A comparison: Traveling in British Airways and American Airlines

In the month of June 2014, I did my first international travel. It was a very unique trip and the memories are surely going to last forever.

I was traveling to Kauai Island through England. So my itinerary included 2 layovers–one at the Heathrow Airport, London (LHR), and other one at Los Angeles Airport (LAX). I started from IGI Airport, Delhi and had to reach Lihue Airport (LIH). When I booked the tickets three months earlier, I preferred booking with British Airways (BA) just because the price was the cheapest.

Now, one of my friends warned me that BA’s service is not up to the mark and I should have booked with some airlines from the US. However, nothing could be done at that time.

But when I actually made the journey, I came to know that my journey from Delhi to London was in BA and from London to Los Angeles was also BA. However, for Los Angeles to Lihue, it was American Airlines (AA). This is how they sell the tickets. On my way back home too, my journey from Lihue to Los Angeles was AA. From Los Angeles to London, it was still AA. Though from London to Delhi, it was BA.

British Airways plane at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

I observed that the services of BA was far better than that of AA. This is what I wrote about them while traveling from Delhi to London.

My first International Flight!

Now that sounds a bit exciting, no! For me, it was and I tried to live every moment of my journey.

I was told that the services of British Airways are not that good but my experience for the first leg was nothing short of satisfactory.

Iain Williams was one of the crew members and I felt really happy that he was there.

For a change, I found that the cabin crew was male except one mid-aged female. Now, this may force some people to go for another airlines because they are excited to talk to air hostesses but I found it quite interesting. I found the male crew more lively, conversant and caring. In fact, the female looked a bit uptight whenever I asked her for some snacks etc.

I noticed that the male crew tried to gel with the passengers. They were courteous, witty and joyful throughout the journey. I seriously felt that they did not make anybody feel left-out.

BA is always full of Punjabis going to Canada through London, and I noticed that they had crew who could speak Punjabi. This facilitated a lot of old passengers in their journey.

At least during the first leg of my journey, BA fulfilled its promise and won my confidence.

Will update for the next journeys as they happened.

Of course, till then, I was only reporting about BA and not comparing about AA. But when I actually made the journey with AA, they kind of under scored in terms of performance. Some of the points:

  1. The aircraft of AA looked old.
  2. The crew was almost indifferent to the needs of the passengers while BA’s crew was more courteous and gelling.
  3. AA’s flight within USA did not serve even water or any snack for a 5 hour journey. They just assumed that nobody needs it.
  4. BA gave a toothbrush to every passenger for a flight that was more than 8-9 hours. AA on the same route did not give it.

Though these points are not extensive and can’t simulate the exact difference in ambience, I am sure that if I ever get a chance to fly international, I will prefer BA over AA.

Airport observations at Terminal 4, LAX (Los Angeles)

I recently visited Kaua’i Island in Hawai’i of the USA. While traveling from LAX to LIH, I had a layover of 22 hours. During this, I did some observation on the Terminal 4 of LAX. Here are some points for you.

  1. Saw a dwarf couple for the first time.
  2. People say thanks more than number of times you breathe.
  3. You end up paying more for a burger and a cup of coffee than for the dinner of 4 people in India.
  4. Pepsi Lays classical salted packet is almost 10 times the price we pay in India.
  5. Bottle of coke is almost 5 times the price in India.
  6. Amazing speed of free Wi-Fi internet and it’s free. Later on noticed that LHR (Heathrow Airport, London) offers free wi-fi access only for 45 minutes.
  7. Almost 80% of the staff including security and sanitation constituted women.
  8. Almost all who come to know that I am going to Hawaii and visiting US first time ever say this: first US visit to holiday in Hawaii? You are lucky, man. Enjoy!
  9. Hardly any digital camera. IPads and iphones only. Every Mom, Kid and Daddy seem to have it.
  10. Crowd and frequency of flights reminds you of Patiala bus-stand or Delhi’s Kashmiri gate if you want to refer to its recent renovation.
  11. Nike seems to be the favorite shoe brand.
  12. Some are wearing pullovers, jerseys while some are in ultra shorts.
  13. Water bottle costs almost 18 times the price in India.
  14. Charging sports are not available on all the gates.
  15. The floor is carpeted and you can sleep if you want to take rest. Not in vogue at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport, London.

Goshala is an example of crowdfunding in India

Goshala cart

Have you noticed the concept of goshala in your city? In my recent visit to my hometown, I noticed their cart coming to our street and people giving it left-over food items, sometimes coins too. I have seen this phenomenon going on over the years and people just doing it out of their beliefs, faith, etc. and also sometimes to make sure that the food items don’t go waste. The main thread of this belief is the concept of daana, charity, which is still deep rooted in Indians. A large number of people still believe that charity for a cow reaps good karma.

For me, this is one of the earliest examples of crowdfunding in India. The cart roams around the city or town and collects funding and contribution for successfully running the goshala, which is supposed to provide multiple benefits to the residents.

Yes, you are right. There are multiple benefits residents can get from a goshala. Will talk about that in detail a bit later.

Having a goshala in the village, town or the city is an ancient practice. It is a social way of rearing cows so that they could be nourished better and also their milk, which is supposed to have unmatched qualities, could be made available to the residents. Usually, there is a goshala committee or an organization that runs the operations, while the whole community participates in various roles.

The concept of crowdfunding is a very novel. The project owner would appeal to the public to fund the project because it is good and beneficial for the society in some way or other. As a payback for the funding, various types of perks and thank-you tokens are offered. These are more oriented towards motivating the funders so that they feel that their money is not going to a gutter and they are not getting anything in return.

For example, suppose a musician is looking to release his/her CD. He has the music and art but does not have funds to get the recording done, process it and release the CD and do further advertising also. A crowdfunding campaign around it would invite people who like music to contribute by pledging to buy the CD or simply donating something so as to enable the artist to produce the CD.

Goshala sounds like a similar concept. Let’s now focus on what type of benefits it offers to the residents.

  • If the goshala is functioning nicely, it offers medical help to cows which might not be the part of goshala. Freely roaming cows may get attention whenever needed.
  • It offers pure milk to the residents, which is now a problem in various parts of the country. Though it is paid but getting quality milk is what people are looking for.
  • Sometimes, freely roaming cows venture towards the roads where high-speed vehicles get involved in accidents. Goshala makes sure that these cows are provided shelter and are nourished properly. So, kind of a dual benefit.

All these benefits are offered without any price–it’s just voluntary contribution or donation that you make. They don’t force it on you.

Share what you feel about this observation.

Business of food outlets in historical monuments of Delhi

Tughlaqabad Fort

 

While visiting various forts and monuments of Delhi, I have noticed that there is not much to eat and drink within the premises. While some may say that this may spoil the area but if a managed corner is given, it can surely enhance the appeal of these places. Let me tell you why.

Various forts and monuments of Delhi have huge area and it takes quite a while to roam around and get the feel of the place. For example, consider Humanyun’s Tomb. Then consider, Tughlaqabad Fort. Consider Kotla Firozshah. All of these complexes have huge area and visitors get tired, hungry, and thirsty.

While Humanyun’s Tomb as a tuck-shop that serves tea, water and cold-drinks, Tughlaqabad and Kotla Firoz Shah have none. I understand that the latter do not have that much of footfall, but still considerable sizes of tourists visit these places.

Take for example the Qutub. There are many shops and eateries outside the complex. If they are not there, do you feel visitors will feel comfortable. My answer would be a big no.

In my opinion, if such things are provided inside the complex in a nice environment, it may increase the footfall because lots of people nowadays like to eat out.

In my opinion, there is definitely a business idea in this concept.

Great Indian Marketing Weekend 2014 to be hosted by exchange4media and Nurture Talent

exchange4media, a premier name in the media industry and Nurture Talent, India’s premier institute for entrepreneurs will be hosting the Great Indian Marketing Weekend 2014 (www.GIMW.in) which includes a series of workshops, mentor sessions, networking and case studies with solutions related to marketing. The session is scheduled for 13th -14th June 2014 in Delhi from 9 AM onwards.

The event is perfect opportunity for brand managers and clients who deal with products and services and are aiming to boost their sales. For advertising agencies, freelancers and designers who are aiming to woo more clients, GIMW 2014 is the best opportunity to attract clientele for business growth.

As a sales and marketing event, the aim of this event is to amalgamate clients and agencies together under one roof and understand the nuances of the industry as well as get solutions to the most prominent problems faced in day-to-day management and operations. The two day event will consist of an excellent & efficient panel of judges who will provide solutions to problems faced in marketing, provide mentoring and much more.

The event will also have a unique style of understanding agencies through clients, where the best judged agency will get successful in winning contracts, media coverage as well as overall recognition among peer groups too.

There will be three parts of the event:

  • GIMW Challenge: A marketing hackathon where clients/managers will give situations and agencies will provide strategic solutions
  • GIMW Mentors: Mentoring sessions from a genius panel of marketing professional from giants like Pepsi, Glaxo, Mastercard and many more
  • GIMW Workshops: Consists of learning and training on subjects like marketing to investors, growth hacking, lead generation and zero-budget marketing

This will be a great opportunity for clients and agencies to be a part of a knowledge-enriching event which will be beneficial for everyone.

SMEPOOL is proud to be an event partner to GIMW and our audience will be getting priority access to the event. Stay tuned for more details!

Visiting Kotla Firoz Shah, Delhi

 

Firoz Shah Kotla is a beautiful place to visit if you are a history buff. The place is a delight because there are quite a few things that you can enjoy.

First, of course, is the Ashoka’s pillar that was brought here in the 14th century. Second is the bats that you can locate underneath this building where once there was a beautiful mosque.

Of course, if you like ornithology and love shooting birds, you will find Indian spotted eagles to click.

Overall, I liked visiting this place in the month of April and I feel that it will be difficult to venture here during June and July.

I present some photos which will help you to get a feel of the place.

Kotla Firoz Shah (9) Kotla Firoz Shah (13) Kotla Firoz Shah (14) Kotla Firoz Shah (16) Kotla Firoz Shah (17) Kotla Firoz Shah (18) Kotla Firoz Shah (20) Kotla Firoz Shah (21) Kotla Firoz Shah (23) Kotla Firoz Shah (25) Kotla Firoz Shah (28) Kotla Firoz Shah (30) Kotla Firoz Shah (33) Kotla Firoz Shah (34) Kotla Firoz Shah (35) Kotla Firoz Shah (36) Kotla Firoz Shah (37) Kotla Firoz Shah (38) Kotla Firoz Shah (39) Kotla Firoz Shah (40) Kotla Firoz Shah (41) Kotla Firoz Shah (42) Kotla Firoz Shah (43) Kotla Firoz Shah (44) Kotla Firoz Shah (45) Kotla Firoz Shah (46) Kotla Firoz Shah (47) Kotla Firoz Shah (48) Kotla Firoz Shah (49) Kotla Firoz Shah (50) Kotla Firoz Shah (51) Kotla Firoz Shah (52) Kotla Firoz Shah (53) Kotla Firoz Shah (54) Kotla Firoz Shah (55) Kotla Firoz Shah (56) Kotla Firoz Shah (57) Kotla Firoz Shah (60) Kotla Firoz Shah (61) Kotla Firoz Shah (62) Kotla Firoz Shah (63) Kotla Firoz Shah (64) Kotla Firoz Shah (65) Kotla Firoz Shah (66) Kotla Firoz Shah (67) Kotla Firoz Shah (68) Kotla Firoz Shah (69) Kotla Firoz Shah (70) Kotla Firoz Shah (71) Kotla Firoz Shah (72) Kotla Firoz Shah (73) Kotla Firoz Shah (74) Kotla Firoz Shah (75) Kotla Firoz Shah (76)

Visiting Tughlaqabad Fort, Delhi

I got the chance to visit this land of history when my wife visited her parents for 2 weeks and I was free to roam around on the weekends.

Tughlaqabad is an often-heard name because of the railways engines that were manufactured there though I never came to know where the factory is located.

But anyways, here I was, checking the fortified piece of land that once inhabited a considerable population around 700 years ago.

The whole area seems to be a deserted place now but it has certain points which are unique to it.

The step-well, for example, has a square cross section instead of usual rectangular shape and having a cylindrical shaped well at the back.

There is an underpass which has rooms located on both the sides.

The area itself is huge and you will feel tired if you decide to check every nook and corner of this fort.

I feel that somebody can try to open an eating joint outside the fort because there is hardly anything available to eat or drink outside. On weekdays, around 100 people visit the fort while on weekends and holidays, this may well go up to 700 people. So, the potential is there but till now, there is almost no shop where you can sit and relax after you have ventured into all areas of this fort.

The fort has a tomb also which is on the other side of the road. The ticket is of 5 INR and is valid to visit both the sides.

Overall, if you are a history buff and really enjoy eating dust, you should visit this place.

I am presenting some photos that will help you get the feel of the place.

Tuglaqabad Fort (3) Tuglaqabad Fort (4) Tuglaqabad Fort (7) Tuglaqabad Fort (8) Tuglaqabad Fort (9) Tuglaqabad Fort (10) Tuglaqabad Fort (13) Tuglaqabad Fort (14) Tuglaqabad Fort (15) Tuglaqabad Fort (16) Tuglaqabad Fort (17) Tuglaqabad Fort (18) Tuglaqabad Fort (19) Tuglaqabad Fort (21) Tuglaqabad Fort (22) Tuglaqabad Fort (23) Tuglaqabad Fort (25) Tuglaqabad Fort (26) Tuglaqabad Fort (27) Tuglaqabad Fort (28) Tuglaqabad Fort (29) Tuglaqabad Fort (30) Tuglaqabad Fort (31) Tuglaqabad Fort (32) Tuglaqabad Fort (33) Tuglaqabad Fort (34) Tuglaqabad Fort (35) Tuglaqabad Fort (36) Tuglaqabad Fort (37) Tuglaqabad Fort (38) Tuglaqabad Fort (39) Tuglaqabad Fort (40) Tuglaqabad Fort (42) Tuglaqabad Fort (43) Tuglaqabad Fort (44) Tuglaqabad Fort (45) Tuglaqabad Fort (46) Tuglaqabad Fort (47) Tuglaqabad Fort (48) Tuglaqabad Fort (49) Tuglaqabad Fort (50) Tuglaqabad Fort (51) Tuglaqabad Fort (52) Tuglaqabad Fort (54) Tuglaqabad Fort (55) Tuglaqabad Fort (56) Tuglaqabad Fort (57) Tuglaqabad Fort (61) Tuglaqabad Fort (62) Tuglaqabad Fort (65) Tuglaqabad Fort (66) Tuglaqabad Fort (67) Tuglaqabad Fort (68) Tuglaqabad Fort (69) Tuglaqabad Fort (70) Tuglaqabad Fort (71) Tuglaqabad Fort (72) Tuglaqabad Fort (73) Tuglaqabad Fort (75) Tuglaqabad Fort (76) Tuglaqabad Fort (77) Tuglaqabad Fort (78) Tuglaqabad Fort (80) Tuglaqabad Fort (81) Tuglaqabad Fort (82) Tuglaqabad Fort (83) Tuglaqabad Fort (84)

Indian Retail Congress, 2014

On Saturday, 26th April, 2014, I attended the second day of Indian Retail Congress held at Hyatt Regency, Gurgaon and organized by Franchise India.

Indian Retail Congress

It was one of those days when you can remember your entrepreneurial days attending TiE summits and meeting various other enthusiasts.

Anyways, I present some of the tidbits that I could remember from the inaugural session of that day.

The panel was moderated by Vasanth Kumar, MD Max Retail.

The panelists included:

  • Atul Bhatnagar, Chief Operating Officer, NSDC
  • Mahesh Gupta, Chairman, Kent RO
  • Nitin Bawankule, Industry Director, Google India
  • Vinod Krishnan, Chief Information Officer, Walmart

It was a very nice session as far as the topic was concerned. The panelists discussed about the need of convergence of organized retail and ecommerce. They outlined the challenges for traditional players like Walmart and Kent RO and some of the necessities that the ecommerce industry should incorporate.

I will give you some of the pointers that were talked about:

  • Landmark has around 1500 physical retail stores.
  • 300 mn online customers are available in India.
  • 75% of these are young.
  • 28 minute average time spent on ecommerce sites.
  • 60% of this population of online users has already started shopping online.
  • Some online retail enhancements contain online trial rooms and custom fit size.
  • Margin is very less in Indian retail and therefore discounted products are hard to offer.
  • Difference prices of products offered by different marketplaces kill the brand value.
  • The retail industry is 600 mn dollars.
  • Out of this, only 8-9% is organized retail.
  • Ecommerce has become a 3bn dollar industry in the past few years.
  • There are around 25,000 physical retailers who are looking to come online.
  • India is the 2nd most mobile user population in the world.
  • Only 10% of the workforce available in India is employable.
  • Older population should also be explored as a market-size for retail.
  • Why not have something like Siri in Indian languages.
  • NSDC has a vision of training 150 mn people trained by 2022 in soft skills.
  • Around 100 primary enrollments in primary schools lead to only 18 college enrollments.

Visiting Agrasen ki Baoli in Connaught Place, Delhi

Ugrasen ki Baoli

Baoli or Bowli or sometimes referred as Bavri is a open step-well built during ancient and medieval  times to serve the purpose of water for the populace living around it.

This particular baoli, popularly and perhaps wrongly known as Ugrasen ki Baoli is located in the heart of Delhi adjacent to some of the tallest buildings that you will find in Connaught Place.

A lot of people rue that even after searching for long, they could not reach or locate it. So, I will try to give a fair amount of idea as how to reach it without getting lost.

I am not sure if the name given to this baoli is correct or not. As the belief goes, this was restored by the Agrawal community. So, it should be Agrasen’s baoli and not Ugrasen’s baoli. Ugrasen was elder maternal grandfather (his grandfather Devaka’s elder brother) of Lord Krishna. King Agrasen was different from Ugrasen.

How to reach

Try to use Google Maps. They have the perfect location and you will not miss it. However, for further use, try to understand this simple drawing.

Route Map to Agrasen ki Baoli

 

It’s a 3-storeyed step well and because there is no water, visitors can go at the very bottom of it. There is a cylindrical well at the end of the steps.

Overall, its size looks far bigger than other baolis that you might have visited. Lot of people wish to visit it but due to improper and no signage of its directions, lots of people can’t visit it.

Moreover, there is hardly anything to eat and drink because there are no shops close-by. It is situated in almost in a residential area.

The government authorities may think of giving a contract or something to a canteen or tuck shop which can serve water and other snacks to the visitors. Of course, there are many who come there and want to spend some time sitting on the numerous stairs of this well.

I am giving some pictures to let you know more about it:

Agrasen Ki Baoli

 

Agrasen Ki Baoli

 

Agrasen Ki Baoli

 

Agrasen Ki Baoli

 

Agrasen Ki Baoli

 

Agrasen Ki Baoli

 

Agrasen Ki Baoli

Entrepreneurship is like love marriage

Entrepreneurship is definitely like love marriage. In India, because more than 90 percent marriages are arranged, youngsters are more inclined to try the uncommon path nowadays. But are they safe on this new found trend? Is this pasture greener than the ones that their elders have grazed upon?

Let’s discuss

Arranged marriage is the traditional approach in which once you finish your academics, you are asked to join government services or join corporate sector where you can earn fixed income and get settled. While love marriage constitutes challenges and troubles at every crossroad and every corner of the gully, though it has its own charm, which lies as undescribed as the hallowed concepts of spirituality.

Your bride in this union would be your idea.

Entrepreneurship, like love marriage, catches your imagination quickly. It attracts you to give it a shot by marrying your very idea (the bride that has swept away every thought in your mind) and leave aside the traditional world where there are lesser risks and lesser rewards. It is like embarking upon a journey that only a few have trodden and nobody knows the sure shot path to the destination.

However, let me warn you that entrepreneurship, like love marriage, is fraught with pitfalls and roadblocks. You never know when it will fail and you will be left clueless as what to do. By the time you realize the fatal blow that has been served to you, you might have already exhausted all the resources or options that can give you a second chance. Like an unworthy bride, your idea itself may fail and turn the whole concept of love marriage into a distasteful venture.

Your family members, friends will advise you against it and will list the dangers that you may invite just because you try to be different. There is every possibility that you will be threatened by all means to discourage you from following the course of your own beliefs. They will all gang up to convince you that your bride (your idea) is not worth all the risks that you are willing to undertake.

In India, love marriage is not encouraged often. The long traditions have made it one of the most dangerous steps that a person can take in life.

But this is how it is.

If you try it, it’s all up to you. If you succeed, people will hail you; if you fail, people will curse for not listening to their advice.

But like love marriage, entrepreneurship offers greater challenges that you might not get in your traditional arranged marriages (jobs). You have all the time to decorate your bride and make her a worthy wife.

Like love marriage, entrepreneurship offers more chances to explore various side of your personality that you might never touch in your traditional arranged marriages (jobs). Your wife (your idea) will give you enough chances to explore your own personality.

Like love marriage, entrepreneurship lets you create your own life-style instead of fitting in an already designed arrangement. Your costly wife (your idea) will make it mandatory that you exercise drastic measures on what you spend and how much you spend.

Like love marriage, entrepreneurship gives you more reasons to laugh and cry unlike your traditional arranged marriages (jobs) where life is often monotonous. Your wife (your idea) will work like a pendulum–sometimes working and sometimes failing.

Like love marriage, entrepreneurship gives you early sense of responsibility of everything in life unlike your traditional arranged marriages (jobs) where putting-on-others attitude runs amuck. Your wife (your idea) will make a man out of you.

So, do entrepreneurship!