Bricks and Mortar!


Pyare Khan from Nagpur!

4G then 5G! One TB storage space and 100Mbps speed. VCs and Angel funding! Till very recently G was about gravity, Storage space Cubic Meters and speed was 100 kmph! The numbers have remained the same but suffixes, if I may call them, have changed. Yes and VCs were Vice Chancellors and the Angels you generally met after death!

In the sexy world of IT, VC, Angel funding the Ooomph is there. The real-life talks about loans, mortgages, illnesses, loss of jobs, and what have you. But we all forget one crucial thing, this is real life; the sexy side of life is more of a service industry. These services make bricks and mortar functions efficient, they create services which at some stage were not even thought possible. For example, Uber, Air BNB. Who would give his or her own house on rent to people unknown? The beauty is even after these people used the home, you never came in touch with them, ever. For that period your home was converted into a service apartment. There is one product which the IT industry has created which is not brick and mortar, the computer games. To add to this, unfortunately, there are virtual frieships instead of real ones.

The story of Pyare Khan from Nagpur is shared in the above article. His brick and mortar story must be shared with all. He was born into a low-income family and started working at the age of eighteen by buying a bus. His business failed, and he sold the bus. Then he started driving an autorickshaw at the age of 21. He went to a bank and asked for a loan to buy a truck. The loan amount was Rs Eleven lacs. The amount was way above his level, with no way of providing any other collateral. But somehow the bank manager was convinced in the end and the rest, as they say, is history! Khan’s company’s current turnover is Rs 400 crores (or four billion Rupees). He uses his 125 trucks, plus 3000 other trucks ply under his company. A financial institution from Dubai is now offering him a loan of Rs. Eighty crores (Eight hundred million Rupees). As usual, when he had no money, getting a loan was extremely difficult, but now that his company is doing good, people on their own are offering the money. The funny part is that IIM, Ahemdabad selected his case and gave him first prize! It was chosen over all the other fancy startups funded by, who else, venture capitalists! Other participants were from all over the world. The beauty of the whole thing was that Khan was not even aware of what is IIM!


Old Amrut Tulya Tea Vendor!

There is a similar story happening in Pune on a smaller scale. It started with a family called Yevale. They branded of all the things, ready to drink tea! In Pune, there has been a tradition of selling tea in shops called Amrut Tulya tea! (It means as good as nectar from heaven) Such tea houses are a conventionally low-cost shops which could be equivalent to Pubs, where people meet to gossip. Tea houses also serve select bakery items. Yevale family turned this business on its head. They started probably with a similar inexpensive shop but created a different business model. They kicked off with their first modern shop on 1st June 2017, and as on 17th October, 2018 have opened 30 th branch in Pune and around. All they serve is tea! They have their recipe perfected. They give franchises. Their monthly sales are now Rs twelve lacs or 1.2 million. Annual turnover is 14.4 million Rupees. They sell their tea in elegant small cups. The quantity they serve can be finished in about three large slurps — the same as the Expresso, which is even less quantity. I have paid Euros 2.25 for an Expresso in Turin! Look at the maths. They charge Rs ten for each cup and sell 120,000 cups of tea a month. Wow and wow!

New Yevale Amrut Tulya Outlet!


Such businesses or enterprises are what can be called as Unofficial India Inc! Not many people know about them. The promoters have the zest and the verve to succeed. They don’t use laptops, generally don’t change their lifestyle! Such people simply start a business and keep on successfully running them. I do not know the percentages of success and failure in such enterprises. But the percentage is more than the “Startup” model of business, where the success rate is less than 1 %, but the hype is more than 100%!

How many examples can we discuss now? These are mostly in the so-called parallel economy! They don’t pay taxes; Oh come on, how many organised sector companies cheat on taxes. How many ditch the banks on loan repayment? No point in blaming smaller businesses on this matter. It will be a good idea to bring smaller establishments into GST and Income Tax net. Now with the computerisation, this linking is simple and easy to track.

I will share a few more such examples briefly. Near my home, there used to be one Vada-Pav vendor (Potato patty Sandwich). I used to buy a couple of these items once a while. So I got to know him. On asking him how many plates he sold, he was initially hesitant. But then he said that he sold 600 to 700 plates a day, and up to 1000 plates in a day on busy days. Each dish would cost Rs.12/. To eat two of them were mini-meals, and one was a snack or breakfast! One family ran a Kachori business in Kanpur, I think. Father, two sons and two employees ran the business. They could barely stand in the hole which they called their shop. Income tax department tracked them and found out that during the peak time of the day it took forty-five minutes to serve you, in regular times about twelve minutes, and in quiet phase about two minutes. After fifteen days they found out that their yearly income was about Rs eighty lacs. (Eight millions)

My point is, why are these so-called family businesses more successful. They do not know much about the business aspect; they do not get funding. They have no guidance. Whereas the Startups get financing, the folks are educated and polished. They are funded based on a rational business plan. I assume this because the VCs have their own experts to whet the plans. Based on the study, startups are funded. But most of these businesses don’t talk about brick and mortar stuff. The world runs on brick and mortar things. The IT stuff makes brick and mortar businesses better, more efficient. The Kachori Wala and Wada-Pav wala have good knowledge about the product they are making. If these businesses are run inefficiently, the profitability will be less; there can be more headaches and many businesses fail too! But businesses still run. So my question is why these types of companies are not funded by angel funders? Is it because it is not very attractive to discuss in parties? When the success rate in IT areas is so low, why not finance “Real” business? The only answer I can visualise is God Only Knows!


Dance of the Seven Veils! 

Below is a poem by Oscar Wilde; reading the poem, brought out a flurry of thoughts in me.

She freed and floated on the air her arms

Above dim veils that hid her bosom’s charms…

The veils fell round her like thin coiling mists

Shot through by topaz suns and amethysts.

I read, the term of the title, when I was reading a book, where the recovery of a 22-year man was being discussed, after a significant accident. When asked by the father of the man, when his son will be discharged, the doctor said, with a smile, that before his discharge he is likely to be thrown out of the hospital. Father said, looking at a beautiful nurse, “Dance of the Seven Veils”.

The “Dance of the Seven Veils” is Salome‘s dance performed before Herod II. It is an elaboration on the biblical story of the execution of John the Baptist, which refers to Salome dancing before the king, but does not give the dance a name.

This term stuck into my mind, and I did a bit of research to understand the thoughts behind the same. I found the evolution of the term very interesting. Somewhere the term Dance of the Seven Veils was attributed to Oscar Wilde, based on the above poem, and he is supposedly the father of modern strip-tease dance! Wow, people’s imagination runs wild!

It is noteworthy that renowned actress Rita Hayworth did a strip-tease in the film Salome.

What is the reference to “seven veils”? It is the number of layers of clothing worn by women and removed erotically while dancing. It’s an act which is sensual if performed in the right spirit, but it usually will be an erotic act. I had seen an act similar to this when we went to Dubai almost a decade ago. After the desert safari, there was dinner and dance show. Dinner was superb, and belly dance was sensual as well as erotic!

As usual, when I came back to the real world, instead of the dance of the lady, different thoughts started whirling around in my mind. They were of course about humans, my favourite topic. The human mind is veiled in many layers. The more you think you know an individual, the lesser you know them. The veils slowly start coming down or get thrown off, once you get to know them better. Of course, this is not true about all humans. But there are some complex people, and more you interact with them, you feel that you know them even lesser! Their persona is shrouded in veils, in some cases 3 to 4 deep but in some cases this numbers we will never know, probably like an infinite number of saris Lord Krishna provided to Draupadi, while she was being stripped by Dushasana.

Some appear dominant personalities but after you get to know them, and once the veils start dropping, you may find that there is a super soft human beneath. A Person will be strong from outside appearances, but their inside is a treat. Examples of Coconut fits such persons exactly. A coconut may fall from a tall tree but will hardly be damaged due to the hard outer layer. Remove that outer layer; there is still some bushy covering. Remove the bushy covering, and you will again come across a hard shell. Look at the beauty of nature’s design. Once we break open the hard inner shell, you get the best natural water full of different minerals, and of course the coconut, the white fleshy part of the fruit!

Some are like Mangoes; peel them and start eating them! But be careful inside there is a hardcore! Look at Jackfruit. Its outer skin is sharp to handle, but on pealing, you will get the choicest fruit. Again, inside the fruit, you get semi-hardcore. This core can be boiled in salty water, peel its hard, thin shell and yet it can be eaten — very useful but complex variety.

The human mind is complicated, but then it’s His design! Add to this one more degree of complexity, Gender, man or a woman! I don’t how many layers of complications get added when we consider women! Or is it that a man does not understand the gender complexity? Friends, the way we can never understand His ways, we will never understand the human mind. Veils after veils will get exposed one under another! In “The Dance of the Seven Veils”, if all seven veils are removed we hope to see the see “real” thing! But in the case of the human mind, it is tough to predict when we will see the “real” thing! In the meanwhile, in the lighter vein, send me your comments about Rita Hayworth’s dance!