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Moscow: At P. Jeevanantham’s chain of retail outlets selling Indian spices and other food items in Russia, Russians are his major customers and not Indians.
No, his Russian customers are not cooking Indian food at their homes, but buy the spices for their medicinal properties.
“When I started the Indian Spices Shop in early 1990s, my customers were largely Indians-students and others-who bought the items for cooking. But with the reduction of Indian population due to economic reasons, the ratio of Indian-to-Russian customers reversed,” Jeevanantham said.
“The Russians do their research on the internet on the natural remedies for some ailments and come here to buy the spices. Recently, a Russian asked for gymnema leaves having anti-diabetic properties which were shipped to him from India,” he added.
Born and raised in Madurai, Jeevanantham owns and runs a chain of seven Indian Spices Shop outlets, out of which, five are in Moscow, and there is one each in St. Petersberg and Tver.
He has also promoted a hotel by the name Amil in Rajapalayam in Tamil Nadu.
“The retailing business growth is good. We clock around 20 percent annual growth. The Indian hotel is also picking up business with occupancy going up at a steady pace,” he said.
Jeevanantham landed in Moscow, the then capital of undivided Soviet Union for a masters in agriculture.
“As the education was in Russian language, we had to study the language for a year and then join the main course,” he recalled.
According to him, vacations were spent in London working in retail outlets there.
“I used to see many Indians in London buy spices and other things at the retail outlets. Though at that point of time there were many Indians living in Moscow and in other parts, there was no outlet catering to our needs,” Jeevanantham said.
During early part of the 1990s, there used to be around 12,000 Indians in Moscow. Indians also lived in other parts of the then Soviet Union.
“It was then that I wondered about the business opportunity for selling Indian spices and other food items for the Indian community in Russia. In order to cook our food, we used to bring the ingredients in bulk from India. At that time there were other Asian nationals in Russia apart from Indians and other foreigners,” he said.
According to him, at that time, India mainly shipped pepper and curry leaves to Russia for industrial/bulk users, and not for retail customers.
The idea of starting an Indian store started gaining roots in his mind, and partnering with his friend M. Athimoolam, he set up his first store in Moscow at the People’s Friendship University in 1994.
The initial investment was around $300, and the outlet catered to the Indian and other Asian students.
While the break-up of the Soviet Union impacted the business initially, with the size of the Indian community in Russia going down, the sales started to pick up after some period.
“Russians turned out to be our major customers now. Post the break-up of the Soviet Union, many Russians started going out to other countries and started tasting different cuisines. And on their return to Russia, they started looking out for ingredients,” Jeevanantham said.
But life was not easy for Jeevanantham after the Soviet Union break-up, the following ruble devaluation in 1998.
“My bank collapsed and along with that went my savings. I also suffered a big loss due to burglary at my home,” he said.
His partner had gone back to India and settled there much earlier.
He even contemplated quitting Russia.
“I even went to London and saw a store. But the locality did not promise good business. I was also advised by my close friends to come back here,” he said.
Focussing his energies, he stabilised the operations and started expanding his product range by including items bought by Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Mexicans and others.
Along the line the number of outlets too started to increase.
Looking back, Jeevanantham recalls fondly his first full container load import from India that got sold out immediately.
“That was a big event in my life. I was bit tense,” he recalls.
While he imported assorted items earlier, today, at times he imports a container load of single item.
After selling third party brands, Jeevanantham last year started selling products under his own brand, called Amil.
Speaking of business dynamics, Jeevanantham, who is cagey in sharing financial figures, said that an outlet similar to his, would need an investment of around $300,000, and would even break in around three years time.
Agreeing that there is further growth potential, he is bit reluctant to expand his chain or opening a departmental store.
Jeevanantham follows a strange policy of being debt free and expanding the outlets through internal accruals and own funds.
“Somehow, I do not like to borrow from the banks. I had to resort to borrowing only for the hotel project in Rajapalayam, as the cost exceeded the expectations,” he said.
The 52 room star hotel in Rajapalayam is a field that is entirely new to him.
“I hired a consultant who chalked out the path. I wanted to have a hotel and decided to venture into this segment,” he remarked.
The hotel involving an outlay of around Rs.20 crore, opened last December and picking up fast.
Jeevanantham is married to Karina, a Russian by birth, and the couple now takes care of the business. (IANS)
Along with the undeniable natural beauty, the Kashmir valley has developed a reputation for adventurous activities like trekking, hiking, and river rafting. Kashmir has maintained its charm, allowing us to time-travel into beautiful destinations which make one forget about the stress and worries of life. The hikes in Kashmir offer adventurers to go on a self-discovery trip through nature's lap over the mountains while taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds them on their journey. In addition to the hikes, there are many thrilling adventure activities, like rock climbing, rope climbing, etc. Trekking across the region of mountains and lakes will allow you to experience living in the "Paradise on Earth," and you wouldn't want to return to your regular life after that.
The following are some of the finest hiking destinations in Kashmir:
#1: Kashmir Great Lakes Trek: You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. In addition to three high-altitude passes and five river valley crossings, this is the only trip in the Himalayas that includes seven alpine lakes, each of which is a stunning shade of green, blue, or turquoise. The extravagance is limitless and breathtakingly stunning every day: infinite blue sky, a larger-than-life backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, colourful meadows overflowing with wildflowers, river crossings are just a few examples of what you will encounter during the trek.
You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. | Photo by prayer flags on Unsplash
#2: Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora Trek: The Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora trek is a one-of-a-kind experience that provides a glimpse into Kashmir's undiscovered regions. Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey that is the perfect experience for anyone looking to get away from the frantic tourist rush. This trek is a fascinating journey that allows nature enthusiasts to bask in the splendour of nature's grandeur. The trek goes over many high mountain passes, some as high as 4000 metres in elevation. The hiking route, in addition to providing breathtaking views of the magnificent Vishansar Lake, provides visitors with the chance to see more than 50 alpine lakes.
Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey. | Photo by YASER NABI MIR on Unsplash
ALSO READ: Top 10 Beautiful Sights To VIsit In Kashmir
#3: Tral-Narastan-Marsar Trek: The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. The hiking trail passes past a waving saffron field, beautiful meadows, and several streams. The path also crosses the Dachigam National Park, where there is an opportunity to see various animal species. Trekkers may take in spectacular views of the high mountains running parallel to them as they cut and pass through Narastan, a Hindu pilgrimage place.
The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. | Wikimedia Commons
#4: Chhatargul-Mahlish-Gangabal: The journey, which passes through beautiful locations such as Chattargul, Mahlish, Kolsar, and Trunkul, provides a peek into an utterly uninhabited wilderness of Kashmir. There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one trek into the alpine wilderness. Trekkers can also enjoy fishing in the crystal clear lakes, camping, or just seeing towering snow-capped mountains while on their journey.
There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one treks into the alpine wilderness. | Wikimedia Commons
#5: Kolahoi Base Camp Trek: The Kolahoi Base Camp trek in Kashmir has been famous since the early 1900s and has been a goal for many seasoned hikers from across the world. While Srinagar serves as the beginning point for the trip, it is in Aru Valley that the actual hiking begins. The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. The breathtaking sight of the peaks rising into the sky on the horizon of the Pirpanjal and Karakoram ranges is certainly worth capturing. It is considered to be one of the most popular treks in the Kashmir valley.
he Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. | Wikimedia Commons
Kashmir's natural splendour, with its beautiful valleys and towering mountains, is really unlike anywhere. Trekking through various valleys and peaks while taking in the scenic beauty is something that always calms the heart and provides us with memories that we will remember for a lifetime.
Keywords: Kashmir, Lakes, Alpine, Hiking, Trekking, Treks, Sonamarg, Gangabal, Kolahoi, Chhatargul, Mahlish, Tral, Narastan, Marsar
The Pitru Paksha starts after the Full Moon day, and this day marks the beginning of the waning phase of the Lunar cycle. This event is roughly of 15-day period, and is of great significance. From this day, rituals like Tarpan or Tarpanam and Shradh are carried out to pay respects to dead relatives and ancestors.
It is believed that from the very first day till the last day, the unhappy souls of the deceased return to the Earth to see their family members. So, in order to ensure that the dead attain Moksha, i.e. to get liberation, family members of these souls quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger by performing the Pind Daan, which includes offering food consisting of cooked rice and black sesame seeds. The literal meaning of Pind Daan is the act of satisfying those who no longer exist physically.
For fifteen days, prayers are offered in temples and rituals are performed to help the souls get free from the cycle of birth, life, and death, and attain salvation.
At the same time, the Pitru Paksha is also an important period for people with Pitru Dosha, which means the curse imposed by the ancestors. Hence, in order to ask forgiveness, people perform Shradh rituals and offer food to the crows, who are considered as living beings that represent the dead. It is believed, if the crow eats the offered food, the ancestors are happy and pleased. But, if the crow doesn't eat the offered food and flies away, the ancestors are not happy.
The event of Pitru Paksha is widely observed by Hindus from all over the world, and they perform prayers and rituals in order to gain their ancestors blessings.
At the heart of Bangalore city, a large 300-acre space of lush greenery and heritage stands as a symbol of the city's past, present, and future. Cubbon Park is every child's favourite park, every Bangalorean's haven of fresh air, and altogether, the city's pride.
It stands testament to the past, in terms of the diversity of flora it houses. Bangalore traffic in the recent past has grown into a menace, but the stretch between MG Road and Cubbon Park is always a pleasurable place to stop and wait for the signal to turn green. The gust of wind that blows here, and the smell of mud, coupled with floral scents instantly transports citizens to Old Bangalore, where the weather was fine, and the trees loomed over roads with thick canopies that did not even allow rainwater to penetrate. Cubbon Park is also a historical site, and one of the few remaining monuments of colonial heritage in Central Bangalore. It houses many statues and among them, the most famous is that of Queen Victoria, which faces the St. Mark's Square.
The stretch outside Cubbon Park is cool and well-shaded from the canopy of trees over it. Image source: wikimedia commons
At present, Cubbon Park is known for the cultural hub that it is. It houses Jawahar Bal Bhavan, which is a large theatre that hosts film festivals through the year. Festivals, poetry open mics, and other such shows are conducted on the lawns every Sunday. A small stream runs through the park, where boat rides are held occasionally when the water level is high enough. There is a children's park on one corner, and a government-maintained aquarium, two-storeys tall, with exotic fish.
The Park has been renamed many times in the past. It was originally named Meade's Park, after Sir John Meade, the acting commissioner of Mysore in 1870. It was later changed to Cubbon Park after Sir Mark Cubbon, who was the longest-serving commissioner of the Mysore state. In 1927, the park was renamed after the Mysore Maharaja Sri Krishna Wodeyar, to celebrate his silver jubilee, since the park was developed during the reign of his ancestors. Even though it is officially named Sri Chamrajendra Park, it is still known as Cubbon Park all over the city. In fact, Bangalore was alluded the sobriquet of 'Garden City' because of the rich botanical diversity of this park.
Art Installation at Cubbon Park Image source: wikimedia commons
In many parts of the country, governments have renamed structures, places, and cities to remove traces of colonialism. But, in a city like Bangalore, there is too much evidence of the British rule. Many of the most prominent attractions of the city are known by their British identities despite the change in name. Even the city's name continues to be Bangalore, despite having been changed to Bengaluru. Last year, the British era and its achievements were celebrated in Cubbon Park when Sir Mark Cubbon's statue was moved from the grounds of the Karnataka High Court and placed in the Park.
Keywords: Cubbon Park, Mark Cubbon, British Colonialism, Cultural hub, Garden City