@ Chennai – Observations on old age and the corporate department store

Life in Bangalore is done with. Now it’s a brief pit-stop @ Chennai before I fly to Phoenix. This is day one and I already have so much to share =P!

The gripes I had with Bangalore being the most awesome city I lived in stops short because of two things
1. Terrible traffic
2. Terrible transportation charges

Well Chennai has its Local Trains, but anything other than the local trains and you are ripped off big time. Apart from being extremely hot, autos, taxis and poor traffic etiquette makes it rank much much lower than Bangalore =(! Moreover some things you start expecting in Bangalore, are not a given anymore in Chennai ;-)!

For e.g. take Reliance Fresh, the place where my 83 year old grandpa shops. They have a home delivery system. Now, the advertisement is grand, but the implementation is just plain terrible. The minimum order amount for a radius of 2kms is about INR 500. Now, that’s an exorbitant amount esp for the older generation who are used to getting fresh veggies off the street for the day’s cooking.

I mean, in bangalore the minimum order for most of the grocery stores is about INR 100 tops. And they deliver to a radius of 5kms. I thought Chennai being a much larger city and a true metropolitan would be well better in terms of such services. And Bangalore One just rocks ;-)!

The grocery store experience also made me realize another thing. If you are familiar with the term nenthrankai or vazhakkai you will know what I am talking about. This is (was) one of the most easily available sources of some basic nutrients known to all the older generation. I still remember getting tired of it during some trying times at home, when we had to look for cheap sources of nutrients. The experience at Reliance Fresh was of a different order though.

The going price of a vazhakkai (Raw Bananas of a special type for the uninitiated) was INR 8.00 per piece. Now, that’s shocking!!! What used to be available at the rate of INR 5/7 per kg is now INR 8 per piece. What was interesting was the older generation ganging up against the shopkeeper at such prices. This leads to another interesting observation. The person @ the check in counter / cash counter has no idea of these vegetables…

It kinda gives me a new perspective about why the older generation consider the new department stores a major rip-off and people who have no clue about what they are doing. It’s not helpful to them (they still have to physically go to the store), it’s not cheap (consider the previous vazhakkai argument) and it definitely is not trustworthy (a good talk with the vegetable vendor who knows where he bought his maal from boosts confidence for sure).

So, I have to ask this question. Corporatizing such things, is it good for India or not??

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