Friday, October 15, 2010

Maddened by doughnuts

Yesterday, we were at Mad Over Donuts, a doughnuts parlour, that has opened at Hiranandani in Powai. They serve lots of varieties of doughnuts, including ones which are almost unheard of!! You can say, what Cafe Coffee Day is for coffee, Mad Over Donuts is for doughnuts.

I had never been there, and had previously eaten only what can be termed as an apology of doughnuts. Hence, I agreed to go there, but to have doughnuts, more as a dessert, rather than as a primary food, for the evening.

The place is nice, and like the usual coffee parlours, the ambiance is definitely targeted towards the youth. They have a huge variety of doughnuts, ranging from chocolate dipped to pineapple flavoured ones. And they have a few good offers. Like, buy nine doughnuts, get three free. And combo offers for less, etc.  But, ever since reading Predictably Irrational, I feel these offers are not genuine ones, but decoys to induce us to buy more. And, there is a problem. All their doughnuts are excessively sweet. I ordered a dark-chocolate doughnut. Now, my near and dear ones would know about my weakness for dark chocolate. I like it, because it has that bitter tinge to it, which leaves me craving for more. It has more of cocoa and less of processed milk. And I like to believe all those studies that say dark chocolate is good for health. But, alas!! This dark-chocolate filled doughnut is sweeter than the regular milk chocolate. So much of sugar into it, that I didn't need to have sugar the next day!  Thankfully, I did not have any sugar test scheduled, else the doctor would have surely declared me diabetic.

Here we are, paying between Rs.40-45 for the doughnut, and yet we get the stereotypical sweet chocolate doughnuts. Why? Because Indians like their chocolates to be sweet. But then, they are charging a premium for those doughnuts and they need to break the stereotype. Hope M.O.D. realises this and improves its dark chocolate doughnut. I would definitely go there once again, if they make that correction.
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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Predictably Irrational: Dan Ariely

Picture this scenario: You walk into a McDonald's outlet, and you are hungry. You see the menu which reads, Rs. 30 for a regular burger, Rs. 45. for a medium sized burger and Rs. 52. for a large size one. What would you order? Now, obviously, you cannot gauge the extent of your hunger. And hence, you would buy the large burger, because it is highly likely that you have made the calculation that the large size burger is just Rs. 7 more than the medium sized one and you get to eat a lot more in the bargain. But did you ever realise that the medium sized burger in the menu might just be a decoy? To entice you into buying the large one? It creates an illusion that you are getting a good value for money by buying the large burger. Sounds irrational? Predictable so!!

Predictable Irrational, by Dan Ariely, describes various such social behaviours, where despite being informed and knowledgeable we make choice that cannot be justified by logic. E.g., why would it be rude and perhaps damaging, if you try to pay your mausi for the wonderful dinner she invited you for during Diwali? When, she would be elated, if you were to give her a gift like a box of sweets, which is way lesser in value compared to the 'cost' of preparation of the food. Or, do we have the capability to make the same decisions, irrespective of the state of our mind? How common is cheating? Does the fear of punishment prevent people from cheating? Or do other moral pressures work better?

Dan Ariely and his co-workers have tried to analyse these social behaviours after conducting scores of experiments in various places across in the United States. Some of the conclusions about social behaviours and decision making in the social environment are specific to the US, because of the way the society functions there. Nevertheless, the book is a wonderful read, and might be of some help to reduce our irrationality and improve decision making.

Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our DecisionsOne point to consider. Now, that I have placed a and link, to make it easy for you to buy one, if interested, would you still believe that my review of the book is impartial? Or do you think, I have some benefit in promoting this book and hence, the review need not be impartial? The first thought that you get, might be predictably irrational!!
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Friday, October 01, 2010

Yes, we can

The Ayodhya verdict, for once, showed that we are a mature democracy. The promise given by leaders that no party would celebrate or indulge in riots irrespective of the nature of the decision was kept by the leaders. Many may claim that they said this because the option of going to the Supreme Court was available to both sides. And because there could be political implications of wild celebrations or riots. But, whatever be the reason, the promise given was kept. India, as a nation, desires to move on towards development and prosperity. Sensible youth are hungry for more opportunities in the new Indian economy. They have the desire and energy to build a career for themselves. All stakeholders in the story of India's economic success should strive to channelise this desire and energy in a way that would benefit the country, both, socially as well as economically. While this does not mean that we discard our faith, it means that people desire to practice their faith in a manner that is minimally intrusive to others.

For once, India showed that we can digest a particular verdict in a manner such that there is peace in the society as a whole. Murmurs in some corners are bound to occur, but the leadership should stand up and try to see that these murmurs do not come to mainstream. Ofcourse, the media has a role to play, but then today's media does not desire to take any such responsibility.

And, there is another event where we need to show, we can. The Delhi Common Wealth Games (CWG) 2010. Yes, agreed there is a huge scandal involving the games, taxpayers' money has definitely been swindled, brazen corruption has taken place, payments made for works that haven't met specifications, funds for other causes have been diverted to the Games. Poor people have been uprooted from their shanties and dumped on the fringes of Delhi. Lots of injustices and bad practices. We have been snubbed and taunted about the way the preparations have gone. But, all said and done, we should be solidly backing our athletes who are depending on the support of the home crowd to give them the extra edge in performance. We should show them, that we back them, despite this callous government and the tardy preparations for the Games. We should show them, yes we can be enthusiastic about sports apart from cricket. Ditch the Australia-India test series. Go out, watch the CWG, only for our athletes. Support them, they are playing for the nation. Remember, BCCI admitted in the court that it does not send an Indian team, but a team representing BCCI. If the time for India has really come, we should support those who truly compete for India, not only for namesake.

Let's us show the athletes, yes, we can thumb our nose to cricket. Yes, we can support sports despite every controversy that surrounds it. And yes, we can help them inspire others, which will create a fresh set of talent in the country.
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