Travel Diary: Business Trip to China

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One of the key highlights of 2014 was a short trip to Yiwu City in China. I had the opportunity to visit one of the world’s largest wholesale market which boasts of over 65,000 traders/manufacturer outlets. The trip gave me a very small but impactful exposure to the business processes of the country and probably a brief understanding on why the country is poised to become the next super power.

Yiwu City - Early Morning

In the next few paragraphs I am going to share some of my observations & notes from the trip. Although a disclaimer that these are from a short 6 days trip to Yiwu City only.

Hard Working Bunch of People
The Chinese are very hardworking. The Yiwu Wholesale Market operates 7 days a week 9am – 5pm come rain or shine. No weekly offs and we the city doesn’t seem to take it slow even on a Sunday. I think the only time they close down for business is during the Chinese New Year when most of them go back to their villages to spend time with the family.

Women Empowerment
They are out there manning (pun not intended) the stores, negotiating & closing business deals. Superb at their sales and very tough when it comes to pricing – the ladies do a fine job, trust me. When work calls they even show their muscle power and are seen packing huge cartons and getting them across to the delivery vans. All in a days job. Bravo!

Textbook - Foreign Trade English

Textbook – Foreign Trade English

Learning to speak English
They have realised and are putting in a lot of effort to learn English to be able to engage & communicate better with the world outside. A lot of the young staff members have a better command of the language making business talk a lot more easier.

Shopping isn’t cheap
Contrary to popular belief, the retail market isn’t CHEAP just because its CHINA. Priced a bit higher than your average shopping in Mumbai, the product quality was superb. Shoes, leather bags, clothes were fabulous.

Cycles available for public use, Yiwu City China

Cycles available for public use, Yiwu City China

Impressive Infrastructure
We didn’t see a lot of the country but the 2 hour drive across the highway which connects Hangzahou Airport to Yiwu City was fantastic. Superb well managed roads, smooth vehicle movement made the long journey very easy.

Veg Thali in Yiwu City, China

Veg Thali in Yiwu City, China

The happiness of seeing vegetarian indian food available in abundance very close to the hotel. After a long tiring day in the market, good food really kept us going.

Restaurant Review: Burma Burma

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My food blog Khana Peena hasn’t been getting much action. It’s not that I don’t eat enough but I am not writing enough about the food I enjoy these days. So I don’t think I deserve to have a food blog and instead will be sharing the food bites & more here on this blog itself.

Kickstarting 2015 on a foodie note, the first blog post from my recent visit to the much talked about Burma Burma.

Day 1 of 2015 and mission accomplished. Burma has been captured. Let’s admit it, getting a table at Mumbai’s Burma Burma – The ALL VEG Burmese Restaurant is a challenge. After futile attempts for most of 2014 we finally wriggled a table to kick-start the year.

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Once you experience the place, it settles in why the fuss about getting a table. Yummy (all VEG) Food, Good Service & Limited Seating (actually they aren’t that small also).

A quick check on Zomato for recommendations and advise from the waiter for the evening & we were decided on what’s going to be coming in. Tea Leaf Salad had a lovely taste. The soup whose name I can’t seem to remember was good but kind of heavy so next time I would opt for the more clear soup. Get the Steamed Soft Buns – Onion and Spinach & Tofu. We enjoyed both the flavours. For the main course we got greedy and ordered the much recommended Khow Suey & a portion of Burmese Rice and Vegetables. Thank god for a well built up appetite that evening we managed to enjoy both the dishes.

Steam Buns

Steam Buns

So like I said good food, decently large servings, warm service & a not too loud ambiance makes this a lovely choice for dining. If getting a table became just a bit more easier I am going to go back here.

If you enjoy talking about food, join me at Zomato where I am cross-posting my experiences.

Music to my ears: New JBL speaker

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If I had my way, I probably would have had piped music play across my home and office. But until that happens I am happy to have music on all the available devices around me.

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A new addition has been this JBL Micro Wireless Speaker. Thank you to the lovely sisters for the gift. Been using it more often these days and I am super impressed. Compact design means it can fit in anywhere – on the book-shelf, by the bedside and fits into the laptop bag if I want to bring to work.

I won’t get into the technicals but I have been happy with the sound quality. Battery life has been good although I use it more plugged into the iPod rather then streaming music on the Bluetooth.

If you are on a budget and won’t a good speaker to enhance the music experience or even make this an accessory to your laptop, go get this one.

Witty Messaging at O Hotel Pune

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Spent a few days at this lovely hotel property in Pune called the O Hotel. Will be sharing a detailed experience later at Trip Advisor but something which really grabbed my interest was the smart and witty messaging on some of the hotel goodies in the room.

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My favourite portrait photographs

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Over the years every photographer tends to develop a style and a preference. Could be nature, black & whites, wildlife and so on. I don’t think I have shot enough to develop a style but if there is something I really like shooting, it is portraits.

Here are some of my favourites.

This was shot in Chor Bazaar. When I posed my camera, the man got conscious about digging his teeth and sat up straight. I had to request him to get back to his relaxed pose.

tooth picker

At Chor Bazaar again, when I tried to shoot this man he turned looked at me and gave a rather nasty look but soon looked away.

shut in

That’s my friend Ashish at Holi celebrations. It was one of those random attacks where you single out a friend and everyone attacks him/her.

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My love, shot during our holiday in Maldives

Naughty cousin who wouldn’t sit steady for a shot and so this came out blurred. But when I did a B&W transfer, I seemed to like the effect.

DIY Paper Stuff from SKYGoodies

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This little suitcase is on my desk now. Takes care of the shiny new business cards which just came in.

SKYGoodies Paper Stuff

I made it with SKY Goodies paper stuff. Paper sheets which you need to tear along the perforation, glue up some ends and its ready. Read more about it here.

Book Review: Eat My Globe by Simon Majumdar

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Can you imagine taking on the mission of traveling across the globe to try, eat till your stomach hurts and then share the experience through a book. Envy? Completely.

That’s what Simon Majumdar does in his book Eat My Globe: One man’s search for the best food in the world. He explores the many cuisines across the world. Simon is not a chef so food is described in simple words and doesn’t get lost in the science of its ingredients. The author visits many cities and because he is on a slim budget we get to read about his adventures eating in street corners, local homes and shacks.

eat-my-globeIt’s lovely to see how food becomes a medium for the author to connect with people, make new friends and travel the world.

There is of course a chapter devoted to Mumbai and he talks about Vithal Bhel, Pav Bhaji and Bade Miyan.

A handy list at the end of the book puts down in summary – The best and the worst. Dog meat in China – Not Recommended. Mutton Roll at Bade Miyan – yes very much.

A book not to be read on hungry stomach. May get a little nauseating so read it in breaks.
Author regrets that there is only 1 stomach and only so much can go into it. Don’t we all feel like that when enjoying good food.

Food as a subject is of great interest to me and this book has been a good read.