Why I will continue shopping in Kiranas?

FDI in retail it seems!

Good to hear about this new development.

Shamefully, I am not very well verse with the pros and cons of this new development (though I assume it’s a good decision).

But the one major point that caught my attention was about the probability of small time traders and kiranas losing their business.

This topic is of special interest to me because my day to day grocery purchases depend upon them.

As a middle class person, I understand the importance of the local kirana shops.

The local grocery shops are more flexible w.r.t delivery, pricing and even payment.

I will discuss all this point by point and compare each of them with the retail outlets like food bazaar and More that have increasingly become popular now.

  • Location:

This is one of the major reasons why I prefer kiranas more than the huge retail outlets. Outlets such as Aditya Birla’s More and Future Group’s big bazaar are almost there in every location. But nothing can beat the accessibility of local kirana shops. I will give you an example. Hypercity and Spencers are the closest retail outlets near my place. But it takes almost 15 minutes for me to go there and I am not even including the travel time and traffic here. Now if I need something urgent like say a guest has come and I want to buy soft drinks for them, can’t go to the retail outlet to purchase it. I just need to go down and buy the soft drinks or best call them up and ask them to deliver it at home.
Now imagine how the situation will be without any local kirana shop. It is almost unimaginable. I cannot tell my guest to sit for 45 minutes, while I go, buy, stand in the queue to pay the bill and come back, right? That’s why I like my local kirana shop. They give me everything within few minutes.

  • Home Delivery:

For people who own a car or stay nearby, it is easier to buy grocery and carry it themselves. But for people like me who neither own a vehicle nor stays nearby, retail outlets can be a huge hassle because most of these outlets do not have a home delivery option. And if they have, you need to buy in bulk. This problem is well taken care of by local shops. Even if you stay in the same building or have ordered just 100 Rs of grocery, the kiranawala will send his delivery boy to your home. You need not have to huff and puff with hundreds of packets in your hand.

  • Fixed Rate:

In India, the first lesson that every mother teaches her kid who goes shopping for the first time is bargaining.
 I remember my mom telling me to ask for 6 bananas for 10 Rs when I first went alone a shop.
Yes you can bargain with your local shop vendor, but not in these outlets. In fact, don’t even try bargaining there because you will be given strange looksJ.
Everything in the outlets has a fixed price. Yes, some things are priced less than the MRP but for products like dal and fruits, you should always buy from the grocery because even though there is a fixed price, they adjust it somehow to make it a round figure. One more major thing, the fruits and vegetables in these markets are not as fresh as those available in the market. They look very shrivelled. Best to buy perishable things like vegetables, fruits, milk etc from the local market than in these outlets. Even packed snacks like haldiram bhujia are not as crunchy as they should be.
From round figure, I remember one important point. In local shops you can bindaas tell the shopkeeper to adjust and make a round figure bill. For example, if you have purchased things worth Rs 173, you can tell the shopkeeper to give at Rs 170. They will do some jhol jaal and do it for you. In retail outlets, you can’t do that. They will make a round figure, but that will be at the higher side.

  • Difference between Credit card and credit system:

This point was raised by my professor some 6 years ago and I think it is quite valid.
My professor one day asked us, there are so many food retail outlets coming up in India, do you think it will be as popular as your kirana dukaan.
We all unanimously said yes. He said ‘NO’.  In his view, no matter how popular these outlets become, kirana dukaans will always exist.
The simple reason being that we can buy things on credit...
And this I believe is quite valid.
 It happens to me a lot of time...
I go to buy something, find zero money in my wallet, tell the shopkeeper to write it down and then pay it after a month when my salary is credited. Now credit cards are accepted in malls but then there is nothing like having an account with your grocery shop. Also, you cannot buy a 10 Rs item on credit from retail outlets, can you?

  • Buy as much as you want and not as much as they want:

Want only 10 gms of elaichi, 50 gms of cashew nuts, Rs 5 of coriander leaves or just 200 gms of tuvar dal?
Go to the local kirana shop because they will give you the quantity you desire.
If you go to the retail outlets, chances are that you won’t get the desired quantity. Mostly you will have to buy in bulk. You will compulsorily have to purchase 50 gms of elaichi even if you need just 10 gms because they are already packed. In kiranas they are sold loose so you can buy as much as you want.
I will give you an example. We are rice eaters. We eat rotis only at night. So ideally we don’t require more than 1 kg of atta for a month. If we go to buy in malls, we mostly don’t get the 1 kilo atta. We normally get the 5 kilo atta packet. Not that kirana shops have 1 kilo atta ready but if you tell them, they will get it for you in a week somehow.
But the main reason why I prefer local kirana shops is because they give you personalized treatment. Something that you cannot expect in malls.
Your local shopkeeper will know what you like, what you dislike, what are your preferences etc. He will inform you every time there is something new in the market. For example, my kirana wala uncle informs my mom about the new biscuits that have come in the market almost every week, just because we are biscuit loversJ.
Knowingly or unknowingly they become your extended family.
Of course I love shopping in these large retail outlets. You have the freedom to browse through the multiple brands on the rack, study them, compare them and purchase them. But when it comes to personalized treatment no one can beat the warmth of the local kirana shops. They simply look after you. And what more do we Indian who has an emotional connect with everybody need?
Though I think FDI in retail is a good decision, considering that it will be more organized and create more job opportunities for youth, I sincerely hope that the kiranas coexist in the society.
I cannot imagine a day without purchasing anything from Devshri Ratilal shop or the new chayya shop near my placeJ.
Hope kirana shops don’t become extinct.

An ode to my beloved grandma (27th June 1928 to 14th September 2007)

I still remember that dreadful day.

5 years ago, this very same day when the entire city of Mumbai was preparing to welcome their beloved Lord Ganesha, me and my family were mourning. We lost a person who was our biggest strength.

My dad lost his mom, my mom lost her mother in law, my brother and I lost my Grandmother Mrs. Raji Mani who my friends and I lovingly refer to as Rose.

Being a child of working parents, I am not ashamed to say that I spent more time with Rose than with my parents.

In fact, I can proudly say whatever I am today is because of my granny.

The values such as respecting my elders and being sensitive to other’s needs, the deep rooted love for classical music and of course my floral decorations during poojas, everything indicates just one thing.

My Granny’s influence!

And if you think my granny is just like the stereotypical grannies, then you are wrong.

Yes my granny was superstitious and orthodox. I used to fight a lot with her as a teenager as I could not accept some weird practices such as not touching the pickle bottle when you get your periods or not cutting nails on Tuesdays and Fridays.

But having said that, she was a ‘modern’ paati (granny) tooJ!

She used to speak English so fluently that she was considered ‘cool’ by my friends. They absolutely loved her!

In fact, she would read every word of Times of India. So vast was her knowledge, that she could give you solution for any damn problem.

And yes she loved cricket too!

She had a soft corner for Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid. In fact, on that fateful day (she passed away in the evening around 7.30 PM) Rahul Dravid had stepped down as the captain.

She was empathetically discussing with me about his decision in the afternoon (surprisingly I had not gone to office that day).

Little did we realize that it would be our last discussion on any topic L.

In the evening when I was yahoo chatting with my college friend, she complained of uneasiness.

My mom gave her jeera pani and went for shopping as the next day was Ganesh Chathurti.

She had the pani, said she felt relieved and started reading a book (she was a voracious reader).

Suddenly she again felt uneasy, I casually asked her to go to bed and sleep. Just as she stepped on to the bed, something happened to her.

She gasped for breath, I went to her, and helped her lie on the bed.

I called my dad who was praying inside. He rushed to her side.

My granny vomited and that was it!

She was gone.

I screamed, called out Rose respond, Rose respond…

But there was no response. I cleaned her mouth, tried pouring water on her face but no response.

Doctor was called and he confirmed what I did not want to hear.

She was declared dead.

For the first time in my life, she hurt me very badly.

People said I was lucky to be with her in the last moment.

I did not feel lucky or good about seeing her die. How can a girl who has always seen her grand mom active (my granny had even washed her clothes that day, like always) feel good about her inertia?

The incident still depresses me.

That day when people were getting ganeshji’s idols, we were preparing for my granny’s visarjan.

My granny might not be there, but her memories are still there with me.

I could not do even 0.5% of what she has done for me. There were days when I completely ignored her presence because I was ‘busy’ studying and working for pocket money.

I have been rude to her many a times when I was ‘busy’, but little did I care for her feelings.

Today I feel very guilty of my behaviour. I weep, I say sorry but I don’t even know if my message has reached her.

The incident taught me an important lesson:  Never take anybody for granted especially those who have sacrificed their happiness for you.

Sad I learnt it late.

On the 5th death anniversary of my beloved granny Rose, I would like to tell you that if your grandparents and parents are alive, please take a vow to spend at least 10-15 mins with them daily.

The happiness on their face is more than what you earn for spending 15 hours in office.

Trust me, you will feel good about this….