Friday, December 21, 2007
Luckily caught a copy of the November issue of FastCompany on one of our flights earlier this month - the cover-article blew our collective socks, shoes, mufflers and caps away!!!
Spoke about this to a few of you out there ... FastCompany calls him the Motorhead Messiah ... hmmm
Am researching more on the dude ...
Johnathan Goodwin may be the future ... or may not (that coming from someone working for the Oil Industry ... then again who isn't!)
[He does come from Kansas tho ... Super connection there!]
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I’m guessing (and hoping) that this is a fairly common question in many minds … especially in the minds of friends ...
Was reading Sarat’s post on the Gujrat carnage and couldn’t help imagining the bestiality of the people involved … people like you and me they say – the common man in India.
I am sad.
I feel bad.
I feel ashamed.
And worse - I don’t know why!!!
Living as an Expat. – you automatically represent your people (country generally) – so you become a spokesman of your kind – ready to clarify myths/misconceptions and discuss cultures, habits, living conditions … you get the point – good things and bad.
Then again, I’m not sure if I identify with the average Indian – maybe the average Agnelite at best! Sure we are a great race and all that – but I don’t even know how to define an average Indian …
So I truly identify only with my family and friends – that's about it!
Then why do I feel ashamed when I read about riots and the likes … Bombay, Gujrat, Punjab, Bihar ... I don’t know these people – they could have come from Mars for all I care …
Really its just family and friends to whom I feel a sense of belonging – and if this subset ended up migrating to the Moon – I would call that home – by association!
On a macro level, a country/government is essentially a group of people deciding to live life in a particular way – I wasn’t given the choice to examine all these groups and take my pick! And I don’t HAVE to subscribe to the agenda (if there really is one!)
From where I stand - India is definitely one of the most beautiful countries in the world – but I’m not so sure about the people. I’m not saying that they are bad … or good … they are fine where they are - I’m just not sure if I want to be called one of them/us!
And then - Do I really need to belong somewhere? I don’t think so!
So why do I feel?!
Thursday, November 22, 2007
If you've not already noticed then yes yes - the sunsets here are really nice :) Muito Obrigado as they say in Portugese.
|Angola in Images ... May thru October|
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Lotsa thoughts in my head ... queuing up - will see light someday
- Human Nature
- Music or Media
- How much Money?
... ... ...
but all that will have to wait ...
For now its just pictures ... from the greatest city on Earth - BOMBAY ... (IMO)
snaps from here there everywhere in the city :) .... mostly taken from the cab!
(cabs are daily miracles in Bombay! defying all laws of motion and age and mechanics and engineering!)
... but thats another story altogether!)
|India 2007 - Bombay ...|
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
What is the level of your education
How long have you been married … why no kids yet?
Our hujhbands work for the embassy. She works!
It is so hard to find girl children especially for ashtami pooja … of course not everyone is unfortunate like us to have 2 girls!I tell you
Just some of the pearls of communication that we were fortunate to experience …
And Just NOT what we expected to encounter on 15th August – 10a.m. - @the flag hoisting ceremony at the Indian Embassy in
Picture about 25 people … scratch that – about 25 men standing around … in groups of 2-3 … chatting among themselves and greeting everyone with the customary Indian smile …NOT! No smiles here …
The lone music-system started to feebly play some patriotic song and lo behold … a group of women appear from nowhere to witness the flag hoisting …
One second Soumya was standing by herself and shazaam! – this group of women walks out of the house (the embassy is a house!) and almost runs over Soumya … eager to view the flag or whatever other reason they had to be in front!
The ceremony was held in mind-numbing tradition
- men and women in neat separate groups standing 6 feet apart
- no one was smiling
- The “head” of the embassy gave a soulful speech! Sigh … he read out 4 lines from the Presidents speech and then … just shut up! He pretty much read out 4 lines verbatim!!! No excitement here!
- The crumbly flag was opened … there was clapping … and after precisely 73 seconds of subsequent awkward silence … everybody dashed towards the refreshments – cheap cake and wafers …
- Of course - the women picked up their paper plates and went inside the house while the men ate outside … silently ...
My conversation outside went like –
“Where are you from” … “What do you do?” … “Weather is nice no?” … “This country has seen a lot of war … ” … with generous (and awkward) pauses in between
Granted most of these men were oldish folks – in their late 40s or 50s maybe … but not one of them exuded an iota of intelligence … like someone later observed – they just seemed to be in Angola with the sole hope of being transferred later to the UK- where they could make more money and retire … nevermind that most of them did not even speak English or anything intelligent!(in no particular order)
I COULD NOT IDENTIFY WITH A SINGLE SOUL OUT THERE !
Of course while I was standing in excruciating pain … wishing that all this was a dream and that
and of course all this while being given a strict visual examination …
Seriously – I always believed that Bombay was not representative of the rest of India – especially of all the small towns in UP and Bihar from where these folks came … or any other small town for that matter … but the narrow mindedness is just plain unforgivable …
Soumya has a good argument - folks from her extended family are from small towns, and yet they exude a certain class … at least they aren’t outright rude or discriminatory!
I know for a fact that we (most agnelites) grew up in a different society – a more open society … heck I had trouble adjusting to the narrow mindedness of folks I encountered in
Then again … am I so removed from the rest of the Indians? Has the international ‘exposure’ spoilt me …
Sure you can pull someone fom the plains of rural
Mera Bharat Mahaan – for whatever its worth.
And oh - thanks to Anu (and santa-banta) for these images ... pretty much the only positive thing!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Have been a silent observer of the Harry Potter buzz - at its crescendo now with the 7th and final (?) serving - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, millions of copies of which, I am told are being guarded by specially trained ninjas with 0071/2 privileges ... lest someone spill the beans (and pages) before 21 July 2007! shudder shudder ...
If you are a religious zealot, now is the time to leave ... OK Bye.
No - seriously.
My daily dose of Google news today enlightened me with the fact that there are some religious groups out there that protest the Harry Potter phenomenon since it promotes the idea of witchcraft - and makes people believe in the occult and likes ... and more importantly it takes them further away from a 2000 year old religion that furiously scoffs at geologists and the likes. These groups "firmly" believe that the crude-Oil in Angola was formed sometime between 8:32pm and 8:47pm on the 4th Day a couple of hours after sunset - about 24 hours after the Mountains were completed! And oh - they tell me that the whole dinosaur business is a scam!**
But this is not about that at all ... really.
There was talk in the same article on how the Church is using Harry to spread Christianity especially among the youth. This at the same time when Mr. Eli Yishai in Israel is irked over the launch "time" of the book - strange world we live in I must say. ( But I have to be amazed at the amazing coincidence of the timing of 2:01 am – down to the minute!)
And then ... It came to me (about time)
10 years and 325 million copies sold already. That's a third of India's population give or take a few (million) . Fast forward a few more decades (and a few more movies, a few billion blogs, comics, animation yada yada yada ) and this book might probably end up in everyone's homes ... each and everyone on the Planet!!! Now I don't own a copy of the Gita but I do have a Bible which I'm guessing is the most "available" book in the world ... and we all know the basic story of Jesus in some form or the other.
Brace Yourself -
~I think Harry Potter could be even bigger~
There I said it!
Give it a 1000 years or two and Harry Potter may transcend from fiction to Mythology ... various caveats and "additional chapters" later we might be looking at a whole new religion … the backbone of which would be this trilogy in 7 parts! There's lots of action, revenge, some romance, torture ... and of course lots of messages. The perfect Mix if you ask me.
Ah! Maybe that’s what the Ramayana and Mahabharata were - record-breaking bestsellers, some 10-20 thousand years ago ... innocent readers at the time were not aware of the mass phenomenon to come …
That’s it! I need to start reading these books ASAP … And then write some “previously-unreleased” material! You won’t be laughing when a few thousand years from now my family will enjoy special privileges in society because they are direct descendants of Harry’s special friend from India – me – ! Heck they might even make a “Code” movie then … but for now I need a serving of Hari Puttar …
** In my weeks in Angola, I have had the fortune of experiencing the jovial nature of geologists and seismic engineers and I can see some of their serious predicaments as far as faith and job are concerned!
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Some of my initial experiments with the new Fuji S9100 ...
What can I say - I'm impressed so far. :)
Link to the album in case my experiment with Picasaweb Slideshow failed :D -
|Sunset and Moonrise - June 29 2007|
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Hamara Wii! Yes - this one gadget has always been "ours" - Soumya loves it as much as I do ... if not more :)
We've had the Wii since last December - a big thanks to Ankur and his mom for making that happen! For the uninitiated ... you still can NOT walk into a store and find Wii on the shelves!!! These beauties are sold-out within an hour! Always ! and even after 6 months now ... but I digress (I just wanted to rub in some :D)
It all started with Wii Sports ... the irrestible pull of playing Tennis and swinging the controllers like they were the real raquets! Never really liked Baseball much ... live or animated! so despite Pranav's many attempts ... never really played baseball much ... same for golf.
BUT boxing is another beast altogether! I do not remember playing a single boxing match without breaking a sweat - good excercise this one I tell you. And there's one more annoying fact - Soumya kicks my A#@ in boxing ... everytime! And its not just Soumya ... just about every wife out there ... same story - wife beats husband to a pulp in boxing ... many couples have boxed on the Wii ... same result everytime ... never decided on points ... wife knocks out husband brutally - consistent like gravity! You guys out there reading this know what I'm taking about ... and who I'm referring to ;)
The Wii accompanied us to Angola (obviously) ... but its been Excite Truck all the way for the past couple of months! Again Soumya beats me at this fun racing game ... Its a racing game and I usually lose :P - no really - I'm quite good at racing games - have evolved over the years ... but still Soumya beats me consistently at this game! Still have a number of games that we have yet to explore - remove from their packaging i.e. Warioware - smooth moves, Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia Rival Swords etc. - will post updates as and when that happens!
We both love our Wii ... and for a reason :)
So much so that in a sheer display of brilliance, Soumya once blurted out Wiicosystem when she saw all the Wii accessories springing up at the stores ... brilliant stuff I tell you - loved it so much that we bought the domain! scratch that - I bought the domain ... and one of these days wii will play around with it! http://wiicosystem.com/
OK nuff time wasted away from the Wii. Wii will Wii Back!
And oh ... in case you were wondering - I wrote this post a while ago but I was waiting (patiently) for my S9100 to arrive so that I could take these arty farty pics :) Wii baby!
Thursday, June 21, 2007
It started with a random dinner invitation at Roz and Ade’s for Saturday – little did we know that we’d walk into a surprise birthday party for the two of us! Very sweet of our colleagues at work and their significant others to arrange cake, food and celebrations :) - lots of interesting stories shared ... including things that one would never do again! Lots of anecdotes, lots of teasing, lots of laffs …
Quite an eclectic group this one – they run, cycle, and some of them spent 6 months in 2004 trekking the Appalachian mountains from Georgia to Maine – now that’s quite a distance – I have driven along that route and its a couple of days drive! And these folks hiked the entire way – how cool is that. Most of them are true expats – in the sense that they have been away from the US for a long long time – and in various locations across 1st 2nd and 3rd worlds!
Ya I know – not the typical “old” folks that one comes across in des! Some of them have been married longer than we have been around - or at least longer than I have been around! And the spirit these guys pack – superb! Like they were 22 or something!
Made a note to self to be physically fit and mentally young like these folks! AND to be less emotional and less senti unlike most of the old folks we know … AND be more adventurous and hajaar TP like these guys. Our old folks did not enjoy the same privileges and ease of life that these people did (arguable) and hence they are caught up in other things in life ... yada yada yada … I’m not comparing … but I have no excuse like that! Note to self stuck.
Sunday - Happy Birthday Soumya.
Planned to go to the beach but we missed the boat – literally – we missed the last boat by 3 minutes so walked for a while on the Marginal instead – very nice. Need to do this more often. I know we watched a movie later ... but can't remember which one. Like someone mentioned at the party - after 30, you suffer from CRS - a highly technical term - "Can't remember Sh#t!" - priceless!
Wednesday – Hello 30!
Woke up to a wonderful birthday message in 12 languages by D. Awesome. Only caveat being that I ended up wishing myself some 25 times :D … yes I had to read them out loud! Vintage D!
O’Careil – Portugese for Curry – and destination for dinner … the only Indian restaurant in Luanda. Very good décor, nice ambiance, decent food – you take what you get … and add some salt ;) Had a good dinner - Usual suspect veggies – no chat or dosas or pav-bhaji … sigh sigh … Needlessto say - We ate a lot!
Some Diet coke and some Patel Shots later … its Thursday now … am catching up on the birthday “wishes” … Thank you all of you - for sending across your wishes on all possible mediums ;)
oh well :) … what goes up – comes down!
"How do I feel?" you ask ...
"Oh ok ... No difference yet ..."
Besides - once CRS kicks in ... I won't know anything - will I ;)
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Mithoon Sharma, born on Jan 11, 1986 - yes 21 years "OLD" - is a wonderful music composer ... and I must say that I am very impressed - no really - this guy is very good.
I am listening to the soundtrack of " The Train" - and Mausam and Beete Lamhein are instant favorites - listen to them and you'll understand why. And its his voice on Mausam ... even better!
When I did some Googling I found out that the song "Maula Mere" which I heard sometime ago - and really liked - is composed by this dude - just found that out! (along with the fact that he displaced Himes-bhai for The Train :D )
And then the big one - "Tere Bin" from Bas Ek Pal - definitely up there in one my favorite songs ka list - again ... composed by Mithoon - very very VERY Impressed.
My bad for not finding all this out earlier ... like they say - assumption is the brother off all problems ... I simply assumed!
So Hats off to you Mithoon - I will definitely look out for your compositions - keep up the good work.
p.s. I hope that you dont fade away like Anand-Milind did after QSQT ... something tells me that you won't!
Friday, June 08, 2007
I have been discussing this void with a bunch of people for a number of years now and I am so excited that a team of researchers at MIT have finally done it ... Kudos and THANK YOU Marin Soljacic and team for all your efforts ...
Fast foward to 2017 ... Imagine a living room without wires ... nice ... very nice.
Note: The term WiTricity was coined by the team at MIT.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Then again - what would all this be without Electricity ... or the Edisons, the Newtons & Einsteins ... working together trying to invent the fastest way to make money! You get the drift ... can go all the way to "Main Samay Hoon" - but we wont - in the interest of time.
Traveling to a Portugese country - Angola - where they don't speak any English - does open-up a few doors of comprehension (pun intended)
Sure I am definitely able to communicate to my driver that I want him to pick me up after 1.5 hours but only after a fair amount of acting, emoting, pointing, 'frustrate-ing' :P and the occasional dancing! The perfect ingredients for collaboration I tell you - intelligence, capability, creativity and the inability to do anything together ... quickly and productive that is!
We owe the English quite a bit - with their colonization and looting and pilferage - they (unknowingly ... like the apple) left behind the single largest enabler of collaboration and ergo advances in science and technology - A COMMON LANGUAGE.
Thank God that they went across the world and dropped English along with their other crap wherever they went.
Now you linguists and purists (a lot of them desi) may argue that English is a poor language, a borrowed language, ... yada yada yada ... but despite the magnificence and beauty of Sanskrit or Latin they are not directly responsible for me to be able to type this out today! English is!
But then it is a curse I tell you! If the English had not done whatever it is they did, it would NEVER have been possible for someone to create a "I hate Shiv-Sena" community on Orkut ... ergo forcing some fanatics in a "DEMOCRATIC" country to trash up a random cyber-cafe. The otherwise-peaceful Soldiers-of-Shiv and loyal servants of Child-Master would have been blissfully ignorant and the world would be a happier place but then - I digress.
Then again we may be heading towards the second Tower of Babel ... and the English will be responsible for God's wrath to come ... ... ... er ... for now I think I'm going with being realistic!
I never thought that I would say this - God bless English and the English.
8th May 2007 - It was 8am’ish – we were peering out of the window – looked a lot like landing in Bangalore … reddish-brown and green … sprinkled with small settlements. The flight landed and took a quick sharp turn and parked – this is an aero-plane mind you – and we waited in the “alley” to allow a flight to take off ... less than 30 seconds after we stopped and parked … a few yards away from us … rumble, shake and all – and then 3 more took off before we started cruising to the terminal! We had reached Angola!
They tell me that Luanda was planned for 400,000 folks and as it usually happens in cities … there are about 4 million folks living in the city today! Of course we expats don’t help the situation either!
The airport brought back memories of landing in Chennai – on a hot summer night in 2002 – no a/c, no escalators, stagnant water … and in the international terminal! There was no stagnant water here … and no escalators either :) - but it was hot and humid and we were enjoying everything.
Onto the Parking lot - Pleasantly surprised to see Mitsubishi Pajero’s, Lexus SUV’s and juiced-up BMW X5’s and H2’s – of course this is the airport of the capital of Angola! You can imagine how surprised I was when the same sights continued all the way from the airport to our apartment – no we do NOT live by the airport like some people I know in Bombay!
Hello Luanda … You see the cars on the road and you get the feeling that you’re in the US … all the above luxury vehicles seen regularly in between the usual suspect Rav4's and Nissans or Mitsubishi trucks/SUV's ... and then you look a few feet below and realize that there is no “road” to speak of! It’s a mesh of potholes and tar and mud - like in apna 3rd world India! Actually I take that back - I've been around the city a bit and now the roads in Bombay seem like freeways in comparison! Old jungle saying - "One man's Bombay is another man's Los Angeles!"
Mostly SUV’s on the road … of course that is because the roads are not good – never mind the lack of space! Not only are these really expensive cars by any stretch of imagination – BUT – none of them have stock parts on them … Hello Enkei, Hello Turbochargers, whats the fuss about alloy-wheels – do they sell cars without them in other parts of the world? … something doesn’t fit – I did not see so many expensive cars even in Salt Lake City! (Utah not Calcutta! Sorry Sumona - couldn't resist that one ;) )
That’s Luanda (for me) – where the really (and I mean REALLY) rich live side by side to the really (and I mean REALLY REALLY) poor. No middle-class to speak of – at least none that I have seen. Kinda begin to understand why everyone and their grandmoms in India are feverishly gyrating about the fact that India has such a large “middle-class” population!
Have been to the shopping mall in Luanda – yes there is just one (so far) – Belas shopping. Nice place. Ample parking and very professional looking. A simple cotton shirt made by the famous ChipChip brand (or something like that) costs approximately 180 bucks … oh yes – the green ones – 180 American dollars! (and oh - about the famous brand – I was being sarcastic!). Of course gas is cheap – approximately 50 cents a litre (they use litres here – yaaay) … or about 1.5 USD for a gallon … and of course bottled water is about 2 dollars for 1.5 litres … or about 4+ USD for a gallon … I wont be surprised if some folks consume gas instead!
And people are always well dressed out here … not that it’s a bad thing – but you would think that they are on their way to a party … nevermind the time of the day. Very interesting I tell you - you see color coordinated Gucci's, Prada's and the likes ...
The beaches here are really clean and nice … have been to a couple of them so far – very nice. The weather is very good – so far – they tell me that I came at the perfect time – monsoon is over and winter is setting in – so looking forward to more fabulous days – its really pretty – when you look beyond the heavy lifting cranes and construction equipment hammering away incessantly!
The people – very nice – like they usually are. Of course we are experiencing more of a cultural shock out here than we have ever faced (and we have traveled a bit) – more on that later – maybe Soumya will explain better! There is another huge problem with body-odour at work ... but I will not get into that right now!
We seem to have bonded instantly with the country … the sights … the smells … very much like des. On closer examination there are some startling differences – not that we never expected to see any … its been fun so far.
Keep checking this spot for more updates, experiences and learnings!
before I go - I was trying to solve the mystery of body-odour and I stumbled onto this interesting read on Angola . I liked the title that the author has used.
More to come -
1. Expat community
2. Culture shock
3. Body Odour
4. The Party scene
5. Wind Surfing
6. Thank You England
7. Lucky India with Congress
Thursday, May 31, 2007
I cant wait to scratch the surface of Surface.
Yes - the new toy by Microsoft ... in short - ME WANT!
(image courtesy www.microsoft.com)
My crystal ball shows a whole new ecosystem ... even larger than tha Ipod franchise ... much bigger. The possibilities are so many ... (beyond the video on the web-site - which, by the way you MUST see!)
For starters I would like to have a DJ-turntable application for the Surface - so that it can replace all the expensive and bulky hardware and flimsy Discs!
Then they could have a "real" canvas ... you could paint with special pens ... just like you would on canvas.
Virtual Keyboards - the musical version!
Virtual Tablas, bongos ...
Don't even get me started on the interactive games ( I still have to post about my Wii fun for the past 6 months!) - so many that I can think of right now ... and multiply the fun with motion based controllers ...
I should stop! ... My mind is kicking into overdrive! All this excitement within 10 minutes of reading about the Surface is probably not healthy!
But remember this day ... you will! I sure will.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Now I have always been a big fan of Jhaji's funny and satirical Praan Jaaye Par Shaan Na Jaye and have been waiting to watch his controversial movie "Strings - Bound By Faith" but I never expected Sanjay Jha to post a comment on my post ... I am sooooo happy :)
Thank You for your response. I will watch Praan Jaye again tonight and also watch Strings as soon as it is available here. And keep blogging :)
Actually now that the buzz has settled (somewhat) I must really appreciate -
1. Sanjay Jha's intellect on becoming a part of the blogosphere as they call it ... I mean if I am involved with media why would I NOT want to be a part of it!!
2. The power of the blog ... I know a lot has been said already but I never cease to be amazed at the power and speed of information that we enjoy ... sure the Telly may have sparked the downfall of Communism in erstwhile USSR - but blogs, message boards and the internet are taking everything to the next level and a couple more!
And if you really want to know what my fist stint in Bollywood was - well ... I was one of the characters in a happy-song in Aastha - a film by Basu Bhattacharya. Not only did I get to spend two whole days on location and get a first hand experience of how movies are made - but I had the fortune of enjoying the company of Rekha and Om Puri for the two days as well :)
For those who are not tired of hearing it ... Rekha looks amazingly incredibly stunning for her age - and she's a lot of fun too - no airs of being such a big star! and Om Puri is a very funny person - didn't expect that. We had a lot of fun during the shoot ... but thats a loooooong story for some other time!
Chalo then ... bahuut boasting kar liya ... time to get back to Earth :)
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
Are we really living in 2007. All this censorship is utterly ridiculous ...
"Google actively censors results of searches conducted in China and has also removed sites offensive to the Chinese government from Google News. Microsoft actively censors blogs on the Chinese version of MSN spaces to filter out words such as "democracy" and "human rights."
taken from this article - Tech companies, NGOs working on code of conduct
No seriously - I guess they do need to work on a code of conduct ... and ethics ... and human rights - we're human after all!
Of course if you can't read this post then just know that you're being watched!
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
This is a absolutely true & horryfying experience that I just went
through with our national airline - Air India. It was so traumatic
for me that I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams. I have
heard of stray incidents of various
types happening with different people, just couldn't believe when
ALL of those happened with me in 2 days. Here's my experience. I
walk into the Mumbai airport at 12.15 pm for a 14.55 pm flight to
london. (AI 131). After about 40 minutes, AI counter representatives
just start walking around and chatting amongst themselves. Maybe 15-
20 minutes after that, someone raises some noise about their
behavior and then they come out open stating that the flight was
full and that the flight was overbooked. Now overbooking as AI puts
it is a very common action that most airlines resort to, even in
peak seasons such as the one I was travelling in. To my outmost
surprise, they had overbooked a flight of 210 passengers (they fly a
Boeing 767 for this flight) by 40 odd passengers. Absolutely
ridiculous !!!. Thats when this whole saga of trauma began.
We fought with the AI officials to come up with a reason and tell us
what they were gonna do for us. But they refused to budge and did
not give any reasonable explanation. After about 30 minutes of
screaming and fighting the duty manager arrived at the scene and the
very second statement he made was that we r going to put you guys in
a 5 star hotel. The next possible flight that they could put us on
was AI 101 which would leave at 7.10 AM the next morning. They
couldn't arrange for any other flight citing that they were all
full, but they did not confirm with anyone before making that bold
statement, just because they wanted to save the buck for AI. My case
was a bit complicated cause I had to make it to the US the next day
on a American Airlines (AA) flight. So they promised me to rebook me
on a different flight and also provide me a hotel accomodation in
London since I wouldn't make it for my original flight. After that
around 14.00 pm, there was a change of shifts, which meant a new
duty manager was to arrive and be briefed about the situation. Some
passengers like me, decided to take the lead and explained him the
situation. He promised us that he would take care of us and would
assign a hotel and boarding passes ASAP. Before that he had to head
to a small meeting for 15 mins. That 15 mins, took him 2 hours and
then he comes and states that out of great difficulty he could get
us to the next flight at 7.10 AM, which we should have always been
given priority to board since we were bumped off our original
flight. But he refused to check in our luggage and give boarding
passes, asking us to come to the airport some 6 hrs in advance. We
refused and decided not to budge, and maybe after an hour he agreed
to check us in. Still no hotel and it was 5.00 pm. One of the fellow
passengers lost his head since he was travelling with his 80 year
old mom who was struggling to sit through this trauma. Another
family with an infant just wanted to know if they r going to get a
hotel and still no action on AI's behalf. Finally around 6.30 pm,
they come out and say that they cannot find hotels for us and offer
to put us up in the airport area, where they have some facilities.
Some of us went and checked the facilities. There were some beds
with some dirty linen, no bathrooms, no TV's, no kind of
entertainment and full of mosquitoes which would definitely give you
malaria before leaving india. One guy mentioned that he wouldn't
even let his dog stay there in that room. Such were the facilities
offered to passengers who paid full fare, after being promised 5
star accomodation. Little did we know that this was a beginning of
what we had to go through. After that we all went to the duty
managers office and sat there and he refused to give us priority.
After forcing him to give us his attention and forcing him to inform
his seniors of our position, he negotiated with us. After about 2
hours of this, AI made another offer to us. Find a hotel on your own
and get us the bill tommorow and we'll reimburse you. The ceiling
limit was set to Rs. 5000 / passenger or Rs. 7000/family, which is
really a small amount given the costs of hotels in mumbai. Anyways,
we tried hard to negotiate with them to give us a reasonable limit
since we would never get a decent hotel around the airport for that
kind of money. Sensing that we weren't making much progress with
this issue with AI after an hour of debating and they still looking
or acting to look for hotels for us, some of us decided to take the
offer and share rooms. To our surprise, AI said they would not give
us cash and we would have to produce a bill after paying it on our
own. Some of the passengers had no indian currencies, some students
have very limited credit card limits which blocked them from taking
this limit. So we again tried to negotiate, but with no success with
the thick skinned inconsiderate AI people. Also at this stage, AI
managers told us that turn up at the aiport only around 6.30AM next
morning since AI 101 is delayed to 8.00 pm. That would give us an
additional 1 hour of sleep. By then the next shift came into work
who again argued with us that every airline rebooks and they are
justified with their hostile behavior and actually gave us a hard
time to even dispurse the mininal taxi costs to us. Finally, around
10.30 pm in the night after spending more than 10 hrs at the
airport, some of us decided to take a cab and give it a shot to look
for a hotel on our own. Found one at around 12 in the nite and spend
the next couple of hrs trying to get some sleep.
Next morning when we got to the airport at 6.20 AM, we noticed the
same story being repeated with the AI 101 passengers who were dumped
thanks to us. Similar shouts and screaming and determined AI
officials fending off all allegations of mismanaging reservations.
Infact funnily, the AI desk officials kept blaming AI reservation
ppl for messing things up and telling us that they couldn't do much
about it since thats how its been since the past couple of years.
One of the AI officials mentioned that the whole overbooking saga
was going on for the past 7-8 days, but surprisingly they still did
not have hotels booked and they just kept using their strategy to
hold passengers in the airport until they got frustated and left on
their own. Suddenly we get rushed stating that we were delaying the
flight. To our surprise the flight is stated to be on time. So we go
thru immigration and then identify our luggages and finally make it
to the flight. It leaves as stated - i.e. at 8.15 AM. During the
flight, I fell sick with the previous days food. The moment we
landed, I was throwing up and had a very hard time keeping myself
hydrated. Go to the luggage claim area in london and after about 1
hour, AI official comes and says that they did not board some 20
passengers baggage. Guess what .... all the 20 ppl were from AI 131
flight. It was so ironic, that they did not board things like the
old lady's wheel chair. Can u imagine that ? After all this ....
they do that. Also, with AI, something else we learnt is there is no
compensation for your baggage if they do not arrive with you. I
tried to negotiate, but one of the AI london officials mentioned
that they would not entertain any requests unless the luggage was
lost for more than 48 hrs. Nice !!!
Thot I was done and so I went to the AI customer service and asked
for the 1 nite hotel stay that I was promised in bbay. AI flatly
refused stating that their responsibility ends in London. They do
not care anything beyond that. Infact this one lady in the AI
customer service was so rude and so insulting that I was amused if
this is what "Customer service" meant for AI. No other airline
counter had such rude officials. I decided to wait and speak to the
duty manager, who also refused but after he heard my traumatic story
asked me to stay there for a bit. This is like 3 hours since I
landed in London still trying to get something I was promised.
Finally, he took pity on me and decided to give me a room for a nite
and he was perhaps the only AI official who had backed his words
with some real action. I went to the hotel & crashed thinking I was
done with AI for good ....I was dreaming .... yes, I was. Next
morning, I reach Gatwick and presented my booking details to AA to
take my flight to the US. They see my booking and ask me for a paper
ticket. AI did not give me any paper ticket. They just gave me a
piece of paper and thats it. The reservation was a no go and they
asked me to buy a new 1 way ticket to Raleigh. At that stage, I
couldn't think of anything to do. But i remembered that my original
booking was a refundable, changeable ticket. So AA looked up my old
reservation and the lady at the counter did some magic and I made it
to the my flight to Raleigh. AA tried to trace my luggage, still no
information and I am still waiting for it after 40 hrs of my flight.
In this whole experience, the thing I was surprised (or rather not)
was the sense of accountablity in the AI employees. Its a true
government organization where there is no accountablity and everyone
is trying to push the buck onto someone else and run away from the
responsiblities. I pity the old parents, families with infants and
foreigners who get screwed and swindled with this kind of treatment.
The saddest part of my experience is the AI officials behaviours and
no sense of urgency to deal with our issues. It just seems to be a
every day issue at AI and I personally noticed so many people losing
their heads at the AI counters. After this experience, I have
decided that I am going to pay additional money and travel any other
airline but AI. They simply do not understand a passenger's or a
paying customer's plight after making them go thru such hell. Not to
mention how bad the AI website is to dig out any details. A nation
like India which is the world leader in IT, our national airline's
website sucks and doesn't get me any reasonable information.I just
felt that after this experience I need to let every Indian whom I
know in the US know about this. AI will not get off the hook this
easy. They need to learn a lesson and I am gonna put every effort in
trying to do so. I have refrained intentionally from naming
individual AI officials since I dont think that would help cause I
believe its an organizational issue and the attitude needs to change
from the top to bottom, just changing some officials will not make
this airline any better.
So adios AI .... national airline .... my ass.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
And then there was yoghurt - hated it a few years ago ... then went to a remote town in Korea (South of course!) ... yoghurt and tomatoes were pretty much the only veggie options available ... at it for 6 months ... ta da - love yoghurt now – even know how to make it!
And oh, didn't think much of cheese 10 years ago ... and then nothing happened! never traveled to France - was never locked away in a room made of cheese and never wanted to join the Cheesy Club (pun intended!) Guess what ... I still don't think much of it - some of them stink!
But then Cheese is an acquired taste dumbass! You have to ACQUIRE IT! … over time … slowly and with class, elegance and oh-so-pompousness …
Gah! What a bunch of crap!
Really don't buy into the notion of acquired taste – if you don’t like something you don’t like it – PERIOD!
Unless of course by some unavoidable circumstances you move to Korea, succumb to peer pressure, lose your olfactory senses, need to be called "classy", become blind or are desperate(in no particular order)
Funny part is – You only attach acquired taste with the supposedly "classy" Cheese, Wine, Havana, Scotch etc.
For everything else … you either like it or are allergic to it! God forbid I ever mention that broccoli is an acquired taste - no couture they say!
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
So in all fairness, I guess my time (of silence) ahem! has run out ... out with it you say? oh well ... (u know how secretive I am :P)
Its a tiny camera and not an SLR like my S602 but a Fuji nevertheless ... I searched and I searched ... and then I researched some more ... and finally found the Fuji F30 (quite by accident1) - sheer brilliance in such a small package ... something that I could carry with me wherever I went and also feel nice about taking pictures. some "high" lights -
- Super low light capablility (ISO 3200!)
- Exceptionally good battery life (required since its a proprietary battery)
- superb clarity
oh well I'm going to stop here - yo uknow where you can read the (rave) reviews and details!
Here are the recent pics *with captions* from the F30 ... since November 2006 i.e.
But then, I still am faithful to my S602 - and I have to confess that size does matter ... the larger lens in the S602 provides much more capabilities ... and crisper pics - prolly the only thing better woudl be a S9000Z - but then that would depend on Soumya wouldn't it ;)
the New adventures of old Fuji speak for themselves ...
so that kinda summarizes the activity-list in the past couple of months ... inactivity here but active somewhere else :)
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Titusville (in the vicinity of Orlando), the 27th of December 2006, Pranav and Dipti were taking the plunge (again) on their first aniversary ... and we joined in the celebration ... and jumped off a perfectly fine plane flying at 18000 ft at the SkyDive Space Center!!
Yes - we finally did it :) and wow was it fun ... it was sooooooooper ... if you cant already tell by the video :D
70 seconds of free fall ... and I mean free followed by 7-8 minutes of slow descent ... with the space center and the likes in the vicinity ... ah ...
Next time we're going to do it over some city ... Chicago or New York perhaps ...
until then ...