The One Day Enterprise
As many of you know, recently, on Sunday, the 8th of October, a shop was opened in Wada 4 – House 11, by two second years – Manzil and Marlon. In my article, I meant to ask them about how the shop was running and their plans for its future. However, I soon learnt, to my dismay, that the shop had no future. It was forced to shut down! Well, I went ahead anyway, and talked to them about why it had opened, and why it had closed…My interview with them was as follows:
Abhijit: So, guys, what gave you the idea of setting up a shop?
Manzil & Marlon: Well, basically, one night when Marlon and I stayed up late, we were feeling damn hungry, and we had no food at all. And that night we were studying economics, about firms and stuff…then we just came up with the idea of having a shop that could sell food, at night, since many people stay up late, and the coffee shop closes at 8:30, they’d probably like having something to eat… (And I guess we had the right idea, since we got approximately 80 customers on our opening night!)
A: What plans did you guys have for the shop you set up?
MM: We had this really great plan of making it a huge CS. We thought of expanding it a lot, increase investment into it. We hoped to make it a place where students could come and get cheap, yet good food. We wanted it to have this warm and homely environment, unlike the coffee shop.
A: So, your shop has been shut down. Why?
MM: Well, Wilkinson said that RKHS had filed a formal, written complaint to him saying that the shop was violating its business rights.
A: So, you just shut down? There was nothing you could do?
MM: Well, Wilkinson told us that he appreciated our innovativeness, but since RKHS had written a formal complaint, there wasn’t anything he could do, and that the shop would have to shut down. Then…yeah, we shut down, we didn’t want to cause any sort of trouble, you know.
A: Do you think such kind of student initiative is being discouraged?
MM: Yeah, we do. I mean, there are no real rules stating that we aren’t allowed to do this kind of thing. We spent our entire project week money funding this enterprise. When we went to Pune, we took so much trouble, going from shop to shop and actually buying all the equipment, food and other stuff… RKHS has had too much power over Dr. Wilkinson in this case. He’s being too sensitive about not offending them…
A: Do you think the treatment you guys received was unfair?
MM: Definitely. I mean we opened the shop with good intentions. We didn’t want to take away RKHS’s business or anything. And if they feel ‘threatened’ by a small shop run by guys in the loft of a room, they don’t deserve to be a monopoly.
MM: I really don’t get why they would be ‘threatened’ by us. I mean, our shops our run at different times. Even if, somebody did like our food better, if they’re hungry at 5:00, they’re not going to wait until 11:00 just to buy our food. It really makes no sense.
A: Any last comments? Are you hopeful about changes taking place in the future?
MM: No, not really, what has happened will continue to happen…RKHS will just continue to be a monopoly…
MM: Yeah, in the end you just have to obey authority. Although this is a UWC, the college just isn’t as liberal as it seems.
Soon after my interview with them, I decided to ask some students what they thought about the whole issue…
“I really liked the shop a lot. The food was good, and it was at a reasonable price. I don’t think RKHS was really being threatened since the two shops sell different stuff. The food there was really good and I hope that it can be reopened. And I’d like to add that competition encourages efficiency, so it wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
– Ludiwien. (1st Customer at the shop.)
“It was fun working there. A little stressful sometimes, but still exciting, coz’ there were a lot of customers. It’s unfair that the shop was closed down. The food there was much better than that at the coffee shop. They worked really hard for the shop, so abruptly shutting it down was not fair.”
– Shekhar. (A 1st year worker at the shop, besides Yoon.)
Our well-wishers normally tell us that it is always a good thing if we want to achieve something, and are willing to work hard for it. But was it such a good thing for the two second years who will be missing project week for the same reasons?
– United World College Student Magazine –