Welcome to Curry Pants on tour! I want to present you my unconventional perspective of a life as a student at the IIM (Indian Institute of Management) in Joka, Calcutta. Be careful though, this blog’s main spice is happiness. My tales will rather focus on the splendid chats I had with strangers while waiting for the bus rather than about the terrifying four hours waiting time sitting in the dust.

Hope you’ll find this masala an entertaining, delicious & sometimes even enlightening read.

Your guy roaming around in curry pants,


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High customer orientation in the classroom

Just a short example of how professors at IIMC understand their subjects.

Student: What’s the deadline for our final project, Sir?
Prof. Mishra: What would you like it to be?
Student: December 14.
Prof. Mishra: Fine, December 14 it is. That’s what I call high customer orientation.

#ServicesMarketing #IloveJOKA

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Even the Joka tigers can’t resist the #CurryPants


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The Great Indian Number Trick for Businesses

stock1India is, as so often stated, the land of opposing truths. Who knows me, will remember me saying while the one is true, the opposite must be true as well; this is India. So while researchers chant the mantra that strategies crafted in developed countries for developed markets and then transferred into developing markets with adapted prices will only capture a small fraction of the Indian market, there is another truth as well. India (and China even more so) has a large enough ‘cream layer‘ of consumers: “in a market with a billion-plus people and a GDP close to $2 trillion, 55-65 per cent of which is domestic consumption, there will always be a segment of people who are ready to buy” (R. Bijapurkar).

That really is the Great Indian Number Trick. Even just a handful of the Indian biryani will fill some growth-starving firm’s tummy. Even a really small percentage of the large Indian number might be pretty massive comparatively. All you have to do is to never forget that “the head, the heart and the purse must be in alignment” (R. Bijapurkar), which means that investments made into the Indian market should be based on well-thought trough feasible market share. A common mistake by multinational companies is often a off-the-ground aspiration.

Example for the Great Indian Number Trick: Audi India Pvt Ltd

Let’s look at the Indian automobile/transportation market. Four-wheel penetration is merely five per cent of all Indian households. Two-wheelers reach at least 21 per cent. But even within this seemingly tiny five percent share the German automobile manufacturer Audi reported in 2013 that they’ve tripled their annual sales volume in India, making it one of their fastest and strategically important markets. Estimates suggest it India to make it into their top 10 markets globally by 2015. Keep in mind, this within a five percent of all Indian households.. that’s the Great Indian Number trick.


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Indian Railways: the world’s largest e-commerce retailer

Indian_Railway.svg“The Indian Railways is a […] never-before and hopefully a never-after world. It is the world’s largest e-commerce retailer, yet it runs a train network that is dirty, uncomfortable and far from modern by technological standards” says Rama Bijapurkar in her recent book “A Never-Before World: Tracking the Evolution of Consumer India” (2013).

But how come it is the largest e-commerce retailer globally? Well, that has to do with the consumers it serves. She mentions that also never before has the world seen so many people that are at the same time poor but not backward, because of the tech-connected world we live in. The bottom 40 per cent of Consumer India households are mobile-owning, text-messaging and even though they might not own gadgets to use the internet directly, they are digitally connected and e-enabled.

Hence they will book their tickets for the railways through certified agents or simply friends with internet access. And further services they can exercise on their own. E.g. if they are waitlisted, they can check their status of the ticket without a smart phone. Simply texting their PNR number and the number of the train is sufficient for a machine to text back the answers.

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Food, Music & Love at SUBWAY – The bizarre Indian marriage proposal

“Once you got the music playing, the love’s not far..”
(Akilnathan Logeswaran, 2014)keep-calm-and-love-subway-9

After the fun experience yesterday at Subway, I decided to visit them again. Later this day I realized that I was wearing a green shirt and creme pants: almost Subway corporate colours.

I’m entering the shop in Joka [all three employees laughing & smiling]: Sound, sir?

Me: Yes, please. [Laughing, being reminded of yesterday, check out “Music changes the world, even in Fast Food Restaurants”:]

Female employee: Where do you live?
Me: LVH, Lake View Hostel.
She: No, I mean hometown, where are you from?
Me: Oh, Germany.
Male employee [looks around the corner]: Thomas Müller, Sir. Very good! [smiles]

She: Are you married?
Me: No. [smiling]
She [smiles]: Will you marry me?
Me, slightly confused, just smiling back. In the meantime a quite old-looking priest fully covered in white enters the shop.

Male employee [laughs and forms a plane out of his hand to show how she’ll fly with me to Germany]: Very good, Sir.
Me, just keeping the smile.

Priest is approaching me. Blessing me with three hand waves of holy water and eventually drawing a red and white Bindi on my forehead.
All three employees agree: Very nice, Sir!

She: What sauce would you like, Sir?
Me: You don’t have honey mustard, right? [they’be been out of honey mustard since about 5 weeks or so, but we keep trying.] Okay, Southwest, please.
She [smiles and imitates my “please”]: Oh, we do have, Sir. But.. [Male employee brings huge refill package of honey mustard.] Do you want?
Me: Yes, please. [huge smile, thinking everything will come around in India, eventually]

At the cash machine while paying, she tries again: Sooo, will you marry me?
Me [still haven’t thought of an appropriate answer]: Umm.. I’ll think about it.
She [looks me in the eyes]: Why?!

After finishing my meal I bid my farewell.
Me [smiling]: Bye, thank you.
He [huge smile]: Thank you, Sir. Byeee.
She [semi-serious, semi-smiling]: Taataaa. Think about it, okay?!

Case study questions:

1. What should I have answered?
2. Should I marry her? Why? Why not?
3. Will my next Subway visit be a date?

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Music changes the world, even in Fast Food Restaurants

Entered a Subway: Kinda tense atmosphere.

While having my meal I requested to turn on some music. After enjoying Backstreet Boys, I asked for some Bengali/Hindi tunes.

By the time I was leaving the staff was singing, laughing & smiling.


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10 Quotes to grasp India’s leading B-School spirit

JokasmallAs everything in life, this perception is quite a subjective one. But studying at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta can be quite enriching, if you listen and follow the methods suggested by most of the professors.

  1. “There is no harm in being ambitious!”
    (Prof. Manish K. Thakur, Consumption, Culture and Markets)

    Starting off a class on this sentence leaves the students subtly on their own to make the most out of it. Not many do, but still you got the incentive to be ambitious. You should make the most out of it. No matter where you are, no matter what you do.

  2. “Call me [on my mobile] whenever you want, even at 1.30 AM in the morning, but please not before 9 AM.”
    (Prof. Bhaskar Chakrabarti, Managing Public Private Partnerships)

    Is there any option to show more commitment to really have an interest to spread knowledge and skills among your students? Well he certainly is a benchmark for having drive and leading by example.But the faculty here is not really only here to share their knowledge:

  3. “Please add value to this course. I am here to learn.”
    (Prof. Rajan Das, Industry & Competitive Analysis)

    And he really does. He embraces discussions and enforces discussions in cutting in presentations and forcing students to reflect on what is really still meaningful of old-fashioned lectures from Porter and alikes.

  4. “I’m not here to teach you anything, I’m here to sharpen your minds.”
    (Prof. Manish K. Thakur, Consumption, Culture and Markets)

    Seems to be a pattern this amazing Bschool wants to follow on purpose. What a great institution of mutual learning and teaching.

  5. “Teaching is like in a Bollywood movie: you have to do all the things to keep people awake, keep them interested.”
    (Prof. Prashant Mishra, Services Marketing)

    Even though it is not always an easy job to keep students interested and bring theoretical frameworks to them, profs are aware of it and try their best.

  6. “Think of how to grasp attention. Present in the most creative way.”
    (Prof. Vidyanand Jha, Management of Creativitiy)

    On the other hand students are challenged to do the same. With attention being one of the scarcest resources we have nowadays, this class seems to be a good trial stage for real life.

  7. “Crazy things are fantastic!”
    (Prof. K. Dasaratharaman, Managing Retailing)

    In the same way the profs really don’t believe in any given boundaries. They want to be surprised and embrace the unconventional and craziness in the ideas of students.

  8. “Present in a pitch-style. We are here to learn real business.”
    (Prof. K. Dasaratharaman, Managing Retailing)

    On the other hand while embracing all the creativity and craziness it is still about hands-on business equipped with the frameworks one learns.

  9. “Don’t use any source which is older than 3 years.”
    (Prof. Rajan Das, Industry & Competitive Analysis)

    The IIMC also ensures not to lack behind. With rules like professors have only recent topics in their classes.

  10. “Numbers can’t give answers; there have to be judgments, there have to be improvements.”
    (Prof. Sougata Ray, Global Strategic Management)

    Eventually, even though IIMC is one of the most reputed institutions in the world for Economics and Finance, the campus is not only about numbers. It is about judgments, interpretations and improvements. We don’t aspire to be average.“Average is a fiction created by statistics which does not exist.”
    (Prof. Rajan Das, Industry & Competitive Analysis)

    So in that sense, let us be outliers, and accept as many advices as we can from our profs to embrace the #JOKAspirit and take it to into the business world beyond the local borders.

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