Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Indian Hatch market - Victory of customer and liberalisation

The recent happenings in the Indian hatch car market is an example of what globalisation, liberalisation and the resulting competition can do for customers. The pricing of the newly introduced Chevy Beat and Ford Figo is a stark contrast to the days of waiting in the queue for sub standard value products like Ambassador (Whatever nostalgia people might have for the car, it definitely is not VFM at the pricing and features that it provides).
Three things that make me happy

1. The pricing is definitely value for money. Right from barebones to the top end version (LT and Titanium respectively), each price point is VFM. The top end diesel Titanium version of Figo will be sub 6.5 lakhs OTR. This is clearly due to competition and the need to beat incumbents like Maruti, Tatas and Hyundai.
2. These cars are not "dumb down" versions of cars made for western markets. These are made in and for India. And no, the designs do not cry out "Sorry India - we have made this sedate box for you in which we have put windows, chassis and a sub 1 L engine tuned for 15+ kmpl".
3. The top end versions come with ABS and Airbags. These safety features, pretty much standard across the west are atleast provided as optional in the top end versions. A significant shift in safety feature provisioning for Indian small car segment.

With VW, Nissan, Honda and Toyota too coming into the segment, we would have a bevy of beauties to choose from. (A sub 6 L German car in Indian roads - My grandpa, if alive, would never have trusted his eyes on this one. But yes, the Polo is here!)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hunt for food !

It's almost a year now since I've been shuttling between Delhi and Mumbai - I can safely say I'm a half Delhiite now (Will separately blog about a BOM-DEL comparison - it's lose-lose since someone will take offense!!)
Anyhow, to the more mundane. I realised I was free last evening by around 8 - a free calendar with no work, no calls and no meetings ! Since I had never had Kerala food in Delhi I had this sudden urge to check out places. Some net browsing gave me two options - Keraleeyam at Yusuf Sarai and Coconut Grove at Hotel Indraprastha. Thankfully, I decided to call them up to check if I need to book seats. Both are closed ! Former years back and latter taken over by the new Shangrila. I called Shangrila to check if they still have the coastal food restaurant and they said no !
Many FB status replies asked me to head to Hauz Khas village having multiple options like Gunpowder (Quaint name!) and Naivedyam (Sounded very vegetarian !)

Neither my gardner nor cook had any clue about Kerala, let alone Kerala food. Cook even threatened to cook Masala Dosa for next day's breakfast which I politely refused (He had made a version of Idli sometime back which was well, lets say, not quite it's namesake from South). Security guard asked me to go to PVR Priya market saying it has many good restaurants like McDonald (!!), Subways (!!) and Pizza Hut (Ughhh) and anyways it's 5 minutes walk from our house.
So without much help from internet, Delhi friends et al, I decided to search for Coastal Food instead of Kerala food. Figured out Swagath had a few choices - situated at both Def Col and Malviya Nagar. Avoided the former given the traffic mess during peaktime. For a change my driver took me to the right place - Malviya Nagar market. (For someone who took me to West Delhi via Gurgaon from Vasant Vihar this was an A+ performance!)
Decent place - mid market ; decent food (I even packed a curry for tonight - I'm sure my cook is going to be disappointed at this affront). No alcohol was a big let down - Kerala place without Alcohol ? The owner has clearly not read this
Drove back home, walked to Priya and had the Chocolate Pan to top off a nice evening. (My first dinner date with myself, which I realised is not all that bad !!)

But alas, it still feels a let down that there are no good Kerala food place any where close to Vasant Vihar !! Quite unfair !