Saturday, September 25, 2010

Urban Backpacking

Last week, as I was returning from work and driving into our building, I noticed a couple of other folks returning from work carrying their backpacks. I suddenly realized that I see a lot of folks carrying backpacks to work. And this is not limited to engineers and programmers. Managers and heads of division seem to prefer the rugged backpack to a sophisticated briefcase or a laptop bag. In fact, judging by the rapidly expanding workforce, India must be the largest market for backpacks in the world.

I began to wonder about the reasons behind the popularity of backpacks in India. Clearly, one of the main reasons is that they are a much more practical alternative when you consider that the primary mode of transportation for most young workers here is a motorbike. It is a lot easier to travel on a 2-wheeler with a backpack than it is with the alternatives. Most of the knowledge workers in India in the BPO, IT and ITeS sectors are young men in their early twenties. At this stage in life, you are not exactly the most organized individual. Once again, a briefcase forced you to be organized and manage clutter. But a backpack ....! Throw a bunch of stuff in there, zip it up and you are on your way. Finally - the typical young worker in India is a workaholic and probably works 12-14 hours a day. Most of these guys are young, single and living with friends and roommates. You need a bag where you can carry not only your laptop and notebook for work but also your gym shorts, old socks, a toothbrush etc.

Analysis complete. Mystery solved. The versatile backpack has made its mark in India.

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