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
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.