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July 26, 2011

What's in a name - Origins of Hyderabadi Street names!


What in a name one might ask? I would say everything especially if you are from Hyderabad. The Hyderabadi names are exotic, funny, and quixotic. Where else in the world can you find Domalguda, Koranti, Abids etc.

Hyderabad itself has many theories as how it has got its name. One of the theories is that Hyderabad was once called as Bhagnagar which stands for ‘city of gardens’. There were a a number of gardens in and around the city of Hyderabad, such as Bashir Bagh, Amin Bagh, Bir Ban Bagh, Hardikar Bagh, Bagh Lingampally and Jam Bagh etc. Hence it was called as Bhagnagar later to be called Bhagyanagar.

Residents of Domalguda always say that their locality is aptly named. This they do while swatting the mosquitoes. Domal in Telugu means mosquitoes and Domalguda means a place where mosquitoes stay. Way off the mark. The locality gets its name from Do Mahal a mosque. Over the centuries Do Mahal Guda became Domal Guda. One another version talks about the area having two famous wrestlers and the area was initially called Do-mal and because of them the area is called Domalguda.

Koranti is neither telugu or hindi nor urdu. Koranti is actually a hospital the very popular fever hospital.  So how does this locality get its name? It gets its name from Quarantine (a place where patients with contagious diseases are segregated till the disease is treated / cured). Like wise Masab Tank gets its name from Maa Sahaba Tank that today has become the Chacha Nehru Park.

Hyderabad has exotic localities like First Lancer, A C guards gets its name after African Cavalry guards of the Nizam of Hyderabad. They are rememberances of the military past of Hyderabad. Golconda the famous monument is actually Gollakonda; Golla means Yadav and Konda means hillock and it was the ruled by the yadava Kings. Bowenpally the bustling locality in Secunderabad most probably got its name from Boyinas (meaning Palanquin holders) who lived in that locality. 

Abids the popular shopping area has very interesting origin. Abid was the owner of the first shop in this bustling locality. Albert Abid was a Jewish merchant and he opened the first departmental store. The entire locality is called Abids. The place where Abid store stood later became palace cinema which later became big Bazaar.

Near Abids is Gunfoundry or Tope ka sancha which was built by a French General – Monsieur Raymond. It was one of the several cannon and cannonball factories set up in 1786. So the locality is called Gunfoundry. The locality houses headquarters of the famous State Bank of Hyderabad,

Lakidikapul gets its name from Lakidi meaning wood and Pul means a bridge. The name means wooden bridge. What a romantic name! There are places named after communities like Banjara Hills, Baider wadi, Bhaldar wadi, Brahmin wadi, Kumhar wadi, mehtar wadi, Chakna wadi (derived from the intestines of sheep).

Another interesting name is Tarnaka. Tarnaka is derived from ‘Tar’ which means ‘wire’ and ‘Naka’ meaning ‘guard room’. It was thus called because the Nizam barbed the area and put up a guard room to protect his fruit gardens in the area.

Chaderghat, a locality too has a very interesting name. The locality was so called after an anicut across the river which formed a ‘Chaddar’ or a ‘sheet of water’. Chaderghat bridge or Oliphant bridge was built by Col. Oliphant during the reign of Nizam Nasir-ud-Daulah. Another peculiarity of the names of localities in Hyderabad are unlike the names of places in any other city, is the addition of suffixes such as gudas, bads, baghs, kuntas, metlas, nagars and pallys are frequent and common. Long live Hyderabad and all its places, people and cultures.  

July 22, 2011

The holy grail of selling - Product demonstration

Product demonstration:  The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I worked as a sales executive in Indian Communication Network Limited in the late eighties. Network as it was popularly make and marketed high quality typewriters. It was grilled into me that product demonstration is a very important aspect of selling a product.

As a salesman electronic typewriters and it was imperative that I demonstrate the electronic typewriter dramatically and effectively. Most of the products that the customers are thinking of buying are alien. There is lot of skepticism and fear. Skepticism that the product would not work and fear of ridicule that if a wrong purchase is made that they will become laughing stock. If a sales person is struggling with the product it leaves a very bad impression. The prospective customer would think “my god the trained sales himself is finding it so difficult to use the product, what would be my fate if I were to buy it?” The product demonstration must be so smooth that the customer should think that using the product is easy and convenient.

A effective product demonstration will ally the fear and will make the customers more receptive to the product and make them seriously consider procuring the product.

The typists (our final customers) would watch with bated breath as the paper automatically rolled into the machine. They would wonder at the auto justifications that the machine would accomplish. They would squeal in delight when I showed them the auto correct facility. Auto correct is a feature where the typing mistake can be corrected by making the machine move backward and the mis spelt words can be corrected by using the correction fluid.
The product demonstration was so effective that we could effectively sell the concept of daisy wheels (a circular wheel that facilitated a change of font). The daisy wheel appeared to be very fragile and all the sales executives were told to throw the daisy wheel to the wall or drop it from to the floor. Needless to say whether it is thrown at the wall or dropped to the floor the daisy wheel would never got damaged.

Two of the best product demonstration that I can think are the making of the Indian rumali roti  (rumal in urdu  means a handkerchief) and that of the making of the pizza base. The Indian rumali roti is very big flat bread. The dough is rolled on a platform and then the chef would throw the dough into the air. The dough would spin circularly in the air and it would be get bigger and bigger all the time. It is magical. I can never get tired of watching!.

Same is the case with the Pizza base which is thrown in the air. Indian street foods sellers  have mastered the art of product demonstration of products like the pani poori, and the samosa. The product demonstration is so good that even causal passersbys stop to have a tuck in. More speed to effective product demonstration.

July 09, 2011

Traditional Andhra Sweets - Mamidi Tandra, Pootarekulu, Kakinada Kaja, Tirupati Laddu

Mamidi Tandra is a traditional Indian snack. It is a fruit leather made out of mango pulp mixed with concentrated sugar solution and sun dried. It is a part of the South Indian and North Indian cuisine and is available is numerous varieties all over india. Mamidi Tandra is sweet, although it is available in different other tastes. It can be preserved for months making it popular in the off season of mangoes. A village named Atryapuram in Rajahmundry is popular for mamidi tandra.

Mango pulp is mixed with potassium metabisulfite and spread on trays to dry in the sun. After the first layer dries, another layer is spread over it and allowed to dry. The process is repeated until the desired thickness is reached. The thickness varies depending upon the quality of mango pulp used. When this thickness is reached the Mamadi Tandra is cut into pieces and wrapped in oiled paper or into different packages. Mamidi Tandra is widely exported .

Pootarekulu making is an art and many households in west Godavari have mastered. Pootharekulu or Paper sweet is very famous sweet of  Telugu people. It is made with thin and transparent papers rolled with sugar and ghee.  A special variety of rice called Jaya and a special pot are required to make this sweet. 

This pot is heated on  fire lit with palm leaves. The rice of jaya variety is soaked for 2-3 hours.  Then its finely ground into liquidy mixture. It is just like starch water. The Pot specially  made for  making  this paper sheets is  put inverted on the low fire made with palm leaves. A fine muslin cloth of  handkerchief size is dipped in the starch water and quickly pulled on the hot pot . Due to heat  this starch comes out as a thin and transparent paper.  This paper sheets or pootharekulu are later rolled with sugar or jaggery.

Atreyapuram a small village in East Godavari district of Andhrapradesh is very famous for pootharekulu. Here every women in the village is busy with preparation of pootharekulu which are exported to different states of the country and also abroad.

It has become a cottage industry and has been flourishing here for almost three generations. Apparently, one old lady while cooking suddenly hit up on the idea of making good use of starch that come when cooking price. She extracted it, added sugar and ghee to it and thus was born the humnble Pootarekulu.

Kaja is sweet made from Refined wheat flour, sugar and edible oils . It is made and eaten all throughout Indian subcontinent, though it is known by different names. Khaja of Kakinada, a coastal town of Andhra Pradesh, is very famous. Khaja of Tapeswaram is also famous. First, a paste is made out of wheat flour, mawa, and oil. Then it is deep fried until crisp. Then a sugar syrup is made which is known as "Pak or pakkam". The crisp croissants are then soaked in the sugar syrup until they absorb the sugar syrup. The specialty of Khaja is that it is dry and smooth from the outside and full of sugar, syrup, and spices on the inside and is very juicy. It melts as soon as one puts it in one's mouth.
In South India similar variety of sweet is prepared, it is known as Badusahi or Padusahi. The same kind of Sweet when stuffed with stuffing made of dryfruit etc., it is known as Chandrakala (half round) or Suryakala (Full round).

Laddu or Laddoo is a ball-shaped sweet popular in South Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh as well as countries with immigrants from South Asia including Guyana, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago. It is often prepared for festivals or family events such as weddings and births, or given as a prasad at Hindu temples. Laddu is made of a base of flour or ground coconut, combined with sugar.

Laddu comes from the Sanskrit word transliterated as ladduka or lattika meaning a small ball. Common flours used for laddu include besan (chickpea flour) and rava (wheat semolina).

July 06, 2011

Has the death knell been sounded for the Television advertisements?

Television is the ultimate idiot box. It allures the viewers and dulls them into thinking uni dimensionally. Many have become addicted to Television. But watching television comes with a catch. One has to watch the advertisements to see the serial or the programme. It is the advertisements that drive the programming and the audience are forced to watch the advertisements continuously. 
The viewers got their break with the invention of the remote control. Now the control was back in the hands of the viewer. With a flip of a button the viewers could swap the channels and watch two TV programmes at the same time (popularly called Zapping). The following are some of the strategies that the advertisers have tried to make the viewers watch their advertisements.
  1. Increase the sound of the advertisement in relation to that of the programme. As the sound is louder it attracts attention.
  2. Have an advertisement that is totally silent. Television falling silent would also create attention.
  3. Have an advertisement that has rerun value. An advertisement that is memorable or is humorous is tolerated or even welcomed. Some advertisements have attained iconic status, are admired and get watched repeatedly. The Fevicol series of advertisements of India are a case in point.
  4. Advertisements that run as a series by themselves. Many advertisements have been made as a serial so that viewers watch them to see the end of the advertisement.
  5. Many advertisers have induced the viewers to watch their advertisements by creating contests centered on the advertisements. Viewers who could correctly answer the questions got a prize.
  6. Advertisers also have put some numbers in their advertisements. Viewers have to see the advertisements to know the numbers. The viewers who saw the advertisements and sent a SMS with the numbers mentioned were awarded a prize.
  7. Advertisers have also made their advertisements a part of the programme. When the next part of the serial (that will be aired after the commercial beak) is being shown the name of the main sponsor or his product is displayed.
  8. Many advertisers have tried the crawlies. Crawlies are small messages or advertisements that crawl from left to right at the bottom of the television screen.
The ultimate threat is the invention of the DVR (Digital Video Recorder). DVR is a revolutionary product. It can record live television and it has a memory capacity in excess of 500 GB. That effectively means that many hundreds of hours of live TV can be recorded. Viewer can now practice time lapse Television watching

Time lapse TV watching is watching TV at  time convenient to the viewer. The biggest sufferer in time lapse television watching is the advertiser. His advertisements can and will be fast forwarded by the viewer. The biggest challenge for the TV advertiser is to make the viewer watch the advertisement and not fast forward it.