Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2 Taxi Trips

It was after a long time that I was taking up a taxi trip. So took up the first opportunity to chat up.

The Yemeni: He wanted to pull off as a malabari and even mispronouced a some mallu. He had picked up words from a room mate who spent 2 years with him, who he entertained with cigaretes and whisky. But this malabari friend refused to give him 100 Dirham as loan, eventhough he had money. Rather he caught him red-handed in his lie, pulling off a 200 Dirham note out of pocket when he was saying he has nothing. That was it. The next day he moved out. "A man no drinking and no eating, you have money, no giving, it is haram". That kind of summarised his whole outlook about money and use of it. "India few people too much rich, many people no eating drinking, it is haram". I had some serious doubts if the drinking meant just water. That to him drove the Arab culture. So "Food drink too cheap here", which I cannot agree anymore. . "The Yemenis - poor people, but every one eating and drinking".

The Pakistani: He has been driving taxi 25 years in Dubai. He has seen the high and low of it and probably the bottom of it. After all he has seen Dubai change in front of his eyes. I just could not understand why he never dropped the taxi and moved on. Before (5 years kind) he was driving his own taxi, now he drives, company taxi. Before he made little money, now he makes more. Anyway, he did not make enough to move out of this country and probably drive taxi at home. He was neither thrilled with the job nor bored. Just "matter-of-factly". I have seen quite a lot of government employess back home look at their job like that. Rather the whole life as routine and nothing more. Even marriage, kids etc etc. Imagine playing a game with them or probably having a drink. "matter-of-factly".

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Visa - Why do we need it?

I have been travelling for sometime. Just be in check and so no arrogance crops up in you about what you know about travel rules and how well you can get around the corner, some situation or the other always crops up. Should I say, it keeps popping quite a few times for me.

I have a valid residence visa which gives me an automatic visa on arrival for most of the countries in this region (otherwise brown skins like me, need to apply in advance and wait). This time when I reached airport (with a budget airline ticket) to travel to Kuwait, the airline guy simply refused to accept me. It seems they changed the rule that to get visa on arrival (for brown skins) my residence visa need to have a validity of 6 more months from date of travel. I was short by 5 days.

I tried all the tricks that I know and it did not help. I met the duty manager, spoke to immigration guys in Kuwait, spoke to airlines. No good.

The fun part was when one of my colleague, she helps with travel arrangements also, suggested, meet the duty manager and "Just look into his eyes and tell him I need to travel". I was tempted to hold his face, just incase he n turns his face away.


Well, the worst was when I returned back to my office, I got to know, that my boss had travelled to Kuwait (same country -- Why? why?) one month before inspite of him having a similar problem. It seems he did what I did (called immigration guys in Kuwait) but it worked for him. See, it always has to be with your boss --> Why? Why?

I do not know why anyone should need Visa - Well was it as overstatement, atleast not for guys like me who love travelling...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Holiday in Pune

The first impression when I had landed in Pune about 10 years ago was that the city had a lot of hot girls. I later realised that it was not an age related problem but the reality of having a lot of colleges in a small city.

I stuck on for 5 years. It was never an effort to last that long time but just stuck on till I could take it no longer moved over a to a new city and then a new county, whining all the way.

Pune is supposedly a sleepy town and retirees paradise. You will be tempted to believe it if you visit any irani hotel. A single page menu enclosed in a plastic sheet, quick service and a devil may care attitude. Most of the time, dishes are tossed on the table rather than being politely served with patrons spreading their palm around the table making a fence to save any dishes slipping to the floor. Still, crowd flocked most of them. My favorite being tea, bun maska and an occasional biriyani. Thankfully my whole sales gang loved it. I loved this place in Deccan so much, that I took my then wife 15 kms across the city (from where I stay) to have biriyani.

I was visiting Pune this Jan after about a long 5 years gap. A lot have changed. Most of the irani restaurants I knew had given way to new spanky ones, bucket loads of malls, new office and residential complexes, new over bridges, new roads,( damn it) new one ways and hell of a lot more cars. There is a even a new Thali place serving vegetarian meal for about 150 bucks a plate. That would have un-imaginable for any restaurants few years before.

Well there are also many things that have not changed like the congested roads and noisy traffic. But, there are a few which I loved because they have stayed put. Like the Kayani bakery, which still opens only at four in the evening and remains open just an hour and huge crowd jostling for the tasty shrews berry biscuits and walnut cakes. They did not even bother to change the furniture and most of the faces I should assume should be the old ones. They still carried that, "customer care says who" look on their face. The old katti Kabab shop (which was in an old villa is now in a new building in the same place) and his only competitor ( who sells katti kabab but from a road side shanty) were still there and even the taste has not changed. Vada pav wala near MG Rd, Marz-o-rin sandwiches -- why is that I can only remember eateries.

I think no one dares to call a trip to meet a few relatives as a holiday but I was armed with a bottle which asked me to keep walking and few more fine red fermented grape drinks. I managed to keep walking and should I say cherished a nostalgic rendezvous mostly supported by my old boss, colleagues and few friends.



Monday, December 7, 2009

South Africa - Beautiful, Sophisticated, Cool and Scary


Capetown is a beautiful town. The stunning view of the table mountains steep clim wrapped in clouds greets you to the beauty ahead. As drive out to the roads, the view of the white clouds curling itself around the edge of the cliff is greatly stunning. The mountain strechtes all the way down to the Atlantic Ocean (or is it Indian), like an young girl splashing her feet playfully in water. The drive from Airpot to hotel adds to the contrasting charm of the city.

There are small beautiful villas, edged by tall pine trees with branches exploding right at the top of a tall thick stem, dotting the slope of the hills. Then there are shanties here and there, tall unattractie buildings which kind of looks un-maintained, with the port with its tall carnes visible kind of breaking the beach into two and the view too.

The hotel, in a small gully, was a charming small villa turned into a beautiful hotel. First time for me to step into a hotel like this. The doors were closed, like I assume for any house and no bell boy waiting at the entrance. The calling bell was answered by an average build dark african young man, who was fatter around the middle probably, late 30s, answered the bell with a warm smile and a lot of greetings, "how are you, how was your travel, Do you like the weather, Is there anything I can take from the taxi".

We were made to sit a small study with two English style couches put on opposite side of small old now unused fireplace. The formalities did take some time. My room was like an elegant bed room in any apartment with huge bed with twisted iron rods decorating the sides and a small working table and a compact ward-robe.

I could drink directly from the tap water. I was not used to this. Because in my part of the world you need to either boil water before drinking or buy bottled water. The water tasted great. Not sure if it was for good or bad. The tv was a surprise. Hardly any channels that you want to watch. The restaurent was simple and was offering only western food. That was good for 3 days. Anything more I assume I would have started suffocating on the meal.

Everyone I came across were tourists. Hardly any business travellers. In the entire hotel there were me and my colleague wearing suits. Rest of them were either in their jeans or short slacks. Everyone sported a camera, if we missed that we were the odd one out.

The meetings were stiff formal and easy to manage.

I think the best part was a meal at an ethiopain reastuarent. It was just what i would have in India, Kerala. There was large appam with a about 6 dishes on top, all with very similar tastes to what I have back home. Sliced rolled appam were served in a basket. We could eat it exactly the way we are used to. Hand and dipping it in the dish. How the hell these foods are so similar is something that I am keen on to know. Probably the orothodox christian churches in both part of the countries may have something to explain.



Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Saudi Travel

The Saudi Travel

The Travel

Saudi travel was something I was looking forward to. In my 3 years ME stint, this was the first time I was travelling to Saudi. Before my travel, almost everyone I spoke only had sympathies to share and warnings to offer. The reality, thats what below. I will let you make the opinion.

The flight was nice, food worth it, except that they stopped the movie I was watching almost 20 mins before landing.

The immigration.

The immigration probably was the tone setter. It is like telling you you are entering Saudi and we are different. The counter had huge ques and It did not take me long to find out why. Every once in a while one of the counter staff will get chatty on the mobile phone. After sometime I realised that the calls are actually from his colleagues in other counters sitting far away and who could not shout out. Then there are few mobile entertainers - "Staffs moving around greeting and talkig to their colleagues". The greetign itself has one handshake and 3 smooches and intermittent talking, which eats away a full 1 min. Then there will be social courtesies and then again a few more interesting snippets to share. Do not these guys have any one called bosses?

If that was all not enough, the fingerprint machine stopped working. So the ques got rearranged. They started allowing people who had visited Saudi before to get in. I was among the lucky one, obviously. I had to wait for the finger print machine to start working.

After a good one hour or more I shoudl say I reached the counter. The what to do part, finger print scanning etc etc, by now I was clear. So I kind of, started getting into the routing and the officer was least bothered. He was busy on a call. The whole thing took about five minutes for the electronics to get over. He stamped my passport, hear this, just before he was to hand it over to me, a mobile entertainer walks into the cabin. They get chatting. The officer has my passport in hand, to be specific, between his thumb and index finger. He keeps swinging it as if, he is trying to put some rhythm into the chat. My hand is about 2-3 inches away from the passport in the position to receive the passport. He has not given it to me and I cannot take. The border line of giving and taking is about somewhere in-between, probably an inch away from me.

I was all tempted to stretch over the line and take it. Standing there I had seen what happens to to the ones who are either asking or showing hurry. I among the smart ones had learnt the lesson to keep still. It looked like ages after which the entertainer walked off and I got my passport back. If I had ever asked the officer to give the passport to me when he was chatting I would have been made to sit in a chair, probably for another hour or two. There were a few who were sitting in the chairs probably because they asked.


The Out doors

Few basic rules once you are out of the airport and into the civilian crowd.
1. Do not speak to a woman if she is not your wife. If she is, well the chance that you may want to speak to her with her burqa on is very little.
2. Do not pick up a fight with a local. You may get jailed for just trying that. You need not be wrong.

The civil life, is among the slowest I have seen hitherto. Iran can kind of give a close resemblance but not to this extent. There are prayer breaks everynow and then. There are the ones who pray and there are many who use that time to catch up with a smoke or probably a coffe. What is with coffee shops here. There are so many of them. Ever block has atleast 1 if not more.

The hotel
The hotel I stayed, I would love to forget it fast. The a/c thermostat was fixed at a temp I did not want it be. So I could not sleep. The weather outside was very pleasant- not cool not hot, but my hotel windows were permanently sealed so could not even open the window.

Others...
The business life again is full of chatty and what is the hurry gentlemen. It is cool to catch up with them and talk over everything. It was little funny to watch European women stuttering around with a burqa and hurrying down the road as if they hate to be seen like that.

Every taxi driver whom I had met only had bitter words for the country and people. Every educated Saudi I met was nice and gentlemanly.

One big advantage of travelling to Saudi would be you will learn Arabic fast. Everyone speaks Arabic. It is hard to get by using Agliscise. (English). I would rate the overall travel good.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Oman - The Taxi Trip

Never take anything for granted. It was stupid of me to take Omani Hospitality and niceness for granted.

Oman, among all the middle east countries I have travelled, and I have travelled to almost all of them, is the warmest and friendliest place. But to be down your guard, only idiots do that.

This time on my Oman trip for two days, I hired an Omani taxi driver, (Baluchi Descent). Just like back home, they do love little haggling. Just like the Bahraini taxi drivers. They haggle over a few dollars here and there and then we settle. Being in Oman I was far too liberal and agreed for both days at a fixed per day rate. Well atleast I thought so. The first I had fewer meetings, one because I reached Muscat (Oman - capital) only in the morning and secondly being Ramadan month offices close by 2 in the afternoon. The taxi driver promised to landup next day also. He did very promptly. I saw him as early 8 in the morning when my first meeting was just at 10 and that too very close by to the hotel (10 mins drive). I was pleasantly surprised and frankly little too delighted at the sincerity of the driver. The day went very well, both the meetings and the taxi drive till I was getting back for to the airport for the drop off.

The driver had a completely different take for todays rate. The per day rate of yesterday, all of a sudden becomes per hour rate for today and he said he is in the hote from 6 AM and so thats quite a hefty sum. Well me being me, I was not going to take it that easy. The dispute unresolvable, we decided to take it to the police. We did and the Arabic speaking policemen, very nice fellows they were, resolved it. Well to me it was one of those typical mallu type fights where I am not going to take this crap lying down. I had plenty of time for my return flight and so invested myself in it.

At the end of it, I take what one of the police man said as why it happened, "Probably, the taxi guy had some sudden financial problem and he thought he could make some money out of you". Well thats what I also believe. The taxi guy would not have expected a suit and tie wearing gentleman staying in a pretty upmarket hotel and toying around an expensive mobile handset would haggle over a few riyals like it was the end of the world. I am afterall a "Nasrani".

Monday, June 15, 2009

T20 India Lost - Total Loss

India lost to T20 super 8 match to England. It was not the loss that bothers me. It was the exposure of our weakness that worsened it further. Once you are exposed it becomes easier to beat you again and again.

153 was not a bad score but it was not something that could scare good Indian Batsmen. They have chased bigger numbers than this.

It is less on why we lost more on what did we loose
1. Weak pace bowling attack. Could not have come at any other time. Ishant completely out of form and Zaheer have a slight but not great effect.
2. Short balls- What is with Short balls. Our batsmen cannot play them and so every team playing India need to just focus on that.
3. Fielding -- It is still left to just a few. But then even those few are not consistent worsening it a lot.
4. Attitude -- What this team had was an attitude. To play tough game even in impossible times. Dhoni looked pale and Yuvis attempt too feeble. What was with our guys yesterday. I felt most of the time we were giving good fielding practise to England.

Another thing probably is the amount of cricket we are playing. We are eliminated from T20, inspite of being last times champion. So big deal, we have the west indies game coming up fast. Probably players are now looking at playing the game just like everyone going to work on a Monday morning.

We need a lot of hardwork and lot of focus to come back from here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tips to tide over Recession

Add Image

Recession is on.

For Optimists, (well I cannot say skeptics),

# The EU defines a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth; and therefore, it was officially in a recession immediately following the release of q3 2008 GDP, since q2 was also negative.
# The US uses a more broad-based approach. A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.


Times are tough. Media is ensuring everything that to ensure that the flames are lit bright. The scare and sensation associated with anything is what increases television eyeballs. So the "sensation" will remain.

I compiled a list of things which I thought are interesting alternative ways to look at tough times. I am listing it down here. Please add to your own opinions.

Focus on Self



Probably times like this as really far apart for a reason. It gives that breathing space to look internally and see how we can make ourselves better.

• I recall someone sending out emails asking review of personal performance. I imagine that is one good way to start.
• Start learning a new skill. Atleast there is sometime to spare for it now.
• Try looking at how we can do what we are doing better.
• Try this for starters. Simplify. Look at problems that are made to appear very complex and look at how you can simplify it. Like the trigger for present recession. Too much money over assets that is too overvalued on an assumption that the valuation will always move up and not down. Individuals triggered companies that is now put nations on the block.
• Set some seemingly difficult targets (like waking up 5 and going for a short jog).
• This is a suggestion I came upon in a book, - Pilgrimage- by Paulo Coelho – Pour a few drops of water on your table and start making pattern say for 5-10 mins. This it seems will develop your intuitions. What the hell? It is after all few drops of water and 10 mins.
• On one of my train journeys, I noticed a 50+ man scribbling to his wits end on a note pad he was carrying. Out of curiosity I asked him what was he doing? He said he is trying to remember a few mathematical theorems ( and proofs) of his school days. Just to refresh his memories.


Start a Company


This is another popular suggestion. The logic is very simple. Either you have a job with a lower salary or no job. Alternative is that you take up a new job (if you find one) where you will either get paid less or do more for what you get paid. That leaves the option of look at your basics (cost) which should have come down due to reduced overall cost. How much would it take to generate that on something which you own? That becomes the new target. On top of it that being your own there is a new passion and drive.

From the companies point of view, companies who were easily limiting their options between a MERC and BMW as a solution for a problem are now fine with corollas, if it serves the purpose. So there is a new space for individuals with the right skill sets with the right price tag who can ensure successful deliveries of assignments.

There is also another aspect. The entrepreneur in us never dies. It is only thwarted by the cushions of a secure job. Now that is not there in the horizon this definitely should look more promising.

Play in Stock Market.



If anyone is telling you to stay away from market, I think they are stupid. This is the best time to invest. This is the best time to trade. You are not in the peak where the fluctuations can wipe out fortunes. You are in a time where a slow steady income can be built by moving smartly. Probably by the time the market turns around you are smart enough to play big.


Clean up your balance sheet.

This is a popular opinion. Let me call it return to basics. My parents never believed in loans. I personally do not favor it much. So it is smarter to avoid owning car which you cannot buy from you cash. Like Chinese save for 5-7 years to buy a car. Our parents used to save all their life to build a house. There is nothing wrong with mortgages or car loans just that it is smarter to use a simple test. Can you sustain that EMI for 6 months if your present income level changes for worse? And at no time, is it good to bet anything more than 30% of your salary on EMIs.

Network Probably few "Astrologers"
There was an article by a fengshui expert who said he knew of the recession coming about a year in advance. The theory being he was doing extremely well a year before as there were more businesses approaching him to consult on saving their declining top lines. So get close to a few of these future predictors. Atleast their business will tell you when is getting better. I assume you can measure it by the number of them going bust.

Networking is more relevant today. You are looking out. You need people who can tell you where to look. You are wanting to know more. You need people who can tell you. You want to verify the CNN story on "ABC" going bankrupt. You need people to tell confirm.

Probably it is time we watch less TV and probably start talking more to friends.

Spend



This is not the best recession time advise anybody can get. Do not stop spending. Spend on your kids education. Spend on your self learning. Spend on acquiring new skills. Spend on investments. The money does not do any good in bank accounts and lockers. They do better work in markets.


Find a second source of income
This is tough. But if you could achieve it then we are talking about riding the recession out smoothly.

Focus on the positive side

There is so much negative news around that is easy to get sucked in by it. The best way to look at it is to take a problem that you are facing or your company is facing and see how can you solve it. It is smarter to find a solution assuming everything is working fine and then try tweaking it to suit the present conditions. {This sounds too engineering like to be true, but then there is nothing wrong is trying}.


Focus where there is less problem
The real estate is in the dumps. Because of the credit squeeze, every industry which heavily depends on financing options are going to suffer and which inturn is going to have its affect on Banking as well.

I think the manufacturing sector and infrastructure based ones (the bread and butter ones) would turn around faster and will do better. The reason, government is pumping money into these sectors and they will see positive turn around in the shorter time.

I think there are lot of such good thing to do when things around you are not doing very well. Keep adding to this.

Monday, January 26, 2009

60th Republic Day

We are celebrating the 60th Republic day and the Bombay siege looks like long time over and done with. So much that we have MNS out on the streets again to teach non Maharashtrians a few lessons and Some god hating Sena in South teaching a few women how to behave.

Strangely it is treated with the same callousness by which it was treated before.

How can we let a few people be keeper of our morals.

If MNS is right I believe communism should have been an outright success. Equal wealth distribution should have been an outright success. Well if it is not so then capitalism should have been, being the other end. Then this "man created" greed driven economic recession would have been smoother as it should be a in a capitalistic economy. Both are not true.

The only truth is there is a midway.

Let us assume that MNS is right and Maharashtra should give first priority to Mahrashtrians. What are we sowing seeds to. Another reservation row, which immediately assures laziness and breeds corruption. Don't we have enough government offices to learn from. The other side, then why should any non Mahrastrian be there in Mumbai. So no concerns run by non Maharastrians should be there. That should empty 70% of the top business houses and probably almost all of the bollywood top names.

There is a middle path. It is the intelligence to know it and the humility to accept it, that is going to take us forward.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai....I hate the Mumbaikar Spirit







It was not the first time that terrorists have struck hard and deep in India. The callous everything goes attitude has run so deep into us that we desperately need something outrageous to wake us up.Obviously so many blasts and so many deaths were not that outrageous.
The Taj Seige, kind of gave a new the message. If it was just another blast, Bombay would have been back on track next day. Obviously crediting it to Mumbaikar spirit. For some reason I can only associate that with selfishness. I care less about what my neighbour does attitude.
It was not the number of deaths that scared the shit out of people. It was the audacity of a few sick men who held up an entire country to ransom for sixty hours that pushed peopel out from their slumber. Waking them up that this is not another reality television show but a blotch in the minds to stay for ever. Ofcourse it was not enough for Modi which is another story.
Next time you travel in the local, you will keep wanting a fortress around you. You would like to skip that travel if possible. You go out to a restaurent for dinner, there will be more on your mind than just the what is on the platter. The side walks in colaba is no more a good place for a leisurely stroll.
I, cynically, want it to be that way. Only that can change things and drive people to bother about their neighbour. The mumbaikar spirit is not about boucing back but about I give a damn. I see nothing to be proud of in that.
Rather it is time to be ashamed of standing so close to someone, smelling his sweat, rubbing with his body but yet managing to look into the oblivion on a commute lasting over an hour. When did we all turn into wooden blocks piled on top of each other. Just "rolled" into place.
How do we survive years together not knowing our neighbours. How do we manage to last holidays after holidays without actually having anyone good to call a friend.When did we expertise to socialise with computer screen googling into myspace and orkut. Worst, it became a trend.
I got to note something here. I belong a small village in a good Kerala. When ever we go back on vacation (which is usually wide apart) , I just love walking around. Every TDH would stop me and ask me who I was (an abvious stranger) and I had to start from my grand parents to exactly let them know Who I was. My parents were also out of the village for long time now so I always got to start there. Once they establish my coordinates, their next concern is what am i doing, how am i doing when am i going back who has come with me do i know someone else who from the same village who lives in the same town as i am now etc etc. In The 30 minute walk I plan usually I manage answering questions for over an hour.
My heart goes out to all those who are dead. So many innocents, rich, poor, locals, foriegners, pious and athiest. My sympathies for all those who survived the seige and still chasing their sleep.
Hope, we do little more than just hope.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Orthodox Church






Mallus carry a lot of things along with them which ever country they go to. The unusuall large ponch which was once considered sign of posperity, their partys, their idealogies (which usually leads to their arguments), their culture and lot more good and bad.

The Orthordox church I belong once consecrated the holdy mass only in suriyani http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/thecopticchurch/.

It did change to Malayalam about a century before and now slowly churches moving to English. The kids only speak English and so the churches are ensuring they do not loose them midway in the process.

There are still old Achayans who fervently want to hold on to what they have been taught and pass it on to a generation which has no clue what it meant. One of it is Harvest festival. As the name denotes it is the festival to celebrated the fruits of your harvest. So people bring whatever they can bring as offering to church and it is auctioned off to members. I remember the times it used to be only agricultural produce. Today it is TV, Water Heaters, Fan etc.

To add to this we had a huge procession this weekend in our church just to show off what it meant to all the kids around. We had a huge procession lead by kerala Chenda melam gang.


Long live Achayans for thier Zeal to retain atleast a few good things.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Taxi Drivers

This is a continuation to the taxi driver stories I have been including.

This guy picked me up about 3 in the afternoon. I could see he was in that tired about to doze off mood. For that matter he took a one sec nap at a traffic signal. Obviously this can make any one talk. So i started off with my nice talk. His responded, like a man about to hit bed little irritated and kept it to short ones most of them were the hmm or grr sounds. When my questions were really ruining his sleep he decided to give a piece of his mind to me, "You are a passenger, like all passengers. They come, sit, some times talk and go away. If I start discussing all this with every one I cannot drive. I am driving from morning. So let me drive".

I was happy about the discourse and nicely told him, " You drive, I will not talk. I see you napping I will talk and will not stop". That probably was the biggest threat he had ever heard, he drove fast and alert. No Talking.

People People

People make all the difference. The environment is only a tool. The right guys sees right opportunity in every environment. In my college days, for the person I was, I spent good deal of time just watching what people do and how they react to what is before them, how individuals become leaders and fighters in a group.

I want to share about two people. A security guard and a driver.
Security Guard in the mall : His job is at B2 (basement 2) level. Look at the place. underground, no sunlight ( there is enough light there otherwise), nothing to watch out, nobody to talk to etc. He sits right outside the elevator. The minute you walk up to the lift he will stand up throw a big smile greet you shake hands ask your well being and guide you to the right floor, (I intentionally avoided all the other commas. It just flows) as if he was waiting for you. Well the irony is when you hit the mall. Everyone has this "I am not paid enough to smile and be happy that you are here. My owner makes all the money. I am exploited like every other worker in gulf" look on his face.

Bus Driver: He is the Driver of the bus my daughter takes to school. I rarely speak to him for that matter he has no time. But he gives me the "I know what I am doing and I am happy doing it" look always. He reminds you politely of the coming holiday, bus delays expected and warns you (very politely) if your kid is little too naughty on the bus. Imagine this from someone who manages 60 kids, 20 stops and 3 trips starting right at 5 A M till 4 PM.

People make all the differnece. I wrote about a security guard and driver because these are the ones we really do not look at to learn something.

Monday, November 10, 2008

EId holidays once again











It was again one of those long strecth of those eid holidays. You always want to try somethign new, reach out somewhere else like every time during those holidays. You have not been some where not done somehting then there is something amiss.

We set out to a neigbgouring place in a car in search of park we thouht is there. You are looking for parks in Desert. When did that start?

Any how I drove about a few 10s 0f kms and the park never came. There were 4 people in the car. 2 men and 2 women. men were happy driving and enjoying the drive. women were still looking for the destination. I was driving and I was having a great time. Well after two hours of some strected driving we returned to a park which is just a few kms away from our homes.








I had a good time taking a lot of snaps all along the way.














One hell of a round trip.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cruel Kids

I should seriously get into learning child psycology. The more I start listening to them they have more things to share. Few of them are real scary.

It was baby sitting time. My neighbour had dropped their kid in our house. 3 years, very very naughty especailly when her parents are around. She is fine with my wife.

She had a few overgrown nails and my wife asked, "are you not cutting them, they are bad for you".
She immediately replied. "These are for scratching".

My wife possibly wanted to be sure, so she asked, "Scratching who".

"My Pappa (Father)", an immediate response. " He keeps scolding me and some time beats me also. So it is for that".

We could not help laughing. Think of my poor friend. He still does not know who he is up against.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Growing up...You never know

You should be careful about teaching - especially good manners, health bits etc to your kids. Well to put it specifically, things which are not natural to you try be extra careful when you are setting it as rules.

TV is a stupid an addiction for me. So never bought one. When I decided to own one I decided not to have any cable connections. But once you have will you have way. I was hiring movies and weekends are like 3-4 movies. One after the other.

My daughter decided to give me some strict rules (which I had passed it on to her).
1. Thu is not a weekend. It starts at Fri 12.00
2. Only one movie between 2 meals.
3. Sleep before 11 Max.
4 . No new CDs till the next weekend starts.

She has a logic too. She says she is the leader of the house. That is because whenever she does "inky pinky ponky", she is one who gets selected. So we need to listen.

Thats the way it is!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hospitality




Iran could be very deceiving in terms of Hotel Hospitality which otherwise has very very friendly people. The people are generally warm and are very happy to meet an outsider. The hotels, now that is a different story.


The first time I went to a hotel with a pretty decently built lobby and a shoe box shaped room. I could hardly turn around in the room. I had reached there early in the morning at 3 AM and had to catch another flight by 1 in the AFternoon. So the Hotel room was required only for few hours. Till breakfast. It was a December and hence very cold in Tehran. They have heaters all over the place. The heater was switched on and the room was extremely warm. I tried opening the windows. But just could not bear staying there for half hour. I freshened myself and rushed to the lobby. I spent the next 2-3 hours, till break fast over there, sleeping on a couch.

The contrast was the hotel I stayed in Esfahan. It was a palace converted to a hotel. Normally affording a room like that in any other country should have costed a decent fortune ($1000+). The room was spatious enough for 2 large beds. The bathroom was huge. The lobby was beautifully decorated with a high dome on top. All over the hotels there were beautiful paintings and the ceilings were filled with wonderful artwork.

Having learnt the lesson on Tehran, this time I booked myself in a better Star rated Hotel. For some reason the reservation was from 8AM. I was there at 4AM. The clerk (who had dificulty locating reservation) said he cannot give the room till 8AM. I said I can pay you for the extra night. He said no. Then as if to threaten, you will pay $200 just for 3 hours. I was so desperate to hit bed, I said yes. He had that "ghost struck me", "you careless idiot" look on his face. Then he said. Sorry no room. So when stick does not work you go to the next level. Beg. I started that. He ultimately said 30 mins later. Iagain hit upon a couch and crashed for a good one hour or so. Again went to the clerk. The minute he saw me, he raised his hands and said, "2 mins". I decided not to move till I get a room. I was given a room after 5 mins. I later realised the crowded lobby was because of people waiting to get their room. How much I miss that, "welcome to our Hotel Sir" line which I usually ignore.

Obama Hillary and Lallu - A Debate

I tried this. I have not been able to achieve the finish I would like. But still putting it up. Comments are welcome.

Impressed by Lalus performance as Railway minister Americans call them over for a political debate with Demorcratic candidates. This is how it runs.

Moderator : Welcome to this evening debate of democrat primary contestants Barak Obama and Hillary clinton with Mr. Lallu Prasaad....

Lalu Interrupts :Lallu hoga thera bap. Laalu ji Tell. Mod : SorryLalu: Speak Laaluji. No Meester and long long name. Only Laluji call.Mod: Okay Sir.

Mod Continues :Welcome to this evening debate of democratic primary contestants Barak Obama and Hillary clinton and Lalachi...
Lalu again Interrupts: Abe Gade ke Poonch. Naam Speak Proper. It is not Lalachi. It is L-a-l-u-j-i. Lalachi means greedy. I am not greedy. Only profeszional politics from Bihar.Mod: Sorry Sir

Mod Continues :Welcome to this evening debate of democratic primary contestants Barak Obama and Hillary clinton and (slows down) L--a--l--u--j--i from India. We have L-a-l-u-j-i here to share his experience about how the largest democracy in the world looks at the concerns that we Americans face. We are loosing jobs to Indians on a regular basis. Our IT is outsourced and all this because of cheap labour. We also have many Indian community out here. They are becoming so large that one day we will have more Indians here than Americans. That is a threat. So L-a-l-u-j-is wisdom should help us gain some understanding on all this.

Laluji Starting with you : What is your opinion on the US-India realtionship.
Lalu: That Depends. I in the ruling party. Everything Good. Opposition party. Everything bad.
Mod: That can't be true.
Lal: We politics from Bihar. 50 Yr Democracy. We know the truth. Satya meve Jayathe. So what I tell truth. You know no truth.
Mod: I meant the relationship does not change depending upon which side you are.Lal: Let me tell you. Now you tell what color my dhoti. (his Dhoti is covered by the podium and Lalu really tucks himself that he cannot see).
Mod: Well...er..I can't see...Lal: You say i wear no dhoti..
Mod: no..just i can't see...
Lal: But i see..so you say what color..just say...
Mod (takes a wild guess) : Yellow
Lal: Wrong..now Come...see...
Mod: (walks up and checks out)..Sorry it is white..
Lal: See my dhoti color changed for depending on where you stand. So everything changes on where you stand..
Mod:Well...that is not what i meant...
Lal: Doosra sawal pooch..Mod: sorry..
Lal: Next Question pleaze..
Mod to Barak: What is your position on our Relations with India.
Hillary interrupts and starts offHil: I have more experience and so i will be able to answer better. I have been there and done it. Our relationship is moving to..
LaL Interuppts: Come to the matter.
Hil: Good Relations
Lal: That is the matter.
Bar: Very good relationshs and we should strive to improve it. India now becoming a super power and so there is more we need to invest on the relation.
LaL: Dheko. Our relation Bery Good. So no problem. Can my son in law come to US and libe here. Bihar is Bery hot you know.
Bar: Ofcourse. We will defnitely welcome him coming through normal channel.
Lal: Normal channel hein tho there ko koun puchtha. Normal is okay. He is abnormal.
Hil: What do you mean? He is fineLal: Fine Fine. He committed few murder
Hil: (Almost Screams)What murder
Lal: Sirf theen. Just Three. Bihar it is standard practise.
Bar: Practise. Something religious you mean.
Lal: For religion we use goat. No man. This for political practise. Jail Nahi Jayega Minister Kaisa Banega.
Bar: SorryLal: Now you say visa okay not okay.
Mod: We should change the topic. You know they cannot do anything about it. They are yet to become president. They are still fighting to become one.
Lal: oh okay...
Mod: Barak: Your healthcare policy leaves out millions. Would you like to know the health care policy in India. L-a-l-u-j-i What is your healt policy.
Lal: Good Policy. Eat Drink make merry be happy. That is the policy. Mornig Buffalo milk with roti. After noon Dahi with partha and Ghee. Night. One litre milk
Mod: Well that is a good policy sir. But about your national policy. You know how people will take care if they fall ill.
Lal: Our national policy is also same policy. Joh Jeeya woh Marega. Joh Mara woh vote karega.
Mod: Can you please say that in English Sir.
Lal: English is every body who lives good dies good. God takes care of every body. You no good you die.
Mod: is there any medical insurance to cover medial cost etc. Like Govt Hospital
Lal: you go govt hospital. you go heaven. We have big population. So Govt hospital for everyone to go to heaven.
Mod: That is a very very strange policy.
Lal: Ehxactly..That is what they say in India...America Strange..
Mod: Obama, What is that you would like Laluji to tell you on health policy
Oba: Yes. (Addressing Lalu) :: I am very impressed with your approach towards health and general public. I am looking at voluntary health insurance sign up. That way we cover a lot of people. Children it is mandatory.
Lal: Samja Samja. Ab Policy company there ko paisa dega
Mod: what
Lal: voluntary no good. Only Compulsary. India people do not take driving license voluntarily. So how policy.
Mod: What will be your one word of good advise
Lal: Jo Bakna hai Bakdo.Pakeka tho theek. Nahi Pakeka tho you are weak. So Ask Vote. Lathi se ya Sathi Se.

Travelling to Cairo

Cairo is a tips city. You need to tip everyone. The city also tips on the wrong side on Traffic and security setup.

The guy in the airport who helps you with the taxi needs a tip. He is not going to drive you to the hotel. He is just going to lead you to the taxi. The janitor wants a tip. The taxi driver wants a tip. The receptionist in the hotel will look at your for a tip and obviously the room boy. I kind of started missing which are the right requests. I think I was not the only one confused. I saw a board in a mall saying, "TIPS are not charged here".

The traffic is an innovative one. The three lanes become 5 lanes by the time you reach the traffic lights. No the road does not become wide. Vehicles adjust to give space so the next guy can squeeze in and so you have 5 lanes of traffic. The two lane tunnel accommodates 3.

There are gun trotting guards all over the place. I have never see so many Automatic guns in such a short range. The police in airport, the hotel security guard, the guard in your Hotel taxi (?), the conference halls, restaurant entrance and all over the road. It is mandatory to x-ray scan your luggage even before checking into a hotel.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Yet Another Iran Trip

I think I have started looking at Iran trips as source of some snippets. Big, small entertaining etc.

There was this gentleman sitting right before the the customs exit where you have green and red channel. There was no one using red channel. Everyone was walking through the green channel. There was an obvious filter through a pshycoanalyst right before you enter the customs belt. He stared at me and asked, "anything to declare", I said, "Nothing to Declare", he says okay go.



What the hell was that. Some pshyco test. When do you employ people for that. Oil money talking I thought.