Friday, March 25, 2011

Smoke, drink and be marry

I saw 'Tanu weds Manu' a couple of days ago. A fairly timepass tale of a Kanpur ki kudi and London ka laayak doctor.

Am sure whoever wanted to see the film in the theatre has done so by now, so I am going to freely spill all the beans. (Not that the title leaves any doubt about the eventual outcome of the phillum).

The crux of the issue is that Tanuja Trivedi (or Tanu) is a not-so-typical girl from Kanpur. She is a rebel, but one without a cause apart from 'ma-baap ki pasand ke ladke se shaadi nahin karoongi'.

Other signs of her non-Kanpur identity include smoking like a chimney, drinking like a fish, and swearing like a character in a Vishal Bharadwaj film.

There's also the unsuitable boy whose name Tanu has tattooed on her chest and wants to run away into kachori country with. More for 'bhaag kar shaadi karne ki thrill' than love, lust or any other motive fathomable to regular human beings.

My point is this: If Tanu really was such a rebel what was she doing sitting at home, waiting for boys to be paraded in front of her? If Tanu was really a kudi 'jo kisi ke baap se bhi nahin darti' she would not counting on a dose of sleeping pills to scare away potential suitors.

She would be making use of her Delhi University education to stay independently, far from home. Immune to parental plots. Able to say "I will marry... someday... and if I need your help to make it happen I'll let you know!"

Which is what Manu seems to be doing - ek to mummy peechhe padi hain aur doosra nerdboy has no lovelife to speak of. Although he is loath to admit it and justifies the ritual of 'seeing girls' by saying: "Shaadi bhi to ek kaam hai, kar hi lete hain."

Actually, it's lucky he fell in love with this sleepwalking chick at first sight. (bechara pehli baar halwa soongh kar hi fisal gaya!)

One interesting point is how Manu hardly cares about Tanu's 'character'. or lack of it, in the traditional sense. Unlike the ancient Indian predilection for innocent, virgin pina coladas.

So kahin na kahin kuch badal raha hai.

But will he be as flexible, accomodating and unlike-most-Indian-men after marriage, as he appears to be before? That is the million pound question, a gamble Tanu is taking.

So this is a movie and it has to follow its course but what of real life Tanus and Manus?

The bottomline is this: If you truly want to live your life on a non-traditional template you have to make tough choices. Big choices. Create your own identity.

Stand by your own values and convictions (even if they aren't shared by the world at large).

If you want something more, something different from life don't get trapped in the small stuff - like smoking, drinking, changing boyfriends.

Experimentation is good, but only to help you arrive at personal guiding principles.

Friday, March 18, 2011

An opportunity for professionals

Three years ago I wrote about The Four Fountains Spa, in my 'Young Entrepreneur Series'. Like all startups they had ambitious plans. Lekin kuch kar paaye ki nahin?

Well, it's nice to know from founding member Anurag Kedia that Four Fountains is indeed doing very well. From 2 spas back in 2008 (both in Pune), they've expanded to 11 spas across 6 cities (Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Manali, Bhopal & Aurangabad).

9 of these spas are operated by franchisees and Four Fountains is actively looking for partners to expand into existing and new markets. Here's the deal:

Partner with The Four Fountains Spa

Four Fountains - India's fastest growing spa chain - is looking for professionals who would like to be franchisees and run their own show! The USP of The Four Fountains Spa is to offer quality spa services at half the prices of other comparable spas.

Four Fountains has a unique business model with investment that is a fraction of other spas and yet offers great returns, as well as other benefits -

1. Professional management with its founders from IIM Ahmedabad and SP Jain
2. 360 degree marketing with a dedicated team to support
3. Dedicated training academy to ensure quality manpower
4. Comprehensive SOPs and audits for ensuring quality and service levels
5. HR policies for employee motivation and retention

The expansion plans are pan India with an immediate focus on Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore. If you or anyone you know would like to be a part of this amazing growth story, do get in touch.

Note: While all are welcome to apply, professional women in their 30s are likely to find this opportunity especially interesting post marriage/ child. It allows them to continue working, flexibility and good, steady returns.

Expected Investment - Around 45 lakhs
ROI - 40 to 50% / Year
Time Commitment - 8 hours/ day in the first year, 4 to 6 hours/ day after the first year
Locations - Mumbai & Bangalore (Immediate), rest of India (after 6 months)

Interested? Contact Anurag Kedia, Head of Franchising (, Mobile - 9967553215)

Happy Matchmaking!

Disclosure: I am a friend and wellwisher of Four Fountains, however, this is a 'paid' posting. I may put up such postings occassionally but only for people/ prodcts I like, and at my sole discretion :)

Monday, March 07, 2011

Kaam ki baat

The other day I ordered a Domino's pizza and the bill was Rs 484.

"Sorry ma'am I don't have change," said the delivery boy.

I was a bit annoyed. When the local kirana shop sends change, surely Domino's should be following a similar common-sense system.

"It's ok, you can keep the change," I told him. "But do tell your manager that we expect better from Domino's."

About fifteen minutes later, the doorbell rang. It was the same boy, with Rs 16 in hand.

"It's ok!" I said. "I told you to keep the change."

"No ma'am," said the boy."It's my duty."

He went on to relate how grateful he is to work at the pizza place, because all his pocket money comes from this job. While he does go to college, he has to work in order to support himself as well.

This boy may not have many of the advantages that other kids his age have. But I am sure, in the longer run, he will do very well for himself. Working at Domino's he is not just earning money, but inculcating values.

Which will stand him in good stead throughout his life.

But how many students in this country would be willing to work at a Domino's? You simply won't find kids from 'good families' in these jobs.

"Tumhe abhi naukri karne ki koi zaroorat nahin hai, focus on your studies' - is what the parents say.

And the kids happily nod and accept. (Whether they focus on studies is, of course, a different matter altogether).

Another common refrain from parents is:"Kaam karne ke liye to zindagi padi hai, abhi bachchon ko enjoy karne do."

And if kids do need to take up a job - just for the experience - let it be a desk job or office job. I mean imagine walking into McDonalds and seeing our Chunnus and Munnus standing behind the counter.

Log kya kahenge and all that jazz.

Personally, I think that all students would benefit immensely - personally and professionally - if they worked while they studied. But this applies particularly to those pursuing courses like bachelor's of management.

Imagine the experience you get working at a Cafe Coffee Day - from operations, to cash flow management to understanding customers.

But, again, do our BMS or BBA colleges encourage students to take up such work?

Rather, most students are looking for 'internship' with reputed organisations. Preferably, based in an office and not out there 'on the field'.

At forums I am often asked, "How can we make our youth more entrepreneurial?"

And I have to throw the ball back into the oldies court and say,"Stop making life so cushy!"

Loving your children does not mean making them lazy, giving them a sense of entitlement. Encourage them to work!

In the West, kids are told to even fund their own college education. Indian parents will faint at the thought. So, pay the fees, feed and clothe your kids. But must you fund their every whim and fancy beyond that?

Let them understand and savour the value of money.

Give them the pleasure of earning their next mobile phone.

Share with pride that your son or daughter is working at the mall. That you encouraged them to do it, and think every student should.

Work for the money, and also the sheer fun of it.

Work for the experience, to know ki duniya mein hota kya hai.

Because we grow up in a cocoon - a comfort zone - from which many of us never fully break out.

We grow, because it is a biological imperative. But we become moths, blindly attracted to the thoughts and ideas of others.

Start working for yourself - and on yourself. Discover your own power, and the beauty within.

Evolve into a butterfly.

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