Influencer, Influencer…….

A word that has been floating around for quite a number of years — some using it with respect, some with scorn and some with pride.

I have had written about this here and as “Twitter A listers and Influencer campaigns — the dark side” quite a while back with inputs from agency and from the twitterati.

It has been quite a while since this bitching has been around on twitter —

Many people cribbing about Food Bloggers — the easiest of all to thrash; People playing contests; People going blogging for brands, so on and forth.

Now many are jealous, if I win a contest, then I am happy, otherwise I crib. If my friend hosts a beer evening and I am there, it is happening otherwise I crib.

People who loved Kingfisher started hating it when Micro Breweries came about. People who did not like to attend events, would do so if it was their interest — food, theatre, movie whatever.. People who would not attend opening of restaurants would make exceptions and attend…

The old gave way to the new…who were hungry, willing to come at a low cost, create noise and disappear. The cost was less than a hoarding and remained in the digital sphere for a longer time.

Brands outsourced to Agencies, who in turn outsourced to their friends so mostly Incest ruled. All 3 knew each other and decided to play the game ‘Mil kar khelenge aur baatenge’. People who could not participate or participated but did not win cribbed, taunted or called them out. This is very similar to India losing world cup because it was ‘Fixed’.

Amongst this it was very funny to see some Agency/Brand honchos say ‘There should be a disclaimer for paid tweets and similar crap’ whilst their agency or brand would approach people asking them to tweet but not put a disclaimer.

During this period, many continued doing their own work — take on tweeting, instagramming etc for brands without really worrying about what people thought of them. Did they manage to get great sales — Mostly not, however the engagement increased, recall increased and testing the digital platforms became easier.

In this the Brand saved some money, agencies and the person aka influencer made some money and all were happy that KRA were achieved and money was made. As far as I know, there were no deliverables about ‘Increase sales by xyz%’ or similar.

Isn’t it similar to Advertorial which is in vogue? Also when I refer to the term ‘Agencies’ it covers Advertising, PR, Social Media because the more one looks at it, the lesser the difference today.

All of this gave birth to a mushrooming business — Seminar about twitter, instagram etc where people paid Rs 2500–7500 for a day to learn how to manage such programs for client or become an influencer.

Today most agencies have a dedicated list of bloggers, twitterati etc who are willing to engage in activities, very similar to designers or creative people who remain unnamed because the agency and brand take the credit.

Yesterday Mint ‘broke’ a story about Twitter’s teen influencer and it went viral with everybody gungho about how it was a story waiting to break, and how besides Twitter, nobody else knew about it so it appealed to a larger audience — somebody share Mint vs Online reach stats for this story please.

There have been stories earlier in HT Brunch of people playing contests and making a living and others. As late as 3–4 years ago also. Tweets, Like or Dhoka


I felt nothing wrong with the Mint story, which gave one side of the story about a 17 year old boy who made enough money to buy a phone, motor cycle and was still studying. On the contrary, the slant could have been ‘Entrepreneurship before entering IIT’ given the state of the country today.

However, many on Twitter decided to go hammer and tongs or rather pretend to be holy.

How dare Mint use his name and handle? Duh! an investigative report does not carry weight if it is not there.

How dare Mint reporter not advise the minor of repercussions? Duh! He drives a motorcycle, knows how to play with twitter and make money etc etc already.

Good for Mint, now expose Agencies and Brands! Duh! The # hashtags show the brands and agencies can be guessed from there.

The apparent outcome was that, Brands and Agencies shouted at him etc which led to deletion of his account. Help! Can’t stop laughing. This is believing in the fairy godmother showering gold coins. Yes, some junior from an agency would have called and admonished him; at the same time also told him to low lie and this shall go away, maybe change your handle and continue :)

Now, the Blood thirsty lot which is demanding the agencies and brands name and expose also work for agencies and brands and have engaged in similar activities offline and online :)

Assuming, Mint does another two part expose about Agencies and Brands — would the same people who worked in Agencies and in Brands, having moved on be willing to come on record and accept? Will Mint publish the names about those brands that advertise heavily with the publishing house? Or there will be a watered down followup with small agencies or brands accepting.

Personally, I see no problem with this nexus — you either want to be a part of it and work towards it, gain your credentials and sell yourself or you don’t want to be and keep yourself away. But a constant or convenient way to be sly, crib or pretend that you never knew about this is definitely not on.

Mint writer Venkat had some specific point that I do not fully subscribe to, except the fact that it is their job to write stories, get views for the larger audience which to me seems fair, given that Panama papers also was investigated and broken, but beyond that it is the relevant authorities who are responsible.

However, I do have a problem with Mint going to Jodhpur to meet a 17 year old and make a story, whilst in any of the metros there are hordes who would have been much better and the repercussions non existent.

Going forward how will it really affect:

Brands will yawn, ho hum, continue because they pay the agency and it’s monkey off my back kinda scenario.

Agencies will play all sides, think of a couple of new ideas — let’s not hashtag this time around, or use YouTube or SnapChat to link Twitter or whatever. And use this to drive rates down so more money in the pocket.

Influencers who are genuine and not the Rs. 70 per tweet ones, don’t give a damn. The Rs. 70–100 ones are dime a dozen; just like mosquitoes, ek maaro hazaar paida hota hai.

Venkat also asked me about ‘Rate card’. Yes it exists as it should. And why not. For me personally I asked Twitter some days back — “How much should I sell my soul for”. Got an answer, unfortunately nobody has paid or is willing to pay beyond some freebies!


Disclaimer: I am rarely paid, and most of the time put a disclaimer whilst writing invite reviews. I don’t like to attend the junta meets. I would like to make money like everyone else and the rate card is above.


Sales Pitch – Mahindra Holidays

It has been a long followed practice of Mahindra Holidays and many others to work on the funnel theory – which basically collect data, on different pretexts and offers; then spam the shite out of prospects, with the hope that 1.7-3% will convert and be signed up. 

You would mostly see them at fuel pumps, multiplexes, malls trying to entice you with their ‘Free night stay’ if you part with your details. 

Over the years, whilst their numbers grew, everybody got irritated, I was amused to watch from the sidelines. I have always been polite to them, avoiding by saying ‘No thank you’. 

Last year, visiting my favourite Shiv Sagar restaurant in Juhu, we took a table and a couple of minutes later this boy came up. Looking at the uniform, I mistakenly started giving him our food order – till he clarified that he is from Mahindra Holidays and could we fill in a form. Exasperated and amused alternatively, I told him No. 

But, I did mention to the owner that for some money you’re going to lose customers, which he agreed fortunately and said, he would not have them from the next day. 

Sales pressure is fine, however Mahindra Holidays is supposed to be in the ‘Holiday Experience’ business. Wonder how they handle the people who hate this experience. 

But the 2-3% conversion numbers make up for it, I guess. What’s your take on this?


OTP woes 

OTP woes. 
I rarely need an alarm clock – for reasons that are painful and funny, but another time. However, the past couple of years the Banks and Telcos have joined hands to provide me with one. 
It can be anytime from 4-8 am in the morning and the barrage of texts that go ping pong – you have balance which is enough for one Vada pav, you need to put more money, invest here, there everywhere, invoice sent and 7 reminders before due date which is 3 weeks away. 
Earlier this used to raise my BP, then one got used to it just like the smog, traffic, slums in Bombay. 
Two days ago they stopped. I did not miss them. However, I had made a decent sized payment whilst dining out and I wanted to be sure. 
I also was reminded by N that I needed to order xyz from Amazon. So did that, it took me to the CC page, I clicked on OTP and there was no incoming text for me to enter the number. Tried this 5 times and of course the order got cancelled and then price went up by 40%. 
I had to undertake a journey so Uber it was – don’t ask what happened to driver & car – went, payment done. Then realised did not have enough money in uber for return trip. 
In the meantime on advise of many well wishers who apparently are more tech savvy started and shut down the phone multiple times. No change. Tried sending message from the nos and it reached. Tried sending message to nos and it does not reach. 
Finally, factory reset. Status quo. 
Paid money in Airtel account, since prepaid. Status quo. 
Uber allows Paytm. Paytm needs recharge. Recharge needs OTP. All around in circles. 
So old time Rick and Taxi travel ruled. 
Enlisted ‘technology millennial’ aka my daughter who did everything all over again. Spoke to automated junk which claimed ₹105 recharge has not happened. 
She called customer care, who said it must be because of DND – Duh! Banks dude!
After 10 min of debate, said ‘we’ve taken down a complaint and wait till Monday.’
During the day when I marked ICICI who responded with template ‘couldn’t get thru to you’. 
Airtel responded with ‘we will resolve’. 
Current Status:
I have a perfectly valid CC, PayTM, Uber accounts, besides a list of things that have to be ordered from your ‘Tech Apps’ according to N. BUT cannot because OTP is sent by text only, the email option is no longer available. 
Given my past 6 weeks problems with ICICI and their answers, I expect them to say that ‘your OTP request required manual intervention and Saturday was a holiday’. 
Expectation from Airtel would be ‘Please visit nearest gallery’. And then follow it up with 500 spam messages etc. 
In the meantime I am stuck cursing technology. 


Gongurra – Versova Link Road 

Pass by this place nearly every day. Had heard about their meals and thali, but not a lover of South Indian thali and had been wanting to try out other stuff. 
Trusty Scootsy sent a message saying it was listed; decided to try it out and ordered:
Idli – not as light and fluffy as Dakshinayan but far superior to shiv sagar, and other Shetty types. Three to a plate. 
Medu Vada – Outstanding. As good as Dakshinayan and possibly the matunga places also. Three to a plate. 
Sada Dosa – Quite good and had not turned chewy inspite of the 20-30 min delivery time. 
Onion Uttapam – Very good and a must try. Thank me later :)
The sambhar was very good, not sweet at all, with vegetables which I tend to remove, but the taste hit the spot. The chatni taste was very good though there seemed to be extra salt in it today. 
Overall a perfect addition for breakfast/brunch place for order on weekends. It comes well packed and remains hot even after delivery.
Food: 4/5


Delivery by Scootsy

Damages: ₹500/- for 3 people


Bawi Bride – Home chef 

Perzen the young Bawi Bride who has been cooking for a long time. 

I have had the pleasure of meeting her many a times, where she always greets me with a wide grin and after having missed a couple of invites, unfailingly asks when, if I am every going to try her cooking. 

It was a couple of months ago, after a particular quick meeting, she demanded the address and said I want you to try out the food. You can’t make time, the food will make time. 

Promptly enough, the next day she sent the food – limited on my insistence – Chicken patties / chop – different people call it differently, I just say it was delicious. 

This was followed by Chicken Dhansak which I shared with my father in law, who having worked with a lot of Parsi’s in his banking days found it delicious, so much so he asked if he could clean it up with the lovely kachumber. 

The sweet Lagan nu custard is something that I am unable to make my mind up – not about the taste, which was good But different houses there have been slightly different colour and taste. But then I am a sparse sweet eater. 

Time passed, and I had actually forgotten about this, but checking Scootsy out for something to order for my Father in law found Bawi Bride is featured there and delivers. Superb stuff. His weekend is sorted. 

My photographs don’t do justice, given our hunger, so have borrowed a photograph from her and Aneesh Bhasin. 



Desi Deli at Bandra

A trial of Veg at a client’s place many moons ago and then it fell off the radar.  Another reason being, it is located on the same road, where couple of other places are located, which I frequent more due to the company I keep.
Landed up this week with a friend, after being pushed into it. And the first friendly face I see is of Nisha the server at Bru Cafe – always smiling and with a sharp memory. Soon after Lolita the owner came bustling in. She and her partner who are well travelled, love food (hate the term foodie) wanted to give it a shot. Began with PoPups before finalising on the place. 

It has seating for around 15-18 in a squeeze outside and 3-4 inside. Evening and a bit of breeze made us opt for outside. 

We sit down and peruse the menu, and decide to try a couple of things – non veg mostly – and began, by leaving the ordering in her capable hands. 
Lush lamb burger – Outstanding is the only word to describe it. I’ve like burgers at a lot of places, but hate if the bun turns soggy or the pattice is soft. Here it was crunchy right thru and the taste was just right #MustHave
The Goan Desi – Quite good, though I am not a great chorizo fan, but the caramalized onions and just the right sauces made it quite good. #TryIt
The Champ – Mutton was quite nice, went well with pao and chutney, but not something that I would order again if I am by myself. Note: Tell them to make it normal salted, because as a rule they undersalt it. 
The Wild Thing – Laal Maas – taste and mix with cracked wheat porridge was quite nice, but again not my cuppa. 
Desi Chicken Stoo – Another superb dish with Brun Pav, which helps soak the hot stew and the chicken was quite good. #TryIt
The veg salad was pretty good, but the ulta patla salli are superb and a #MustHave
The dessert of preference was Desi Cup Cake. #TryIt
Dark chocolate 54% milk shake was another outstanding offering. Not sweet, just perfect #MustHave
The portions are enough for one normal person.
Overall a nice cute place, definitely worth a repeat but Burgers, Hot Dogs and Shakes get my vote. We carried a take away and also ordered the Lush lamb burger the next day :)
Disclaimer: The tasting was on invite by Lolita the owner of the place. The take away and order were paid for as is customary for me.


NRI aka Not Really Indian @ BKC

Read about it and had wanted to visit, but something held me back in the first week. 

One Saturday The Teen Patti decided to make it a boys lunch and off we went. 

I had made a reservation the previous day for 12.30 pm. Reached and were escorted quickly inside. The briefing session was still on but we were allowed to choose our table and we began the menu perusal. 

On a current status of No Drinks went on to try Mintilicious – quite good, chilled and hit the spot. Tuskar was also quite good. But the Mumbai Chatka was outstanding and #MustHave. 

On starters we began with Pind da hummus – dal vada with jeera flavoured hummus – really very good and we ordered another round. We also ordered Dalim Shakkarkand which was outstanding. And as gujjus we can make that out. 

In non veg we ordered Mamak Lamb chops – Outstanding. Our hardcore non veg friend inhaled the entire plate without questions and gave a satisfied burp. But asked he said Theek tha. 

We wanted to try the chef’s special do chicken potli and bekti but were told that it is not available that day! Quite sad and I asked them how can the chef’s special not be available. Apparently it had not come was the answer. 

Whilst we ordered the Bunny Chow – Veg. Because one of us wanted to try it out. It was quite tasty but I’ve definitely had much better and more importantly was part of the restaurant who launched it in Mumbai in 2014. 

The server came back with the information of Bekti being available and yes it was superb. Definitely #MustHave

Finished off by a dessert off the cart which was definite let down, so much so that I don’t remember the name also. 

 One of my pet peeves is the service and attitude bit and this was quite putting off here. Being the only table, we actually had to call and wave our hands for service and water. Most of the staff was near the entrance or open kitchen. Staff was friendly but explaining food with a supercilious air again doesn’t work for me. 

The jacketed gentlemen were no better. AND facing the kitchen with back to the guests is again a No. If a senior person has spoken to you, then you do not send a junior to inform your guests is what I’ve always learnt. 

Ambiance 3.5/5

Food 4.5/5

Service 3/5

Damages: ₹6000 odd incl taxes for 3 people. 

Will I go back: Yes for the food, but hoping the service changes to meet expectations. 

Taj Tea House – Bandra

A posh place with prices to match but one where I prefer to closet myself in one corner and read or think. 
Many friends who accompanied me, found the service bad, food or drinks not upto the mark yada yada. 
To me the service has been impeccable always – because I do not have expectations. It is modelled like the old Tea houses at the estates in East and it is just great to be in one of them. 

Enter, wander around find a nook, open your book or take a snooze till somebody comes for the order. 

Try the gauva ginger iced tea with brun Maska. Or sip on Assam. 

Don’t try and compare everything with everything. Doesn’t work. 

I am yet to try more things, but then that is not a priority for me when I come here. 

Service 3.5/5

Food 3/5

Damages ₹750 plus taxes 


Sharing a Table….

Anybody who has remotely travelled interiors of India and even internationally understands what the term ‘Sharing a Table’ means. 

At Pubs, Cafés there are community tables. In restaurants that require reservations, it is difficult but I have been asked many a times in far flung places if I would mind sharing a table. 

Depending on my mood, I’ve agreed or opted for sitting at the Bar. My experience has always been quite good. 

Similarly during the initial days of my career, the Shetty joints or local thali places one would need to squeeze in with 3-5 others based on the size of the table. 

And all of this still exists. 

So it was with amusement, I read about it as being news and how the newly fangled pubs/restaurants had thought of the innovative way of getting strangers to share the table. And of course many in the media thought Moses had parted the sea again or something. 

Watching at a couple of them, speaking to some ladies I firmly came to an conclusion that it will be and was a terrible flop. 

Many reasons to it. Most of the ‘happening places’ were seldom visited by single person. Ladies mostly felt uncomfortable being asked by Unknown Vicky with an Audi if they can share a table. And there are too many options in the same price band, nearby etc for it to make any sense. 

Of course restaurants played their part by putting up hipsterish flag, expecting it to be used. 

Nothing of that sort happened and these days I don’t even see the flags. 

If you have experienced to the contrary and would like to share, please do. 


DsDs – Home chef

An old, dear friend had given up the rat race a couple of years ago and decided to pursue her passion.

Slow and steady she nurtured her baby, always asking me to try out some, but it never happened. Recently she decided to take things in her own hands, sent over some sample one evening and just informed me by sending a text.

We received and tried out the following:

Green Thai Veg + Tofu curry – Pesonally Tofu is not something I enjoy, but somehow N & K seem to have developed a liking for it, and I was surprised to see them actually nodding their heads whilst eating.

Basil Onion Rice – I loved this. It had just the little tinge of onion and basil mixing – nothing over powering and worked well with the veg and in my case also with Sriracha.

Papaya Peanut Salad with dressing – Superb, was polished off in double time.

Thai Spring Rolls with sriracha – Outstanding and star of the evening for me.

If I were to order again – Thai spring rolls (2 portions) Papaya salad (2 portions) Basil Onion Rice (1 portion) with another gravy.

They also send italian, japanese.

Give them a call +91 9821024405 or email them And her name is Bela Gupta.