBM, Toyota, Disney, Intel, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Cisco, BMW, Honda, Nike, Sony, Citi and I can go on and on! Yes, these are world’s best of the brands and the brand name reminds sweet memories associated with the products. It is about lifestyle. Happiness. Comfort.

Would you like to buy clothes from Tata clothes Limited or Tata Apparel Unlimited? How about Maruti Book store? Microsoft Shoes? Did you try new Bata Laptops? You must have tried Philips Jewellery? Oh, how can you miss Accenture watches? Haven’t tried yet! How about Colgate coconut Oil? Amul Dantmanjal? Very effective manjan and keeps your teeth utter butterly deliciously white! I bet you must have tried Birla Milky Bar? I know you are planning to give your girlfriend an Audi diamond ring! I suggest you rather don’t even think of doing that. Neither would you get the girl nor would you get your diamond ring back. So what exactly do I want to say? Why I am trying to tarnish some of the world’s biggest and bestest brands! The case in point is Reliance Industries (Mukesh Ambani) and its brand extension strategy. Out of place to say the least!

Brand extension is a marketing strategy in which a firm marketing a product with a well-developed image uses the same brand name in a different product category. A company tries to do this to leverage the already created brand image. For example, LG – Television, Refrigerator, Mobile phone. The company has an image of high quality electronic durables. So brand extension helps it in establishing products in different product categories. Another example could be Park Avenue: Shirts, After Shave, Belts, Soaps and Razor. Consumers associate the image of a new product with an existing product under same brand.

Now, Reliance Industries, which requires no introduction, is usually associated with Petroleum, oil and refinery. The solid brand associated with execution, efficiency, propelling high growth for the economy. The brand extension of Reliance to ‘Reliance Fresh’ is in itself diluting the value of Reliance Industries. Reliance Digital – doesn’t connect with electronics. The dot on the letter ‘i’ in Reliance symbolises a drop of oil. How would Reliance digital appeal to techno savvy youth of the nation? It is difficult to associate same brand with as diverse businesses as oil, books, clothes and jewellery. Each product has different emotional appeal which a same brand cannot address. When we say Airtel, the fantastic Airtel music composed by AR Raheman, rings in our ear.

Products name should have emotional connect. Emotions drive us to buy more. No matter how many Levis Jeans somebody has, he would go for one more. A Nike shoe gives satisfaction to my legs. Apple iPhone gives a style statement to the users. Would you ever leave your home to shop from ‘Reliance Footprint’, a footwear concept, ‘Reliance Jewels’, a jewellery concept, ‘Reliance TimeOut’, a books, music & entertainment concept? There are the Cross Words, Westsides, Pantaloons, and Mobile Stores! Why would you want to indulge in shopping that won’t give you ‘that’ satisfaction! And Reliance offerings dosen't end here. ‘Reliance Living’, a homeware, furniture, modular kitchens, furnishings concept, ‘Trends’, an apparel & accessories concept, ‘Reliance Wellness’, a health, wellness & beauty concept, ‘iStore by Reliance Digital’, an exclusive Apple products concept!

I respect Mr Senior Ambani for pure vision, planning and execution. If he wants it, he does it! The big thinking! But sometimes you need to put emotions into product apart from money, reach and power. The brand extension ‘Reliance’ to clothes and book store won’t ever allow them to emotionally connect with people.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: The process of creation of a brand image sometimes takes decades. Possession of successful brands give people confidence. They see their projections in the brands they hold or possess. If the brand extensions have no advantage over competitive brands in the new category, then it will fail. Hope somebody from Reliance Industries is reading this!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Run Forrest Run!!!

It all started with a small presentation in my office. The BU (Business Unit) Head’s personal fitness trainer was enlightening us on how much important it is, to keep fit. It was a detailed presentation with Q&A taken by the BU head himself, who himself is a fitness freak and always participates in Mumbai Marathon, atleast.

It was decided to reach the Juhu Beach (Mumbai) at around 5:30 am the next day. I was joined by couple of senior managers to start with. (It became possible to reach there and experience the “phenomenon” because of them.) The number of members increased gradually as we shared our experience in the office and people got excited.

As we started from our respective places to reach the beach, the roads were empty, a rare sight in Mumbai. We could easily speed up. The excitement was gushing through inside me and it kept my thoughts of “wouldn’t it have been still beautiful, if I would have been sleeping in my cosy bed, back home!” But somewhere I knew it was worth giving a shot. As I was with some of the very senior people of my company on my way, initially there was a bit of hesitation and kind of searching for common topics to speak on. “Small talk”, my mind gave me the solution.

First morning as we reached the beach, it was scary dark outside. The car haulted and the engine stopped burning. The radio stopped singing and the headlights rested. The deserted narrow lane looked at me intently. The night was staring back into my eyes, trying to frightened me, after all I was the one who was trying to trespass it without prior intimation. We somehow came to terms and I moved closer to the sand. As we passed through the narrow lane towards the beach, what a sight it was! A through delight! Nature at its best! The sky was majestic bluish dark in colour, kissing the sea at the horizon. It was kind of divine union of love. The waves, small and big moved in some kind of rhythm, probably wanted to say something. Wind travelling all over the sea, when touched my face, I felt a welcome gesture! I was amazed!

I had not seen Juhu beach so beautiful and so empty, any time before. I met other members of the club, the couches and we got started. We did warm up exercises. The couch explained us how to co-ordinate between movements of hands and legs, when in motion, the body posture while jogging. The difference between walking, jogging and running, the breathing techniques. Importance of having a runners shoes, everything, very softly and precisely. And above all, importance of talking to yourself, the one think that keep s you going when in long race, in life and otherwise! The initial targets looked far and doubts surfaced me, but as I got started, nothing was far from reach.

Personally speaking, I always use to wonder why do people run? What is the motivation? What is the satisfaction they derive? I can understand you score runs when you play cricket, win sets in tennis, settle scores in boxing, but what in running? Day one gave me all the answers. When you run, you speak to yourself. You actually start meditating and running becomes mechanical after a point of time. The sense of satisfaction after completing 8Kms or 10Kms is immeasurable with even a century hit in cricket. You achieve your target; you prove mettle of your body! From 100m, it increases to a km to 8 kms to 10 kms to half marathon and full marathon! Till date, my roommates do not believe that I could run 8km (To and fro of Juhu beach from one end to another) or more. Simply because they never realised that it is achievable. And believe me once you get started, you can become a Usian Bolt or even better!

We had different styles of running each time; variation is speed or strides, etc. We use to do power exercises to build stamina, group exercise to build sense of belongingness and motivation, couch-talk for building confidence. The couch is certified and trained and an expert in mentoring.
Apart from providing fun, fitness and being close to the nature, it helped me in understanding myself better. I still remember one statement of our BU head, he made on the day of presentation, “Come and experience. We party every morning for 2 hours and each day is different!” So true!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Try running for a week under guidance, you will never want to quit it. It will make your day, you would feel refreshed whole day, up and raring to go!

PS: The title of the post is ‘Run Forrest Run’ because the single phenomenon of running changed Forrest Gump’s life in the movie “Forrest Gump” also happens to be among my favourites.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The biggest enemy of the 'beautiful game'!

The beautiful game - Football has gripped the world like never before. Millions of enthusiast are glued to the television, sports magazines are selling like hot cake and bloggers are busy updating blogs moment by moment. Not only human beings but also animals are following the beautiful game. Paul - the octopus is garnering more views than even some of the highest paid football strikers. Truly hat off to the sport and its spirit.

In India, the matches are telecast in the evening and at late night. Though the football fever caught me lately, I always try to make home for the evening match, atleast the second half. I am forced to miss all the late night matches as I am suppose to wake up early and reach office early. (That's the reason I missed Brazil in action, this season.) Though I am an Argentina supporter and post its debacle, started supporting Germany for its truly beautiful and skillful game. It was wednesday evening, I reached home in the evening, as usual. We friends sat for dinner together discussing various stuff, from office to current bandh to sports.

After a while, Amol asked me, "Was I going to watch late night match between Argentina and Germany?" Now, Amol is a guy who is mad about sports in general and specifically football. He returns home early, take a nap for 2 hours to catch the late night matches.

I replied blankly, "No, as you know, have to get up early. Even at office some critical issues are going on, can't be late." I wasn't knowing what's gonna come for me from him, at that point.

He aggressively replied, "You are supporing Argentina, why aren't you going to watch it? After all this is the last time you could see a football world cup match live?"
I got puzzled, so thus everyone, I guess.

I asked,"Last time? Why? Why last time live? Why won't I be able watch late night telecast, the way I can do now?"

He said, very thoughtfully, "The next football world cup is going to happen after 4 years from now. By that time, you would be married. So how the hell could you see late night matches live? You would be thrown out of your own house if you disobey your would be wife!"

Nikunj replied very hopefully, "What made you assume that girls dont like football? Havent you gone too far in your planning? My girl friend is different. She appreciates it"

Even I opposed him. "Girls are not like that. Few compromise here and there is ok. And I have lot of female friends who stay awake to watch matches and keep updating their FB status message every few seconds!"

Amol replied sarcastically, "Just wait and watch!"

Initially everybody laughed and made fun of him, but I just thought how much this guy has thought about future! He was talking as if he is very experienced guy. His words were worth pondering on. And thud, his words pinch me, is this the last opportunity?

Over the food we formuliased various strategies as to how to deal with such a serious issue! We narrowed on few solutions, after all impossible is nothing! But none of the idea was practical. I still don't know if the would be (though I am not in hurry and haven't been thinking so seriously about it) dosent like watching late night football, what exactly happen!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Do you guys have some solution for the issue discussed? For the female readers, how do you deal or plan to deal with such situation? For the male readers, do you fear the way I am fear now? Laugh out loudly!

PS: My biggest appologies to all the female readers out there. Take this on a lighter note, but the thoughts do scare.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

The right manager!

Who is the best manager in the world? Who has proved his efficiency? Who has delivered month after month and year after year? Someone who has out performed given any situation? Recession or markets at peak, this manager hasnt blink ever! Top line, bottom line, resources, etc.

I know, by now you would have guessed few names and I know you all would be wrong! You may be biased with some legend and give some answers. You may say Jack Welch was the best manager in the history of mankind. Somebody might say, “Was Lord Krishna in Mahabharata any less?” “Indira Nooyi, how about her?” Hitler, Churchill, M Gandhi, John Sculley, Steve Jobs, the list may go on and on but what is the right answer? Who is The One! Who has made everyone proud? You don’t have took into the history and weigh the numbers, the best manager in the world is hands down, the “moms”. You might be calling her “mummy” or “mother” or “aaii” or something else. You may call her by any name, the qualities are unmatchable.

So what does a mom do? Why is she undoubtedly the best manager? It’s not a rocket science! And you know what; she doesn’t need to do MBA, MTech, a certification, PMP, PhD, etc. It is something god gifted! Oh, am I saying she is different than God? I don’t want to commit a crime by saying that! She would understand things just by looking at you, just a “Hello” on the phone will tell her your state of mind. She is genius. She might be unwell but she would ensure that your tiffin box is ready on time. You would keep shouting at her for trivial things, you are not able to get because you forgot where you kept; she would still kiss you, hug you and find it for you. Before you complain about anything, she resolves it. No matter how much I write, the words would appear too small. Always for you, selflessly. But, why suddenly a post on mom?

The thought started with one of my friend explaining me what kind of boss he has got. And I pray god, nobody gets that kind of boss ever. For everything the answer is ‘no’. My friend is misfit in the role, yet by force he is asked to adapt. The work has least challenging tasks and all his previous efforts, knowledge acquired are at stake. The boss doesn’t listen to anybody. He only looks for higher number, higher margins. For him, people are insignificant. According to so many HR surveys conducted, employee derives maximum satisfaction from appreciation, second from good work. The last on the list is monetary benefits. A simple proven fact of ‘handling people well’ is defied in this case. So what does it take to qualify for being a manager? 10 years in industry, that’s it! A PMP certification?

There is no shortcut for success. A degree, a certification just clears the entry barrier. Theory is always ideal but far from actual situations. Number of years just adds on your resume, the nature of work makes all the difference. Understanding people is pivotal. The demands of fellow associates are never too many and it is never out of reach. The right attitude towards employee is all that is required. Keep motivating employees; try to push them to their limits. Arrange some training for them, make them feel that they are being thought of and taken care of. Arrange regular interactive fun at work, not just for the name sake but employee should be able to derive fun out of it. Go out for team lunch and team movies. Picnics are best way to unwind and get closer. A satisfied employee would put everything in work to give best output. And then you never have to worry about attrition, profits, margins, growth. Everything falls in place automatically.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: The newspapers are hovering with rising attrition rates every day. The solution isn’t a rocket science. ‘Manage People’ properly. Listen to them and take inclusive decisions. Number of years in the industry doesn’t make an individual a good manager, listening to people and acting towards it, thus!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Business School degree’s applicability in Indian context.

A friend of mine pursuing PhD from IIT Powai keeps me on the toe most of the times. His views are thought provoking. The other day I was chatting with him and we started discussing applicability of management degree in Indian context. Though we couldn’t talk much, here are my views on the topic.

In my two years of grinding at one of the prestigious management school, I have studied and solved more than 100 case studies apart from the regular curriculum. Case study is best way of teaching as it gives insights to numerous factors integrated with each other. It is like practical examples getting solved in class rooms, hence giving exposure to real life scenario. If I retrospect, the case studies mostly dealt with American and European MNCs chasing and expanding at various geographies worldwide. It focused on issues that they faced while expanding overseas. How some xyz company has changed the landscape, or changed the face of an industry. From McDonald’s supply Chain issues, South-West Airlines game changing strategy to Wal-mart, Coca cola and Nestlé’s Maggi... mostly the cases were about developed countries and issues faced by such countries. The cases dealt with subject including strategies, stern labour laws, supply chain, merger and acquisitions, branding, positioning, managing working capital, capital budgeting, etc. The depth and breadth was very wide.

Yet it somewhere missed the Indian story. I am not able to recall all the cases, but I did study few cases which dealt with companies like the Unilever and P&G and few others, entering in Indian markets. I think Big Bazaar could be a great case study in itself. No one taught or thought of creating a hyper market with stuff arranged in chaotic manner to give it an “Indian bazaar” look, the way Indians like to shop. The success of Café Coffee Day is keeping world biggies like Starbucks at bay restricting its entry into the Indian markets. The positioning, location of the outlets and the youth appeal has seen the brand become stronger and stronger. The pricing is perfect; the management knows how much a college student’s pocket can afford. Haldiram’s is another case in point for strategies revolving around sales and distribution. You go to any place in India, on any railway station and you would find a Haldiram’s namkeen packet. Parle is another example for that matter. BCCI -the money minting machine dominating the world of Cricket, Indian railways, IPL, Chanakya neeti, Reliance Industries refinery plant, Tata Nano, the dabba walas, the networking of locals in Mumbai, etc. There are many many Indian examples which are worth studying giving great insights into various aspects.

I think we need to focus on how corporates of foreign origin deal with various issues when they try to expand in difficult geographies. They teach us how to handle language and cultural barriers, how to localize and keep pace with grow. Sitting in class room, we get to know challenges in growing business in countries like the US, France, Germany or Australia for that matter. It definitely gives exposure of world class and our thought process becomes much more informed. We become globalize and think as a global manager. We dissect strategies of Wal-mart, we find follies, think out of box and present the case to the class and submit our recommendations. We say that the company should have done these things and they could have saved these many million dollars additionally. I have my self submitted a research report comparing the strategies of Jack Welch, ex-CEO of General Electric and Jeff Immlet, the present CEO of GE. It was appreciated but it remained on papers. Had I studied JRD Tata’s vision and Mr. Ratan Tata’s vision and submitted it, possibility of its application would have increased. I work in an Indian MNC and I hardly apply what lessons I learnt during my management studies. Though the outlook is global. it is macro in nature. The skills developed are utilized but I see a huge gap between what is taught and what is applied.

The percentage exposure needs to shift a bit. If the proportion of content shifts from developed counties to developing nations the applicability would increase at work place. Our thoughts will be more realistic. We will think and innovate with some practicality in it. The second fastest growing economy is vast and diverse and a difficult market to operate in. It is religious by nature dominated by middle class psyche, divided into rural-semi urban and urban markets, the demography mix is unique. The consumer is cautious as information has empowered him and expects a lot from the manufacturers/ service providers. The youth is modern in outlook yet its core values are very much rooted. Somewhere that Indian heart beats loud. The number of Indian brands nurtured domestically knocking at the global level to get recognized; even the fastest growing economy cannot match.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Every case study, irrespective of the geography, company or subject it deals with, hones the skills to match the corporate requirements. But if the curriculum increases share of case studies enumerating Indian scenario or scenarios from developing nations, may be from 15% of all case studies to 40%, the young guns would relate to it more. It will help in channelizing thoughts with lot more practicality and applicability.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Legalizing betting: Morality over-powering economic gains?

I remember betting with my sister on small small things. As trivial as who will reach home first from tuition classes, who will beat whom in the game of chess, to whom does mummy loves more, etc. The winner’s take away use to be a Kismi-toffee bar or a Dairy Milk or a Fruit and Nut. Mostly we ended up sharing the chocolates 50-50 percent, that too with a fight on who got a little bigger! Small things are so beautiful! But as the stake increases, the gravity of situation gets compounded.

In the on-going IPL saga revolving around Mr. Lalit Modi and the allegations put on him, some where it was mentioned that he was also involved in betting matches and tarnishing the face of cricket further. And then I thought why isn’t betting legalized in India? And then I thought why should it be legalized, in the first place? Does it exist (legally)? O yes! It does! We have legalized betting in horse races, gambling in casinos and can easily find lotteries up for sale outside temples and in busy markets, especially during festival times.

Gambling/ betting is defined as wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods. Typically the span of time between speculation and outcome is very short.

In developed countries like US gambling is legalised but not all forms and with heavy restrictions. In the year 2006, gaming activities itself generated gross revenues of $90.93 billion. In states like Nevada, casino is legalized but with heavy state restrictions. Both state and local governments impose licensing and zoning restrictions. Economy of Las Vegas is thriving predominantly on the gaming and tourism business. The story is no different in Louisiana, Illinois, Detroit, New York, California and many other places and countries. But the system is so efficient that if try to dig, we wont find a politician or a state minister holding stake in the business illegally. The policing is very strong and efficient.

In India gambling and bookmaking is not legal per say. Few exceptions are there like limited number of casinos is allowed to operate in Goa and Sikkim. Betting in horse racing is legal and can easily be witnessed in Mumbai and Pune circuit. Pretext for legalizing it was horse racing involves skills and isn’t mere speculation. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mumbai saw Matka gambling a form of gambling until police broke down the illegally operating establishment in 1990s. Lotteries are legalized but are controlled by the state or central government.

I think betting should not be legalized. It is like a short cut route for making big money. Since the demography of India comprises youth in majority, legalizing might paralyze the “working psyche” of the country. When we are young we believe we can do any and everything. Sky is the limit and barriers are just like commas and not full stops. Such confidence will back fire in the game of speculation. We Indians are proud of its rapidly growing middle class. The growth is majorly because of the hard working nature and ability to set targets and achieve them. Betting, where entry barrier is least, can challenge the foundation of our strong economy. No doubt it will churn huge amount of money for the government and such money can be used for the infrastructural growth. But it is not worth having a developed nation with paralyzed future.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Considering the fact that the demography of India is dominated by young and working class people, legalising can cripple the economy. 'Hard working' psyche might get replaced by 'making shortcut' psyche. In the long run, it would prove more of  a hazard rather than any positive for the society.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Challenging yourself...

Akhilesh, Puneet and Swapnil are three friends who cannot tolerate presence of each other at all. Yet they are friends, mostly conflicting. They have great understanding between them, yet they seldom co-existed for long. It was more of adaption rather than liking. It was more of familiarity rather than fondness. The uniqueness in their relation was they always knew their thought processing is different. Right from the childhood, they studied in same school and studied same subjects. However, they differed after schools. Puneet studied commerce in graduation and then secured masters degree in business administration. Akhilesh and Swapnil did engineering and then secured their MBA degrees.

Puneet is an introvert, cute and “good” guy. Take home and make your parents meet material, in short a marriage material. Akhilesh, handsome and rich. A lady- charmer, girls chase him for his intelligence and well settled future. But he is after realizing his dreams, dreams to become richer and richer and for him means are as important as the ends. Swapnil had this knack of doing right things at right time. An entrepreneur by nature always wanting to sell his dreams to the world.

Incidentally, Puneet met Akhilesh and Swapnil at a coffee shop - Café Coffee Day, their all time favorite. They greeted each other out of courtesy. Puneet ordered for Café Mocha, Akhilesh – Café Latte and Swapnil – Devil’s Own.

Akhilesh broke the silence. “Hey Puneet dude, how is your work going? Same company, last three years! The recession is over man. Markets have improved and competitors are offering much more than what you are getting currently! Switch from your company and see your package sky rocketing! I feel bad about your current situation. Common man.” Mockingly Akhilesh delivered his speech staring at Puneet.

Before Puneet could say anything, Swapnil interrupted Akhilesh, “I completely disagree with Akhilesh. Remember the stories that you told me about you wanting to start your restaurant? What about it man? You planned so much? Entrepreneurship is in your blood! I don’t like you working for somebody else. It is time for you to take a plunge from the mundane “job” and venture out of your own. You have your restaurant plans ready since last five years and you told me that you would be starting it after your management degree. In fact I was so much impressed just by looking at the detailing done by you. I can guarantee you, if you execute your plans, it would be a great hit!”

Puneet was listening quietly waiting for his turn to defend himself. “Akhilesh, I don’t want to run after companies. The current company has been good to me and taken good care of me in difficult recession times. I don’t want to betray it now. And in the first place, you know, this is not what I want to do! I am always looking to set up my own restaurant. Yeah Puneet you are right. But I think I want more time and need more money in place before I begin in big way. May be few onsites and then I am off to chase my dreams!”

“Switch and make more money in less time. Take onsite from new company. You are in business; don’t be sentimental for the current company! Don’t be emotional fool!” Akhilesh explained, banging his coffee mug on the table. “And you are losing time, in your waiting game. Start your restaurant and start building it slowly and steadily. It takes around a decade for any new business to get set and evolve in to big one!” claimed Swapnil promptly.

By this time, Puneet was completely confused! Perplexed and unsure, he became angry. All the three started defending themselves and making it difficult for Puneet to explain his situation. Puneet’s state of mind became rather baffled. The loud music of Café Coffee Day actually started dancing in-front of him. Full of rage and anger he pushed Akhilesh and Swapnil hard, indicating them to leave the place. The two got up and left immediately, abruptly, unconvinced, determined to visit him again afterwards. Puneet started pulling his hairs in despair and anguish.

After 24 mins, a waiter came close to Puneet’s table, picked up the only coffee mug lying and cleared the table. He placed the bill for Café Mocha, the only coffee ordered for the table since Puneet came to the coffee shop.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Isn’t it difficult to deal with your own conflicting thoughts bouncing on you at the same time?

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Spreading smiles!

“Yeh dosti hum nahi chodenge…” Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra were singing the song and promising each other to stay together forever, on the 70MM.

“I use to sing this song with my friend Ajay, when I was young. I so miss him. We use to work together in a mill. We use to return back home together, each day humming this song. Her mom use to make amazing Aaloo Parathas. We use to have it with curd and pickle. Sadly I don’t know where he is now!” Emotional Rajendra went to flashback, remembering his best friend.

“I use to dance on this song with my sister! We use to go to nearby temple and dance till our last breath! Our mom use to come shouting at us, scolding for running away from work!” Ranjana in her 60s something exclaimed, looking at Hema Malini dance in the movie.

“My kids use to repeat these dialogs. They use to enact it. One use to enact Gabbar and the other kid as Sambha”, gushed someone from the front. He was very excited and enjoyed every moment of the movie showcased.

The atmosphere became rather emotional. People from varied backgrounds in the age of mostly 60 years plus stayed together at the ‘Home for old age people’. Each face telling their own stories. Grey hairs indicating hard work done by them when they were young and fresh. Each wrinkle on their face narrating different shades of life, the ups and downs they have seen and the hardship they have gone through. Their slow yet steady movements showed their determination, no matter what, they will survive all the odds. The grandpas and grandmaas started sharing better part of their life with us. Time when they were young and restless. They were aggressive and were ready to take on the world, unlike now, where they are dependent on others.

I experienced the above moments of joy and satisfaction at an old age home at my native place. And after looking at their enthusiasm, to face the odds and enjoy their remaining life, with whatever they have, I was deeply touched. Truly, age is just a number. I was sitting amongst people with 60 years plus in their age. Rotaract Club, run by our college, gave me this life time opportunity. We students a group of around 20-25 visited the old age home regularly. Our mission was to spread happiness in the society. We thought that just by contributing money or clothes, we were contributing towards their survival, but not towards their living. We wanted them to enjoy. To laugh and think life is still beautiful and nothing matters more than courage. Courage, to forget the suffering and smile!

We decided to add an entertainment quotient in the life of old age people. Movie screening was one of the events we use to undertake once in a month, selecting the most popular one among them. We also use to conduct competitions for club members and entertain the aged ones. That day, in the evening, we organized Mehndi competition. All the old age people were asked to sit in a big circle in the open area. Our members put mehndi on their hand. They were thoroughly excited. The grandpas and grandmas kept on narrating their experiences while the process of putting mehndi was on. The stories were deep, honest, touching and eye opening! I even thought of recording each story! The feelings I had, I cannot express.

All the members had that satisfying feeling. An effort well taken. A task worth doing again and again. We tried to give the aged ones something beyond money, an experience, something they deserved after toiling for all these years, a smile and a sense of belongingness!

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: There are very few tasks that gives you actual satisfaction. You do it because you want and nothing else. No one to prove, no one to impress, no rating and performance pressure, nothing to gain, nothing to show off. It is imperative to give something back to the society in some form as we keep exploiting it in the journey of life.

PS: The above post is a real account and my recreation for Tata Nano "Spreading Smile" contest.


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