Upping our Cultural Heritage

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When you think of heritage you think of forts, monuments, old temples and other historical places. I was in awe of Kolkata when I visited it last weekend. Perhaps if I had not visited London umpteen times in the past I would not have been able to construe what others meant when they said that the city has a ‘colonial’ feel. I could feel it in the air, though not literally since we visited this city when the mercury was soaring to 40+ degrees and we were dripping sweat due to intense humidity. We purposely chose to stay downtown to get a feel of the city for our short stay. Sitting on a tram – an old mode of transportation just upped the city’s heritage status.

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It was a visit to Flurys – a heritage tearoom and bakery that fuelled the dilemma side of me. I felt short-changed. Not, price-wise. If it had not been for my father who told me of the place’s history I would have thought of it as a just another any day modern cafeteria. For the first-timers like me having a somewhat none-to-limited knowledge of the city I could not see anything heritage about it. The restaurant is not obliged to make an effort to make it look like a heritage site unlike, say a monument where you pay an entrance fee and expect to be connected historically with it. This is just a restaurant that has sustained itself remarkably for nearly 80 years and that itself is commendable. And paying some 250 bucks for a plate of 2 fried eggs along with toasts is not much these days. However, you feel the awe factor missing.

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I don’t have the facts but you can tell the place has a competition, if not a stiff one, from a renowned American cafe just next door!  The complacency that accompanies such heritage places unless supported by the government or an NGO is dangerous. The only key to keep the competition at bay is by using the ‘heritage’ card. So how do you do that? Simple! Give a heritage feel to the place. 1) Get a designer to work on the staff’s uniform. What was the uniform in the olden days and how it can be replicated or adapted in modern times. 2) Get a photo editor to work on the menu and give it an ‘old’ feel with a sepia-effect to the pages. 3) Get a creative ad agency to work on trivia-posters that can be nailed to the walls. And many more ideas can surface if need be. I have not invented the above-mentioned ideas. I have visited so many pubs and restaurants abroad that have maintained the feel of the olden times. The cobblestone-plastered walls, the original bells at the door, the old oak table at the reception and much more. It takes you back in time. This is how heritage should be dressed up as! You should be in awe as you step in.  And perhaps the customers will be happy to even pay more. They have got more than what they had expected. And you have no competition. A win-win situation for both the parties.

So when you see the royal princess from the UK visiting India dressing-up elegantly all the time it is for a reason. She is part of a heritage that she is maintaining in the public. For all you know, she maybe wanting to rush back to her room and wanting to change into a pair of shorts and a tank-top to beat the Indian summer heat! What a time to visit India!

So all you heritage-based places, time to pull up your socks!

(pic 1: Victoria Memorial Hall; pic 2: me on a tram; pic 3: happy tram drivers with my papa; all clicked by my phone in Kolkata – the City of Joy)

 

 

 

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my one rupee change, please!

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A cheap to expensive product costing one rupee less is a tried and tested marketing strategy which has gone down extremely well with both consumers and sellers globally. Consumers of course, like always, are the gullible lot.So the consumer believes that he/she is paying nearly hundred rupees less where as it is just the other way around.

That one rupee-less marketing strategy is not my woe. It is the one rupee that we do not usually get back from the shopkeeper is! Of course, if you are paying by card then the exact amount is debited but if you pay by cash, it is very likely that you are expected to forget about that one rupee. I usually sense embarrassment in asking for that one rupee back and I am sure many others can relate with me. Imagine the scene with other customers around you and you asking for your very own one rupee! After all, what can one rupee buy these days? And why should that one rupee matter to you after purchasing, lets say as in the picture above, a book for Rs. 299? What is one rupee, after all?

A couple of months ago, I remember the embarrassment I felt when my mother asked for that one rupee back from a reputed shoe shop in a plush mall. I behaved as if I was just not there. And I was even cheeky enough to nonchalantly walk out of the shop as my mum gave the shopkeeper a well-deserved piece of her mind.

However, when I went to a book store in my local market a few days ago I felt awkward not getting my one rupee back. Would they have sold the book to me if I had one rupee less? No. Where does that one rupee go? I doubt if it goes to a good cause else the shop would have flashed it in their shop or even kept a charity box. And like my mother says, you rather give it to a handicapped beggar sitting outside the same shops than to shops who have found another way to make profits illegally.

Well, I didn’t ask for that one rupee back.

Time to finally not look down upon one of those shrilled-voice women who wear garish makeup, carry a Gucci bag and Prada shoes (no, not describing my mother but how she would love to have these high-end products one day!) but when it comes to their one rupee, embarrassment is not in their dictionary!