The Bandstand Visuals

Its funny how much you can do with a sub-standard cellphone camera!

clouds n sunsetscene from one of those monsoon outings at Barista

Black n White Hues!

The man in  a cap is not himesh. Its the Coffee Day guy!

SubhraCan you make out Subhra in the background!  Life in black and white can make you lose so many sights!


Kazmi in a blissful state!

Noticed – there is a movie scheduled for release – 26th July at Barista (

Brooding over coffee… a new idea

These days, it rains quite often. Both at Mumbai, and Delhi. When it rains, having a coffee at a Coffee Day or Barista seems far more interesting than having a coffee on a normal day. Especially, if your office happens to be 50 meters away from Bandstand, and the coffee comes with the picture perfect view of an ocean in turmoil, weather gods making everything a little more beautiful, and your spirits a delicate balance of serenity and thoughtfulness.

What do I think of while having a cuppa at the Barista, Bandstand one of these days – Was I like this when I was growing up? The answer is – NO! 

Back then, there were no Baristas. Back then, paying 45 bucks for a cup of coffee was not really possible for me. Back then, coffee was not the most important thing in my life. Back then, I did not need a break from the monotony of a daily life. And back then, having a conversation did not mean I had to take my mind off so many things. Back then, things were simpler! 

Question no.2 – What would be different if I were growing up today? Well, for starters, I grew up mostly in smaller towns – Raebareilly (UP), Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Ranchi (Jharkhand, then Bihar). Most of these towns, today, do have something like a Barista where people can be seen hanging out. Where, spending 45 bucks once in a while is no big deal.

Next Question – Why am I saying all this? Because, my guess is that the phenomenon will spread out. And very soon, we will have the next generation of small towns and cities coming up with these coffee parlours.

And hence – Biz Idea – Small town coffeeshop – Coffee2 (Coffee for two! Coffee too!! We have a coffee place too!!!)

What’s my point? There used to be this sardarji’s outlet in Ranchi, called Frankies. That, as far as I can remember, was the only decent Burger place in Ranchi back in 1990s. And it used to do roaring business. Will that place become extinct if a McDs came into being. I don’t think so!  And hence, the case for making an early move into the smaller towns, building loyalty, and harvesting it. Start small, cater to the small and growing. Be the Air Deccan of coffee shops. AD was not meant to be for those who fly business class, or where the company foots the bill for travel. It was supposed to bring air-travel to the masses. And needless to say, they have been successful. They have ushered in the modern aviation era in India. And I see them comfortably placed for the next generation of evolution as well. Simply because they are present in most of the remote destinations.

That’s as much as I would write from my bizidea notebook, while I think of the numbers!  I am sure many would disagree!  But the disagreements are what would interest me more! For two reasons – 1. you can give me some food for thought! 2. As JRD said – Despite all the difficulties, all the frustrations, there is a joy in having done something as well as you could and better than others thought you could. Let me add an Einstein to it as well – If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it!

Theatre Review: Katha Collage – II

I had seen Katha Collage-I a couple of years back in Delhi, and goes without saying that I was mighty impressed with the play (directed by Naseeruddin Shah, and enacted by an ensemble cast of Naseer himself, Jameel Khan, and Naseer’s son, Imaad Shah).

Katha Collage-I was based on a set of three stories (two written by Premchand – Shatranj ke Khiladi and Bade Bhai Saheb, and one written by Kamta Prasad – Sankraman – about peculiarities of a an aging father, and his fetish with switching off lights).

With the same set of great expectations, I went to see Katha Collage-II (at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai), expecting Naseer to weave his directorial magic there as well. This one, was a set of seven relatively smaller stories (adaptation of satirical articles written by Harishankar Parsai, who is known for his wit and humor in Hindi literature), pretty much carried out as one act plays. The star cast was recognizable, appropriate, but not the greatest. [Cast: Rakesh Chaturvedi, Arvind Pandey, Heeba Shah, Vishwajeet Pradhan, Ankur Vikal]

It’s a great play. But not in the same league as KC-I. However, the reason I am writing this post is not really to critique what I saw. I just want all the readers of this blog to definitely definitely watch KC-I as well as KC-II

The first story – Telephone (about the all pervasive telephone) is a disappointment. A little too loud, a little too vague, and the actors a little out of sorts. While the sarcasm is alive, not the impact.

Second – Bechara Bhala Aadmi (Pitiable nice men) is about how people take benefits of simpletons by calling them nice over and over again! This one was good both in terms of performance as well as adaptation. However, the length could be shortened a bit.

As we move towards the intermission, the tempo, the ease and the quality of performance improves, and refreshingly.

Third – (Private College ka Ghoshna Patra) The story around a Private College’s manifesto has some very subtle humor around the quality of education and the ulterior motifs behind the sprouting good-for-nothing private educational institutions. Not that I am against private educational institutions per se, but don’t we have a plethora of them that talk more than they deliver. Gaurav Sabnis became a big name in the blogosphere when he attacked one of them (wink, wink!)

Fourth (last before interval), which was about the whole fuss around taking bath (Snan), is the pick of the lot. The funniest of the plays, it features some of the most funny moments of KC-II, especially the comments about the vitality and energy shown by some people while taking bath in winters being utilized for some higher motives and national benefit!


After the interval, the fifth act is around the insecurities people have about their wives being exposed to other men (Vo Zara Wife Hain Na!). Quite subtle and a good dig on the Indian men, who are always caught in the dilemma of women’s equality and their own insecurity, it’s a nicely done play where the protagonist is a blind man (I could see this highest form of pun getting lost on many– you need to close your eyes to see what the world really is!)

Sixth act – (Samay Pe Milne Wale) around the demerits of being on time is again a timeless piece on the importance many people attach to the timing of their actions.

The finale – Prem Prasang mein Father (the role of a quintessential Indian dad in a love story) is a hilarious take on the double edged sword that impressing your girlfriend’s father can become!


The biggest drawback of the play, as I see it, in the metro circuits is the pure hindi language used (Klisht Hindi Bhasha), which I am sure goes over the head of many, who would like to look and feel intellectual, but have adopted Hin-glish as their mother tongue. That probably explains why “Vagina Monologues” is a bigger better sell-out play than plays like “Katha Collage”, “Jinne Lahore Ni Vekhya”, “Anaamdas Ka Potha”, et al.

The best thing about the play is that its a great writer’s work directed by one of the best in the industry (Naseer’s other works such as Waiting for Godot, The Prophet, Ismat Aapa Ke Naam, etc. are all acclaimed plays). It surely belongs to the “cannot be missed” list of plays!

Book Review: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows

Finished off reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Saturday itself. Had not pre-ordered it thinking I will borrow it from someone to read (well, I am not an avid HP fan!!). But then, having read the last six books, it was a big temptation to see Deathly Hallows looking at me from the windows of Crossword. Plus, the realization that I will be on a bus to Pune for the next 3-4 hours. Decision made. Target closed. Book picked up!


So, what do I think of the book? It’s a good read. But I would still rate it as a hyped book banking on the media revolution of modern times, and the fact that it’s the seventh book of a seven book series (hmph). And you can read on, I have no plans of spilling the much closely guarded secrets! [Its funny how the book leak has led to a set of blog articles around what does security mean in the modern world! – Link 1, Link 2]


What’s right with the book? It is similar to the previous six books in narration style. Simple for everyone to comprehend, lucid to keep flowing, too many sub-plots to keep you intrigued, does not get lost in details (unlike classical literature, where setting up the mood may take a few pages with all the descriptions of the woods, the color of the dog’s skin, falling leaves, etc.), continuity of characters and most importantly, a continuity of the story.

What’s wrong with the book? It gives you the feeling that JK got tired of writing this story at this point. She herself was saturated. So she decided to create the counter of Horcruxes, a concept conveniently introduced towards the fag end of the series – Hallows. So, the plots are being closed out one after the other. She didn’t want to get too bogged down in different characters, so there are deaths that just happen, without creating the same emotional trauma and action as was the case with the death of a Sirius Black or Dumbledore, or even the death of James and Lily Potter. Even the anguish felt for Neville Longbottom’s parents’ death by Cruciatus seemed better portrayed.

Despite what a lot of J K Rowling comments may have you believe, Harry, Ron and Hermione don’t seem to have grown up as human beings/wizards. While Hermione does showcase a new set of curses and spells acquired over the summer, all the wizards are seen to be using pretty much the same set of things. I mean – If Voldemort is that powerful, he should use something beyond avada kedavra – which sounds like a poor version of Indian madari’s Abra ka dabra. It reminds me of Naruto, where the only seeming growth in Naruto’s powers after 2 years (Naruto Shippuden) is that his Rasengan (Ball of Chakra) is more controlled and bigger.

The worst thing – There is a chapter which is called “19 years later” which is a desperate attempt from JKR to close the series, once and for all. Full of clichés and expected puns, the last chapter is as pathetic as it can get.

 There are several untied parts, including the immensely grown powers of Voldemort, as against Harry, who doesnt seem to be growing any more powerful, even though the pretext is that it should have happened. Something like the growth of Neo fuelling the growth of Agent Smith in The Matrix.  Again, an analysis would reveal things about the story, which I don’t want to do!

Net net, I picked the book because I just couldn’t resist the temptation. If you can resist the temptation, then borrow it from someone who has already bought the book. It’s a good read, but not worth 900 bucks or so. I can praise and nit-pick a lot more, but that would give away significant chunks of the story.  

Endnote – Chandrakanta Santati (written by Devki Nandan Khatri) was written as a set of six books. Including Chandrakanta, that would become 7 books!  While Nirja Guleri did destroy the worth of the book to a great extent (through mindless histrionics and pathetic adaptation), I still think it’s one of the greatest serial books ever written. It’s a pity that Hindi literature does not have the same reader base in India as English literature.

Air Deccan Chronicles!

Air Deccan – a flight that is often very heatedly debated by all common people like me, you and the dog named boo. Every time I visualize the experience of taking an AD flight, its chaos on the left, chaos on the right, and more often than not, a mayhem in the center.

Air Deccan – Couple of Weeks Back

For the umpteenth time, I swore that I would not take an Air Deccan flight and for the umpteenth time, I took another AD flight. Funny, the initials match. AD giving a hard time to AD.

It starts off with their website, which in times not so far in the distant past, would crash the moment they announced discounted fares. I know of zealous people waking up at 5 in the morning and trying to log on to the AD website (Another coincidence – my previous blogger site had the word – zealots). And yours truly has also been guilty of this. Maybe not 5 in the morning, but definitely 2 in the night. Logging on to the site is like penetrating the defences of Rahul Dravid at the peak of his career. Its as fatal as trusting a depleted Newcastle team to win the EPL. You can hope, but you can not hope to see your coming true.

The second stage – After a lot of typing and clicking you reach the stage of authorizing payments. There is a significant chance that something will go wrong here. The payment would not get authenticated, or maybe, worse still, the payment will get lost somewhere in transit. The bank would have paid, AD would have gotten the payment, but they would not have realized that they have got the payment. You don’t have a ticket. Bank is happy. You are using your credit card. AD is happy. They have the money. They have an extra seat in their flight. (Not that they need a reason to overbook on their flights, I hear). Show me a better example of a greater social good at your expense.

Stage 3 – the traveling experience. You enter the airport. Shoddy baggage screening counters. Security checks that can be violated through at least ten different chains in a check-in baggage that are left just like that, between the time you get your baggage screened and leave it at the check-in counter. Counters – unmanaged. The processing time for each traveler is too high. Some people tell me that even that is by design. God forbid, if you ever run into a problem, there are chances that by the time you get to meet the manager and get your problem resolved, the flight would already have taken off.

You are finally issued a frail thin boarding pass which does not have a seat number.

Now comes the counter from where boarding passes are screened and flight boarding is announced. The moment a flight’s departure is announced, you can see all AD travelers scampering for being first in the queue. Reminds me of the rush in a national food scheme. In the end, everyone gets a decent enough seat. But the old economy culture of putting a rumal (handkerchief) from the window of a bus and then claiming that the seat is yours just because you put your rumal or gamcha (towel) there, is a sight to behold. Funny anecdote – in the first few flights of AD, couple of sophisticated people ambling into the craft at the end did not get any seats and had to sit on stools/chairs for the duration of the flight holding on to the aisle seats to avoid toppling over.

And finally, at the luggage belt, AD usually has luggage from 3-4 flights coming on the same belt, causing a huge commotion, and yet again, longer wait times.


A lot of this changed in my most recent experience with AD, this morning.


Air Deccan – Yesterday.

It was quite an intriguing thing. Air Deccan has started issuing seat numbers… Finally! And the dude on the counter was talking pleasantly. For a change! And the flight was a far more pleasant experience. There will still be a few of those who want to run and be the first one to get their boarding card checked (the flight won’t leave any sooner dude!), get on the bus (ditto), get down from the bus (more ditto), run to the stairs for getting on the flight (whats more than more? ditto), and repeat the drill the other way to reach the luggage belt (hmph!). Reminds of the line from Katha Collage – II, where the protagonist pehelwan mentions that the nation might have benefited a little more if these people were to invest their adrenalin rushes on something more productive!
How I love it when their luggage comes last! (some sadistic pleasure!!)

Anyway – a lot of other pleasant things about this Air Deccan flight (I am just trying to correct myself, because I don’t let go of any opportunity to do Air Deccan bashing either). It left 5 minutes before time. They had mentioned flight time as 5:45AM, boarding time as 5:25AM (all the flights have that). But having had all the passengers come on time, they decided to let the flight take air sooner. We reached Mumbai about 10 minutes before time. And on a pleasant morning in Mumbai, I was home by 8AM. Nice!

If only they are able to maintain this experience consistently.


A Thoughtful Musing – The womb of humanity carries not the foundation of tomorrow, but also the ruins of the past. Its either the conformation to the ruins or a rebellion against the disaster that shapes the future, much against what many would have you believe- individual brilliance

GMail Bug! Buggers!!

Noticed a very interesting bug in GMAIL.

Lets say my email id is

Now the bug – If I send a mail to, it reaches me… if I send it to it reaches me, if I send it to or it still reaches me!

Hmm… problem with that?  Well.. I don’t own, or, for instance. So, my guess is that whoever owns that particular id would be receiving my mails. And I say that there have been a few mails that I end up being the unintended receipient of! Poor kid! Thats 1.7GB worth of mails in his mailbox! And a lot of crap that I am sure he doesn’t want to use! For me, it could be compromising my personal information! Woooo! I am scared!!

Anyways – the next thing I do is try and check if other email ids (a.mitdas etc) are available. Thankfully, they are not!  It could mean that I am worrying unnecessarily. amitdas being taken my imply amit.das is also taken. BUT, it could also mean that someone figured it out before me, and is misusing this bug! or securing himself! Eitherways, the truth is out there!

Here is the response from Google Team, when I reported the bug (look at the list of most relevant questions in response to the reported bug! hmph!) –

Re: [#138335018] Bug with email ids (amit.das is the same as amitdas)   

Function VBGetSwfVer(i) on error resume next Dim swControl, swVersion swVersion = 0 set swControl = CreateObject(“ShockwaveFlash.ShockwaveFlash.” + CStr(i)) if (IsObject(swControl)) then swVersion = swControl.GetVariable(“$version”) end if VBGetSwfVer = swVersion End Functionfunction FlashRequest() {} function Player_DoFSCommand() {}

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Featured Institution : Mann Deshi Udyogini – B-School for Poor Women

Came across this TOI Story in the morning about a B-school aimed at empowering women.

Our B-school, the Mann Deshi Udyogini (MDU), was launched in December 2006 with a Rs 7 lakh grant from HSBC. It is located at Vaduj near Satara. “

“Our courses on confidence building and financial literacy; bag-making, a two-hour biweekly session on spoken English (Rs 10 per session) and basic computer skills are immensely popular.”

This is a sign of where the rural India wants to go.

Our biggest challenge is how to meet the huge demand for such courses in rural areas. Also, our curriculum and training has to be innovative, low-cost and graphics-driven as most of the women are semi-literate. Another of our challenges is to involve the men so that they cooperate with their women, don’t feel left out and insecure.

I urge all you smart guys out there to think of ways you can help them.

Some other links to read about them are – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

They are based in Satara, Maharasthra.. Here is their website

Foodie’s (Bad) Day Out!

There are days that are bad. And there are days that are so bad and that they become funny. Like movies that are so bad that they become hilarious (Gunda, Sivaji, Jani Dushman, etc.)

So, what is it that made my yesterday bad? Sorry – Funny? Food! It was bad food all the way. [Those who know me know that I love eating! I love food!! And I am a self proclaimed foodie!!!]

Lets start with a bad morning where I had to reach office by 7:40AM or so. I had an 8AM call. Well, after a meaningless one hour drone of a call, Meesum and I decided that a light south Indian breakfast would be good. We go to Sai Sagar in Bandra, near Lilavati – yeah yeah!  one of those X-sagar restaurants (where X can be replaced by an S-word – Shiv, Shanti, Sai, Sukh, etc.) that are known to serve quick simple inexpensive food. Suddenly, I feel like changing it to cheap food with a lot of sweetness all around!

We were scrolling through the menu. We noticed something called Tomato Omlette. Hmm.. Nice! Just that this omlette had no eggs! My bad! should have expected that! Its an X-Sagar (they are all vegetarians). Anyway, the waiter explained that its a veg omlette. We go ahead and order it. On top of it, we order a plate of Idli. Simple, inexpensive order, right? Here is where the downfall begins. The veg “omlette” is nothing but besan ke chilay (besan is Gram Flour and chilay are like chapatis made of besan). Just that they had it fairly uncooked and it tasted pretty wretched – sloppy, tasteless. Now.. we decide to move on to Idlis.. one of the simplest south indian dishes to make. But this tasted more like freshly grounded rice cakes (ekdam bhusbhusa… and I have no other word to describe what bhusbhusa is). But what took the cake was – CHINI (Sugar) in Sambhar!  How often do you get that? Which god foresaken cook would put sugar in sambhar? It sounds more sinful than adding paneer to chicken.  And they proudly accept that they make sambhar sweet!

Well. the day was just beginning. We had lunch at McDonalds. Yeah. the same Ronald McDonald one!  Known the world over for their standard operating procedures, adherence to quality and high standards of hygiene. Here we were, ordering our regular stock of McChicken Burgers and Maharaja Macs. For a change, here, the bun itself was bhusbhusa! Stale. The chicken filling inside had small cartileges and was stale too! Bad Food part-II.

Part three was the golgappa (pani puri/puchka/ and other such synonyms) wala. I don’t think Mumbai pani puri walas know how to make good ones anyway. For one, they don’t understand the concept of khatta in chat-puchka. However, this one was worse. No salt either. Net net.. a bad golgappa experience.

Finale was Bombay blue at Bandra. well.. I have never had sweet corn soup where the cook has taken the sweet word to his heart. To an extent, its only sweet soup, rather than sweet corn soup! The only taste you get out of the soup is the sweetness. As Meesum said – if it were colder, it could have been passed off as a dessert. Butter chicken was sweet.. Biryani was sweet as well.

Well.. so sweet of them.. right? Arrgh! I am not a gujju.. I don’t appreciate sugar in my food. I am sure more than half the humanity does not! I do have a sweet tooth, but thats not for sweetness in things like Dal, Sambhar and Chicken.

Oblivious to all this, my bai (maid) decided to misplace the lock of my flat, causing a 3 hour problem for my landlord. Talk about icing on a cake!

Theft from Check-in Baggage – How much worse can it get?

An experience that I would want all readers to take a note of –

Person X took an Air Sahara flight from Delhi to Bangalore. Of the checked-in bags, one had a pouch which contained a couple of gold earrings, and other such items. Landed in Bangalore, took the luggage home, realized it a few hours later that the earrings and several other (expensive looking) items were gone. Stolen in transit. Stolen! Between the time she checked the bag in and the time she got it back

She decided to write an application to Air Sahara, with a copy to Airport Authorities –

1. Air Sahara officials – Its the passenger’s responsibility to declare all items of note in the checked in baggage. So, where do you tell the guys about this? Is there a  form? No! Passengers are supposed to know all this. We don’t have any displayed information on this anywhere. But the baggage was in your custody? A lot of people handle the baggage. We are not responsible for anyone’s baggage and the contents. Well.. who is responsible in that case? The passengers are responsible! See. You are wasting your time. Nothing is going to happen. we cannot do anything. 

2. Airport Authority –  Well.. its the airline’s responsibility. We cannot do anything about it. And (hush hush) you won’t get anything back unless some big police guy is talking on your behalf. These airlines people would not do anything. 

 Anyway, frustrated she submitted a complaint (in their format, because they don’t accept free flowing texts of insinuation written by some street side moron) and got an acknowledgement.


Duh! Not gonna help I tell ya!

Questions in my mind –
1. If you take my baggage away from me, and very  un-subtly  put a plastic strap lock/sticker  on it to mark the bag as security checked -ready to go, why is it not your responsibility if something is stolen? How do I keep an eye on my bag from that point on?

2. Who are you to decide what a precious thing is. A simple notebook/diary can be extremely precious. How do I attach a monetary value to it? Hence, how do I declare it before flying?

3. If you are not responsible for anything, why don’t you keep the declaration forms handy? Just as an aside, I know of people who had extremely precious zippo lighters taken away from them at the airport (because, of course, you cannot carry it with you in the craft), and not returned at the next airport, very conveniently, because airlines are not responsible for any goddamn thing!

4. For me, my vests and underwears can be as precious as the Armani shirt, or the Versace trouser, or the gold earring. In fact, a gold earring can be a few thousand bucks, and so is a trouser. Do you really want me to declare the number of shirts and trousers in my bad every time I travel with you?

5. Even if you are not in position to recover the articles stolen, can you still look into the credibility of the staff you have hired? Or, is it a norm for airlines to have thieves in their ground staff ?

6. If it is not the responsibility of the Airport Authorities to make the Airlines tow the line properly, whose responsibility is it?

7. Is there a way we can throw this at the media? I am sure covering a little some more about how bad the Indian Aviation Sector has become would be of interest to the larger masses.

Review: Die Hard 4.0

Well.. so this Sunday morning was dedicated to Bruce Die Hard Willis. So what if this is the fourth time the DH camp has pulled off something which reminds me of what a classic action movie should be like.

After the first 5 mins, where a rugged and troubled Bruce Willis is trying to save his daughter from the clutches (literally) of her not-boyfriend, the movie gets into some real traditional way of fighting (so reminding me of our good ol Sunny Paaji) where a hero cannot be killed, come what may!

But in case I am sounding satirical or sarcastic, let me retract my tone. I loved every minute of the movie. Not the way I love a Gunda or a Sivaji. Not the way Jaspal Bhatti won an award for the best comic serial when he was trying to make a tragedy serial (in one of the episodes of flop show). DH4 is a perfect action movie, the way I love them.

What I fail to understand though is that a four-time Die-hard cop of NYPD (New York – The Big Apple? the land of dreams, a nation that believes in taking good care of its peepool) having a horrid time despite saving hudreds of people and the holy country amrika all the time.. No gratitude, eh?

Anyway, Bruce Willis is back. His witty cracks, crude action, blood and gore, against an all pervasive villain, a nation not able to think what to do, armed with a gun, a few cartridges, and a hacker who has all the right tricks up his sleeve. Perfect setting. I love such movies.

Oh, I am trying hard to think of something. But the fact is that I have nothing to say! Its a good action movie. You SHOULD watch it if you love action movies. Its a good rush of adrenaline!

Note : Can’t really say if things are improving with this version control thingy!
Die Hard (1) was Die Hard
Die Hard (2) was Die Hard with a vengeance
Die Hard (3) was Die Harder
Die Hard(4) is Die Hardest…
Source :

I wonder Die Hard (5) will be called. Die harder than the hardest? Die hardest with a vengeance? duh.. I give up! make it as nice, and I will go watch!

Why Offer?

This is my crib against an offer which was made to me without me having requested for it, and then being denied the pleasure of using it.

Yatra sent me an sms  – “ presents ‘Lucky 7’ offer. Book any domestic flight for Rs.777 only. Offer valid between 7pm-8pm on 7-7-2007 only. Logon or call 09871800800. T&C apply. ” (Reproduced verbatim).

Well, apart from the T&C, it seemed pretty straight forward. Logon to the Yatra website between 7pm and 8pm (which was till about 20 minutes back) on 7-7-2007 (which is today)  and book any domestic flight for just Rs. 777. Nice!

Poor me logged on. Tried to book the ticket. In vain. For the first 5 minutes, there  was a “Problem Opening Page” (Firefox) /”Page cannot be displayed” (IE) . After that, there were “no flights found on the sector I requested” (Delhi – Mumbai Delhi – onwards 14th July, return -16th July). Ahh!! I kept refreshing, hoping for some airline to start operating on the requested sector.  You know.. shit happens!

Just to be sure, I kept calling the provided number. “All lines are currently busy. Please try again after some time.” I am sure there are far too many people out there looking for the cheaper tickets. So this could have happened. no grudges!

BUT BUT BUT… at 8:05PM, the site suddenly started operating in all its splendor, eastman color format. And suddenly, there were tickets available on the requested circuit. 899+taxes! or, build your own itinerary from the available flights. and there were so many of them. Miracles happen when you don’t need them anymore 😉 Thats life!

Now, I have always rated myself as one of those dumb guys who would fall for such simple T&C* offers. More so, after falling for this offer. Ahh.. one hour lost. Could have gone to the CCD at JATC and read a book with my cuppa! So much for a good weekend!

closing question – why offer, when there is no intention to fulfill?

*T&C – 1. The site may not open 2. We can tell you that there are no tickets available. 3. We can later tell you that the tickets are available without the scheme offer, in case you are interested.  and such fine prints! 

The Salary Monster!

Saw this link which got me thinking-

1. The salaries in the Indian market have become obscene. So much so, that even though I think I am making good money, I feel that there is scope for improvement. Everytime I think I am doing well for myself, I meet at least 5 other people who can cause discontentment. By telling me how much they are earning! Whats the end figure? I don’t know! What’s a good salary? No idea!!

Faint memory – When my sister took hom Rs.7,500 as her first TCS salary in 1997, I was pretty excited. When I was completing my Economics undergraduate studies in 2000-2001, I believed a salary of 15-20K to be a good salary to have. Enough to start my career and achieve a few important financial milestone. and I am at a number several times my aspired salary. And I am still not happy…
2. The Indian offshoring industry is bringing its own demise – For me, two things have changed – one, the talent price has gone up and companies are finding their basic cost structure become gradually unfavorable. Two, there is an immense amount of billing rate pressure from clients. Combined with inflation, and the concentration of economic growth in a few cities/metros (NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai) which has led to unprecedented cost of living in these cities, supply of money is still not able to cope up with the increasing demand for things money can buy. Net result.. everyone’s running. Everyone’s unhappy.

Aside : A friend is looking for a 1BHK. Preferably wants it in the Bandra to Dadar region. Budget – 20k. Don’t laugh.
For those who are in Mumbai, thats a paltry amount to look for a 1BHK in this stretch.
For those who don’t understand Mumbai, 20k for A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE!!!! Is he looking for a palace? NOOOOO!!! a kholi will do!
What could the companies have done? Not gone berserk with the salaries paid. Kept a check on where they are headed. Thought through a basic requirement – how to differentiate between campus and off-campus hiring. People who join form campus get a salary of X. They spend 6 months with a firm, and are out in the market, because they know they can get 2X. In a hurry to poach trained (for 6 months) talent, IT ocmpanies are ready to offer 2X. However, the talent is in a bigger hurry. He jumps again within 6 months to get 3X, 3.5 X and so on. Sooner than they realize, an Indian IT company has trained someone for 6 months (paying him X) and converted him into hiking monster who is never going to be happy with his salary. And we have a whole lot of companies ready to fuel their desire.

3. If the Rupee run continues, what will happen to the Indian IT industry – Now, this is a fundamental question that a lot of economists are debating. I don’t think I need to waste my breath gasping over it. However, the long and short of it is that the fundamental driver of growth of Indian IT industry, the cost arbitrage, will get eroded far more rapidly if the dollar becomes weaker. Even if the salaries were not to go up obscenely, the strengthening of rupee can damage the margins enough to make businesses unfavorable.

But I hear the government is noticing all this! 🙂

What do I think will happen? A lot of acquisitions. Smaller fries will get wiped out. Salaries will stagnate. And there will be more unhappiness all around! 🙂 But all that.. in good time! Make hay while the sun shines. And if you can, save cash! it may become more valuable than any other thing!

Book Review: The Golem’s Eye

I had posted the review of The Amulet of Samarkand quite some time back with a promise to finish the remaining two books of the The Bartimaeus Trilogy and come back with their reviews.

So, I did finish of the other two books – The Golem’s Eye and Ptolemy’s Gates over the last couple of weeks. Would I recommend? Yes. But read the complete trilogy. If you have to read just one, stop at AoS, even though PG is the best. But a lot of things in PG won’t make perfect sense unless you have read the previous two books!

Let me review the second book, The Golem’s Eye first. And then, I will start reviewing PG.

Review : TGE

Golem’s Eye is probably the worst book of the trilogy, despite being far from getting classified as a bad book. The problem with TGE is that it gives you the feeling of being a filler. Something like the several filler episodes of Naruto while Sasuke is growing in strength at Orochimaru’s castle, and Naruto is growing in Konoha. To show the growth, you need to show something happening at Konoha which is helping all the Ninjas grow.



Plot (Skip this if you are planning to read the book – Doesn’t contain spoilers, but what the heck!)

Back to TGE, the book starts off a few years after book 1, Nathaniel/John Mandrake is a prominent person in the Government’s scheme of things. However, his status and safety is under threat, as a Golem is unleashed on the city of London, by God knows who! Nathaniel, under uberpressure from all angles, turn backs to the Djinn he had thought of not summoning again, and who continues to be his best bet, Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus is full of his wise quips and antics as the two set out to solve the dual problems of Resistance & Golem that the city of London is grappling with.

Kitty, the cursory encounter with whom had left a deep imprint on both Nathaniel and Bartimaeus, makes a strong comeback as a Resistance member with an ideological/honest side. The resistance rises, gets crushed, and Kitty along with a couple of other people survives to set the stage for book 3 – PG.

The conspiratorial angle of magicians, power leading to corruption, and an innate honesty saving the day are still the main themes of the book. The allegories to modern day and historical politics/world are fairly visible. I am surprise how books like these find their way in the children’s section of bookstores. The hidden layers after layers of satire and metaphors is not something that I expect children to understand. Having said that, I think the story in itself is quite a generous dose of fantasy for children to enjoy!


My views

Where the book suffers is the shallowness of the conspiracy which does not get matched with the thickness of the book. The book could have been finished off in half the number of pages. It becomes a drag at times with all the details around things that sound better when narrated at a frantic pace. For instance, the scene at Gladstone’s tomb should definitely have been shortened, given the surge of emotions that every character would have been going through.

Good things about the book –

  1. Bridges the gap between AoS and PG nicely.
  2. The story has elements of fantasy which are nice (Golem, as a concept is quite intriguing)
  3. Nathaniel finally moves on from being the hero to the dark guy (for a big part of the novel).

Bad Things about the book –

  1. The pace
  2. There aren’t as many sub-plots in the story to wrote a 300 page book
  3. Could’ve explored Kitty’s character a little better
  4. The book has chapters narrated from the eyes of Kitty, Bartimaeus and Nathaniel. There can be chapters narrated from the evil guys’ eyes as well!
  5. While the book is titled the Golem’s Eye, Golem (I found Golem to be a very exciting concept) isn’t given a good amount of importance in a book which is more about the war between Magicians and Resistance

Back to my rating mechanism (mentioned in this post), the book holds true to 2 of the 4 parameters – attention to detail, loyalty to genre, and fails to deliver the ultimate punch on two of them – pace and content. I won’t go to the extent of saying it failed on the content. It’s the right content, but not sufficient!

Overall – Read the trilogy. It is very very gripping!

Who Am I?

If I were part of X-Men

If I were a Naruto character –

Which Naruto Character Are You?
Test by naruto –

Avatar Character?

You scored as Aang, the Savior, Your result: Aang. Like Aang, you feel pressure to save the world, yet you want to be a normal kid at the same time. You’d do anything to save someone, no matter who they are. And most importantly, you have the freespirit nature of an airbender!

“I said I’d rather kiss you than die, it’s a compliment!”

Toph, the Eyes
Aang, the Savior
Sokka, the Mind
Katara, the Voice
Zuko, the Soul

What Avatar Character are you?
created with


My top result for the selector,
Which Justice League Character Are You? ,

And finally, Aladdin

I’m Aladdin!Fun loving, adventuresome, but a little insecure.
Which character from Disney’s Aladdin are you? Find out at

Seems like I’m the central character in most of the cases.. A true HERO.. (BIG GRIN)


I caught on to the Orkut phenomenon more than an year back. Initially, it was just another thing, but lately, the fascination of finding people that I haven’t talked to or seen in years was too much to resist. So, I became a regular. Being a part of communities that could possibly link me to my classmate from 80s and 90s seemed like an interesting thing to do!
However, three things that have managed to piss me off completely–

  1. Communities ‘ Culture – 99 out of 100 communities are full of Hitlers (Hitters—letchers). They all have the same kinda discussion threads – rate the profile pic, would you go out on a date with the person above you, blah blah. Guys tend to hit communities/threads with a seemingly higher number of girls. Girls tend to stick to communities where someone catches their imagination. After all, Bheja Fry reminded me that even girls can be Thurkeys! J

Now now, there are communities where something sensible is done/discussed, files/books etc are shared. But I am sure, even in those communities, there are n number of threads with n*100+ posts on such idiotic threads. While an orkut-present reader of this post may feel like kicking me for being generalized, remember that this outburst is about the masses.. If you belong to the classes, well, you don’t need to take it to your heart! And anyway, you’d know if you are the one I am talking that.

  1. Scrap Snooping – This is by far the most irritating phenomenon. Here is a snapshot of the questions I have received on mail/chat in the last few weeks –
    1. Who is Person X? bahut chat kar rahe ho aajkal?
    2. Who is Person Y? kaafi interested lag rahi hai tum mein?
    3. You got engaged? Saw that scrap in your scrapbook! And you didn’t even tell me?
    4. You’ve got 64 fans? That’s awesome!!
    5. Waise to busy rehte ho.. orkut pe scrap karne ka time kahan se milta hai?

Here is my retort –

A,B -Person X and Y are (of course) two women (why would you maaro that wise quip otherwise).. I studied with in 1994-1995. How is that your business? Person Y is an old time friend and we just lost touch somehow. Yes, there is lots to discuss! Is she interested? I don’t mind!

C -No! I haven’t got engaged! But if you don’t have a sense of humor yourself, you can ask dumb questions, rather than cracking wise quips.

D- well. As a matter of fact, on my screen also, it says 64 fans! Wow! Technology has really come a long way! I don’t know why they are my fans. And is there something awesome about having fans? Don’t think so! I know of people trading fan following as well on orkut. “You be my fan, I will be yours” kinds.

E- I reply to orkut messages in bulk at 2-3 in the night. If you are up for it, I can give you a callback at 3 as well. Game? Plus, I don’t have to shout at the top of my voice to send you a scrap. It doesn’t disturb others working along with me!

And in any case, what were you doing reading the scraps of others? Don’t you have anything better to do in life than to pry into someone else’s?

At one time, I was surprised to see a friend deleting all the scraps he was getting. His reaction – people tend to misuse this information. There are addresses, phone numbers, email ids that people leave on scraps, without realizing that this is information in the public domain. Let me not be the reason someone gets in a mess, more so if that someone is me!

Well, Point well taken!

  1. Stat-surfing – Again.. you can see a lot of people competing on numbers. Person X has 600 friends, while I have only 400. “Hey.. I am posting the 1000th scrap!” “25 testimonials? Neat!”

Let the kids do that. Grown ups- please act like grown ups!

And I still love Orkut. Its good to get back in touch with so many friends from yesteryears!

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