Leave me a Message through Sarahah!!

OK, finally I have also jumped on the bandwagon 🙂 Sarahah is a service/app that allows anyone to send anonymous messages to others without disclosing their (sender’s) identity. Of course, the recipient needs to first register in Sarahah to get a unique link for themselves which they can share on blogs, FB, etc., like how I have done here. They can later login on Sarahah to view the received messages. All messages through this app are anonymous.

I request you all to send me some constructive (or otherwise – it’s OK) feedback regarding my blogging activities, FB activities, etc. so that I can improve myself and create better content in the future.

Here is my Sarahah link – DestinationInfinity.Sarahah.com

Destination Infinity

PS: I am purposefully closing comments on this post. Kindly use the above link to send me your views, whatever they may be 🙂 Of course, I won’t disclose/reply to your views even if I am able to guess the sender 🙂

Business Opportunities for Indians in South Africa

Doing Business with South Africa - SICCI Session, Chennai.

Today I went to an interactive session on “Doing Business with South Africa” organized by SICCI – The Southern India Chamber of Commerce & Industry and South African High Commission @ Taj Coromandel, Chennai. Here are some important pointers I gathered from that event, for people interested in engaging with South Africa economically –

  • No. of Indians in South Africa: 1.5 Million, 3% of the population.
  • South Africa accounts for 25% of the GDP of the entire African continent. Besides, the dignitaries claimed that SA is a good base for people wishing to do business with other African countries.
  • They mentioned that companies investing in South Africa can take back 100% of the profits generated. There maybe some T&Cs, do check…
  • Indian companies investing in SEZs in SA have lower corporate tax (15%) and are allowed duty-free imports of components used in production/assembly over there. Govt. also contributes a share of local training expenses.
  • People who wish to know which sectors would attract upcoming investments could refer to Industrial Policy Action Plan and National Development Plan released by Govt. of SA.
  • Tax incentives (12 i) are available for manufacturing investments; Incentives are also available for film/TV productions and a no. of other sectors.
  • South Africa, it seems, has a lot of ore deposits like platinum, iron, etc. They have 80% of the manganese ores of the world. They are looking for companies/ partners who could help them “beneficate” (probably they mean process or convert into a product) these ores in South Africa itself.
  • Opportunities are available to supply pharmaceuticals, especially generic medicines, and other medical equipment/devices.
  • Most MNCs in South Africa (including major car industries) are 100% owned by the parent companies in the respective countries. The No. 1 automobile component they export is Catalytic Converter.
  • SA has already invested more than $10 billion USD for renewable energy. Scope for RE industry in South Africa is good, going forward.
  • Govt. plans to spend close to $2 billion USD over the next few years for developing sea ports. Opportunites for foreign investments abound in this sector also.

Have a look at South Africa at a Glance to know about the country.

Destination Infinity

Obsession with Marks Now = Obsession with Money Later?

I find human beings an interesting species because,

  1. They want to be obsessed about something always
  2. They are never satisfied with anything anytime

Let’s take any animal or bird. They go out and get food when they feel hungry. Only when they feel hungry.

Of course, there are exceptions like ants, honeybees, etc. that have been created with hoarding traits similar to humans. But even ants and honey bees don’t feel so inadequate that they start competing with each other to build the biggest mountain of a nest or the flashiest of honeycombs.

Human beings, ostensibly the most intelligent of all species on earth, seem to be driven by a single agenda: Make More Money. For that, what do you need? Get More Marks. That’s it. That’s life. That’s the purpose and meaning of one’s life – Of course, you wouldn’t know that if you have been living on Mars lately.

And you know who is the most intelligent person on earth? The person who gets the most marks, consequently makes the most money, deposits most of them in Swiss Banks (hey – they’re tax-free, aren’t they?) and then dies a wealthy person.

I wish life was that simple. I really wish.

So, for a change, instead of fattening the pockets of educationalists (who are already suffering from the weight of fat pockets) and their more marks = more money = more happiness agenda, why not stop and think? Outside the box, of course.

Unless we do that, we as a society are going to fail more and more youngsters like this.

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Proceeds go to Charity. Like, Really?

Overpriced shows and events nowadays seem to have this line by default in their ads – “Proceeds from this show go to charity.”

Now, I don’t have any issue with such publicity stunts as long as even a fraction of the money they collect actually goes to a charity and is helpful to someone in need, some way.

But I seriously doubt if that happens.

I am not skeptical about all event organizers. Some of them announce the name of their charity partner in their ads and they even invite people from the charity organization to participate in their events. I am sure some good is happening somewhere. I have not (yet) lost confidence in humanity.

But some ads I saw recently more than irked me. These organizers think that by just including one line on charity people will instantly take their credit cards and buy the tickets. They don’t mention anything about the cause they are supporting or mention something vague.

If they are serious about the cause they would support, why can’t event organizers put up the actual data on ticket collection, expenditure, and proceeds that were actually given to charity, post-event, at least on their website?

I have never seen any such declaration. Have you?

Don’t you think a declaration like that will enhance your credibility and enable you to be transparent? Don’t you realize that it will also encourage people to donate more and bring in future donors?

Consider how movie tickets are cost-competitive in spite of huge production budgets. They have figured out how to provide economy on scale, and give the entertainment people want without over-charging.

I feel event organizers should utilize newer distribution mediums like the Internet to reach more customers and reduce individual ticket prices. Esp. considering that there is so much competition from books, movies, TV shows, etc., all of them at a fraction of the cost, none of whom are ashamed to declare that they are professional business people who provide value to earn money.

If event organizers focus on ‘donations’ as the main selling point of their offering, and not the content/experience, then they are in a different business altogether. At least if we donate directly to causes, we can be (somewhat) sure that (some of) our money will actually be used towards that cause.

Destination Infinity

Our hassles of watching Vivegam FDFS

FDFS = First Day First Show.

This post is not the movie review for Vivegam. Click on the prev. link if you wanna read that.

This post is about the hassles we faced while trying to watch Vivegam FDFS. Actually, I didn’t watch it FDFS – I’ll come to that part later.

Around four days before the launch of the Tamil movie starring Ultimate Star Ajith Kumar, I and Ramya decided that we want to see Vivegam FDFS. So I checked for tickets online, but most of the theaters were houseful for the first three days.

Amazingly, we found a few tickets only in one theater. The show was at 11:59. So I immediately grabbed the opportunity and booked two tickets.

But only after I booked I saw two crucial words after 11:59 – P.M.

Before booking, I seriously thought they meant 11:59 Noon. But now I realized my oversight!! The issue is, tickets cannot be canceled once booked. I even emailed the website support team to confirm if the movie was indeed being screened at 12:00 midnight and they replied on the affirmative. I thought OK, it’s been a long time since I watched a night show, so let’s go…

On the day of the movie, I got an SMS and email from the movie ticket booking website that the show has been preponed postponed by 45 minutes!! So the new starting time was 12:44 A.M., to be precise. We still decided to go.

At 12 A.M. the area around the theater was choked with traffic because no one was let inside the theater and all five screens were about to show the same movie at the same time. Since it was clear that it would be a hassle to even get in, and since the next day was Vinayaka Chathurthi – preparations were due from early in the morning, Ramya wanted to go home.

I dropped her home and was back to the theater at around 12:30 A.M. You thought I’ll leave so easily? No way 😛

At 12:45 A.M I was still waiting outside the theater. Wasn’t the show supposed to have started by then? Ya, but… At last the gatekeepers decide to open the gates at 12.50 or so… The fans who surprised me by maintaining silence and decorum on the road went berserk once inside!

The movie finally started playing at 1:20 A.M.!! So I watched it SDFS – Second Day First Show 🙂

Here is a small recap of the fans’ excitement:

At 4 A.M. in the morning, I was finally outside the theater after having watched the movie. I was not feeling even a bit sleepy. Do I look sleepy in the below selfie with AK? 😀

Destination Infinity

PS: One movie-watching experience, that 😀 🙂

Live Art Museum – VGP Snow Kingdom, Chennai


The Live Art Museum contains life-like 3D replicas/models of a few famous personalities in Silicone (instead of wax, which is generally used to make replicas). You can not only see the replicas of famous people, but you can also take a selfie with all of them 🙂

Some of the replicas/models we found when we visited include Amitabh Bachchan, Michael Jackson, Arnold Schwazzanegar, MS Dhoni, Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Chan, Mona Lisa, Sai Baba, Mother Teresa, etc.

This museum has been put up by Mr. AP Sreethar who also put up the neighboring Click Art Museum and Vintage Camera Gallery. The organizers say that this is the world’s first exhibition of silicone replica models, and they claim that silicone is a better material than wax to make models looks more lifelike.

We went to the VGP Snow Kingdom, located one floor below, before visiting the Live Art Museum. Since we bought the Snow Kingdom tickets, we were able to buy tickets for Live Art Museum at Rs. 100/- each (combo). Otherwise, I think each ticket costs Rs. 150/-. Ticket pricing keeps changing, please refer to their website for the firm pricing when you visit.

So who wants to visit the Madame Tussauds of Chennai?? 😉

Destination Infinity

Timing is same as the VGP Snow Kingdom, 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. Here is the exact Google Maps location.

Independence Day Celebrations @ Vasantham Special School, Chennai


Today, we went to Vasantham – Special School for the Differently Abled @ Mogappair East, Chennai for the Independence Day celebrations. They had assembled an impressive array of cultural programs. You can have a glimpse into some of those moments in the above-embedded video.

Considering how difficult it might have been to train kids to perform on stage, their efforts ought to be appreciated. The children danced, sang, acted in skits, and even put up fancy dress avatars as Bharathiyar, Vivekananda, Modi, among others!

It seems this school was initially started with six kids in 1989. Now the school has 143 children, 60 of them residential.

They provide vocational training to the children to make products like bags, shawls, files, paintings, greeting cards, etc. which they sell to anyone interested. We bought a nice white jute bag which you see at the end of the above video.

They also arranged to distribute seed bombs during today’s function to increase the green cover. It seems they also have a terrace garden on their premises, which we would love to see someday.

Website for further Information: Vasantham.org

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PS: Wishing you a Happy Independence Day 🙂

Tea Trails Cafe: Teas & Desserts

Tea Trails Cafe is a company/franchise store chain where you get different varieties of teas, chai, coffee & desserts. Did you know that a Tea is different from Chai? Teas are made without milk but Chai is made with milk and sugar. That was something we learned during a recent bloggers’ meet held at Tea Trails Cafe, Anna Nagar East branch, Chennai.

I have long wondered why there was no Coffee Day for Teas. I mean, India is the largest consumer of chai but we mostly have larger cafes selling only coffees! Me personally being a fan of Tea wanted to see a Tea Day in every locality, and looks like Tea Trails is on their way to achieving just that. Currently, Tea Trails has multiple outlets in major South Indian cities and in Delhi. But they are looking for franchise partners to setup shops in other cities too.

The ambiance at Tea Trails is better than most coffee shops I have been to. Have a look at this slideshow to glimpse inside their Anna Nagar East branch at Chennai. You can also find some foods/desserts we had there –

 


Of course, a cafe is not just a place to go and drink a beverage. It’s also a place to go with others and spend a good amount of time socializing. Tea Trails offers the right ambiance for that.

In tea trails, you don’t get a ready made tea. Instead, since teas are best when freshly brewed, you get a jug with hot water at the bottom and the tea extracts on top. Each tea comes with a card to indicate timing required for brewing and an antique stopwatch to measure how long the tea has been brewed. It seems accuracy is important in the art of brewing tea!

We also had the Indian Chai, Cold Teas, detox teas, herbal teas, etc. My favorite drink there was a cold tea called ‘Better Wife’. The range of desserts offered by them is also impressive. Snacks like vada pav, onion bajji, etc. have also been included in the menu.

I know you are jealous on seeing what all we drank/ate. But what to do – bloggers often get invited for such ‘tasty’ sessions and this time it happened to be us. You can always visit the tea trails store in your city and try some of their offerings 🙂 If you are there for the first time, you might get a small discount too – try asking for it.

Website: Tea Trails India.

Destination Infinity

Doing Business with Belgium – Your Gateway to Europe

Today I went to a seminar titled, ‘Doing Business with Belgium – Your Gateway to Europe’ at Taj Coromandel, Nungambakkam, Chennai. The Council General, Mr. Bart De Groof, Consulate General of Chennai (speaking in the below photo) was among a handful of dignitaries who participated and spoke about trade opportunities for Indians in Belgium and vice versa.

The location of Belgium in Europe is central as it is surrounded by major countries like France, Netherlands, Germany & Luxembourg. That’s why all the speakers stressed on the point that Belgium, more importantly, its capital Brussels, could be the central hub/distribution point for Indian businessmen aspiring to do business in the entire European Union market including the UK.

Belgium has recently introduced direct flights from Mumbai to Brussels, and it also provides faster access to major European capitals both by train and by flight. They told us that Belgium provides access to a qualified workforce with lower minimum wages compared to the neighboring countries. It seems the cost of living in Belgium is also relatively less. Something to note for Indians: Belgium has a double-taxation treaty with India.

Belgium is not only famous for chocolates, waffles, Tintin & fries but is also popular for its diamonds, mirrors, and leather shoes. They mentioned that a huge community of Indians (particularly Gujaratis) have already settled in Belgium and hold a sizable market share in the diamonds business. Of late, many Indian IT companies have setup operations in the country.

Belgium has a dedicated chamber of commerce for South India and has direct Council presence at Chennai and Bangalore. They also offer the following incentives for new companies wanting to open centers in their country by 2020 –

  • First employee (could be the highest paid one too) is tax-free for life.
  • Tax exemption for the next five employees for three years.
  • Brussels foreign investors hub offers their facilities for free for up to three months for companies wanting to evaluate Belgium to set up their operations.

It seems the Indo-Belgian Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce will shortly open portals to enable buying/selling and acquisition between Indian & Belgian businesses. Listing in these portals is free of cost, according to a speaker. There is an Assist Asia consultancy to help Indians connect with people in the Belgian market.

Belgium seems to be enthusiastic about promoting more cross-country trading between India & Belgium. Are the Indian businesses ready?

Useful links: invest-export.brussels ; Consulate-General in Chennai – Belgium in India.

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