Today I’m sharing a more personal part of my life. I hope you won’t get bored reading it 😉
The start of the 21st century ushered in immense complexities in my life which I had been unaware of till then. My eight year old footing in Chartered Accountancy was swept aside as I entered the field of exports. I think my language skills in German, French and Italian got me the merchandising job in a reputed buying agency dealing in garments, home furnishing, accessories and hard goods.
I learnt how to deal with international buyers, bargain with the exporters for the best prices, arrange for samples to be sent to the buyers, check on the quality of goods, etc. Within a short period of time, I got thoroughly acquainted with the entire process right from receiving enquiries from buyers till the final shipment of goods. In addition, I was also responsible for sourcing goods for its Mail Order Catalogue business based in Noida. It was India’s first and highly popular Mail Order business and it felt great to manage its operations in Mumbai, although the business was in its closing-down phase. The agency business was going through a lean period too as most of their international buyers had gone away with the departure of the previous management. I joined a weekend diploma course to gain comprehensive knowledge on export marketing, procedures and finance. In my spare time, I came up with a plan which would help its reputed but losing retail garment business flourish. I worked on it and presented it to the Managing partner who was impressed but told me the business was going to close down soon. He suggested that I make a presentation on improving its garment export business. With my accounting background, it was easy for me to evaluate the company’s performance and focus on points which needed attention. It was nice to know that the company achieved lower costs and wastage in the subsequent period.
I had developed great rapport with some of the suppliers and always got the best prices from them. I thought I could start my own buying agency. But then I had another bright idea. International buyers often demanded the cheapest price from the exporters for their goods which they sold in their department stores at atrociously high prices. I wondered if an Indian department store could establish its presence abroad by selling its own brands and other attractive Indian brands in a unique concept. It would promote the rich wealth of Indian fabrics and textiles and also its cultural heritage and diverse cuisine. I loved the idea although it was seemingly difficult but not impossible. The first store location – Paris! I worked upon the idea and then wrote to Anil Ambani about the project. He replied that he would get back to me if he was interested. He wasn’t interested because he didn’t. That was in 2005.
In 2007, I went to Mexico to work with a globally well-known nutritional supplement company, part of a huge conglomerate of 30 companies in Guadalajara and ranked as one of the 200 top corporations in Mexico. The company was planning to start its direct-selling operations in India. It was a significant move because it was the first time the company would venture into Asia, after establishing a strong presence in most of the South and Central American countries, US, Spain and Russia. Whenever the distributors from these countries visited Mexico they felt at home with the food because it had a common element – beef! I thought Indian distributors would feel lonely and left out in the city which had only one tiny Indian restaurant. I had visited the place because many of my Mexican friends had given good reviews of it. There was nothing special about the food and the menu was limited to a few dishes. The company had businesses in many diverse fields. I thought an Indian restaurant would be a lucrative business operation too. Mexicans have a keen interest in India which for them is an exotic land on the other side of the world.
I discussed the idea with the company’s chairman and told him I would work upon the business plan for it. I got help and support from here and there while working on the costing. During Christmas holidays, I visited a reputed Indian restaurant in Mexico City to learn more about running an Indian restaurant business. More than a month later, I realized that all my efforts had gone to waste due to a sudden change of circumstances. I returned back to India.
Back in India, the thought of starting a Mexican restaurant crossed my mind but instead I started writing a book on Mexico and my travel experiences across the country. Then, I helped the Mexican Trade Commissioner in establishing office in Mumbai. My book “Mexico” received warm appreciation from the then President Felipe Calderon, whom I had been very lucky to meet at the International Book Fair of Guadalajara. In December 2012, I converted the book into three ebooks Discovering Mexico, Mexico: The Country, Its History & The Maya World and A Guide To Mexican Cuisine which are available for sale on this blog.
Time flies and new developments take place but I know in my heart that one day I will have my grand department store abroad.
Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading this story of my unfinished dream. I’m sure you must have your own unfinished dreams too which I’d love to read if you’d like to share them 🙂
See you soon…till then do take very good care of yourself 🙂