Most Expensive Flat in India

Which of the following headlines do you think people were talking about at the water cooler today:
1. Army called into Kolkata and curfew imposed
2. An Indian farmer commits suicide every 30 minutes (17,520 a year)
3. Citibank sells off the most expensive flat in India at USD 8.5 million

Ding Ding Ding…if you picked number 3 you are right.

The flat in question is located at NCPA Apartments in Nariman Point, the flat had been owned by Citibank for many years. It’s located on the 7th floor and is 2100 sq ft, which works out to Rs. 162,000 sq/ft (USD 4,048) for a total of Rs 34 crore (USD 8.5 million). NCPA Apartments was built by construction giant Shapoorji Pallonji in the early 1990’s, back then the starting price for flats were around Rs. 7,000 sq/ft. At the peak of the property boom in 1995-96 the price was around Rs 30,000.

The winning bidder was none other then Kewalramani of Record Investments and Leasing Pvt. Ltd. Never heard of him? Don’t worry I didn’t and most people have no friggin’ clue who he is or the investment vehicle used to purchase the flat.

There were a total of 5 bidders on the property, the other 4 as reported by the Times of India:
– wife and daugher of the chairman of a new private sector bank, stopped at Rs. 33.6 crore
– wife of the CEO of one of the largest mobile carriers (Sunil Mittal??), who stopped at Rs. 31 crore
– a women who already has a flat in the building, stopped at Rs. 29 crore
– an influential and trusted CEO in one of the country’s largest business houses, stopped at Rs. 20 crore

Google Maps of NCPA Apartments

Porsche Centre Mumbai Open

What a birthday present for me, after watching patiently for over 6 months while the the new Porsche Centre Mumbai was being put together it’s now open. Their grand opening was tonight and the pics are from the event after most of the people had cleared out so I could get some pics without some lame Harry Potter fan getting in the way. The showroom/dealer is located at Kemps Corner in South Bombay. This is the 2nd showroom for Porsche in India, the first one was opened in Delhi last year. I had expected them to have a couple Cayenne’s and 911 Carrera’s but I had no clue they would pull out the big daddy Carrera GT. Around 1200 GT’s were made and sold for around USD 500,000 a piece. This particular GT is on loan from the Porsche Museum located in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, it will be making it’s way back home in a couple weeks.

Pics of the GT

Chawls to Malls

The online edition of the Wall Street Journal has a good article on the growing middle class in Mumbai. “Big business” has been getting a bad rap lately because the Leftist party feel the Americanization of India is bad. They fear “big box” retailers such as Wal-Mart will put the mom and pop shops out of business and that the large multi-national companies will take over the retail industy. However upon reading this article you can see that many people can benefit and in reality give people something much more – confidence.

I’ve seen stats that 95% of all retail sales are done via mom and pop shops that are located in chawls – which in Mumbai means the ground floor of a building is a store and the upper floors if any are were the owners sleep. Now that’s what i call knowing your customer – sleeping where they shop.

With the emergence of stores like Pantaloons it has changed the way people shop and made a really big change for the people that work at stores like that. They see the consumption of all types of goods in front of them and one day to aspire to be on the other side handing over their credit card to buy stuff.

Buh Bye BlackBerry

After using the iPhone for the past 6 weeks, i’ve come to the conclusion that spending over USD 550 on my BlackBerry Pearl was stupid. I also don’t know why Research in Motion (maker of the BlackBerry) is trading near it’s historic highs. The only great thing about the BlackBerry is that it did e-mail really well, however the iPhone does e-mail better and does about 10 other great things. In addition, I no longer have to pay RIM a monthly charge that ranges from USD 25-30/month in India. I just have to enable GPRS service which goes for about USD 10/month. With the advent of the Apple SDK coming out in February, a whole boatload of applications will be written. Probably more applications will be released in the first month, then all the current applications on a BlackBerry. RIM has sold over 8 million BlackBerries and the iPhone has already sold over 1.4 million in 6 months. Do the math.