May 26, 2008

The Rise of the Tier IIs

In marketing, when we do a geo-demographical segmentation of the Indian Market, we always speak of Tier II Indian towns. None of us have understood them; to be frank we are afraid of them. We do not know which way they will turn. We do not know what they will choose that will confound the most brilliant amongst us. My travels have taken me to quite a few of the Tier II and Tier III towns of India and what I have seen there amazes me. Here are a few of them and about the food I found in them.

GayaGaya is old, decaying and just like any other Indian city has little care or concern for its sewage and garbage removal systems. The streets are narrow with vehicles and men jostling each other for space. In any other Indian city I might not have even noticed it but a pace near Gaya stood in stark contrast. Bodh Gaya is the classic example of the paradox of India. A 30 minute journey from Gaya, one would wonder how the difference between two cities can be so great. Tourism, it does work wonders for the economy of a region. While one would be afraid to venture out of Gaya at night for fear of a naxal abduction, Bodh Gaya is extremely serene and peaceful and serves the most amazing variety of momos. I haven’t had such great momos since I left Calcutta.

Darbhanga – One of the cities I want to go back to again. I had a very short time there but the grandeur of the palace and the broader than normal city roads made me immensely like the city. The palace grounds define the skyline of the city and for a moment you do get transferred to a time when India was an amalgamation of Princely states.

Jhansi – The land of Rani Laxmibai and yet she’s remembered only in the folk songs far away from the city. The only place of prominence where a statue of her was proudly displayed was in the cantonment area, away from civilian domains. In Jhansi, however I got to eat Bandh Makkhan; a really nice tasting bread with oodles of butter flowing out of it.

Bareilley – I did not find the Jhumkas in Bareilley which Nanda had dropped years ago. But I did find Dinanath Ki special lassi. It’s heavenly and pure and above all much healthier than the carbonated options around me. Bareilley also is pretty fashion conscious. It is a town where the fashion closely follows the latest trends without any show of skin of course. The old value systems are still there. Good or bad? Who am I to decide? But if a city can serve amazing Kababs, who’s complaining? And yes, it has its own Oberoi where I stayed. It’s just that it’s spelt a little differently.

Agra & Mathura – Apart from the Taj and Fatehpur Sikri, Agra would not count for much. In fact, its housing complexes and roads pretty much resemble those of any upcoming Noida locality. The other thing Agra should be famous for is its shoes. The quality is just astounding. Agra is good to you for foods. If anyone is eyeing good Rajasthani Thali at a Marwari Basha, Agra has quite a few of them. Of course, you should never forget the Pethas. Mathura on the other hand is almost a fortified city with the army and police guarding the Krishna Janmabhumi. But luckily they are not after the parathas. So if you want to have absolutely brilliant Aloo Parathas, please visit Asli Pappu Di Dhaba on the Agra Mathura Highway.

And mark my words… the Buntys and Bablis will continue rule India for the years to come.

1 comment:

Sap said...

have to agree with that!