Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Hemantha Kalam-43 "Vijayawada Wizardry"

I hail from the Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh and within the district, while Machilipatnam has been the district Head Quarters or the capital, it is Vijayawada which has been more famous.

Though my parents ‘migrated’ to Madras, now Chennai of Tamil Nadu, some 6 decades ago, I have been visiting Vijayawada on and off, for meeting relatives or on business work and so on. My initial visits, in my earlier childhood, are not much worth mentioning excepting for some good personal memories.

However, in the past few years, I am awe struck every time I visit Vijayawada. Last week I was in Vijayawada for a day, to fulfill the obsequies of my recently deceased beloved father and noticed some interesting developments of Vijayawada. The roads are so good and clean that they are comparable to those in many developed countries. However, that the population cramming continues to happen is due to the national phenomenon. But thankfully, some of the old traditional remnants of Vijayawada like the small lanes which are tight even for a motor-cycle to pass through, like this one in Durgapuram, continue to exist.

A lane in Durgapuram, where even a motor-cycle needs to go in carefully.

In the afternoon, when my cousin took us out for lunch, I was in for more discoveries.

We went to a restaurant called ‘Sree Ramayya Mess, Caterers & Idly’ which looked to me like an out-patient (OP) ward in a hospital. My cousin reassured me that despite the looks of the restaurant, the taste of the food is great and can easily be the best in the town. The idly part of the name is apparently because throughout the day and night while the facility is open, idly is available there, he added.


 Sree Ramayya Mess, Caterers & Idly

The waiting hall in the restaurant with clear indications of prices of meals 

There are rooms with indications of prices for meals that start with Rs.100 for a simple meal to a Rs.200 for a gorgeous meal that includes rotis, a bottle of mineral water, sweets, curd and paan and what not. Once you choose which meal you wish to have or can afford, you go into that hall and appropriately offered meals would be served accordingly. No question of wasting time in checking any menu etc. The whole thing was working on factory precision. We chose the simple meal hall and after tasting the food, I had to doubt the taste of my cousin; as excepting the Gherkin Chutney, which was unusual and I liked it  a lot, nothing else was out of the world and not even earthly.

Then in the evening, we were going to the airport and the road to the airport was quite green and impressive. There is no comparison to the airport that I saw in November 2015 and what I saw now in July 2017. Though it is still petite, the airport is more slick and savvy.

 Vijayawada Airport in November, 2015

    Departure Foyer of Vijayawada Airport in November, 2015 

Departure foyer of Vijayawada Airport as found in July 2017

But what impressed me was the business savvy of a coffee kiosk within the departure foyer of the Vijayawada airport. After a few minutes of waiting in the chairs of the foyer, this girl with a genial smile on her face approached each and every waiting person and asked whether they would like to have coffee or tea or flavoured milk or even varieties of soups. We came early to the airport and to kill some time we had ordered for coffee. Within a few minutes, piping hot coffee was served at our seats. The taste and hygiene was fine and I found the price to be quite reasonable too.  

An hour or so later, we found our flight being delayed by a couple of hours and found ourselves ordering a cup of soup each with the same girl. Again good and piping hot soup was served.

I was clearly intrigued and so sauntered to the kiosk to inquire on what prompted them to offer this service. There I met Mr. Manne Venkata Lakshmoji, whose brain child was this proactive idea. He said that instead of waiting for the customers to come to his kiosk, lugging their luggage, by offering them the services at the convenience of not leaving their place or luggage, he ensures more business by enticing with both quality and convenience. Not only that; when he approaches the customers, they have only one choice - his offerings. But if the customers get up and walk, they may be distracted by other attractions and eventually get more choices from the other kiosks as well and thus there will be competition and business loss.

 Coffee Hub and its crew!

  Mr. Manne Venkata Lakshmoji, who owns the hub and the idea of taking service to the waiting people in the airport

I have been flying since mid-1980s and in several countries too. But what I experienced in the Vijayawada airport has been unique and pioneering. I am yet to come across this type of service, in any of the airports that I have visited so far.

Once we checked in and went inside the airport, after security checks, we found Hotel Fortune Murali Park was also offering snacks in a similar mode – served at our seats.

Presently in the outer foyer, Mr. Manne seems to be holding the fort but it would only be a matter of time when competition catches up and he would need to think, inventively, again.

But till that time, let us congratulate Mr. Manne for his pioneering work and wish him good luck!

Well, folks, what say you? Do let me know, please! 

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Dhanyosmi (Sanskrit), Thanks (English), Dhonyavaad (Bangla), Dhanyabad (Oriya and Nepalese), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic and Sudanese), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai), Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino), Tack (Swedish), Fa'afetai (Samoan), Terima Kasih (Bahasa Indonesian) and Tenkyu (Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea), Malo (Tongan), Vinaka Vaka Levu (Fijian),

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

Chennai, India