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Monday, March 28, 2016

The lady and the coin

A few days ago, I wanted an envelope to place a small gift in it and give it to a friend, at a farewell function. So, I went to a nearby gift store to get one.

On my return, after buying the envelope, just as I entered my apartment block, an elderly gentleman asked me which was the exit in the building. No sooner I had pointed at the door than he asked me where he could get an envelope. (It turned out that he too was heading for the same farewell function, and he too needed a gift envelope.) I told him there is a shop behind the apartment complex. And that I am just returning after buying one for myself.

While I walked a few steps towards the exit to show him the direction to the store, he popped a question: "Could you just come with me?"

The gentleman, who must be in his sixties, was very apologetic. I agreed to to go to the shop with him, but I also suggested he could use the envelope I had bought, and that I shall quickly go back to the store and get another one. Why should he walk all the way to the store, I thought.

But he said no, and cheerfully agreed to walk along with me. As we walked, I told me where he had worked in Bengaluru, and asked me where I lived, where I worked, how long I have been in the city etc. We just quickly got to know each other.

Back at the store, I asked the lady at the counter for anther envelope. The lady is the wife of the man owns the shop.

"Give me a simple cover," the man told the lady, who then offered one which cost Rs 3.

Seemingly satisfied, he took out his purse and offered her coins of Rs 2 and Re 1.

However, a few other coins too dropped on the desk, and the woman's eyes fell on a shining one.

"What is that coin?", she asked.

Before he could reply, came another question: "Can I see it?"

A bit taken aback, he put the coin hurriedly back in the purse.

But the woman was insistent and assured him that she won't take it, but only wants to just see it.

Then he took it out and handed it over to her. She examined it.

"Is it a silver coin?" she was curious.

"No, it's an American cent, a penny," he explained.

She didn't seem to have understood. So, I said, "It is a coin of a foreign country, and not ours."

Then in a sudden turn around, she asked, "Can I have it?"

Why she abruptly wanted to own it, I wondered.

I asked her, "I wonder if it's right to ask for something personal from a customer in this manner!"

She then turned a bit apologetic, and reasoned out. "When I go to Rajasthan, I can show my friends the foreign coin."

"But still, isn't it a personal thing?" I asked her.

She then quickly said, "Uncle might have more such coins at home."

The elderly man, probably not wanting to have with him something that someone is longing for, readily parted with the penny, saying there are many more such coins at home, and that his son works in the US.

As we walked back, the incident left both of us thinking why she suddenly wanted to have the coin for herself.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

It is back to cloth bags

No more plastic carry bags in Karnataka. The ban came into force on Monday, March 14.

I am happy that the government is enforcing this rule very strictly, to the extent that corporation officials are visiting shops and confiscating the bags they have. Many shops have put up boards that it's illegal to use plastic bags.

Look at the plastic bags in garbage piles on roadsides. In fact, two years ago, the Supreme Court had urged people to be sympathetic to animals and called for a complete ban on plastic bags, as stray cattle ended up consuming them.

According to the The Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, 15, 000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day, out of which 9, 000 tonnes is collected and processed, but 6, 000 tonnes of plastic waste is not being collected.

Efforts like the recent one, wherein the Union government increased the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags from 40 microns to 50 microns, aren't really going to help. The government brought in this change because the thicker bags will be costlier, so that will be a trigger for people to switch to green products. But such efforts aren't going to yield any result. People will just start using the thicker version.

OTHER STATES TOO

In Gurgaon, the municipal corporation is offering discounts for people who shop with cloth bags, under 'Bring your own carry bag' drive.

Two years ago, California became the first state in the US to ban single-use plastic bags as a way to address litter, primarily in waterways.

Punjab and Tripura have banned plastic carry bags.

CLOCK COMES FULL CIRCLE

In a way, the clock has come one full circle. You remember the days when plastic carry bags weren't this popular, and all of us carried cloth bags, before we stepped out to shop?

Then, it was a more organized lifestyle too. No one shopped just because there wasn't anything else to do. Most people shopped because they wanted to buy something, not because they wanted to spent money.

Earlier, many people had a fixed day or a couple of days every week when they made the purchases, and they went prepared for it with a cloth bag. Today, we buy stuff randomly as and when we remember. That could mean shopping on way to office, or way back from office, or at any random time. Needless to say, we wouldn't have a bag to carry stuff back home. And quite naturally, the plastic bag culture set in with our haphazard and erratic shopping culture.

Not all shops have green alternatives, so we have to first remember to have a cloth bag in hand before we step out to the nearby provision store.

Just wondering if the ban will end up in increased online shopping.

Friday, March 11, 2016

DataWind sold more tablets than Samsung in India

DataWind quotes an IDC Report to say that it shipped more tablets in India during the fourth quarter of last year, than its competitors.

As many as 20.7% of the tablets sold in India during that period were by this Canada-based company that makes computer hardware, mainly for emerging markets. It had hit headlines in October 2011, when it manufactured Akash tablets for Government of India priced at just $60, under Rs 3,000 during that time.

According to the report, DataWind was followed by Samsung (15.8%), Micromax (15.5%), Lenovo (13.8%), and iBall (10%).

DataWind quotes another study to say that the company holds 58% market share in the sub-Rs 5,000 tablet segment (approximately $75).

An obviously ebullient Suneet Singh Tuli, president and CEO of DataWind, says the IDC report "demonstrates how our transition to local manufacturing and improvements in our sales channelshas allowed us to meet the phenomenal demand”.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Will you shop online if there are no discounts?

Most of us have shopped online - either on Flipkart or Amazon or Myntra or any other e-commerce site. But why do we shop online? Everyone says it's convenient. But my gut feeling is it's the price factor.

If we plan to buy something, most of us check the online price. The general impression is it's cheap online. Most of us fall for the discount (even if it'sn't very substantial), and click "buy".

Many people buy something online (even if they don't need to buy it) only because they have got a good deal. I know a few friends, who keep looking for them.

After giving lots of discounts, most of these sites, aren't making profits. They are just managing to stay afloat, aided by funds from venture capitalists, who are investing based on extrapolated growth curves.

The moot question is: if the online price is the same as offline, or not considerably less than offline, or if there were no more "daily deals", will people still shop online?

What is your take on this?