I was at the Natural Ice Cream shop ("Ice Cream of Juhu Scheme") at 12th Main in Indiranagar yesterday and it triggered this blog post. Natural is a popular chain in Mumbai and now expanding. www.naturalicecreams.in . They specializes in fruit-based ice-cream and minimize artificial ingredients. The founder R.S.Kamath is kinda obsessed with ice cream and spends all his time trying new creations especially rooted in the Indian experience (prasadam ice-cream anyone? Sounds gross to me frankly, you can overdo the experimentation). Nevertheless he sounds like a nice guy with all that is good in the entrepreneurial spirit.
The point of this post though is that before Natural there was a Baskin Robbins at that location which shut down. Natural started off in the same place and seems to be doing well. I like the symbolism in that. With globalization we shouldn't have to settle for what Baskin Robbins represents - clean, consistent, ubiquitous, with the strength of global capital behind it. We want the best of that along with the innovativeness, energy, fun and local-ness of a Naturals. Amen to that.
Natural is active on Twitter @naturalicecream if you want to follow them
PS: I like the tropical fruit flavours - jackfruit, sapota, sitaphal. But then, I just like those fruit anyway
That we are all imperfect or flawed is obvious and a truism. One deeper understanding of it is: there are times when we are helplessly dependant on others, and there will be times when the vice versa is true. This is often true with a significant other. We should let this be, instead of trying to be tough and independent and not allowing oneself to be 'at the mercy' of others. Being dependant or vulnerable is a passing thing, and you can be sure that the tables will be turned at some point.
These floor mats are available for 25 Rs each at Commercial Street. Love their vibrant colour and uniqueness. My guess is that they're made of discarded fabric from the garment industry so they reduce waste and are environmentally friendly too. Even using discarded material, I'm surprised that they are able to sell them for such a low price
Looking back at my childhood I find a surprising number of Italian icons, even if I didn't think of it like that back then:
- Vespa scooters (now making a comeback on Indian roads)
- Lambretta scooters. Interesting history here, with the Government of India buying the Italian company (or the Indian subsidiary). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambretta
- Fiat cars
- Bambino Vermicelli (used to make 'semia upma' in our community in Vizag. I am curious if semia upma existed independently in India or whether it happened just because of vermicelli (which, as an irrelevant aside, us kids mispronounced as 'vermicellini'). There is a story here, how did this particular variety of pasta make inroads into India way back when, when India was completely insular to foreign cuisine? The Wikipedia page seems to suggest that the Indian vermicelli existed independently. 'Bambino' is Italian for 'baby' and little did I know that I was speaking Italian when I was a little kid and referring to this particular food item)
- Bisleri soda. Interesting Bisleri, an Italian company was aquired by Ramesh Chauhan of Parle foods in 1967 to fill out the Parle product line with a soda. I don't know if Bisleri operated in Italy after that, but its a household word in India. Parle also launched Limca under the Bisleri brand, and for a while, until I did some reading for this blog, I thought Limca was also an Italian brand. It sounded Italian but apparently it was coined from 'Limbu ka'. This and other interesting trivia from this article : http://www.dnaindia.com/money/1173659/report-coca-cola-is-neglecting-beautiful-limca
Are there any more prominent Italian brands that entered India successfully in the 80s or prior ?
Some idle historian should look into this and try to understand how this disproportionately large number of Italian brands and products became successful in India. Is there an Indian-Italian cultural affinity ?
I sit with Vibhat now and then and do some painting. Once we copied a couple of paintings of Mondrian, the Dutch painter. I like Mondrian paintings and it occurred to me that the simplicity of the figures lend themselves well to painting by children. At the same time, there is power in the paintings, that is why he was respected. Mondrian paintings have stark simplicity and the colours stand out dramatically. After we finished our paintings (him the top one, me the bottom one) this impression of the strength of the paintings was reinforced for me. So perhaps copying Mondrian would be good for introducing children to painting ? The paintings are simple to do and if we as adults find his paintings get to the essence of colour, its quite likely they will have the same effect on children.
Interestingly, Mondrian designs have been also used in dresses and in shoes (see below).
Here is the original of the second painting above:
Here are a couple of examples of an alternate direction that seems to me more sensible that some of the ideas above:
- In Switzerland and Germany the rail systems are trying to get to a state where there is hourly connectivity from every point to every other point. Ie, I can be at any station, and expect that in the next 1 hour there will be a train and appropriate connections that will take me to any other station in the system
- The Shivneri Volvo system between Pune and Mumbai. In this system there are buses leaving at a very high frequency, like one every 10 minutes or so. You can land up at the bus station without a ticket, and unless you are unlucky, catch a bus leaving in the next half hour at the max.
The following factors are important in my opinion:
- The Railways will continue to be a volume game in the times to come. Ie, given how the Railways are critical for the middle and lower classes, there will be huge pressure of numbers on the railways up to the next couple of decades atleast. How well the railways cope with this pressure is the main measure of its success
- The railways are a climate-friendly transportation option so we should be expanding and investing in them for the future
Here's my thinking:
Lets stop worrying about high speed trains. Lets not go down the path of proliferation of train types - passenger, express, superfast, shatabdi, jan shatabi, garib rath, duronto, double-decker and more. Lets instead plan towards a consistent system where trains are similar, reasonably fast, and there are a high number of connections between points in the systems at regular, predictable intervals. Between Chennai and Bangalore for example we now have Lalbagh, Brindavan, two Shatabdis, two express trains and a new double decker (besides other trains that travel this route as part of a longer journey). Would it be simpler to revamp this with say 10 trains, 5 during the day, 5 night, leaving at regular intervals and with similar facilities and travel times. Would this make safety management simpler, which will be crucial as the network gets more and more crowded ? As traffic keeps inexorably increasing, the number of trains would increase in proportion and in an obvious way, while keeping the template the same.
Can we go down this direction at a national scale too. Keep the focus on volume, cleanliness, consistency and safety.
Can we reduce the glaring disparity between compartment classes somewhat ?
There are many problems with the above but if the basic model is sound then these could be solved. A couple of issues below:
- How to serve the gazillion tiny stations all over the country if we are doing away the distinction between passenger and express trains ?
- Some of the romance and fun of rail travel would be lost, in doing away with things like train names, and making things similar and consistent. I say that we can find other ways to keep the fun alive. Not being able to travel because there are not enough seats is no fun anyway.