February 21, 2006

Economic parallels through the eyes of a frustrated stomach

If you have read the last post on Rajma, you may understand my frustrations with the Mess. All the items on the Menu that are attempted by the staff meet a disastrous end. The idli is not porous (its this brittle round hardened paste), dosas have crazy shapes (oblong??), uttapams are half burnt, rajma sucks, the sabzee is not that great either, chicken is uncooked, and they probably slaughter the mutton in the curry (no other way to explain the bits of bone mixed with the curry!). Sharmaji's canteen (no way related to our Secy!) is not great either. This poor bugger has been making only salty burgers and plain paranthas since the time he began his career at MDI. And needless to say, the quality of that too is nowhere near edible standards.

But life is a zero sum game, or so it seems from the interesting events that have been taking place outside the college gates. While we have lost, a group of stalls have gained. Let me tell you how.

There are numerous call centres in and around MDI. All these call centres have night canteens, typically a cross between a road side stall and a dhaba. Arcus and GE are the two places majority of the people order from. All that people order from such places are either paranthas or Maggi.(The sales of the latter have shot up ever since MDI started the PGPM programme). It was high time that the GE guy made a wise decision to set up shop opposite our gate for 12 hrs a day.

In no time, two weeks to be precise, our GE guy decides that his busines has reached inflection point. He increases the labour employed and makes it a 24x7 place. I dont know how he manages his resources but he seems to have the place up and running all the time. Go at 3 am to his stall and you can see sleepy kids rolling paranthas and stirring Maggi. The GE guy makes on average 100+ plates of Maggi a day, not counting the paranthas and the chais

After about 2-3 weeks of intensive operations, the guy at the adjoining stall realises that he too can make a few extra bucks if he increases business hours. And so we have the old man all wrapped up serving things like tea, which he differentiated from his competitor by adding ginger and introduces a new product, bread pakoda. Unfortunately its only the low margin tea that sells well. The pakoda bombs in the market.

In the meantime, Sharmaji at the canteen complains. He emotionally appeals to us to patronise his offerings. His business has fallen drastically with the marginal propensity to spend increasing but no piece of the action coming his way. But he refuses to change his menu.

And then we have a samaritan (not our social service club) among us who through the medium of an anonymous email id informs us of the dangers of eating at a place like GE. He questions the sources and quality of ingredients. Sharma picks up the scent and validates the arguements.

The whole excercise reminds me of our economy. GE is the MNC, the guy next stall is the local competitor, Sharmaji is the PSU and the anon id is the Nationalist Swadeshi. It so blatantly replicates all that we see in the papers day in day out. The MNC works superefficiently employing cheap labour, the Indian competitor responds with half baked strategies, the PSU complains and instigates the jingoistic nationalist who throw a massive tantrum on how foreigners are selling us cheap. In the whole melee, we the consumers benefit and our tummies grow at 8.1% per annum. Pretty interesting thought this!


Venkat said...

Lovely analogy..well written and explained. it is very funny!

Milan said...

Hi Gordy,

Thats a great post. Needless to say but very well written. Like reading your blog. keep it up!

The Prolific Dyslexic said...

The better ones among your managerial jokes. Keep it up :)

The Prolific Dyslexic said...

But it still just within touching distance of Suresh level. :P

Rahul said...


Nice read, Gordon! Keep 'em coming!

like_dreams said...

Gordeeee ! Yr blog rocks !!!

aditya naik said...

absolutety fantabulous buddy