Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Chinese Room Captain

There is this restaurant in Pune called Chinese Room, which serves good Chinese food. The restaurant is on East Street in the Cantonment area. The first time I went there was on a Saturday all alone and had roasted duck chicken (you guys have to try this in Chinese Room) and I met this amazing captain who was really courteous and gives you a feeling that his job is not all about taking the order and passing it on to the kitchen but to delight the guests.

He was talking to all the guests and checking if everything is fine and helping them with deciding what to order and stuff. Everyone does that, what is so great about that, you might ask. May be, everyone does that, but how they do it also matters, I guess. You got to visit this place and experience the service first hand. Seeing him at work, you can t stop wondering how come this guy is so pepped up about his work, from where does he derive this enormous amount of energy and how come he gives the feeling that you are his first guest and his day has just started. There is lot of cheer and smile is always there on his face.

Sample this, the other day when I was dining at the restraunt there was a group of people who belonged to the muslim community and this guy was personally shaking hands with the male guests and thanking them for considering to dine at Chinese Room and also wishing them belated Diwali (the incident took place right after the diwali weekend). One may argue about his choice of greeting (giving diwali wishes to muslim guests) but look at it this way, despite knowing that they don’t belong to the community he warmly welcomes and wishes them.

During my first visit after I was through with my lunch I couldn’t stop asking him how come he is so pepped up and passionate about his job. He answer was “I like interacting with people”. I really don’t if he really liked interacting with people or he could not think of better answer but this guy gives 200% to his job. As a token of appreciation I gave him a wonderful review and a good tip.

When I see people like this I feel passion is something which is inborn which comes through liking and love and and you cannot make people become passionate with incentives or perks. If he wants to do it he will do it but if he doesn’t want to he won’t even give a damn about it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


The first time I heard about this word was when I started reading Jack Welch’s “Straight from the Gut” in 2001. Back then I was in college and read it a bit. Jack talks about passion and how people who are passionate about their work differentiate themselves and will eventually succeed. May be, I really didn’t understand what he meant when he talked about passion towards work, but now after 6 years, I have not only understood what he meant but started looking for people who are passionate about their work.

Over the period of time, I have come across people who really love to do what they are doing and enjoy their work; here are some people who I want to introduce you to.

The first on the list is (although the order doesn’t mean much)
a) An autowala
b) A waiter at the Chinese Room
c) Couple of girls at the Tommy Hilfiger showroom in Mumbai
d) A journalist working with a media company
e) Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher airline

The case of the Autowala (let’s call him Arjun)

There is something about Arjun and his Auto. The first time you hire this guy for a ride you will be amazed by the way he has decorated and beatified his auto. To start with it has a red carpet as the floor mat instead of the rubber ones. It has well cushioned bucket seats for the passengers. Like when you get in to the auto you will get a feeling as if you are boarding a vehicle belonging to the royal community. One side of the auto is open for passenger entrance and the other one is closed with a gold/bronze-plated chain. And the dashboard is so well decorated that the architects of Maruti 800, Santro and Indica will hang themselves in shame or can get some tips from him. The auto has a music system and to top it all it has a DVD/VCD player (all of them in working condition). This is something about interiors and coming to the exteriors the auto is well maintained and has lot of jazzy stuff like steel logos. And the driver’s seat is also sort of a bucket seat with a headrest.

Now where does passion fit in to entire scheme of things? I am looking at it this way; many of us have hired autos and traveled in them. If the guy was decent enough we might have had a good experience but we can’t say it was a memorable experience, which is worth mentioning it to friends and clicking pictures. Arjun, like any other auto driver could have kept his vehicle plain and still would have made money out of ferrying the passengers. But, I guess he thought there are 4000 other autos out there and how can I get that one customer with 4000 options to choose me for his ride? This is something not many people think about, for the rest it is the same old day, same old auto and they know there will be passengers out there who will hire them however the condition of the auto is. These people believe that customers need them, but Arjun believes that he needs customers and he decided to go out of his way to please the customers and give them a wonderful experience and may be he can expect some repeat business. Because if you are anything like me you might also want to hire the same guy when he is around rather than usual auto.

This is passion, passion towards work, towards his vehicle, passion for quality service. For all those people from Pune and want to get lucky I can help you with the registration number of the vehicle, so next time when you are hiring a rick you can check the license plate of the autos in the stand before you choose.

Here are some pics of the rick and the next post is about the waiter in the Chinese Room.

The full view(the red floor mat to give that royal look)

The bronze/gold coated chain I was talking about

The Dashboard(It is made in silver colour, with the mobile phone camera and natural light this is what I could manage)

The DVD/VCD display unit

The interiors(The bucket seats)

Driver's head rest(front angle)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Audi A6 Pics

As promised here are some pics I clicked with my O2(hand phone). I know these pics are not that clear but they are clear enough to see Audi and get a feel of how it looks like.

The Steering wheel of Audi A6

The mean machine, full shot

The front angle, the driver was kind enough to let me click as many pics I wanted to click

The display unit which gives you stats about the car and it can also be used as a DVD display unit

Finally, the key to the amazing vehicle

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Amazing Audi Ride

On one of my recent trips to Bangalore I was at the Dadar station waiting to share a cab with couple of other people and get back to Pune. Waited for good 15 mins nothing happened and then it was then I decided to move on and walked out to check out other options. There I saw an Audi A6 and couldn’t believe my eyes and these guys were looking for people who want to go to Pune.

There I thought was my chance to get a ride to Pune in a car that costs a little over 2.5 crores for just Rs. 250. I wanted to see the action from close quarters so I thought of occupying the front seat. But someone is already sitting in the seat and I told the guy I can pay up to 300 instead of 250. May be, I was hell bent upon taking the front seat at any cost. I would have given him any amount he wanted for the ride in the front seat. But the guy managed to convince the other guy for me and there I am in the front seat. Started chatting with the driver and clicked some pictures of the car.

Totally amazed and excited about the ride I started talking to the driver making cpl of guesses about the owner of the vehicle. There is something you guys have to know about the driver. He speaks flawless English and for the record he smokes Wills Insignia, which is one of the premium cigarette brands. When asked the guy about the max speed the vehicle can reach he very well said that it is for me to see and experience rather than he telling me. Now, I knew there is something exciting is store.

Once we reached the outskirts he got a chance to showcase the power and performance of the vehicle. The vehicle had a choice of manual and automatic transmission and the guy chose to drive with the automatic transmission on and to accelerate from 0 to 3000 rpm the vehicle never took more than 4-5 seconds. The dashboard has a screen, which displays the info of the vehicle performance like the engine temperature and pressure in the tyres, which could as well be used to connect to system and use it as a DVD display unit. The seats are so comfortable that they had pneumatic controls to adjust rather than the mechanical controls. And a feather touch would do the trick. And at 220 – 240 Km/hr the vehicle showed no signs of wobbling as with Indian vehicles do when they touch 130 Km/hr. The guy has an excellent control over the vehicle that he touched close to 240 Km/h on the expressway. Although he did some pretty risky drifting during the ride I thought it was worth it and despite heavy traffic we reached Pune in straight 2 hours.

Was I lucky or was I destined to get a ride in Audi A6 on that day or is it something like “being at the right place at the right time and playing your cards right to grab that opportunity”. Well, who cares, I had an experience of a lifetime (will for sure cherish throughout my life or at least still I own a better car than an Audi).

Look out for some pictures of Audi in my next post.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Vij vs Lead India contestant

As promised in the last post, this post is about a guy who volunteered to help me on Saturday. His name is Vij and working as a Sales Engineer with USD 30 bn organization. A localite and a resident of Magarpatta city. Before the incident we really didn’t meet and once hit by the rick wala the crowd gathered and I could see some 20-25 people. And when I decided to take the matter to the police, and was waiting for the police van to arrive and we spoke and exchanged cards and numbers.

Like an average Indian he could have seen the tamasha and learnt his lesson from my experience and left the scene as others did. But he chose not to. He chose to stick around be a witness to what he saw. On one hand we have people like Vij who rise up to the occasion, do what they can do and would like to be counted.

On the other we have this Lead India campaign going on with so much hype being created around it. FYI, they first roped in SRK for the campaign and may be they figured out that they not getting many female contestants and they roped in AB’s baby. Looks like things have not got any better and they had to openly advertise saying they need some 3 more female contestants for the campaign. Anyway, coming back to the original discussion, we have 3 people selected for the campaign from Pune and they will be TALKING and DEBATING with the contestants from other cities and then the states before they win the title.

I personally haven’t read or attended any of these sessions even though I wanted to but if you look at it, with all due respect to these people their thoughts, ideas and TOI, they are discussing about how to make India a better place to stay and what can make difference. Presuming Mr. X wins the grand prize, his photos are all over in TOI and they would have a networking dinner with all the politicos, local counselors will make desperate attempts to convince Mr. X to join their party and local MLA will promise something for him, if he joins the party, and give him a ticket also as a retention strategy (as we call in the corporate world) and he also gets elected. People like this go to state assembly/parliament remind me of Om Puri in Yuva. Tumhara pehle bhi idhar bahut log aaya, duniya badalne ke liye, kintu, Kuch bagh gaya, kuch khud badal gaya”. May be as time goes by they will become someone like the one Om Puri is talking about. I am not being pessimistic but I am focusing on one side of the coin in this case. The other side may be he might go on to become an excellent statesman.

Now X and Vij have two different styles of dealing with situations. Vij is one with courage and guts and believes in action rather than talk or strategize and X likes to write or talk more about the whole thing. X may be at the incident and would think something bad has happened to a fellow citizen and let me use mass media or paper as a tool to change the situation. But Vij thinks the need of the hour is doing what I can do “NOW” to change the situation. Vij may not be think like most of us think, like paper is read by a million people and unless I have some press relations or mass media relations I can’t make an impact. He thinks, this is my time and I will do my bit because everybody knows what impact newspaper and TV have on India and Indians. No one takes them seriously unless it is related to cricket, bollywood and now stock market. Vij, belongs to the group where he thinks like Aamir Khan in “Rang De Basanti” where he tells the listerners/callers
Zindagi Jeene ke do hi tarikke hoti hai, ek jo ho raha hi, hone do, bardasht karte jao, ye phir, jimmedari uthao, use badalneki

Vij took the 2nd route and so am I going to. Now it is time for you to decide

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My new hairstyle

I always wanted to start a blog with something interesting incident in life. Something that is memorable/unforgettable. Well I know this one is neither memorable nor unforgettable. Being hit on the head with a stone by an illiterate auto rickshaw wala for refusing to shell out 8 extra bucks.

Yes, it happened to me over this weekend. I hired a rick from Raheja Gardens to Magarpatta where I was to see a school friend after close to some 10 years and catch up with a bunch others from Synygy who were putting up there.

It happened when I got off the rick by paying him the amount I have to according to the tariff. First, the guy told me I got to pay 50 bucks when I asked him how much I owe and when I saw the meter and calculated (the formula I know is x *6 +2, where X is the number of points on the meter) and it came out to Rs. 42 and I gave him 43 because I had some extra change and refused to give him any more and started walking away.

He took the money and demanded (not asked) more and when it was clear to him I was not going to give him any extra money he started badmouthing me but I kept walking and tried to avoid (didn’t want to get involved in a fight). But the last thing he said was real bad and I couldn’t control myself and asked him to step out of the rick. Don’t know what went through his mind but he tried to start the rick and flee away from the scene and also gave me a hint that he is having some sort of iron rod in the vehicle but I was not ready to give up unless I settled the score. Finally, I got the crook out and was talking to him and that was when he saw a stone near by and hit me once with it. It hit me but somehow didn’t hurt me. And by now people started noticing what is happening and even before I realized what was coming he picked up the same same stone and hit me on the head. I realized that he hit me with a stone only when my head started bleeding. Then the people gathered and over powered him and took him to the police station and lodged a complaint and ensure that he was behind the bars.

By evening I got some first aid done (they had to remove some hair so that the docs could get better view of the injury, and that explains why I had to go bald) and went back to the station, got an FIR lodged and ensured that this guy will never get to drive an auto in his life because he didn’t have a license and his case was passed on to the RTO for the cancellation of the permit (I mean the badge the auto wala’s are given, the bronze one in the shape of a triangle)

After all this I asked myself did I done something wrong? I don’t know but I think I am happy that I could get one of the thousand crooks to realize that asking for more money may cost much more. May be he will start controlling his anger the next time considering he lost Rs. 3000( I got them reimbursed for my ZARA shirt) which he tore during the scuttle and now drenched in blood. For extra 10 bucks he not only lost Rs. 3000 in cash, but also his earnings for the entire day, he has to pay the rent from his pocket for the auto from his pocket if he doesn’t own it and most importantly his time. Now, you may think I took this too far and was harsh on him taking Rs. 3000. I look at it this way, he gets beaten up the whole day he would be all right in a week’s time but the monetary loss would pinch him and would remind him the day throughout his life. Call me a villain, I don’t care but I think I have thought him a lesson. I know it is a costly one for him but he needed it badly. Tomorrow you may be in my place and you may or may not dare to what I did because you might have your family around but these crooks will get away and continue what they are and have been doing. And after a long time I felt I stood for something. I was hurt and I could have got hurt even more badly if the people around hadn’t have stopped him but I stood up for something with out that jaane do yaar attitude.

Throughout this there were friends 4 of my good friends, apparently 3 from Synygy working in the S/w organization and pals from the TT table (Thank you all guyz) and there was one stranger who saw this incident and volunteered to accompany me to the police station and be a witness to the episode. I think this guy showed a lot of courage, that too in a society where people run away from police, court for the pain they have to go through if something goes wrong.

Come back tomorrow for the post on the stranger who volunteered to accompany me to the station and be a witness in the whole case and my views on campaigns like Lead India kick started by TOI