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17th January 2007
“Worried about the large amount of investment required in starting your business? Why not start an open air office at no cost at all.”

It is said that Bombay is the city of dreams and you can realise all your dreams if you have the courage. I guess it is right. If you see all the people who have been successful and who have achieved something in the city are not the natives of Bombay but people who have come over here from all over the country with a dream to make it big. That person can be Amitabh Bachchan or Sharukh Khan who came here to be stars in the movie industry or it can be the Ambani who came here to set up his business empire.

a cobbler on JV link road

Looking at this image you will have to agree. You can start a business here on a shoestring budget if you want to. This is a cobbler who sits outside our building and he got a business running with minimum of investment. He is not the only one running his own business; there are thousands like him in the city. On the road-JV Link Road where this guy was photographed, you can see quite a few of them. There are people who are running open-air saloons to people having open air vending units for all sorts of things ranging from coconut water to eggs and paan and cigarettes.

Running a business from a public place has reduced your capital investment to bare minimum. You don't have to pay the rent or buy an office or a shop so all you need is the basic tools you will need to perform your job.

Enjoy a shave in open air

At this moment I am not sure what to say about these people. I heard in some movie "Never look in the eyes of the person you are about to kill." Now I am not out here to kill anyone but I guess it is true about criticizing someone as well. You should never indulge in a conversation with a person you want to criticize. This mochi (cobbler) and this barber are both encroaching on public or government land. They are a nuisance, along with everyone else that is taking away a piece of land, no matter how small, from the city. Because of these people, the footpath is gone and because of the rickshaw and taxi drivers, one lane of the road is gone and the people who just park their vehicles there take another lane. This has reduced a wide road to a single lane bottleneck. You may get reasonable shoe repair at your doorstep but you are indirectly paying half an hour or more of your time for it everyday.

As I said I should not have indulged in a conversation with the guy because that has sensitized me to his realties as well. Though it is wrong to just open a shop anywhere, I guess he is not the only one at fault. The administration allows him to do that by taking a small bribe. The city has set a very bad example for anyone who wants to make a living here. Unless firm steps are taken to make people ensure that it is not OK to encroach like this, people like him will set up shops wherever they can and when they are forced to move, they will make another one somewhere else.

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