January 23, 2012

Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal - 2 : Remnants of History!

Hi Guys,

I got a little busy and was a little slow on blogging. But the new IndiRank (77 for both my blogs) has increased my energy levels and it has renewed my interests.

For my previous post, I got a few comments that they were not aware of the palace existing in Madurai. Actually it is not very surprising as our tourist department takes no steps in preserving the place. For interested people, the palace is in the center of the city and just a kilometer away from the Meenakshi Amman Temple.

In this post, let me post a few photos that are remnants from the past. The palace has a small museum in the side room, that is actually the Dancing Hall or the Nataka Shala, where dance and entertainment took place. A lot of paintings, records, instruments, tools from the past are kept. Apart from that, there is also a statue collection outside the palace.
Stone inscriptions in the museum

A 17th century Chola Dynasty stone inscription
Statue of a God
Lot of statues have broken or detached head. Whoever conquered the temple or palace, didn't wish the statues to remain and so, they just broke of the head. So, lot of Gods and Goddess remain without head.

The King's chair
A God with six faces
Ancient window made from stone
This is it for now. Will post a few more photos in my nest post.

Happy Viewing!!!

January 16, 2012

Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal - 1

Hi Guys,
Two years back, during one of my posts, I had written that despite being in Madurai since my childhood days, I have never visited Thirumalai Nayakar Palace which is in one of the few palaces remaining in south India and also one of the very few tourist attractions of the city.

Last week, I had a chance to visit the palace along with few of my friends. The palace was a beautiful place with big pillars and superb architecture. I thought of posting the photos in a single attempt, but then looking at the number of photos, I have decided to present it in a series of posts.

The palace was built by King Thirumalai Nayak and the palace has been named after him. He ruled the city from 1623-1659 and the palace has been erected approximately by 1639. The architecture is a mixture of Dravidian and Islamic style. The actual palace is said to be four times larger than what it is today.

Here I will be presenting a few photographs and in the upcoming posts, I will be concentrating on a particular category of photographs.

Entrance of the Palace

Whole View of the Courtyard

The gigantic Pillars in the palace

Beautiful dooms in between the pillars

Inside the Nadana vilasam (Dancing Hall)

A view of the rear side of the palace
 Happy Viewing!!!

January 10, 2012

It Happened in India - Book Review

Hi Guys,

Recently I read the book ‘It Happened in India’. It is the story of Kishore Biyani, the owner of Pantaloons, Big Bazaar and Central. It is an autobiography type book with inputs from other people as well.

How I started reading this book is an interesting story. I went to college along with friend in order to meet our project guide. After meeting, my friend went to the college office for getting bonafide certificate to apply for passport. In the meantime, I went to Library and was just skimming through the books and this book caught my attention. I started reading the first 3 pages and I was impressed. I just borrowed the book home and started reading. It was such a fantastic book to read.

The book starts with the story of January 26, 2006 when Big Bazaar announced special offers to attract customers and the shops were flooded with sea of people and had to be shut down to avoid damage. Kishore Biyani is a very energetic man and he always thinks in terms of Indian Customers. His main objective from first day was ‘Rewrite Rules, Retain Values’

He divides India into three sets – India One, India Two and India Three. India 1 accounting for 14% of the population is the elite group and they are the main spenders. India 2 comprising of 55% of population is the middle class and they avoid the places India One visits. Kishore Biyani says that this is the main consuming class and making them to come to visit Big Bazaar is the main advantage of the store. By strong advertisement, he built the brand and his team also visited the areas where the Indian – two lived and understood their lifestyle and needs.

After saying about the Indian Customers, he goes into his early life. Living in a joint family whose business is textile mills. He was always different from others and his family members constantly opposed him. The book then zips through his college life, where he accepted many responsibilities. He then joined family business.

He says ‘There are three kinds of entrepreneurs – creators, preservers and destroyers’ His fathers and uncles were preservers and he wanted to be a creator. So he left the business and started experimenting. Though his father disliked it, he didn’t stop him. The next phase of his life was setting up the readymade apparel store Pantaloons. From 1980s to 2000, he tried different brands and struggled a lot, before he built the brand and set up the giant.

In this phase he also tried to increase capital by getting into stocks. He says that he was always willing to take risks and never worried about the future. Towards 2000, the thought of setting a hypermarket was in his mind. He knew that the structure of foreign retailing won’t be suitable for our country.

When he was unsure of how the response will be, he came across Saravana Stores in Chennai and he was amazed by the response there. Its mantra was ‘Low cost, high turnover’ and he says that the multi – storied building and everlasting crowd cleared all his doubts. He says that he did two changes to the concept – Saravana was family business, Big Bazaar is not and he improved the customer service in Big Bazaar. He says that people think Big Bazaar was inspired by the Walmarts of the world, but actually it was inspired by the Saravana Stores.
Brands started by Kishore Biyani

He then goes into the starting of the Big Bazaar and spreading it. He says he believes in Win-win-win strategy, a strategy which the seller, the distributor and the customer – all are benefited and profited. He says it leads to long term relationship.

He is so open in the book and he openly says the strategies by which he attracts the people. He says the main aim to draw the money from the people’s wallet or to make people spend more.

After this he says about setting the Central Mall, which is a decentralized mall and a place where anyone can sell their product and they need to give commission only for sold products. Or, it’s more like a village bazaar, where all products are sold at a common place.

The book is so energetic and refreshing. Dipayan Bashya has done a great work in integrating all the people’s thoughts and also presenting Kishoreji’s thoughts in a crisp manner. A must read book for people who want to know about the retail setup of India.

The book I have is priced at Rs. 99 (2007 edition), but when I checked in Flipkart, I found the price is increased now (MRP: Rs. 195 – Flipkart gives 30% discount).

Happy Reading!!!

January 7, 2012

Tough times for Indian Cricket Fans!

Hi Guys,

It has been a hard time for ardent fans of Indian Cricket Team. If loss is paining, then the way the cricketing fraternity reacts to it is excruciating.

MS Dhoni has been the most celebrated captain of Indian Cricket team. He won us the T20 World Cup, ODI world cup and he took the team to new heights. But, now suddenly he is on a low and no one knows why. His attitude is low and strategies puzzling. He has always been a man of puzzling strategies, but they worked earlier and now they are backfiring. No one knows why he went on setting defensive field. He stills says that his bowlers bowled well and they didn’t have the cushion of big runs. By any means 4 wickets for 650 odd runs is not good bowling.

More awful, after the West Indies series Mr. Cool said that he wanted pitches that spin right from the first day, because spin is our biggest strength. Is he making a plan for India to lose all the overseas series ahead? What is more puzzling is that Ashwin took 22 wickets and Ojha took 21 wickets in that series (43 wickets in 3 matches). Does Dhoni want them to take all possible wickets?

Our selectors and cricket board are another set of crazy people. India lost the Sydney test match and two hours later, the schedule for next IPL was ready. Is money the only thing they think about? A few days ago, Yahoo Cricket published an article on who will be the replacements for the famed Indian batsmen. They came out with some names and in the end concluded ‘Though these batsmen have piled up runs in the Ranji Seasons, we can say nothing about their talent again seam bowling as they play on flat dead pitches’

By this time, some of the former players have made suggestions that the senior players should retire and fresh blood should be induced. Sachin has been the best batsman in this series so far. Dravid had a fantastic year just now. Former players have said that Laxman should be axed and Kohli should be given another chance. They have said that giving chance for just two matches is not good. They should remember that it is a 4 match series and not a 40 match series. He has hit just 43 runs and also misbehaved in the field (whatever the reason maybe it was irresponsible behavior). He has also wasted chances in West Series. Laxman played well in last innings and maybe it is too early to discard him (considering the fact that Aussies are the opponents and Ponting proved himself after 34 innings!)

Aussies were blasted one month ago. It was said that their bowling was the weakest. Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, Haddin – everyone were criticized. But they bounced back and now they are being celebrated across the country.

Being a fanatic of Indian cricket team, I believe that something like that will happen. Last time Indians won at perth. Hopes are low now, but still anything can happen. The fourth innings at SCG was good. Hope the show continues.

Winning a match from now on will be superb. If it happens, lets see how these intelligent guys react.

Happy Reading!!!

January 3, 2012

Different People!

Hi Guys,

It’s already 10.40 pm and I’m in a very energetic state, thanks to the powerful nap in the afternoon. In this post I’m going to write about two interesting conversations I had in the recent weeks.

Customer Satisfaction
2-3 weeks back, I went to a nearby Hair Salon to trim my hair. The barber is a friendly person and since I had become one of his regular customers he used to speak with me now and then. Last time, I noticed that there were some 5-6 newspapers in the waiting bench. I asked him whether they were old papers and he said that all were the current day’s newspapers.

Regularly people used to keep just 1 paper and I was surprised. I asked him the same question and his answer was interesting. He said that on a busy day, when lot of customers wait, if there is only one paper, then few customers might be feeling frustrated and they will leave the salon and it will result in losing of customers.

So, he regularly buys 3 English and 3 Tamil Dailies. So even if there are six customers they will wait patiently. It also boosts the value for the Salon, as customers feel happy that there will be lot of dailies and the barber feels proud. He said all the six dailies might cost around Rs. 15 or 20 and even if it results in one extra customer it is profit for him.

We speak about Customer Satisfaction for big value products and here a small salon owner has implemented it. His motive is simple – Spend some money on satisfying customers and you will get more money in return.

A Rare act of Honesty
A few days back, when I was going to a nearby industry for my project work I used to catch a bus around 7.15 am. The crowd will be very less in the morning, that too in this winter season. So, most of the seats will be empty. The first bus journey will take around 20 minutes.

I will meet by friends at a bus terminus and from there we need to travel another 25 km in bus. So, I will take a Rs. 50 pass using which you can travel within the city any number of times for that particular day. Generally conductors ask for an ID card.

On that particular day, I just showed my ID card and the conductor said it was not necessary to show it during the first time. As usual the bus was empty and he started to converse with me. He said that per day around 25-50% of the users misuse the pass. They take the daily pass and just pass it on to someone else. So, that is why the conductors ask for ID cards.

Next he asked who I am and what I’m doing. He was so interested in speaking about education. He has chosen a vocational group in his higher secondary schooling and hence Maths is tough for him. As he had studied in Tamil Medium, understanding English is also tough.

After that, he has studied all the computer languages and he said that he is well versed in C, C++, Java, VB and Oracle. He has taught students in a school for around 9 years. He has finished BCA in correspondence.
Then somehow he has come into the conductor line (might have joined as it’s a permanent job). In an effort to join Government school as teacher, he has registered for doing MCA in correspondence. He said that he went into the Exam Hall and he was not able to attend questions in Operations Research, Computer Graphics and some other paper. He said that he was not even able to interpret the question. Not knowing English and Maths has made it tough for him.

These days people say about giving money and getting pass marks in correspondence exams. I thought of asking the same and then left the idea. After a while he said that, 'I can give money and pass the exam, but what is the use? I am not even able to understand the questions. I’m in such a poor state and what is the use of clearing the paper by giving money?'

It was just refreshing to hear this type of words from people. A few days later I was saying this to mom and she said that just 10% of people are like him and others think of doing anything for themselves with the help of money and power. True, but people like them do exist.

Meeting people like the above two creates a new perception and makes us understand life better.

Life is Beautiful!

Happy Reading!!!