Saturday, April 19, 2014

Yeh Facebook # 2 hai meri jaan!

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 caf√© 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!” 

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