Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A Taste of India for even more Birmingham residents

Having had significant success in the South East and the South West of England, an ever increasing number of Birmingham residents now have access to the exciting taste of Indian wine! Over the last few weeks Soul Tree wines have become available in various Birmingham restaurants - here are a few of them, including some that have been offering Soul tree to their patrons for some time now.
Indian Dream, Olton
Little Havana, Acocks Green
Sherwoods, Hall Green
...and the list goes on!
And if you'd rather take a bottle home to share with friends or for just a cosy night in, head over to either of Connolly's Wine Merchants two branches at Livery Street, Jewellery Quarter, or on Warwick Road, Olton.
So go on, try Soul Tree, and let us know what you think!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Most Promising New Business

Soul Tree Wines have done it again! As of last night, we are officially Birmingham region's Most Promising New Business for 2012. We were handed the award at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce's glittering Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony on the 25th of April 2012. Needless to say we are chuffed that the potential we see in Soul Tree is shared and has been recognised at this level.

Onwards and Upwards!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Soul Tree Wines appoint new distributor in South West England

Soul Tree wines have gone a step further towards making sure wine lovers all across the country have access to fantastic wines from India with the appointment of Gordano Wines, a distributor based in Clevedon (near Bristol) that supplies wines to restaurants across Gloucestershire, Somerset, Devon, Wiltshire, and Dorset.

With the appointment of Gordano Wines Soul Tree is now accessible in restaurants across 12 counties across the South East, the South West, and the Midlands. Amongst the restaurants, numbering close to 200, where Soul Tree can be found are Benares, Palms of Goa, Mala, Hundred Degrees, Tangawizi, Basil & Mint, Red Turban, and Mumbai Junction (all in Greater London); Maharaja, Asha's, and Deolali (all in Birmingham); and Mem Saab and Paddy's Marten Inn Bar & Restaurant (Leicester).

In Bristol patrons at Taj Brasserie, Old India, Mehak at The Grange Hotel, and Raj Mahal City can already enjoy the delights of Indian wine with their Indian meals.

South West England, watch out for Indian wine!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Oxford Sub fusc

I ventured a little bit into Google Webmaster tools as well as into Google analytics...and I found that most people who stumble upon my blog are people who have been googling for the Oxford Sub fusc!

The sub fusc really is one of Oxford's quaintest traditions. For those that are wondering what it is I'm talking about, here's a link to one of my older posts.

Worth Contemplating...

The people who succeed the most are the people who have failed the most, because they are people who have tried the most.

Amazing Talent : Sand Animation

Thursday, 8 October 2009

India Wine Show 2009, Nasik, 26-30 Nov 09


The third biennial edition of India Wine Show 2009 taking place in Nashik from 26-30 November aims to provide a business platform to the grape growers and wine producers from India and overseas as well as wine lovers who wish to learn more about winemaking, with tasting and vineyard visits thrown in as an added attraction.

The show emphasizes on the technical know how to the processing, packaging, actual marketing of the product in the domestic and foreign market , with an opportunity to network with the international dealers, and generate business, says the Show’s website

There are a number of conferences to be held over two days (27-28 Nov.) and which will be addressed by the industry experts, leading exporters / importers, dignitaries and the professionals. The speakers will highlight on the various aspects of the agriculture industry and the wine industry. The discussions will throw light on the subjects like marketing strategies, business developments and growth in the Indian wine industry and spirit market. Seminars will deliberate on the topics ranging from viticulture to export opportunities.

There will be a Panel Discussion on the benefits of wine, new trends in wine making procedures, development steps and marketing strategies. The discussion will also encompass the growth and fate of the Indian wine industry. It will also include a technical session where the producers and technical people will share their wine industry vision with the participants.

Buyer Seller Meet is the highlight at Krishi 2009 which was first organised in 1996 and has completed 5 editions- apparently it has been now merged with the Wine Show. The organisers hope it will promote the market linkages between the Indian and foreign buyers and the local producers directly. This would give the producers in the food processing industry a direct access to the global market at the best prices.

The Show is organised by Media Exhibitors in conjunction with Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture.

For more details and registration/invitation visit their website,

Navigating the blogosphere and twitterfield...

...and learning how much there is to learn

Never Underestimate the Power of a Great Story

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Facebook Integration - part deux

Here's an update about my little attempt at posting something from Facebook using an app called BlogIt.

I was expecting something to go wrong, and it did. The post did appear on my blog as promised. The only problem is that it appeared not once, but six times! Why it would do that is anyone's guess, but I'm sure not going to be using this app again without ensuring the bugs have been ironed out.

It was also supposed to have left a little message on my Facebook wall about the post - that didn't happen either. Guess I'm calling it quits.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Facebook integration

I am trying to post to my blog from Facebook using the application called Blog It. Reviews haven't been that great so I;m not expecting too much. Let's see how it works.

I'll surely post the results of this little experiment.

Apologies to those readers that couldn't care less!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Special Delivery

Here's an article from The Mumbai Mirror about Dhruv Lakra's amazing courier-service-that-employs-the-deaf venture:

Mumbai’s ‘service’ industry hasn’t changed a great deal in the decades gone by; only the gurkha has become the suave guard; the milkman now delivers smart packages, the multi-tasking bai has remained the same. However, one of these services, the courier boy, is undergoing a radical change, thanks to a little-known Kashmiri entrepreneur. Twenty-eight year old Dhruv Lakra, an MBA graduate from Oxford University, recently flagged off operations of Mirakle Couriers, and all his employees are deaf.

When we catch up with this ‘social entrepreneur’ in his South Mumbai office, he’s having an animated chat with his team. “When was the last time you interacted with a deaf person?” he asks us. Can’t recall? Well, chances are that you may not remember even seeing them. “They are ‘invisible’ in India!” he asserts, “While you can help a visually impaired person to catch a train or help someone on crutches to cross a road, deaf people are overlooked.” No wonder it’s one of the most underfunded disabilities in our country, despite it being home to an estimated 60 million of them.

It was this realisation and a personal tragedy - Lakra’s father met with an accident last year and can’t walk anymore - which inspired him to quit his Merrill Lynch job to find his calling. His research indicated that the hearing imparied only found jobs in fields like candle or file-making. His Eureka moment occurred while receiving a courier delivery. “Here was a job made-to-order for these people. Reaching destinations and taking signatures does not require communication at all,” he says. And Mirakle Couriers came into being.

However, Dhruv had to face and overcome, several challenges. The biggest being the attitude of his employees’ families. “While some are proud, most are over-protective about their children, especially girls,” he says. Also, he has to constantly up their self-esteem. The logistics of this business too was extraordinary. “I spent many weeks on-the-job with them, fine-tuning the process. I realised they wouldn’t hear the lift door musically crying if it’s unclosed, and what a misleading address can do to their confidence,” he says.

Lakra attaches the ‘ISL’ sheet with each delivery

His 15-member strong team then devised signs to communicate possibly everything we deem mundane. Such as names of places: wavy hands indicate Chowpatty or Charni Road, Vile Parle is indicated by a biscuit-bite gesture. Care is taken that each packet has a prominent landmark, and their boss is in touch with every boy on-field. “SMS is our lifeline at times,” he says.

We start gesticulating more to know how the employees’ lives have changed. Ivan tells us of his run-ins with insensitive watchmen, Ravinder gestures how this job is better than carrying cement sacks. The company has three ladies too - Jyoti handles the administration while Reshma and Neena are responsible for the sorting. Be it the reticent Rakesh or Suraj, who went to Sachin Tendulkar’s home, we sense in them a common desire to be counted as equals.

Alongwith fulfilling these, Lakra is spiritedly trying to expand the business. “I expect empathetic support from my clients; I am not running a charity,” he says. He also wants awareness about the deaf and the little-known Indian Sign Language (ISL). For his newly created Mirakle, his patient vision is the biggest asset. “I’m planning to go pan-India in the long run, be the next Fedex… with a difference.”


Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Diwali...and snow!

Diwali was good...and unusual...this year. We got together with some friends for some good food, booze, fireworks, and snow! Even Sebastian came over from London and Melvin from Oxford. Ah, a great evening!

London apparently saw October snow for the first time in 70 years. Other parts of the country have seen October snow more recently. I for sure, have never seen snow in October - and certainly not on Diwali. And not just a sprinkling - there was probably over an inch on my car, and even more on the lawn - enough for us to bury the roman candles deep enough to stabilise them. Thankfully it stopped snowing well in time for us - and for the kids - to enjoy the fireworks. It was bitterly cold outside, though, and while I continued freezing my fingertips off in the snow with the kids, most people retired inside into the warmth long before we'd got half-way through the fireworks.

Pictures soon.


Thursday, 30 October 2008

Enduring friendship...

As we move through life we meet new people - at work, in the neighbourhood, at the gym, or through friends. Some acquaintances stay exactly that, some we lose touch with; others turn into friends. And some turn into friends we just know we'll be friends with for a very, very, long time.

The best friends are usually made during student life or very early into our career, when we tend to spend a lot of time with them. As we move on in life and get busy with family and work we still make new friends, but it is more difficult to forge the kind of friendships we took for granted in the yesteryears. It can (and does) still happen, but consider yourself fortunate if it does. I guess we never really spend enough time with these new friends or go through life's challenges together with them; we don't experience the emotional highs and lows together any more, nor face the exhilaration of overcoming obstacles together. Emotional bonding most likely doesn't get a chance.

The electronic age has certainly made things easier. Cheap phone calls, email, instant messaging, and a shrinking world, all help friends stay in touch. I have old friends I have not met in over 10 years - still I feel like I know them as well as I used to, and I know that reconnecting emotionally when we do meet, even after so long, will be easy.

And now I've had this opportunity - of being a student for the first time in 14 long years, and of being a fellow student with 220 classmates, spending one full year with them - studying and working hard through many nights, and then spending some other nights partying and drinking the stress away. I have valued this a lot more because like many others I'd never thought I would have this opportunity ever again. It had been way too long since my undergraduate degree.

Of course, 220 is too large a number of people to become friends with. Indeed, I hardly know a very large proportion of them. But I have certainly made a significant number of friends, friends that I know, like, and trust. Time will tell how many of these turn out to be enduring, or with how many of them I'll still be in touch with in, say, 10 years time. An enduring friendship, after all, is a two-way street. It requires effort, patience, trust, and in today's world, the ability to transcend time and distance.

One thing is for sure, though: I am a much richer person, relationship-wise, than I was going into the MBA programme, and I consider myself lucky to have had another chance so late in life.


A courier company with a difference

Oxford classmate and friend Dhruv Lakra has decided to fore go a high-flying post-MBA corporate career and has just set up Mirakle Couriers, a courier company with a difference. Mirakle Couriers has been set up to provide employment to the disabled - only deaf people will be hired for pick-ups, drops, and back-office operations, providing them with hard-to-get employment, and perhaps more importantly, dignity in life. Operations are initially planned for the city of Mumbai. The idea is innovative but unproven. I, however, cannot see why the deaf cannot perform these tasks as efficiently as the more 'able', or why the business model should not take off. Look closely at the company's logo below and the depiction of sign language for the letter 'I', and you'll see how effectively it conveys the message.

The idea will attract customers who wish to do their bit for society, even though it may put off those who may see this as a risky business to hand over personal or valuable documents or parcels to, at least until Mirakle Couriers establishes a reputation for efficiency. As someone who believes in the innate 'goodness' of the common man, I suspect that there are enough people in the world who fall in the former category and therefore will contribute towards making the venture a success.

I would love to see the idea take flight and extend to the creation of opportunities for people with disabilities of other kinds. I hope Dhruv and Mirakle Couriers are establishing a trend here that sees the birth of many such ventures in the future. I urge all readers to spread the word, and Mumbai residents to use the services of Mirakle Couriers.

You can follow Dhruv's journey here.

A laudable effort, Dhruv. Kudos!