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No entry: Film maker barred from entering Kolkata mall for wearing dhoti, social media fumes

Kolkata: Film maker Ashish Avikunthak on Saturday claimed that he was denied entry into a city mall for wearing a dhoti.

Ashish Avikunthak. Facebook

The film maker took to Facebook to write about the incident, which triggered outrage on social media.

He wrote: “Denying entry into the neo-colonial clubs of Kolkata is nothing new. But today I was denied entry into the …. mall because I was wearing dhoti (which I have been wearing for the last 26 years). On resisting and questioning I was told that we have orders because of security reasons to prohibit entry of people in lungi and dhoti. I was eventually allowed in because I could argue in English and assert myself.”

“This is unambiguously a new low for this city. Private clubs have always created hierarchies and distinctions because of clothing. Now public spaces are also threatened and a culture of segregation based on class is being practiced unhindered. I write this with a sense of deep disgust,” he said.

Avikunthak said, “What have I to say about the whole incident? Please go through my Facebook post which has narrated the entire consequence.”

Avikunthak’s companion Debaleena Sen said, “We were about to enter the mall when Ashish was stopped by security guards who said he can’t be allowed inside since he was wearing a dhoti. As we argued and Ashish spoke in English the mall officials came and allowed him in.”

“Probably after hearing him speak in English they were assured that he belonged to higher social profile and can be allowed in. We immediately came out in protest.”

Debleena claimed she recorded the incident on her mobile, which the mall employees allegedly asked her not to. “This shows they want to hide their racist attitude.”

The mall authorities denied the charges. They said the security personnel at the gate, who form the first ring of security at the mall, asked the film director to wait and went to the supervisor to seek his opinion. He was then allowed in.

“The total waiting period for the person was 20 seconds and after that he entered the mall. We have video footage of his entry into the mall,” the mall authorities said.

The issue caused outrage on social media which had a large number of posts against the mall authorities.

“Ashish Avikunthak not allowed entry in …. mall because he was wearing a dhoti. Incidentally, mall-keepers were a bit beeped out because the dhoti wearing filmmaker spoke better English. Then they allowed him,” a Facebook post said.

Here is how Twitterati reacted:

Published Date: Jul 16, 2017 10:10 am | Updated Date: Jul 16, 2017 10:10 am

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Delhi

AAP MLAs seeking appointment with LG 'ousted' by police: Somnath Bharti

AAP MLAs Somnath Bharti, S K Bagga were forced out of Anil Baijal’s house after they refused to leave following a meeting.

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AAP MLAs forced out of L-G's house

AAP MLAs Somnath Bharti, S K Bagga were forced out of Anil Baijal’s house after they refused to leave following a meeting.

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Peek raises $23M and inks partnership with Google in push to digitize travel activities

Peek, a U.S. startup aiming to digitize the travel activities industry, has pulled a $23 million Series B round of financing and uncorked a partnership with Google that will help increase its visibility.

Founded in 2012 by Ruzwana Bashir (CEO) and Oskar Bruening (CTO), the startup describes itself as “OpenTable for the activities market” in that it aims to make booking activities as seamless and straightforward as a restaurant or even a flight.

Peek raised $10 million two years ago, and this new round is led by Cathay Innovation with participation from existing backers that include ex-Yelp COO Geoff Donaker, Kayak founder Paul English, 2BF and Manta Ray. Peek has plenty of well-known angel backers, including Pete Flint — founder of Trulia and NFX — former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. This new round takes it to $40 million from investors to date.

In addition to the money, the startup has announced a tie-up with Google that will see its inventory added to Google Search, Google Maps and Google Trips. That’s sure to help visibility and spike bookings, and it adds to other partnerships that Peek has struck with platforms that include Yelp.

Peek is taking aim at the global activities market which Bashir estimates is worth some $150 billion, with the U.S. being the most lucrative market on the planet.

“It hasn’t gone through the analog-to-digital transition like other industries,” she told TechCrunch in an interview. “So we’re building the infrastructure and software that emerged in other industries ten years ago.”

Peek’s business model is similar to two well-backed Asian companies, Klook — which has raised over $90 million from the likes of Sequoia China and Goldman Sachs — and KKDay, which was recently backed by Japanese travel giant H.I.S.. Despite that, Bashir said that the problem of digitizing the space isn’t just limited to Asia or emerging markets.

“When you look at businesses in the U.S., over 70% don’t have real-time online booking, you still have to call the business or email them,” she explained.

That’s an important point, and it underlines the approach that Peek has taken. Unlike its Asia-based rivals, the company has a dual approach which starts by offering booking software that allows travel companies to actually take bookings and sales online. It also allows them to run their businesses from mobile, which is increasingly important.

That’s the hook that gets them into Peek, and from there the company offers more services under its ‘Pro’ offering and also the consumer-facing platform that travelers (or, rather, action-seekers) can use to book activities. That distinction about ‘travelers’ is important since Bashir said that around one-third of Peek bookings come from people doing things in their own town, so not everyone is traveling.

Peek founders Oskar Bruening and Ruzwana Bashir.

Peek claims to offer 10,000 experiences in the U.S. and Mexico, while it has 500,000 reviews and ratings which are verified since users can only leave them if they have booked, paid-for and done their activity.

Bashir said, in addition, that the company’s software has scaled to handle “hundreds of millions of dollars” in booking volume. She declined to give specific financial details, including revenue and profit/loss, but did say that the company’s unit economics are “highly profitable” but it is seeking growth right now.

“Part of this round is allowing ourselves to go out and reach more businesses,” she added.

For now, Peek is keeping its focus on the U.S. but it has also expanded into Mexico since that is a well-trodden destination for U.S.-based travelers. That focus will continue following this round, with Bashir adamant that with an estimated two percent of activity spend taking place online, there’s plenty of potential growth to be had at home before tackling international markets.

She did, however, say that the decision to work with Cathay Innovation — which raised its inaugural $320 million fund last year — was partly borne out of an awareness that when it is time to overseas, the firm has experience and networks that will be helpful.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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