It used to stand in a corner quietly observing the techies zipping by in/on their sleek machines. Whether you reached office at an ungodly 8 am or left at an equally zzzz11 pm+, the thing just stood there wrapped up in its myriad packages. I really hadn’t noticed its name till the day I decided to get myself a li’l bit of sunshine after lunch.
And then I saw it clearly - ‘Facebook Snacks Centre’!!
Whoa! Had Mark sold off his online business and entered the street side café business? Or was he diversifying? Or was it simply his CSR activity for Indian techies? It could also be Mark’s long lost brother, who like the rich-poor Bollywood masala stories was suffering here, while his rich bro was pocketing likes and shares by the millions. Or was this simply the #2 competitor who thought the name would be enough to fetch him the fortunes of his namesake overseas?
I couldn’t resist anymore. I had to find out.
“Where’s Kaki?” I asked the plain-looking man sitting there. ‘Kaki’ for the uninitiated was the techies’ pet name for the lady who ran the business. Mark # 2 smiled pleasantly and asked me to take a seat. I pulled a rickety old plastic chair and sat next to the mobile thela (mobile van) which is stationed 24 x 7 at one place in Pune’s Silicon Valley.
“Kaki has gone off to catch some sleep”, he said. “I am her husband.”
“Why Facebook?”, I questioned. He smiled and said, “One young guy from this IT company you see here suggested this name. He told me, this is a name on everyone’s lips and would be a wonderful name. So I started calling my shop by this name. We sell dabba meals, Maggi, omelette pav and chai. My wife makes lip-smacking stuff – amchya sarkhi Maggi koni nahi banvat (read: no one makes Maggi the way we do).”
I was amazed! The man was talking pretty good English – despite being a localite Puneite!
“To us,” he continued, “customer satisfaction comes first. We take care of our customers. We don’t like to keep them waiting. We give them a personalized service. We remember their names and what they like. We believe in giving them quality food.” Complete CEO talk, I couldn’t stop from thinking aloud.
“Arre madam”, he said proudly. “I quit my job at Tata because I wanted to help my wife fulfill her dreams of starting a hotel. Today, we earn in one day what I used to earn in a month there.”
Till then, Kaki arrived, post sleep. Having had nothing much to do with education of any sorts, the lady smiled, insisted I have some of her special chai. When I asked Kaki to sit next to her husband so I could take a pic, she blushed.
I thanked them for their time and pics. Kaki’s other half got up too and invited me to his other shop – Taj 2! Wow! His logic behind this name – “There’s Taj # 1 in Mumbai (the hotel); but if you want to get the same service in Pune, there’s Taj # 2.” Saying this, he jumped on his BMW and pedaled away.
As I stared at this bite-size man with gigabyte-size dreams fading into the Sun on his antique full blown, shaky bicycle, I couldn’t help wondering – “Mark, mere bhai, you’ve got big time competition on your hands!”