The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Beginning of change

North Kolkata is the poor cousin of its South or Central counterparts while it comes to modern lifestyle. It still doesn't have a shopping mall, a multiplex, a new age restaurant/ bar. It got its first food court (A downmarket one though) incl. its first coffee shop a few weeks back at Star Theatre. It has so far been sporting its traditional, conservative image though wings of change have touched (If not swept) its new generations on a mental context for sure. Affordability cannot be an issue as North Kolkata has pockets of affluent North Indian population (Eg. Burra Bazar, Girish Park, CR Avenue, Kankurgachhi)

But I spotted an early sign of a beginning of change as Vibes slimming and beauty centre opened its new branch right at Girish Park this month. Not that North didn't have something of its kind before. In fact the VLCC branch at Phoolbagan is old. Vibes too has a centre there. But Phoolbagan is a little more evolved that the rest as it is near Kankurgachhi which is the younger and the most modern part of North with a sizeable North Indian community. The Vibes centre actually recognizes the potential of North that has remained largely untapped so far. The chic, colourful interiors make a contemporary and inviting ambience. I foresee this centre receiving a warm response and write the script of a beginning of change that will sweep parts of North in a few years.
The retail chains that are betting big on the city surely recognizes this fact and must have placed North prominently in their expansion/ rollout roadmap. Besides the Vibes centre, the other things that will take this journey forward is the under-construction shopping mall near Kakurgachhi (Opp. VIP Market), which will house India's largest Pantaloons store, and the Spencer's Daily outlet coming up at Beleghata (Near Alochhaya movie theatre) in March.

Bollywood Via Darjeeling

Once upon a time this side of India was the Hindi film capital of the nation. Bimal Roy has made many a memorable film out of Tollygunge, Kolkata. Luminaries in filmmaking and music (Like KL Saigal) were based here and did legendary work. Those were the days.

It is of common knowledge the kind of creative bankruptcy today's Tollygunge is suffering. Rituparno Ghosh's films certainly do not represent today's Tollygunge fare. Yet a dash of the old days has suddenly become visible. Moxie Entertainments- the new Kolkata-based production house- is making not one but two Hindi films out of Kolkata. The first, Via Darjeeling, an 'unconventional suspense drama', being directed by one of the finest creative minds of Bengal- Arindam Nandy (Creative Head of Response, a boutique ad agency) is under production and the second, called BBD, being directed by actor-director-singer Anjan Dutt will go on floors in March.

Not that there is no precedence to this. Rituparno filmed his first Hindi project Raincoat entirely in Kolkata with topline stars Ajay Devgun and Aishwarya Rai.

As head of Moxie Joy Ganguly (Who happens to be the son of corporate honcho Satyabrata Ganguly, the CEO of Exide) puts it " Moxie is committed to producing films crafted by a new generation of directors, writers and technicians working in India & produce nationally appealing cinema from Bengal."

Quite an ambition as it may sound but is in fact a practicable proposition. Why not Hindi cinema from Bengal? We have talented technicians, decent studios albeit in a small no., charming outdoor locations in Kolkata (Remember Yuva?) and Bengal, top class post-production set-up, even quality processing facility (Adlabs has just set foot in the city with its post-production set-up and processing lab). Well, budgets may be a fraction of Bollywood biggies, but a big budget is not an essential ingredient of a good and classy film. Rituparno is known to work on modest budgets. Yes, the local productions may not afford big Bollywood stars, but again films don't need big stars to strike a chord with audience. Also, who can say? Whoever thought Aishwarya Rai would come down to Kolkata to shoot a Bengali film without charging her regular fees?

Via Darjeeling has an eclectic cast comprising Kay Kay Menon, Sonali Kulkarni, Parveen Dabas, Simone Singh, Rajat Kapoor, Sandhya Mridul, Vinay Pathak and Prroshant Narayanan (Pic: Sonali Kulkarni, Parveen Dabas and Kay Kay Menon at the shoot at Oxford Bookstore, Darjeeling). As evident, there are no so-called stars among them but most are known for their good work in character roles in Hindi cinema. After a shoot in almost freezing Kalimpong (A small hill station between Siliguri and Gangtok) and Darjeeling, with KK Menon, Sonali and Parveen, the unit came back to Kolkata and was joined by Sandhya, Rajat, Vinay, Simone and Prroshant. Rajat is playing an intellectual Bengali scribe, Ronodip. It is possibly his second Bengali character after the one he played in the yet-to-release Bengali film Anuranan (Starring Rahul Bose, Rituparna Sengupta and Raima Sen). The actors apparently had a ball in the city. As T2 (The Telegraph) reported, Sandhya (Looking hotter than ever as her character in dark dresses) was relishing her gastronomic journey with Bengali delicacies alu posto and shorshe diye machher jhol (Fish curry with mustard sauce) and was keen to check out jhal muri and phuchka (Local hot favourites in snacks).

Coming to the content, the film is based on an age-old Bengali tradition of 'adda', where friends get together in the rains and exchange stories and gossip, over drinks and dinner. Kolkata and Darjeeling, as locations, are intrinsic to this film. The film will showcase the haunting beauty of Darjeeling, a hill station of West Bengal, situated 2134 meters above sea level and one of India's most famous hill resorts. The mystique of the hills, mist and heritage architecture will evoke an eeriness that a city in the plains can never achieve. Darjeeling is also surrounded by other very picturesque locations like Ghoom, Kurseong and Oolong apart from Kalimpong and offers ample scope to shoot in and around these live locations that will add to the ambience of the film. To lend a realistic touch to the feel of the film the background score incorporates the ambient sounds of a North East Indian hill station like tolling bells, Buddhist chants etc.

The Mumbai actors let their hair down in the big blast hosted by the producer at Roxy at The Park on the night of Sunday, 11 February. It also saw the announcement of BBD which has Naseeruddin Shah, KK Menon, Jimmy Sheirgill, Jackie Shroff, Sandhya Mridul and Kolkata's very own Rituparna Sengupta in the cast.

Here's wishing Moxie all the best in its journey.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Eso Kichhu Kori

Last year's medical topper of the state was the son of a cha-wala (Tea stall owner). There have been numerous examples of such bright students from poor families.Once in a while news of meritorious students finding it hard to keep going in higher academic pursuits due to pressing poverty comes out in papers. And sometimes follow-up news would report how some angel of a person called up the newspaper office to take up the cost of the student's further studies.

It's not a difficult guess that such students known to us are just the tip of the iceberg. The rest goes unnoticed and drop out from studies down the way.

What would happen if some sensitive people got together and raise funds to ensure such poor but meritorious students don't find lack of money to come between them and higher studies? With such an idea a forum was floated on Orkut by Madhumita Dutta, a leading Kolkata-based journalist. The overwhelming response lead to forming Eso Kichhu Kori (Means 'Lets do something')- a social organisation to champion the above cause. Among those who came were Dr. Asim Gupta, retired Chief Engineer, Abira Ghosh,social worker, Tilak Gupta, Tirthankar Ghosh (Software professionals), Sreya Sen, lecturer, Biplab Sarkar, journalist, Subhrangshu Chakraborty, Chartered Accountant, Rituparna Sen, management executive, apart from Madhumita. They form the current governing body of Eso Kichhu Kori (Lets call it EKK as it is popularly known). The USP of EKK is it aims total sponsorship of the students identified for support on a merit-cum-need basis, unlike a one-time institutional support of a few thousands.

After a few meetings it was finally registered as a body on 15th February 2007. Meanwhile the community of the same name, which had set the ball rolling in Orkut, has flourished and like-minded people from various parts of world has assured to chip in with regular donations. EKK will shortly get into action to the next steps i.e. raising funds and identifying students.

Watch this space for more actions in EKK. Meanwhile anybody interested to get in touch with them can send a mail to esokichhukori@gmail.com.

Star.....finally in the right hands

While the last civic board led by Trinamool Congress (TMC) took over the closed Star Theatre (At Hatibagan, the heart of North Kolkata), a showcase landmark of old Kolkata, revamped with a massive outlay and re-inaugurated it amidst fanfare, the culture-conscious Kolkatans raised a toast. It was a pet project and proud achievement of Subrata Mukherjee, the then mayor. The curtains were up again and plays started being staged, thereby giving one reasonable hope that if not the golden days that were some decades back, at least happy days will be back again at Star Theatre. A board with eminent theatre personalities was formed to oversee the affairs.

Alas, soon people woke up to the reality that the going won't be that smooth. Among other things its acoustics was found to be below par, to the point that a play/ stage show at Star was largely avoidable by professionals who gave a thought about quality. I remember Sudipta Chakraborty, the well-known TV, film and theatre actress going on record in a Bengali newspaper expressing her dissatisfaction on the acoustics. But most importantly the TMC board seemed in no mood to care how such a large property was going to be run without digging holes in it's pocket every month. Such a large heritage property needed a large sum of money to remain operational and be decently maintained. The main source of revenue was the rent paid by theatre groups to stage plays. And as the reality is, the theatre audience is already an endangered specie in this city. Indeed, running a property like Star Theatre self-sufficiently based on just a single revenue source as weak as that made little sense. As a consequence the TMC board kept on meeting the huge running expenses while the place dried up with plays and stage shows. Altogether- a losing proposition.

After the left front led new civic board came in mid-2005, one of the steps the new mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya took was to find out non-development areas where Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) was spending huge sums on maintenance. Star Theatre came on radar and a roadmap for its future, that saves unproductive expenses and at the same time keep Star Theatre going in a feasible way started being worked on.

Last year KMC decided to get into a joint venture with a private company to run the property as it obviously lacked the business acumen to do the needful. The criteria for the private party was that it has to have proven experience in running auditorium/ similar properties. Post a bidding process Kolkata based Priya Entertainment owned by Arijit Dutta was selected. Arijit, who besides a well-run film distribution business owns a no. of movie theatres in Bengal incl. the popular Priya in South Kolkata and Globe in North Kolkata, looked a good choice. Even none of the celebrities in the cultural circuit of the city who frowned at KMC for handing over Star Theatre's operations to a private party had anything to say against Arijit.

Priya Entertainment had prepared a strategy which spelt a multiple-use of the property, including renting out commercial space for food, art exhibition, book launch etc and most importantly turn the auditorium into a place where regular film screening can go hand in hand with occasional plays. While 'Turning a prestige auditorium like Star' drew flak from celebrities and TMC, who staged a protest in front of it the day it was re-inaugurated after a restructure over a couple of months, the reality was clear. Running such a place profitably demands certain contemporary changes. Arijit maintained, he didn't have any plan to stop theatre, but film screening is a necessity from a business point of view. Strangely, as Anandabazar Patrika pointed out, film screening had a history in Star Theatre, and wasn't something 'radically' new being attempted.

Currently Star is running films regularly and has emerged at the best movie destination in North Kolkata. My own experience supports this view. A couple of months back it started a rooftop food court with a range from coffee shop to momo to Chinese and Mughlai cuisine to fast food (Rolls, fries). The idea was to create a hangout zone for the local youth, which this side of the city was lacking so far. For the record it is the first food court in proper North Kolkata. The forthcoming attractions are an art gallery, an indoor cafeteria, an AC banquet, an open-air theatre and a branch of Bhajahari Manna, the popular Bengali cuisine restaurant with two branches in South Kolkata. There are plans to organise various shows on rooftop to energise the food court crowd.

Arijit indeed has a mature and contemporary vision and he knows how to execute it. Looks like finally Star Theatre is on way to its lost days of glory. Here's wishing it all the best in the journey.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Shocking.......or more?

This is my 50th post and I never wanted it to be on an issue for which even 'shocking' looks weak as a word to describe. But my conscience forces me not to write on anything else since I came across the incident described below just a while back.

Elaan- a city-based youth group in existence since 2004 (Soon to be registered as an NGO) works in the field of combating child sexual abuse. Pranaadhika, it's founder, shared a current case as put below.

A bubbly, intelligent and eloquent 14-year-old schoolgirl is experiencing rape and isolation everyday for the last three years at the hands of her own father. She comes back from school every afternoon to go through abuse which turns rape every night. She has no one to turn to. Disclosure of the trauma to her mother yielded denial and no support.

Both of her parents are working and the father is in the legal profession. She wants the abuse to stop. Her parents are strict. They do not allow her to play, socialize with friends or "hang out" anytime. For them, education is priority.

As Elaan invited solutions to tackle the case on an Orkut forum in the community named after this group yesterday, thoughts from readers ranging from pure emotional outburst to rational solution to analysis of various pros and cons of moving to put a stop to this incident started pouring in thick and fast.

After a lot of quick deliberation in order to tackle the case sensitively and skilfully, Elaan is moving with a gameplan. It will aim somehow taking the girl away from her parents, listen to her voice and take her opinion before a possible legal step (Perhaps experience has taught the girl to speak her mind, despite being a minor). Because not only a court case might take years to end, it will have serious repercussions for the girl no matter the case against her father is won or lost. Also the culprit being a lawyer the case is not going to be easy. After all the man has got three years to make his case in anticipation of something going wrong someday and as a result he is required to defend himself.

According to Elaan, child incest is the highest in Kolkata. If that is represented by the experience of this hapless girl, needless to say it indeed is a very, very disturbing phenomenon. It leaves a sane mind disoriented. I am not sure if anybody can have a well-thought, comprehensive solution to fight this evil.

Anybody interested to find out more about Elaan, shoot a mail to elaanspeak@yahoo.co.in. Wish it success in its pursuits.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Khichuri on the street

Came across a signt that demanded a second and curious glance as I walked towards the Reliance mobile outlet today to pay my mobile bill on the busy Camac Street sidewalk dotted with food vendors. A man was busy having khichuri (Khichdi) and begun bhaja (Fried eggplant) with roasted papad served by a food vendor.

With this, Bengali street food comes more or less a full circle. So far rice-dal-curries-fish curry was available for low-income group with numerous street vendors. Office staff venturing out during lunch break and field executives would have their fill of roti and curries (Chicken and mutton apart from fish in non-veg offerings). The only gap was khichuri. In a highly competitive Kolkata street food market someone must have thought out of the box and attempted to pamper the taste buds of the foodie Bengali with this extremely popular and easy-to-prepare combo in Bengali households- khichuri-begun bhaja. An important element of Bengali food culture, a large no. of Bengalis that include this blogger love it so much that they can have it as luch/ dinner any day. And all those who swear by their khichuri know that it is irresistible in a rainy afternoon/ evening. In the monsoon khichuri finds its hottest partner- ilish machh bhaja (Fried hilsa). Apart from begun bhaja, khichuri goes well with beguni (Another version of fried eggplant, where it is covered with besan), alur chop (Potato fried with besan covering), piyaji (Onion fried with besan covering) and omlette.

Hope I will come some of the above combos in the coming days in the ever-evolving street food scenario of this food-lovers' city.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

T2: the new hip 'n' happening companion

What is T2? A chillout zone, pub, shopping mall, gym or something else? This question was asked in a teaser campaign spanning print to outdoors in January this year. Nobody possibly guessed the answer because this city has not seen something like that being launched with such a hype.

Launched on February 2, T2 is The Telegraph's new tabloid supplement. Just for record, it comes in a tabloid size (Like Mid Day) and hence is easy to handle even in a moderately crowded bus. So far whenever I've gone to Mumbai I've checked out Mid Day and of late Mumbai Mirror. All this while I've been really missing a quality tabloid in similar lines in Kolkata. Calcutta Times has had a tabloid feel but their lifestyle reporting, thanks to the Medianet policy of The Times Group is nothing less than pathetic. T2 captures content in lifestyle, cinema, TV, fitness and other entertainment happenings. It has borrowed the last four pages of Telegraph's daily city supplement Metro, limiting it to just consolidated city news. The welcome additions are a lead story everyday and lots of expert columns in fitness, grooming, dressing, decor, travel etc. The columns are being taken care of by well-known experts. Like Achala Sachdev has been assigned the grooming column, while the expert wildlife photographer and famous actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty handles travel. It also has an interactive element, like in the fitness section readers are sharing their weight loss success stories. The cinema section has been divided into Tollywood, Bollywood and Hollywood, full with more spiced up content.

It has also incorporated 'etc', the Friday entertainment supplement in itself. The reviews are more informative now, with ratings on acting, story, direction, music and technique. The regular and extremely knowledgeable film journalist Pratim D Gupta has started on film reviews and as expected is doing a good job of it.

The Telegraph readers are surely feeling blessed. Such a thing could come from The Telegraph only, who besides being the largest-selling newspaper putting others way behind, is known as a thought leader too.


The healthy addiction

Last month the brand team I am a part of in my company started this unique contest. Named Fit-test, it was about a team's achieving fitness goals (Basically weight loss and achieving ideal body fat percentage) over a span of three months. As a support, everybody was provided with a gym kit that included a diet diary, t-shirt, wristband, hand towel and a sling bag. The team was assigned a dietician. First a group of employees (Managers and officers in Sales, operations and marketing) was chosen and a lipid profile test for them was done. One or more teams represented each region. The team that achieves the fitness targets fully and in the best manner wins.

Post the first consultation by the dietician, everybody was ready with their fitness goals i.e. this many kilos to lose and body fat percentage needs to be brought down to this level. Managers showed more interest. What followed is, others in my office got envious of us as they were not chosen. But nevertheless as the fitness figures (Current weight, BMI etc), goals, the diet and fitness advice came about in discussions in the office, some of the other managers, who were out of shape in varying degrees got interested and switched to healthy diet to lose weight on their own.

Two persons showed appreciable results. One in the team, the other out of it. The sales officer in the team was short, obese and carried a large paunch for years. There was no self motivation to lose some weight till this happened. The spirit of the team, especially the managers' leading the show by example and the team leader's (Top boss) enquiring about others, did the trick. He has lost six kgs in the first month and looks in visibly better shape. He is hungry for more and want to get enrolled in a gym (Some issues kept everybody out of a gym membership) on his own.

The manager out of the team had similar physical features. He also hardly cared for losing weight all these years. The contest did the trick. As he was out of the team he didn't get any support. But he started on a healthy diet. His lunch orders these days are without fried foods and he started on fruits in the afternoon. In a month results started showing. His paunch looks smaller though there is much more to achieve.

What works best in fitness is self-motivation and initial results. As one gets fitter he/ she starts feeling better too. There is more confidence in the body language and one feels 'comfortable' about his/ her body. This makes one do better in the fitness journey. If the initial weight loss leads to compliments from friends, peers and family it works all the more (As in the case of these two people). The flattering feedback that they are looking in better shape and are doing well in their endeavour has given them another 'push' to stay focussed.

Unhealthy life is addictive. The temptation of fast food, mouthwatering delicacies that are not always healthy, comfort like car/ two-wheeler, elevator are not easy to get out of when one badly needs to get fit. I keep reading of peer pressure that motivates one to lose weight and stay focussed in pursuing the fitness goal. But experienced it for the first time. Healthy life is addictive too.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Starmark makes a mark

Towards the end of last year Tata Trent acquired the popular Landmark chain (Books-stationery-gifts-music) from the south-based co. owning the chain. In Kolkata the only Landmark store in Emami Shoppers' City at Lord Sinha Rd was a joint venture (JV) between city-based personal and healthcare products major Emami group and Landmark known as Emami Landmark Store Pvt Ltd. Emami, not interested in selling their stake to Tatas in the store which was doing very well, bought over Landmark's 50% stake to turn the store into their wholly owned business. The store has been rechristened Emami Retail Pvt Ltd (ERPL) and the store nameplate has changed to Starmark. The 20000 sqft Starmark store thus became the flagship store of ERPL's forthcoming Starmark chain whose next stores at City Centre and South City Mall were announced on the face of Tata Trent's disclosure of Landmark's re-entry in Kolkata in near future.

The second Starmark store has just come up in City Centre, Salt Lake (Opposite Apollo Clinic). I had a walkthrough in the store this week. The design is strikingly different from the erstwhile Landmark store in Kolkata. It's dimly lit, has wood-coloured racks and matching floor tiles. The look is rich and elegant in this smaller store. It's old world charm is unmistakable. I feel the legendary book lovers of this city would love to spend time in the store. A definite value addition to the residential area of Salt Lake. I had seen Gautam Jatia, CEO, Starmark, personally supervising the store's decor a few days before it's debut. With Crossword in an expansion mode (2nd store opened in Sector V, Salt Lake's business district ), Landmark's sure going to meet tough competition.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tax and taxi

A short post to tickle your funny bone, for a change. The only hitch: This is best enjoyed by Bengalis.

A manager at my office is known for his funny, witty one-liners. Today he commented at a young ex-colleague that he should pay service tax for enjoying cosy moments with his girlfriend at city parks. I asked him (Manager) whether tomorrow being Valentine's Day the tax should be exempted. He answered in Bengali: Tax lagbe na, tobe tax-i lagbe (Tax will be exempted but taxi will be high in demand), forseeing demand for taxis shooting up for one day courtesy young lovers.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A phuchka reckoner

Phuchka is a Kolkata speciality and is one of the leading snacks of the city. It is available in other parts of India in other forms and names (Golgappa, pani puri, gup chup), but honestly nothing beats the Kolkata variant. Even Indians from other parts of India vouch for it.

In Mumbai for example it is known as golgappa and the filling is that of matar (A preparation of peas), and the water is also sweetish. Here in Kolkata the filling is of mashed potato, chana (chickpea), mint leaves (Optional), cumin powder, red chilli powder, salt, black salt and tamarind mixed water. It is served after dipping in tamarind water. The taste is......well..... heavenly.

In my experience of eating phuchka in various parts of the city for years I differentiate them in my own way. There are two kinds for me- Phuchka with tamarind water mixed with a good dose of cumin powder or without it. The taste obviously varies between the two varieties. The predominant flavour of the former is cumin and of the latter is tamarind. I prefer the latter. The latter may come as mixed with a scented variety of lemon (Gandharaj lebu to Bengalis) and that adds to the taste. The former, I've observed, is a hit with non-Bengalis.

The quality of phuchka depends on a host of characteristics the following factors. Some of them are:

1. The crispiness of the phuchka (The ball made of flour/ atta).

2. The cooking medium used to fry the phuchka. I can't quite point out which is the preferred one, but the bottomline is that a good phuchka doesn't smell of oil.

3. The size of the phuchka. A true phuchka lover likes it medium to large but not small. Often the size determines which phuchkawala (Phuchka vendor) to go to.

4. The filling must be mixed well with all the ingredients. Since a phuchkawala does the mixing several times a day, a phuchka lover must keep a close eye if it is mixed the right way in front of his/ her eyes. If it has been mixed before he/ she came, it can be customized after the first piece is tasted.

5. The water must be neither too thick nor too light. Either of them can spoil the experience. It essentially means the concentration of mashed ripe tamarind in the water should be right.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Bengali serials raising the bar

The 8.30 pm weekday slot on Zee Bangla seems to belong to serials that raise the bar. It last aired Tamasarekha directed by Arghya Kamal Mitra. On a socio-political backdrop and a bold note it was one of the best Bengali serials to date for several reasons- brilliant casting, dialogues and cinematography.

The current offering is Chorabali- a serial, quite unbelievably by standards of Bengali serials, set in Rajasthan besides Kolkata. It is directed by Kaushik Ganguly, a name to reckon with in Bengali television, who is playing one of the roles with a negative shade. Kaushik took the unit for a gruelling shoot in Rajasthan last summer. They even shot (Without any special preparation) amidst desert storm. Back to Kolkata, Rajasthan was recreated in a studio with amazing credibility. Real props were brought in to create the right look. Another interesting thing about the production is that Rajasthani characters are being majorly played by non-Bengali actors based in Kolkata or by actors who are comfortable with Hindi and can sound credible.

Kudos to Zee Bangla for bringing such quality work to Bengali television which has been witnessing a quality crunch for some years now. Zee Bangla's serials, though, can't ever be accused of shoddy production value. Looking forward to more good productions in near future which include Bishprantar , Mitra's next.

A pathbreaking invention

Kolkata Newsline, Indian Express dated February 5 has reported that Jadavpur University (JU in common parlance) has invented a stove that runs on plant oil- like jatropha (The next biodiesel), castor, neem, cotton and karanja.

According to Prof. PK Bose, project head, rural households depending on kerosene for lighting and cooking can find it useful. Called SVOs (Straight vegetable oil) in technical jargon, these oils do not require blending with kerosene. There is 'Complete combustion' with SVOs, that means they are far less polluting that other fuels.

JU is known for its projects that bring a positive change to society and this invention is another landmark in the journey.

A patent has been applied for and the product is expected to hit the market in 3-4 months at prices at par with standard stoves.

Given the scarcity of kerosene in Kolkata, many low-income households cooking with it will find the stove a bliss, provided the fuel cost is equal to or lower than kerosene and it is made easily available.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The changing Park Street

Took a walk along Park Street long after, in last week. The new KFC outlet was the brightest and the most eye-catching entity. It is the second and largest KFC outlet in the city.

What struck me this time was, old restaurants (Incl. Flury's) are shrugging off their conservative image and learning the trick of new age food marketing- visibility. For example KFC has a complete glass frontage which enables someone not familiar with it form an idea by just taking a curious look from outside. Old restaurants at Park Street always sported a classy look of wooden frontage or heavy curtains covering the glass part at entrance which gave them a closed look. People new to them would have thoughts like-what is the inside like, how wise it is for me to step in etc. To my delight this time I saw these places having the frontage glass open. They seem to be inviting the passers-by for taking a look. This phenomenon surely does wonders to the business as it becomes approachable to more and more customers leading to more trials. Some of the old ones I saw were Kwality, Moulin Rouge, Mocambo and Flury's. Needless to say the newer entrants like Marco Polo in China and Tong Fung sport an open-style frontage.