INDIAN MUSIC FORUM ARCHIVES: Sitar Forum: Opinions Needed...


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Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 12:46 a.m.

As many of you know I am moving to New Delhi to study music next November, and I was considering a way to make a living. Now after discussing it with a friend, he is willing financially help me get a shop started in New Delhi, or some other city in the area. I basically want to produce the best stringed instruments in all of India, without tacky commercialization, and wholesale demands. What is everyone's suggestions for some improvements that could be made as far as a business like this is concerned in India.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 04:11 a.m.

Seeing as we're in the 21st century- all aspects of the shop should be accessible via internet, how about a webcam!
I think it would be necessary to have at least 10 pictures of each instrument so that you know exactly what to expect, and preferably a sound sample too. Anyone with a little effort and quicktime VR plugin could make a virtual 360 view, imagine being able to rotate the sitar in every possible direction and zoom in to check out every last wood grain. Even better would be pictures of your sitar being made so you could critique it along the way... "hey I want the finish darker, and make the penwork more busy looking, I want to be impressed!"
Seriously though, don't you need to know how to first build these things before opening a shop? I would start practicing now...
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 04:17 a.m.

In my opinion the only thing lacking is consistency. Make sure you hire only the best workers via extensive interviewing and a comprehensive skills appraisal process.
Make only good instruments and your business will thrive- make crappy ones and the people in this forum will make sure you go down in flames!
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 08:09 a.m.

I think you'd have a hard time since you're not from India (do you speak Hindi?) I think you'd make a bigger chance working for an already established company. You obviously have contacts outside India, you speak english... I'd say try to find a job as a distributor/exporter/importer rather than a builder.



Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 09:26 a.m.

Ain't gonna happen - period. This is your first visit to India.You'll be too busy reeling from cultural shock and trying to keep from getting sick. Nobody is going to take you seriously. As far as anyone is concerned - you are just some silly firenge (foreigner) and nobody is going to leave another position at an estabalished business to work for some pagal teenager from Wisconsin. You have no idea what is involved in arranging the rental of a flat of a shop. You would only get ripped off. Even those of us who have lived here all our lives - sometimes wait 7 years just to get phone line installed. You have no Hindi skills - which means everybody will be talking behind your back about how to cheat you and overcharge you. Even if someone is foolish enough to front you the money, there's no way a first time visitor is going to be able to do what only a select few Indian business men are capable of pulling off. Do you have even a clue as to how hard it is for ANYONE to get trustworthy, reliable help. I know the staff at all the major shops in Delhi, Calcutta and Bombay. The management will be competant businessman, but the staff are alway underpaid dunderheads that have to be watched constantly. It's the Indian way of keeping profits high. You would be lucky to be able to buy materials at 50 times the going rate. Transacting business in India - is something you cannot even begin to imagine, never mind, realize. Get real Ted. You write many intelligent things about instruments that suggest you could be smart - but really . . . your ignorance and your delusions are just too much. You are one silly little boy. My opinion -is, that you should stop wanking your mouse so much and go out in the real world and get a life that exists outside the chat room.
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 10:38 a.m.

yah admi bahut pagal hai!
ghar par raho!
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 11:37 a.m.

I would suggest going for a month or so, learn everything you can on your target instrument and then go back home. You will gain tons of experience on what you can and can't do. Then you will have a better view of what you can and can't do.

Have fun over there, enjoy yourself. It will be a great learning experience. Then come back and go to University to find out what is next in your life.

By way of example, I moved to Rome Italia, not speaking a word of Italian and the culture shock was incredible. It was very frustrating learning to get things done. Fortunately, I had a Roman girl friend, which is a great way to learn the language, but I can't imagine moving cold into a different culture without contacts or the language. (I came back after a year, and went to university for 10 yrs!).


Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 01:00 p.m.

Send me an e-mail so that I can reply to you on topic of Delhi that would be off-topic on this forum.
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 02:10 p.m.

Ted ~

In all seriousness:

1. Move out of your parents' house and get a place of your own.
2. Get a full time job that will cover expenses.
3. Work. Practice. Pay some bills. Repeat.
4. Learn how to manage your life on your own first, before trying to manage a business, be it here or in another country.

Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 02:43 p.m.

As far as whether you could start and keep going a business in India, I don't know. I would suspect there are many barriers to doing so. As others pointed out, language is a huge barrier. Even though India is the second largest English-speaking country in the world, I think many in the working class may not speak English. And from my experiences when living in Japan, even those who do speak English may not let on that they do. Also, the bargaining behind your back may go on in one of India's languages, and you would have no idea what was going on.

I also wonder what kind of barriers the government may have against foreign-owned businesses? I'm sure there are many foreigned-owned businesses in the major cities of India, but that doesn't mean that it was easy to start them.

I've never been to India, but I have been to Nepal, which, from people whom I've talked to who have been to both countries, can be very similar. I think the most important thing you can do is look towards your health. Believe it or not, during over three weeks in Nepal and Tibet, of our group of 22 people traveling together, I was the only one that did not get sick, even though I have immune system deficiencies and other health problems!

This was because I was prepared, and I was careful. If you are planning on going to India next month, you should already be going to the doctor and getting shots. Even shots that are mearly recommended, not required, should be taken. Additionally, talk to the doctor about getting prescriptions for medications that you may take with you in case of emergencies, since it may take longer to get care in India. Take some general antibiotics, as well as symptom relief, like for diarhea.

Try to stay in an "Americanized" hotel, at least at first. But even if they say the water is safe at the hotel, do not drink any. Buy name-brand bottled water. Keep some in the bathroom for brushing your teeth. Take lots of showers, but keep your mouth and eyes tightly closed. Use a strong mouthwash that you brought from the states. Bring bottles of Purel to clean your hands often during the day. Bring Purel towelettes for cleanup after going to the restroom.

Ask for no ice in your drinks. Don't drink cold mixed drinks such as lemonaide. Hot coffee, tea, bottle soft drinks and water, are probably ok.

Don't eat raw vegitables, such as salads, or raw fruit skin (oranges are ok, plums are not unless you skin them; however, the process of skinning fruit may transfer bacteria from the outside to the inside.) Watch whatever you eat that it is clean looking and thoroughly cooked.

There is probably a lot I've forgotten, but I think I've hit the main points. Just use common sense. And if you squat over a hole, roll up your pants legs first!

Billy Godfrey
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 03:42 p.m.

Seriously some of you must not know how serious I am. First of all I can speak Hindi, and a little bit of Urdu also, but of course I am not fluent, it takes practice with many people, and years of speaking.
I am moving to New Delhi to begin with, I already have living arrangements made, and I am not making the instruments myself. I am hiring qualified workers and just keeping and eye on them, and managing the business. I don't want to get involved in building instrument for other people when I will be to busy studying and managing the place. Nor will the shop be in New Delhi, just in the surrounding area, actually I am considering Meerut as a possibility.
For me there is no option to go on a small trip and see a few shops, and take a few lessons from my Guru, that is just bogus and financially a stupid decission. I am not a hobbiest musician first of all, so I am going to continue my studies with Ustad until he instructs me to go on my own, so that will at least be 5 years. But I do need to support myself, and a friend of mine has offered to finance everything to start a workshop, and not rent a flat, but own one. So perhaps you should think again about what my plans are, because this is my life, I am not going to throw it down the drain and go to college.
Beenkar Ted Ceplina
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 04:53 p.m.

wow, everyone here is being so negative.
Okay carefully look over what im about to tell you. You CAN be successful in selling instruments in India, but you can't do it on your own. Find another person who is as passionate about doing this as you are. But he has to be an indian in every way, shape and form, even if he is not raised as an indian make sure he looks it and can speak fluent hindi (no-accent). Its a simple reason, most indian people are going to rip you off, or atleast try to. If you get lucky and they don't rip you off, they will refuse to buy from you. as an Indian born kid, i can tell you that nobody will take a gora (sorry if it sounds racist but that's the average indian's word for us americans) as a serious business-man for indian instruments. so if you can set up with an indian guy, you make the instrument and he will do the counter work. I don't know if Meerut would be the best spot to set up, because it will be a HUGE culture shock. Seedhi si baat hai. Mumbai is your best place tosetup,mostly because it is almost like here. and i know that you can speak hindi but the speed that these guys talk at will just be too much. Tumhari hosh ur jaye gi. Sorry if it sounds bad but i am telling you the truth. Going to set up shop in india is not anywhere near as easy as setting up shop in anywhere in europe or north america. going to india is way different from setting up anywhere else. So there is my 2 cents.
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 04:00 p.m.

Ted, there may be the slightest most miniscule chance that I'm wrong here, I'd say theres a 1 in a trillon chance I may wrong. So I'll just come out and say it.
You are an idiot. And a fantasy prone delusional idiot at that.
You asked for opnions and thats mine.
Good day to you.
Jeffrey R King
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 04:59 p.m.

I think if this is something that you're really passionate about you should go for it! It will be a true learning experience - A lot of people dream about doing stuff like that but don't have the guts to give it a shot. You are young, and have all the time in the world to figure it out. If it's something that you really want, and you're persistent and work at it, then in time you will start getting somewhere. There will be many difficulties and challenges, but in the end you will have learned a ton by working through all the crap and sticking with it. It won't be easy, but it's certainly not impossible!
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 05:31 p.m.

Have you asked your Guru for advice on this? I assume he has several other (local) students. Maybe they can help you out. I truly think it's a little too much to do it all on your own.



Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 07:06 p.m.

He beenkar,
if you are seriously commited to do this, then I'm sure you will find a way. I would suggest that you save your money so that you can survive the lean times in business. Most startups haven't the capital to survive the first year. Does this mean that if I visit India I can stay with you


Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 07:39 p.m.

So much negativity!

I wish that when I was 18 I had the means to follow my dreams. I wanted to buy me a surplus mail-truck at auction, convert it into a RV/roach-coach, and go somewhere in Southern Cal and live on the beach selling sandwiches. Of course, I didn't do that. I got a two year scholarship to a private college, but when that ran out, I had no money and not much smarter, so I joined the Army. It wasn't until ten years in the Army that I got out, when back to college and learned a career.

Where would I be if I did get the mail truck? Who knows? That's something I'll think about forever.

Whether ill-advised or not, if Ted has the wherewithal, he should follow his dream. I know there's a lot we can say to discourage him, but if he's going to go through with it, then the least we can do is give him the benefit of our own experiences and knowledge. Who knows, it might actually work out, and we'll have a great resource for great instruments, and perhaps he'll give us all discounts!

Billy Godfrey
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 09:57 p.m.

Billy (Oct 27, 2003 07:39 p.m.):

we'll have a great resource for great instruments, and perhaps he'll give us all discounts!

I can tell you with "great" positiveness that I'll be getting no "great" discounts from our young and propensitive Ted.

Jeffrey R King
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 27, 2003 11:31 p.m.

Hey Ted: Have you heard from Tony lately? As you know, he moved to India, with his Indian wife, to set up the same kind of business you are talking about. If you can get a hold of him, you might be able to get some good advise.
Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 28, 2003 12:48 a.m.

Hi Ted,
Here's a link to some info that may be of use:

I don't think you can own a flat as a foreigner and if you have a business there has to be half ownership by an Indian national, don't quote me but I'm pretty sure....

Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 28, 2003 02:50 a.m.

Hey Ted

Since it's going to be another year until you go to Delhi (I think that's correct, next Nov?), why don't you give your idea a shot right here in the states?

You could make good use of your skills, experience, and knowledge you've aquired from your extensive training with Brian Godden and Tony Karasek, kinda like a trial run.........!

Just an idea
Good luck!


Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 28, 2003 03:07 a.m.

I have white non Indian friends who are runnung there business out of India. Its not exactly instruments they produce. different kind of textiles... Still, they have an agreement with a textileprinter family business and they get there stuff produced. They have a close personal relationship to the printer family, and that helps. But they still have to keep an eye on the work. There are loads of corners to cut in the world and many Indians do their best to do so, its an artform : )

When they are there they rent a house on a long term basis.

These people are well experienced travelers and have spendt equal ammount of time back home and in India the last 15 years. They speak Hindi and have allways been on a really low and minimal budget, they know there way around and know what to look for. Still its hard not to get ripped of.

Best of luck Ted, you will need it. Talk to your Ustad and use what connection you have. it will be a great experience, im sure...


Re:Opinions Needed... Oct 28, 2003 09:46 a.m.

Wow Lars, after reading through most of that site all I can say is "GOD BLESS AMERICA". I dont know if I even want to visit there now. And Ted, I've decided to bury the hatchet so to speak, I'll even help you pack when you go! Hows that buddy?
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