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food on wheels

Meet the woman driving Asia’s first all-female food truck in Bengaluru

Seventh Sin serves European food with an Indian twist.

If you have watched American film-maker Jon Favreau’s Chef, you might have felt a bit peeved with the excessive male bonding. In the road trip movie, which masquerades as a food film, men roast the meat, grill the Cubanos, chug beers and drive the truck – reminding us that while a woman’s place might be in the kitchen, chasing a career in the professional kitchen, that belongs to men.

“When you imagine chopping, cooking, dishes, cleaning up, women have been doing this all our lives at home, but it is still hard to find women chefs,” said 32-year-old Archana Singh. “The truth is, there are so many Indian homemakers who cook spectacularly for their families, but have not worked a day in their lives. They have never considered doing it professionally.”

This is why, when Singh started Seventh Sin, central to the business idea was providing women the opportunity to discover a safe space to sustain a career doing things they are naturally inclined to.

The idea for a food truck managed completely by women came to Singh in November 2015, but the Seventh Sin food truck hit Bengaluru’s roads only this August, once it had been through a thorough remodelling. Singh took that time to build her team.

Glocal flavours

A communications professional, Singh had held several corporate roles before she switched gears to an area that interested her – education and children. After another brief stint teaching, she moved to marketing a brand of schools across the country.

This was when her other passion, food, beckoned. Given the sheer number and short lives of Bengaluru’s restaurants, Singh decided to steer away from risk and potential loss, to explore a model that demands less overheads associated with managing a restaurant, such as rent and utility bills.

Once the requisite food licences were in place, the truck was remodelled and her team was set, (Singh depends wholly and completely on a team of women), Seventh Sin was ready for business.

The food is “glocal” – globally inspired, with a distinctly Indian touch. Seventh Sin’s chefs draw inspiration from European and Italian favourites, adding a comforting Indian twist to every dish, making it familiar, yet exciting. The menu features, among other dishes, biryani risotto, aloo tikki hotdogs, chicken tikka pasta and a paan-infused cheesecake.

Seventh Sin runs six days a week. It visits tech parks, communities and colleges in Bengaluru, confining itself to closed compounds, given Bengaluru’s notorious traffic jams. On occasion, when a particular neighbourhood reaches out to Singh with a special request, the truck travels to it. On the seventh day of the week, the truck distributes free food to the disadvantaged, and those in need.

Two months since their launch, Seventh Sin has received a phenomenal response, not just for the menu, but for their innovative business model too.

“I’m not really from a business background,” said Singh. “My dad is a navy officer, so I grew up travelling across the country, am I’m used to trying all kinds of different food – that’s my only exposure as far as food goes.”

Singh drives the truck to its destination every day. Her enterprise is backed by Chief Executive Officer Praveena Nandu, Chef Natasha Patrao who imagines and develops the menu, and Deepa, Usha and Hema who manage service on the truck every single day.

“I don’t know a life where I haven’t worked, whether it was during college or through maternity,” said Singh. “It’s not that everyone should work, but those who want to, should be able to.”

Breaking stereotypes

The team has been swamped with calls from women across a range of socio-economic backgrounds, requesting Singh for a chance to collaborate and bring her brand to tier-two and tier-three cities. She is already exploring the possibility of working in Aurangabad and Patna.

With most skilled and established chefs choosing to work with big brands, Singh has built a team of women with little to no work experience, partnering with foundations and non-governmental organisations that find employment for women, and relies heavily on training them.

“I prefer women who may not be educated, but have skills that we can build on,” she said. “Some of the girls we hired didn’t even know how to flip an egg, but we’ve trained them and now they can manage the food service beautifully.”

She added: “Being a woman, I want to be in a place to take risks, break stereotypes and take the chances that I can, and others maybe haven’t been able to. My daughter is nearly eight-years-old, and so many people told me not to take this chance. But I wanted to take a risk and break the stereotypes. There’s no dearth of able women, honestly.”

Singh plans to add three more company-owned trucks between Hyderabad and Chennai, over the next 6-8 months. She is also exploring the franchise model to work with women in smaller cities.

What about the men? According to Singh, plenty have approached her, with advice on changing the woman-centric business-model, something she is adamant she will not do.

“I tell them they can invest,” she said.

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What to look for when buying your first car in India

Hint: It doesn’t have to be a small car.

When it comes to buying their first car, more Indians are making unconventional choices. Indian car buyers in 2016 are looking for an automobile that is a symbol of their aspirations and sets them apart from the herd. Here are a few things you should consider when buying your first car:

Look beyond small cars

According to the JD Power India Escaped Study (2015), the percentage of new-vehicle shoppers who considered a small car reduced by 20% over three years—from 65% to 45%. Buyers are now looking at bigger, affordable cars and luckily for them, there are more choices available. Known as compact sedans, these cars offer the features of a sedan, are larger than hatchbacks and contain a boot. These sedans offer the comfort and features that once only belonged to expensive luxury cars but at a price that’s within the reach of a first-time car buyer.

Design and styling is important but don’t forget utility.

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Image Credit: Volkswagen
Image Credit: Volkswagen

Does it test-drive well?

In 2014, 35% of new-vehicle buyers researched vehicles when they were buying but by 2015, this number had risen to nearly 41% according to the JD Power study. While the internet is the primary source of research in India, the best source of information about a car is always a test drive. Listen to the sales person and read all online reviews, but test every feature to your satisfaction.

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Never buy a model that is going to be discontinued because it could result in difficulty finding spare parts. Buying an old model will also affect your resale value later. In 2015, according to the same report, 10% of shoppers considered newly launched car models as against 7% in 2013—a strong indication that newer models are being preferred to old ones.

Diesel or petrol?

Diesel and petrol cars have different advantages, and it’s best to take a decision based on the distance you plan to drive on a regular basis. While petrol cars are usually priced lower and are more cost effective when it comes to service and maintenance, diesel cars typically have better mileage due to higher efficiency and provide a smoother drive due to higher torque. Additionally, diesel is the cheaper fuel. So it makes more economic sense to buy a diesel car if you are driving long distances every day.

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Look for a car that is built sturdy and pays extra attention to safety features like Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS), side impact bars and dual front airbags. Safety is also a function of the design and features such as a galvanized steel body add to the strength of the build. It’s important to remember not to make trade-offs on safety for less important features when choosing variants.

Buying your first car is an important milestone in life. And the new Volkswagen Ameo has been designed with several first-in-segment features to cater to all the needs of a first-time car buyer in India. Its bold design and elegant styling along with state-of-the-art features like cruise control, reverse parking camera and sensors, and intelligent rain sensors set it apart from other cars in its class. Its safety features are also a notch above, with dual front airbags that are standard in every variant and side impact bars. A sturdy galvanized steel body and laser welded roof cocoon its passengers from harm, and its modern ABS, that is also standard in all variants, prevents the wheels from locking when you brake hard. A six-year perforation warranty and a three-year paint warranty ensure that the car body is protected from scratches and dents. The Ameo comes in both petrol and diesel variants. Check out all the features of the Ameo here. Also hear the experience of two first time car buyers in the video below.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Volkswagen and not by the Scroll editorial team.

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