Of public spaces, museums and galleries…

There was a time, when most of our cities had lung spaces, parks, public spaces where we could go to “shoot the breeze”, have a “walkabout”, set up a cricket field or play football.

Cut to today. Most large cities in the country have lost their lung or public places. Delhi still has some inside-locality parks, some large parks and lawns near India Gate. Mumbai has nothing. Calcutta has little to talk about except the one lake and the maidan. Bangalore has one constantly shrinking and being encroached upon Cubbon Park. You get the picture. The story isn’t too different in other places.

So, where would people go? You guessed it right. Malls – the large air-conditioned, non-interesting walking spaces filled with same-old same-old retail stores, cineplexes and food courts. What happens in the malls tells you what people are looking for. The footfalls are high, the conversion to sales (except food, and movies) is abysmally low. Why? Because people are just looking for public places where they can spend time, and not necessarily bunch of money. What better than being in an air-conditioned space (especially in our kind of weather), grab a bite and maybe catch a movie?

What if going to a mall isn’t your thing and you don’t want your kids getting stuck on malls? There actually are some choices in every major city. You might not be able to go there too many times, but even one time each is better than none.

If a city thought about it, places to send folk to would be museums and galleries. Most large cities, or locations of historic importance have museums and galleries. Our country has a bunch of them as well. India’s largest and the oldest museum opened in Calcutta in 1814. And over the past two hundred years, many more have opened. Some are just museums, and some are galleries displaying art of various kinds.

The problem is that people don’t visit galleries or museums. At least most people do not. It might really be about culture and what we perceive to be important for us and our children. But then, concerts do get audience in auditoriums and bar atmospheres. But, have you seen most of the museums in our country except the super famous ones? Exceptions are places like The Railway Museum, Dolls Museum in Delhi, Prince Albert Museum in Mumbai or some of the galleries where the rich and the famous want to be seen at.

A museum is an institution that cares for (conserves) a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary .

Allow me to name a few places which are either brilliant or hold a tremendous value in terms of novelty.

National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore

National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore

National Galleries of Modern Art – there are at least three of them. One in Delhi, in Mumbai and in Bangalore. The first two are large establishments, but the one in Bangalore is relatively smaller. It is housed in a much smaller Manikyavelu Mansion on Palace Road. The place is green, serene and beautiful. Besides the permanent exhibits which are worth a visit, the place always has temporary stuff, film shows, talks etc. Entry Rs 10, and Re 1 (for children)

Chitrakala Parishat Gallery in Bangalore

Chitrakala Parishat Gallery in Bangalore

Chitrakala Parishat galleries – CKP, of course. People go there for the annual festival, but when I went we were the only visitors. Besides many others, there is a Roerich gallery and a bunch of Jamini Roys there. Entry Rs 10.

 

Naval Aviation Museum, Goa

Naval Aviation Museum, Goa

Naval Aviation Museum, in Vasco – this is located sort of behind Dabolim Airport in Goa. Some local folk know about this, most don’t. This is a decent sized museum, houses a history of naval aviation and over 20 aircraft.

Government Sculpture museum – in Bangalore, the red building next to Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum. Over 200 pieces, at least 700 years old; all local, primarily from Karnataka. This place has decent amount of footfall though. Entry, Rs 2.

Philately Museum at the GPO, Bangalore

Philately Museum at the GPO, Bangalore

The Philatelic museum – at the Bangalore GPO. It isn’t large, is in a largish hall on the first floor. Get to the philately museum and ask the Deputy Post Master (currently Deputy Post Mistress). The ever smiling lady is delighted to have the museum opened up for you to visit. Did I say “opened up”? Yes, because no one visits it. Entry Free.

Maritime Museum, INS Dronacharya, Kochi

Maritime Museum, INS Dronacharya, Kochi

Naval Maritime Museum in Cochin – located at INS Dronacharya in Fort Cochin. This is again small, but relatively new and very well maintained. Check out Naval guns, beautiful scale models, Radars, Uniforms, Side arms, and a photo history of the navy and a Sea King helicopter. Fantastic. Use google maps to get there because locals aren’t even aware of it. Entry fee, Rs 5.

How many of these have you been to? All these are way more fun than any mall for sure. Do you want to take your kid to the mall every time, or maybe once to these places too? You decide.

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No return, No exchange?

no exchange, no return policy at Health & Glow
no exchange, no return policy at Health & Glow

Retailing policies, often arbitrarily setup, often amaze me. Here is another one of those. Health & Glow, as many of you know are aware, is a JV between Dairy Farm and Arko International with 65 stores in India operating from four metros. Dairy farm also runs similar health & beauty formats elsewhere in Asia under Guardian and Mannings brand names. It also owns and operates Foodworld in India.

Neatly carved out niche in the Indian market without any other format competitor to really talk about except Dabur’s NewU. But the typical Indian retailing bug has bitten these folk too. As you will see in the cell phone picture above, they don’t allow returns and exchanges. Given the fact that this is a cosmetics type convenient store, I do appreciate that they need to be wary of returns and exchanges especially because if their items get used, they can’t be put back on the shelf at all – as is, or refubrished.

But, there will be occasions where the product is defective, doesn’t work or there is a quality glitch. Completely beats me how can they not return or exchange in those cases. This can’t even be legal. Whatever said and done, customer service and retailing in the country are still distant cousins who have not yet met.

Codeshare between full service, and low cost

Many of you have spent considerable amount of your work-life, or otherwise traveling between cities. Over time, you have noticed the advent of bucket shops not only in brick and mortar format, but also on the web. You also have seen the advent of all the travel portals in India. While all this has been happening commercial aviation in India has also moved a distance with two carriers getting acquired by two other full service carriers.

Deccan became Kingfisher Red, and more or less kept its older model, though there are seat numbers allotted, and there is food served during the flight.  Sahara became Jetlite (reminds me somehow of yogurt, but that is a different story), but Jet opened up Jet Konnect as well.  Both in Jetlite as well as in aJet Konnect flight, you will need to purchase food (or bring your own).

jetlite schedule

Jetlite schedule showing 1750 flight, for 11th March 2010(click to see larger image)

My post today is however, about pricing and the way code-shares seem to happen in India. I know of at least one particular flight, because I have flown at least twice on that. This is 1750 service between Delhi and Bangalore, operated by Jetlite as S2  233. This is code shared by Jet Airways too as 9W 7075. Jetlite, on their web site, charges Rs 5379 as the lowest fare. Jetcharges Rs 5529, on their web site for the same fare. And

jet airways fare

Jet Airways schedule showing 1750 flight, for 11th March 2010(click to see larger image)

Cleartrip charges Rs 5470.

I understand the last one.  But, how do the first two fares work?

  • Jetlite is a Jet Airways subsidiary (or not?), and one would expect ticket pricing to be the same.
  • How does a company do a code share between a full-service airline and a low-cost carrier? Are these not two completely different product offerings for the market with different levels of service? If you flew Jet Airways (on one of their regular flights, you would not have to buy food), and if you held status on their JP program, you could go sit in the lounge as well. Jetlite passengers don’t get to use the lounge
Clear trip price

Clear trip schedule showing 1750 flight, for March 11 2010 (click to see larger image)

regardless of their JP status, and they also need to buy food on the plane (if they want that food). Is this a fair trade practice?

  • The Jet Airways price, on their web site, is higher than even the price offered by Cleartrip.

PS: I have cropped and rejoined some of the pictures to show the particular flight, and make the images fit. Images (and data) are have been extracted from the web sites, and are owned by Jet Airways, Jetlite and Cleartrip respectively.

Getting it right – Part 1

We talk about the future, and what Retail will look like in 2020 (or 2010). We talk about how supply chain needs to be optimized and how we need to get customer centric. However, even now there are some basics of Retailing that are missing in our country. Many of these also have to do with their IT implementation. This is the first in the series of posts discussing such issues, with examples.

Making a promotion flow through

This is a pretty common one, and one would think that retailers could get this right in the first shot and in a jiffy. I have noticed this many times, and surely you have too. The shelf has a designated price for an SKU and has a promotion running. You pick the item, and when checking out the POS does not seem to recognize the promotion.