Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pune Memories - Interview with Anna

19 February 2008
Pune, Maharashtra

I was having lunch at Baba food mall in Gokhale Nagar a few days back and I was thinking about my assignment about interviewing a successful businessperson. I casually mentioned it to my friends. One of them jokingly suggested that I interview the owner of Baba Food Mall. We all had a good laugh over it, but the thought lingered in my mind. I personally thought it was a brilliant idea. Baba food mall is owned by a young man in his early thirties called Ganesh Pujhari who is affectionately known by one and all as ‘Anna’. I had always admired his entrepreneurial skills and genial nature. I recalled many discussions with my friends who frequented Baba’s, where we had tried to calculate Anna’s profits. I made up my mind to interview him. The next day I went to Baba’s and had a short conversation with him. I gave him a brief idea about liberal arts and my assignment. Anna knew me quite well (I am a regular at that place) and readily agreed for a short interview. The interview was conducted in Hindi but I have translated it into English for convenience. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.

Namaste. How are you? Thank you for giving me some of your time to interview you.
I’m fine. Thank you. Its my pleasure. After all its not everyday people come to interview me.

When did you start this shop?
Well, I started this shop in 2002 when I came down to pune with two of my brothers

So where are you originally from?
I am basically from kerala.

What inspired you to get into the restaurant business?
Laughs….actually I first went to Bombay to become an actor but fate had other plans for me. After that I came to Pune and worked for sometime in a restaurant on FC road. After gaining some experience I started my own restaurant on the advice of my uncle.

How did you initially go about starting this restaurant?
Well, my brothers and I pooled in our life savings and we also took a loan from state bank of India to start the business. We found an appropriate plot in Gokhale Nagar and took it on rent.
Raj…do butter roti..jaldi laa…bachha log wait kar raha hai (he shouts at one of his employees)
Sorry haan…so what was I saying?...Yes. Then after two months of rigorous hard work, planning and investments we finally inaugurated the ‘BABA FOOD MALL’.

How is the restaurant faring? Have you repaid all of the loan?
By God’s grace we have been able to repay the loan completely and we are doing quite well at the moment.

What is the monthly turnover of your restaurant?
Laughs…Ye kaisa sawaal hai ! (What kind of question is this?)

Anna please…I need this for my project….give me an approximate figure?
Ahhh..(Thinks for sometime, scratches his head)…..about a lakh and a half per month.

Considering that your food mall is doing so well, why haven’t you expanded the business and opened other branches?
See, what I feel is that for a business to do well it requires a lot of dedication, time and sincerity. I know a lot of people who have expanded their business are making enormous profits. But personally I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. I’d rather concentrate my efforts on one undertaking and be successful.

Well, hats off to you for your dedication. So how do u market your shop?
I haven’t advertised about this place in any way. I depend upon word of mouth.

I know many people who are regulars here or have atleast one meal here daily. What is that which attracts so many patrons here?
See its very simple. I provide good food and service at affordable rates.a lot of outstation students live in and around this area who have their meals here.BABA is like a second home for them….smiles

How is a normal day like?
Very busy. No holidays in this business. The staff and I wake up early and ensure that the place is presentable enough for those patrons who have their breakfast here. We also buy fresh vegetables and meat every morning. Throughout the day customers come and go. I don’t think the restaurant is entirely empty even once during business hours which are long. We open at 8 in the morning and the kitchen closes after 12.

Have you ever felt like an outsider in this city?
No re bachcha log give me lots of respect and love. I have a great rapport with most of my regular customers. Pune is my home now and I’m loving it.
Thank you Anna. He acknowledges and hands me a complimentary tall glass of chilled mosambi juice .

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