“Zero”

Jis number ke piche jud jaye uski kimat badh jati hai, aur jo usse takrata hai wo khud bhi zero ho jata hai”

Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year (2009)

This is one of my favourite movie quote. For those readers of this blog who does not understand Hindi, here’s a translation for you- “(Zero) is a very useful thing. If it is added after any number, it transforms people’s luck. If a number attacks it, the number itself becomes zero.

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Squalor and Prejudice: The Story of My Origins

I remember our first colour TV. I grew up poor. Getting a 14 inch colour TV was a thing of pride for my family. My dad bought it before 1998 Football World Cup. Buying TVs before World Cups gave you good bargains and it was all about bargains for us. We shopped through various stores to find the cheapest option, to save some money. Seeing this discarded TV today on morning walk reminded me of that time, that TV.

How to Buy a Car in Kolkata if You are a Bengali Non-Tech Entrepreneur Who Started From Scratch!

So my wife Chelsea and I are buying our first car. We run Immersive Trails, which is a purpose-driven immersive cultural travel business. While applying for car loans we have been getting more than usual scepticism from the loan officials. They try to ask, often in roundabout ways, about how we are still in business over the last 2 years of COVID19 related disruptions in the travel business. They ask for our business bank statement and business IT filing, to make sure we are indeed in business and raking in the moolah. A Toyota dealer had also audaciously asked whether the secret of my identity and finances lay accross the border in Bangladesh. To understand why Bangladesh, and not a Swiss Bank or Lichtenstein or Cyprus, you need to be aware of the current talking points in right wing politics in India. I leave it to you to explore that in your own time.

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Don’t Worry, Make Money

In India there is a lot of stigma around making money. I regularly speak to young entrepreneurs in mentoring sessions or while just catching up with friends who are starting up or considering starting up their business journey. What I hear often is a deep seated sense of guilt about making money. Turning a profit. The guilt comes from the fact that the society, especially society in Bengal, where I am from, tells you since your childhood that businessmen are evil incarnate. They tell you how, in business, you cannot make money without cheating someone. Making money in business, and turning a profit is almost always equated with the cheating your customers out of their hard-earned cash. Our folktales, media and now, social media are flushed with stories of dishonest businessmen. This is the narrative that we grow up with. As a result, we see traditional entrepreneurial communities like the Marwaris, Sindhis and Gujaratis as morally corrupt, and which leads to many unwanted stereotypes.

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“It Won’t Work”- why you should not give a F to naysayers

All my life I’ve been told things won’t work:

1. When I wanted to study history since Class VI my school wanted to talk me out of it, because I won’t get a job.

2. When I went to the UK to study Archaeology, people said I was wasting my parents money, that they didn’t have & my time. Who ever got a decent job being an archaeologist? Zahi Hawass, may be, but who else?

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This Verse in the Bhagavad Gita Changed My Life

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।

मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि॥

Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, Verse 47
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Innovate, Empathize, Remove Conjecture: The Post-Covid Way Forward for Indian Travel Businesses

There is a lot of anger brewing over the last year among everyone who’s livelihoods depend on Indian travel businesses, which contributes to 8% of the total employment in the country and a whopping US$234 billion towards India’s total GDP. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the tourism sector in India, as it has done throughout the world. It forced many large and small businesses to shut shop and hundreds of thousands lost their livelihoods. It was rather shocking for me to receive a call from a renowned tour operator one day, selling, not tours, but PPE kits and sanitization solutions.

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Empathy is Everything in Customer Service

My wife and I dread the tea aisle of our local supermarket chain. The supermarket is always crowded with staff on the floor, and they keep on changing the location of the shelves now and then, making it very difficult to find anything each fortnight. But the tea aisle is just worst. The customer service staff there, or as we have code worded them “the TA girls”, are always there to pounce on you when they see you enter the aisle. We, and other customers, get constantly followed and badgered with a flurry of questions: “Green Tea Ma’am?”, “Darjeeling Tea Ma’am?”, “Try this new tea sir.”, “Chamomile Tea Sir?”, and so on and so forth. We dread the TA girls and therefore my wife has decided to avoid the aisle altogether and rather buy tea online. Much less hassle, we get what we need, without the constant badgering or hard push to sell.

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Thrive, Don’t Survive

“I survived” is becoming a very common phrase in life and in business that we keep on hearing more and more every day. But think about it, if you think you are having to “survive” something, is it not more of an ordeal for you? Is the situation not causing you stress. Stress enough that it is preventing you from thriving? If you are in that situation, introspect and ask yourself what are the things that are making you “survive” rather than thrive? Now when I say “thrive”, I do not mean you have to be the best of the best in every situation, in every place. What I mean is that you should feel motivated and energized to do your best and be your best. That what you do should make you content. You do not have to be the best in what you do, but at least you can go to sleep at the end of each day knowing that you try your best to be the best, and that way you feel happy, content and you thrive. If, after introspecting, you see that there is something under your control to change from “surviving” to thriving, then you will feel immensely powerful, and you will know what to do. Yes, often the situation will be beyond your control. In those cases, do not keep “surviving”. It might be fun to say that you “survived” something for so long and came out of it bruised but alive, and people might even praise you for that, but ask yourself, do you really need to be in a work, in a business, in a relationship, in an institution that bruises you? You deserve better.

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