Sunday, October 19, 2014

Trance.... Goa Style...

A Serene evening with the waves rumbling hitting high on the rocks like a drummer in a rock band playing a soft music. and you sit on the beach with soft rock listening to the rumbling sea ... looking at the moon.. time stands still... Trance... or Inner Peace as they say in Kungfu Panda...

The Quest for Goa was ever looming for the four of us. I, Deepak, Arun and Nishanth.. I cannot say that for my brother Jithesh who has rode to Goa umpteen number of times.. and so we call him "Periya Swamy". after the Guru swamy cult associated with Shabarimala Ayyapan pilgrimage.. To the extend that my wife and Deepak's wife asked him to take care of us during the ride.. as first timers... a.k.a Kanni Swami..

Long weekends are always good opportunity to get out of Bangalore.. Hang out and have fund.. And so the locked out dates were 2nd to 5th Oct 2014. 3 Bikes.. and a car.. Interestingly the hunt for the last person was a real fun with my cousin dropping out.. Luckily Nishanth came onboard otherwise I would have been one of the pillion riders in the bikes. My car - Etriga was the recovery vehicle and luggage bearer for the 3 riders. Arun rode from Chennai to Bangalore on 1st afternoon and rested. After a quick check of bikes, I and my brother went to Maria mess had nice Porotta... Alarm time : 4:30am.. check out time 5:00 am

Anxiety ... anxiety caught hold of me and I wasn't able to sleep.. I got up twice.. Finally 4:30 am alarm.. Bikers saddled up by 4:50 am.. I and Nishanth 5:00 am start..  First shock of the day.. Exit toll at Yeshwanthpur, Nelamangala, Kyatsandra .. 20 Minutes per toll... So many cars.. so many folks wanting to get out of Bangalore..

Our first break was few kilometers from Tumkur where we had breakfast. That is when Deepak realized that the screws /nuts and locks of his Enfield have come off.. a Red tape fix is all what takes.
Next break at Hubli bye pass. We waited for the riders for about an hour. After few minutes of break we were our way.. Passing by was a bunch of Triumph riders… We were in deep anticipation but we knew that if the traffic was anything to by, Goa was going to be crowded..
Next stop at Hotel Hill View which is a family owned restaurant.. again a large bunch of folks .. we had fried rice and curd rice. Next stop after crossing the border on top of the hills.. and the then wind down towards Goa.. Check post entry – 250 Rs. Per car.. We reached Ponda at around 6:00pm and had a tea break. From there on till Anjuna was a crawl…  9:00pm we were at Guru shack which is owned by Jithu’s riding friend Swapnil. His family has been based out of Anjuna for long and owns the place.  

We unsaddled, went to the room freshened up  and went directly to Guru shack.. raised our legs on top of the floor.. looked up to the sea and just stared at the waves.. for almost an hour.. nothing words spoken between the 5 of us.. just the waves.. and the moonlight..  

Ideal dish to start off.. Barbeque chicken.. wow .. Yummy .. at 12 we started to walk around the breach.. There were night parties at Hippies, Lilliput, Curleys. We walked for around 2km through the beach to the end of the beach. At Curleys the party was on.. lazer lights flowing all over.. dance floor completely full.. on the beach there were fishermen families selling cheese Omelets burger.. we walked back to our place .. 3pm we went to bed.

Cock a doodle do... a misty morning... 8am on a Friday morning.. Tea time.. we head to Cafe H2O .. Vicky was there. we ordered Poached eggs. 

Next up Breakfast at Curleys.. Yummy English Breakfast.. Bacon, salami , fried eggs .. for folks like me who avoid red meat, there is option of chicken...  Yummy.. we walked around the beach on the rocky terrain 

After a bit of rest in the afternoon, we decided to try out Baga for the famous Fish Curry meals at Brittos. To our surprise, 1 1/2 hour of waiting at the Hotel... so we decided to try out another food joint.. we found a relatively free restaurant and tried out fish curry meals. 

Next up .. Chapora Fort.. The view is simply spectacular from top.. The setting sun and the beautiful Vagatore beach 

Dinner at La Franza.. We looked for Chicken/Pork Vindaloo but could not find.. Finally we settled for Chilli Prawns.. Yummy dishes again..

Again we followed the same routine ... the walk up to Curlys and the Friday night party. we topped it off with Cheese Omelet Burger.. Yummy.. Then again the walk back towards Guru Shack.. with the waves rumbling over the rocks..

The next day morning it was time for Tea at Guru's shack.. just enjoying the beach view..

Breakfast @ Cafe Liliput.. again delicious English breakfast..

after a good sumptuous Lunch at Guru, and that is where we met Guinness Book of World Record holder and Contender for Strongest man in India MontyStar Agarwal ..

we left for Vagator beach.. had a swim in the beach and then spent the evening enjoying the sunset..

After we came back to Anjuna, The thought that the next day morning we need to ride back to Bangalore was large in our minds.. But then there was also the guilt... The guilt of not having tasted Goan Fish Curry meals at Britos. May be there will be next time, that was the thought in some quarters... But if we are here let's do it.. Jithesh said.. So we decided to ride to Baga and try out our luck.. We were lucky this time, we got a table in 45 minutes time.. And I have to tell you the taste of the Fish Curry still remains in my taste buds...


It was Night as usual once we were back in Anjuna.. roaming around the beach. walk up to Curleys and back.. thinking about the good time we had in Goa... Just the real fun..

The next day morning, Tea was at Cafe H2O.. Met Vicky for the last time.. had tea, mint tea and Poached eggs..Thanked him for the wonderful hospitality.. He wished us a safe ride back.. and hoped could meet again.....

After a shower, We saddled up and started on our way back to Bangalore. Where can we have breakfast.. Lila Cafe.. 

We started our ride back by around 12 Noon... Leaving "Ponda" was a special feeling for us.. After a brief stop over at the Goa check post, and an uphill climb, we reached the top of the hills and then the ride back.. All this while, weather gods had been kind.. but it changed all of a sudden.. Heavy rains slowed us down.. Bikers were badly hit.. trees were falling on the road, near Alnavar.. The riders were fully drenched.. to the extend that they had to move to a new pair of dresses after Hubli. 

Brief stop over at Kamat (beyond Hubli) for Dosa and then by 6 we were on our way again.. It continued to rain.. Car halted at Anagodu and waited for the riders to join .. It took them approx 45 minutes to join.. After a brief stop over at Chitradura toll, the last stretch towards Nelamangala and then to Home.. We reached home by around 2:30am.. Before I went to I felt the trip was made memorable not by the places we visited but by the team we had.. the brotherhood that we shared.. . we are already planning for the next ride.. this time we will not do it during weekends/holidays.. Goa experience cannot be explained.. it has to be experienced.. Goa is simply Trance....

Recommended places 

My Request for travelers to Goa
  • Please do not visit Goa for Paneer Butter Masala... Indulge in the local cuisine.. Enjoy the local taste.. 
  • Do not get bothered by what others do especially foreigners.. they don't care about you.. enjoy the atmosphere.. enjoy the beach, enjoy the music, meet fellow travelers,  enjoy the time.. be in trance.. 
  • Don't go to Goa because alcohol is cheap and don't make a mockery.. have sense.. 
  • Eat anywhere... you can trust the food.. even if it is in a local eat out.. You are close to the sea so the fish will never be stale. 
  • Goa is laid back.. especially for serving you food.. don't be anxious about food.. it is not fast food.. It take time to prepare 
  • Walk through the beaches in the night.. Night life is simply amazing.. 
  • Locals - villagers are very helpful. Season is their lively hood .. They will be tolerant to a large limit. During season most of them open small retail outlets, tea, coffee shops in front of their home. They are Inviting you to their home.. respect their hospitality and have gratitude. 
  • Hire a scooter . never a taxi.. Goa has narrow roads, scooters will save a lot of time.
  • Don't go to Goa to see a lot of places (and the same applies everywhere you go).. it is not how many places you visit that matters, but how much can you enjoy each place/food joint.. 
  • Shacks are not cheap.. Shacks are experience.. 
  • Throw away your watch/mobile.. Time will stand still...
My Biggest gratitude to my lovely wife for taking care of kids while I was away on the trip.....

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thigh Five....

Bengaluru are you Ready... shouted the Anchor.. Are you Ready Bengaluru... Yes. Yes.. Yes... Yes.. Shouted the crowd assembled at the full packed Sree Kanteerava Indoor stadium sitting at the basin of Sampangi Lake... 4000 plus crowd brimming and overflowing like a Beer Mug!!!! But why are they so passionate to watch.. what are they cheering for? Are they cheering for Saina Naiwal the ace Indian Badminton champion.. is it Sachin Tendulkar the God of Cricket who is being felicitated or is it some Dance/music event for which Kanteerava stadium has been leased out... Here stepped up Mantra a.k.a Puranjith Das Gupta our Anchor with a charming young lady and announced... "Thigh five..." let the play begin... To the tears in cheerful tears in my eyes... I shouted "Yeahh.....". Call it the underdog syndrome... It took me a minute to realize that Kabaddi has come a long way from being a game played in villages of India to the center stage in the world... Kashiling Ramachadra Adake, Surjit Narwal, Anup Kumar, Rakesh Kumar, Shabeer Bapu, Rahul Chaudhary, Dharamaraj Cheralathan, Jan Kun Leen from Korea are household names. 

Kashi with his fans...

India has been Kabaddi World champions for time immemorial. So much so that there are Bankers, Police officers, Weight lifters who quit their jobs and joined Kabaddi as a professional sport. Earning a meager salary/endorsement and thriving on jobs offered by public sector. It has taken ages for it to come to the forefront. And importantly, what has made it a success now. I call it Strategic Marketing

Dr. Kotler.. father of Marketing describes Strategic Marketing as 
Create - Product Management
Communicate - Brand Management
Deliver Value - Customer Management 
to a Target Market - STP.. Segmentation Targeting, Positioning (partially)
At a Profit - Revenue Model et al. 

Creating Value
Value is all about what is perceived by the viewer/young customer. And to create Value for him, as a fearless, short 40 minutes package which keeps your interest.. No breaks.. no frills.. just pure thrills .. Excellent viewing experience at the ground with lighting, facilities, played all around India. Value as an Aspirational sport...which is physical  There is lot of physical contact in the game, there is spectacles like Kashi's Vertical Hanuman Jump to get ring of defenders.. 

There is lot of Super Human things.. thrills frills, drama that is created like a Soap opera and the packages is short and sweet for 40 minutes with very few advertisement breaks unlike the IPL equivalent which is prolonged for 4 hours.. This is the era of burgers and instant coffee.. Youth wants instant entertainment in a very short time interval.. 
Co-branding was used extensively with Movies like Kick from Salman Khan and Singham 3 from Ajay endorsing pro Kabaddi

Ajay Devgan doing Thigh five in Singham 3 Movie commerical
Communicate Value
Youth of India are Geek's, they use the latest technology, are well connected and are Brand conscious. Social Media was extensively used to create awareness and communicating the value. Player pages emerged.. to the extend that Bengaluru bulls had a website come up. 
Twitter, Facebook, web pages, Mobile apps name it .. it was there.. 
Logos, taglines, all look integrated. For example.. Bengaluru bulls had their T-Shirts in Red, a Red color bull charging, the tag line said "Fully Charged" and written in Kannada language as "Fully Charge Madi".. Localization strategy was evident. 

Star Sports was signed in as the Broadcasters and they pitched in 15 seconds advertisements that created interest featuring kids, youngsters. i.e. it generated curiosity. 

Delivering Value
Three main challenges which they overcame
1. To make Kabaddi an aspirational sport, 
2. Ensure a good stadium experience and 
3. Catch the attention of a new generation of TV viewers. 
The value was created by using  state-of-the-art technical equipment that included 14 cameras - ultra motion cameras to accentuate the smallest details of Kabaddi action, crane cameras for dynamic overhead shots and a number of slow-motion, steady and hand-held cameras that also focused on crowds. 

Professional services were used from across the world, Israel, US, UK to create the whole Package. There was lot Personalization also done with player meets, up close and personal settings at malls etc. 

Target Market 

The Youth of India. The 55% of India's working class and growing, set to become the youngest Country in the next 5 years. 

Just to compare and contrast, Yuvraj Singh the cricketer who got the highest Bid in IPL got 14 Crores ... Rakesh Kumar, Indian Kabaddi Captain got 12.8 Lakhs as the highest bid. 
Clearly the spending was on Marketing and basic infrastructure, as well as using state of the art technology. Another key aspect to be notes is that The ticketing was outsourced to Kyazoonga - clearly they knew that this was not part of the "Core value proposition" for Pro Kabaddi. 


Just to prove the point about the success... 
1) TV ratings for the opening night Kabaddi games were higher than World Cup football opening night... Isn't that AWESOME....
2) Times of India one of the leading newspapers in India wrote "The power of live television has reignited interest in a forgotten sport (Kabaddi) among millions of viewers."

The league has been a run away success from online point of view. Twelve hours into the league, it received about 140 million impressions on Twitter and saw substantial Facebook activity, too. While various celebrities tweeted their in-stadia experiences, some posted 'signature selfies' at the venue like Amithabh Bachan, Ajay Devagan, Regional Movie stars like Venkatesh etc..

India has risen.. shed its inertia and accepted Kabaddi wholeheartedly.. No matter who wins the finals ... And I am really happy for players like Rakesh Kumar, Kashi, Sandeep, Ajay for without Pro Kabaddi.. they would have lived their life of be-wilderness.. Kabaddi has been the true winner.. Hats off... or shall I say Thigh Five to you !!!!..

Amithabh bachan doing a Thigh Five

Arise... Awake.. and Stop not till the Goal is reached --- Swami Vivekananda....