Sunday, November 25, 2007

MAXI and the Missing Middle Class

Ok, i think i will take some time and write whatever i did over the last few days for the 29th edition of MAXI Fair. Though my writing style will be highly condemned and in fact ripped apart by Fr.Jesurajan.(if at all he comes across this blog, who knows, XL is like a tiny world)
This post will be very long(if i complete it) and hopefully informative.

One of the reason for me to be at the place i am is The MAXI Fair. So, after 5 months on campus, i become part of yet another editon of MAXI Fair. And guess what, i get to be in the Maxi Admin Group. Now, whats that? For that, i should explain first, what is not Admin. MAXI is a Marketing research fair where problems of various companies are researched , for example : to study the consumers before setting up a new retail chain in the city , or what is the brand recall for a brand. Now , i know its boring to hear it this way. I thought so as well.

So, what happens is this. Every problem is disguised in the form of a funny theme based game. It could be in the form of an angel that curses people for guessing her age wrong as 19 when she is actually 1999 years old(i know, thats foolish, sometimes marketing is making asses out of customers ), so she curses him and he has to go and find the most beautiful box for her out of 4 designs,(one of which might turn up on your neighborhood retail stall if its chosen by most number of people). So the customer chooses a box. So he advances to the new level where a Scary Devil Like Creature (couldnt believe it was harsha sodhani/soda-pani) would be shouting "Khoon , Khoon " so the customer is rushed by another betal to make his choice quickly and go out.And he goes on to the next level.

But there were some real good learnings out of the few minutes when i carried a camera - 1)A housewife making her choices on which shop to go as she had to solve aladdins problem problem of shopping for Jasmine along with Genie, she thought very carefully on factors like Quality, distance from house, Price,Organisation of the store. All those guys who are getting into marketing , go get your first lessons from your mother, housewives are the last persons that marketeers could fool.

A teenage girl explained which age group would pick which kind of snack. I should confess that i was equally fooled when my own batchmates started acting as wife and husband , the best part was when the subject of research told which snack is used by which group, these guys started to fight more saying "see, i have told her the same , but she doesnt accept, why dont you explain her why you are saying this and the subject went on to explain the reasons of how people choose snacks as well.

So, this is what all the Non-Admin part is. Here comes the Admin. I dont think Admin is an apt name to this , but yeah, it makes one feel good. What we do is, we go around jamshedpur and ask for sponsorships. We luckily gathered enuff to run the show. This is a respectful part i should say. Then comes the ticket selling part. Here comes the second part of the title- Middle class. We should be selling round about 2000 tickets in jamshedpur, now the catch is, we have to sell it to the right people, i.e. Most of them SEC A, Then comes SEC B and a very few SEC C. So, we went door by door to each flat (i guess i covered atleast 150 flats) and managed selling around 100 tickets. Anyway, by the day of fair, we almost reached our targets.
Btw, find a sketchy explanation of how Socio economic classes are classified here.

On the day of the fair, we do something called profiling, we put basic questions like Age, Income, Education, Job Type and two funny questions for which i had to learn hindi.
1) Kartheek says " Yeh Jho, snacks ho they hain na, haldirams, bhujiya, bingo, kurkure , waise, yeh aap ki faily hafte mein kitne baar karidthe/kaathe hain" - uff!!!
2) Kartheek says " Aap ghar mein machar bagaane keliye kya isthimaal karte hain , coils, mats ya, liquid repellent".

So, as i input the answers to these questions in an unreliable but well developed software, it tells me, which SEC the subject belongs to and which stalls they should visit(basically , which companies research they should participate in). Now i sat at that desk for almost 4 hrs and would have profiled atleast 300 people. So, it had a good effect on me to write such a long article.
The learnings:
1) Tier II cities has people who are filthily rich, i walked into some houses which had plasma TV and many just blindly speak about growing metros. I bet that Tier II city consumers are all geared up to to spend lots and lots . Infact , i knew this when crowd turned up in great numbers to Cafe Coffee day in guntur. Its not a joke, but they would happy to say that a burglar looted 50000 worth gold from their house, if thats the only opportunity to show off their wealth.

2) Bottom of the Pyramid seems to be under the pyramid, no one is actually caring about it i guess. I had a tough time not selling tickets to lower income people as they were not required for the research. It was a tough call, never had i discriminated people in my life in any aspect. Reminded me of the Corporate movie that Madhukar Shukla screened. At one point, i felt as if i was growing cruel(thats an exaggeration i guess) , but it seemed unavoidable, we needed the well educated and high earning people, then who is taking care of the Bottom of Pyramid.

3) This is the Big One. Middle Class is disappearing in India. I know this is too generic a statement to make, but i am sure that i am right. I was there at the profiling desk asking for income, education, job of the subjects . Leave behind all the classifications , i saw only two classes- Rich and Poor. I dont know if i can say this without concrete data, but i could sense something today sitting there, the middle class had been splitting and dispersing into these two classes. India, had been turning into a land of opportunities and those of middle class who did everything to grab them , moved upwards, others just drowned into the sea of poor. And opportunities seem to come to those who are opportune and affluent . So, the rich become richer and poor becomes poorer continues.

Since i was asking education and job type, i could find out that, one thing that carried the poor to rich was EDUCATION. I could visulise it as a bridge between two cliffs. Hope India gets Educated more.

I was surprised to see that people easily giving figures like 30000 and 40000 as monthly incomes. The manner in which they said the number gave me an idea of the percentage of their income they are ready to spend . I was guessing how many choclates they would be buying in a month :P .

Uff.. I wrote too much, I will end this, all in all , it is a great learning experience.
Thats me at the Profiling Desk. " Aap ke umar kitni hogi madam" Kartheek asks :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007


This piece of writing comes as an appreciation towards the lives of all the writers that i could have a glimpse into. It so happens that i buy a lot of books and all i could do was go through the first page that introduces the author. These are some inferences i could make.

Every writer would have a experienced a depression that questions their very existence. They could be in the form of poverty, bad marriage, love failure, social outcast , death of parents or lover - These create a vaccuum in the writer's life . It leaves them with a lot of questions unanswered and most of their stories are answers to those questions. Some writers actually recreate their life in a more tragic way in their stories, this seems to give them a peculiar pleasure that there are characters that suffer more than them. Writers are like stressed down spings , as they get wound by the vicissitudes of fate, they just spring open with all the creativity.

The thought process that a writer has , builds great connection with the readers. This is because the writer comes out with such a shameless description of a character's thought process that every reader will be assured that they are normal and their thought process is common. I believe writers get out of their hypocritic web that every common man is caught up in. They see themselves naked , and so are their characters. They do not hesitate to present a thought like wanting to kill owns own friend because he just laughed at his coat. They will be more than candid to say that a character's actual intention is to make love to his beloved female , rather than love her. They break the social idealism and put forward the radical views that are curbed in every common mans mind.

Writers are the biggest failures at writing at one point or the other. Like history is mostly about the people who won wars , not many times do we hear about all the writings that didnt get published or get the worst reviews. I was reading Gogol's failure as a writer intially and his desperation to write something good. It only gives me a boost that i continue to write some rubbish and hope some day that i turn out a masterpiece.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Bargaining for mediocrity...
Dreams: Reality = 20:1
Thoughts:Actions = 100:1
Live life XL size
Another CAT ~ The first CAT i didnt take since november 2004
So near.. So Far
Research a Business and account for the costs, manage the finances, communicate and market to the clients, analyse quantitatively and keep in track of the economy
High ROI can mean Very high returns on high investment or High Return on low investments.Which one would i prefer?
Step function vs Continuous Function
two minutes to go to a meeting..

P.S : No P.S :-P ..

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Stop.. A CAT just passed by us

Its funny that an Exam makes a person feel nostalgic. An exam that has the highest stakes and ofcourse most over valued by most of those who take the Exam. I wonder if i had the guts to take it again. Anyway, i think i will remember the three years of CAT prep through out my life. How would it be after 20 years if CAT continues to happen on the 3rd sunday of November. I think , Archies would come up with the concept of best wishes for CAT very soon(thats a good idea).

Its irony, that i am in XLRI now, may thats the sweet revenge i could take on CAT :) . But its that time of the year again. So i just wanted to acknowledge the event when 2 lakh pencils fill atleast 3 crore circles. May be if anyone who filled those circles and then comes across this blog. I will just leave a cliche here(cliches are cliches because they are true for a long time)

Whatever happens, happens for good.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Indifference and poetry

In the fervour of everything
indifferent i am , i sing
every colour and every hue
turns to me to love and lure
every smile and every laugh
had been trying to take me off
all the silence and all that's loud
tried to push to the ninth cloud
In the fervour of everything
Indifferent I am , I sing

P.S: No particular reason why i wrote this one, its just as indifferent as it could get.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Nothing and Everything

There is nothing i can write about everything that happened at this place. It is as if the whole place had come alive. When i say alive , its not about lively, its just that everyone here had seen a microcosm of life (from past to future). When i cleared CAT/XAT after 3 years, i thought thats it , i have seen the worst.
Haha.. Now i only laugh back at it. Anyway , this time, i would only say - i had a reminder , that there never should be an assumption of absolutes- its an oxymoron.
Some learning again.
I will keep this post very short.
PS1: Cadburys
PS2: I am one of the coolest persons :)