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A Few Good Things

"Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." – Ibn Battuta

A Few Good Things

Category: Daily Life (Page 1 of 10)

Peace with God

My Soul has a Hat – Mario de Andrade (San Paolo 1893-1945)

A beautiful poem by Mario de Andrade (San Paolo 1893-1945) Poet, novelist, essayist and musicologist. One of the founders of Brazilian modernism. Shared by my friend – a Poet herself.

MY SOUL HAS A HAT

I counted my years 

& realized that I have

Less time to live by, 

Than I have lived so far.

I feel like a child who won a pack of candies: at first he ate them with pleasure 

But when he realized that there was little left, he began to taste them intensely.

I have no time for endless meetings

where the statutes, rules, procedures & internal regulations are discussed, 

knowing that nothing will be done.

I no longer have the patience 

To stand absurd people who,

despite their chronological age, 

have not grown up.

My time is too short: 

I want the essence, 

my spirit is in a hurry. 

I do not have much candy

In the package anymore.

I want to live next to humans, 

very realistic people who know

How to laugh at their mistakes,

Who are not inflated by their own triumphs 

& who take responsibility for their actions.

In this way, human dignity is defended 

and we live in truth and honesty.

It is the essentials that make life useful.

I want to surround myself with people

who know how to touch the hearts of those whom hard strokes of life

have learned to grow with sweet touches of the soul.

Yes, I’m in a hurry.

I’m in a hurry to live with the intensity that only maturity can give.

I do not intend to waste any of the remaining desserts.

I am sure they will be exquisite, 

much more than those eaten so far.

My goal is to reach the end satisfied 

and at peace with my loved ones and my conscience.

We have two lives

& the second begins when you realize you only have one.

————————————-

Sweets

Iyer Sweets – Traditional home made South Indian Sweets and Savouries

Love sweets – but worried about the quality of ingredients used at the neighbourhood sweet shop. Hunting for the authentic “Boondi Laddu” that you had at a marriage in Chennai. You hunt ends at Iyer Sweets – Bangalore.

Iyer Sweets brings you home made Sweets and Savouries – Using quality ingredients and made hygienically at home by an experienced Palghat Iyer couple. All of this priced reasonably.

This Navratri / Diwali place your order with Iyer Sweets and you can boast that you made it yourself

 

Useful information for placing orders 

Signature Sweets & Savouries rates

  • Traditional South Indian Boondi Laddu – Rs 570/Kg
  • Traditional South Indian Mysore Pak – Rs 550 / Kg
  • Maa Laddu – Rs 570/Kg
  • Ribbon Pakodam – Rs 350/ Kg
  • Mullu Thenkozal / Muthusaram – Rs 350/Kg
  • Mixture – Rs 400/Kg

Placing your order 

  • For placing orders and additional details call or WhatsApp :
    • +91 9242940601
    • +91 9945733135
  • Minimum Order Value : Rs 1000/- (Rupees One Thousand Only)
  • Minimum Quantity : 500 g
  • Online payment preferred ( PayTm, Google Pay , WhatsApp ) – Cash also accepted
  • Delivery Free for orders above Rs 3000/-
  • Delivery charges – Dunzo / Local Courier charges on actuals.  You may also pick up the items from Iyer Sweets
  • Items are packed in normal plastic / paper bags. Additional hard box packaging for travel / shipments will be charged as per requirements based on discussions
  • We prepare items freshly for each order and don’t keep stock. Please place orders 10 days  in advance for Diwali/Dushera and 5 days in advance for Non Festive season.

 

Nano Jeans

The Crumbling Apple Pie

We have been an Apple family since 2010. We have 4 iPhones, 2 MacBooks, 2 iPads an iMac and 2 iPod’s. Recently my 17 year old daughters hand me down iPhone 5S needed replacement – it was slow and the 16 GB was just not enough storage. It was logical to expect that she would ask for an iPhone iPhone 7 or 8 – but to my surprise she wanted an Android Phone. She had compelling reasons – It’s half the price, has a big screen, is super fast and has a lot of storage. Add to that she never used the Apple Ecosystem.

That summarises the story of Apple in India. A Niche brand that had a 2% market share in the Smart Phone Market (In 2014) with aggressive plans is now seeing a steep de-growth. As per Counterpoint research the company had a 1% MS in Q2 2018 and unit shipments for 2018 are expected to be 2.4M ( 2017 – 3.2M Units)*. But before we comment on Apple India struggling lets look at the big picture.

Most of us remember the amazing launch presentations of Steve Jobs when he literally pulled out a rabbit from his hat. Be it the iPod from his hip pocket or the MacBookAir from an envelope – Steve was a marketing genius.

Steves Keynotes during the New product launches including his last Keynote at WWDC in 2011 attracted attention like the Grammy’s & Oscar’s. The craze was global even if Steve’s focus was largely the Western Economies. At every launch there were huge Q’s lining up the stores and product availability was always a challenge. He genuinely Exceeded Expectations – both with his presentation and the Product.

Compare that with the launch on Sep 12th this year by the current CEO Tim Cook. The big takeaway was the launch of Dual SIM iPhones. Sadly this feature was launched in 2000 by Benefon and became popular from 2010 – 2011. As of mid 2014 almost 60% of Smartphones sold in India were Dual SIM phones. So the worlds most innovative Phone company launches a feature that is 18 years old.

Since Steve Jobs that has been the summary of Apple launches. Lots of colours, numerous models, better camera, better resolution – but hardly any innovation on technology. And the question that begs to be asked is a 58 year old Tim Cook out of touch with technology in an industry that is run by 30 – 40 year olds (Mark Zuckerberg 34 , Sundar Pichai 47, Elon Musk 47). Yes he is a brilliant operations and financial wizard – and with dexterous buy backs and steep priced products has ensured that Apple’s profitability and stock price continue to rise against all odds.

The question that needs to be asked is how long can this continue? Is it a case of Gaining Momentum – Losing Altitude? With declining sales in Mac and iPads and the Apple Watch a very niche product sold mainly in US & W Europe – Apple has relied heavily on the steep prices of the iPhone.

A few years back iPhones in India were launched at a 40 – 50K INR pricing. That was steep – but this year the most affordable product the iPhone XR will be launched at Rs 76,900. While the premium range retails for 1 Lac – 1.34 Lacs. With that pricing you cannot attract the youth brigade.

When Tim Cook met PM Modi in May 2016 – there was a high level of expectancy that this was the moment when the worlds largest tech company would shift gears and accelerate. But sadly little has transpired – and things have gone from bad to worse – a steep erosion of market share in the last 2 years.  

While Apple operates a basic facility with its partner to assemble a few models of iPhones in India, Samsung has set up the worlds largest Smart Phone manufacturing plant in India in July 2018. That makes business sense as it saves the company 20% Customs Duty. And with the raging USD one can expect import duties to get steeper.

They quickly followed it up with the launch of the worlds largest retail outlet at Bangalore spread across 33,000 feet that was launched in Sep 2018. Now that is a commitment difficult to meet. 

The decline in Market share for Apple India also reflects in  the ramping down on operations from five national distributors to two. Many retailers across the country have been forced to close shutters with dwindling volume of sales.

The Apple Ecosystem – a Key differentiator has failed to engage audience in India. Most youngsters use platforms like Wynk to listen to music and movies are streamed from Netflix and Amazon Prime. Apple TV is almost never in the consideration list when you decide to buy a streaming device. Apple maps is almost never used. The lack of adoption of iTunes and the Ecosystem has been the biggest setback to Apple India. This ensures that there is no  stickiness and hence the retention rate of existing iPhone users which worldwide is stated to be over 90% is a lot lower in India.

Indian retail is always a challenging market – and India has once again proved to the worlds greatest tech company that success here doesn’t come easily. Companies that don’t adapt to the needs of the country are bound to fail and Apple is a good example.

The End 

* References 

Satsung Foundation Struggle

Sri M Talks Bangalore : Nov 2,3,4 – 2018

The Satsang Foundation invites you to a talk on “Towards Greater Awareness, Essence of the Upanishads”.

The talk will be delivered by Sri M at Freedom Park on Nov 2nd, 3rd & 4th at 6.30 PM. The entire topic will be covered in 3 sessions over these  3 days. On Nov 2nd (Day – 1) please be seated by 5.45 PM for a 30 Min Bhajan session by Tara Kini before the Talks.

 

About Sri M 

Sri M was born in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. At the age of nineteen and a half, attracted by a strange and irresistible urge to go to the Himalayas, he left home. At the Vyasa cave, beyond the Himalayan shrine of Badrinath, he met his Master and lived with him for three and a half years wandering freely, the length and breadth of the snow clad Himalayan region. What he learnt from his Master Maheshwarnath Babaji transformed his consciousness totally. Back in the plains he lived a normal life as instructed by his Master. But he was constantly preparing himself to teach all that he had learnt and experienced. At a signal from his Master he entered the teaching phase of his life. Sri M is today a renowned Master of Kriya Yoga, Vedanata, The Bhagwat Gita and Sufism and has delivered talks all over the world, at home in the religious teachings of most major religions.

Sri M born as Mumtaz Ali Khan, often says “Go to the Core. Theories are of no use”. Based out of Madanapalli (A small town in Andhra Pradesh 120 Km from Bangalore) Sri M leads a simple life – teaching and heading “The Satsang Foundation” a charitable concern promoting excellence in Education, Health Care and Unity amongst all. He also heads the Manav Ekta Foundation. His autobiography “Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master – A Yogi’s Autobiography” is a bestseller. His fictional book “Shunya” is one of the national best sellers in the Mind, Body, Spirit section of AMAZON. (For more information on Sri M visit http://satsang-foundation.org)

How you can contribute for the Nov 2nd, 3rd, 4th event 

This program is put together with the voluntary contribution of friends and well wishers of the Satsang Foundation and devotees of Sri M. If you would like to contribute

By Bank Transfer
Beneficiary Name: THE SATSANG FOUNDATION
Account No: 910010018440471
Type of Account: Savings
Bank: AXIS BANK LTD.
Branch: Cox Town Branch, Prestige Lion Gate, Municipal No. 6, Mosque Road, Bengaluru 560 005
Branch IFSC No: UTIB0000231
Please add ‘Bengaluru Events’ in the Notes option in the Payments Section.

After making the payment please share the following details at +91 9845218532 – Name in Bank Account, Bank from Which Transfer was done, Transaction ID, Mobile Number.

For any assistance required feel free to contact the organisers at events@satsang-foundation.org or +91 9686938895

Where is Freedom Park Located 

It is centrally located at Seshadri Road, Gandhi Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560009. Ample Car Parking is available. The closest Metro Station is Vidhan Soudha or Sir M Vishwesharaya (1 Km from both stations). There will be open air seating in a natural green surrounding. Weather in Nov may be cool – so please dress accordingly.

What is the duration of the talk. 

The Talk will start at 6.30 PM sharp. Please be seated by 6 PM. On Day – 1 there is a musical program for 30 Min that will start at 6 PM. Talk duration each day is expected to be 60 – 90 minutes. There will be no Prasad / Food served after the event.

Are the Talks on 3 days on the same Topic

The Topic for the Talk on all 3 days is “Towards Greater Awareness, Essence of the Upanishads“. It is an extended talk that will run in continuation over 3 days.

Will there be an opportunity to meet Sri M 1 : 1 during these events

There will be no 1 : 1 meetings during these sessions.

Do I need to register for this event

There is no registration required – and the event is free. So please do get your friends and family for the event.

Will I get 80 G benefit on my donations 

Yes. All donations to The Satsang Foundation are exempt from Income Tax U/S 80 G of the IT Act.This exemption is applicable for Indian Tax payers and is not valid for foreign nationals. For all receipts, please contact Manjula on office@satsang-foundation.org or call on 080 2548 0062.

Thank You

 

 

 

 

 

From Technology Outsourcing to Social Entrepreneurship – The journey of Dr Sridhar Mitta

As part of A Few Good People – This blog features Dr Sridhar Mitta, a pioneering visionary who not only established Wipro as a global leader in Technology Outsourcing but also built the foundation for the industry. Dr Mitta has influenced the lives of thousands and on this Guru Purnima I would like to pay my respects to this wonderful man.  

In 1980 when a young 30 year old walked into Wipro’s nascent Information Technology Division as a founding employee he achieved two things. He helped catapult Wipro into a Global Technology giant and set the ball rolling to position India as a Global Outsourcing hub.

 Dr Sridhar Mitta, Bangalore in 1980, with a population of ~ 2M was a quaint little town deserving the sobriquet of a pensioners paradise and a hub of  Research Institutes. The Janata government had shown the door to IBM, The PC was yet to be discovered, Infosys did not exist and the Indian Rupee was trading at 1 USD = Rs 7.86.

This was also the time when a young Azim Premji (AHP) at the helm of Wipro was hungry to expand. Whether it was vision or chance one would never know – but AHP who always had the knack for identifying great talent hired Ashok Narasimhan (A smart savvy financial controller from Telco) and Dr Mitta. Between them they were tasked to build the IT / Technology business at Wipro. 

Dr Mitta armed with a MTech from IIT Kharagpur and a PhD in Control Systems from Oklahoma State University (He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009) was the right choice for Wipro. He was a visionary but hands on. A wonderful team player he was crystal clear on the road ahead as he went about it step by step with determination and passion.

I recollect my first interaction with him in 1992. At our induction  program he  predicted that in the coming years the PC would be like a telephone, just a black box – and the whole attention would be on Software and Services. How right he was.

Over the next 20 years the successful trio of AHP, Ashok Soota and Dr Mitta built Wipro into a global giant. (Mr Ashok Soota took over as the President of Wipro Infotech from Ashok Narasimhan in 1984)

 Dr Sridhar MittaSridhar Mitta celebrates his birthday with Mr Premji, Ashok Soota & Sudip Banerjee

The first phase between 1980 and 1990 was the “Make in India” journey. Intel was coming out with blazing fast microprocessors and Wipro started building multi-user Minicomputers the S86, S286, S386, Landmark 486, Pentium based Synergy series etc. some of them based on the Unix operating system

Designing a Multi Processing Computer in the 80’s was not easy. Remember there was no Internet and Google. The R&D team under Dr Mitta built deep expertise in Chip design, Board design, Operating System, Compilers, Interoperability, Testing and all the zillion things that go into making a reliable high end system.

Dr Mitta recalls that in those days Wipro was the 1st choice for any IIT Graduate because of the quality of work and company ethics. People, Process & Technology were the bedrock for the R&D team and that was Wipro’s positioning for many years. Quality work always gets noticed and global tech companies like Intel started exploring partnerships with Wipro’s R&D team.  This would prove to be the foundation for the next wave of innovation. 

 R&D teamThe young engineers from Global R&D. Most have grown to be Tech entrepreneurs,CTO's and CEO's of leading companies

By the early 90’s it was evident that the India was liberalising. HCL had tied up with HP, Compaq had an alliance with Microland. All the large players were beginning  to make an entry. They had global scale and size and it would be unviable to try and compete with them in manufacturing given the small size of the Indian market.

The visionary in Dr Mitta saw an opportunity amidst this threat. He started contacting his friends  in the US who were working in large Tech companies like Intel, Sun, Tandem and NCR. The bold pitch was to ask for projects that could be done by his team of highly qualified engineers from India. He was crystal clear that there would be no body shopping (The model that software exporters had adopted initially).

The going was not easy as foreign travel needed RBI permission and there were strict controls on the amount of Forex you could carry. He recollects – “We survived on less than $50 a day living with friends and at times eating one meal a day. It was tough. But we were fired with a mission.” Infrastructure, power and network bandwidth were the other challenges that the team had to surmount.

Doing work remotely needed a strong process. Wipro led the industry in embarking for ISO and later CMM certification. This gave a high degree of comfort to clients on the process maturity of the company. Thus was born Tech Outsourcing from India. A wave that has transformed the lives of millions and positioned India globally.

Dr Mitta      Dr Mitta with the numerous awards won by Wipro Global R&D

After that there was no looking back as Wipro’s R&D transformed to Global R&D executing high end work for tech giants in US, Europe & Japan.This was when Dr Mitta decided to explore his entrepreneurial calling. After a 20 year stint at Wipro starting as employee No 1 he had now become the President of Wipro Global R&D. But deep down the technologist in him was itching for doing more innovative work that would impact society.

He spent a decade in EnThink and E4E two innovative startups. EnThink was an Intellectual Property design and licensing start-up located in silicon valley. At E4E  he helped develop the concept of EAP – Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program working closely with TIE (A Global organisation fostering entrepreneurship). By now he had seen the challenges of the rapidly growing IT Industry in Indian cities. It was time to connect the dots and bring his 40 years of experience in creating something new and innovative. This led to the creation of NextWealth.

While conceptualising NextWealth he met the legendary Dr C.K.Prahlad who spent a lot of time with Dr Mitta and finally concurred that his basis for NextWealth was foolproof. Dr Mitta still remembers his advice ” Think beyond Best Practice, invent the NextPractice – The next big business model“.  The founders wanted the company to be named NextPractice but since that domain was not available they settled for NextWealth.

Dr Mitta           Dr Mitta with Anand Talwai & Mythily Ramesh

NextWealth was Co – Founded with leaders from Wipro and the team of Dr Mitta, Anand Talwai, S.R.Gopalan and Mythily Ramesh steering it ahead.

NextWealth was created to add social value through entrepreneurship. The company has a unique business model that solves many of the challenges of the day.

  1. The Vision of the company is to provide 10,000 jobs in smaller towns. They call it The Distributed Delivery model.
  2. Each job generates 5 ancillary jobs and kick starts the local economy. NextWealth promotes not just employment but overall economic development in smaller towns.  “40 Years back Bay Area outsourced work to India 5000 miles away so why can’t Indian companies outsource work 500 miles away in their own backyard? Questions Dr Mitta.
  3. A lot of good talent is available in smaller towns at very affordable prices. This kills two birds with one stone – Lower costs and almost nil attrition.

The company identifies business opportunities and partners with entrepreneurs in smaller towns. The local entrepreneur runs the centre with  inputs from the experienced leadership team at NextWealth. The company has now partnered with competent entrepreneurs in smaller towns like Salem, Chittoor, Mysore, Hubli and Bhilai and has established its business model with many customers.

Over the last few years NextWealth has delivered with some very demanding Global & Indian customers in eCommerce, Finance, IT & Retail. Their core expertise is on deriving insights from Digital Data that can be monetized by blending people and automation. The focus areas are

  • Customer Interaction
  • Assisted Digitisation &
  • Business Process Management

It is a Win Win formulae for Customers, Employees and the Entrepreneur. A mid sized company that can scale rapidly and deliver quality output at very affordable rates. Quality of staff is good and with the right training and mentoring the staff excelled. And it was no surprise that more than 50% of the staff are women.

NextWealth

I visited their largest centre near Salem. It was buzzing with energy. The process & security standards were foolproof. NextWealth supports over 40 customers in a variety of high end digital services. (Judgemental, Cognitive, Analytics, Lead management and Lead conversion customer support) and is meeting metrics ever day and every week

Backed with the vision and operational depth of Dr Mitta and his leadership team NextWealth is now ready to take on large complex projects. The proof of concept phase is over. NextWealth is now ready to accelerate this proven model. It is truly delivering its promise “Human Touch to Digital processes”. 

For additional information please contact 


Graama Bhojanam – Fresh, Healthy, Tasty Millet restaurant at Jaynagar

An experienced Iyer couple from Chennai (Who left his job after 30 years at HLL), a young entrepreneur just back after completing his degree in Hotel Management from Switzerland and his friend from the legendary Savera hospitality group, and a Ranji cricketer  – When these four people with diverse expertise get together something unique is born. And that was Prem’s Graama Bhojanam.

The restaurant at Jaynagar Bangalore leveraged on the expertise of Mr Krishnamurthy who started Prem’s Graama Bhojanam with his own cooking at a small place in the bye lanes of Adyar Chennai.

Their goal is to promote healthy food with healthy ingredients. All the  dishes here are made of millets and Red/Brown Rice.  It definitely is more environmental friendly as growing millets requires 70% lesser water than rice.

The first thing you must order here is their “Paddus” (“Kuzhi Paniyaram”) – They are delicious and healthy – made of  “Samai” Little millets. Crispy outside and soft inside – you can gobble 3 – 4 of them easily. So ensure that you order more than 1 plate if you are in a group. At just Rs 80/- a plate you need not worry about the bill.

Paddus

Thats the beauty of this place – all the varieties of Idlis, Dosa’s, Vada’s and Bajjis  are made of millets and they taste better. Of course they are healthier. They are also priced very reasonably.

The signature dish is their Lunch and Dinner Thali that includes 4 Main Dishes – Sambar rice, Curd Rice, Rasam Rice and Rice of the day – Lemon / Puliyogare etc  but all these “rice” items are made of millets. Then there is a Curry, Chutney, Sweet of the day,  (Made with Jaggery), Buttermilk and Roti – all of this unlimited for Rs 195/-. Even the RO water is laced with Camphor, Tulsi, Clove and Cardamom. Food is cooked in a healthy way – all their products are sourced directly from Organic farms and there is no use of Vanaspati, Sugar, Maida and artificial colours.

A lot of focus has gone on the menu and the accompaniments – and thats what is important. If you get the food and pricing right people will come – ambience is secondary. And they seem to be on track serving over 100 lunches every day and 200+ lunches on the weekend.

Menu

The ambience is basic, functional and clean with an eye on costs.  Prem’s Graama Bhojanam is expanding with a fine dining restaurant that opens in Chennai (Annanagar) on the 23rd of July and its a matter of time before they expand their footprint in Bangalore. They seem to be setting the trend with a handful of other restaurants in promoting Millet based food.

Prem's Graama Bhojanam

Do visit them – Sr Citizens especially will love this food. Prem’s Graama Bhojanam is a house in Jaynagar converted to a restaurant. Its run by Yuvajith and Smita, Avinash & Tina and their friend from the Savera group Tarun Reddy. (Yuvajith is passionate about Coffee and has opened a signature coffee brewing centre – The Brewing Bean at Eco Space Bangalore)

Graama Bhojanam

  • Address : 234, 32 A Cross 2nd Main Road, 7th Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore
  • Timings : 12 Noon – 10.30 PM

Graama Bhojanam

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Navaratnas : 9 Must Visit Restaurants in Bangalore

Bangalore is home to thousands of restaurants. Its tough selecting the best and most unique amongst them. The criteria I have used is based on Longevity, Consistency and Uniqueness. These are the Nine Jewels – the 9 Must visit restaurants in Bangalore.

  • The first 5 are legendary  – they are part of Bangalore’s history. Many have been around for more than 50 years. They are located in Old Bangalore – Malleswaram, Basavangudi & Lalbagh. All of them serve authentic Karnataka taste S Indian food . Most of them are Tiffin joints serving traditional Karnataka tasting food. (Yes the taste of Sambar and Chutney changes across the 4 South Indian states). These places are always crowded, service is fast & effecient and they are very affordable. BMW’s and Mercs line up outside these shops and don’t be surprised if you bump into Rajnikanth, Puneet Rajkumar or the Padukone family.
  • The Next 3 are unique new ones run by passionate entrepreneurs. They serve healthy food – Vegan, Millet based food in a lovely ambience. They are also located in traditional Kannadiga localities of JP Nagar, Jaynagar and Sadashivnagar.
  • The lone North Indian Restaurant – In a city packed with Italian, Chinese and Continental restaurants its difficult to find a good authentic North India restaurant. It was a close call between two restaurants and I finally chose the newer one because of its brightness and positive energy.

The First 5 : Traditional and legendary, They are timeless. 

No 1 – Veena Stores at Malleswaram – Light as air Idlis and yummy “Savige”

A small standing joint spread across 150 sft it dates back to 1977 . It all started when  Suryanarayana Hegde moved to Bangalore from Sirsi as a 10-year-old after the death of his parents. After working as a cook for 10 year in a doctors house he started his own restaurant on Sampige Road. That closed due to labour problems. He then started Veena Stores with mainly condiments and a limited menu of coffee, tea, badam milk and Idlis.His son Pradeep a diploma in electrical engineering joined the business in 1987. Pradeep now runs the restaurant with his wife.

Veena Stores serves a limited menu – Fluffy soft Idlis, Vada, Khara Bath, Kesari, Pongal, Lemon Rice, Puliyogare, Coffee all of this served fresh and piping hot. The Savige (Vermicelli)  is the best. The Mint Chutney they serve is a hit. (The restaurant does not serve Sambar). Very reasonable priced all dishes are in the 20 – 30Rs range. Sumptuous breakfast for 2 will be less than Rs 150/-. Good to know Kannada while ordering and please go with a driver as parking is a challenge.

  • Address : 187, 15th Cross, Margosa Road, Malleshwaram, Bangalore
  • Timings : 6.30 AM – 12 Noon , 3.30 PM – 9 PM

Veena Stores at Malleswaram

No 2 – CTR (Shiv Sagar) at Malleswaram – Best Place for Dosa

This hotel was started by Y.V. Subramanyam and brothers  in the 1920s. They hailed from a village in Kolar, whose residents are Ashtagrama Iyers of Tamil origin. Subramanyam sold his hotel the mid-1950s. It still has a vintage wall clock and rosewood furniture with Italian marble table tops. It is said the brothers passed on tips about preparations to the new owners along with advice to take care of workers by not overburdening them. It was established as Shree Sagar in 1950 and after changing hands a few more times it was bought by the current owner in 1992 and renamed Central Tiffin Room (CTR)

This is the best place in Bangalore for Dosas. And they come in many varieties Benne Masala Dosa, Butter Masala Dosa and Crispy Masala Dosa. They have seating inGround & 1st floor. It has the ambience of a Coffee House. Apart from the Dosas CTR is also known for its Idly Vada, Poori-Saagu, Kharabath and Kesaribath, Mangalore Bajji and Filter Coffee. It has won awards including the Times Food Guide “Best Benne Masala Dosa in Bangalore” and Burrp.com’s “Best Benne Masala in Bangalore. Very reasonable prices – A sumptuous breakfast for 2 will be about Rs 200/-

  • Address : 7th Cross, Margosa Road, Malleshwaram, Bangalore ( Opp to Malleswaram Grounds)
  • Timings : 7.30 AM – 12.30 , 4 PM – 9 PM

Best Dosa

No 3 – Brahmins Coffee Bar commonly known as Brahmins Cafe – Basavangudi  : Consistent quality and awesome Chutney

Brahmin’s was set up by Narasimha Rao, in the 1960s. Jan 27th 1965 to be precise. They initially started by serving traditional Filter Coffee and sourcing snacks from outside. Soon they started making limited variety of high quality S Indian tiffin. They have stuck to this winning formulae over the years. The speciality here is their Chutney. KN Saraswathi (the founder’s wife) who is in her 80s is still believed to supervise the preparation of the restaurant’s chutney every single day. It’s one of the many things that have remained constant at the restaurant. And there is a person serving serving unlimited chutney from buckets. The menu hasn’t changed in over four decades – Idli, Vade, Kara Bath and the sweet Kesri Bath. Each one of these items is truly delicious and incredibly consistent. (The restaurant does not serve Sambar)

  • Address : Ranga Rao Road, Near Shankar Math, Shankarpuram, Near Basavanagudi, Bangalore
  • Timings : 6 AM – 12 Noon , 3 PM – 7 PM

Brahmins Coffee Bar

No 4 – Vidyarthi Bhawan – Gandhi Bazar, Basavangudi  : Truly legendary  – a tradition since 1943

Located on the main road you enter the restaurant walking by a street full of fragrant flowers. “Vidyarthi Bhavan was primarily started for students, as the name suggests, but its popularity increased, and today we have celebrities from all fields who brainstorm over our dosas and coffee,” says Arun Kumar Adiga, who runs Vidyarthi Bhavan. On weekends there are over 3000 walk ins as people wait patiently for the seats to be freed up.

Vidyarthi Bhavan Basavangudi

The wait is worth it – The dosas are rich and soaked in butter. To this day, six dishes on Vidyarthi Bhavan’s menu — benne (butter) masala dose (along with saagu-masale), puri-saagu, idli sambar, uppittu, chow-chow bath and rave vade have celebrity status! And its been consistent over the years.

Garland shops near Vidyarthi Bhavan

  • Address : 32, Gandhi Bazaar, Near Gandhi Bazaar Circle, Basavanagudi, Bangalore
  • Timings : 6.30 AM – 12 Noon , 2.30 PM – 8 PM

No 5 – Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) – Needs no introduction 

MTR needs no introduction. Lalbagh, Cubbon Park, Vidhan Soudha and MTR are the 4 pillars that define Bangalore. There are many MTR restaurants in town and abroad but I am referring to the iconic 1st branch near Lalbagh. The others are no match to the original one. Started in 1924 the restaurant is spread across 2 floors and has a lot of seating. There are even rooms that can be reserved for families.

The food served at the MTR is all veg, Karnataka Brahmin fare and owes its origin to the Udupi Cuisine of coastal Karnataka. The decor is old age. For many years, the customers entered the restaurant through the kitchen so that they would be able to satisfy themselves about the restaurant’s cleanliness before they ate there.

During  WW 2, MTR found it difficult to make Idlis, since rice was in short supply. They experimented with Semolina instead of rice and thus invented the very popular breakfast item of Rava Idli. The Tiffin here is wonderful and over the weekends its customary for Bangaloreans to go for a walk in Lalbagh and then Q up for breakfast at MTR. However if you are visiting for the 1st time visit them for Lunch. Its an elaborate multiple course meal with unlimited servings and you will struggle to complete it. Important to note that they are Closed on Mondays. Paid 3rd party Car parking is available diagonally opposite.

  • Address : # 14, Lalbagh Road , Bangalore
  • Ph: 080 – 22220022 (Reservations are taken for lunch & dinner only)
  • Timings : 6:30 am – 11:00 am & 12:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Mavalli Tiffin Room Bangalore

The Next 3 : Unique, Healthy Food run by passionate entrepreneurs. 

These are not as well known as the earlier 5. They are a new age of restaurants promoting healthy food. They have a lovely ambience, tasty food and are reasonably priced. After the rich fare with dosas soaked in butter in the above 5 restaurants  – the light and healthy food here will be a refreshing change.

No 6 – JustBE, A Vegan Restaurant that offers a lot more

A classy Vegan Restaurant at Sadashivnagar it serves Vegan food without Oil, Dairy products, Refined Products like Maida, Sugar etc. Serves a variety of tasty and healthy  continental dishes from Nachos, Sandwiches, Sizzlers to Pizzas and Asian Bowls. The idea is to appeal to the younger generation. The ambience is calm and serene. the place also has a Meditation Room and the only Svara (Sound Healing) room outside of Auroville. Servings are large and a meal for two costs about Rs 1000.

JustBE, A Vegan Restaurant

Read more about JustBe : https://vak1969.com/2018/07/12/justbe-cafe-eat-meditate-satiate-in-a-holistic-zone/ 

  • Address : 383/31, 13th Cross, Sadashiv Nagar, Bangalore
  • Timings : 11 AM – 11 PM

No 7 – Vaathsalya’s Millet Cafe, A Millet Only Restaurant 

Located at JP Nagar this place serves a wide variety of dishes – from Cutlets to Thali and everything cooked here is mad with Millets or Red Rice. Jyoti the owner is passionate about furthering the cause of Millets and after years of seeing the benefit in her family has started this restaurant to espouse the cause. the signature dish is their Thali. The store also sells handicraft , ladies handloom clothes, and organic products. A calm and quiet place on weekdays – it can get busy on weekends.

Vaathsalya's Millet Cafe

No 8 – Prem’s Graama Bhojanam, A Millet Only Restaurant 

This is another Millet only food restaurant that serves a wide variety of dishes that look and taste like regular S Indian dishes made with rice. All of this served in a rustic village ambience. The Dosas, Vadas, Paddu’s are all made of Millets. They also have Rotis of all the main millets served with curry. Thali options are available at lunch. The water that is served tastes like the “Teertham” you get in a temple – mixed with Camphor, Tulsi, Clove & Cardamom. The Matka Kulfi was also very tasty. At the end of the meal they give you a concoction “Kashayam” to improve your digestion. Its a very affordable place. Between four of us we ordered 2 plates of Paddu’s (Kuzhi Paniyaram), 2 Dosas , all the 4 Varieties of Millet Roti’s with Sabji and Kulfi and the bill was only Rs 884/-.

Prem's Graama Bhojanam Bangalore

No 9 – Urban Tamasha – Bright and Positive 

After so many S Indian fares I had to include one North Indian restaurant. In the new Bangalore areas of Indiranagar , Koramangla and Sarjapur you will struggle to find a good North Indian restaurant. All you see is Pubs , Italian, Chinese, Continental , Sandwich cafes, Coffe Bars etc. I have always felt that Tandoor in MG Road was the best bet for North Indian food. Good variety, authentic N Indian, consistent quality and great service. But I recently found a place that had all this with 2 additional advantages – A bright ambience full of positive energy and a wider variety of dishes.

This place is Urban Tamasha a newly opened restaurant at Indranagar.  The North India food and starters were great – they also have Pasta, Noodles and Pizza options – which works out very well when you go with the younger generation. Non veg dishes available. Lunch has a buffet option. No Alcohol is served.

Urban Tamasha Bangalore

  • Address : 2011,1st Floor, HAL 2nd Stage,100 Feet Road, Indiranagar
  • Timing : 12Noon to 1 AM

………..and one more thing

At the end of every presentation the legendary Steve Jobs used to have a slide titled “One more thing” – having worked in Apple I will take that learning from him and add one more restaurant to this list.

Sree Krishna Kafe Koramangla 

This is where I have been going Traditional restaurants of bangafor breakfast once a week for many years. And it would not be fair not to include it. Located in Koramangla next to Anand Sweets its the only restaurant that serves authentic Tamil Nadu style food. Idlis, Upma, Pongal, Dosas for breakfast and evening tiffin and plantain leaf lunch. The Sambar here is distinctively different from the other restaurants listed above. Its like a mess – always crowded with regulars.

Sree Krishna Kafe Koramangla

  • Address : 5th Main, Near Anand Sweets, Koramangala 5th Block, Bangalore
  • Timing : 7:30AM to 10:30AM, 12Noon to 3:15PM, 5:30PM to 10:30PM

PS : For the best thin Crust Pizzas visit Toscano or Little Italy – Both have multiple branches in the city 

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JustBe Cafe – Eat, Meditate & Satiate in a holistic zone

If you are invited for a treat to a place where the food is cooked Oil free, Dairy free, Sugar free, Color free – chances are that 99 of 100 people would make a polite excuse and wriggle out. I guess I was the odd one out when by chance I discovered JustBe. Its not just a restaurant but a lot more – with many unique zones that includes the one and only Sound Healing Therapy room outside of Auroville. Do plan a visit to JustBe at Sadashivnagar, but before that read on about this place and the passion of Nidhi  who conceptualised and developed this place.

JustBe is a classy boutique restaurant – Its unique and it serves amazing fresh food. Tasty, nutritious and aesthetically very appealing.

The Spinach Quesadilla, Crunchy Nachos, Hotpress Batata Sandwich, Asian Curry, Garden Pizza, Pink Lemonade, a variety of smoothies and many more interesting dishes will keep your taste buds captivated. The servings are large – and thats the 1st philosophy at the restaurant – Eat sufficient quantities of one item and don’t mix and match too many dishes in your meal. 

JustBe is not just a unique restaurant it is a holistic Zone of peace and tranquility. A zone of positive energy where you can Eat, Meditate and be Satiated to the full. You can let go of the stress and JustBe in touch with your inner self.

Every Sunday 9 AM a group Vipassana session is conducted for old students. You can use the facility to come and meditate whenever you are in the mood for some Soulitude. 

They also have a library and a Yoga Hall where Yoga, Tai Chi, Qui Gong and many other classes are regularly held here.

What I feel in love with was Svaram – the Sound healing room. The only such facility outside of Auriville Pondicherry. Its a unique experience and its just getting started. Here is a brief Video about Svaram and the therapy room. 

JustBe also hosts a Sunday farmers market that sells a wide variety of fresh organic produce and a shop that sells handcrafted clothes, Jewellery and more.

It requires a passionate, creative person with an eye for detail to run a place like this – And that person is Nidhi. A housewife tending to her family and teenaged children her life transformed after attending a 21 day retreat at Swaswara (An Eco Retreat near Goa) organised by Sharan in 2016. (This organisation was started by Dr Nandita Shah in 2005 to prevent and reverse lifestyle diseases by identifying the cause of the disease and using food as a medicine – https://sharan-india.org/about-us/)

While attending the program Nidhi was ailing from high Cholesterol, Skin Allergy and Migraines. She had heard from friends how this 21 day program not only transformed you but also taught you the techniques to lead a healthy life.

JustBe was born thanks to the learnings from this 21 day program. Nidhi’s eyes light up as she talks about this program and how it has changed her life. The only medicine we were served during this program was FOOD – she says. Food is the core element of our being and the right food, cooked correctly can solve all your health problems. The body needs proteins , minerals, calcium etc – the body gets stressed when it has to hunt for this amongst fried, unhealthy food. Yes they are tasty and addictive – but not healthy.

During the 21 day session they were served a wide variety of global cuisines – but the one common theme across all of them was Vegan Food cooked with no oil, no diary products, no preservatives. Add to this no refined food was used – so No maida and sugar. Inspite of this the food was tasty and delicious. And they were taught how to cook with these principles. 

Over 21 days Nidhi was convinced that this was the solution for a healthy body and mind. Her Jain traditions further helped her to imbibe the concepts deep within her  and she practised it with heart and soul at home. The transformation at home was also magical – and health bloomed at home.

This then took her to the next step of wanting to share the benefits of this learning with a wider audience through JustBe. And she practises what she has learnt to the minutest detail. No food is cooked in Aluminium dishes, No microwave is used and no Bone China Crockery is used in her kitchen. She was lucky in finding the right cook – a trained Chef Prem Darshan who after years of serving in high end restaurants and hotels in India and abroad joined her and is now running the kitchen with the same zeal and enthusiasm. They jointly developed the menu keeping in the mind the younger generation and hence most of dishes were continental.

I tried having a debate with Nidhi on the positives of milk and honey trying to understand why they were eliminated. I have grown up knowing that a glass of hot milk in the morning and a spoon of pure honey is as good as nectar. Nidhi demolished this notion by explaining that nature has given us enough food. The human baby needs milk for a few years just like other mammals and then graduates to other food. Any food taken from animals is developing cruelty towards animals and the ethos associated with that food is negative.

I failed in the debate  – I was up against a woman who has many a certificate in NLP, TA , Counselling etc – and was no match for her strong conviction and rationale argument.

By now we had spent over an hour chatting and it was time for my evening cup of tea – but felt a little conscious asking for masala tea after this educative session. Sensing my predicament Nidhi got me a Smoothie – made of Spinach, Mint, Banana and Pineapple. It tasted divine. Thats the beauty at JustBe – I would never have drunk a smoothie of these ingredients at home.

And as I drove back I kept wondering – can I really make a shift to a diet that is devoid of Milk, Sugar and Oil. That would mean no Coffee, Tea, Chocolates, Sweets…. all of which I love. I am not sure. Maybe I should ask my wife to attend the 21 day program at Sharan.

This is a unique restaurant in Bangalore and probably India. Its a must visit so the next time you happen to be in Sadashivnagar do visit JustBe

JustBe

  • 383/31, 13th Cross, Sadashiv Nagar, Bangalore
  • Open from 11 AM – 10 PM
  • Meal for 2 Approximately Rs 1000/-
  • Valet parking available
  • https://www.zomato.com/justbecafe

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Find Purpose – The Means Follow, 3 Rural Hospitals – A case study in excellence

Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to visit divine forces at work in remote rural India. It is amazing to see the transformation that a few good people can bring around with their commitment and passion. There is no adulation, no positive strokes, no awards – the commitment is totally Service, Service, Service. This is Karma Yoga in its purest form, True meditation – and they have found peace happiness and satisfaction.

The 3 Centres we visited are all located in Rural India – about 125 to 200 Km  from Bangalore.

  • Rishi Valley Rural health centre (Near Madanapalli) –  http://rvrhc.blogspot.com
  • Tribal health Initiative at Sittilingi (100 Km from Krishnagiri) – http://www.tribalhealth.org
  • Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement at Saragur , H.D.Kote – 70 Km from Mysore – http://www.svym.org

There are a few common things that have made these initiatives so successful in the last 25 – 30 years since they were started from a thatched hut or 1 room.

  • The dedication and commitment of the doctors who started these centres. They could have had great careers in the cities with big hospitals but they consciously decided to tread a different path. They started small – hands on, and built it brick by brick.
  • The strong focus on community development and awareness. They are Human Centric Organisations focused on Holistic Health. All of them have invested in counselling and guiding people to lead a healthy life. As Dr Seetharam at SVYM pointed out – ” We are not here just to kill the Bacteria & Virus but to ensure that we provide Holistic services to the community to ensure that they don’t fall sick”. And they have taken it to a totally different level with a team of dedicated counsellors and even a Radio Channel to spread awareness.
  • All of which has translated in deep trust and overall development of a healthy community

Dr Regi & Leela started the Tribal Health Initiative at Sittilingi in a remote hilly tribal valley 100 Km from Krishnagiri. It all started with a thatched hut with no electricity – but over time they have built a 30 bed hospital with 3 operating theatres and have earned the trust of the community. Treating over 100 patients every day they conduct ~ 75 surgeries every month. What is more important is their initiative to train the Tribal women as counsellors. The core team trains the local village women  who become the first point of contact to spread the awareness on health , sanitation , pre & post natal care – and this has created wonders.

Dr Karthik and Kamkshi at the Rishi Valley Rural health centre had a similar start almost 20 years back. Trained in AFMC Dr Karthik left a successful career to start the centre with his wife Kamakshi – a pathologist. Today they serve over 200 patients a day – some coming as far as 100 Km away. Madanapalli is a district HQ with a Govt Hospital – but the trust and quality of service they offer is so high that people prefer coming to them. They have taken the level of service to a totally different level and even have a local cobbler designing shoes specifically for diabetes patients.

While talking to Dr Kamakshi she introduced us to a young girl from Washington University St Louis who was visiting them on a Fulbright scholarship to research the high instance of Diabetes in the area. Inspite of the idyllic rural setting – the instance of Diabetes, Hypertension & Thyroid are widely prevalent amongst the villagers. Preliminary study indicates the usage of pesticides and extensive use of Palm Oil in cooking as possible reasons. Here again the focus is on counselling & advisory services for healthy living – how to shift to Millets , the right diet , enabling them to access the best of Govt programs etc.

I had written in one of my earlier blogs for India to Progress – you need 3 things Healthcare , Education & Jobs. Most of these places seem to be following this to perfection. They all  have a school that helps the community children get educated. Quality of education is excellent , schools are neat and clean , well equipped , good teachers. They also provide jobs to the local community – the Nurses , technicians , drivers all come from the local community. At SVYM they have even tied up with Mysore University for a 2 year management program in community development.

Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) was founded by Dr Bala when he was graduating from Mysore Medical College and he has not looked back in the last 30 years since its inception. Today the centre has a 100 bed hospital and outreach program that covers almost all the districts of Karnataka. The institute is doing ground level practical research on areas that impact the lives of the local in close coordination with the Govt. The Viveka school of excellence adjacent to the hospital is an excellent facility for overall development of the children. The approach is 100% Holistic – Dr Bala the Secretary explained that SVYM even helps the local get legal help when they face harassment regarding their land , they help them the documentation to apply for Govt aid programs, they even supply them seeds to promote kitchen gardening – they are a one point social connect to the localities.

At all the three centres the doctors were clear that there would be a nominal charge for services. This contributes less than 50% of their expenses – but there are compelling reasons to charge. Dr Balasubramanya explained beautifully why it is important to charge a notional amount. This is what he had to say

Charging helps preserve the poor patients dignity – he is now demanding service. He has the right to question. This puts pressure on the institution. We are a country where we walk in to a guests house with a token gift of fruits or flowers or sweets – even the poor tribal does not like the concept of Free

The other common theme was the element of trust. Dr Anup explained the importance of building Trust thru Human Connect. Rural people are simple folks. You need to advertise to them. They believe what they see. they believe their community. When the same doctor visits them or treats them, is genuine, doesn’t con them – then slowly familiarity breeds favourability. Then the Trust quotient builds up and spreads word of mouth.

These are hospitals that are spotlessly clean, efficiently run, professionally managed with well defined process and as the mission statement at the Tribal health centre says it all  – their mission is to play an integral part in the communities development. India runs because of such people and their selfless service.

They say “Find Purpose – The Means Follow” – and these doctor teams have demonstrated this saying word by word. Dr Karthik, Dr Kamakshi, Dr Regi, Dr Lalitha, Dr Balasubramaniam  and his wonderful team are all testimony to this.

They are helping define what the new age hospitals should look like. Its time the management from Apollo , Fortis , Manipal …. hospitals paid them a visit. And if you ask ” What is the one things that distinguishes these hospitals from the 5 Star Corporate hospitals of Indian cities ? ” – the answer in one word – GREED.

You can play your part – visit their websites and feel free to contribute what best you can – remember that they need help from Corporates and people like you to manage 50% of their operational costs.

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500,000 Views – Launching the new Website for “A Few Good Things”

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” – Dalai Lama
 
I do it a lot more than once a year. If the travel bug bites you there is no antidote.

My blog is a live example of the power of compounding. When I started in 2010 after attending a training on Digital Marketing it was an exploration. Which rapidly grew to a passion to share a lot of good things. It took nearly 5 years to get to a 100,000 hits and less than 3 years to get to 500,000 hits. And thats when I said its time to upgrade the Blog to a Website.

The website A Few Good Things –  has a clean , simple layout that is based on the Golden Rule of 3

  • All the 170 Blogs are distributed under 3 heads – Travel, Spirituality and Daily Life.
  • The Travel section is further trifurcated to Day Trips, Short Breaks and Longer Breaks.
  • There is an excellent search engine that can help you navigate with ease

This started as a travel blog. I love to travel and document it in detail so that fellow travellers can plan their trips easily.  I hunt for offbeat locations and resorts and help market them through my Blogs that have a viewership of ~ 500 a day.

Over time I have added other interesting entries on Spirituality and Daily Life (Corporate, Personal Finance, Fitness etc). All these are based on my real life experience.

Some of my Blogs feature high on Google search – for Eg if you search for “What is Rudram”  my blog may well be in the top 3 . Tirupathi Travel Tips, Baevu Village, day trips in Bangalore  are also some of the blogs that come in the top 10 in Google Search. Blogs on Valley of Flowers, Soulitude in the Himalayas, Badami – Pattadakal , Tiruchi in 3 days, Vipassana Experience  –  record a high viewership daily benefiting many. The PIO to OCI writeup has helped thousands in Bangalore to visit the FRRO office and get the necessary paperwork done. A Few Good Places which is an exhaustive list of all the places we have been to and those that are in my list – is used extensively before the holidays.

Many resorts have thanked me  – as they have seen a steep jump in bookings rating their property as a must visit – with all the details on how to reach and spend your time there.

The journey continues and I seek your support to continue the compounding effect – help take the 500,000 to 1 Mn and beyond. Do sign up as a follower and please do share the blogs that you found useful with your friends and relatives.

A big thanks to all my well wishers, followers and travel partners and lets pray that a Few Good Things continue to roll out regularly.

 

 

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