All the places in the world and nowhere to go

by Swatee Jog

Bella Vista Belagavi

A week is such a wonderful experience in Belagavi with commuting time less than 30 minutes from one end to the other and hardly 3-4 traffic signals on any given route of business district. Belagavi workplaces also boast of that old-worldly charm with simple people who care for each other. Have a stroll along Belagavi’s quadrangular streets any evening and you are sure to bump into some colleague or friend. However, not all’s so rosy on weekends. The biggest worry for families and the youth is the lack of options to spend weekends. Since the city functions on a 6 day week, the weekend begins late on Saturday and spills over to Sunday night. Normally, a city boasts of leisure places like restaurants, cafeterias, malls, multiplexes, exhibition centers, art galleries, amusement parks, zoos, gardens, fine dining standalone restaurants or eateries at bigger hotels, book shops, etc. How many of the above options are available to us?weekend-belagavi

Let us put it succinctly… when was the last time you heard Ajanta Café / Uday Bhavan / Saffron / Sanman , etc. changed their menu or introduced some new dish with a major announcement?
When was the last time you heard of some chef of repute from a Star grade hotel being invited to cook and present his signature fare for Belagavi foodies? Exceptions exist may be only for the Fish Festival/Oriental Food fest organized by some hotels.

Don’t you think we are tired of the same old fare dished out year after year? By change, I mean not variations in portion sizes/ change in dish designs / change in presentation. McDonald’s, KFC, Subway and a host of other places have opened up and new trend is small eateries, which are known to people in a specific area.

The Art scene in Belagavi is lackluster at its best and dismal at its worst. Subhash Studio has a gallery, albeit a small cramped one and they hold some showings. Mahaveer Bhavan recently introduced another and Vangmay Charcha mandal presents some stuff every year. The city prides itself on artists like Kamkar Datta, Shirish Deshpande, Bharat Jagtap, etc. Why don’t we get to see art in its varied and vibrant forms here? With incomes surging and décor tastes getting subtle, any artist worth his talent should get a thumping response in Belagavi. Murals, glass, installation art, mixed medium, stone work have never been shown by any artist in the city.

The exhibition scene is so pathetic that we rebound and flock to any board that spells it, irrespective of whether the ware on sale is relevant to our tastes and needs. No wonder we found hundreds of women at the auto expo, not out of curiosity about the vintages or the Beetle, bet many may not even be aware of the uniqueness of some of the vehicles, but more for the vegetable peelers and the furniture and food stalls. Show me one woman who can tell which stable Santa Fe belongs and I will show you ten who have noted that Emu was available at the expo! While you wait at the traffic signal at the old NCC office, one never misses the crowds seen jostling at the exhibit inside, poring through sarees, imitation jewelry, shirts, bags and mugs and cups.
We now do have the KLE convention centre, KalaMandir is now more of a Store house than any mandir.

Belagavi has no zoo, ( now come on, the animals we’ve been seeing at Military Mahadev qualify to be guests at the most), no amusement park, no water park ( yes, I know the Fort Lake has boating facility), no book store that organizes book readings, no cafes that belt old classic English numbers or present live bands, our gardens are stamp size and overcrowded. Hindalga Ganesh Mandir is a good option to the devout and now provides some games for the kids but is ruled out in the monsoons for obvious reasons. The lone mall is insufficient- has been repeatedly visited and the shopping streets provide no real pleasure anymore. All these places are frequented by everyone – the youth, the families with kids in tow, the elderly and the womenfolk out for some serious shopping sprees and time pass.

Let’s not despair for there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Belagavi has always been an eternally optimistic city. But another week comes to an end. So where are you going?

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Swati
    No change in cuisines anywhere in India. Desperate but no luck. It is the same deep fried or sugar stuff or garam masala stuff. Authenticity is lost everywhere. There is one art gallery in Kannada Sahitya Bhavan to complete your list. Other Galleries are on first floor. (Sadly art artists and public suffer- state of things!) We miss hockey, badminton football athletics too. City suffers due to space. In other District places I found even barbers have bigger shops wide and large! Can we make bikers use centre stand? Can we make complexes allow parking space in cellars? Can we decongest Raviwarpeth? Can Car owners park cars in their houses? Can we simply spread in all directions? Can we make our City greener?

  2. The tide is changing in the consumer behaviour in India, riding on the back of higher disposable income, changing lifestyle, urbanisation of semi-urban and rural communities, shifting demography, increasing consumer awareness, growing Internet penetration and innovative promotional campaigns. With the changing pattern of consumer behaviour and consumer spending expected to increase companies in India are also tweaking their strategies to retain their loyal consumer base, while attracting the emerging young consumers.

    In the past decade, consumers in India have become more conscious buyers, looking at options, engaging over Internet and understanding the usefulness of the products. Consumers are now more informed and buy products after doing their own research, rather than just relying on marketers or company promotions. Further, with social media making inroads even in the hinterland through smartphones, consumers are seen exchanging notes on product reviews before making a buying decision.

    Some changes in the consumer behaviour are as follows:

    Price-value equation: Consumers in India have now become more value conscious. They are demanding higher services and value for their money. Be it electronics, automobile, merchandises or any other items, they are now looking at high value for product that is able to meet their expectations. With the ever increasing purchasing power, Indian consumers are now driven by rationale mindset. They are becoming less emotional and more logical in their approach for buying a product.

    While promoting a brand or product, companies are more cognizant about selling the USP, focusing on the pegs and listing out what differentiates them from their nearest competitors. This is leading to a battle of sorts between various consumer companies, engaging in providing information deluge to consumers, competitive pricing and quality services.

    Women playing an active role: Women are a vital part of the retail sector in the present market scenario. With change in power equations in urban households, emergence of working women both in urban and rural India, and greater empowerment of women, they have been influencing the change in the buying behaviour too. The traditional approach of being loyal to a brand or buying the same product over the years has also been broken, with women being able to take quick decisions, giving rise to trying out new products or products that are competitively priced. Further, financially independent single women and single mothers are also making a significant part of the pie, who are constantly making buying decisions not restricted by their requirements but as per their lifestyle, preferences and interest areas.

    Experts believe that with increasing women making buying decisions, the overall consumer sentiments towards purchasing is also expected to become more prudent in nature. Further, companies, in order to woo women buyers, are coming out with gender neutral products or products that are catering to women buyers, even in segments that were traditionally seen as male-dominated such as automobile and finance. The recent advertisements by consumer brands such as Tata Tea during the general elections targeted to the ‘power of 49% women voters’, clearly indicated a shift in promotion pattern in the country.

    Experimenting with new products/impulsive buying: The impulsive buying in consumers in India can be linked with the options available both on the online and offline medium. With consumers given the option of buying something at a click of a button using a smartphone or tablet, impulsive buying pattern has been on a rise. The time taken to buy a product is far too less and decisions are taken more rapidly, thanks to numerous e-commerce sites.

    Consumer companies are also seen cashing in on the trend by offering attractive offers and discounts – EMI options, add-on products, free services – leading to consumers often making instantaneous purchasing decisions, both offline and online. On the hindsight, e-commerce companies, especially, also face refusals and cancellation of orders, mostly in case of consumers opting for cash-on-delivery option, with consumers sighting impulsive buying as the reason[iii].

    Social Media: The rapid growth of social media over the years, especially among the youth of the country, is also changing the way consumers are shopping these days. Consumers are relying more on the reviews of their peers and friends, engaging in active decisions about products and services over social media sites, before making any buying decisions. Even watching a movie in a theatre is often determined based on the ‘social media buzz’ rather than critics ratings.

    Gauging the expectation of the consumers by tabbing on the social media conversations, using social media as the first point of contact for resolving consumer queries and effectively making social sites to contain viraling of negative comments could be the way forward for companies in India.

    Internet buying: Increased Internet penetration in the country has changed the buying pattern of people. The urban community, as well as consumers from Tier II cities, is using e-commerce as a preferred mode of buying products. In fact, e-commerce would be able to contribute more than 4% to the economy of the country, which is below 1%[v] currently. Further, consumers are using Internet as a research tool to make informed decisions. It has been found that most of the people researching the products online have changed their mind about the brand/model they wanted to buy/purchase, as per a survey conducted by Google[vi].

    Promoting products, managing consumer expectations and providing them with the right information over the Internet are some of the key areas companies are focusing on. Further, marketers are increasingly using digital marketing to attract consumers, a trend largely fuelled by growth of mobile technology – low-cost smartphones, tablets in India.
    Easy availability of credits: The availability of credit has also enhanced the consumption pattern for younger generation in the country. With increasing number of credit options available, the time gap between aspiration and fulfillment has been narrowed. The younger generation in the country who has been given the purchasing power through credit card, personal loans and EMI options are more eager to acquire aspirational products.

    Over the last decade, starting from big showrooms in the malls to even small shops in up-market areas, providing the consumers the option to pay through credit and debit cards have earned them higher revenues. Credit card spends (in value terms) have more than doubled while debit card spends (in value) have risen six times.
    Since the Indian economy opened the buyers in India have embraced to consumerism and the hunger for branded products has increased massively. Over the years, the growth in the sector has been fuelled by higher Internet penetration and usage of diverse forms of promotion. Further, with majority of the consumers being youth, buying pattern is now witnessing a revolution of sorts.

    You can see that there is a perfect imbalance between what the people of Belgaum expect and what the city offers. The differences can never balance and we have to live with it this is the realty.

  3. Crazy expectations in this articles. The water parks are for those who are not provided with lust of natural water resources like dams and rivers and plenty of water falls options in season. Belgaum has plenty of options around. Zoo ??? Belgaum is surrounded by evergreen forests and you can enjoy wildlife at its best. Forts, Hill tops, Temples…..

    Look for what is around and don’t waste time in expecting artificial entertainment. You are a big waste if you think Belgaum has nothing to offer and you need some artificial / man made toys to play around.

  4. echo prasanna ; indeed miss jambul , karvand and those play grounds which have turned into concrete jungle.

  5. Well, The world I have been raised from Child to …say todays modern guy, I have always, been missing those childhood charms, Rains,greenery, movies at nartaki, Jambul in summers, grounds to play cricket……

    Modernization doesnt bring simplicity in life, instead lets carve for better cleaner, and green Belgaum……

  6. There are many other ways that can please you in Belgaum, Infact Being in a place like Belgaum is the most fantabulous thing:) The malls and many other momentarily happiness is not that we should be craving of. Look out for true and inner happiness that the city gives you, i agree every individual has his/her own perspective of enjoying. But the greenary of the City(and many near by places where one can make a weekend trip), the chaats,the butta in the rainy season, gola,jambhul in summer when a seller rings the bell to awaken the kids from afternoon sleep and you even dont have to start from to other corner of city hours before cause there would be traffic, you just need few mins. There are many more to pen down. I hope people learn to enjoy the true Happiness then the wordly fake joy.
    “Joy is what Happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are” – Marianne Williamson

  7. Expecting too much from tier III city. Instead we should ask for better roads, good bus stand, railway station and clean city.

  8. the old charm of belgaum is because of the lack of these modernities of life. we can enjoy this elsewhere and have/leave our place a paradise. we do not forgo much if we do not have in any case

  9. As usual very good observation and presentation by swatee……I would just like to add that even though Belgaum is not developing as per the writer’s expectations….still Belgaum is never a Boring place to stay……It has so many other things that other cities dont have…so Cheers Belgaum!!!

  10. All the “SANS IN BELGAUM” as pointed out by Swati Jog can be brought into exisitence with Govt-Private Partnership ie on Build own Lease transfer (BOLT),Build own operate Transfer (BOOT) etc. A good & Crisp Article by Swati Jog depicting the ups & downs of Belgaum.

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