Will Write For Coffee

and food and vacations, too.

Month: April 2016

Raat Akeli Hai

It was a regular Saturday evening where I was sitting in my favourite spot at Zen Cafe, just eavesdropping into conversations on the next table, reading, tweeting and writing. This is how I unwind after a long working week. Some time by myself, a nice cup of coffee and a peek into the life of complete strangers.

We all are regulars here. We all have our favourite spots. Occasionally, we acknowledge each other’s presence by a quiet nod here and there, but eventually we like to leave each other alone. We don’t even know each other’s names.

“Are you at Zen?”, messaged Shreya.

“Where else?” I replied.

“Wait, I’ll come see you there,”

Friends know your whereabouts which could be a good and a bad thing, depending on your level of introversion. Shreya walked in 10 minutes later. She has had a bad day at work and needed to vent.

“Come, let’s go, I’ll drop you home,” Shreya said. She picked up her keys and left while I went to the counter to pay for my coffee.

As I turned around, I missed a step and lost my balance.

The dragon tattoo dude, who likes to sit across from where I usually sit, was passing by me at the exact same time. In an scene straight out of a Hindi movie, he held my hand and stopped me from falling down. I stumbled a little more, he tightened his grip around my hand while I held on to his shoulders for some support.

I was so close to him that I could smell his aftershave and feel his breath on me. I looked up, and for a few moments our eyes met.

Suddenly he released his grip and looked away. He went back to his table, picked up his stuff and walked out of the cafe, without even looking back. I didn’t even get a chance to thank him for saving me from falling down.

Shreya being Shreya decided she had a few errands to run before she could drop me home. All my protests fell on deaf ears and I reached home a little before midnight.

I needed my Saturday evening back.

My parents had already slept off and the house was unusually quiet.

I reached my room and I thought my mind was playing games. I could smell the dragon tattoo guy’s aftershave. Of course, my mind is playing games, I thought. Maybe next time I see him there, I will reach out to him and talk. Making a new friend may not be that bad an idea, you know.

I went to brush my teeth before I retire for the night.

As I walked out of the bathroom, the smell was still lingering. It’s all in my head, I dismiss it.

I switched on the Kindle and lied down to read a little before I retire for the day. Suddenly I felt something on the pillow. A piece of paper. I switched on the light.

“I want to be around every time you stumble.” said the note.


Where are the jobs Narendra Modi promised?

2014 General Elections were one of the most significant elections which saw emergence of Narendra Modi, a right wing nationalist, as the Prime Minister. Over and above the strong anti-incumbency wave against the NDA, Modi promised better economy and growth.

He promised jobs when the world economy is in a slump.

But he is not a magician. So was he making promises he could not fulfil?

Well, if there ever was a time to be your own boss in India, it is now.

Here is how:

Stand up India. On April 6, 2016, Prime Minister Modi launched the “Start up India” scheme to promote entrepreneurship among women and people belonging to the SC/ST communities.

Stand up India offers refinance window through Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to provide handholding support for women and SC/ST borrowers. Usually banks ask for personal guarantees and/or minimum years of being operational and/or minimum turnover before even considering lending money. There are principles of conservatism and going concern at play, which is fair to certain extent because not everyone has a personal aircraft which can be auctioned by bank to get the money back.

There is a tremendous gap between the big borrowers, who could easily get loans sanctioned because of past track record, only to go down under few months down the line and small borrowers, who more often than not end up repaying the entire loan amount within the stipulated time frame.

And then there is MUDRA. Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Limited, a financial institution set up by the Government of India for development and refinancing micro unit enterprises.

That extremely talented artisan who creates beautiful zari work who is rendered unemployed because the dress manufacturing unit shut down can now walk into a bank or financial institution and borrow fund to start his own set up.

Similarly, are you a small advertising agency based in tier two city. You have projects coming in but don’t have team, and team is not there because you could not take up projects which may come in because you are not in a position to pay. It is a catch-22 situation. You don’t require huge amount of money as loan. This is where MUDRA comes in.

MUDRA works under the umbrella of Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) and provides finance ranging from ₹ 50,000 to ₹ 10,00,000 through three different segments. It extends the funds to the last mile financiers (banks, non banking financial company, micro finance institutions, rural banks, co-operative societies, etc.) to provide loans and finance options to widely ignored segment of non-corporate small business segment, including that talented young college graduate with bright prospects but no job (sounds familiar?).

As on April 15, 2016, total number of Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana loans sanctioned are 3,17,08,825. Total amount sanctioned stands at ₹ 1,09,447.90 crore and amount disbursed stands at ₹ 1,06,412.68 crore.

This has benefitted over 3.2 crore entrepreneurs of which 1.5 are new entrepreneurs. Women entrepreneurs form almost 80 percent of beneficiaries.

These are fantastic figures. They look brilliant in editorials of financial dailies. And when the Prime Minister talks about these in Hindi, without referring to his notes even once, you feel that little bit of hope in your hearts that the economy is improving.

However, as a woman entrepreneur, with no immediate requirement for funding, how to tap into the market?

I have sound knowledge of finance. I have basic to fair understanding of political scenario in India. I write. I have basic sense of aesthetics. I have a great sense of humour.

But who is willing to give work to the new girl who is just starting out?

So, Prime Minister Modi, thank you for trying your bit to boost entrepreneurship. I am inspired. I am an entrepreneur now.

Now, give me work.

Aisa Pati Mujhe De Bhagwan

So my mother wants me to get married. She has reached a stage where every male friend is a potential son in law for her. Since we often resort to prayers when it comes to things beyond our control, that is something I did too.

I wrote and recited the prayer, hoping it reaches the correct intended recipient at some point in life and he sends across a mail.