Sajid Mehmood, a dear friend has his Pandora’s box full of tales. For his name to appear again and again on my blog is self proclaimatory about his ‘foodieness and my fondness for him. Sajid on one of his earliest trips to Hong Kong en route to China (during his student days and an activist of the then erstwhile SFI) decided to explore the exotic street food next to his hotel. Greatly amused by this street vendor who had a deep frying pan(of course with oodles of oil in it), Sajid decided to pamper his taste buds on the sea food that this chap was selling. The vendor had tall stools around his pan and would rotate the oil in a unique fashion (while dipping the shrimp/prawns in it). The food would rotate down the concentric circles in the oil and reach the region where the customer sits. The vendor would then use a long poker to flip the food from the oil to the plate of the respective customer. The action was fascinating indeed.
Sajid started his gastronomical endeavour. The young foodie blood gushing in the veins completely made him forget about any astronomical calculation on the numbers-both food and money wise. Also, he was under the impression that like in India, street food would be much cheaper than the hotel food (yes, you are coming to the point). Sajid ran short of cash.
Attempts of problem solving:-The great marketing lesson at the grass root level will put Philip Kotler the great marketing Guru take a few lessons–A perfect case study
Sajid: I have run short of money, can I go and get it from my hotel room?
Vendor: You’ll never come back.
Sajid: You can send your boy with me.
Vendor: He will not be allowed into the hotel, and then you will vanish. Then the hotel guys will beat up my boy.
Sajid: OK keep my watch in your custody till such time I get the money.
Vendor: You will call the police and describe the make of the watch and accuse me of robbery.
Sajid: I have given my options. Now you tell me what can I do about it? How can I compensate?
Visionary that the vendor was (I must admit his vision!), he asked Sajid to wait there for some time. Then he pointed to an office building and said, “The office will shut in five minutes. There will be people with turbans from your country coming out of that building. All you have to do is to keep praising my food and keep on saying wonderful food-the best that I have ever eaten and convince them to buy the most expensive prawns.”
Flabbergasted, was he (Sajid), but greatly amused at the same time. He precisely did what he was asked to do—first, got familiar with the Indians, secondly started praising the food, thirdly praised the most expensive prawns in fashion that the foodie large hearted sardarjis took his word for it ended up buying huge portions of food from the vendor. Sajid calls it his first brush with ‘sales and marketing'(he started his first job as a marketing and sales person), thanks to innate love for cuisine and over ambitious eating.
Vendor (after the new lured customers left satiated): You can leave now. You’ve done my job. Feel free to come tomorrow!” (grin)