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Vol. XXVIII No. 22, March 1-15, 2019

Our Readers Write

Orange brigade dots Chennai roads

The complexion of the Chennai roadscape, especially in the residential areas, has turned orange! Hordes of motorcycles with uniformed delivery persons wearing orange-coloured SWIGGY shirts are busy picking up and delivering food for an ever-hungry market! You will find a cluster not only outside popular restaurants but also near modest eateries; even as they enter the eatery with their ubiquitous smart-phones in tow, the delivery counter has already received the order online and is in the process of executing it.The service is thus prompt and competes with offers from pizza outlets like Dominos and Pizza Hut on speedy delivery!

Gone are the days when you could enter a restaurant and place an order with ease at the “Take Away” delivery counter. Today there is a need to compete with the delivery guys from Zomato, Swiggy, Uber Eats and Food Panda (and the tribe is every increasing with exotic names) who are in a tearing hurry.

A new revolution appears to have set in the science and art of food delivery at the doorstep.“Apps”are available and you need to have them downloaded for arriving at quick orders based on an easier spread of choice. ‘Happy Hours’ are no longer the preserve of Bars! During Happy Hours, Swiggy, Zomato and others of that ilk, offer a lip-smacking variety of small eats like sandwiches, frankies, french fries, customised pizza, bonda, bajji, cheese toast, cocktail idlies etc. from eateries. Colourful promotion mailers shower laptops, i-pads and smart phones with intermittent notifications that are designed to rouse hunger and excite appetite! I watched with amusement when during a pleasant drinking session with a friend, he ordered snacks which were delivered even before we were getting into the mood for a “repeat”.

Open the mail inbox on your system and soon you are transported to the food platforms of Swiggy, Zomato, Uber Eats who infuse fun, laughter, festival schemes and prizes into the Food World. Points, coupons, discounts tally and loyalty programmes create a “fun and exciting” world of their own while orders keep ticking on the side.

Combine this with the freshly recruited brigades of online retail marketing delivering a whole range of goods and services from pins, diapers, vegetables and fresh meat to smart phones, Bose sound dock systems and microwave ovens, and the roadways present a spectacular panorama of economic activity – virtually a playground for the major players like Amazon, Flipkart, Big Bazaar and the courier community (where have all the postmen gone?).

A spate of new systems might have crept into the technology of food catering and distribution, but Chennai has its die-hard players who move about unobtrusively on their mopeds delivering ‘Brahmin food items’ at moderate cost from ‘orthodox caterers’ operating from select pockets in Mambalam, Triplicane and Mylapore. The demand for their breakfast, lunch and dinner delivery on a monthly basis continues with unabated regularity. They provide the lifeline for bachelors, staying on their own, elders who are unable to get into the kitchen and cook, and the infirm who depend on them on a long-term basis.

Encouraged by revenue models which generate good margins from supplier and buyer, more exciting prospects are in store for Swiggy, Zomato, Uber Eats and others in their peer group whoare in the process of taking the great leap forward through IP issues and mergers. We may look forward to seeing more colourful bikes with attractive containers and bright young uniformed men toting their smartphones and busily plying the good stuff as they tear down the roads.We noticed recently, for the first time, a woman on a bike joining the fraternity, brimming with confidence. Yet another male bastion, a thing of the past?

V. Kalidas
(vkalidas@gmail.com)

WP memories

I was happy to read the article on (Wilfred Pereira Private Ltd. WPPL) MM, February 1st issue.

I thought I will bring a couple of points to your attention. (I am not certain whether the Mount Road branch of WPPL was first opened. Because the Vepery branch served as the ‘head office’ I would imagine that the Vepery branch was the first one. May be the Mount Road branch was opened a little later. But I have no idea of Mount Road showroom. The Vepery office-show room was bang opposite to the Clock Tower, right at the junction of Puraswalakam High Road, Hunter’s Road, and Vepery High Road. It used to have a nice front yard-garden with a central water feature, which was non-functional in the late 1950s.)

As a primary school boy, I have accompanied my father for one Xmas–New Year celebration in Mr. Pereira’s house. If my memory serves right, WP’s house was in a by-lane off Hunter’s Road, Vepery. WPPL had more branches across the Madras state than what you have listed: for example, their branches existed in Kodaikanal and Yercaud.

Footnote:

From 1962, WPPL was in great financial difficulty.

But the debts incurred by WP led the entire WPPL group to be taken over (not sold to) by Dadha’s, who were in partnership with WP’s business in later years. WPPL had a manufacturing unit and they launched various products. Their factory used to exist at the far end of Hunter’s Road, near Choolai.

A. Raman
anant@raman.id.au

Nouveau Anglo-Indians

I was fascinated to read about the Pharmacies of Chennai in ye olde days (MM, Feb. 1st).

I remember going to the wedding of one of the Wilfred Pereira girls.

I can’t recall her name now, maybe it was Priscilla, or Prudence. She was very tall and good looking. She married a young man called Arthur D’Souza.

He worked at that time at the Bradma Office on Mount Road, opposite the Kwality Restaurant (pronounced K-Wallity) and was a sales representative working under my husband G.C. Doctor.

Arthur, myself and my husband, who was a keen motorist, travelled all across the South in a Dodge car, (pronounced Dod-geh), and had quite an adventurous time of it. In the early 1960s, there were not many others vehicles on the roads so they were quite well maintained. We stayed in the most lovely dak bungalows that were run by khansamahs who would rustle up a country chicken dinner and even produce a pudding out of nothing at all, but inherited skills. Once, staying at Kodaikanal at the guest house that had been the temporary refuge of Sheikh Abdulla who was under house arrest we were treated to a souffle coloured pink with the juice of beetroots. Splendid!
Once Arthur married the Pereira daughter, he became rather posh and eventually migrated to Australia.

As far as I remember, the competition to Wilfred Pereira on Mount Road was from a Pharmacy called Sahib Singhs.
I fully agree with Sujit Pai that I belong to the tribe called Nouveau Anglo-Indian.

Geeta Doctor
geeta.doctor@gmail.com

Astrological advice?

F.V. Arul was noted for his high integrity and peerless investigation. Though he had handled many cases successfully, the Coimbatore Counterfeit Case came as a crowning glory.

G. Krishnan was born rich and was married into an equally rich family. He was well-known as a philanthropist and nobody who sought his favour, returned empty-handed. He was a firm believer in astrology and it was rumoured that his misadventure was due to the advice his astrologer gave him.

In the prison, he was put in charge of the Textile Mill which he modernised with his sound technical knowledge. While many textile mills were making losses, the prison mill made profits. It was rumoured that the day was spent in the jail mill and the night in his sprawling bungalow. He learnt siddha therapy while in jail and when he came out he prescribed siddha medicines to those who sought his advice. I think he never felt remorse for his crime. After coming out of jail, he used to attend marriages. He used to walk majestically into the hall and many guests cringed in their seats. It was said they were the beneficiaries of the counterfeit currency. If only he had distributed the currency in Bombay, Calcutta and Ahmadabad, instead of the weekly shandies of Coimbatore, he might have escaped undetected.

S.S. Rajagopalan
30, Kamarajar Street
Chennai 600 093

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