How much did you say?

It’s been almost 5 months since I’ve started living alone and one of the things I’ve noticed changing is myself.

Yes, the Air Conditioner is on only when it absolutely has to be. Deals are stored, restored and saved. I now have a deal from Big Bazaar which offers me a free bag of Sugar every month (From April to December), I don’t know what I will do with all the Sugar but hey it’s free. On my way back from work yesterday, I noticed a deal from a pretty well…less known Pizza Outlet called ‘Smokin Joes’. ‘2 Pizzas for Rs.110’ it said… Wow what a deal. I looked for a * which generally defines these offers and there it was. ‘* – Offer valid only between 3 and 6 PM’. That’s not so bad I thought. I looked at my watch, it was 2:15 PM. I went up to him, took out a 100, ordered my Pizzas. “Here you go, now send it to me after 3”

Yes, you have to look at ways to beat the system. Cause the system itself, can else overpower you. Take the simple case of wanting to have a hair-cut. Yes, in most cities in India, the process of getting a hair-cut involves going to your favorite barber where he asks you what sort of a cut you want. In most cases you just say, “Jo pichle baar kiya aapne”. The toughest decision actually is in choosing what magazine you want to read. In Mumbai though, it certainly isn’t as simple.

Walk into the Runah Salon for instance, in Central Mumbai’s Lower Parel area. Ask for a hair-cut and pat comes the reply, “You want Junior, Senior or Master haistylist?”. Say what? Was the hair stylist also doubling up as my solicitor? Anyway, I made an enquiry on the rates, ” 250 for Junior, 500 for Senior and 750 for Master”.

750??? I could buy a wig for that much. Anyway, who was available right now, I asked? “Junior’s busy for the next 1 hour, and Senior for the next half an hour. And Master, well Master’s free for the whole evening. We have 2 Masters. ” I made way to the exit.

Isn’t it ironic that the price of the haircut is directly proportional to the availability of the hairstylist?

Another aspect that’s extremely interesting is the premium pricing model, old restaurants in the city adopt. So, South Mumbai has it’s share of historic restaurants and bars.Take for instance, the now famous-infamous Cafe Leopold . Cafe Leopold’s business has no doubt gone up ever since the events of 26/11, it’s the default destination for all guests of mine. Especially since, the founder’s have seemingly gone out of their way not to remove the bullets from the pictures or the mirror on the wall. All now a part of a tour morbidly titled ‘The Terror Tour’.

The pricing though is what gets to me a touch, a Garlic bread with Cheese at Cafe Leopold costs you Rs.150. 150 bucks for a regular Garlic bread with Cheese in a non-Ac bar. That’s almost thrice what you would pay to have the same dish at one of the Pizza parlors.

Or, let’s take the example of ‘Cafe Britannia’, one of Mumbai’s oldest Parsi restaraunts. ‘There is no greater joy than the joy of eating’, it echoes and perhaps it lives up to it. Very good food, and with the founders of the restaurant serving you themselves, the service is top-notch. One of the founders, even has a pair of binoculars which he uses to keep an eye on the activities within the restaurant. How much though is the price of the signature dish? Rs.230. Two hundred and thirty bucks, for serving of pulao with some berries…it tastes good and the restaurant owner’s daughter who was also there is really pretty but still 230 is a little over the top.

Cafe Leopold is jam-packed. The Berry Pulao at Britannia continues to be its best selling dish and though I’m not so sure about the number of customers Runah’s master hair stylist is getting, I’m reasonable confident that Salon itself is doing well. What then is my point? My point is that underneath the pricing model of these ventures lies a big lesson for all entrepreneurs. If you create a brand and strong enough word of mouth, no one questions the pricing. No one raises a flag about the air-conditioned place down the road serving Pulao at half the price, most folks are a little surprised by the pricing. But they pay, and in most cases they also return. How can they after all tell folks back home that they went all the way to Mumbai and didn’t go to Leopold’s. How can they?

For a single in Mumbai though, 230 bucks for a pulao, 150 for a Garlic bread with Cheese and 750 for a hair-cut is certainly over the top. I rather have my Garlic Bread with Cheese at good ole Smokin Joe’s, for 150 I will also get 2 Pizza’s with the bread. The owner of the restaurant doesn’t use a set of binoculars to check on my order, but the place sure is air-conditioned.

15 Responses to “How much did you say?”
  1. Nikhil says:

    smooth read 🙂 what was moving to mumbai like

  2. Nikhil says:

    ignore that…reading the older posts now

  3. HaraBara says:

    Why not Air Cooled? Very democratic, and only Rs 70 per head!

  4. Abhinav says:

    mate i’ve kept the same mobile phone for 18 months, an absolute miracle for someone as gadget obsessed as me.
    and now plan to hold on to it for another 18 with my new phone contract!
    in fact, until it absolutely falls to pieces…
    so i know what u mean!

  5. Abhinav says:

    i think i mightve missed the point of the blog with my last comment lol…
    well.. i’m surprised you’re actually equating price with value. that’s a rare phenomenon isn’t it?
    on the other hand, if what you’re saying is, consumers have gone silly, being willing to pay insane sums for all sorts of rubbish – and common sense needs to make a bit of a comeback, i’m with you on that.

  6. Sisto says:

    Hey just wondering, do you get flowing water in the taps in your house in Lower Parel?

  7. metlin says:

    Wow. It’s been almost 5 years since I last visited India, but man, everything seems so expensive.

    Dollar to rupee, I can get things in the US cheaper compared to the prices you mentioned.

    At my favorite desi restaurant, I can get a full buffet with pongal, idli, vada, dosa, rice, roti, several curries and kormas, rasam, sambar, chutney, payasam, several kinds of desserts, salad and a drink for $10. There are hair salons where a haircut costs $6 (the cheap ones, of course – the decent ones cost $15). And garlic bread? About $2, at most.

  8. Sudhir says:

    @Nikhil – Yes..moving to Mumbai was a total blast. And I’m sure that’s what it was for anyone who’s moved from Chennai 🙂

  9. Sudhir says:

    Aircooled – Is that a hairdresser?

    Where is it. Lol. And is Rs.70 for Junior, Senior or Master?

  10. Sudhir says:

    @abhinav 1

    Yes…it’s time to save. More so if you’re a lone ranger. Like Warren Buffet said – “You spend what you don’t save…rather than the other way around.”

    @ abhinav 2

    Both points are true…my point here is that consumers are certainly willing to pay..and it’s more cause of intangible things like legacy of a place, its word of mouth power etc. If consumers are willing to pay every enterprise should aim to build a fan following and brand so as to charge that premium.

    How does one build it? Well..that’s a tough one. Most times…like a virus infecting a just happens.

  11. Sudhir says:


    Yes Alice…Why don’t you ask your former roomie?

    Flowing water for everyone…Make sure you bring your towel and soap though.

  12. Sudhir says:


    Hey Karthik…those examples I’ve cited certainly aren’t the mean. Though these places certainly aren’t 5 star as well…they are regular jaunts with some culture and legacy by virtue of which they charge you so much more.

    By contrast..Koshy’s a similar jaunt in Bangalore doesn’t charge such prices. I guess its also the premonition of the entrepreneur in question.

  13. Nimpipi says:

    In times like these, garlic bread ghar mein banaya karo. Expense = thirty buck, tops!

    ( P.S: hello hi kya haal etc. Your blog id was gchat status(!!) Kind courtsey Ms Hoon)

  14. Sudhir says:

    @Nimpipi Haha… Ghar mein bana do??? I have nightmares of the gas cylinder blowing up if I try cooking…

    Sab kuch teek.. Aap kaise hein hazoor?

  15. Prashanth says:

    “Here you go, now send it to me after 3″

    You sound like sisto dude.. that sly rat has influenced you too..

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