Thursday, April 30, 2009

Doing business without technology?

Can you imagine a company in this day and age doing business without using technology? No e-mail, computers, accounting systems, blackberries!!! Crazy, you say? That is what I thought until a tiny incident opened my eyes to a new way of doing business.

I was hanging out at home in the morning reading my newspaper when the bell rang. It was the Coconut-Wala delivering coconuts (in India it is quite common to drink tender coconut water during summer). He handed me our daily supply of two coconuts and asked for his monthly payment. When asked how much we owed him, he was able to tell us accurately how many coconuts he delivered during last month, number of days of missed delivery and total amount owed in a single breath! No excel spreadsheets, no calendar, no on-line delivery schedules, no inventory management .... no, sir (and madam!). He had it all in his head.

As I drove in to work, i started to observe and think about the other "Coconut-Wallas" out there who operate in a similar fashion. There is the guy who sells plants and pots across the street from us, the guy who delivers milk (different quantity each day), the guy who delivers newspapers, the guy who delivers DVDs .... . I have never seen any of these guys carry a notebook, leave alone a laptop! And they are all running small successful businesses.

So to all of you who believe that you can't run a business without technology ... have some coconut water!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Art of Yoga

It's been over two years since we have been in India and it was about time that I got involved in something that was totally Indian. So I finally signed up for Yoga classes a couple of months ago. Since my weekly visits to the gym had dwindled down to .... ZERO, I figured I needed an alternate fitness program. Of course, my recent painful misadventure with kidney stones have made me realize that the human body cannot be neglected for long. Yoga seemed like a nice relaxing, non-impact, low intensity workout and it felt like something that would suit my style. Best of all, a Yoga instructor was offering classes right in the building, so I would not even need to drive to class.

It's been over 3 months now and let me tell those that have never practiced Yoga - IT IS NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS! The asanas (postures) are designed to extend, stretch and pull every muscle in your body. An hour and a half of twisting and contorting your body, definitely gives every muscle the exercise it needs. But I definitely see progress. For the first couple of weeks, I would crawl back home from class groaning! It seems to be working now. I definitely feel like I have more energy and greater flexibility. Of course, the class is getting tougher as well. The best part of the class is the way you end it. The last pose is "Shavasana" - the dead man's pose. It is called that for a reason ..... you are nearly dead by the time you get there and you look forward to it. In this asana, you are lying down flat on your back, with your eyes closed and muscles relaxed for about 5 minutes. Absolute bliss!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Spring Break Log

This year for Spring Break, we planned a trip to the Andaman Islands. This turned out to be a great choice. The place is a fantastic island destination with white sandy beaches, lush tropical greenery and water-based activities but does not have the throngs of visitors that are typical in similar destinations. The islands have yet to be discovered by vacationers around the world and are not totally developed and commercialized.

We spent a couple of days in Port Blair - the capital city which used to be a prisoner's colony during the British era. A prison (Cellular Jail) is one of the main highlights on this island. Several important freedom fighters were housed in this prison. Another destination worth a visit is Ross Island which is a 15-minute ferry ride from Port Blair. The British officers had established a colony for themselves on Ross Island and governed the region from here.

We spent the remaining four days at Havelock island - absolute bliss. We were staying at a wonderful eco-resort, Barefoot Resorts. The accomodations at Barefoot are designed in the style of traditional Nicobari huts. The resort is truly an eco-friendly destination. The use of energy is minimized, Solar energy powers most of the resort and they are big into reducing waste and increasing recycling. The surrounding were gorgeous - the huts are located in a forest. The beach is a 2-minute walk from here. The beach itself was one of the best that we have been in the world - warm water, white sandy beach and a spectacular landscape.

We got our fill of adventure sports. All of us tried our hand at Kayaking and Snorkeling. Snorkeling was a first for Mona, Aanish and Ayaana and they had a terrific time.

Of course, the major highlight was the food! The seafood prepared in traditional island style was finger licking. We did not have a single meal that would be average. Each one was better than the other. We had our fill of prawns, lobster and crabs! We took a break from "masala" seafood one day at Havelock and decided to eat at an Italian restaurant on the island .... simply superb!