Community purchasing groups on WhatsApp

 One of the things that has been really useful since moving into the house is being added to the community groups on WhatsApp. WhatsApp is used by everyone here. It works across iPhones and Android devices and it is free. One of our lovely neighbours (Aude) was very helpful when we moved in and introduced me to lots of people, got me added to the community WhatsApp groups and took me on a tour of the local village called Sahakara Nagar (pronounced Sha Kar Na gar).

Once you’re added to one group, you are introduced to other and soon you are on many useful information or ordering groups. Zahra’s school class has its own group for parents for example, organised by the parent class rep called P7S Parent Group. It’s really useful for clarifying information from children about school activities – any parent will know that you only ever get half a story (if you’re lucky!) about what’s going on at school. It’s been particularly useful as end of term activities ramped up and there were lots of things going on.

As regards the group ordering on WhatsApp there are several groups that work in slightly different but similar ways. It’s certainly a new, but extremely useful, experience for me. So the groups I am currently a ‘member’ of (for want of a better word – no entry requirements here) are detailed below. Some of these would be useful in the UK but some are born out of necessity due to the difficulty of getting hold of some items and the time (stuck in traffic) to get them here in Bangalore.

Vanessa’s BakeHouse – delicious breads and cakes on a weekly basis. Cakes and breads being baked that week are listed by Vanessa and everyone puts in their order. Prices are listed next to the item. The breads and cakes vary each week. Special orders (dairy free birthday cake for example) are available on request. Typically orders are placed the day before collection. Collection is from Vanessa’s house which is in the Sobha Malachite complex where we live. This week Vanessa offered Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (80p each), beetroot chocolate cake (75p a slice), Christmas cookies (25p for 6) and strawberry mousse tarts (75p each). I ordered a dairy free orange cake for my birthday last weekend. A 1kg cake cost £7.

Momo Lovers – very yummy Chinese style steamed dumplings made by Anu. This  is a huge WhatsApp group and being copied into everyone’s orders can send the phone into a spin. Anu offers these on alternate days and lists what will be available that day (depends on available ingredients and time to prepare). Everyone races in with their orders and even put in requests on days when Anu isn’t offering them – and sometimes she has made some on request.  MoMos are available in ‘plates’of 5 and Saturday’s MoMos were Veg (40p a plate), Mix (50p a plate), chicken (60p a plate) and pork (70p a plate). Anu lives at the end of our row of houses so it is extremely convenient. We just walk up the road with our thermal pots (I had to buy one here – they’re super cheap) and cash and hey presto – takeaway dinner!

Cheesy Ladies is an Italian cheese ordering group and one that I haven’t ordered from yet. Orders are taken via WhatsApp on a Monday and delivered to a group members home for pick up on Tuesday. Payment on collection.

Cheese – the French cheese group. Cheese other than paneer is expensive and difficult to get hold of here in its not in supermarkets but stocked only in western supermarket suppliers, usually imported and usually very expensive. This group orders from Mango Hill who offer cheese by the 100g as follows: cream cheese(£1.60), Borsalino (£1.60), Feta (£1.60), La Buchette (£2.50), Le Pondicheri – a curry leaf cheese (£2.50),Camembert (£2.50), hard cheese (£2) and sometimes goats cheese (price on application). Orders are made via WhatsApp on a Tuesday and delivered to north Banaglore on Thursday (along with the bread). Payment on collection from the north Bangalore pick up point – a member of the WhatsApp group.

Bread – French bread and pizzas ordered from Chez Mariannick and as the group is so large there are strict ordering protocols in place so the person collating orders can cope with the demand. Bread in the supermarkets here contain sugar so obtaining decent bread without sugar is very popular. I’ve not tried the pizzas yet but the bread and baguettes are good. Rez and Zahra love the croissants too. Bread is ordered on a Wednesday via WhatsApp and delivered to North Bangalore on Thursday. The group is advised when the delivery has been made and the collection times. Payment on collection and includes 20p towards the delivery to pay for the auto rickshaw from central Bangalore.

Malachite bread – is a subset of the bread group so we can arrange collection, between us in rotation,from the North Bangalore drop off point in Sanjay Nagar, to bring back to the Sobha Malachite complex. It’s my turn to collect next week , for the first time, so I hope I don’t get lost!

Meredith’s kitchen – Meredith is a lady who organises the north Bangalore group of the Overseas Women’s Club of Bangalore (‘OWC’). The OWC is very useful for information for those who are new to Bangalore. They also have regular coffee mornings but as that is at least 1.5 hours each way in traffic for me I haven’t really been to any. Anyway, Meredith lives in the Jakkur area and bakes cakes as well as jams. Cakes and jams are available when Meredith has time and when ingredients are in season. Strawberries are currently in season in Bangalore (you can imagine how wrong that feels for a Brit – strawberries are available in June not December right?!). Meredith made strawberry jam last week – it’s delicious. She charges £2.50 for 200ml or £1.25 for 100ml with 50p refund if you return the jar for reuse. Meredith also made me a dairy free lemon curd. It is simply delicious. Last week Meredith also made chocolate brownies (£5 for 16 pieces). Meredith lets the group know what she is making and everyone puts in their order. For my jam order I met Meredith at the end of the Jakkur Plantation Road (about a 10 min walk) to collect my order and pay. As Meredith pointed out – it looked a bit dodgy handing over cash and been given a product on a street corner! 

Aquamarine- fish from the east coast (Pondicherry or Chennai – I can’t recall which). The excel spreadsheet is emailed round with details of what is available, pricing, ordering instructions and estimated delivery date / time. The supplier is wholesale only and will supply in specified weights or pack sizes. As well as seafood there are sausages and imported meats available. Aquamarine supply hotels and restaurants in Bangalore and deliver fortnightly; the group tags onto that delivery schedule and as a consequence there are no delivery charges. Aude organises the collection from central Bangalore and let’s us know via WhatsApp when the order is here and we collect from her house in the Sobha Malachite complex, paying on collection. I ordered 1kg of ‘shrimps’ for £9.50 – they are very large prawns. I’m looking forward to having them over Christmas.

The group ordering has worked well for me so far and has certainly taken hours off my time sat in the car. It’s a good use of technology and a great way to get to know people. The only issue is the high volume of messages through the groups as orders go in, are confirmed and collection details broadcast. I soon worked out how to turn off notification sounds!


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