An Indian in Egypt

Egypt- A country which was in news recently for its political unrest. A country known for its pyramids and the river Nile. While planning the trip we were quite sceptical about how this trip will turn out considering the fact that Egypt is not a usual holiday destination for Indians. So, with all the planning and excitement we took an early morning direct flight from Mumbai to Cairo on 22nd of July 2018.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Day 1– We reached Cairo quite early in the morning because of time difference of 3.5 hours and after checking-in to our hotel we went to Giza to visit the great pyramids. The view of the pyramid was quite mesmerizing in the bright sunlight. We saw the sphinx too there as it was just beside the pyramids. From Giza we returned to our hotel that was located at the Tahrir Square (the centre-point of Arab spring in 2011). For all our intra-city travel we were using Uber and the service was quite perfect, there is also a local ride hailing service called Careem.

Citadel of Qaitbay

Day 2- Next day, we took an early morning bus from Cairo to Alexandria (the city founded by Alexander the great in 331 BC). Alexandria is located on the coast of Mediterranean Sea. Again, after checking-in to our hotel, we went to the Citadel of Qaitbay which was a very important defence stronghold to neutralize any attack from Mediterranean sea. After citadel, we went to Bibliotheca Alexandrina (the library of Alexandria). When we entered the library, we were surprised to see the grandeur and beauty of it. Its design was unique with a tilted disc shaped structure and diverse collections of books and ancient literatures. We also saw a statue of Mahatma Gandhi there. Finally, we ended our day with a visit to the Stanley Bridge which was well decorated with multi-coloured lights.

Stanley Bridge, Alexandria

Day 3– Our Day 3 was full of travel, so in the morning we went to Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa which showcases Egyptian, Greek and roman culture at one place. This whole structure was used as a burial chamber and it gives you a sense of thrill when you enter inside it as it is located below the ground. From there we went to Cairo in the evening and before catching our late-night bus to Luxor we went to Qasr al-Nil bridge which connects tahrir square and Gezira Island. The bridge is a perfect place to understand how Nile is the heart of Cairo as there are many beautiful places around like Cairo Tower, Egyptian Museum etc.

The Morutary Temple of Hatshepsut

Day 4- Next day we reached Luxor at around 9 am. From bus stop, we directly went to our hotel for which we had to cross the Nile via ferry. After couple of hours, we were ready for our visit to royal and historical Egypt. We asked our host to book a cab for us as Uber and Careem were not available in this town. We started our day from the Valley of Kings. It contains the tombs of many kings who ruled Egypt including the tomb of famous king Tutankhamun. Tourists were not allowed to take any pictures here. We visited tombs of kings like Ramses II, Ramses III, Amenhotep II etc. The weather was quite hot there in the afternoon. So, from here we went to another marvel of ancient Egypt i.e. the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. The design, texture and aesthetics of this structure were quite astonishing. We also went to mortuary temple of Amenhotep III. Then we took rest in the afternoon and in the evening, we went to see the Luxor temple. The Luxor temple was looking quite royal and beautiful with the lighting and decoration.

The Luxor Temple

Day 5- Our Day 5 started quite early, as we took a private boat to visit the Karnak temple which is located quite close to the bank of river Nile. The Karnak temple is considered as the second most visited tourist place in Egypt after the pyramids. The temple is spread in more than 100 acres of land and everywhere there are different types of statues and pillars each signifying various hidden meanings. The pillars there were designed in the form of open or closed papyrus flower found along the Nile. After visiting Karnak temple, we went to our hotel, collected our stuffs and went to catch a bus for our next destination i.e. Hurghada. We reached Hurghada around 9 pm in the Night that day. Hurghada is like the Goa of Egypt located on the coast of Red Sea.

Marina Beach (Hurghada)

Day 6- Our Day 6 started quite late in the afternoon as we were quite tired with non-stop travel. We visited local markets that day and bought a lot of souvenirs as the prices were quite decent. We also visited the Marina Beach of Hurghada and we discovered some good restaurants there. We slept early that day as our next day was going to be quite exciting. We had booked a yacht for going to Giftun Island located in the red sea.

Giftun Island (Red Sea)

Day 7- Our cab arrived at 8.30 in the morning the next day to take us to the yacht. It was around 45 mins of travel from the beach to the island. When we reached the island, we couldn’t believe how the water can be so crystal clear with multiple shades of blue along the horizon. We stayed for an hour on that island and then we went for snorkelling to see coral reefs inside the transparent water. After around 1 hour of snorkelling we had our lunch. Post lunch we returned to the beach. We reached our hotel around 5 in the evening and from there we went to local market to purchase sweets and local delicacies. Since we had planned our return to Cairo that day only, so we went to bus stand around 11 pm to catch our late-night bus to Cairo.

Egyptian Museum

Day 8- On Day 8, we reached Cairo at around 7 in the morning. Since we were feeling quite exhausted by late night travel we took rest till afternoon. From there we went to local market and nearby places. In the evening we went to the Egyptian Museum. Egyptian museum houses thousands of ancient statues and artefacts. It also houses royal mummies of Egypt and the famous mummy of the king Tutankhamun. We spent around 3 hours in the museum as it was full of royal Egypt history.

View from Cairo Tower

Day 9- Next day was our last day in the Egypt as we were travelling to Mumbai in the evening. But we had a plan to end such an exciting trip on a high note. So, we went to the Cairo tower, the 187 m high tower located on the Gezira island in the heart of Cairo. We were quite surprised to see the beautiful city of Cairo from the Cairo tower with river Nile flowing in the centre of the city like the heartbeat of the city. From the Cairo tower, we went to our hotel, collected our luggage and went to the Cairo airport to catch our direct flight to Mumbai.

We used the Go Bus of Egypt for all the inter-city travel and Uber and Careem for Intra-city travel. Food will be a challenge, if you are a Vegetarian. Looking back this was a challenging trip for us with weather, food and language as the major challenges. But the learning and experience was worth it. I would like to end this with the quote I read in the bibliotheca Alexandrina, “Egypt’s civilization was not the gift of the Nile as the Herodotus said, but rather a gift from the Egyptians to civilization and history” – Solaiman Hozayen.

River Nile in Luxor


The Patanjali Phenomena

PatanjaliProductsPatanjali, the new FMCG giant is breaking every growth records and making phenomenal business. It’s the new growth icon in FMCG industry. Global analysts are writing its story and projecting its future path. So, what’s new in this article? Well, having been a user of Patanjali products for the last 5-6 years I would tell you what’s the driving force behind Patanjali products? How the divine yogic belief on Baba Ramdev got converted into Patanjali product adoption and loyalty. Whether Baba Ramdev is the only reason of product acceptance or the product really great?

Patanjali is a FMCG company built on the platform of spirituality, Ayurveda and Patriotism. It’s not a company but a movement, a movement for indigenous products with excellent quality. But, the million dollar question is how this company is writing the new and unbelievable growth story and whether it is sustainable?

I would say there are basically 6 reasons behind Patanjali’s success:

  1. The Yoga follower base- Baba Ramdev is the undisputable yoga icon in India. His contribution towards promoting yoga and pranayama in Indian masses cannot be underestimated. He has been performing yogic aasanas and pranayamas on Aastha and Sanskaar channel for the last two decades. People have been benefitted by practicing his yoga teachings. These results and benefits got converted into a huge follower base of yoga guru and when the company he endorses i.e. Patanjali, came up with FMCG products, it was widely accepted among his followers because of trust built because of yoga and its benefits.
  2. Product affordability- For the same amount and better quality patanjali products are cheaper w.r.t other brands and this lower price were never perceived as a sign of inferior quality because of the word of mouth publicity of patanjali products. Also, the affordability and its quality were almost always told in Baba Ramdev’s yog shivir by himself. He is the face of his products with quite a vocal challenge to other brands that no one can challenge the quality of Patanjali’s products.
  3. Infrastructure- Few of you might be knowing, but patanjali Food Park is one of the largest and most unusual food park in the world with world-class manufacturing facility with strict quality adherence. So, the platform or base created by patanjali for its business is quite strong and with long-term vision. This sort of infrastructure helps in getting the first step right is any form of business which patanjali did.
  4. Word of Mouth publicity– Patanjali is one of the best examples of how word of mouth publicity can be leveraged to push your products. How yogic and divine beliefs can be converted into product trust and beliefs and how a person’s charisma can be extended into the brand itself. Initial product adoption by Baba Ramdev’s followers created a lot of positive responses and feedbacks about patanjali’s products and the product’s quality gave sustainability to the initial product adoption.
  5. Umbrella brand strategy– Patanjali is a unique company in FMCG space with its umbrella brand strategy, each and every product of patanjali is identified with the parent brand name i.e. Patanjali. On the other hand, other companies like P&G, HUL etc. follows a house of brands strategy where individual brands are built-in different categories with no any mention of parent brands like Pepsodent, Pantene, Surf, Lifebuoy etc. For a newcomer like patanjali, it’s the best strategy to adopt if you want to challenge multiple brands at a time because-
  • In this case, beliefs built-in one category can be transmitted into other and this would prompt customers for initial product trial which will help in getting product adopted by the customers because of product’s quality.

But, there is a flip side to it, in the case of one product/category failure, the parent brand is quite vulnerable as it will be significantly affected and sales figure may dive down rapidly. Whereas, if everything goes right the dividend that this strategy can yield is unimaginable which is something happening with patanjali at present.

  1. PatanjaliPatanRamdev.jpgPatriotism and Indian-ness- Bharat Swabhiman as endorsed by yoga guru is also helping patanjali’s success. Baba Ramdev is always seen speaking on national television about the need of purchasing indigenous products so as to reduce the cash outflow to other countries which is also a reason behind weakening of the rupee. This awareness and education instills a sort of patriotism in people and leaves no any space for counter-argument in terms of logic/persuasion for product adoption.

Finally, I would like to say that challenging patanjali is not going to be easy for FMCG giants because patanjali is playing on its strength and is doing what it is best at doing. So, these FMCG giants need to come up with a unique strategy like herbal variants of existing products, increased expenditure on marketing communication etc. which is easier said than done. Let’s see who is going to win this epic corporate battle. Which company and how much of it will get affected will depend on the portfolio overlap with patanjali and how strong patanjali is in that category.