Sunday, June 23, 2013

Real Premonition Experience


Premonition??

Oct/1/2011

Today I took the East-Thambaram to Sholinganallur route to reach my office. The road was empty and tempting . On my way I slipped in to a strange thought, ‘if I need help and if I call Rajaram to come here from office, will he have his bike to come'. Few seconds passed and I was trying to overtake a lorry from left. And the lorry started move left (Gale road'la yenga'ya left vare), I was still at high speed (~90 kmph). Trying to avoid the lorry, I applied the breaks, but lost traction on the loose gravel, and landed a few meters away from my bike and my bike came right after me (Passakara bike).

Did a quick check to make sure all my spare parts are fine. Few were leaking . My head was saved because I was wearing a helmet (If you are wearing a helmet, buckle up) The closest person I can call for help will be Rajaram (In office). I took the phone to call him. And realized, I thought about this just a few seconds back. And it happened. Rest- long story short... Torn pant – dusty shirt - gear leaver and handle bar kochikuchu - did not call Rajaram - again empty and tempting road - stopped by police for over speed - to police, accident as excuse , showed the leaking parts - came to office - quick water wash - at last used the office first aid box, patched up the leaking parts (Tinkring) - tore the pant (My fav pant ), made it as 3/4s - changed my shirt with my back-up t-shirt - full formal to pakka casual - back to my den - started with my work - went to a doc after work (Work 1st, doc 2nd)





Image courtesy of Prawny at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Chennai - Auto meter missing


This has long been out of the dream list too. To take a auto rickshaw in Chennai without bargaining and pay the meter rate to the auto driver. Too many people like to complaint about it, but few are taking things in their hand to voice it out to the concerned persons. I guess TOI started a campaign, but it is no longer making any noise. This one I am following has some action plans and they are on track. Please let them know your support by signing for this petition.

You can also share this link on FB, Twitter or your blog.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Horse ride in Hyderabad road in Traffic


This was back in 2008.

After a great Hyderabadi dinner I was coming from old city to Hitech city. On the way I found this hyderabadi answer to the proposed petrol price hike.



The facts are convincing

Life Span 20-50 yrs
Daily Food Consumption 17-36 lbs
Daily Water Consumption 5-12 gal
Daily Fecal Volume 30-50 lbs
Daily Urine Volume 3-18 ml/kg. body wt.
Chromosome # 64

What Suresh has gone through


This is where it started





Now Suresh turn to show some muscle power:





Now Back to some training





Final attack


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Does Fair and lovely work?


If you are looking for a quick answer - it is a 'Yes' and a 'No'. Read further if you want to decide for yourself if it really works or not. I am trying to unwrap both the scientific and marketing side of this topic.



Browse the television and for sure you will bump in to an ad for a fairness cream (At least in India). Fair and Lovely became a generic trademark (genericized trademark or proprietary eponym) for skin fairness creams. But is it true if Fair and Lovely really make your skin fair?



First, let us start from the base. Humans are the only single mammal species to have a wide range of skin color. This is purely based on the selected evolution process. More the UV rays the skin need to handle, more darker the skin is. WHAT? Yes, before millions of years, people do not migrate between continents. They almost live in a more closed environment than how we are today. Each human race evolved as per their surrounding and the skin color evolved to adapt to its surrounding. Skin color is mainly determined by the melanin for darker colored people and for lighter colored people it is determined by the connecting tissues under the dermis. Don't worry about those unfamiliar terms. If you want to dig in deep about skin color, you can read this from wikipedia.

This is all to say, the color we are born with is based on millions of years of evolution. So why suddenly we need a fair skin? Have you ever thought if skin fairness cream will hold any place other Asian countries or Europian or even African countries? I guess definitely not. In fact, you will find products that gives you a dusty skin in few of those countries. They actually want to get a little dark. So, why this is a hot market in India.

As you may know Indian race is a blend between the Aryan and the Dravidian race. Dravidians have a varied skin complexion, it ranges from dark brown to light. Where as Arays are from Iran and Arab, they have lighter skin complexion.

Gap it with Fair and Lovely


Now that we know we have a mixture of color by evolution and also due to this Aryan and Dravidian blend we now see a gap. So, we need to take sides. Yes. We need to decide if dark skin is beautiful or the lighter ones. We were made to decide that pretty easily with the help of visual mass media. If you check any visual mass media, you will find lighter skin tone taking more prominent place. This was due to the fact that in the black and white film age, you need a fair skin for better light exposure than taking the trouble working with a dark complexion skin. It was around  the same time even the fair need to be fairer to address the gap in the way earlier film rolls expose to different reflected light. The save came in to real life with people trying to go for a whiter skin tone without knowing why all this started in the first place. You can take any yesteryear's actor you will find this true. It took years to turn this table when actors like Vijayakanth and Rajinikanth survival in movie industry was debated due to their darker skin color. It was to that extent the fair skin was widely accepted as more acceptable to appeal the masses. We were tuned to think that fair skin is beautiful than than darker skin tones. But I am dark, so how to become beautiful (fair). Answer: Fair and Lovely or other skin fairness creams.

This gap and the solution is a marketers snare (Here is another marketing snare targeting health drinks - Click here to read in a separate tab). You can promote this product in a thousand ways and there are people to buy it. So does fair and lovely really make you fair? It will not even be skin deep. As said before the skin tone is more due to the melanin for the dark tone people. Do you think Fair and Lovely is going to reverse a million year evolution process in days or even weeks. It is only a layer above your skin, and sure you are going to look fair with a light cream on your skin. This may reduce the amount of sun rays your skin may receive over a period of time and may change the skin tone to a very minimal effect. Again, this is not a permanent change. So you are doomed to use it continuously just to make sure your artificial color stays on for ever. So, let us say in the scale of 100 to 0 in skin tone, where 100 being the darkest and 0 being the lightest, you go from 75 to 70 by using Fair and Lovely. Do you think every one you meet are going to compare your color 3 months back to what you are now and feel you are fairer. The person looking at you when you are at 70 is going to see you and accept you as a person with a skin tone at 70. The same is the case if you were in 75 too. It is only your personal satisfaction and self esteem you are fueling by making you look fair.

It is best to accept what we are. If we try to change what we are, we will be forced to make lot many changes. The ads that promote these brands make it so compulsive for people to use it. They go to any extend to make it compulsive. You may start to think that not to use it is an injustice you are doing for yourself. On few occasions they have been forced to take those ads off, it is to that extent these marketers go.

In 2007 a Fair and Lovely ad was forced to withdraw. The ad showed a dark skin girl depressed after her employer and other guys ignore her. She then uses Fair and Lovely, gains a lighter complexion skin and gets a new boy friend and a new career. This ad clearly shown the shiny horns of the marketer.



In 2008 Priyanka Chopra was made a brand ambassador for Ponds White beauty. She was part of a series of commercials along with Saif and Neha Dhupia. The ad clearly intends to show the difference in the dark complexion of Priyanka vs the lighter skin tone Neha. This ad drew sharp criticism.







In this ad, they are making the fair fairer, as making the dark skin inferior marketing will not work in Arab nations where the majority are already fair:




Are you going to answer if Fair and lovely works or not?

Well... After going round this topic, I find no point in confirming if Fair and Lovely or any fairness cream for that matter works or not. I personally feel, it is a product born out of marketing and has no real use in the real world. Unless you feel you are better with it than without.

Please leave your comment if you do agree or disagree with this point of view.

Does Pediasure work? Yes. Really?

From when did Human species need health drink to grow?

http://www.haringo.com/2013/02/complan-horlics-boost-health-drink.html

Saturday, June 1, 2013

SOLVED: How to change the default sitemap on blogger


I had a problem on Google webmaster, I found there are 56 posts on my blog, but the default atom.xml that was recognized by Google webmaster only had 26 posts in it. It the same used for the rss feeds.

I wanted to submit all the posts to Google webmaster. Found these resources and wanted to share to those for whom this might help.

First we need to create a custom sitemap that will replace the default sitemap on blogger.

Step 1 - Create the Custom Sitemap:


Use this link, to generate the custom sitemap you will need, http://ctrlq.org/blogger/. make sure you enter your blog URL with http:// when you are submitting the link to generate the custom sitemap. Now you have the custom sitemap, copy the sitemap. It should look something like this:

# Blogger Sitemap generated on [Date]
User-agent: *
Disallow: /search
Allow: /
Sitemap: http://[Blog URL]/atom.xml?redirect=false&start-index=1&max-results=500

Step 2 - Replace the custom sitemap:


From blogger, go to settings and search preference.

Now change "Enable custom robots.txt content?" to Yes. You now will see a text box. On the text box, paste the custom sitemap that you had copied.




Now save the changes.

Step 3 - Submit sitemap to Google webmaster:


Google will automatically crawl your new sitemap on the next run, still it is advisable to submit your new sitemap to google. For this login to Google webmaster tool.

Navigate to Optimization>>Sitemap

By default you will see "/atom.xml" listed on the sitemap. Now add the new sitemap that you had just created. Which should look like this 


https://[Blog URL]/atom.xml?redirect=false&start-index=1&max-results=500


Click on Add/Test sitemap button on the top left. In the text box add the sitemap link without the base URL on it. It should be like this:
 
atom.xml?redirect=false&start-index=1&max-results=500



Test this URL. On successful test, again hit "Add/Test sitemap" and submit the sitemap this time. You will see your new sitemap listed on the list of sitemaps and also you will see a change in the number of links submitted.

With this you have done your part. Now google will take care of it during the next crawl and index all the posts/pages left out in the default /atom.xml.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Unplanned trip from Chennai - Tiruchendur - Tenkasi - Courtallam and Manjolai



View Larger Map

Day 0 - Towards Day 1:

 Two of the planned trips I had to miss. One was for Deepak's wedding in Bangalore on the 15th for which plan A, B and C failed. Next was a spiritual trip to Pondy that was planned for the 20th to 23rd. Pondy was executed after planning for Goa, Masanagudi and Kodaikanal. It happens when wish is too far to reach from reality when constrains kick in.

Still I missed all the travel opportunity I got this month. I missed traveling a lot. I want to make it up, but no opportunity left on the cards for this month. Luckily I had a holiday this month on the 27th for Memorial day (US federal holiday). I cannot expect everyone else to be having a holiday for Memorial day. That was the case.

I was eying on this holiday from Monday (21st May), but was not sure what to plan for or where to go. I just wanted to go somewhere, but where, how and with whom were to be answered. I struck a conversation with Nivethan and came to know his home town was Tiruchendur. Later I was hearing Tiruchendur a lot on the news. So picked Tiruchendur, a place I had never been to. Why not start from there. I checked for tickets and my initial plan was to leave on Saturday evening and spend a night somewhere and start back on Monday night. I spread the word to my friends who would be ready to join in, but no one was able to commit as they all had office on Monday.

I was still not completely prepared to take on with this travel until Friday morning. I had called Murali to have a last confirmation if anyone is joining, and the answer was no. So it was just me for now. I checked back for the tickets, it was still available for Saturday evening. By the afternoon I was set to make this happen. Google map, little insight on the area from Nivethan and Kumaresh made me take the plunge. We were out for our break at 5 pm and I decided I will plan for my travel on Friday than to want till Saturday. The bus was at 9pm. It was 6 pm when I was still deciding. Did a reverse plan, I had to start by 7 pm from office to make it for the bus, but still I was not ready and I still had work to be completed and one hour is not enough. I made up my mind and first booked the return ticket for Monday evening from Tenkasi (As it is close to Kutralam and also reachable from Tirunelveli). If I start on Friday or on Saturday, I should start back on Monday. So booked the ticket. Now is the question of when I am going to leave. I rushed through all my emails. Replied to all emails and had two proposals to send. I had one prepared and had Rajaram to send it, so that he can still follow-up when I am away and the other is something that was in progress and he can send it directly when it is ready. It was 6:50 pm when things were settled and the option for Friday evening was possible. I booked the ticket, send an email to our Sales manager that I am leaving and will not be having access to internet and am back only on Tuesday. Bang, 7 pm, I was out of office.

On my way home I was preparing the list of items I need to pack. I also have to inform my parents. No explanations needed, but I had to let them know. I reach home. Told my mom that I am leaving out of station and will be back on Tuesday. She was puzzled, she asked if it is office work. I said 'No'. 'Who are you going with?', I said 'Alone'. 'Why suddenly'. I said 'I have a leave on Monday, so going out'.

She was a little confused and was not able to frame more questions. To avoid taking more questions, I started asking for my dress and shirts she cannot find, so that she can keep searching until I am left. It worked. :) It was 8 pm and the bus is at 9 pm. CMBT. It is 9 km away and will take a good 2 hours by bus and I need to take a hop at Vadapalani and auto rickshaw, might be between 40 min to an hour. With a huge risk factor involved, I decided to go by my bike, leave it in CMBT and walk from there to the Omni bus stand (Not sure why they call it Omni).

Swift... Reached CMBT by 8:30 pm. There was a very long queue for parking. There were pretty interesting argument on who came first in the queue and people were forming groups to defend their positions in the queue. Nothing compromised my position. I was in by 10 min. I had 20 min and I was not sure where this bus was. I started walking towards the Omni bus stand. I called the number on he ticket, he said it is the apple bus opposite to KPN. So, now I need to find the KPN bus. I had just 5 min and no sign of KPN bus or the Apple. Another call. He said the bus is inside the bus stand opposite to KPN stall. My mistake, I was looking for KPN bus instead of the KPN stall. Sharp 9pm, I met the Apple bus. It has sleeper and semi-sleeper. I had booked the last window seat on the left. I took my spot and the journey started.

The bus was already behind schedule even before we left out of Chennai. We reached SRM college by 12:30. A good 3.5 hours to reach SRM college. I was prepared for the delay if the bus is going to go in this pase. Then I realized I did not have my dinner. I usually skip my lunch. So, I was running with some reserves from my breakfast. By 2 am we reached a highway hotel. Got a pack of chips, water bottle, Cool drink and a cig. Then off to the bus and the journey continued.

Day 1: Got down without a plan

May 25th, 2013 (Saturday)

The bus reached Tiruchendur at 10 am. I wanted to visit the Murugan temple. But first things first. I need to find a place to take bath. Source of information: Tea stall. Ordered for a tea and started talking to the guy on how the crowd is, how to reach the temple and where to find a lodge to take a quick bath. The previous day was Vaikasi Visakam, the crowd was huge. So comparatively, the crowd was very less when I reached there. Got the way to the temple and he also guided to a place where I can take bath.

Temple was pretty crowded. There was a free darshan and paid for Rs. 20, Rs. 100 and Rs. 250. As I had nothing else to do, I planed to go by free queue. I saw a long zig zag queue. No, this is going to take hours just to reach inside the temple. Then 20, was a little less, still lengthy. Opted for Rs. 100. The darshan was over in 30 min. Came out and saw a board that said Nazhi Kenaru. Wanted to check what it was. I followed the sign and it took me to a bus stand. From there a bus was starting to Tirunelveli. I changed my mind and got on the bus to Tirunelveli.

It took about an hour and a half to reach Tirunelveli. I had no plan and was not sure what to do next. I had reached Tirunelveli new bus stand. It is outside the city and was in an isolated place. Nothing nearby except for a veg restaurant and a familiar green color board which also said Bar attached. :).

The last meal I had was the previous day breakfast. I had skipped meals the whole day. Definitely a good chill beer will give me enough energy. I asked for all familiar beer I can think of. He said he has only Commando. After hearing the list I gave him, he said he will try for Calsberg. He has no beer on earth, but will try for Calsberg!!??. After about 5 min he came back and said they don't have Canber. Ok, my mistake, I misunderstood that he got Calsberg right.

arasan hotel tissue paper
I had to settle with Mr. Commando. There was another guy on my next table in white and white. My first guess was he is a cab driver. I started talking to him and was asking him places to see near by. His name was Laksman, he is a studio photographer. He suggested I take a room in Kutralam (Not sure why they spell it as Courtallam) and I can see the places near by. I need to reach Tenkasi to reach Kutralam. Tenkasi means Koushik. He was working in ICICI bank in Tenkasi. I got his number and reached him. Bad news, he has left Tenkasi and is in Chennai for about a year. From Koushik I got his friends Paulraj number, who is in Tenkasi. I tried to reach him and had no luck. He did not pick the call. Further deep in to the conversation with Lakshman, he said he is on his way to his in-law's place. It is near Papanasam. He said he will leave me in Papanasam, I can go to a falls in Papanasam, from there go to Tenkasi - Kutralam and get a place to stay. On the way we had lunch from Arasan Hotel, which was Lakshman's favorite place. We had one Chicken Biriyani each and shared a Chettinad Mutton gravy. The bill was Rs. 391 and we shared the bill.

papanasam reservoir

He dropped me in Ambai and asked me to take a bus to Papanasam. It was only about 4 km from there. I took the bus and reached Papanasam at 5:30 pm. Climbed up to the small reservoir, and reached at 5:40 pm. The forest ranger denied entry as everyone have to leave at 6 pm. I told him that I will be out at 6, even before he can come and call for me. He left me in. The place was worth visiting. Took a dip and was there only for about 10 min, and the ranger was already in, asking everyone to leave. The fun short lived, I had to leave.

papanasam reservoir near tenkasi, ambasamudram
papanasam reservoir near tenkasi, ambasamudram
I took the bus to Ambai, and then to Tenkasi. Kaushik called me again and asked if his friend Paulraj had suggested a place to stay. I said no. He called his friend and reached him and told him I will be calling him in a minute. Looks like his mobile was in silent mode when I called him in the afternoon and he did not return the call as it was an unknown number.

He gave me his uncle's number who has a lodge in Kutralam. He called his uncle Jesusona and had informed him that I was coming. Shalom lodge, Courtallam (Kutralam) was my next destination. It is on a parallel road to the main bus stand. It is a 10 min walk from the bus stand, unless you take a short route. You need to go through the fence behind the Indian oil petrol bunk that is opposite to the bus stand. If you want down the slope and cross a stream, you will reach a street. Shalom lodge is building on the first left. It is a quiet place and it was QUIET. A quick check with the owner and they gave me a room for Rs. 300 per day. The room at that time will usually be about Rs. 500 to 700. But Paulraj reference made the difference. It was night and time to try some parota.

I went to a stall opposite to the bus stand. Standard menu which you find in any parota stall. I ordered for a Chicken Kothu. Later checked the price, it was Rs. 110. I guess the price was for the location, i.e. opposite to the bus stand. I shared the table with two others who were from Tuticorin. Time to strike a conversation. Then came to know that they supply fish to restaurants in this area. One was a driver and the other should be a helper. Both were drunk. The helper for sure was in is late teen. I shared my kothu with them. They settled with a couple of parota. Later the driver offered a ride the next day, he will take me to the falls above Papanasam, but cannot drop back. They were going around for collecting the money for the weeks supply. I took his number and told him I will let him know by morning 8 if I want to join or not. I went to bed by 2 am and got up at 6 am.



Day 2: In Kutralam, but not for Kutram today

May 26, 2013 (Sunday).

For day two I already have a offer to go to the falls above Papanasam. Or can find another place to go. Options are to go to five falls, the only falls in Courtallam in which they still has water when I was there or to go to Tirunelveli and get Halwa for my home and office. Still I was looking for something interesting. Kutralam and Tirunelveli can happen without much planning. So it can wait. If I want to try something new, I can take the risk on Sunday. I was checking places on google map and was checking few sites to plan my day. I saw Manjolai. The name sounded familiar. From Google map it was 30 km from Tenkasi and will take 50 min by road. Also read it was the Kodaikalan of Tirunelveli. Ok, this sounds like a place I want to try. Called the number I got the previous night and informed that I will not join them.

Kailasanatha temple, tenkasi, gopuram
I got ready and left to Tenkasi from there I can try for a bus to Manjolai. In Tenkasi went to the Sivan temple. I checked the history and came to know that the gopuram was damaged by a lightning strike and they had renovated it recently. During renovation they had not painted few feet from ground to denote it was renovated. It was surprising that there was a heavy gush of wind blowing from the gopuram entrance. It was really heavy. Not anywhere, but only near the gopuram entrance.


After the temple visit, settled for a couple of dosa in a stall opposite to the temple. It was 10 am, now it s time to look for a bus to Manjolai. There is only one bus to Manjolai and it will leave only at 12 noon. Now I had to spend 2 hours. Tenkasi was boring. It was busy. So, I chose to go to Ambasamudram and wait for the bus from there. I reached Ambi at 11 and the bus to Manjolai reached there at 1 pm. It was a long wait, spent time staring few guys who were fishing in a temple pond, had Keppai kuzhu, 2 cig, bovonto, a cranky drunk guy who was talking alone. It was dragging, but still time rolled by. Then came the bus. The bus was already full. I had to stand, but knowing it will take only 50 min (From google map), I was ok with it and made myself comfortable.

There were empty seats, but there were guys guarding the seats for others who will get on bus in the Sandhai stop. I was irritated with 2 guys who were holding 6 seats. They did not let anyone sit for 2 stops. I took one seat and they guarded the other 5 seats. Both had only one more to join them from Sandhai bus stand. So the fifth seat was given to another guy. The conductor came and asked where I was going to. I said Manjolai. He said he has not seen me before. So he knows everyone who travel in this bus? I said I am new and wanted to see Manjolai. He game me a ticket for Rs. 18. From Sandhai bus stand he also got Tomatoe basket and pushed it underneath my seat. Almost everyone in the bus know each other. They all know by their names, or in some cases know their profession. One lady was addressing another lady as "Press", her husband has a printing press I guess. They were all returning from a marriage.

We crossed Ambasamudram railway station and in a few minute were near Manimutharu dam. It was almost like a beach surrounded by mountains. We were going on the realm of the dam. Then reached a checkpost. Then the ascend started. We were gaining altitude and it was getting chill. Known symptoms were kicking in for others nausea, head ache.. By the time I started talking to other guys on the bus and came to know that there is nothing to see in Manjolai, but there is a view point in Kuthiraivetti. The bus last stop is Kuthiraivetti. On the way there was a falls on the road side. Where you see water, you see people. Cars parked along the road. I just had to watch them enjoying :(

 
Manjolai Tea estate
Manjolai was a good 2 - 3 hours ride. We took a break in Manjolai. Had a tea, cig and two masal-vada. Vada was really good. The place was filled with tea plantations, and the only employment opportunity was based on the tea plantation industry. The conductor then saw the main plate on the shock absorber was broken. They still decided to continue to Kuthiraivetti. I got on the bus and took another ticket to Kuthiraivetti. It was Rs. 14. I also checked for the last bus from Kuthiraivetti, it was the bus I was on. There is no bus after that. There is no place to stay and and no place to eat. Only option was to return back to Ambai or Tenkasi. Another option was a bus from Uthu, the last bus from there is at 7 pm. Uthu is 4 km from Kuthiraivetti. I had planned to walk my way to Uthu, but has risk involved. The place has wild animals, and it will get dark, I had no source of light with me. The pressure was less up there and not easy to walk. Still I wanted to take the risk. We then reached Uthu, and I was tracking the route, after about half the way I knew it was not going to be easy. There were two other guys like me who had come just to see Kuthiraivetti. They had asked the conductor and came to an agreement. The bus will drop us before the bus stand from there we can go to the watch tower, the bus will pick us after dropping everyone in Kuthiraivetty.

Kuthiraivetti view point watch tower
We got down at Kuthiraivetty view point at 5:40 pm. A good 4.5 hours ride. The bus will be back in 10 min. We had to go down a slope, and then climb up to reach the watch tower. There was also a "Rest House", it is managed by the forest department. Where they also had facility to stay, but  you need to get permission from the forest department they said.

I first started to walk, the other two were running. Before I could reach the half way mark, they had already reached the watch tower. If I go late, the bus will leave. I had to be with them. I then started to run pulling my pant up for every few meters. I reached the watch tower gasping.

Kuthiraivetti view point Kuthiraivetti view point
Manimutharu dam from Kuthiraivetti view point Kuthiraivetti view point
Kuthiraivetti view point Kuthiraivetti view point


The view was awesome, excellent, splendid, magnificent mind blowing. I have all the right to use all these adjectives. I had spent 4.5 hours for this 5 min view. The place was cold. I enjoyed the climate and definitely the place takes you out of this world. The other two were already near the road. Time to run again. Clicked few photos, held on to my pant and started to run. By the time I reached the road, the bus was already there. I was back on the bus in 10 min. I asked for a ticket to Ambai. The conductor smiled. He should have thought I much be crazy or I was misguided to this place. In any case, I enjoyed the ride and the place. The seat was cold. The grill were cold. What else can you ask for in the middle of summer. Descend was a little quicker. We made to the Sandhai bus stand in 3.5 hours. The conductor gave the tomatoe basket to the guy he took the tomatoes from. He also gave him the cash. Then I heard this bus takes all the goods to the people living in the Manjolai hills. The driver and conductor were known to all and they too know everyone in those villages. It is a different kind of a relationship we cannot see in other places.

The day went fine, I got down on Ambai, then took a bus to Tenkasi. Had dinner in a parota stall in Tenkasi. Yummy parota and they had chicken fry which was pan fried shredded chicken. It was half crispy and had a very interesting texture. My mouth is watering just by thinking about it now. Took a bus to Kutralam at 11 and reached Shalom lodge. Slept at 2.




Day 3 - Stock up and leave:

May 27th, 2013 (Monday)

Got up at 7 and I knew my plan for the day. I had to go to five falls and Thirunelveli for Halwa. Got ready and started to walk to Five falls, the only falls which has water in it. It was 4 km from main bus stand. My plan was to take a walk. An auto guy checked if I want to take the auto. After bargaining we settled for Rs. 40 one way. He started from Rs. 120 two way. After I reached five falls I told him I will return with him. Deal was Rs. 80 two ways and he will wait up to 2 hours. Out of five falls, only one had the water flow. At least it had water flow, else Kutralam visit would have been a void. There was a queue to wait for your turn. The process was you first get wet, then soap and come back to take a wash.


I do not understand this logic. Should we have to go to water falls to take a bath or to enjoy the falls. By using soap and shampoo in the falls we are only polluting the water which will be used down stream. I took my turn and spent a few minutes under the falls. I wanted to take another turn, so went back in to the queue and took another turn under the falls. I had my time in Kutralam, now had to go to Tirunelveli. I checked out from my room and started to Tirunelveli. In Tirunelveli went to the Nellaiappar temple and was out by 11 am. I now have nothing to do and my bus is from Tenkasi at 8 pm.

I was walking to find a bus stand. A banner caught my eyes, Past and Purious 6. Yes, it is Fast and Furious 6 in Tamil. With nothing to do, it is better to go watch a movie. It also says the theater is Full A/C. Not sure if they also have partial or half A/C theaters. It was Rathna Theater. The ticket was Rs. 100. The show was at 11:30 am. Took the ticket and went in. There were about 20 gentlemen in the balcony Rs. 100 area. The movie was action packed and had a very fast screenplay. Only area that had hit the logic with a sledge hammer was the climax scene. I guess it was a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft which has to take off with the bad guys in it. It was taking-off for a good 15 min. Not sure where they had a run way to accommodate for a 15 min take-off. Otherwise the movie was good.

After the movie went to the old bus stand, then found my way to Shanthi sweets to get halwa. Be careful, there are bigger stores with the same name, but they are all imitations. The Shanthi sweet with crowd outside is the original Shanthi Sweet. It is next to St. Mary's medicals.

 I had lot of time left and nothing to do until 8 pm. I started to feel thirsty. What better option than to share the table with some cool companions. I found a hotel with permit room, Hotel Brindha. The place was good and most of the tables were filled on a Monday afternoon. I saw everyone were having beer from a tall glass. I wanted a beer mug. So I asked for one, after hesitation, the server said they do have beer mug and this is what I got.

Hotel brindha beer mug
Had two beers, french fries (It was battered and soggy), green salad (No complaints). After the bad experience with the french fries I made sure the preparation for Chicken Manchurian was that of a Chicken Manchurian and ordered one. I told them, strictly no curry leaves and chilli powder. It can have capsicum and green chillies. I got what I wanted. Spent an hour and a half and left to Tenkasi.

Now I have one last mission, I have to have my dinner (The Chicken fry was still in my list) and find the KPN bus. It was 7 pm and I called the bus number, they said it is on  the Kutralam road. I was checking for KPN office and was roaming all around the place. Finally I got two confirmations that the office was just around a corner. So relaxed I settled on the same parota shop for dinner. The same Parota, chicken fry and they also had chicken chops. It sounded new, later when it landed on the banana leaf, it was chicken from the salna gravy. It was not interesting as the chicken fry, still was good.

I was stuffed. Want to make sure everything stays down during the travel, I came out and had a 7up. It paused my movement. I was not able to walk. Two loud burps, I was able to move. Now mission finding the KPN bus started. I walked twice on the same road where people said the KPN office is and did not see the office. Later one guy took me to the office. The banner outside the office had no light and was faded. No wonder why I did not notice for three times. But the office was there, but not the bus. It was 7:45 am. KPN, please don't leave me. Another call and the bus guy said the bus is waiting after Aanai bridge on the way to Kutralam. Walked for another 10 min, found the bus and took my seat.

This is what took me around and kept me engaged for these three days,

bus tickets
 

Day 4: Back to routiene:

May 28th, 2013 (Tuesday)

WOW O WOW. I made it. Came back to Chennai, found my bike camouflaged with red sand in CMBT. Quick dusting and I was back to my routines and back to place known to me.

Except for the start and end, the whole trip was unplanned. Met new people, went to places which I never knew before and it was all an adventure. I was filled, I gained back what I had missed on all the lost trips. I want to make another unplanned trip sometime. Just plan the start and the end. Leave the rest to as it goes and where it takes me.

Leave  your comments :)

If someone want to try Shalom Lodge, Kutralam (Courtallam) try  these numbers: +91 9842182056, +91 9976691686

Update -

It happened again. Here is the write-up of my second solo planned-unplanned trip. This time even bigger :)  Chennai - Coimbatore- ________ - ________ - ________ - Coimbatore - Chennai.

 http://www.haringo.com/p/planned-unplanned-trip-2-nov-27th-to.html

Solo bike ride from Chennai to Delhi:

https://www.haringo.com/2017/11/chennai-to-delhi-solo-bike-ride.html

Solo ride bike from Chennai to Mumbai

https://www.haringo.com/2016/07/intro-planned-unplanned-4-3200km-solo.html

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hyderabad Bomb Blast - Disaster Management


It is quite shocking to see the terrorist have striked again. I started tracking the news and was also seeing live broadcast from the explosion site.

There are several mistakes committed time after time during disaster. It did not escape this scene too. I am no forensic expert or a law maker or a person to maintain law and order. But with some commonsense, to see how things were and how it should be. During these attacks, it is a common strategy to have multiple explosions. First bomb goes off, it causes casualty, now people rush in to help the wounded. So the second one will be placed to increase the casualty, as there are more people on the spot. This is the same method I see was used by Srilankan army during their civil war (Documentary report by Channel 4). The same did happen this time too. It was two blasts, they said it was three, but not confirmed.

The news channel said the whole place was sealed and sanitized. Looking at the visuals, there seems to be more crowd than it would be on any normal day. It is absolutely not safe for anyone to be in that area. Still there is a huge media presence, to make things worse, we have a band of politicians visiting the area. It was worth if the right investigating team and the disaster management team were on the spot. I truly appreciate Vishnu (NDTV news reporter, from the news room) was advising the reporter was on the scene to move away from the area. And was asking public not to go to that area. That really makes sense, than to beat the drums and make it as a exhibition and make things worst.

This is not that surprising as the preparedness of the disaster management was tested and was quiet evident.

This starts with culture. It starts with the education system, the way our kids are brought up. How to react during a disaster. To stay calm, move to a safe location, help self and then help others, take the wounded with you.

I am also part of all this chaos. Even I did go to the affected pockets in the Chennai city during the Asian Tsunami. But I know it was a mistake.

I hope, no such incident should happen ever after. And in case if it does happen, it can be handled a little better than how it was handled now.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Why not use Asteroid as a space vehicle?


DA14 did not call for Bruce Willis as it did not come for a collision course with the earth. But still it flew passed pretty close by. I see this is a opportunity for a free ferry that can take us to the places we have not sent our probes to.

There are two ways we can utilized this close encounter.

1. We could have tested the Armageddon theory. Where we could have tested the case if another asteroid really came it for a collision course. We could have taken its back, after it has moved to a safe distance away from the earth, tried to disintegrate it. Sure, there would have been several lessons that could have been learnt.

2. We could have sent a probe on its back and could have dropped of at a desired place on its path. As it was pass by Venus or Mars orbits. Not too close, still could have taken to us for the most distance. Considering the fact this asteroid taken about 312 to make one revolution around the sun. This is pretty faster than the spaceships. So we get off mid of the way and set the course to reach mars, which is still on our wish list.

This could have been on the options, but also given the fact that this asteroid was recorded only a year or two back, it would have been a very tight deadline project that could have been accepted.

Any ways, I thought it would have been fun to blow that rock and see it on a live stream :) It could have fed the news channels for weeks.

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, February 15, 2013

Meteor shower


From the time the news about 2012 DA14 raised I was a bit suspicious if we are hearing all truth, or something is left under the carpet.

 2012 DA14 Specs:
* Mass: 130,000 tons (a bit heavier than a grand piano)
* Speed: 10.6 miles/second
* Size: 57 meters (187 ft.)
* Energy: 2.7 megatons

 2012 DA14is expected to cross by earth much closer than any other object of this size had crossed by. Astrophysics is much advanced, and within minutes the brilliant brains can jot down the path and the project path after it is influenced by the earth's gravity. All news confirmed that there will no damage to the earth. But looks like they had missed to calculate the trajectory of this meteor which had strayed in to the earth's atmosphere.








 Meteor shower have been reported in Russia and around 950 people have been injured. (Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21468116)

This might be a coincidence that it had happened the same the the big mama is going to cross the earth, or was this part of what was left under the carpet.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Common mistakes while communicating time for Professionals


Indian Standard Time as many will know is GMT +5.5 hours. That is the actual time.

With the Indian Standard Time what I am trying to mean is, the time interval when it is mentioned on a informal communication. For example, when someone same give me 2 seconds, I will check it for you. This means, wait I will get back to you. 2 seconds is not 2 seconds here, it does not carry any value.

When someone want to put you off, it is 15 min or 30 min. Meaning, don't stand here, I will come when it is done.

It is very difficult to comprehend what is the value of this 2 seconds and the 15 minutes. This happens on most situations. When we deal with a client, we tend to use IST and it back fires big time. It took time and experience to understand this mistake. And once we know that our time is valuable, we will respect the value of others time. If I feel bad that I had to wait for 15 min when someone said it is 10, it is going to irritate. Mistakes do happen and delays are possible. But to keep the person informed on time is very important. If the time is soon approaching and looks like it commitment cannot be met, better to explain things well ahead than to wait and give a excuse when the time is up.

1. When giving a time interval, make sure you know the value of the time. 2 seconds is 2 seconds. 15 min is 15 min.
2. When you are going to miss the time commitment, get back ahead of time if possible that there is going ti be a delay. At least, when it is time, send out a communication, that it is time, but you are still not able to have it completed.
3. Always give the ETA when you are extending the time.

You will gain respect and others will start giving respect to your time too.

Airtel ride cont...


<<Story until now

Today is the Thursday 14/Feb/2013.

I got a message yesterday night from the Head of sales that the account is activated and a technical person will come home to complete the installation process. He said the person will be in by 11 am.

I was not sure what surprise was installed, so I thanked him for the response and asked to confirm that the plan that they have activated is 8 mbps, with 80 gb. He said yes.

I got up and the wait started. It was 10:45 am, there was no sign of any technical person. My bugging started. I hate to do this, but is there any other option available. I message  the HOS that there is no technical person in my house yet. No response. I gave a call at 11 am and said it is 11. He said he will quickly check and get back in 2 minutes.

[Realtime update]
Two minutes is now 30 min and there is no call yet. Will call him now. I know if he was to write a blog, I am a real pain in the ass. But I am giving his time, and when there is no response I do not have any other option but to follow-up.

calling....

Spoke to him, he said the technical person has started and will reach my place in another 15 - 20 min. I have lost the trust in these guys. I still feel they are trying to hide a mistake, and finding options to keep it covered. The reason is, they have booked a 8mbps with 30 gb instead or the 80 gb plan. After I complaint about it, they had to deactivate the plan and also cannot show it as my problem, as I am not going to pay for it. So, they had closed the account as there is no feasibility for a 8mbps line in my house. Which is a lie. Now if they have to give the 8mbps with 80 gb, they are contradicting their previous closure reason. Which means someone is going to answer for this when there is a audit. This is again my guess with the way they were again and again asking me to take the 8mbps with 30 gb plan on a 5+1 offer.

What ever. It was two weeks back I had booked for this connection. And now I am clinging on to the Reliance datacard  for my internet access. This can be used as a back-up, but cannot satisfy normal operations.

Let me wait.

It is 12 pm, no sign of the technical person. HOS says he will call him and have him come. I don't have any trust on them yet. I really doubt if they will solve all the problems today.

12 passed, 2 passed, and there were more excuses and no action yet. Finally the technical person came in at 3:45. It was 5 hours 45 minutes late. I hope they had followed the Indian Standard Indian Standard Time. It was another 1 hour for him to have the connection set-up and have the internet working.

He was talking about incidents where the sales team will book for 4 mbps, but will assign a plan of 2 mbps, there are cases money will be unaccounted. In my case it was Rs. 2495 that was unaccounted, it was after a lengthy fight and threatening that I would give a police complaint for fraud, they sent the guy yo pay the money back to me.

Finally the status was:

1. I got the 8mbps with 80 gb limit on a monthly subscription
2. I got back Rs. 2500, but they still have my Rs. 8000 which I had paid on the 5+1 offer. But this new connection is Rs. 2400 per month. So, they have added it as credit to my account which I did not agree but got another trade-off
3. I had to give back the Wifi modem, as the modem is free only for the 5+1 offer that I had booked and not this new plan. I said I cannot return the modem, for all the trouble caused I was the one who was responsible for this trouble to pay for the modem.

The HOS agreed that he will have the agency or the sales rep pay for the modem. That is the compensation for the mistake they did and for me to part Rs. 8000 in my account as credit.

It was the end for now. It was a very bad experience I went through. Several promises were not kept, no pro active action, but each time I had to call someone and push for action. Even though the Head of Sales and the head of customer service were involved, it took close to 4 days to have this issue solved. In total it took 14 days from the day this problem was identified and reported.     

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Google nexus in India


Google nexus 4 was all over the web for the specs it was packaged with and the price at which one can but the mobile without any mobile career contract. It was sold out in hours in all the countries it was released.

I was trying to buy  it when I was in US. It was the same experience you will have buying Rajini's movie ticket online when it opens. You will select the ticket if you have luck and the site works, other lucky people can even go to payment and you lose. Very few can cross these gates and get the ticket.

Same happened and I finally gave up. I was waiting for the release in India. New pages keep updating there are rumors that the mobile will be released in Dec/2012, later Jan/2013 later they stopped updating as Google was getting ready to launch the next Nexus device.

I am not sure why LG or Google did not release the Nexus device for the Indian market. India is one of the largest market, smart phones do have a considerable market share. With what Google nexus specs offered and if they come with a same competitive pricing to India, it will be a sure sweep. I am still clueless on why it is not launched in India yet. Looks like Indian stores will not see these devices. It is doing good online, and for a very high price.

Ride with Airtel still on


Story until yesterday: http://www.haringo.com/2013/02/airtel-taking-me-for-ride.html

Yesterday night I went back home at 2:40 am. Prepared instant noodles for dinner (Yes, the same junk). And switched on the modem hoping the angels will make it happen. But, angels are for the dream. This is reality, the internet light was still off, putting an end to my suspense.

As a routine, I had send a text message to the Chennai head of sales that the internet is still not working. I got up at 9 am, and saw a message from him that there will be a technical person in my house by 10 am. It did not excite me. I waited till 10 and message him that it was 10 and when can I expect the technical person, he said by 11. It was 11 and again I messaged him. He said another hour. I was losing my patience, I called him. He did not pick my call. I had put my mobile on auto redial and left it. After about 22 calls he answered my call. He said the technical person should be at my home and he does not know why he has not come. I asked for the technical persons number and said I will call him.

They change their words. 

I called a person from the exchange office, he said they are looking in to my issue and the problem is that there is not feasibility for a 8mbps line. We were going in circles. I told him when I had tested the connection 2 weeks before I got about 8.7 mbps. He said 8 mbps is not possible and they are checking regarding that. I was steaming with the way I am hearing different stories from different people.

I called the sales head and again, he did not pick the call. After about 4 tries he answered. He said the technical guy had called him and said they are working on getting the connection completed today. I told him about the new feasibility issue that was raised, he said the technical person never had mentioned anything like that to me.

I see this is going no where. I felt they all were trying to hide some mistake of theirs, as they had sold a plan that does not exist. The reason they had mentioned for terminating the Turbo30gb plan, was that there is no feasibility of a 8mbps line for my house. That was a lie, as the installation guy did check the speed and it was 8.7mbps.

I told the HOS that either I must me a loose (Crank) or the technical person should be a loose, coz I know he said 8mbps is not possible for my house and that is the reason for the delay in giving the connection.

Great people act great??

The HOS for offended that i called his technical person as loose (Crank). He said it is not the way I can call his technical person, I told him, he is telling a lie. But, I know I cannot convince this guy who is only defending a mistake of theirs which has caused a 2 week delay in the installation.

He said by today 7 pm, the connection will be active. He is adding a buffer time, so that I do not keep calling him. I apologized to him for addressing his technical person as a crank, and also sent a message apologizing.

 Last resort and time to wait.

I then called the head of customer service and told him what was going on, he was one among the seven on the conference call. He was surprised that I have still not got my connection after the promise made by the HOS on Monday. He said he will check the status and call me back. And yes. He did not call me back. Do not read that again, he did not call me back is what I said. I called him after 20 min, he will not take my call. got a text message that he will call me. Again I waited. After about 20 min, for a message that he is in a meeting and by evening, I will get the internet connection. I had sent the acknowledgement message and said I will put this aside until tomorrow and the wait has started.

All this stared with a sales guy selling a plan that does not exist. Finally I get the bad guy color for demanding a service that I had paid for. It has been 2 weeks and things are not being handled proactively, for each status I would need to call. And they get upset that I am following up. I must realize, customer service is for those who do not have any problem. When you have a problem, it is an exception and does not count.


It goes on. Keep reading>>

Pope Benedict resigns...


What!!! Can a pope resign? Yes he did. My goodness.

First I cannot accept that a Pope can resign. Next, he gives a 17 day notice period. Look, this is not acceptable under any HR policy. Does Vatican have a formal HR policy. Do they have relieving policy, what about notice period, knowledge transfer, ... I have more questions. How can a Pope resign.

Vatican should take advice from present day companies, they need to have a HR. Seriously, there needs to be a notice period, basic should be a month. Again, that is basic. For a developer itself, the notice period can be up to 3 months, for a pope I would say one year should work. And definitely, if he is resigning, he needs to do some kind of knowledge transfer. We cannot have a trainer for a Pope.

Again, I am still thinking How can a Pope resign???

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Airtel taking me for a ride


End Of BSNL


I was using BSNL Broadband connection. It was a 2 mbps connection with limit to 20GB after which it will be charged extra. Night 2 am to 8 am was free. This plan was pretty good for me for years, but after I moved to my home, they had not moved the connection for about month and it is a known story, the customer service is poor. I mean P O O R. You are at the mercy of the lineman in your area. He decides your service.

I thought I found my destiny.

I was checking for a new ISP, then checked Tikona. They were offering unlimited 4mbps connection for Rs. 1350. It was a pretty impressive deal on the paper. I browsed through various forums and the only people who were talking good about Tikona was people who were working in Tikona, and very few people for whom luckily it rendered what it was supposed to render.

My love life with Tikona was short lived, the 4 mbps will be anywhere between 200 kbps to 1.5 mbps. And Tikona also has a magic speed test. The magic is, on their speed test, you will see the seed to be 4mbps. But when you test on speedtest.net, it will be 230 kbps. The representative argued that speedtest.net might be wrong. So I tested how long does yahoo.com takes to load, it was a pretty impressive 17 seconds. :) that answers which result was true.

Tikona was done in two months. I did not worry about the installation charges that had charged. Internet is very important as I would need to attend online meetings from home and also handle calls through vonage or skype.

Main Story. Staring of my ride with Airtel.

Happy phase.

Airtel was my next strong contender. I applied for the service online, their response was very very professional. I got a call confirming the address, next day the sales guy came home and he explained me about various plans. I told him that speed is very important for me. That is one reason I am leaving Tikona.

I took a plan of Turbo 80gb. The plan will be 8mbps up to 80gb, and after that it will be 512 kbps. The rep also said that it I pay for 5 months in advance, I will get one month free and also get a wifi modem free. As I was confident that Airtel service will be good, I went in for the 5+1 offer. I paid Rs. 10,495/- to the rep by cash.

The next day a guy came and did the wiring, and next the installation guy came it. It was all a factory precession. Like a production line. I was very impressed. There my happy days came to an end when I was asked to attend a installation call.

---End of happy phase---


The female asked me lot of questions for which I need to acknowledge. And she asked me if the plan I has opted is a Turbo 30GB (T30). I said I have asked for Turbo 80 GB (T80) and I have paid for the T80 plan on a 5+1 basis. The installation guy checked the speed, and it was showing 8.7 mbps. He said it is a error from their end and will be rectified, I can use the internet. But the account was not activated, but the internet was working fine.

I did not hear back from Airtel for a week. Later the internet connection was disconnected. I called and asked for the reason, they said they had activated a wrong plan. Now all the events were unfolding. They found that the sales person had sold a plan that does not exist. The 5+1 offer was available only for the T30 plan and is not available for a T80 plan. And the 5+1 price offer for T30 plan that the sales person had booked is Rs. 8000. And they have kept aside the cash of Rs. 2495 unaccounted.

Now a manager from the nandhambakkam branch called and was negotiating that I can take the T30 plan and it will all be solved and they will have Rs. 2495 as credit in my account. I did not agree for it, I told him I need the T80 plan even if it means I do not have the 5+1 offer. After a lengthy discussion he decided that he will raise a refund of the T30 5+1 plan and give me a new connection of T80 as a monthly subscription.  This was after a week on Wednesday. He said I need to fill the application again. I was already fuming, but I was held hostage. I had disconnected my previous connection and now I am fighting for a connection after being cheated with a plan that does not even exist.

I asked the rep to come home and collect the documents. The rep had come home on Thursday and he called me from my home, again the sales guy asked me if I want the T30 5+1 offer or I want the T80 plan. I missed the count of how many times I had answered this questions to these most stupid guys to roam on this side of the world. I told him I need the T80 plan on a monthly subscription, he said he need to check with his manager and will get back in 10 min. The 10 min got a little extended to 4 days and there was no call.

Grievance Cell:


That Friday I had already sent an email to the grievance cell but no reply. I had almost spent 2 hours between the customer service department and the grievance cell. But there is no way for me to reach their rep as I did not have a active account number and a SR number.

That was my limit.

I took the effort to walk in to the Airtel showroom. And I spoke to a manager there, he said it is something he can get it solved. They looked in to the complexity and said it will take more two days to have this solved. I was not in a mood for 2 days after a delay of 12 days. I told I needed it in 1 hour for all the mistakes Airtel had done. They did not agree, I had to lose my diplomatic coat and raised my voice demanding I wanted to talk to a person who has the authority to take decisions.

After being looked up very cheaply by other customers who were there, I was taken to a closed room the managers boss was seated. I explained the whole story to him. I again lost count of how many people  have explained it to.

There was a conference call set between 7 parties, right from the guy who took the connection to the Chennai head of sales. Finally the Head of sales committed that the service will be available by EOD. I went back to office.

Wait, Wait. It is not over.


Evening, I got a call again from the manager who was negotiating with me to take the T30 plan. He was asking for all the documents for them to provide a new connection. He has sent the rep with Rs. 2495. I conferenced the call with the Head of sales and the manager changes his argument, he said he never asked for the document. I asked him then what was the reason he called me. He was giving vague reasons. You cannot expect great things from small people. So I did not want to prove him wrong.

Today is Tuesday, I had sent three messages to the Head of sales, evening spoke to him and he said the connection will be available by 8:30 pm, when I called him at 7:00 pm. Now the time is 10:40 pm, still there is no internet connection.

Story continues...