Sunday, August 22, 2010

Brahmin's Coffee Bar - who would have thought?

A name like Brahmin's Coffee Bar can leave you wondering about this tiny unassuming little food joint in Bangalore. But don't let the looks deceive you. Brahmin's has been voted as one of the best idly restaurants in Bangalore and is regularly featured on the list of top places to eat in the city.

As you can see in the picture, this is a tiny place at a street corner. Standing room only (on the pavement and sometimes on the street!). The place only serves three items - idly, wada and kesari baath. The idly and wada are served in a deep dish with a generous helping of liquid chutney. An elderly gentleman stands near the entrance with a huge pot full of chutney for those who must have more of this delicious stuff.

We went there on a Saturday morning and the place was not hard to find. You can spot the cars parked on the street and the thick crowd of people jostling to place their order from a mile away. Chaotic as it may seem, Brahmin's has a highly efficient system of order placement, cash collection and order delivery. Wait time is minimal - which is good, because you want to dig into the delicacies as soon as possible.

And the verdict - Yummmm!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Independence Day

India celebrates it's 63rd Independence Day on August 15th. The world has been reading the India Shining story for the past few years. Tom Freidman's book, The World is Flat, shines a spotlight on the rapid pace of development and growth in India and has put India on the radar of global business leaders. Bangalore and Hyderabad have become household names as companies like IBM, Microsoft and Cisco have setup large development and research centers in these cities. India's GDP growth has been immune to the global meltdown and continues to register impressive increases.

Being on the ground, the effect of growth and development is very much evident to us. But you can't miss the fact that a large number of Indians continue to live in poverty. Lack of education and malnutrition for millions of children is still a serious problem. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase giving rise to discontent. Local governments continue to remain oblivious to serious development issues. Cities are bursting to accommodate growth and the infrastructure can barely meet the current demand. India has more billionaires today than it has ever had but philanthropy is sadly lacking.

As we sit here and watch the two different Indias, we wonder where things will be in another decade. Which path will the country choose as it moves forward? Will the development remain chaotic or will it be managed effectively for long term sustainability and prosperity?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Lost & Found?

Those who remember the hit Hindi movies based on a lost and found theme from director Manmohan Desai will appreciate this. These movies typically had a plot that involved two brothers who are separated in childhood, grow up to become rivals (either in business or one becomes a criminal and the other a police officer etc.), meet under dramatic circumstances and then re-unite.

Last week, I met an old school friend (chaddi-baddi!) of mine after three decades. Sultan Mazharuddin and I were best friends through primary to high school in Hyderabad. We lost touch after leaving school. We attended different colleges in Hyderabad. After college I moved to the US. He stayed back in India for a few years and then moved to Saudi Arabia. We finally connected last year after 30 years and met last week in India. It was a thrill to meet an old friend after such a long time and our meeting was one of the highlights of my recent visit to Hyderabad. Amazingly enough, we picked up from where we left off and caught up to present time in a couple of meetings.

And how did this reunion happen? You guessed it right ... Facebook!