Bricks and Mortar!

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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.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/auto-driver-to-iim-case-study-his-journey-on-uncharted-highway-5807065/

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!

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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!

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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!

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Why, why, why why?

I know that every why, has no reply, but this question still comes to mind! Some years back, my grandson Suyash had come to Pune, he lives in Seattle. We were chatting in our balcony. He asked me, “Aba, why many of the buildings around us are not painted? Are these very old buildings?” Well, the buildings around us were not very old, these were definitely not dilapidated buildings! They were not more than 15 years old! For fixed assets like condos, or bungalows care has to be taken to maintain them properly. Each property has its own design, the exteriors get spoiled due to rains and heat combination. If you visit these condos from inside, the homes are generally well kept and some are really fancy. People are just not bothered how the outer walls look.  

These are mostly middle class and upper middle-class properties. The income levels are decent, these folks work in offices which are reasonably well maintained. They have their vehicles which are maintained in a reasonably good condition. Then why the apathy towards the exterior? To me this is the last mile concept. We as a society are least bothered about the last mile of everything.  

You look at the roads, the bridges, the infrastructure in general. These are always poorly maintained, at least in some areas. Every year we read the stories of corporations missing their deadlines for cleaning gutters before monsoons! Rains in India are seasonal and generally fall during a specific period. Gutters get filled with muck, leaves and what not, all through the year. In Maharashtra, end of the first week of June is the time for the rains to start. So, our friends should be ready with cleaning by end of May. It is not rocket science. But are we ready? Never. Same story is published every year. First rains in any city causes havoc! There is water logging, flooding, power outages, trees falling! The things which are in our control should be done but they are completed only 95%! Last mile concept? Or who cares concept? Why do we not challenge the authorities as a society? Simple, because we never do these things in our own lives, we are poor in implementing last mile solution.  

We strongly talk about our heritage, our history; we sing songs like मेरे देश की धरती! My great country where streets were paved with Gold, where we saw diamonds and pearls spread on road sides! I have shown above pictures of “Gold, Diamonds and Pearls” spread on our roads. In olden days when everybody lived in villages, there was no concrete, we had plain soil everywhere. Cleaning homes was very simple. You clean your home and push all the dust into adjoining soil. In those days there were no plastics, there was no biodegradable stuff! Dust to dust to Soil! But we are so proud of our heritage that we continue to follow the same practice even today.  

We clean our homes and throw things out of balconies! We water our pots in the balcony and water falls on the cleaned cars every day, as some idiots park them below the balcony. Area below the balcony is the official trash can to throw stuff, pour water indiscriminately. In fact, I come to know every day what my friends staying above us, feed their dog on that day! It can be bread or rice and of course meat once in a while. The pieces fall on my car every day. The title of the blog shows my frustration! Mind you, the condos where I live are high rise modern apartments and are very expensive.  

But money has nothing to do with this last mile concept. Forty years back we lived in an apartment where we had a watchman who lived with his family. They were financially poor. We used to give them, besides the salary, all seconds from our home. Curtains, bed sheets and sometimes food which we could not consume fully. In fact, Jaya used make additional food many times, just to give to them. I still remember their small dwelling. It was a replica of our home as all the things were handed over to them by us. (It is not the story about what we did for them in those days.) Their home used to be spic and span, well-kept and properly maintained. When once asked, the lady said when we have an example in front of us, how can we not follow it?

Just a side story! This family was of two brothers. One child of each of them has become an engineer and currently working in IT industry! It is the will to do well, excel in whatever you do, to keep your surroundings clean, it is will to be part of solution and not a part of the problem, that endures you through the tough times of the last mile. In the game of cricket, it is the ability of crossing the invisible line to score a century, that differentiates the best from the good. It is the strong will to do well, that takes you forward.  

In Mumbai, when many flyovers were built, the situation was bad. Diversion road quality was poor. Let me assure you all these things are doable. When flyovers and Metro were under construction in Delhi, the diversions created were as smooth as the original roads.  In Mumbai there are low lying areas; when it rains, the water logging is bad due to topography. But corporation has installed high capacity pumps, permanently.      

How can one like to live in shabby buildings? There a couple of reasons for this. When there is a group of people living together, there will always be someone who will bother only about money or it is possible that some of them will have financial difficulties. But both these obstacles need to be overcome and can be overcome. It is the will to do it! It is your home after all!  When we water the plants in balcony, we don’t bother if water is carrying the mud with it, on the outside walls of the balcony. Expense for painting a building from outside every 7/ 8 years is not prohibitive.

Similarly, about city infrastructure, it is your own city. We elect representatives to handle the administration. Do they treat it as their own city? Or they are interested only in plundering the resources? Are they proud of their home? I have seen these representatives providing benches for people to rest. These are stainless steel benches, very nicely made. There are bus stops which are nicely designed but do we have buses to match quality of the bus stops? Do we have the discipline in keeping the fleet running? Last mile for the bus system is maintenance of buses and cleanliness of buses. The quality is terrible. 

Friends, in the Hindi Film “Munnabhai MBBS”, the hero sees a sweeper in a hospital sweeping the floor. Hero tells him, “Sir, you are doing an excellent job and you are making all of us proud, please keep doing it”. There are tears of joy in the eyes of the sweeper! Nobody had ever told him this. But when it is our own home, our own city, is there a need to be told by someone? Every day, we bathe and comb to make ourselves presentable, every day we have someone to clean our homes from inside. But how can we forget outside? How can roads, bridges remain in poor state in our own city? Let’s all join hands make it happen! Cheers!  

 

 

¡ larga vida a la India!

¡ larga vida a la India! This is Spanish translation of Long Live India, the title of my previous blog! While writing that blog, I was distressed and was in melancholy mood. But as promised the next days’ early morning lovely weather and the bird’s singing brought me back to my normal self. I am going to talk of an India story; many such stories are mushrooming, all over India, amidst the bad things that keep happening around. My belief that good always wins over bad, continues!

In my younger days, we lived in a condo. A young girl used to support us in looking after our son. Later, she and her brother were offered living quarters and a job, as a watchman, in our condo. This family stayed over and was in the condo for next 25 years! Later, the girl got married and went away but the family of two brothers and their wives continued. Over a period, they had 2 children each. Their elder children were same age as my daughter. When they left our condo, they had a house of their own, one of brothers had died. Their wives continued to work with us as domestic help for a few years more. Then they moved on, as we all do in our lives!

We also moved on from the condo and went elsewhere to live! Recently, Jaya got in touch with one of the ladies and next day all of them came to meet us! The two elder children got themselves through school and are working in an automotive workshop as an expert mechanic and office manager. These children helped their mothers to guide their younger siblings through engineering college. Both these younger kids are working now in IT industry! They now have a bigger house but they have remained the simple people they are!

Look at the change in one generation! The parents were working as domestic help with a bit of help from agriculture income from their village; elder siblings pooling in later, helped the younger kids to join the modern work force! Honestly, if anybody had asked me about this scenario back in 90’s, I would have badly failed in my prediction! It is a clear-cut result of consistency, determination, hard work, and I am sure they all had aims!

What was the contribution of all of us from the condo? We sometimes supported them additionally with some more money other than their salary. We all treated them as family, we celebrated festivals together. This probably helped the kids to aim high in life, but it is their success, we were only on the periphery during their formative years. All the families in the condo, when they went out, left their home keys with the family. They would help us organizing certain things in our homes during our absence.

I will share with to you one experience from those times. My mother had come to stay with us for some period. One of the lady who helped us in cooking, gave a couple of biscuits to her child, from our stock, as the child was crying. When Jaya came home, my mother told her the incident! My mother felt that it was not right thing to do so! But Jaya explained to her. A couple of days before my daughter was unwell and did not feel hungry. This lady told Jaya, don’t worry. I will take the child home and feed her! She did that with such love! We were more like family! The same treatment was meted out to them by other families in the condo!

What is so big in the story? In India there many people who come from economically bad situation. It is for a little more fortunate people like us, who can take part in bringing them out of the tough situation by behaving with them as normal human beings, to guide them and their children to take the right decision, to become their roll models by doing our work sincerely and guiding our family and children, to respect all people, irrespective of their station in life! This probably helps people to feel that it is possible to come up in life in India too! We hear of a lot of rags to riches stories especially from USA. But in our country also, there are a lot of good stories happening,  like the one I shared.

When I move around these days, whenever I hire a taxi, I make sure that I talk to the drivers and ask them about their lives and their families. You will not believe, they will share many things with you, if you give them good ear! While listening to their stories, they always have small queries and want to know how certain things are done or achieved in life. I try my best to reply to the queries and I hope all of you must be doing something similar. To my surprise one of the drivers wanted to know about Electric Vehicles and its benefits. If each of our family, can bring up one family to achieve a better station in life with education and good behavior, to me it is better than 100 visits to a Mandir!

Our TRP based media has no time for such stories; these are not success stories in their books because there is no drama, there is no excitement! There is no love triangle or there is no mayhem! It’s a straight forward information about a family who improved their lives in one generation. Who cares for TRP’s? Which is your favourite story one with the TRP’s or one we discussed, without TRP’s? Long Live India!

Blog or an Article?

Blog is defined as a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group that is written in an informal or conversational style. And an article is a piece of writing included with others in a newspaper, magazine, or other publication.  I don’t publish anything in any newspaper but I publish all my writings on my BlogSpot panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com, so now I am in two minds when to call, what I write, a blog or an article. I simply publish when I think that I am ready with my stuff. These thoughts came to my mind because after my last blog “Traditionally speaking…” Jaya felt that it did not feel like a blog. Yes I had also felt the same thing when I published it. I did not want to express my deep thoughts or conflicts and concerns in my mind, on the subject of Tradition. But it was something I felt, I must write about. When any subject starts churning in my mind, the churning stops only when I write about it.

We can say that blog is like IT industry where most are on first name basis and things are pretty informal. Article is like Finance or Engineering industry with stiff upper lip! What is easier to write? I feel that article writing is easier for me to write, because it rarely contains deep thoughts, at least for me. It is woven around  major public events or a public figure. Whereas blogs are generally about small events in personal life. It’s really funny that major public events invoke dry, maybe indifferent, thought process in me. Whereas, a very small personal event invokes a major thought process deep in my mind. In both cases it is my own writing but treatment it gets from my mind is different or maybe even indifferent! End result is also different. Why does it happen that way?

I feel that blog and article are siblings from the same mould, who think different, look different. Siblings are born from same parent but their behavior or look is quite different. This made me think of various famous pairs that exist in the world. They are very significant in our lives because of the messages they send you and thoughts they generate in our mind.

First and foremost pair that comes to mind is “Adam & Eve”! This pair has supposedly started our world and have created the society as we know it today. None of the pairs can be as dissimilar but as tightly bound as Adam and Eve. This pair is very much alike in certain aspects but totally dissimilar in many others. They have supposedly come from Venus and Mars! They are very similar about loving their kids but are totally opposite in social behavior, just to give an example. What does this relation tell us about life? Persons having totally different nature, still can work together very closely and raise the most difficult product in the world, the family! Theirs is a relationship which can be ideal relationship in the sense they have their ups and downs but finally they reach their ultimate goal in spite of differences!

 Another pair is that of Rabbit and Tortoise from the childhood stories that we hear. They are obviously very different; look at the Rabbit looking swift and sharp and young. Tortoise looking steady, and mature. What message do they give; obvious message is slow and steady wins the race! But with time, many things have changed and along with that the interpretation has also changed. Now in the fast world that we live in, the saying is be fast and furious but also make sure that you don’t relent in what your goal is! Don’t go to sleep like the rabbit did, on the way to glory!

Sun and the Moon is another pair in the same mold. These two are celestial bodies formed millions of years ago but compliment each other. We say that it is  day when we can see the Sun, but it is not night every time we see the moon. They are a pair where Sun is the boss and the Moon reports to him. Sun always shines and Moon can shine only when Sun is not there. Moon has to always follow subordinates’ role but never minds to stay in background when Sun is around. Sun sometimes totally hides or overwhelms the Moon, during eclipse. But Moon keeps on doing its routine job, always. It never gets flustered with his job or with the Sun. Consistently doing your job without ever getting into limelight is what we learn from this pair!

Santaji and Dhanaji were two warriors from the time of Shivaji. They were brave, brilliant and were not afraid to die for their king! The enemies were so afraid of this pair that enemies could not sleep well. Even when the enemies were at the water holes for a drink, any slight unknown movement would cause panic in them and they would think that Santaji/Dhanaji have come. This would make them run helter-skelter! How did this happen? This pair was the epitome of loyalty, bravado of Shivaji’s sardars and made sure that enemy was under great fear all the time. These are the qualities that can be beneficial for all us. This also indicated the fruits of being excellent and focussed in ones field.

Friends from my confusion in deciding about my piece of writing, if it is a blog or an article, I ended up writing a blog about different pairs that we encounter in real world. I was able to extract the meaning of the existence of such and tried to analyze their relevance and importance. There are many such pairs like, Hitler & Mussolini, Gilchrist and Hall, Ramanathan Krishnan and Jaydeep Mukherjee. These are not necessarily “good” pairs!  These pairs are always complement each other as individuals and manage to change the equation 1 plus 1 is not 2 but 11!

 Oh! I ended up writing blog, that is for sure!