Tuesday, February 23, 2016


My friend Merle is visiting on her way home to Chicago from an around-the-world trip. As she is a Delhiwala (a person who lives in or is from Delhi) I asked her to review our itinerary for upcoming travel in N. India. She looked it over and asked me, "Have you seen the film 'The Lunch Box'?" The question was a segue into her suggestion that we make time to visit the Mumbai train station at lunch time when the dabbawallas go into action. From Wiki:

dabbawala; also spelled as dabbawalla or dabbawallah; is a person in India, most commonly in Mumbai, who is part of a delivery system that collects hot food in lunch boxes from the residences of workers in the late morning, delivers the lunches to the workplace, predominantly using bicycles and the railway trains, and returns the empty boxes to the worker's residence that afternoon. They are also used by meal suppliers in Mumbai, where they ferry ready, cooked meals from central kitchens to the customers and back.
In Mumbai, most office workers prefer to eat home-cooked food in their workplace rather than eat outside at a food stand or at a local restaurant, usually for reasons of taste and hygiene, hence the concept. A number of work-from-home women also supply such home-cooked meals, delivering through the dabbawala network.

Dabbawalla. nn.wikipedia.org

Besides Mumbai, we'll be visiting Delhi, Varanasi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, Bikaner, Pushkar, Agra and Srinigar.

In Varanasi, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, we'll see the famous ghats where Hindus perform ritual ablutions. Hindus believe that to die in Varanasi means salvation and many people travel here at the end of their lives to be cremated and scattered on the Ganges.

In Srinigar we're staying on a houseboat on Dal Lake. We've always loved the houseboat scenes from a Jewel in the Crown - of course, nothing would be quite like that anymore, but we're hoping to get a feel for the romantic atmosphere.
From the article by CNN: Kashmir cribs: The houseboats on Dal lake.
"Forget hotels -- houseboats are the key accommodation when visiting the India-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The conflict-fraught region is making a tourism comeback, with the number of tourists doubling to 2 million in the past year.
Many of these tourists flock to scenic Dal Lake and the adjoining Nagin Lake in the summer capital, Srinagar.
On the water are more than 1,200 anchored wooden boats. Some of these are floating hotels, decked out to the max to attract tourists.
Looking like life-sized dollhouses, these boat hotels have an early 20th century British motif mixed with lots of Indian chintz.
The British colonialists were the first people to use the houseboats in Kashmir as hotels after foreigners were prohibited from purchasing land to build resorts.
A loophole allowed the Brits to reside only on the lakes, sparking a boom in houseboat-building among Kashmiris.
"I heard stories about British colonialists using this houseboat to have a casino, gambling on this houseboat," says proprietor Feroz Baktoo, pointing to Houseboat Royal Sovereign which he estimates is "around 70 years old."
Then in 1966, Ravi Shankar taught George Harrison to play the sitar on one of Butt's Clermont Houseboats on Dal Lake and legions of fans have helped spread the houseboat fame.
Today, vacationing on one of these houseboats in Kashmir is a serene, romantic and rustic good time."
While immersing myself in India, I came across the idea of Jugaad. From our former travels in India, we saw this principle in action many times. I think this is the underlying cultural reason (necessity) for why Indians make such excellent engineers:
Remya Jose from Kerala. Cycle washing machine.

Swarka Prasa Chouraslya. Water Walkers. 

We would call the contraptions above jury-rigged. Maybe the word jugaad is related. Here's the actual definition of jury-rigged.

Jury-rig, jerry-rig, jerry-built

A little-used definition of jury is intended or designated for temporary use. It’s a nautical term of unknown origin, and in its early use it usually appeared in the phrase jury mast, referring to a temporary mast put up to replace one that has been lost.1 This is the source of the verb jury-rig, meaning to assemble for temporary use, and its derivative adjective jury-rigged.
Jerry-rig is a variant spelling of jury-rig. One could call it incorrect because it entered the language several centuries after jury-rig and is obviously derived from a misspelling of the original, but it is widely used and is accepted by some dictionaries.
It would be easier to dismiss jerry-rig as incorrect if we didn’t have the separate adjective jerry-built, which means built of bad materialsJerry-built may or may not be etymologically related to jury-rig (its origins are mysterious), but all major dictionaries agree that jerry is the correct spelling in this case. 

Definition of jugaad innovation
Jugaad (a word taken from Hindi which captures the meaning of finding a low-cost solution to any problem in an intelligent way) is a new way to think constructively and differently about innovation and strategy. Jugaad innovation has a long-lasting tradition in India but is also widespread in the rest of the so-called Bric countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and numerous other emerging economies. Jugaad is about extending our developed world understanding of entrepreneurial spirit in the traditional Schumpeterian style (Joseph Schumpeter was the Austrian economist known as the prophet of innovation).
Jugaad means thinking in a frugal way and being flexible, which, in turn, requires the innovator or entrepreneur to adapt quickly to often unforeseen situations and uncertain circumstances in an intelligent way.
Intelligence in this context "isn’t about seeking sophistication or perfection by over-engineering products, but rather about developing a ‘good-enough’ solution that gets the job done". 

1 comment:

  1. We saw "The Lunch Box" and loved it. Nancy tried to get it included in the Film Club. So far no luck, though.