Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why is it easier to bargain for taxi fare for Vasco?

You want to go to Vasco to get a datacard recharge, because the online payment method on your provider's website is "temporarily out of service". A friend gives you a cab guy's number, which you call.

"Bhaiyya, BITS se bol raha hoon, Vasco jaana hai"
"Kitne baje jayenge bhaiyya?"
"Abhi nikalna hai, 10 minutes me CH1 aa jao"
"250 lagenge bhaiyya"

250 bucks? are you kidding me?

You remember the good old times, when everything was cheaper and Goa didn't have the perception that BITSians are filthy rich brats with Goa more on their mind than academics, and deserved to get ripped off (It's still not true, by the way. about 25% of the batch avails merit-cum-need scholarships given only to students with good marks and parental income less than Indian Rupee ₹ 3,00,000 per annum, which, according to my guess, is less than what cabdrivers make in Goa)

But no matter what the situation presently is, you still have to go to Vasco today. You have a term paper to submit next week, and can't rely on campus net to be available and all sites you need unblocked. you ask the guy if he'll take 200 instead.

"Nahi bhaiyya, 250 hi lagega"

You have Greg Mankiw's Principles of Economics open at your desk. you idly glance at the page open - it says "Principle 7 - Rational individuals think at the margin". You think about the paper you have to finish, and meekly commit to paying 250 rupees on the phone.

What could you have done differently?

The main gate has a pseudo-taxi stand. Taxicabs arrive in the morning, waiting for business which may or may not turn up. These cabs generally are from the Vasco Taxi-stand. Business is not guaranteed because

a) It's not a city/town centre, so people may or may not be in need of a commute at all times.
b) There are no rules on who gets the next traveller, and no consent-based fixed price as almost all taxi stands have.

Say the guy you call is stationed at the Vasco taxi stand. He has to come from Vasco for you, wait for you, take you to Vasco, and go back to the taxi stand. In the time it took from his leaving and getting back to the stand, he has to forego any business which comes at the stand. In addition, he has to go back to the end of the queue after he comes back as is generally the norm. All this, consciously for you.

Compare this to the guy at the gate. He has already made the trip to the main gate, and not specifically for you. If he chooses to take you to Vasco, he can get back to the taxi stand with no extra travel required. There are plenty of other taxis with him at the gate, and no queuing rule implies they all can compete for you.

Rational individuals think at the margin.

Next time you have to go out, go to the gate and sign out. Then start your negotiations to get to Vasco at a price slightly less than what you think is reasonable (say 150-20=130). Remind the guy you have so many options to choose from (If you can, talk to another cab guy noncommittally in his sight. A picture is worth a thousand words.) Remind him of the fact that there's no surety that business will turn up in the next one hour, and by standing there not budging, he's missing out on the business that he would've got in Vasco. Say you thought he would know what a good deal is, but you were wrong.

The taxi guy will start with quoting a lower price. You have 20 rupees as your reserve quota, use it in two 10 rupee slots.

"220 me le chalta hoon bhaiyya"

Knowledge is Power Supreme. Who would've thought?

Friday, June 13, 2008

What is common to HP, Gillette, and Galaxy Restaurant - Kodambakkam?

In Spencer Plaza - Chennai, Gillette has set up a mega display. It has a plasma screen showing MACH III Advertisements, a massive set of speakers, using which, a balding man with a calm, gentle voice beckons people to come down and take the Mach 3 Confidence Challenge.

The challenge is simple, you fill out a form, go to the cabin's they've made and try out shaving with the new Gillette Mach 3, and you get to keep the razor, otherwise costing Rs. 315 for free. No Strings Attached.

A shopkeeper in Ritchie Street offers a high quality HP Inkjet printer for 1500 Rupees. He remembers the good old days, and the hugely popular HP DeskJet 640C, which sold for about 7000 Rupees, the print quality for the 1.5K printer is better though. He wonders how it's still profitable for the company to sell a color printer for such a low cost.

In Kodambakkam, a customer walks into a small, shady looking restaurant, he looks through a menu and orders a Paneer Butter Masala. The price, he notices, is low - even for a place like this. Maybe the Quality Or the Quantity are poor. As his order arrives, he's surprised by both. The Gravy is thick and delicious. The Quantity of Paneer isn't that great, but the curry is given in generous portions.

All the better for the customer, right?

Keep in mind that these are not philanthropic organisations. If they don't make money, they will unapologetically weeded out of existence by market forces. The former two are corporate giants, often described as money hungry bastards. Do they seem that way here?

Sure, it may look that way, But our initial impressions which govern our buying patterns don't keep into account the complementary goods that will ensure the satisfactory and long term use of the listed goods. What is meant here is the following :

  • If you're using a razor long term, you'll have to buy more blades
  • Regular Printing will use up the ink in the ink cartridges in a desktop printer, or if kept for long times without printing, dries up the ink.
  • Naturally, you won't be having just a Paneer dish.

Needless to say, all these complementary goods are proprietary, which means that there's a special MACH III blade, which only gillette has the right to produce. Only HP can produce genuine HP Printer Cartridges, and since outside food is not allowed in an eatery, you'll have rotis or rice at that particular restaurant only.

The prices for these also tell us the whole story about how they can earn money while still giving off a good first impression. A Mach 3 Cartridge is priced at Rs. 110, an HP Color cartridge costs Rs. 1400, and a single chapati is worth Rs. 15. Also, since the consumer has done the initial investment, he's psychologically "locked-in" to the product, so a majority of them won't switch to a cheaper-in-the-long-run product, even if they're budget users.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Teriyad -> Don't Know

I reached the bus stand 10 minutes earlier than my usual time. I had recently had a minor upset stomach, the medicines to which lay in my pocket. I quickly reached a roadside shop and bought a pack of chips and another packet of Water (One rupee wonly). As I paid for them, I watched an almost empty 17M whoosh by.

I looked at my watch : 8:50AM. "Plenty of time to get there" - I thought to myself as I took a gulp from my water packet. 17M was the bus which took me to work, and it wasn't uncommon to see 3 of them right next to each other on a bus stand, giving commuters a free choice.

8:55 - No Sign Of Any Bus.

9:05 - A 27G comes, That'll do. I start walking towards it but it speeds down to another bus stop about 20 meters away. I wordlessly mutter DC curses a the driver and the moron who got the idea to build 2 bus stops 20 meters apart.

9:10 - I see Yogesh and Pavan. Yogi dives on into a story about some woman in a bus, as i feign interest, I remember pavan telling me he had to reach by 9. "Shall we take an auto?", I look back to ask yogesh, he's alreado on a 17M. I run after the bus and somehow manage to get in.

The bus, in short was crowded. It reminded me of Goa, about the last Vasco-Birla bus of the day were they implemented the best packing technique for human beings, with blatant disregard to their need for air. I took a look around, It was difficult ; My head had been locked into a position by the crowd. I saw a clean shaven Sardaarji, A young girl with a school ID round her neck, Yogesh and right next to me, a woman in her 40s right next to me.

The woman turned around. As soon as she saw me, as though by a reflex, she started hurling abuses at >50 dB at me. I couldn't understand the words she was using, but as a person who knew the language of the world, I understood her as though she was speaking in my native language.

5 Minutes passed, I got the feeling that she was enjoying the experience. I looked down, our feet were far apart. Both my hands were clutching the iron bars on the roof - I was at a safe distance. By this time I could clearly understand that the woman was now talking about the way I was brought up and what manners my parents had taught me. The place where I got off was close, and the woman's voice was gaining weight as time passed. As the bus slid into the TVS bus stop, my face drew up in a smile, This was my time for revenge. "Tamil Teriyad", I said as I waited to see the expression on her face before getting off.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Great BITSGian PS1 Blog

is now at http://ps-won.blogspot.com/
anyone wanting in, comment with your email address.

You can cross-post PS1 related/unrelated posts from your own personal blogs here, and generally be a part of the bigger PS1 picture. You can also vent your frustapa at how other people are getting free AC accomodations/Stipends while you are rotting away next to a railway station in a "non-functional" hostel with administrators who point at you and laugh when you mention the word "facilities"... :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sambar Blues

The first memory of south Indian cuisine from my childhood was sitting in Madras Hotel, having Masala Dosai with my parents. It was probably one of our birthdays and we had this unsaid rule in our family which mandated South indian food to be consumed on all Joyous occasions.

Not that we minded, of course. The famous Madras Hotel of Connought Place, Delhi had an air of generosity about it, despite of the cheap wooden benches. It followed the mantra that equated guest with god as aged waiters wandered throughout the place with mugs full of piping hot sambar, refilling your "katoris" without even being called for it.

I, as a seven year old, took delight in the spicy concoction that so characterised the place to officegoers, tourists and families alike. So much so that I would leave my idlis untouched till I was convinced I couldn't have anymore sambar without bursting.
The name of the place had me, as a child percieve madras as the land where rivers of sambar flowed, and wishing I could go to madras at least once in my lifetime. Madras in a sense, was my mecca.

Years flew by, Madras Hotel was closed down one day by the owners when it was doing excellent business. I forgot all about it and proceeded to patron alternate places. I then joined BITS Pilani for my Engineering and by some strange quirk of fate, was assigned Chennai to go to for my Professional Training.

I was told about the city by seniors, friends and ex-girlfriends, almost all of which was negative. But now that I'm here, and have got to know people and places here, I feel that it's been all I wished it would be, in all respects but one.

Sambar Saucers, when you order a dosai are tiny, almost non-existent, and getting them refilled is so much hassle, that one would rather have it dry.
It's like my portal to the broth I was and am in love with was closed forever with Madras Hotel. I pray that I'm wrong and my grey-haired guardian angel, dutifully clad in a madras hotel uniform will somehow lead me to my mecca, this time in Chennai.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Agony of lost love + Pain of a bad movie

Trey Parker/Matt Stone, dudes after my own heart.


kal MT2 written test hai, we'll release the song on DC sometime in the evening. Till then, bask in the awesome-aap of the lyrics.

Edit : Ppl in BITSG use magnet:?xt=urn:tree:tiger:PZO7ASV7HZCQ5LFBPGHOPTWXVAEV7IJIGPRBVVA&xl=2273280&dn=Team+America+-+Pearl+Harbor+Sucked.mp3


Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Here we are, in yet another new year, hoping to make new starts again. Everybody is busy making resolutions they know they'd like to keep but wouldn't be able to, leading to yet more new year resolutions next year, adding the resolution that they'd keep these resolutions this time...

As you can see, this is the sort of inverse recursion that :

a) Doesn't have an ending.
b) Doesn't accomplish a purpose.

so, I have a two part resolution for 2008, which, by its exquisite design, fixes all the contingencies of the standard newbie new years resolution(s), and it goes as follows :

I, in 2008, resolve to :
  1. Have as much fun as possible.
  2. Not regret anything that happens.
Okay, now that we've gotten my resolutions out of the way, let's head to bollywood, to hear what Mr. Tusshar Kapoor has to say about his resolution. Please be reminded of the fact that I'm not making any of this up. Tussahar Says and I quote

My new-year resolution is to get more fitness-conscious. I want to get as physically fit as I can. And I've promised myself a holiday this year. One more thing. I 've resolved to be me more careful this year in selecting my roles.
Tusshar Kapoor, IMHO, has to be the most worthless filmstar that ever walked this planet, add that to his general state of joblessness and you get an overall character that's a very close contender to the reigning throne of the most worthless human being that ever walked this planet. He's the person who inspires the average Delhi-Born-Open-Schooled-Correspondance-College-Educated-No-Looks-No-Body-No-Talent guy for a serious [:D] career in acting.

"अगर तुषार हीरो बन सकता है, तो मैं क्यों नहीं?"

they all think, and head for mumbai to get their dreams shattered, for the simple reason that they didn't realise की उसके पास बाप है...

But despite of his baap-behen putting their asses on the line, career of li'l tushy is down in the dumps, metaphorically speaking. Ekta didi did everything she could to establish his bro as the original badass in "Shootout". First of all, it's a gangster movie, and gangsters as a rule of thumb are cool. Second, Tushy's Playing Dilip Buwa, the shooter of his time, feared and secretly admired by junta in general. Thirdly, He's got a babe too, when nobody in the gang, and that includes Maya-bhai, has one, he's even shown having one of those over-the-clothes-make-out-sessions with Aarti Chhabria, who is looks-wise one of the top babes of bollywood. Fourthly, Just to make sure that even if junta should start judging relatively, baby-tush is safe, the gang has a guy called "Fattu" who is, well, a "fattu", made fun of by everyone in the gang..

Nothing could go wrong this time, all the girls in India who've watched this movie must start to gather at Jantar Mantar and do a "Do Me Tushaar" poster rally, right?

Result : No Role ever since, despite the movie being a blockbuster.

So, he's been free for the past 6 months, And By free, I mean completely jobless. No Films, No K-Soap Appearances, No Rampwalks (Ha!), No Dance Performances in Random Award Functions, nothing except the one and a half minute dance sequence in Om Shanti Om, accompanied by dad!

And what does he resolve to do in 2008? Take A Holiday, and Get more selective in choosing roles.

I rest my case.