Niche Marketing.

“A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused. The market niche defines as the product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and the demographics that is intended to impact. It is also a small market segment.” ~ Wikipedia.

I live in a locality that is filled with Co-operative Housing Societies and a few Condominiums. All of these have many flats, apartments for my American readers, and are usually provided with round the clock watchmen services. These watchmen work in 12 hour shifts and the poor fellows who work the night shifts have to wait till they are relieved in the mornings by the day shift watchmen before they can have their morning tea!

Enter the ever opportunist entrepreneur of urban India. I have been seeing one intrepid soul very early in the mornings hawking hot tea from a bicycle with a stainless steel thermos urn tied securely to the luggage carrier in the back. I have been seeing this particular fellow for quite some time now but was able to get to chat to him only yesterday as both of us caught each other’s eye in the morning.

From him, I learnt that there are many like him all over Pune, and that the service starts at 0500 and goes on throughout the day focussing on watchmen only but also catering to others who may stop them on their rounds. To do this effectively, the urns have to be charged three times a day on average and such vendors do make a reasonably good living out of this vending.


I had wanted to talk to this particular vendor because it was only a few days ago that I was able to see that he was conducting his entire business using only one hand and using the other only partly because the latter had been cut off below the elbow. Just imagine this spirited soul riding a bicycle with such a load, and dispensing tea one handed and collecting money etc all despite his handicap. I spent quite some time with him and found that he is an immigrant to our city from one of the most backward parts of India and there were others of his ilk in the same business here. He has his wife brewing the tea apart from her other household chores and from the earnings, he is putting his two daughters and a son through an English medium school education.

I salute this man and his fellow tea suppliers who are what C K Prahalad called Bottom Of The Pyramid Entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, such businesses do not feature in our GDP!

Talking About My Generation.

I was born in 1943. My generation in India saw India become independent of British rule in 1947 and also a republic a few years later. Although I was too young to understand the big events as they took place, I can relate to many things in retrospect.

Thanks to the overwhelming presence of Jawaharlal Nehru, India chose to be a Socialistic Democracy and till the 1990s I saw India as a Socialistic country with all that it implies. Let me just list a few.

Communications. If one had a telephone connection, s/he was next to God in the neighbourhood. One had to book trunk calls and wait endlessly to get connected and usually had to shout to get heard. If one did not have a telephone connection, one went to the nearest post office and booked trunk calls. It was in 1984 that things eased and telephone connections were more easily available as well as many public phone booths came up called STD boots for Subscriber Trunk Dialling booths run by small entrepreneurs. Today, the landline is hardly ever used with cell phones in just about everyone’s hands.

After independence, imports were stopped and India produced two cars, two motorcyles and two scooters. One had to wait in queues for years to purchase one. After 1990 things started to improve and today you can find just about every automobile maker of the world present in India with models adapted for Indian conditions.

Travel meant one used the Indian Airlines or the Indian Railways. Reservation for seats/births were hard to come by and in emergencies, one ran from pillar to post to get a seat. Today there is price competition between half a dozen airlines and the Indian Railways advertises that it has streamlined the reservation system. Long distance bus travel too has improved and there are plenty of alternatives available.

Entertainment meant one screen theaters or government run All India Radio and Doordarshan the government run TV broadcaster. Today, we have multiplexes, malls, 24/7 TV offering a very wide choice of channels, DTH and cable TV as well as FM radio offering 24/7 broadcasting. I can buy any book published anywhere in the world via Amazon or even download electronic versions.

Foreign Exchange when travelling abroad was rationed and I have personally experienced difficulties with inadequate funds when travelling abroad. Today, there are no restrictions for overseas travel and plenty of foreign exchange is available.

Finding difficulty in securing jobs, Indian engineers emigrated out of India but today there is reverse migration with many of them returning or wanting to return to India.

From shortages to plenty, my generation has seen massive changes taking place in the country as a consequence of which, lifestyles have changed and from attitudes of save and spend, we have come to buying / spending on hire purchase, instalment payments etc and value systems have changed as well.

The last 25 years particularly has seen very rapid changes and my generation has found it difficult to keep pace unless it had the benefit of resident geeks like my son and daughter in law who help me with my computer and smartphone. My generation is also seeing the beginning of the impact of climate change and before it becomes too uncomfortable, will fade away leaving the younger generations to handle the mess created by it.

This week’s topic for the weekly LBC post was suggested by Shackman whose take can be seen at his blog. It is also possible that young Pravin may write too as this is a topic that is likely to resonate with him.

Bulk Buying.

wholesale_wedding_veilsNobody in his senses now wants to buy into bulk.  The trend all over the world is to cut down, to minimise and to do with less.  And that includes one’s own size!

There are however people who still insist on buying in wholesale under the false notion that it is economical. They will go to the wholesale markets to buy in bulk and by the time all of whatever has been bought is used up, quite a bit gets spoilt and has to be thrown away. Add that to the cost of transportation and I have always believed that buying retail from closeby grocers and others made more sense and also saved on space.

There are some groups, particularly from cooperative housing societies who pool together small orders from members to buy in wholesale once a week or something like that, to share among themselves and that makes sense when the members are of two income households where shopping becomes difficult. I have great admiration for this particular form of cooperation and encourage it wherever I can.

I personally do not buy anything is bulk as it is not necessary. Fresh produce is available at my doorstep and I will be foolish not to enjoy that facility to its fullest.

This is my contribution to the Weekly Loose Bloggers’ Consortium (LBC) endeavour to post on one single topic every Friday. Today’s topic has been suggested by Maria.  I hope that you enjoyed reading my contribution.

Family Size.

This ubiquitous sign without any text is the most well known image in India. It stands for:
v 2

One of India’s great success stories voluntary family planning that restricted the growth of population to manageable levels. Voluntary, except for a short while, when Indira Gandhi had declared a state of emergency and her son Sanjay Gandhi drove the state to effect forced and indiscriminate sterilisation which eventually boomeranged on the mother and son duo.

My grandparents and their children inevitably had large families, ranging from seven to four children each, with one late marriage that produced only two.  My parents had four children.  Most people that I know in my generation, have restricted their families to two children and in my case too, we would have had two had medical advice post our first child’s delivery not suggested that we restrict it to one. I am glad that we got that advice, as we have been able to provide our son with the best of every possible facility in growing up which would have been difficult had we been forced to share our resources with two children.

Today, the situation is fraught with costs of educating children, apart from finding good institutions to send them to, and many young married couples prefer to either be DINKs (Double Income No Kids) or DISCs (Double Income Single Kid) because,  a single income family, at least, in cities,  is simply too expensive to manage.  And, I am also seeing many young people not wanting to get married and take the responsibility of parenting.

So, from my own family’s example, of my grandparents having seven children to my parents with four and mine with one child, to that child being without any children, I have seen first hand, the reduction in size of the Indian family which is not unusual.

This is my contribution to the Weekly Loose Bloggers’ Consortium (LBC) endeavour to post on one single topic every Friday. Today’s topic has been suggested by Maria.  I hope that you enjoyed reading my contribution.

Education II.

save the middle class

I quote from an article in to which I was directed by our own Conrad via a facebook post.  Another article which was brought to my attention because I wrote about education is this one.  I strongly recommend that you read both the articles which are as applicable to Indians as they are to Americans, and for that matter every thinking person in the world.

“Have you ever wondered why education is under attack? An educated population will come to the realization that the current system that assigned a higher wealth potential value to the movers of capital, to the plutocrats is undeserved and ill-advised. They did not and have not earned it.

As more of the working poor and middle class Americans come to that realization, Nick Hanauer’s fears will be realized. The pitchforks are being sharpened one finger at a time. America is simmering. It’s all covered up now. But it won’t be for much longer.”

Thank you Conrad.

Live On A Cruise Ship.


For some time now, my friend A and his dear wife N have been contemplating a different lifestyle to what they have and one of the alternatives that they thought of was to live permanently in a serviced apartment. I was quite enthused too and have been keeping an eye out for such possibilities within my budget. What deterred them then was their three dogs! Subsequently, their only child, like my own only child, put paid to all our aspirations by vetoing the whole idea as being silly!  I am not exaggerating.  As being silly is the exact reason quoted.

My bucket list however just got another item! Like our thinking about service apartments,for sometime now I had been getting emails saying that it would be better for retired people to live on cruise ships instead of in retirement homes. Here is even one blog post that I had occasion to read.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

What a way to live if you can afford that! That is, provided your very protective child/ren allow you to.