Monday, June 12, 2006

Vroom vroom Devapura Express

Sunday, 04th June 06.
430kms in 10hours
Endangered animals spotted – Donkeys, Pig, Cobra.
Route: Bangalore > Tumkur > Sira > Hiriyur (NH 4) > Hosadurga > Devapura

Devapura is Raghu’s native place. The main source on income is agriculture. This rain water fed land grows paddy and groundnuts on a good year and drought on others. The closest town is Hiruyur, which houses a sub-station for power transmission. The mud was maroon, rich in manganese (Mn – do u remember the atomic number, anyone?). There were lots of windmills (like giant fans determined to blow you off the road).

Raghu made the trip on Saturday, I rode on Sunday morning to join him at his ancestral home at Devapura and ride back together. NH-4 is the highway to Pune, a flat, well asphalted, 6 lane, barricaded road with good service lanes at places. It’s boring to ride on such, even if you are doing it at 110kmph. Raghu’s instructions were to start as early as possible, ride 170 kms to Hiriyur, take left at a cement arch, ride another 45 kms, take a deviation to Devapura.

I started at 6:15, reached Hiriyur by 9:10. I stopped at the cement arch where I was to take the deviation to Devapura. There were shops around and I was hunting for cream biscuits for breakfast.

There was this puncture ( panchure / punchur / pancher ) shop and there was this pro working on a lorry tyre, he had located and patched the leak and now putting the tube back into the tyre. He was vigorously and very generously applying lots of some powder all over tube and in the innards of the tyre and the flap. When the black tube was nearly white with powder, he proceeded with putting the tube in place and pumping it with air. I was told that the powder was to keep the tube from sticking to the flap and/or the tyre. I picked up the just-emptied powder box – 20g pack of Ponds Dreamflower it was!!!
I shall finish off the ride details before I dwell further into this really interesting topic.

The road to Devapura was recently laid, the scenery was fantabulous – windmills lined many of the hills, the traffic was an occasional herd of donkeys or sheep. And of course,
Raghu was waiting for me at a fork in the road (come on guys, I know him well enough not to mistake him for a donkey). We rode together to Devapura.
Raghu’s full family tree was there, to attend threading ceremony couple of days back. Parched rice with curd was breakfast. As we left, his aunt offered me a shirting. I felt much obliged, for this is usually given to members of the family only.

A Bullet and an Avenger parked there in the courtyard caught the attention of all his cousins including the Brahmachari vatu. We left Devapura at noon. Devapura has a Haalu Rameshwara temple with a theerta, a wellspring, wherein the water (white as milk or Haalu) has never gone dry. One offers his prayers to the deity, makes a wish and chooses a corner of the theerta. Whether your wish will be fulfilled or not is indicated by things floating in the corner you choose. I was surprised to see someone getting a coconut shell floating and some other pulling out a betel leaf floating to the surface.
Raghu and I then visited one more Hanuman temple before we hit the road.
On the way to Hiriyur, the road is devoid of tress, plain lands and fields. Turning around on of the turns I spotted a cobra crawling its way on the road. I slowed down, not wanting to scare it off the road, but as I stopped, he slithered into the shrubs on the side of the road.
My silencer was giving me problems – it’s nagging now, I have already have had it welded in two places, but the nut was simply not holding. I needed to tighten the nut, every now and then. I carried the No. 13 spanners in my jacket pocket.
When we hit the highway NH4 it was 1:10 at Hiriyur. From there to the Kamat Upahar at Tumkur, 120kms, we kept the throttle open throughout and made it to Tumkur in 80mins flat.
I touched a 125kmph on my bullet. It happened on the road between Hiriyur and Sira, I overtook Raghu’s Avenger at some 110kmph and kept the throttle going even as the road sloped down a bit. When I next saw the speedo showing 125kmph, I could only scream inside my helmet. It was at that speed for half a minute, I suspect. Needless to say both bikes guzzled petrol like thirsty camels. We screwed mileage big time.
We were playing catch-up with a dirty Toyota Innova with a RJ registration, driven by this one senior citizen. Just as I was overtaking him before Tumkur, he signaled me to one-minute-slow-down. As I rode alongside, he said “You chaps are good”. This man had been riding all the way from Jaipur. Some passions never die.
Lunched on poories, tighten my nuts again and rode at sane 80kmph speeds till Bangalore. I was home by 4:30.
10 hours and 430kms it was!

Hindustan Level is the company, the subsidiary of Unilever in India, which owns the brand - Ponds ™! Unilever is at the forefront of giving consumers products that help them look good, feel good and get more out of life. I read in a recent research paper how the company’s R&D scientists use their expertise in psychology and cognitive neuroscience to tune into the unconscious mind.
Dr Richard Wright, lead scientist says "By understanding how the senses combine and which senses are important - and when - we aim to make products which are predictably more pleasurable for our consumers to use. We call this intelligent design."HLL spent a whooping 83600lakhs on advertisements and sales promotions last year[1]. Estimating on a % of revenue basis, the Personal Products (Ponds falls under this segment) is about 21 crores.

Now consider this…

There are 32lakh[2] registered trucks that ply on Indian roads. Each lorry has about 6 tyres. Let us assume each lorry travels a distance of 100kms everyday. So there are 32lakh*6*100 (=192 crore) tyre-kms everyday.
Let us assume the tyres puncture rate is one every 5000kms. So there are 192 crore / 5000 (= 3.84 lakh) punctures per day in the country.
Imagine if it is a standard procedure to use a 20g Ponds Dreamflower talc on each puncture. This would cause a consumption of 7680kilos of talc everyday!!!
That sounds too much, a little bit of sensitivity analysis gives other possibilities.
If we scaled down our assumptions – One puncture every 10000kms, the figure drops down to 3840kilos per day.
Further, if we assume every lorry travels a mere 50kms a day, the figure drops down further to 1920kilos per day.
Other considerations:
6 tyres per truck is a very conservative estimate. All trucks have more than 6.
We are not considering the buses, a good 6.7lakh buses ply on our roads everyday.
Some LCVs and earth movers also form a substantial part.

We also assume that a Ponds Dreamflower talc pack is ‘available’ to a saleem bhai or a Raj anna when he is at work.

Now take the worst-case scenario – 1920kgs of talc. I will scale it down further by 50% to account for the reach-of-Ponds factor discussed above. That brings us to a figure of 960kgs and a yearly consumption of 3.5lakh kgs.
Each 20g Ponds Dreamflower has a retail price of Rs. 5, or Rs 250 per kg.
The net addition to revenue of Ponds Dreamflower is a mind boggling 8.76 crores!!
And that is the worst estimate. Taking the best case, would yield us 35 crores.

To tap this opportunity HLL needs to simply increase reach and keep the unit price pack at the present levels. Wouldn’t be surprised if HLL comes up with an ad featuring a lorry driver one of these days.

On a lighter note, maybe lorry drivers consider their lorries to be their lady love or something (a Hema Malini, Sridevi, Kareena or a Mallika) and hence insist on the talc. I know a lot of guys who give their bikes feminine names and always want to ride on *her* on a normal road. (Do they say hump her, when they go on a speed breaker?) Imagine applying talcum powder on tyres, I had to let loose.

Surprised! Don’t be, there are instances where we Indians have invented ingenuous ways of using certain products. Lassi makers using semi-automatic washing machines to mix lassi in Punjab is one other example that is top of mind.
[1] Source Annual Report 2004
[2] Source Indian Rubber Statistics 2004, The Rubber Board, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt. of India & Past Issue.


Uday said...

Smalla i have one sentence for you, "GET BACK TO WORK !!!!", hahaha...........

Suksy said...


That's amazing stuff that u've given dude... No wonder you took so much time in typing this out!

Good work da...

Anantha Madhava said...

I liked ur analysis of calculating profit rate contributed by 'puncher' pros to HLL.. good analysis..
Hey, post some pics of Devapura wind mills man..

sarosh said...

Hey Interesting blog !!!
I made that trip to Devapura too....virtually i.e.

Hmmm regarding the ponds thing, well Ingenioius as Indians are, we would really be looking at keeping our profit margins high. A Rs5/- Ponds talc would not really help a guy whose probably fixing a Rs12 or Rs15/- puncture. I have a feeling he was probably using a cheaper version of talc so readily available in the market and using ponds box as a very convenient dispenser. :-)

raghu said...

why dont we start a company , where we will buy ponds at whole sale rate .. pack it into a different form and target only the lorry guys ;-) ...

where are photos man ...

Vasudeva D.V. said...

Hi Manoj,

This is raghu's cousin brother Vasu. I think we have met before once or twice. Today i read some interesting article about google in the news paper. While on work, on a stress back just wanted to google something. Nothing came out of my mind and typed 'Devapura', my native place. The first result i got was ur blog. Fantastic. First i thought it might have raghu's blog. I was amazed on seeing ur's. If i want to describe in my words, It was a neat and well formed XML. Good collection of data. I was enjoying the ride u took 6 months back. Also i was amazed on your packeging stratergy. U have nicely packged Devapura with pucher shops and with HLL. Good Work, well done. Keep posting.

manoj said...

Recently read an article on sex lives of lorry drivers... the ponds could come in handy on other kind of rubber too.. not a bad idea at all!!!

Thanx.. am quite flattered.. This is one of my better blogs, spent time and effort to pen this one...

Anonymous said...

who ever imaginer that ponds and vasaline will compete !!!