Sell for the body,Sell to the mind

Bhagwan Krishna tells Arjun “Idam Shariram Kaunteyam” meaning that which dissipates is the body and therefore you must not think too much about it.As retailers we must understand this law.

What we sell is almost always for the body but we must remember that it is the mind that remains constant and governs the body so whatever we do must be targeted at the consumers mind.If you can convince the mind of a 16 year old about your value preposition you can get a customer lifetime value of millions of rupees if she shops with you till she dies.In the process of reduction of the 70 odd years the body  consumes large amount of substances which the mind must fulfill.While it does that the mind is always careful and alert and tries to maximize the value in every deal it does and every transactions it takes part in.While the body wears the Jeans the comfort and fit appeal to the mind.While the tongue tastes the food the pleasure is entirely  the mind’s.While the body works hard to earn the money ,the mind decides how and when it is to be spent and what is the “value” of a product or service.

By chasing the price a retailer commits nothing but harakiri.Have as look :

1.If you get your customers because of price you will loose them because of price as someone can always offer a lower price than yours

2.You have to pay something for anything so Price can not be a source of sustainable competitive advantage

3.You do not manufacture everything yourself so your competitors can always go to the same suppliers and may be crack a better deal or decide to work on lower margins assuming they got the same price

4.What is cheap for one is costly for another so you will always be “expensive” in the eyes of a group of customers.Just as we say how much is too much we can also say how low is too low.

5.Every pit has a bottom and one day you will hit it.

So what’s the solution ? Sell to the mind.

1.You are cheap,value or expensive depending on how your target customer perceives  you.

2.You are what your customers think you are.It has nothing to do with the price on the bar code

3.Quality is in the head and not necessarily in the product.It is up to you how you drive “quality” and “price”  in the mind of the consumer.Remember the game we used to play in school.You can always make a line look smaller by driving a bigger line next to it.Similarly you can always make a product look good Quality by by deliberately keeping a bad quality product next to it.

4.And if you can successfully do the price laddering and create value at each step you can compel the customer to do what you want her to do and at the same time make her feel that I made the right choice and ripped the retailer.

5.She loves it when she thinks she has made a fool out of you and this will make sure she keeps coming back.Get them in,sell them up and get them back.Got it ?

I am writing this post as I went to a big box retailer in Sholapur and while everything was done quite well they had completely thrown away the value which could have been captured so easily by doing a better Price laddering,branding and Private label strategy.

The power of category management is not is selling as low as possible but in selling as high as your customer can pay……..and feel happy about it.

The Business of Bakwaas

The business of news has become a business of Bakwaas.A case in point is the front page story carried by Business and economy published by Arindam Chaudhary.The front Page carried a daring and blatant Question – Can Shopper’s stop do it ? Can they pull out of the slow down to become India’s Wal Mart some day.

To my mind one  cannot get more ridiculous than this.This is cheating !!!

I am in the retail business and I have worked for Wal Mart.I know Shopper’s Stop Model too.I have interacted with BS Nagesh when he came to dshoppers-stopeliver the closing lecture in my executive program at ISB on Retail Management.He will certainly agree with me if I say that the whole article was nothing but अनर्गल प्रलाप( Incoherent Lamentation) and the headline was just created to attract eyeballs and dupe gullible folks into buying the magazine.

If they would have said that can Shopper’s become the next Macy’s of India I would have understood even though there is still very little common ground but Wal Mart ??? To start with, there positioning,business model,scale of operations nothing is comparable. Shopper’s stop has always been a very niche player serving select clients in select locations as opposed to a mass merchandising everyday Low price retailer that Wal Mart is.I don’t even think that at any point Shoppers wanted to become the Wal Mart of India.Simply put they are as different as day and night as far as retailing business is concerned.The worst bit is that there is nothing about the headline in the body of the article apart from a brief history of Wal Mart which in no way justifies Shopper’s  Stop ambitions.

Media has become so desperate today that they will come up with anything to grab attention.They will say – Can Manmohan Singh marry Bipasha Basu? Come back to read more or may be watch the truth as the case may be and then the truth will be revealed – when we asked this Question to the prime minister he said have you gone nuts  and asked his guards to chase us out.In this way freedom of the press was shamed today.Some channels have become OSAMA/OBAMA channels and others rely on Snake and Ghost stories to keep their channel alive.Dekhiye ye Shaqs kis tarah se saapon ke saath na sirf  khaa raha hai balki unke saath so bhee raha Hai.Break ke baad hum aapko dikhayenge ki yeh saapon ke saath aur kya kya karta hai to hamare saath bane rahiye.And you start thinking – saala saapon ke saath sex wex to nahin karta ?

The word exclusive has been raped beyond recognition.Every beaten to death story is exclusive.You know why ? because no one else than those who made will  watch it or may be it is exclusive for morons and idiots.These program should have an M/I rating and should come with warning – mental discretion required.Not fit for those with active minds.

Then there are news anchors who act and dress like villians and Dev D’s.. Their emotional atyachaar,By God ! Arnab Goswami and Rajat Sharma are champions.In some of the debates it looks like they will start crying and howling and slap the participants.The best part is that these guys will not give a chance to the participants till they have made sure that whatever they got from the research team has been said.After all they have wasted so much time and paper on it.Its funny and frustrating at the same time.

The above link has got 410 comments  so you know what I mean !

Finally the ads seem to be sponsoring the news as well as the events being talked about.Just today Maneka Gandhi was saying something about her Pappu did’nt dance but an ad for Amity University kept appearing right on her face.It looked as if her Sari clad body has suddenly decided to replace her head with Amity University.

These days one should read at his own risk and watch TV only as a source of cheap comical entertainment.The message is simple – when we do not apply our brain while making the programs or writing silly articles why do you want to take the pain.

Thank God we still have the good old newspaper and writers like MJ Akbar , Vinod Mehta and Jug Suraiyya who are a delight to read.If you call the above Tamasha development of media and technology ,I feel I am better off with DD and All India radio.

Shekhar Kapur’s Universe and mine

I read Shekhar Kapur’s blog today and he talked about something that we all feel at one time or another.We have questions like What is the world like,What is the Universe,Who are we and so on unless the final one comes as it did to Swami Raman Maharishi Why are we ?

We had more of these than our children will have as everyday during summers we used to sleep under open skies with Surahi’s by the bedside as Shekhar has pointed out.Everyday you kept looking at the stars above and how so much silly you were one day you would ask yourself What is this black thing on top of us with points twinkling all the time.They never sleep.Do they ?

Then you start looking out for answers.Mine came from my sister who has perhaps got the largest collection of books on this subject.The funny thing is that she is looking for the answers in science which itself is looking for answers.But yes at that point in time she was my Astrophysics guide and I got the answer till the next question came.

I am giving below the link to his website and my comment.

Enjoy and Wonder.

Below is my comment :

Your woodcutter story reminded me of a similar story I read from one of OSHO’s books on intelligence.There was a prince who was feeling sleepy but could not sleep so he walked and walked and came to a large palace with 1000 rooms.He was looking for a place to sleep.He went to the first room and it was empty,the second and it had nothing ,and on and on he went till he came to the 999 th room.There he found a beautiful bed made of feathers with white satin sheets and golden pillows.He was so tired that he slept and when he did he dreamt that he was standing at the gate of a huge palace with 1000 rooms.He was felling very sleepy so he went to the first room and there s nothing…..and on and on it goes. I use the story to put my children to sleep and it always works.I bore them to sleep. I guess that’s what we keep doing with our intelligence all our lives.As Omar Khayyam says :

And that inverted bowl we call the sky,

where under crawling coop’t we live and die,

Lift not thy hands to it for help –

for it Rolls impotently on ….as thou or I.

Me thinks this Wheel at which we gape and stare,

Is Chinese lantern – like we buy at fair;

The lamp is Sun and paper shade the world,

And we the pictures whirling unaware. .

The Skies rotate, I cannot guess the cause;

And all I feel is grief, which in me gnaws;

Surveying all my life, I find myself

The same unknowing dunce that once I was!

Final take on Alpha inventions, and WordPress

Both search engines entice you to mention them in your blog so you can get more traffic.

I did just that and found that my blog got more than 5 thousand views last two days but no comments.Most views were from Alpha Inventions.I am sure my fellow bloggers have something to say about a subject that relates to them as well.If it were 6000 humans looking at their computer screens seeing my blog atleast one would have commented.If not on this post but may be on another one.I am just talking probability and psychology here.

I asked myself a question.What am I looking for – just a number on the Blog stats counter or people actually seeing my blog,reading the contents and commenting on posts that interest them.

I am also looking forward to build a community of sorts where I can post and immediately get comments on my thoughts and writing skills from people who know me and whom I know albeit from the internet.As a beginner its important for me to get an honest feedback which will help me to improve in all humility.The more critical the better.

Everyday I get 15-20 views from wordpress though thier tags.I find these most useful as I know what people are looking for and how my blog is helping them get what they want.I also go back and see the featured blogs through a backtrack link and find a lot of blogs that interest me.If I like something I post comments else just read and enjoy.

Final take :

Alpha Inventions – Increase blog views and stats.Contribute to Alpha creations rating going up.Mutually beneficial in a more practical way.Don’t expect any comments or serious blogging as most blogs keep reappearing or have nothing that interest you.May be you get Lucky sometimes.

Also,the tips offered when you register in the reading cycle are quite useful. – Good for random browsing on topics that interest you.Search is a useful tool that helps you connect to the right blogs.Quality of search is much better and therefore improves chances of viewing more relevant blogs and also finding bloggers with similar interest.You will not get lots of views but a steady stream of inetrested folks.You can expect some comments..

WordPress/tags – By far the best way to build a blogosphere of your own.Slow but effective.As you are tracking back the tags there is no question of finding stuff that is not relevant.The same link was used to find you so it cannot misfire and you will find almost all blogs relevant.You can pick and choose the good ones.If you leave a comment ,you can most certainly expect a visit and  a comment as the person you are trying to connect with has a common interest because of which you found them.You can keep adding folks to your blogroll and inform them about it.Slowly you will have a lot of good stuff on your blogroll plus may be some bonus in your book marks section.And if you are good enough you may be on 20 other blogrolls once again getting traffic which is not just a number but bloggers with same interests as you.

So take your pick and keep punching.

To each his own is the mantra !

Life and times of Majaz Lucknowi

The postal department issued a postage stamp on Majaaz Lucknowi on 28th March 2008.He was remembered as a revolutionary poet who sang of love.

Asrarul Haq Majaz ,lovingly referred to as the Keats of urdu Poetry was born in 1911 in Rudauli,near Barabanki which is about 30 Kms from majaz-lucknowi2Lucknow (UP).He belonged to a well off family of Zamindars who moved to Lucknow and Majaz was brought up in this city of Nawabs with a flair for poetry and good things in life.

Majaz completed his B.A. at Aligarh Muslim University.A darling of poetry-lovers, Majaz was so popular among Girls   that they used to fancy him as their life partner and would say that if nothing works out I will name my son after him so I can remember him all the time.

He was the first Urdu poet who looked at woman as a partner and as a companion rather than just an object of beauty.He believed in equality of woman in all aspects of life and called upon them to start a revolution as one of his famous Ghazal suggets :

तेरे माथे पे ये आंचल बहुत ही खूब है लेकिन

तू इस आंचल को गर परचम (flag) बना लेती तो  अच्छा था

Majaz and Jazbi were the original voices of the ‘Progressive Writers’ movement that later brought Faiz, Sardar Jafri ,Sahir and scores of other poets along and for the first time turned poetry into an instrument of changing lives of masses.They also had a vital role to play in the independence struggle.

खून जो बह निकला है उस खून में बहा दो उनको

उनकी खोदी हुई खन्दक में गिरा दो  उनको

यह  तो हैं फितना ए बेदार दबा दो इनको

यह मिटा देंगे तम्मुदन(civilization) को मिटा दो इनको

No other generation of poets was as popular  as the young poets  during the ‘Progressive Writers’ Movement in the era of 1930s and 40s. The choice of words and the melody  of his poetry enthralled the audience and they wanted more and more of his kalaam( verse).
Majaz was an obvious choice when All India Radio Delhi started airing its programs post independance .He named the Urdu programme he hosted as ‘Awaaz’. It was during this time in Delhi that Majaz fell in love.Very little is known about who was the girl or what happened but she was from the high society is well established.Some say that she left him for an officer serving in the IAS and some say that she was already married.

बताऊं क्या तुझे ऐ हमनशीं किससे मोहब्बत है

मै जिस दुनियां में रहता हूं वो उस दुनियां की औरत है

कोई मेरे सिवा उसका निशां भी पा  ही नहीं सकता

कोई उस बारगाहे नाज़ तक़ जा ही नहीं सकता

As he lost out out in love, his heart was shattered completely and he left Delhi and came back to his watan (homeland)Lucknow.

रुख्सत ऐ दिल्ली ! तेरी मेहफिल से अब जाता हूं मैं

नौहां गर जाता हूं मैं ,नाला बालब ** जाता हूं मैं

*(with a sad song on my lips)

He got settled in Lucknow and along with his potery,his wit too became legendary. One famous incident which people narrate is :

To urge him to slow down on his drinking  Josh once told him

मजाज़ घडी रख कर पिया करो ,मैं बीस मिनट में एक पेग पीता हूं

To which Majaaz  in his inimitable style replied

घडी रख के पिया करूं जोश साहब ? मेरा बस चले तो मैं घडा रख के पिया करूं

People wanted to have the honour of drinking with the great poet. There is a scene in Movie Pyaasa in which Mr Ghosh the famous editor has araanged for such a Mehfil( gathering) in his house in which Majaaz has been invited along with Jigar Moradabadi to recite poetry.Vijay (Guru dutt) is serving wine to the guests when overwhelmed by Majaaz’s Ghazal he breaks down and starts singing ” Jaane woh Kaise log the  Jinke Pyaar ko Pyaar milaa”.It is a wonderful scene and I have it on my blog tiltled “हम पी भी गये छ्लका भी गये”

With pain in his heart his drinking went out of control and he became a declared alcoholic . He suffered his first nervous breakdown in 1940.He talked incoherently and  started asking money from friends and other acquaintances.His parents tried fixing up his marriage with a girl but at the last moment the girls’ father turned down the proposal as he had a reputation of being insane in the society. This lead to his second nervous breakdown in 1945 when he used to go around talking about his greatness – a megalomania of sorts.He would make a list of great poets and after Ghalib,Iqbal etc. he would put his own name .. he had to be admitted to an asylum in Ranchi.

Majaz recovered for the sake of his family and sisters (one of whom got married to Jaan Nisaar akhtar,father of Javed Akhtar)but life was never the same for him again.He could not relate to the world around him and so he became a loner and an introvert.He moved to Bombay for a while and started working there.He even tried to get some work in Films but the post-partition riots and the violence in Mumbai of which Majaaz was a witness moved him tremendously. Independence had not been able to fulfill the dreams of a poetic heart.Misery and injustice still ruled and only the power had changed hands.He never gave up his drinking and thought it to be his only companion till his life’s end.He said :

इस मेह्फिले कैफ ओ मस्ती में इस अंजुमन ए इरफानी में

सब जाम बक़फ बैठे ही रहे हम पी भी गये छ्लका भी गये

and he lamented it too ..

हम मैक़दे की राह से होकर गुज़र गये

वरना सफर हयात का बेहद तवील था

Another famous incident highlights his relationship with famous poet Saahir Ludhyaanwi.Sahir  introduced Majaz in the journal ‘Savera’ published from Lahore with these lines “Majaz has gone insane twice – he is drunk all the time and wanders aimlessly.”

In spite of being terribly hurt Majaaz responded like a poet citing his famous couplet…

कुछ तो होते हैं मोहब्बत में जुनूं के आसार

और कुछ लोग भी दीवना बना  देते हैं

One goes crazy in love and often people drive you mad too …

But Saahir loved Majaz and both were very good friends.When everyone around taunted Majaz about his drinking,he used to say…

मैं शराब पीता हूं,तुम क्या पीते हो? आदमी का खून ?

Saahir used these lines when  he wrote lyrics for a song sung by Mohd.Rafi  in Naya Raasta.It was picturised on Balraj Sahni. :

मैने पी शराब तुमने क्या पिया ? आदमी क खून ?

An incident relating to Josh Malihabadi is also interesting.

Majaz had been discharged from the mental hospital and though he looked normal, he was not entirely cured. Josh was not aware of this.Majaz once called the Commissioner of Delhi and asked him for one hundred rupees. When Josh heard this, he remarked that by this action of Majaz – the very dignity of poetry had been compromised.Majaaz responded in his own way :

जो गुज़रती है कल्बे शायर पर,शायर ए इंक़लाब क्या जानें ?

How can a revolutionary poet know the state of a romantic poets heart ?

In such a state Majaaz used to roam about the streets of Lucknow and often used to get ‘fans’ who would ask him to  recite poems for a bottle.They either dumped him after the party or asked their drivers to drop him home if they were more decent.

On a chilly winter night, he was taken away by a group of ‘fans’ who left him all alone on a hotel roof after drinking till late night, and he died alone in the bitter cold in an unconscious state. He was just 44 years old.The whole nation and especially the people of Lucknow mourned the death of their dear and beloved poet.

सारी मेहफिल जिस पे झूम उठ्ठी है मजाज़

वो तो आवाज़े शिकस्त ए साज़ है …………

The music on which the world has applauded

actually came from the breaking of an instruments string.

Wonderful !

Perhaps he knew that his end would come in such a manner and mocked his friendships by saying :

मेरी बर्बादियों के हमनशीनों ,तुम्हें क्या मुझे  भी गम नहीं है !

Although Majaz  wrote about Love and Beauty, his poems always retained a  certain level social consciousness in them. Instead of fantasizing about a world of Love and Beauty somewhere else, Majaz rebelled against the customs and traditions which constrain true love in real life.He dreamt of a place full of love but he never forgot to challenge the establishment where he lived.He had the courage to challenge injustice and his words had the power to move the masses.In the preface to Majaz’s ‘Aahang”, Faiz Ahmed Faiz writes “Majaz never beat the drums of revolution, he hummed revolutions!”

Below lines best describe the true colors of his poetry :

बख्शी  हैं हमको इश्क़ नें वो जराअतें मजाज़

डरते नहीं हैं सियासते अहले जहां से हम

Love has given me such an audacity that I don’t fear the politics of this world

This couplet is mentioned on the postage stamp in the picture above.

Another aspect of his poetry was the natural flow and the melody which is so peculiar in all his Ghazals and Nazms.It seems he sang them before he wrote them and not the other way round.Any composition can be hummed in your own way such is the beauty and intensity of his poems. He could see poetry in life around him and even such everyday objects as Railway train became the subject of his musings.Let’s have a look at below verses fro ‘Raat or Rail” :

फिर चली है रेल स्टेशन से लहराती हुई
नीमशब की खामोशी में ज़ेर-ए-लब गाती हुई
{इस्टेशन == station, नीमशब == midnight, ज़ेर-ए-लब == humming}
ड़गमगाती, झूमती, सीटी बजाती, खेलती
वादी-ओ-कोहसार की ठंड़ी हवा खाती हुई
{वादी-ओ-कोहसार == valley and mountains}
तेज़ झोंकों में वो छमछम का सरोद-ए-दिलनशीं
आँधियों में मेह बरसने की सदा आती हुई
{मेह == rain}
जैसे मौजों का तरन्नुम जैसे जलपरियों के गीत
इक-इक लय में हज़ारों ज़मज़में गाती हुई
नौनिहालों को सुनाती मीठी मीठी लोरियाँ
नाज़नीनों को सुनहरे ख़्वाब दिखलाती हुई
ठोकरें खाकर, लचकती, गुनगुनाती, झूमती
सर-खुशी में घुँघरूओं की ताल पर गाती हुई
नाज़ से हर मोड़ पर खाती हुई सौ पेच-ओ-ख़म
इक दुल्हन अपनी अदा से आप शरमाती हुई
{पेच-ओ-ख़म == twists & turns}

Truly amazing !

I will end this post with my favorite lines from Awaara :

रास्ते में रुक के दम ले लूं ,मेरी आदत नहीं

लौट कर वापस चला जाऊं मेरी फितरत नहीं

और कोई हमनवां मिल जाए ,ये किस्मत नहीं

ऐ गमे दिल क्या करूं ऐ वहशते दिल क्या करूं