Archive for November, 2010

Research Project - Retail Environment

The retailing system utilizes Information as a key element. It’s a domain of perfect competition and the most effective way to drive a consumer the make a choice, which is the most profitable for the manufacturer and the retailer is by “correctly” representing the “Right” information. The consumer’s choice about products/commodities displayed in their “Natural” or Original state is purely experiential. It’s the “Branded” products which need appropriate explanations and sometimes, safeguarding. The consumer can be overloaded with information to make a confused choice, Can be provided with basic information to drive him for a first experience, can be lied to, to make a forced decision, or can be left on his own to make a wild choice. I’ll write about an experiential difference before touching a topic related to my research project.


From a standalone point of view, the first and biggest difference I experienced was about Mobility, Sometimes it’s takes less time in walking between two stops than using the Trains. Between any two points I had 4 choices, walking, Taxi, Train and Bus. However the transportation cost is much more than the Indian counterparts.

My Parents hometown is roughly as large as Hannover, and  for same distance I Usually have 3 (sometimes 4) choices, walking or TriCycle for short distance and City Bus and Auto-three wheeler for long  distances which are extremely over crowded and not at all inviting for people with more than 15% physical disability and in-fact, are often include health and life hazards. It is because the Shared Transportation elements in Indian cities (the Auto-rickshaw, Privatized City Bus system, the Local train system) are still able to capitalize on the emotions of the people. (large number of people obliged to reach their destination on time if not in time). And after further research and information gathering I found out that the same scenario exists in a developed country like Japan too.


Coming back to My original research topic, Retailing, I focused on the sense of time for a while. The difference in experience could be perceived as follows.

In a Micro-retailing scenario (A typical Indian general grocery store) if there are many customers, the shopkeeper and his assistant are lively communicating with the customers, may be in parallel, may be one by one, and even if the customer is not active, he/she does not feel like waiting, because when he/she is not ordering, still he/she is seeing the shop keeper talking and moving goods. So in customer’s perception, the time passes at the same pace during whole process.


In a superstore, the customer is left alone with the array of goods, and he/she is intensely and freely involved in making choices and doing the bill calculations etc. and time passes quickly in this process. When the customer finally reaches the “Queue” where he/she has to  pay, and starts waiting for his/her turn, the time slows down. The clock speeds up again when the counter clerk is rapidly swiping the bar codes and making the bill, it’s an excellant display of Motor-Coordination, by the time the customer is able to pick up even half the items from the counter, the clerk is already done with all the billing, weighing and printing process and is waiting for you to make payment.


Here are some impressions from us exchange students experiencing the first weeks in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and at the NID grounds and students.

We say thank you to all the students and NID employes that helped us, especialy: Abhijita, Vikram, Abhijeet and Snehal
and from Film and Video Avishek and Gourab.

If you’ll take a look at the pictures, you’ll see us at the NID, with students at the Gandhiashram and celebrating Garba at the nighty green grass at the NID campus and visiting the workshops.

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First Impressions of India

Since we arrived our minds and senses were pushed through the streets by the impressions forced on us. Everything appears louder, warmer and more vivid. All places are full of moving people, honking rickshaws and stuffed shops. Quite a lot of people stare at you till they realize that you look back, than the wild stare turns into a warm smile. Some people even want to shake hands and want to be photographed with us. This makes you feel different, but it still feels people appreciate you in their country. From this public life on the street you enter the Gates of the NID and it feels like an quiet island in middle of the vibrant megacity Ahmedabad.
It´s a tidy place surrounded by palms and banana trees. People sitting around, thinking, working and having conversations while drinking chai in the shade. It is a different atmosphere. The students try to get in touch with you, having some nice chats at the chai-place. They recognize you as a new student rather than a foreigner and try to get to know your personality. Although you are from different countries with different cultural backgrounds you feel a connection to each other  based on what you think and study. This makes the NID feel like home from the first day.

Pictures and news about our trip around India will follow.


Exploring Deutschland !

I consider myself really fortunate as it was my first trip outside my country and that I got the opportunity to explore a bit of three different countries in a matter of two weeks.  now finally stepped my big foot in Hanover, Germany My mind and body is bombarded with information from all the sides as my senses are continuously finding something new and something different to look into. And slowly I am trying to learn and adapt to the surroundings.

My little reasoning mind would never stop asking questions as to why and how, but I am sure I will find the answers to them and co relate them for their existence. This is a new world with a new culture, new people, new colors and an entirely new sky over my head! And hence its an entirely new experience of a twenty five year old coming from a country like India who is trying to ‘gel in’ this place by slowly exploring more and more. I have travelled a long way from home to see what is in store for me. But the journey has just begun.

government house

the government building....beautiful construction

My final destination was the city of Hannover in Germany which lies in the state of lower Saxony. This is a smaller city but also a very beautiful city. It was strange for me to see the places not crowded at all and we never had to wait in the lines for things.

It is a green city and hence I could see so much nature in and around my house I live in. though in Germany, English is not spoken at all but it was much better than in Paris to communicate to the people. It is the golden October right now as they say the winters are approaching fast and I am already freezing.

It was quite interesting for me to see the typical German houses made of wood which you never get to see in India. And the style of the houses change a little bit as you enter the rural parts just outside the city. As my house was at the centre of the city downtown, it was so convenient as most of the things were accessible distance. also getting used to the public transport to travel within the city.


Walking in the streets of Hanover is fun and pleasant, as i am not used to see such construction the road which resemble the country. i mean in India we are used to have new kind of constructions and the trend keeps changing just like in the USA. unlike here i could spot a unity and similarity in the constructions of the buildings and it is pleasing to see how the people still maintain the heritage and the design DNA of the style of the house even built now. this is something i could not spot in my country as the old style building remain as monuments but we do not get to see those styles be followed upon when it comes to building newer buildings. for example the the apartment we live in has the old building and the new one built along with it but in the same style also giving a modern touch.

Even the historical building s were quite amazing site to see,  standing tall and frighting but at the same time beautiful. there was a story behind every church building and the people behind them who were responsible for it. unfortunately these messages were in German and hence i needed help to understand them.






the central market place

the central market place

exploring in the streets of Hanover during the day time was quite an experience to see stuffs sold in the shops which you often dont get to see them elsewhere in my country. also having some European dishes across the streets with some Italian coffee was enjoyable.


first 30 days

It turned out to be a great opportunity to add a completely different set of experiences through this project in Germany . Before talking about the Universal Design, my first part is about food. If it’s not made by me, I have no idea what it is (the details) and even if somebody helps me to understand the ingredients or the recipe I am clueless about personalizing the menue. So I end up having no preferences when I am eating out. I can’t smell it before I order, so it’s like making blind guesses by looking at the pictures on the menue and price if I am eating out alone.

Same thing applies to the food items I buy. Apart from Vegetables, it is hard to register the synthetic foodstuff like suger, fruit juice concentrates, yogurt etc. because the packaging and display is different. All the markets I visited in last one month, I had to either take help form friends who have already been there, or I had to spend a very long time to get half of my shopping list.

And here I see, How Universal Design approach can make a difference. A first time visitor needs just bare minimum supplies of common processed foodstuff till he settles and registers the culture of the new place.  He needs to buy some things which he will be tasting, smelling, touching and finally digesting them. But the only channel he has- when selecting the food items in the market is- “Vision”,& sometimes sound. The packaging Being designed in a local context for such groceries, is often confusing for him. And it always is in the local language.  So the function of packaging of  daily groceries is just protection of foodstuff because locals already know what they are buying, and it behaves like a barrier for first time consumers because it is depriving them from additional sensory experience and the Information they really need. more to come.