Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Shatabdi Express: Ripoff or Payoff?

This weekend i went to Calcutta and on the train, as i had nothing better to do, i stated doing some mental gymnastics. The fact was that i was going to Calcutta in the 2020 Ranchi-Howrah Shatabdi Express. Now Shatabdi's are supposed to be the fastest trains in India travelling at 100 km per hour and above. But somehow my mental arithmetic did not gel. Consider this:

2020 Ranchi Howrah Shatabdi Express leaves Ranchi railway station at 13:45 hours and reaches Howrah station at 21:10 hours. The total distance between Ranchi and Howrah is (as per the printed ticket) is 427 km. That means that in 7 hours 25 minutes (or in 7x60 + 25 = 445 minutes) the Shatabdi Express covers a distance of 427 km. That simply gives the speed of Shatabdi Express as 57.57 Km per hour.

Now i returned by the 8615 Howrah Hatia Express. This train leaves Howrah at 22:05 hours and reaches Ranchi at 06:25 hours. The distance covered by the 8615 Howrah Hatia Express is 420 km. That means that in 8 hours 20 minutes (or in 8x60 + 20 = 500 minutes) the Howrah Hatia Express covers a distance of 420 km. This gives me the speed of this train as 50.40 Km per hour.

Now comes the rip-off. The percentage increase in speed while travelling with Shatabdi is 14.23% whereas the charges in fare are 24.04% greater in Shatabdi. Agreed that in Shatabdi food is served and for that the railways can chage extra - but the promised speed does not materialise. I would have expected that the paltry distance between Howrah and Ranchi would be covered in 5 hours (max) by shatabdi. But no; it seems like we pay a lot more that what we actually expect.

I would be happy to know if this is generally the case with all shatabdi's or that this is pertinent only to this part of the country

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cigarettes and Pressure Cookers

Well... Since i have come to Ranchi, I have discovered the charms of this city. Some of them amusing; some of them hilarious - but all of them mostly entertaining.

Today I will write about a small shop which is located on the Main Road. It caught my eye as the board above the shop said "Stockist: Cigarettes and Pressure Cookers". I was completly flabbergasted. What could cigarettes and pressure cookers have in common. My management trained mind boggled at the though of a shop selling a fast moving consumer good (FMCG) and a consumer durable item. But hold on... more to come - As i approached the shop i was left speechless. In tiny letters was written "We sell fresh fruit juices" and it was followed by a list of juices and their prices. A look at the shop was most entertaining - on one rack were all makes of pressure cooker; on the other side half the rack was filled up with cigarettes and the remaining with fruits. Presumably to be crushed and made into juices.

Well that was not all. I crossed the road and came across a small bookshop. All kinds of smutty magazines were openly displayed but a small cover caught my eye. It said "Harvard Business Review, September 2006". Wow.. HBR's are difficult to come by in any metropolis and here in Ranchi it was sold side by side with magazines like Grihashobha, Madhur Kaliyan, and Jawani ka Husn. Hats off to the entrepreneurship of the people of Ranchi.

If you can make sense of the topsy-turvy world of Ranchi retailing... drop me a line and enlighten me. I am still trying to digest the information.

See you in the next blog... till then... Ciao