Tag: Navi Mumbai

Is No One Else Hyped About IKEA in Navi Mumbai?

IKEA sign

We spent that entire evening looking for a chic coffee table for our new home in Navi Mumbai. I remember we visited at least five different shops across Palm Beach Road in Vashi and Belapur in a span of three hours to get the first real furniture for the new apartment. By 10 PM we were running out of furniture shops so we ended the quest by feeding ourselves at a nearby bistro that my sister had wanted to try out for long. We went back home and that’s when I suddenly realized: IKEA is coming to Navi Mumbai in late 2019. Why not wait till then and use a bean bag as a teapoy in the meanwhile?

IKEA store in turbhe
The view of the IKEA store in Turbhe from the highway
IKEA in Navi Mumbai
A photo of the IKEA building I took from atop another building

(Note – The above photo is probably my first attempt at basic journalism. Since there’s no vantage point to get a proper glimpse of the entire property, I had to fib to an aged security guard of a dilapidated three-storie building nearby to get a good view. I climbed up to the terrace (while disregarding my breathing issues) and took this photo. Not great, I agree, but still something.)

That’s what I did and it’s been five months since then. We don’t have a coffee table in our house. And I have been waiting for IKEA to throw open their gates in Turbhe, Navi Mumbai ever since, hoping to be one of their first customers from Mumbai (unless people have flown to Hyderabad and paid a fortune to get something delivered back home). The trouble is I don’t know when it will open. The Hyderabad store opened in August 2018, so I’m inclined to guess it should be sometime around August here too, especially as it’s already breached its intended initial timeline.[1]NDTV, quoting PTI, reported that IKEA would open its Navi Mumbai store in January 2019. (IKEA Starts Work on Navi Mumbai Store; To Open In January 2019 – NDTV Profit, 18 May 2017)

While I wait with bated breath to hopefully get my hands on the Frakta tote bag that will continue to put Balenciaga to shame, what I also want to talk about is IKEA’s big plans for Mumbai.

Quartz India reported that the Swedish furniture giant (I just can’t forget how Pepperfry CEO Ambareesh Murthy responded when he was asked about potential competition from IKEA)[2]He said and I quote via The Economic Times: “Nothing would give me greater joy than to open a studio in Sweden right outside of the IKEA office.” (Ambareesh Murthy’s biggest dream: Opening Pepperfry studio outside Sweden’s IKEA office – Shannon Tellis, ET Bureau, 17 June 2019) began constructing a swanky 4,30,000 square feet store in Turbhe in May 2017. It also plans to launch smaller shops across Mumbai along with an ecommerce presence. Going by the images posted by users on Google Maps for the location (between Pawane and Turbhe at the highway side), it looks like they will kickoff at least by year-end.

More than the grandiose scale of the store, what has impressed me is the employment opportunities that it laid out. Other than the 5,000 and more workers that they are using to help build the store, they claim to double the number of jobs in the next three years.[3](Ikea to hire 5,000 workers for Navi Mumbai store; create 10-k jobs in 3 yrs – via PTI, Business Standard, 2 November 2018) And I like to believe that claim, thanks to what I saw in and around Navi Mumbai in the months of April and May.

IKEA job ad in Thane station
Arrays of hoardings promoting job opportunities at IKEA at a foot-over bridge in Thane railway station. This is the photo quality you get when you buy a Tenor (by Amazon) smartphone
IKEA ad in Kopar Khairane
Another ad by IKEA, this time in Kopar Khairane railway station

They also had a dedicated site for people looking to apply. But, the one glaring issue I observed in IKEA’s strategy was that they assumed blue-collar workers would have the skills to log on to a website and apply for jobs. I don’t see what they were expecting clearly because most of the jobs posted were for blue-collar work. I know because I logged in.

If you had visited their Indian website sometime in May 2019, you would have been redirected to a jobs portal where most of the jobs listed were associated with manual labour. None of them required Internet surfing skills, so I just sat there staring and thinking.

But then, IKEA may be targeting contractors. It is only last week I saw a few job openings that dealt with supply chain and store management. Looks like they did find what they were looking for and now need more.

All in all, this article is possibly an indication about my anticipating to visit the Turbhe store and get myself some furniture. Not because I like to have Scandinavian design in my living room or because I have needed a book shelf for ages for my collection, but because I like to lose my sanity every once in a while. TN.

Here’s the location on Google Maps for your reference:


1 NDTV, quoting PTI, reported that IKEA would open its Navi Mumbai store in January 2019. (IKEA Starts Work on Navi Mumbai Store; To Open In January 2019 – NDTV Profit, 18 May 2017)
2 He said and I quote via The Economic Times: “Nothing would give me greater joy than to open a studio in Sweden right outside of the IKEA office.” (Ambareesh Murthy’s biggest dream: Opening Pepperfry studio outside Sweden’s IKEA office – Shannon Tellis, ET Bureau, 17 June 2019)
3 (Ikea to hire 5,000 workers for Navi Mumbai store; create 10-k jobs in 3 yrs – via PTI, Business Standard, 2 November 2018)

Types of Staff at Every SBI Branch

Last day I waited for roughly 20 minutes before my turn came up at the general information kiosk at a State Bank of India branch in a Navi Mumbai ward. As was expected, the personnel at the kiosk was unable to answer my query. She said the person who was handling my case (KYC and debit card request submission) was on leave, which somehow seemed to excuse her of the duty to trace the paper trail, investigate, and resolve it. For her advantage, I do hand it to her for giving her absent colleague a quick call, in vain. All this while, another of her colleagues sitting next to her was hearing our conversation, sipping tea from a tiny paper cup, staring at the long line behind me, looking careless, unperturbed, and proud to be present there at that moment, possibly enjoying schadenfreude. This article is dedicated to people like her.

SBI branch
Just enter any SBI branch and observe these types / © Wikimedia Commons

At a time when some aviation experts are criticizing SBI for their callous attitude against the heartbreaking Jet Airways fiasco, I think it is fair for me to take a few potshots wrapped with satire at them. Most of us who have an account with the nation’s biggest public lender will relate to this almost immediately, and that is the highlight of this article. Here it goes…

Different Types of SBI Staff

A random list of the types of personnel you see at every SBI branch in the country:

  • Slacker – Got in through caste reservation. Were the first one to be pissed when their branch reduced the size of tea cups as part of regional cost-cutting. Do not have any friends. Take more than a dozen snack and loo breaks per day. Were the person who convinced their branch manager to put up a banner warning customers that they will be booked under IPC 352 and related sections if they try to manhandle a SBI employee. Were disappointed when TikTok was banned in India.
  • Idler – Usually an unpaid intern and/or a relative of an existing employee. Take up a desk at the front of the entrance and makes heavy use of the “Machine out of order”, “Counter closed”, and “Lunch time” signage. Have slightly more powers than a SBI customer. Assume the role of a clerk when the actual clerk is on leave. Boasted they will be able to get their friend a loan at half the market interest rate but are clueless how they will actually do it.
  • Ruler – Usually the branch manager, the deputy branch manager, or the business head. Left no stone unturned after the hiring process to get themselves a cabin in the branch but failed. Think they own the branch and at least 51% stakes in SBI. When their boss is on leave, behave like they own SBI. Rarely have a successful marriage. Believe that their English-speaking skill is the best among the branch staff and often show it off during corporate meets.
  • Vanity Persons – Got in through caste reservation pretty late in their life. Or as an extension of their dead spouse’s job. Usually older than the branch manager, but assume a designation 3-4 tiers below them, with the sadness about this fact very apparent on their face. Have an online MBA in people management. Have their favorite deity’s idol on their desk. A stickler for SBI’s draconian rules. Very punctual, especially about lunch and snack timings. Are usually all the 3-4 tellers in the branch.
  • Idler II – Often the security person. Obese. Have not fired a rifle since initial school training in 1991. Know more than the Idler, and sometimes, even the manager. Possess superior staring skills, even more when people of the opposite sex are around. Would be accused and convicted in a social controversy in an ideal world. Lead an antisocial life.
  • Infant – Pretty new to the banking world, and usually are appointed directly as the branch manager. Know less about banking than the branch staff’s average knowledge. Eat lunch alone in their cabin. Are an equal participant and victim of marital discord. Often keep a line of customers waiting at a general information kiosk by putting the personnel behind the desk to work on something “urgent” and as “needed by the HO before lunchtime”. Do not have any children.
  • Worker – The only people who work, and act seriously upon queried by a customer. Lead a happy family life, and are currently trying for a baby. Aspire to become a manager before retirement but don’t know that they are unlucky. Do not care about work, lunch, snack timings. Often at the receiving end of people who religiously partake in random acts of kindness. Do care about customer satisfaction. Do not get offended by articles mocking them.
  • Invisible – *that empty chair*

What more types of people have you met at an SBI office? TN.

Note: If you are an SBI employee and are reading this, do not take offense. Instead, try to change the status quo in your branch. If you still think it is wrong of me to generalize, please get in touch.

Describing the Four Newspaper Kiosks that I Patronize

Newspaper Kiosk

There are four different kiosks located in different parts of the township that I live in that I frequent to buy newspapers. Because I found out that the agency that used to deliver to my home was ripping me off, I began buying it myself and, that too, without paying extra for “delivery”. Now it has become part of my routine. So much that I cannot resist talking about it here.

Here are short descriptions of the four newspaper kiosks that I have been frequenting at least since late 2017.

Kiosk #1 – Run by a 40-Something Couple

My favourite place to buy newspapers from, this kiosk is run by a wife and a husband who look like they are in their late 40s. Situated in a corner of the busiest intersection in the town – encroaching a footpath – adjacent to maybe the second busiest bus stand, it only consists of a table the size of two umbrellas if they were forcibly shaped into a square, a huge umbrella twice the size of the ones I just talked about and which is the standard size for all such kiosks, be it the one that sells Jio SIM cards or SBI credit cards that you don’t want, and one or two plastic chairs. Sometimes they tend the shop together, often talking between themselves and laughing, attending all their customers with a wide smile. Buying my favourite newspaper from them is usually how I start my weekday and exchanging a smile with them sometimes makes my day better. Although, the decrepit waste bins right in front of the kiosk turns me off.

Kiosk #2 – The Old Man & the Newspapers

This is the most recent find of mine and also a lifesaver because it is the only newspaper kiosk that stays open till one in the afternoon. Set up on a few boxes as tall as a five-foot person’s knees with a single plastic, support-less chair, it is run by an old man who is at least 60. His wisdom that the shop is located in the township’s busiest market which I think works better for him than for the couple above, even if both act as enroachments. I like to believe his sales are better because copies of The Times of India (TOI) often gets sold out here, which forces me to buy Hindustan Times. (Does that say something about these newspapers?) Located just beside an auto-rickshaw stand, when the old man is not selling newspapers, he has people to give him company (at least when they are not on the roads). And let’s not forget about the umbrella; only here it is adjusted to a lower height that makes me bend and swerve to pick up my copy.

Kiosk #3 – A Balanced Life

This is run by multiple people and I don’t know if they are all related by blood. I know for sure that the guy who tends the shop these days is an employee because he’s least bothered, always stuck to his mobile phone playing what looks like PUBG. It is the kiosk with the biggest display (enroaching about 80% of the walkway) and at a height similar to that of the old man, which works against them because they have the same umbrella. During monsoon and because they keep TOI on the corner, I often have to do with a damp copy (despite pulling the one in the middle of the stack). They are situated next to probably the third busiest bus stop and in front of a popular cake shop whose quality of cakes has gone down as fast and terribly as the level of arrogance has gone up in the owners of this kiosk. They often refuse to sell me a paper if they have already bundled the copies together and are about to leave. They say they stay open till noon but I have never seen them go beyond 11.30 and that is what makes it the most less-frequented kiosks of all for me. The paper is right there and which can be even removed without unbundling the bundle and yet I have gone back home empty-handed, haven’t I?

Kiosk #4 – Passive Income

This kiosk, located at the entrance of the town’s not-so-busy railway station, looks like it is not the primary business of its owners. The one 20-something chap who tends the store did not even know the cost of TOI the first time I bought it from him. It may be true that he was new then but I still see him check the rate before giving me the balance to the 10-rupee coin that I hand him. Located in the walking area of the station as an enroachment, it has a medium-sized display (like half of that of kiosk #3), a small plastic chair, and a separate section where the guy keeps a huge water bottle. I don’t usually see many people buying from him because everyone is trying to catch their train that’s already on the platform. But the guy is not much bothered either because he is probably in a game of PUBG locking horns with the under-performing employee of kiosk #3.

These are where I spend two minutes of my life every day not just buying newspapers but assessing and judging people who sell them to me without ever knowing that I have written short descriptions about them and criticized them for enroaching public space on a medium that is trying to kill their business. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Unsplash

The State of Legal Consultation in Navi Mumbai

property lawyer in navi mumbai

People who know me closely know that we have been trying to buy a house. We struck a resale deal sometime in the middle of 2018 and have ever since been meaning to move to this new apartment. Unfortunately, there has been little progress since we registered the sale a few weeks after the vocal agreement. While I know that it typically takes a good three months for a property sale to go through fully – considering the roles played and snail-paced actions by organizations like CIDCO and NMMC as well as the primary housing society’s co-operative – there is one new entrant that I would like to nominate in this list of ‘delayers’: legal consultation.

Property lawyers who run consultancies in almost all nodes in Navi Mumbai have become one of the biggest role-players of property deals. They know the ABCs of these property laws and usually have contacts with officials of the aforementioned organizations, which acts in their favor. There is hardly any property deal that goes through without the involvement of an advocate who charge anywhere from INR 15,000 to INR 50,000 per deal.

Their indispensability is what made us go to a top lawyer in one of the nodes closer to my new property. The fact that this guy’s name came up as the best recommendation from an immediate relative and since he didn’t know anyone else (the seller or his agents) associated with the deal made us hire him for a not-so-modest one-time fee.

In addition to this guy who I’ll call Mr. Sweet Talk, we also consulted two other top lawyers (second and third opinion) in the same node in the course of our struggle. Which, I believe, makes this a statistically sound rant. I hope you won’t disregard this citing utter generalization, especially if you live in Navi Mumbai and have plans to buy a house.

I know there are nice lawyers out there who work very hard to get their clients get what they want. So, if you are a lawyer and have a practice in Navi Mumbai, do not see this as a negative review. Instead, see for ways to improve your services so that another article in this same vein doesn’t pop up.

Here goes…

The Poor State of Law Consultation

I am not going to focus on my deal anymore, but rather talk about how legal consultation happens here in the city of Navi Mumbai, in general, and what you can expect if you find yourself in an advocate’s office tomorrow.

A Lawyer is Like a Doctor

Even though you hire a lawyer for their service, they treat you like a helpless patient. It is you who has to continuously check with them for updates and not the other way round. 

When in their office, you have to wait for some time to see them. If it’s a “top lawyer”, expect to wait at least 30 minutes. And there’s no concept of appointments either because they never respond to your calls. And their assistants are as useful as white crayon. In that regard, I have known nurses who have helped me get rid of common cold or a septic wound.

I never thought I’d have more issues consulting a lawyer for a small property deal than a doctor for a viral flu. But with a doctor you can still (sometimes) expect progress everytime you meet them. With lawyers, especially if it’s a property deal, expect a smile and “Come tomorrow, please!” And some are not even polite.

Blame Game is Usually Strong

If , for some reason, the deal surpasses the three-month period, these lawyers will have all sorts of reasons to give. In my case alone I have heard at least five different reasons for the delay (which, I should note, were told to me only when I reached out to Mr. Sweet Talk) and also different variations of that. Every time I visit his office, I get a new reason, so much to the point that these days I think of a possible reason myself and tell that to him upfront so that he doesn’t have to think up a new one. He often smiles sweetly.

Our deal is currently stuck because CIDCO decided to suddenly digitize their records. Since our apartment is in an old society, CIDCO does not have all the details (past and new owners’ names, unit area, etc.) in its database. So, when a dumb buyer like me registered the apartment, the society’s file was opened, which triggered CIDCO. They put the responsibility on us and since then I have not been singing praises of the organization, the society, the seller, and mostly, of the legal hire whom we already paid in full.

So, when the society’s NOC is ready, the CIDCO finds an issue with it. Then the NMMC – which was then busy with the Swacch Bharat Mission – gets involved because CIDCO wants to dot all the i’s and cross all the q’s. Then the NMMC takes its own sweet time and then Mr. Sweet Talk goes on a week-long holiday because it’s Diwali and his assistants have no clue what to do. Then our plans to move in in 2018 goes out the window and here I am writing this article.

Competition Howls

If, in a situation like this, you decide to take a second opinion, there will be a dozen lawyers who will promise you the moon. They will all talk like they own CIDCO – without even studying the matter – and before you know it, they will divert the conversation to money. That’s your cue to get out of their office and walk out of the reception where hordes of helpless patents are waiting to get the delaying treatment or ripped off.

When it comes to actual legal work, a very few of them stand out. And Mr. Sweet Talk was supposed to be one of those few. Yet, when it came to a one-in-thousand case – like ours – even he, for a small amount of time, took out the white flag. The main reason is that he had already quoted his price and taken it and now the work was looking like it demanded more of his time and resources. I have heard him utter something about the money at least two times since we hired him and I’m sure he will speak about it again.

But the good thing is that he has not shown any interest for more money because once we asked him. I even had a tiff with him for having delayed our deal for close to five months and that is when things got murkier. Another reason why I’m writing this today.

Final Thoughts

The state of legal consultation is skewed, to say the least. You have these top players like Mr. Sweet Talk who know the real estate industry inside out and yet fail to wrap their services around it in a good package. Because client satisfaction is least of their needs or worries. They know that one unhappy client is not a problem against five satisfied clients. And the flow of new clients is not an issue either because everyone is a real estate agent today.

If you are in Navi Mumbai and decide to buy a house as a common man, you can expect issues from your new society, the CIDCO office, and the NMMC office. Some will be warranted, some will be not. And then there is this new menace of self-obsessed property lawyers who will do everything in their will and whim to make it a bad experience for you. Goodness help us ordinary property buyers.

I once sent a one-liner message to Mr. Sweet Talk that would hurt him for generations to come and his reactions when I met him later that day were priceless. I am not someone who believes in the phrase “tit for tat” but I think I laughed a little that day when we walked out of his office as he promised us again that he would complete the job he was hired to do. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Unsplash

The Definitive Guide to Surviving Shopping at DMart

It is a known fact that shopping at a DMart store can be a life-threatening experience. Which is why a guide like this is absolutely essential.

Today, shopping at DMart – the Indian chain of hypermarkets and a nightmare to local grocery shops – is an uphill task. Whatever day of the week or the time of the day or the store you choose to go shopping, you are going to meet the entire planet there. Kids and adults alike shopping like they are hoarding up for an apocalypse. And there’s no way you can have a peaceful grocery shopping experience in that mess. Unless you follow my directions.

I have shopped at DMart for the better part of my adult life, and I believe I have found the best practices that will take us as close as we can get to peaceful shopping in 2018. I can speak for all the DMart stores in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai in Maharashtra, but something tells me that these shopping tips can be adopted at stores across the nation. Here you go!

DMart Shopping Guide Basics

This guide considers the moment you enter the supermarket till the time you pay the bill and push your cart out of the exit gate. What you do before this matters but what you do after does not.

Men and women in the age group of 20-35 will be able to pull this off easily. People beyond that may find this childish and arduous. If you are one of them, feel free to spend your entire Sunday at DMart like you currently do.

You will also require basic communication (and apology feigning) skills to completely pull this off and shop for a month’s groceries within 60 minutes. This also means that this guide is best suitable for grocery shopping (DMart ground floor). I sometimes do go upstairs to buy a few odd home improvement things, but I usually do it in a jiffy so that I don’t lose my filled-up cart upon returning.

Sometimes I wish DMart really invested in their online store and made it more user-intuitive using all that money they raised through the IPO, but here we are in 2018 still queuing up with carts filled to the brim with stuff that we think is enough for the whole month until you reach home to realize that you missed the one thing you needed the most. Honey, I forgot the agarbattis!

Note – It is assumed that you know the layout of your preferred store.

dmart shopping

I’d give good money to shop at a DMart store after they down the shutters. © Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

A Guide to DMart Shopping in Mumbai

This guide has been developed using tactics experimented on a DMart store located in Navi Mumbai. I have divided this into four sections:

  1. Prerequisites
  2. When to go
  3. Navigating the aisles inside DMart
  4. Checking out

I have considered all the options so that everyone can make use of this guide according to their preferences. Come on now, let’s do some peaceful offline shopping at India’s largest hypermarket chain.


How you carry yourself while you go shopping is paramount to its success. Which is why you need to follow these tips carefully, no matter what.

Should You Go Alone or in a Group?

Consider going alone and taking a grocery list with you. Kids should never be taken along for reasons aplenty. The same goes for adult companions. It destroys the equilibrium needed to effectively and swiftly navigate the aisles in the third phase (see above). Wear something casual (tee, track pants, and sneakers).

Things to Carry

Don’t carry anything on you except a debit/credit card and some cash (at least a thousand rupees more than you estimate the total bill will be). Keep the wallet at home.

If you prefer traditional note-taking, carry a piece of paper for the grocery list. Otherwise, get a smartphone app. I prefer and recommend Xiaomi’s native notepad app. It’s by far the easiest checklist app. Remember that a phone is seen as a liability here as it is one extra thing you need to worry about. If you are thrifty like me, you can also carry large-size carry bags made of cloth depending upon your estimated cart size and volume. (Remember, plastic bags are banned in the state. There’s no enforcement, but better to be safe than sorry.)

How to Get There?

If you live nearby, consider walking to the store.

If you live far, there are three things you can try –

  • Take a public transport (autorickshaw is the best option here)
  • Drive your own vehicle (preferably a two-wheeler with space to keep the bags while returning) and park it not where everybody parks but at a place near to the store. While returning you can walk till there to avoid the crowd, hawkers, Greenpeace activists, and miscellaneous pamphlet distributors
  • If you plan to take a four-wheeler, beware of no-parking. There are a very few DMart stores in Mumbai that provide parking space, let alone free parking. To avoid your vehicle from getting towed away by opportunistic traffic police, use the method mentioned above
    • You may also get a sidekick who can drive you to the entrance and then go and park somewhere close by. After you check out, buzz them to come to pick you up. The downsides are that they will have to wait for around 60 minutes in the car before you finish your shopping and you will have to carry your phone. Going home and coming back is an option but fuel prices are rising.

When to Go

The new DMart timings are: 8 AM to 11 PM throughout the week. Assuming that you work from 9 AM to 5 PM on weekdays, you can either go after 7 PM or any time on Saturday or Sunday. But the problem is that everyone with the same schedule thinks alike. So, if you plan on going on a Saturday, there will be a thousand others who will do the same.

Unless you find out a pattern in how others think. Now, read carefully, because this is where I spew gold.

The perfect time to go DMart shopping is on a Sunday at 3.30 PM. Do it in the first week of the month for better deals and discounts.


Most people are tired at the end of a weekday. They think that others are too, so, they coordinate with their better halves and go shopping post work. They also think that people have off-days on weekends, so they don’t wait till Saturday. They usually do this on a Friday so that they can use the “weekend feeling” to push themselves and maybe get the bigger bottle of Hershey’s chocolate syrup. But, since everyone thinks like that, everybody flocks to the store unknown to the fact that they got there using the same thought process. They end up crowding the store. You go to a DMart store between 6 PM and 10 PM on a weekday and you are bound to meet people. Lots and lots of people. With their kids.

Some people have an off on Saturdays, too, so, they plan to go shopping on that day. Unfortunately, everyone who has an off on Saturdays thinks alike. And they all flock to the store. (Repeat.)

Come Sunday, and most people are tired and hung over from previous night’s party where they let their hair down. The two types of people – who have already shopped on a weekday or on Saturday – are happier that they do not want to do it on Sunday. They laze around in the couch till the “Monday feeling” kicks in.

Those who know that they have to do the shopping also laze around till it’s too late. And it’s already past 6 PM when they get up and start thinking about the things they want to get.

When you go shopping on a Sunday at 3.30 PM you will see empty aisles clear and broad enough to spot all those things that others have knocked over in an attempt to find the heaviest Kurkure packet. You can easily maneuver your cart and also don’t have to stand in a queue while at the counter. If you manage to do the shopping within 45 minutes, you can reach the goal of leaving the DMart store before there’s a crowd outside, especially at the baggage counter where serpentine queues are commonplace.

Navigating the Aisles Inside DMart

Once you have managed to enter the DMart store on a Sunday afternoon, the next step is to get a cart in good working condition. Make sure the tires roll easily and do not get stuck. Put the green-colored security bag in the cart and proceed to the good things in life: the grocery aisles of DMart.

dmart in mumbai

Such a sight is rare in a DMart store these days. © Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Pro Tip – If there is a queue at the cart area, don’t get in it. Instead, smile at the person who frisked you, move out of the store, and pull one by yourself. This will save you a few minutes and also earn you the envy of those standing in the queue. (Unfortunately, this may not be possible for women as they will have to again get frisked, which happens in a small, closed makeshift room.)

The strategy is to find a secluded place at the center of the ground floor and park the cart there. Instead of moving it around, it is better to briskly walk around, get the things you want, and stash them into the parked cart. I have tested and compared this with the traditional method, and it saves up to 15 minutes. I understand this looks a bit silly, but trust me it’s the best way. This is also the reason why I suggested the age group above.

Consider the grocery list but don’t follow its order. Instead, follow the layout of DMart and collect things as you move from one end to another.

Don’t Look at the Price

If you are going to be buying things that you need, then there’s no need to look at the prices. Especially for those groceries that you buy every month. Instead, look out for BOGO offers and discounts and festive deals and base your shopping on them. DMart sometimes also makes announcements, so, do keep an ear open. You might also catch some conversations between other shoppers and get some ideas. (Fun tip – some couples get real naughty even while they are shopping for a soap.)

Going Upstairs

If you plan to check out the higher levels of DMart, make sure you park your filled cart in a place that is secure from “good thieves”. You may have not come across them but sometimes the DMart staff will take your unattended cart and park it in the godown area to make space for other shoppers. Getting it back is always a struggle and adds time to your shopping activity.

If you plan to buy multiple things, consider getting a basket temporarily.

Checking Out

Once all the items in the grocery list are checked out, you should make a move to the counter area. This is one of the most crowded and confusing places in a DMart store. Due to a lack of space, there are serial as well as parallel counters. If you manage to reach the counter area before 4.30 PM, you will not find any queues. Maybe one or two people tops.

But, if there are long queues at each counter, you should consider the serial ones next to them. Of course, getting to these counters (on the nether side of the hall) will be a struggle, but it will be worth it. This is against the idea of “herd mentality” which is at full display at any DMart counter area. It is okay if you chafe a tire over a kid’s toe because peaceful shopping cannot be traded without sacrifices.

Once you are at the counter and are done with the billing, help the person who is filling your bags. This will expedite the process and you can also share a smile when it’s done. The person behind you will also thank you in his mind unless the chocolates at display have gotten the fancy of their toddler.

It is when you do your grocery shopping quickly that you achieve peace. And with this guide, you most certainly will.

The Dry Waste and Wet Waste Problem

Last week I and my friend were walking around a man-made lake somewhere in Navi Mumbai talking about our career growth. And we thought of grabbing some ice cream. I picked up a Havmor cup of vanilla, while my friend wrestled with anxiety. As is common with him, he took about five minutes to select the perfect ice cream, and eventually ended up with a tri-cone.

We took another round of the square-shaped lake and began to search for a dustbin. Had it been 2010, we would not have found one, but since there is some local development lately, we did find one. Not one, but two, and that’s when the problem arose. The dry waste and wet waste problem.

The Dry Waste-Wet Waste Problem

Since the tri-cone wrapping was seemingly dry, my friend dumped it inside the bin labelled ‘dry waste’ (or suka kachra’). I hadn’t finished yet, so we talked about NMMC’s waste management program. All when I was still eating my ice cream!

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) appears to have invested a lot in these bins as part of their ‘Clean Navi Mumbai’ mission. The strange and suspicious thing is that none of these – at least where I live – have been vandalized yet.

Back to the problem: When I finished eating my ice cream I didn’t know which bin to put the waste in – the dry waste bin or the wet waste bin. Since it was a cup, it still had vanilla stuck in the depressions and curves. The tiny plastic spoon that it came with was not too helpful when it came to scooping ice cream from these tiny curves. My friend suggested I lick the remnant vanilla directly off the cup and give company to his wrapping in the dry waste bin, but I wasn’t going to do that in front of people. I know they are constantly looking at me.

So, I peeked inside the two bins. The bin with the green-colored label ‘wet waste’ (or ola kachra’) was empty, while the other one had one biscuit wrapper and few other wrappers I couldn’t identify. Kudos to people who use the bins and don’t throw garbage away like it’s customary. We hit a roadblock.

Since the cup was “largely” dry, we both agreed that it be dumped into the dry waste bin. Both the cup and spoon found their place. And then we walked back to the lake wondering if the men who come to collect the garbage from these bins have ever encountered this problem.

One thing is clear, though – if not the segregation, at least the NMMC waste management has improved lately.

Mumbai’s Autorickshaws And Their Evil Quotient

Lately I have been relating autorickshaws with my girlfriends because both have mastered various ways of rejecting when it comes to me requesting to ride in them or them riding me, respectively.

It is a well-known fact that if you are to hire an autorickshaw to your workplace, you have to deal with at least 4 to 5 of them, if not more. 2 of them who will actually take you to and fro, and 2 to 3 of them who will reject you. Rejection, if it’s related to love or sex, can be easily dealt with, but when autorickshaw drivers reject you, it’s like the end of the world. And the way they reject you by slowing their vehicle a bit, glaring at you like an imaginary humble wolf who requests its prey to be his dinner, and then suddenly hitting on gas when you utter your destination as if it is located near a palace of hell, is heartbreaking. And you can do nothing about it.

If you are travelling in a vehicle that is not an autorickshaw, you can observe how the only people even slightly safe on the road are the only people riding in one. (Lets not consider the ones where five people are stuffed by its greedy driver.) They drive like gangsters with no knowledge about lane discipline and/or traffic rules, and even if they have any, they seem to ignore it. We all know that they talk to you like they are doing you a favour.

Wherever there is a scuffle in a traffic jam, you know who to expect as a participant. Whenever there is an ugly brouhaha in the middle of a traffic-less road, you know who to expect. Whenever there are shots of expletives being fired, you know who to expect. The driver, in his ubiquitous uniform with a triangular badge attached to his khakee shirt’s pocket, will be seen in front of his three-wheeler. And the looks in the faces of those hapless customers sitting inside his vehicle are worth peek-sneaking.

The main reason why these auto rickshaw or just rickshaw or auto or rick drivers are errant is that it is just a secondary job that most of them take up to be away from their nagging wives. Although it doesn’t suppress the fact that there are far too many whose livelihoods depend on it. I feel bad for such drivers who I am also dragging into this post, collectively.

Once when I was talking to a close friend about how Engineering is not what we expected it to be and that our future is filled with darkness, he had suggested we buy two auto rickshaws and ride them to college, and on the way, ferry passengers. Since we would be plying on a single route, we would be refusing one too many rides to people who want to go to a location that does not fall in our route, automatically qualifying ourselves as ideal auto rickshaw drivers. This was four years ago, and last week when I decided to take it up seriously, I read the news about how auto rickshaw permits will be now only given to Marathi-speaking individuals. I cried.

No, I know Marathi, but unfortunately I am not well-versed with Marathi curse words which I figure is the most essential thing if one aspires to become an auto rickshaw driver in Mumbai. And even if I manage to learn a few, I would be straight disqualified, because I don’t know how to make those weird, cringe-worthy faces while uttering them, and I don’t chew tobacco or betel nuts or mava. I suggested the idea to a good Marathi friend of mine, but he’s currently busy earning tenth of a mil a month by serving as an Uber driver. So I am trying to be more friends with him.

If all auto rickshaws are recalled from the roads, then I believe things will be much more cooler on the road, at least for a few months before the rickshawallahs/taxi drivers union’s strike brings them all back. However, things look so bad for these examples of arrogance now that cab services like Uber and Ola have entered turning the market, they are sure to kick the bucket. Conclusively, the auto rickshaw business in Mumbai may go for a tumble because no one wants to ride in it nor does anyone care about it.