Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together – Vincent Van Gogh

Posts tagged ‘Bangalore’

Let the Party Begin!

Everybody wants the best for their child, and if it’s a birthday party you are organizing it has to be awesome. But once the excitement settles down and you actually get down to the task of planning. You will be surprised to note how organizing a simple child’s birthday party can actually be a daunting task. Locating venues and comparing a few, picking the menu, choosing a party theme, ensuring your menu is in line with the theme, booking the cake, sending out the invites, shopping for stuff like party hats and return gifts, planning the game, and the list goes on….. Don’t forget, this is a team effort. Your child, husband and in-laws will give you some fantastic ideas… but you have to do all the running around and implementation. Makes you want to pull your hair out, right?

Birthday planning made easy

But wait, organizing a child’s birthday party does not have to be this stressful. You can actually do some, if not most, of the things online. Oh yes, thanks to the internet and all those intelligent businessmen who envisaged the hardships a mother could face when organizing her child’s birthday bash. They actually put together a cool portal that could help you plan!

Venue Plan is one of these. It is an interactive real-time directory on event venues and birthdays. The site currently has information on Bangalore, but they are growing rapidly into other cities.

Venue Plan lets you locate hotels in your vicinity and in keeping with your budget. It helps connect moms planning their child’s birthday with hotels, check out the facilities being offered, pick the food, plan the theme, locate magicians, tattoo artists, photographers, handcrafted return gift providers, folks who can bake personalized cakes and more…. All over the phone! Yes, hard to believe, but true.

Now, let all the fantastic ideas from your child, husband and in-laws flow in, does anyone need to know you have a fairy godmother in Venue Plan:)

Should you desire to contact Venue Plan

Website: http://birthday.venueplan.com/

Phone: (91) 9886022277

Email: plan@venuesavvy.com

Nagaraj, the Man Behind Design Point

People Feature

ImageIndia is a happening country and you can see that by the novel ideas, initiatives and businesses that are mushrooming every day.  I keep meeting these folks that are brimming with confidence and bursting to go out into the world. They are driven to create a niche for themselves and it’s a positive environment to be in.

One such case in point is Nagaraj. A person with disabilities since he was four, he has trained and self-taught himself a host of skills that range from graphic designing, web designing, photography and short film-making.

When he left his job at a BPO, it was like his hat was thrown on the other side of the fence. From thinking of setting up his own little business, he suddenly found himself at having to launch it right way.

With not much fanfare, he works from home. He created a snazzy ppt for his initiative called ‘Design Point’ and sent it out to all his friends. Soon, small bits of designing work began to come in from brochure and mailer designing to web site creation.

“It’s been stressful” says Nagaraj, “For a while, I kept looking for a full time job, desiring the security of a fixed salary. But as a person with disabilities, I will always have to deal with employers who will not look at my ability, but rather at my disability. It has taken me a while to get my confidence, and now think Design Point is the way forward. It lets me be my own boss, work with the flexibility that I desire and raise the bar on performance for myself.”

About Design Point

ImageNagaraj has over 7 years of experience working with NGOs. His current clients include those from the development sector and small organizations who do not have the kind of financials necessary to hire branded design assistance.

He continues to look to grow his client base and is priced competitively. The quality of his work is good. Self-learning is second in his nature and so, he dislikes saying “I don’t know how to do that”. “The internet offers you everything” he says, “I just go and explore various tools and software, post a few questions on a forum and soon I have learnt something new”.

Nagaraj has an eye for detail, works with a smile and has plenty of patience – this is most necessary because a designer must be willing to do multiple edits until a client feels satisfied with the output.

Connect with Nagaraj from Design Point if you need

  • Brochures / greeting cards / business cards
  • Banner ads / ppts / e-mailers
  • Logo designing
  • Website designing
  • Visuals for your social media properties – Facebook, Twitter, Google+
  • UI Design
  • Short videos
  • Photography

Contact Details

Email: nagarajpapanna@gmail.com

Phone number: +91 9902249249

Facebook: http://in.linkedin.com/in/nagarajpapanna

Holidaying in Gods Own Country

Statistics on tourism in Kerala are all UP!! According to figures put out by the Government of Tourism, Kerala saw an 11.18 % increase in foreign tourist arrival in 2012. Domestic tourist arrival was up by 9.15%, so were foreign exchange earnings, which grew by 11.18% and total revenue from tourism grew 9.74%. Not bad during recessionary time and I’m not surprised by the numbers.

Its balmy winter in Bangalore, but we decided on an extended weekend in Kerala. We were driving down there for a colleagues wedding. Five in the morning, dawn is ready to break and our Punto rushed to get out of the city before it awakes. Beautiful four lane drives, mist flanking the road, plants lining the highway and occasionally a bright bunch of flowers too, the characteristic granite reliefs of the South, some excellent music and we were cruising at 100 kms per hour. Thank you Reeves Mathews for wonderfully managing the wheels!

A huge breakfast of blueberry pancakes, fresh fruits and croissants, at Salem and off we shot for lunch in Palakkad, Kerala. Simple yet tasty fair beef fry and parotas, on bone chain plats at a small yet well maintained restaurant along the highway, some awesome view works well with the wonderful food.

We were in Kerala for three whole days, all in Palakkad district, and we never encountered a bad road! Tree lined roads, with dividers and reflectors, 98% of drivers are well behaved and this is another feather in Kerala’s cap.

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After my first encounter with beef, I decided that the weather, which is hot and humid like all coastal places, is just not conducive to red meat. And boy, was it the right decision. For subsequently, we really pigged out on some of the freshest and tastiest fish I have ever eaten. No small feat, considering I come from another coastal state just up North – Goa.

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Unlike Goa, Kerala is neither overpriced, nor nauseously commercial. For hours you drive through villages of pretty modern homes, all painted in bright hues, and sitting midst a generous garden. The crush of people that you see in cities like Bangalore, is thankfully missing, the air is fresh and when the humidity gets to you, stop by for some tender coconut water, pickled pineapple or even tangy Amala. How’s that for a healthy snack?

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We stayed at a beautiful hotel called Devaragam in the holy town of Guruvayur. Quiet, lovely airy rooms, polite staff, pleasant décor, and affordable, its shouting distance from the temple. December – January is Sabarimala season in Kerala and devotees invariable stop over at Guruvayur too. That explained the rush at the temple.

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The Guruvayur temple is a very popular Krishna temple and is amazingly small and filled with wooden carvings and frescos. It reminded me that the temple was probably built for a much smaller population. It is auspicious to get married at this temple, so each year hundreds, or probably thousands of couples tie the knot here. Strangely, the religious ceremony lasts for 3-4 minutes and then it’s the turn of the next couple!

Post the wedding, which was an elaborate, grand occasion and typically Malyalee from ‘Oh My Gold’ fame, we drove down to Snehatheeram beach. Narrow, clean and uncrowded, the Snehatheeram beach mostly sees the local population and a few fishermen mending their nets. The beach is lined with coconut trees, the sand dunes and their vegetation still intact. We saw just one foreigner in all our time there, how she located the place is probably a credit to Google maps.

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The next day saw a long drive along hairpin curves to Thirapally waterfalls. It seems some scenes of the Hindi movie Raavan were shot here. It’s a huge gushing barrage of water and you can see it both from the top of the fall or experience its might by going down to its foot.

Some great company, a sure driver who enjoys the road and Kerala can be super fun, affordable and of course memorable too.

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Of Mangoes and Goats

Who does not know palace grounds in Bangalore? For those who are not from here, this is a huge, sprawling ground that holds several exhibitions, of all kinds, hosts music events and people gatherings, sometimes, all simultaneously. From Soul Sante, to defense shows, marriages to education exhibitions, Bangalore’s Palace Grounds sees it all. But not many will know that adjoining Palace grounds, along Fun World, on that little patch of uneven ground between the busy road and the high wall there is a different kind of mundi or market that suddenly and organically sprouts.

Since I work in R T Nagar, I pass this area just at the JC Nagar junction every day, and one day in early May there was suddenly a large number of mango sellers, with baskets and truck loads of mangoes on either side of the road, mangoes of every shape, round and elongated, large luscious looking ones and tiny nondescript ones, green and yellow, some with blushes of red. The names of these mangoes can get even more interesting, and range from Raspuri, Bangalura/ Totapuri, Neelam, Benisha, Ladoo, Sakutrikai, Badami and Malguba to name a few.

The air is heavy with the wonderful fragrance of ripe mangoes, and people stop by to pick up bagfuls. Sellers cut of tiny slices of mango and let you sample them so you are assured that indeed the mangoes are sweet, not stringy and have the texture you desire. The mangoes are also incredably cheap. While a fancy supermarket chain could charge you as much as Rs 79 per kilo of mangoes that have been in cold store and probably ripened with chemicals, here you can pick and choose, weaving your way through a host of sellers, tasting along the way, and pick up the best tasting mangoes for a paltry Rs 35 a kilo. For Rs 100 I had a large bag of 3 kilos and not withstanding all that information about the calories gorged myself for a week.

The sellers come in from the neighboring villages and even from the neighboring areas of Srinivaspuram in Andhra Pradesh. If you ever go to Srinivaspuram you see a huge board which reads ‘Welcome to Srinivaspuram for the World’s Best Mangoes’, here are orchards and orchards of mangoes and for two months of the year, adults and children get together to first protect the ripening fruit from thieves and monkeys who can destroy large amount of fruit, and then head to cities where they can retail their fruit. For over a month these villages camp, just off the palace grounds, in the blistering sun, with little sanitation or housing facilities. It’s a hard life, and we folks who spend thousands of rupees at fairs and exhibitions on the other side of the high wall, think nothing of how these poor villagers sell some of the most awesome fruit at unbelievable low prices.

A week before Bakri Eid the place fills up again. Then, the monsoons in Bangalore are just over, these patches of land are knee high with weeds and suddenly, the Yadavs or goat herders of the surrounding villages of Bangalore descend upon the place. There are goats of all sizes and age, tied in groups to trees or posts dug into the round. The men with course leathery faces and their characteristic thick woolen blankets slung over the shoulders sit on their haunches waiting for buyers. The air is filled with the smell of goat and sheep. It’s an urban shed, about the only time the scent of animals is stronger than that of city life. You see groups of people arguing, haggling, circling the animals, who nonchalantly continue chewing on a few branches, waiting, for the slaughter.

Holidaying In the Wild South – Nagarhole

A small diversion of the beautiful 8 lane Bangalore – Mysore freeway, down some terrible narrow roads and Bingo, you are smack in the middle of Nagarhole National Park, also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park. It was a long weekend in early May and we decided, like scores of others to hightail out of simmering Bangalore.

Unknowingly, but with a happy coincidence we had booked a homestay on the periphery of the national park and so boy, did we feast our eyes.

Nagaraj, mom who was down from Goa and myself, all in a battered down sumo vehicle, the bad roads and rattling vehicle notwithstanding, we were all geared for some wild excitement!

A check-post, sign in your car number,  a few kilometers ahead a big board says welcome to Nagarhole National Park

The sights and sounds of modern life recede and we drive down a single lane bumpy road. The signal on our phone vanishes and we drive and drive through dry forest. It’s May, and there are shades of brown starting from just off the road. The only bright colours are the boards that spring up at regular intervals our left and right. Put up by the forest department, the boards are instructional, like “do not stop your vehicle”, “do not get out of your vehicle”, “do not honk”, “do not drive above 30 kms an hour”, “speed kills” animals in this case, common sense stuff really, but when you are a moron from a city I guess this is indeed helpful stuff.

The trees are cleared 3 meters off on each side of the road and then the scrub begins. These clearings with roughly hewn holes have been carefully designed so that wide-eyed folks like us see more wild animals. It had rained the night before and at a little pool by the side of the road we were face to face with an India gaur. You recognize an Indian gaur, not only from its large size and huge hump, but its 4 white socked feet as well. It’s amazing to be before such a magnificently large creature but god help if it’s in a bad mood and decides to charge.

Spotted deer range free and often break the scrub and bushes to nibble off at tender green leaves facing the road. Male deer’s have majestic antlers that stretch out skywards; females with little ones are a bit skittish. As luck could have it we even saw a pair of barking deer. These are tiny deer really compared to their spotted cousins and you need to have a keen eye to see them. Thankfully, Nagaraj who even others has eyes like a hawk kept stopping the driver every few minutes.

Like deer, wild boar was plentiful and small herds could be seen foraging among leaves and swampy grasses. We bumped into a playful pack of wild dogs and saw mongoose scampering by, couldn’t get that one on film. A tree stripped off every leaf but full of wild figs had as many as six Giant Indian Squirrels eating up with gay abandon, we caught pictures of the Racket Tail Drongo, peacock and wild hens.

The mornings were especially beautiful as the mist hung heavy over the forest and the haunting call of the cuckoo rang from tree to tree. Parrots and parakeets broke into periodic cacophony and in this surreal setting, Nagaraj chanced upon a herd of 4 elephants with a calf.

Nagarhole is surrounded by coffee plantations and human habitation is constantly shrinking the forest, when the surroundings are loaded with fruit, especially jackfruit, the strong fragrance draws elephants which rampage through the coffee plantations. But that does not stop plantation owners from growing a few jackfruit trees anyway.

The road through Nagarhole leads to Kerala and though it is a narrow, ill maintained road there is a fair among of traffic roaring by, most drivers are disciplined and the area is clean. One can also stay at government lodging in the heart of the forest and go on jungle safaris. Patrolling the forest are guards who live in small thatched houses with smooth floors and walls. Even as wild animals roam free, so do villages and little children. Schooling looks to be rather rudimentary.

In a couple of places we had boards which meant that tigers are sighted in those areas and even though we went early one morning hoping the gods would favour us with an apparition, our luck did not hold through.

At the very end of the forest was a little post office, which I found most intriguing, but you never know, some people might just be sending out an annual letter to the animals each Christmas 😉

Pics by Nagaraj Papanna and me

A Day Well Spent at Sunday Soul Sante

Sunday Soul Sante? What the hell is that, I thought when I first heard the name. That’s when my colleague who also knows Kannada explained that Sante is the Kannada word for markets that are held in villages. These markets too are usually held on a Sunday. The Sunday Soul Sante however is no village market. It is held in the heart of Bangalore, palace grounds to be precise, is a quarterly event and attracts hoards of people.

What makes Sunday Soul Sante different is that it attracts hundreds of young entrepreneurs. These people are students, housewives, lawyers, teachers, software engineers, newlyweds, mom-in-law etc etc from nine to five, and then go out and pursue their passion, and live their creativity. This may take the form of painting, craftwork, jewelry making, colorful accessories, cooking, stationary, greeting cards, wine making, you name it and it’s probably there.

The event begins by 12.30 p.m and from the word ‘open’, the large layout of 250+ stalls are teaming with visitors. Today was a particularly hot day, with the barometer probably hovering around the mid thirties, but between huge gulps of water, we flitted from stall to stall. With me were my two friends, Sreeja Nair and Kaneez Rai, both of who well hell bent to snap up all the ‘good stuff’ (to quote Sreeja here) before it was ‘all gone’. Of course they left the Sante a few thousands lighter, but they were radiant about the fantastic clothes, jewelry, stationary and other knick-knacks they had purchased.

Notwithstanding the red dust rising with every footstep, Sunday Soul Sante is a feast for the eyes. Bright summery colours are in; the discerning consumer is tired of the super markets and malls, where thousands of people are buying the same stuff as you. Today, folks are looking for the unique, the offbeat, products that can be customized. So at Sunday Soul Sante you meet folks that hand paint a pair of converse shoes, give you beautiful fabric wraps for your bean bag, sell you homemade Coorg pickles, sell you cup cakes and top them with icing containing generous doses of Rum, Tequila, Champaign, Vodka, and so on.

Entrepreneurship is in, gone are the days when folks got bogged down in the drudgery of routine. Today,  young people, those in college and those just out come up with truly great ideas, recognize the commercial value of it and leverage the advantage of the internet to market their stuff, how about gifting your friend a personalized photo frame, or your mom a personalized handbag. Beautiful handcrafted lamps, bottles heat pressed into shapes like ashtrays and traditional handicrafts are hot.

Eco-friendly is in. walk around and you see loads of paper, fabric, thread, wood, glass, leather used in a hundred creative ways.

It was tiring no doubt, my feet still hurt with hours of walking in the baking sun, but the exuberance, positivity, smiles and warmth is infectious. What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday!

A Regular Lousy Thursday

I never thought I would ever be cribbing about the weather in Bangalore. It’s always been cool, moist, pleasant, a hint of cloud, just enough to keep the harsh sun away. The massive green rain trees, embrace the city in their thick foliage and most people like me, who think they have come to Bangalore only to work, end up falling in love with it. We never leave, do we?

But the last few days have been terrible. Dry and hot, scorching if you should venture out in the noon, your skin needs constant moisturizing; your lips constantly dry and crack, leaving you fishing for your lip balm ever so often. You feel thirsty, and for someone pampered by Bangalore’s pleasant climate, it all seems weird and insufferable.

Rain, rain, rain is what we need, but then it will make the place worse, oh I don’t care, it will also cool down this city which seems to be on a simmer. We keep looking skywards ever so often, looking for the faintest hint of rain filled clouds, but none appear.

Has this got to do with global warming, all those cars and two wheelers swarming the city, all those huge rain trees being mercilessly felled and towed away overnight, those wide gaping holes that bring in the hot sunlight. Maybe those neo age dooms day predictors are not ‘rabid, anti development environmentalist’ after all. Maybe there is a hint of truth in what they say, are saying.

On a Thursday, it’s not the weekend yet and you’re kind of worn out by the first three days of the week already. The lousy dry, hot weather, the chapped lips and dry skin, all seem to collude and conspire to make your day hell. Thursday was dragging by ever so slowly, its early evening, I simply could not keep the lethargy at bay and I so wanted to huddle under my desk and snooze off to sleep. That’s when I got a bright idea, how about some coffee.

I keep coffee for special occasions, like when I have a blistering headache, have had a disturbed night and am nodding off at work, or simply to get rid of my lethargy. So I strode up to my office cafeteria on the third floor. “Prakash, half cup coffee” I yell. Prakash finds this request really amusing, as usual. “Half cup mam?” he usually responds, how joking, half pandering to a cantankerous request. To be fair to him, it is a rather stupid request. The coffee cups are actually those tiny white ceramic cups that have been especially designed for the coffee guzzlers of South India. To prevent them from dying of a caffeine overdose, have coffee but at a controlled pace, is the mantra. How the hell does one make half a cup of coffee in that tiny mug? But that’s a feat best left to Prakasha’s measurement skills. “Yes Prakash, half a cup”. Here is when Prakash’s sadist side really shows up, but then, this is just my perspective, all guys are bullies, but they would rather call it charm. So Prakash, drops in a dash of milk after the coffee decoction he keeps in a flask, “is that enough mam?, “a bit more Prakash”, “OK mam?”, “a little more … ok stop, I don’t think I can have all of that”, and Prakash shakes his head in amusement.

I take my cup and head out on to the terrace. “No ways am I planting my rear on any of those chairs”, I say to my colleague, “have been sitting at my desk all day, I need a breath of fresh air.” That’s when the cool breeze of 5.00 p.m , brushes up to me, tussles my hair, caresses my cheeks. The sun is down on the horizon; I look at the neighbor’s mango tree nearby, in full bloom, and packed with tiny mangoes just emerging from the flowers.  I hope we are able to rob some when those mangoes become big. The pomegranate tree is also full of tiny fruit, the green around is soothing, the breeze is calming, the wide open expanse of space that spreads out in front of our third floor terrace. Ah, how it revives my drooping spirit!

So who cares for your website?

Have you had this experience when someone calls you and says they are calling from so and so company, you search them on Google and come upon a really shabby website. Your image of the company you are talking to falls apart. Now would you want to do business with a company like that or would you consider taking up a job with them?

I’ve had this experience more than once, and the astounding part, many of them claim to be online marketing companies. What?… With such poor content, little or no SEO, nothing to distinguish the site as a 2.0 website, precious little information on their services, I yearn to ask them how they manage to do business if any, but usually take the faster and more pleasant way out by saying a simple ‘No’.

If you don’t care for your website, why should I

In case you as a company have forgotten, your website is your public face. It is your advertisement for all to see, and a pretty cost effective one at that. Who in their sane mind would want to waste an opportunity like that to advertise themselves, yet so many companies would, and do.

A shabby website speaks volumes on how much you care about your own company, how much you have conceptualized your products and services, how much you strive to distinguish yourself from the myriad competition. Poor English, meagre content, indicates you’d rather be found chasing the money, or maybe that you haven’t looked at your site in years.

Updating a site with current information, making sure it displays the current year, means that you are concerned about your appearance, that you care to make the right impression; people who would like to do business with you find it easier to read about you, understand you and determine if they could gel with you. Prospective employees also get a better understanding of your style of business, learn about your products and are able to determine if they could fit into your organization. A well maintained website, helps you attract better talent and generate much needed leads, free of cost.

The first thing most people do when they hear the name of an individual or company they need to interact with is Google them, and if you don’t make the best first impression, it might create a lasting bad impression.

My Dear Village, Bangalore

Bangalore may be projected as a hi-tech cosmopolitan IT city, but somewhere in the convoluted crevices of its being, it still continues to remain, unplanned, organic and yes, unprofessional as the many villages or halli’s that surround it.

For example, who of us, who live in Bangalore have not found ourselves driving up a street only to find it blocked at the end by a large tent. Some festival, marriage, house warming party, or Lions club blood donation drive and the entire road is summarily barricaded. What? You wonder, did these guys actually apply for permission to do this? Do you actually get permission in this city to block a public road for personal use?

Another common sight is when a building is being constructed by the roadside. Expect the road to be half occupied by rubble, sand, bricks and debris, and I’m not talking about some tiny lane in the no-where of town, but places right in the heart of town, broad roads that see large amount of traffic. The construction material causes traffic jams for months together and no one does a thing. Again, from where does the builder get permission to occupy the road?

Come festival time and god help your ears. Recently in my neighbourhood, huge amplifiers and speakers began to blare music from 4 in the morning till well past 12 at night. The weekend is time when I unwind and relax, but this weekend it was not to be, rather, by mid day I was irritable with the constantly loud noise. Again, can you get permission to do play loud music like this and disturb the entire neighbourhood for such long hours?

Bangalore

Another thing I’ve come to notice and many would agree, if you see a newly asphalted road, a newly constructed drainage, a new footpath… keep watching… it has to be, and I mean it has to be … damaged for some reason within a month. After construction, someone will realize that a water pipe needs to be laid, a drain has clogged, a tree needs to be trimmed, or the quality of the work is so bad it gets washed away in the first rain. And so, you never see things properly maintained for long in the city. The city’s signature is broken, rundown, decrepit,  loud, noisy and I find this strange, because most people in Bangalore, no matter what your position, are under tremendous work pressure and tense, and need to unwind, need a quiet place, need to have at least a small section of their lives stress free, but that never happens. This city of Bangalore, and it would probably be unfair if I said only Bangalore, for it seems to be the hallmark of many other city, sometimes seems to me like a runaway train, or an elephant run amok. Little sign of planning, little or no sign of processes, no professionalism, piecemeal, ad-hocism, impulse action, little or no collective thought, and this brings to the fore, the strange paradox of what we do professionally and how we live.

The thousands of IT companies spread across this city are probably engaged in millions of projects to develop applications, software’s, tools to put in place processes, streamline processes, reduce human intervention and automate processes, so that things are faster, smoother, efficient, planned, structured and yet, when we step out of our offices we see none of the fruits of our work. We, IT professionals do all these projects, offer all these solutions to customers cross the world, but back home, our government is not equipped enough to see the intelligence in implementing any of these solutions for the betterment of our lives, they lack the foresight and the ‘education’ and for me this is a paradox I am still trying to reconcile myself to.

Sometimes I wonder if anything at all can be done about this situation, cause, at some point it stops at a ‘education’ and ‘foresight’ and gets into this highly debatable and arguable domain of ‘culture’. Are we adequately ‘cultured’ and ‘developed’ enough to understand how technology can be leverage to catapult the city to the next level? To engage in planned urbanization that is less stressful. Sometimes I think the gaps, in every sense, are so wide and dark that it may take many many years.

I know this is a highly controversial topic and would love to have feedback from those reading this post.

Don’t buy tiles from RAK Ceramics, Goa… here is why

My disappointing experience with inefficient and incompetent RAK Ceramics

Dear friends, home maintenance is a frequent task, recently, my family decided to replace the flooring of our home in Goa and so began the saga on simply buying tiles from a company with a large international presence called RAK Ceramics.

It all began with me walking across the road from my office in Bangalore to one of the premium ceramics retailers PC Mallapa and Co. Here is where the most helpful and intelligent salesman ably and expertly introduced me to the range of quality floor tiles, drawing comparatives in quality and price and pointing out that RAK Ceramics would be a wise choice even if it meant paying a premium.

A company with a global presence I opted for RAK Ceramics because their production process was technologically superior. Their strict quality control and exactness of manufacture assured me that I was buying tiles that would have a longer life. I must confess this elderly salesman at the showroom was extremely knowledgeable about tile making and after an intense 45 minute discussion there was no way I was going to consider any other company, even though 90% of the companies in the market were selling me tiles for half the rate RAK Ceramics quoted.

Having picked up the brochure and virtually zeroed in on the colour and pattern I wanted, I next headed to Google, to locate their office in Goa, after all that’s where the tiles were required.

Surprisingly, for a company with a global presence there was very little information about RAK Ceramics online, the first sign of them not being in sync with the times. The management of RAK Ceramics does not seem to be aware that they are in the Information Age, that customers locate companies online, they read feedback from other customers and then choose their product. Interestingly, I have just noticed that the RAK Ceramics website shows their copyright date as 2006! OMG they haven’t updated their website for 4 years!!!!

The dearth of information about them prevented me from getting adequate information about the superiority of their product, but well, lucky for them an elderly salesman at PC Mallapa, the premium ceramics retailers in Bangalore, had done his job well. For a company with a global presence and superior technology to trust a salesman can hardly be a way of preparing for competition, because ahead you will learn how others put his good work to naught. Getting back to my search for an address to their location in Goa… well I simply couldn’t find one on the internet!!!

Goa is an international tourist destination and has huge amount of construction happening, additionally the people of Goa are highly educated with a high foreign exposure. The consumers of this tiny state are discerning and if they go online to locate a good ceramics company, they won’t even locate RAK Ceramics, so how does the company make sales? So much for global presence and a desire to do business and make profits…. Wow, I’m actually questioning their fundamental motive of doing business, but then let them prove me wrong.

So I then remembered the salesman at PC Mallapa telling me that RAK Ceramics tiles were manufactured in Andhra Pradesh and I located an address and write to the company asking them for a contact in Goa if any.

I promptly get a reply from Mr S.S.YADAV and he gives me the phone number to the Area Manager of Goa Mr. Nitin Sawant. I try calling Mr Sawant, initially his phone service provider tells me he is out of coverage area, when it does finally ring sometime later I can hear Mr Sawant but Mr Sawant cannot hear me. Thankfully on my third attempt I get across to Mr Sawant and he gives me a contact number to 2 of his dealers in Goa. The interesting part, even though all my attempts to call Mr Sawant would have registered on his phone as missed calls, at no point does he try to call me back. It probably did not strike him that it could be a potential customer trying to get in touch. So much for RAK’s sales personnel.

With the two contact numbers given to me by Mr Sawant I call a showroom called Bath and Tiles, I speak there to Mr Praveen Lotlikar and we agree that when I’m in Goa I would contact him to discuss the details of my order.

I get to Goa, meet Mr Lotlikar, decide on the tile, RAK Venezia, ACNE, premium vitrified tiles and immediately make my 1st payment of Rs. 25,000 against order form – ST/133 on 30th March 2010. A second payment is made of another 25,000 on the 3rd April. Mr Lotlikar assures me that the order has been placed, and the truck will be dispatched that day itself. I head back to Bangalore and my sister follows up with him, he assures her the truck is being dispatched, a week later, that the truck needs to be full as the truck can’t leave from their factory with only our small order of tiles. A week later, the tiles are not in stock and are being manufactured and we will receive them by the 30th of April 2010.

My sister goes along with Mr Lotlikar, anyway we planned on starting the work during the 1st week of May so why not oblige a company with a global presence and who is already sitting of Rs. 50,000 of our money… the politeness of consumers. I hope RAK Ceramics will give us credit for it, and ofcourse they are still flying on the fantastic job done by the elderly salesman from PC Mallapa in Bangalore. Strange, how for all its marketing strategies and sales forecasts and targets, it all comes to an elderly salesman from PC Mallapa in Bangalore! If this does not stink of inefficiency in RAK Ceramics what does?

On the 30th of April when my sister called Mr Lotlikar again to inquire about our order she was in for a rude shock. (Please note, it is we who keep calling Mr Lotlikar, he always promises to call us back and update us with information but never does. I hope RAK Ceramics is making note that there is a visible training need here, their retailers are poorly equipped in client servicing.) After all this waiting she is told that the tiles have still not been manufactured and he does not know when that will happen and as a result he of course does not know when they will be dispatched and … Bingo you guessed it right, we have to keep waiting.. ah to make a fool of ones customers!

I think what RAK Ceramics forgot was that we, their customers were paying a premium price for their product, we paid an advance, but we don’t get any communication on the delivery. Rather it is held up for a month (today is the 1st of May 2010) and information is given to us only when we call their showroom, INEFFICIENCY AND PATHETIC SERVICE is all they display.

There are millions of other companies that sell products like RAK Ceramics and much more expensive ones too. They have something called online databases, where their dealers can check online, inventory and availability of a product before they commit to a client. Once an order is placed, an internal set of activities are set in motion, online, to monitor timely delivery, put in place accountability and checkmate quality issues, does RAK Ceramics have such a system? Sorry, I forgot….. RAK Ceramics belongs to a different age; of snail mail should I guess.

There are thousands of companies manufacturing vitrified tiles in the Indian state of Gujarat. I took a decision not to buy from them because I could see little or no online presence of these companies, no quality control and no accountability. But RAK Ceramics seems to have turned out to be exactly like one of those companies I avoided buying from. They display lack of transparency in their processes, lack of accountability, inability to provide adequate and truthful information to their customers, lack of respect for their customers, they dishonour their commitment of timely delivery… and they claim to be a company with a global presence manufacturing world class vitrified tiles. Their website says they are ‘Trend Setters’ OMG that’s the only thing they do, and the trends in inefficiency they set, par excellence.

Realizing we have been taken for a ride, I am livid with the response of Mr Lotlikar on the 30th April 2010. I call him up and assure him that this weekend I am going to put my time to good use unless I hear positively that my consignment of floor tiles have been dispatched (predictability 24 hours later I still haven’t heard from him yet… but I’m waiting 🙂

I then try and contact the good ole Mr Nitin Sawant…. Remember Mr Sawant, the one who is always inaccessible…. And yes he is at it again… inaccessible… I try all day on 30th April but his phone continues to be inaccessible. Mr Sawant, sorry for doling out unsolicited advice but I think you need to change your service provider. Get one who gives you better coverage, and yes… don’t forget to charge your phone batteries.

Two people Mr Sawant should never keep waiting are, an irate customer and a client wanting to place an order. He has made one mistake, of not being available when a customer needed him, god alone knows if lost a sale too. As of writing this post I am still to get in contact with Mr Sawant, it is hard for me to believe that all my calls have not shown up as missed calls on his phone…. Or maybe he is yet to charge his phone batteries!!

In utter frustration, the next person I call is Mr Rohit Khandelwal who is based in Mumbai. In retrospect I should just address him as His Highness Rohit Khandelwal because Mr Khandelwal is busy in a meeting from 10.00 am to 4.30 pm and has no time to look into my concerns or queries. Infact he gets arrogant with me, and why not, after all I have placed an order of less than a lakh, while he deals in crores. He talks back to me angrily (which annoys me all the more) that the matter is not so simple, the tile I ordered is not available, it has to be manufactured, they have to get a whole company working for that… and as I surmise… gosh they are so not use to doing that. And all this conversation makes me feel like I just ordered a rocket for Mars. But why do I crib, it’s just another instance in the long line of incompetent, inefficient, unprofessional services from RAK Ceramics, the company with a global presence.

This is when I decided that I simply had to tell my story. Of course I have written to the Management of RAK Ceramics all the way from the Head Office in the UAE to their office in India and I am writing this post to warn your dear friends, should you want to buy tiles from RAK Ceramics please think again. There are other brands, just as good; you might save a few thousands to

So now that I have raved and ranted so much, what do I want RAK Ceramics to do to remedy the situation.

  1. I want the delivery of my Order form – ST/133 for RAK Venezia, ACNE, premium vitrified tiles ASAP. If RAK Ceramics is unable to make the delivery please let me know so that I can come over to the Bath and Tiles showroom in Panjim and select a different tile of the same cost.
  2. RAK Ceramics needs to let me know how they plan to remedy the situation of the tremendous anguish and mental stress their callous attitude has caused me.

And last but not the least, they still owe a big thank you to the polite, intelligent salesman at PC Mallapa, Infantry Road, Bangalore, who did such a great job of selling their product, but all their overpaid, highly trained MBA certified official brought to naught.

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