Brooding over coffee… a new idea

These days, it rains quite often. Both at Mumbai, and Delhi. When it rains, having a coffee at a Coffee Day or Barista seems far more interesting than having a coffee on a normal day. Especially, if your office happens to be 50 meters away from Bandstand, and the coffee comes with the picture perfect view of an ocean in turmoil, weather gods making everything a little more beautiful, and your spirits a delicate balance of serenity and thoughtfulness.

What do I think of while having a cuppa at the Barista, Bandstand one of these days – Was I like this when I was growing up? The answer is – NO! 

Back then, there were no Baristas. Back then, paying 45 bucks for a cup of coffee was not really possible for me. Back then, coffee was not the most important thing in my life. Back then, I did not need a break from the monotony of a daily life. And back then, having a conversation did not mean I had to take my mind off so many things. Back then, things were simpler! 

Question no.2 – What would be different if I were growing up today? Well, for starters, I grew up mostly in smaller towns – Raebareilly (UP), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Ranchi (Jharkhand, then Bihar). Most of these towns, today, do have something like a Barista where people can be seen hanging out. Where, spending 45 bucks once in a while is no big deal.

Next Question – Why am I saying all this? Because, my guess is that the phenomenon will spread out. And very soon, we will have the next generation of small towns and cities coming up with these coffee parlours.

And hence – Biz Idea – Small town coffeeshop – Coffee2 (Coffee for two! Coffee too!! We have a coffee place too!!!)

What’s my point? There used to be this sardarji’s outlet in Ranchi, called Frankies. That, as far as I can remember, was the only decent Burger place in Ranchi back in 1990s. And it used to do roaring business. Will that place become extinct if a McDs came into being. I don’t think so!  And hence, the case for making an early move into the smaller towns, building loyalty, and harvesting it. Start small, cater to the small and growing. Be the Air Deccan of coffee shops. AD was not meant to be for those who fly business class, or where the company foots the bill for travel. It was supposed to bring air-travel to the masses. And needless to say, they have been successful. They have ushered in the modern aviation era in India. And I see them comfortably placed for the next generation of evolution as well. Simply because they are present in most of the remote destinations.

That’s as much as I would write from my bizidea notebook, while I think of the numbers!  I am sure many would disagree!  But the disagreements are what would interest me more! For two reasons – 1. you can give me some food for thought! 2. As JRD said – Despite all the difficulties, all the frustrations, there is a joy in having done something as well as you could and better than others thought you could. Let me add an Einstein to it as well – If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it!

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Theatre Review: Katha Collage – II

I had seen Katha Collage-I a couple of years back in Delhi, and goes without saying that I was mighty impressed with the play (directed by Naseeruddin Shah, and enacted by an ensemble cast of Naseer himself, Jameel Khan, and Naseer’s son, Imaad Shah).

Katha Collage-I was based on a set of three stories (two written by Premchand – Shatranj ke Khiladi and Bade Bhai Saheb, and one written by Kamta Prasad – Sankraman – about peculiarities of a an aging father, and his fetish with switching off lights).

With the same set of great expectations, I went to see Katha Collage-II (at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai), expecting Naseer to weave his directorial magic there as well. This one, was a set of seven relatively smaller stories (adaptation of satirical articles written by Harishankar Parsai, who is known for his wit and humor in Hindi literature), pretty much carried out as one act plays. The star cast was recognizable, appropriate, but not the greatest. [Cast: Rakesh Chaturvedi, Arvind Pandey, Heeba Shah, Vishwajeet Pradhan, Ankur Vikal]

It’s a great play. But not in the same league as KC-I. However, the reason I am writing this post is not really to critique what I saw. I just want all the readers of this blog to definitely definitely watch KC-I as well as KC-II

The first story – Telephone (about the all pervasive telephone) is a disappointment. A little too loud, a little too vague, and the actors a little out of sorts. While the sarcasm is alive, not the impact.

Second – Bechara Bhala Aadmi (Pitiable nice men) is about how people take benefits of simpletons by calling them nice over and over again! This one was good both in terms of performance as well as adaptation. However, the length could be shortened a bit.

As we move towards the intermission, the tempo, the ease and the quality of performance improves, and refreshingly.

Third – (Private College ka Ghoshna Patra) The story around a Private College’s manifesto has some very subtle humor around the quality of education and the ulterior motifs behind the sprouting good-for-nothing private educational institutions. Not that I am against private educational institutions per se, but don’t we have a plethora of them that talk more than they deliver. Gaurav Sabnis became a big name in the blogosphere when he attacked one of them (wink, wink!)

Fourth (last before interval), which was about the whole fuss around taking bath (Snan), is the pick of the lot. The funniest of the plays, it features some of the most funny moments of KC-II, especially the comments about the vitality and energy shown by some people while taking bath in winters being utilized for some higher motives and national benefit!

 

After the interval, the fifth act is around the insecurities people have about their wives being exposed to other men (Vo Zara Wife Hain Na!). Quite subtle and a good dig on the Indian men, who are always caught in the dilemma of women’s equality and their own insecurity, it’s a nicely done play where the protagonist is a blind man (I could see this highest form of pun getting lost on many– you need to close your eyes to see what the world really is!)

Sixth act – (Samay Pe Milne Wale) around the demerits of being on time is again a timeless piece on the importance many people attach to the timing of their actions.

The finale – Prem Prasang mein Father (the role of a quintessential Indian dad in a love story) is a hilarious take on the double edged sword that impressing your girlfriend’s father can become!

 

The biggest drawback of the play, as I see it, in the metro circuits is the pure hindi language used (Klisht Hindi Bhasha), which I am sure goes over the head of many, who would like to look and feel intellectual, but have adopted Hin-glish as their mother tongue. That probably explains why “Vagina Monologues” is a bigger better sell-out play than plays like “Katha Collage”, “Jinne Lahore Ni Vekhya”, “Anaamdas Ka Potha”, et al.

The best thing about the play is that its a great writer’s work directed by one of the best in the industry (Naseer’s other works such as Waiting for Godot, The Prophet, Ismat Aapa Ke Naam, etc. are all acclaimed plays). It surely belongs to the “cannot be missed” list of plays!

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