Thursday, 3 July 2014

The village that loves pasta!

A few days back when I was involved in my internship, I was making notes of anything that was either profound or obtrusive, just so that I could share the same with readers on the blog. Now it's time to publish the things one by one. My internship provided me a rather panoramic view of all that I had already seen, but now I viewed things from a different angle, coupled with the minute dexterity your position provides you. I had to witness a lot many places as a part of carrying out a marketing research assignment, and I had enough time to explore most facets of the rural consumer behavior. 

So I was in one of these towns one day. This town had a huge wholesale market situated right on a section of its perimeter, as there were other dependent villages lying on the contours. From an initial analysis I found out that the prime purpose of the markets is actually to serve this network of adjacent villages rather than serving the town itself. I roamed around in that market for one entire day, doing nothing but seeing how business is done, and initiating a repartee with an occasional seller or consumer. I still remember how eerie yet enthusing it felt. The aromas of certain cooking ingredients mixed with the rather noxious fumes of some sharp spices, gave the market its own identity. But I was vying to get a different identity which I got. 

I started getting inside a shop or two, ones which had just about enough space despite the harrowing line of waiting customers. There was this large wholesaler in the beginning itself. His shop's entrance was lined out with large rugged bags holding huge chunks of unground spices, which is pretty much what I expected. I was ferreting for something interesting and then suddenly I saw a bag full of indigenous pasta. I had never seen pasta in such a gargantuan quantity before. Accompanying it were bags of colorful macaroni and a bag of what looked like uncooked tortillas. I found those few bags a little incongruous between all those dusty and vitriolic spices. I went to the guys inside to see if they could explain. 

I was amazed to find out that inside there was a complete section dedicated to the pasta and macaroni paraphernalia. There were all kinds of ketchup and all kinds of ready mix pastes and purees in which you could cook pasta with ease. Not only that, I found a diminutive amount of vermicelli and muesli as well. I suddenly ascribed this to this being the first wholesale shop and hence the probability of this being a main grocery supplier for the town itself. I was proved wrong. The guys inside told me that it's the nearby villages which have a frenzy and fanaticism for it and that the town in itself is still somewhat puritanical. I believed that!

Contrary to my belief, all other shops too had housed pasta and macaroni in heavy quantities, clearly suggesting the steady and encouraging demand thereby buttressing the decision to store so much across the market. A village that consumed pasta, that was stupefying enough. Then I moved forward and paid a visit or two in more shops ahead. Here, I saw one shop that had stocked a lot of Tang instant mix packets in all sizes. Alongwith it were affectations that were put up to capture attention. I once again got my inquisitiveness piqued and carried out an inquest. I was informed that it's the demand from the nearby villages that propelled the guy to stock it. Moreover, he was the one who stocked the most so he even snuggled at the prospect.

I knew I was in for surprises and hence I went in a few more. In one of these shops I witnessed my shocker for the day. I saw a counter dedicated for hair colors, all of the lavish clique. They had everything from a Loreal to a Maybelline. This time it was I who was the first one to speak out the fact rather than to structure it as a question. "And it's the villages that buy these, don't they.". And right I was. I mean more than the town which was likely to have the glamour appeal, it was the rustic yet aspiring women from the villages who would deem indulgence and complaisance to these pleasures of life. That was a little too flabbergasting to consume at once, so I looked for similar insights in other wholesale mandis I visited. The results reinforced the original connotations.  

I soon realized that the villagers whom we envisage and conjure as being desolate, queer and parsimonious, have simply come out to take our consumption story to the next level. Just like their urban counterparts who simply embraced the quality goods when liberalization broke the shackles of a lynching lack of good products two decades ago, these rural folks too are all set to hop on the consumption wave, with their propensity and craving to look and feel good. They're blithe when it comes to adopting products and they're going to splurge it all if its good. While we talk of their ordeal and predicaments sitting in cities, their aspirations have finally got a way to manifest themselves. I can't help but feel that one day it would be these rural markets that would assume the lectern and the pivotal position when it comes to our entire consumption paradigm. Advertisements and all marketing initiatives would be targeted towards them and even products would be positions to slake their needs or to please them. It's not the story of a single village that loves pasta, it's the story of villages across the country which love to go out shopping.