Where to go for small eats and a seat…

Café chains are a strong sign of westernisation and the indicator of a modern world. I must say I don’t have anything against fast food chains, coffee chains or chain stores. My favourites include Eat, Wagamama and right now I am dreaming of lunch at Bristol’s Pieminister.

Within walking distance from my Indian home there’s a small joint selling traditional South Indian fare called Cambridge Continental. It’s the local version of a greasy spoon minus the plastic seats and with an Indian menu. Patrons eat from metal plates lined with a banana leaf whilst standing up. And they serve idlys, by far my favourite all-day-Indian-breakfast item. The local juice corner serves delicious fruit juices. So what am I doing at Coffee Day which is further, and has served me a micro-waved massala roll with a green apple lemonade?? …It’s because they have seats, tables and a roomy terrace and this is what I am after. But, as I sit relaxing in relative luxury, I feel my resentment for Coffee Day developing, swiftly matching my negative feelings towards Starbucks.

As far as local chains go, I prefer the Java City’s branch on Lavelle Road. They have a better choice of food and their interior and outdoors area are more comfortable; better for laptop use. Barista serve a good mint tikka sandwich and a decent tea and they open early. In Delhi I had a delicious lunch at Café Turtle. I don’t know if all the branches are as nice as the one above the Full Circle, a brilliant little bookstore. It’s a haven in the midst of Delhi’s chaos.

But back in Bangalore, Coffee Day branches dominate, fine for coffee, loud music, so not places to hang around.  Maybe I’m asking too much, but I’m still looking for a place that serves tasty small eats, fresh juice or chai and offers enough comfort for me to spend a bit of time in the company of my laptop.

I hope to be able to update you on how to find the good small eats and a seat in a city where you can’t really walk for miles!

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There are some very interesting companies showing at Tex Style India 2010. Definitely a key event for companies seeking production of home furnishing products. Besides the usual items found in the average Indian souvenir shop or Emporium, everything textile can be made in India especially in the Panipat District.

Natural, organic, synthetic and mixed fibres, traditional and modern processes are all here from yarn to the final packaged product.

Business attitudes are quite open-minded and meet generally accepted international standards.

  • Copyright is respected
  • Minimum orders can be catered for in some instances, ie: larger and more complex pieces can be manufactured in dozens
  • Lead time: up to 15 days for sampling, 60 days for a first order
  • A diverse technology; some companies can provide both hand and machine made pieces
  • Business models are transparent and include artisan workers’ co-operatives, engineer-led textile companies and family businesses, amongst others

I was very sensitive to the ability of these business owners to take the time to explain how their manufacturing company works, how they enjoy collaborating with smaller companies, their understanding of and supply to European design brands and that they can be wary of buying agents.

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I am wondering when handbags “made in India” will take over “made in Italy”. Yes, it’s not a myth. There are many large brands who manufacture in India but don’t publicise it. The quality is good. Many Indian companies are BSCI certified and are willing to open their doors to their clients. One company director told me that having this certification is the only way for a leather goods manufacturer to survive on the international market.

I’ve seen very modern looking bags with a great level of fine detailing. Many suppliers offer a wide array of technology to transform leather and source skins hailing from India to Brazil or Italy.

Interestingly many won’t supply to the Indian market directly, local taste is different. Ironically, the richest probably buy from European brands who discretly manufacture in India.

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I’m off to the region of leather work. I will also be looking at homeware, textiles and rugs.


I am both curious and excited to attend my first trade fair in India. After Kolkata, I am heading to New Delhi then Agra which, besides being the home of the Taj Mahal, is the centre of quality leather slippers and leather footware making.

real green fake grass

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(This is my India Trip blog – you might also like to read my main blog.)

Bangalore Furniture Fair

Bangalore Furniture Fair

I am a trade fair jet-setter. I treat myself every two years by going to the Salone, the designers’ mecca, in chic and sophisticated Italy. I canvas the city and the fair ground to read about the latest design opportunities, as new and shiny products are celebrated with fizz. This event is probably one of my favourites. I sample my own country through a stranger’s eyes at Maison et Objet where I endeavour to build bridges between creativity and commercial brands. At the Spring Fair, I meet again with contacts from London, Frankfurt, Paris and Milan. This year, before doing it all again (and although it is not exactly on the way), I’m visiting India.

India comes with a series of myths and distorted perceptions. There is a distinct difference between going to an Indian restaurant on Brick Lane and ordering a massala dosa for breakfast in the sweltering heat. So what else is there besides the IT power house, friendly call centres, autorickshaws and packed trains? What opportunities exist for crafts to meet design? How about an Indian take on Droog? Since mass production is associated with China, what can Indian companies offer in terms of manufacturing and crafts?

Well, I’m On a Mission to get to the bottom of these questions and more. Local trade fairs seem to be a logical place to start, offering a first point of contact and local knowledge. From there, more trips to local centres for crafts and manufacturing. And all this is to be influenced by designers outside of India who need to find companies able to produce to a high standard the products they are designing.

If you are a designer and would like to know more about Marion’s service On a Mission, please contact me to receive detailed information.

Based in Bangalore from January 2010 until June 2010, I visit trade fairs on behalf of designers based mainly, but not exclusively, in the UK. This blog is about how I do this, what happens in the process and my exploits as I settle and experience India.

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The first thing I’m getting made in India is a rubber stamp showing my name and local mobile number to print on my existing business cards. Finding a place to get it made is easy; you just have to process a lot of makeshift signs that say, amongst other things, “rubber stamp”.

I go to the first one I find. It’s a tiny stand in an average building that houses many other small businesses. I explain what I want to the man there, show him my business card and indicate where and what I want the stamp to print. It’s a mere Rs150… I resist the Rs400 offer of a self inking stamp.

When I go back, it’s a different man. He seems to know what I’m there for and without uttering a word, simply demonstrates how my new stamp works. There are two spelling mistakes in my name.  Since I left my card with my name in print, there’s little to discuss and I’m promised it will be done the following day.

Back in the car my driver tells me: “Ma’am, in India, to get something made you need to come 2 or 3 times”.

When I finally pick up the stamp, the name is spelt right but the number has an extra digit, which was not there in the first place. This minor mistake is swiftly erased: the rubber stamp shop keeper takes it off with a knife and a smile. I also makes it easier to read.

The final mistake is mine. Since most of my business cards are coated the ink does not stay on. If you need something made make sure it’s a really good idea.

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