Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's all about location....making a living in INCREDIBLE India!

Low overhead......controlling expenses......great location! These are the magic ingredients to a successful business in India....well everywhere I guess.

However, Indian businessmen and women have perfected how to successfully run a business most of the time without even having a roof over their heads.

Chaat vendors are everywhere.....there are cart wallah's that will serve you omelet's, gulab jamun, jalebi, ground nuts, popcorn, fried aloo patties and wedges, tea....anything that can be cooked with a portable stove and pots and name it and there is someone serving food at a busy location..serving the needs of many.

The overhead is electricity....many times, no rent....portable carts, barber chairs on the side of the road with a mirror tied to the grates of an iron running water, NO RENT, no get the picture.

In India, they have basically taken the concept of the suburban lemonade stand in the good old USA to a new level! I almost forgot, there are juice wallah's, sugar cane juice, lychee, mangoe, fresh lime.....if it can be made into a juice that suits the Indian palette......somebody is selling it on a street corner.

Some of these street food wallah's are very famous.....have been in the same location for years.....have developed a reputation, loyal customers, regulars.....but if business drops off at one location, they simply move to another.

The owners vary in age as well.......just like the many offerings of food, drink and goods, the age varies as well. Linda and I came upon a young boy who was selling various items from the cart in the picture......the cart was open as we walked by, but one would typically see the owner either standing nearby or crouched inside....this one was empty and no one seemed to be around.....then Linda spotted a young boy sitting on the railing at the edge of the road across from the cart and in the cool of the shade. When I asked the question out loud, "I wonder where the owner is?", Linda turned and said...."this must be him."......I asked and it was.....and I asked for his picture. He looks to be about 11 years old, maybe younger.Then there was the young man offering views of Camel Rock through his telescope....and various other sites around Mussoorie.....for 20 rupees he gave us a tour of all of the landmarks......then excused himself to run about 30 yards to attend to some other passersby that wanted tea at his tea house.....then came back to us....and offered us the opportunity to take our photograph in some authentic Indian clothing worn in the area.....a very enterprising young man in his mid twenties.One the way to the airport we were running ahead of schedule and the driver who was taking us to the airport asked if we would like to stop for tea. He explained that this particular place had the best tea and people stop from all over just to have this man's was obviously his favorite place, but I did not commit.

As we reached the small village and were at the stoplight, he asked again, and then Linda I gave in and said "Sure, as long as you have some with us and you let me pay".......I asked how much: "5 rupees per cup.".....and a 20 rupee bill was handed to him......then reality set in and I said to both Linda and Preston...."what in the world have we just done?" You can see from the picture that this isn't MCDONALD'S or even close to STARBUCKS.....while we were waiting, I hopped out of the car to take this picture and then returned just before he delivered 4 cups of tea in real glass cups......and we started sipping and agreeing with him that the tea was exceptionally good.......and hot.....when asked what makes his tea so special....."Sir, it is the milk.....he has his own cows and buffalo's that he must be what he feeds them.....WATER BUFFALO'S.....never in my life have I had milk from a water buffalo.....but I am thankful it was in piping hot tea and not in a glass all by itself.And finally, an entrepreneur close to my of the keys to having a successful hotel is having a great location with a constant flow of to what we consider a "demand generator" Preston and I were leaving the George Everest Estate which was laying in ruin at the top of one of the peaks of a Himalayan foothill, offering some of the most incredible views......I spotted the sign on the side of this structure....proclaiming that he had "ROOMS AVAILABLE" in several languages..........this is just the reason why it is a necessary requirement to always have your camera with you.....not many people would have believed me if I would have simply told the story!

By the night.......he has more than 5 STARS!

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