Nov 28, 2006

Bye Bye friend!!

One guy quipped that this is the worst thing to get sentimental about. Another said its perfectly understandable. For me its the loss of a true companion. My parents informed me yesterday that they have sold the first car we owned, a 1991 Fiat (Premier Padmini).
With my parents not knowing driving, the car was in utter disuse after I came to US, and the end was inevitable. Nothing great about the car (nothing special about any padmini's for that matter). But its the perfect family car for the Indian conditions. Easy to drive, no electronic stuff that goes berserk when you least expect. As I have said many times to my friends, its a simple contraption with an engine and 4 wheels.
But the sentimental value is just too important to overlook. Learning to drive in it, numerous visits to shopping places (and the mechanic shed), visiting my grandma's house, TNPCEE exams, and first trip to my college etc., Even rajinikanth with all his wealth, still drives around in Madras with the first car he bought, a Padmini.
Its highly doubtful that I will feel so emotionally attached to any cars I might acquire. Its with a heavy heart that I bid adieu to a companion thats been a part of my life for the last 6 years......


Walmart in India

Its confirmed now. Walmart is entering India in a big way. Tying up with Bharti Enterprises, Walmart plans to open nearly 100 stores in India. With a potential market of nearly $300 billion ready for exploitation , India is truly what Walmart's Chief of Foreign Operations described as The Final Frontier.

Economists are taking a critical view of it though. One of the major hurdles that Walmart faces in the Indian economy is to lure the common people away from their traditional retail stores; stores they have been a customer of for years, if not generations. In this context, urban cities obviously offer the first easy market segment, as the concept of a super store is more likely to be received with enthusiasm. Cities that already are swinging to the tunes of the IT industry will be the prime targets in Walmart's entering phase. The real difficulty will be in the next stage of expansion when Walmart sets sights on smaller cities. All small stores offer credit to their customers, and this is something that cannot be done by a super store. To attract customers who are used to and also depend upon credit offered by their stores, is a big task for Walmart.

Critics point out to the fact that popularization of the Walmart culture of shopping will result in people going to the stores in their own cars, causing increased traffic in cities, as opposed to the current trend of home delivery of purchases offered by most Indian stores. Introduction of a single multi-purpose store will also result in many small vendors going out of business, increasing unemployment. This was precisely the reason, why the Government was hesitant to allow foreign companies to establish direct outlets in India, unmindful of accusations that they were being over proctectionist. But they recently gave in, with a clause, that foreign companies can open their outlets as a franchisee to an Indian company. This is where Bharti Enterprises come in, as Walmart's franchisee.

Walmart's spokes person was quoted as saying that they are aware of these challenges, and are willing to bend to the requirements of the Indian economy. It should be interesting to see how the concept of Walmart is received by the Indian community, and how Walmart adapts to it, especially in the wake of their recent withdrawal from Germany.


Nov 25, 2006


Its one of the important holidays in the United states. People plan out their thanksgiving day in advance..visiting friends, relatives, or just taking a break and enjoying the long weekend. But a few of the populace indulge in a spree unmatched by even the raging buffaloes of the savannah. Its the time to go shopping.

I first witnessed the Thanksgiving day sales spectacle (rather debacle) the last year. I went with 3 guys, after hearing so much about the amazing sales that would be on offer and the 'great shopping atmosphere'. Staking out compusa at midnight, I employed the by now well honed tactics acquired out of living in madras my entire life, and by passed the 500 odd crowd waiting patiently in the sub zero condition for the shop to open. The doors opened at 12 and what followed was something nobody warned me about. I was caught in a sea of humanity flowing in to fill the vacuous space offered by the empty store. I got trod on, shoved, jostled. I thought that was bad, until I saw one guy who came with me fall down, and immediately two people using his prostrating body as a stool to reach out for some items higher on the shelf!! We decided that any further prescence in the store would result in bodily mutilations and came out to check out other stores. Our next halt was circuit city. The shop opens at 5 AM, and the wise guy who was the 'elevating prescence' in the last store convinced us to join the line formed outside Circuit city. And it was just 3 AM! After nearly reaching the gates of St.Peter, we fought our way into the shop at 5. By this time I got sick of the overzealot crowds (this is really remarkable, considering the fact I spent 22 years living in T Nagar). I have seen eager shoppers, rudely pushing their way through and trampling on my foot before. But never had I seen a violent crowd waiting outside shops for hours and then discarding all respect for humanity and charging in with only thier materialistic aims occupying their thoughts. I made a vow that I will never go again for the T-Day sales.

But again this year, inspite of all my protests I was dragged into accompanying people going to the Thanksgiving day sales. The destination this time was a mall in a town called Jeffersonville, 42 miles from columbus. We were caught in a traffic jam about 2 miles before the mall's exit, and after wading through the bumper to bumper traffic for nearly 2 hours we reached the mall at 1 AM. Like a zombie, I followed the other three people as they raced from store to store in search of blood, er... i mean deals. At 4 AM they finally gave up, much to my glee, only to be informed later that I am only getting a temporary reprieve. They dragged me to Walmart, Best Buy, Staples,etc., The only store we didnt visit was Kroger, and I was thankful to Kroger's for not jumping into this mindless bandwagon of sales in T-Day. Then my compatriots made a solemn vow that they will never come again for the T-Day sales. I guess I was shouting into deaf ears, when I was saying the same thing to them hours before embarking on this journey.

Why this madness? Are these people from somalia, and the United Nations dropping food packets from copters? There is justification in people getting frenzied if thats the case. I read the history behind T-Day, and here is what I got to know: T-Day is an annual festival to give thanks to God, for a good harvest in the last season. And here is the official Presidential Declaration made by George Bush in 1990, "Now, therefore, I, George Bush, president of the United States of America, do hereby call upon the American people to observe Thursday, November 22, 1990, as a National Day of Thanksgiving and to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us." Alright, now did I miss anything? I most certainly didnt. Nowhere did I find any mention of T-Day being taken over by frenetic consumerism. We do find mention of families sitting together sharing meals. But what is now synonymous with the day is hordes of people storming shops and buying loads of stuff, not because they have any real use for it, but because they were offered cheap.

This is consumerism at its best. More search revealed that this is not the case with 'T-Day celebrations' in other countries. The buying power of people, especially in Uncle Sam's domain is being exploited to the core. The festival has now become a commercial event. The origins and meaning of the day are now totally obscured.

Its not there arent any people aware of this. Every year, the day following T-day is observed as a Buy Nothing Day. People against this annual tradition of consumerism, abstain themselves from purchasing anything for a period of 24 hours coinciding with the Black Friday sales. The main intent is to spread across the message of restraint from mass indulgence in unwanted shopping. But for this to take effect, the common people whose minds have been fogged by the hyped consumeristic advertisements of the retailers, must be made to sit up and realize what they have been misguided into believing. After all, there is nothing such as a free food!


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP