Sunday, September 06, 2020

Why I miss listening to my podcats !

 One of the benefits of vehicular traffic was the time one would get for oneself. That space in the car, which is surrounded by all kinds of commotion is something that only belongs to you. 

That was the time when I would listen to music or play some stand-up comedians (audio only), and sometimes listen to audiobooks or podcasts. I have learned so much during those travel times as only those who have experienced it would really understand the benefit of it. 

Now, due to COVID-19, we are all working from home and I guess it has its own pros and cons, but what I lost completely was listening to books and podcasts. I do feel that I have been losing out on a lot of reading listening.

I did try to listen to these podcasts at home but really couldn't do it. No actual reason, but somehow, I wasn't able to. Probably I need that long drive to listen to these beautiful books.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Incentive for Paying Taxes - Indian Taxation

The number of people paying Income Tax in India is a very small percentage. A few years back, it was just 2-3% while recently we have seen more people paying taxes and has been close to 5% mark a year back. With tighter measures from the government, especially after the demonetization, the number has been increasing slowly. But its nowhere close to the percentage, which it should be. 

One of the reasons that, people in India, *don't* want to pay or avoid taxes, as they feel that they are not given any benefit for paying the taxes.  Though the law does indicate that one should pay the taxes in proportion to their individual incomes, everyone finds a way to avoid it.  

WHY ??

I always feel that, if any individual who is paying taxes, and the money which is paid by the taxpayer is used by the government for all the development and other benefits to the nation as a whole, then they should also be rewarded for the tax payment. The problem is that there is no differentiation in the treatment for the one who pays tax and one who doesn't, assuming they are earning well and can afford to pay the taxes( leaving out the poor in this debate). 

In Principle, there should be a way to incentivize people who pay taxes. I really can't think which would be right or not, and these mentioned below are only to explain the thought process. As there can be different issues when actually implemented, which the administration knows better.
  1. Lesser tax when purchasing new vehicles or real estate. 
  2. Provide better government schools and free education should be provided for their children.
  3. I would have loved if I can get toll free roads for those paying taxes. It's instant gratification, and also a visible one, which can push others to pay taxes.
  4. Priority is getting some crucial services from govt.
  5. Why not a TaxPayers line when queuing? 
And then there is a long term need for providing facilities after their earning age. Those paying taxes should be given additional benefits. 
  • Medical Benefits
  • Retirement Pension or similar
As long as a citizen sees a value for himself in the long run in paying Taxes, and more importantly partial treatment to those not paying, one will not see the incentive. A need to very tightly link the Aadhar with the Tax Paid and hence the incentives should be made easier through modern technology.

I really hope that one day, people should yearn to pay more taxes rather than avoid it. And that can only happen when one sees the value add in doing so. 

Thursday, July 02, 2020

2nd July

So finally in this lockdown decided to come home to spend a few days at home.

We landed on 19th June and up until today, we were in quarantine. For from tomorrow onwards we are kind of allowed to step out. Kind of relief that we can do that and buy a few essential items too.

Also, today happens to be the day, I joined CSG/INTEC more than a decade ago. Time does fly...

And finally, today also happens to be the day, our new CSG Office in ETV was commenced. So it has been 2 years since it was opened and we ventured into a new side of Bangalore traffic. Life hasn't been the same ever since :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Staycation and Workation

The terms "Staycation" and "Workation" would be two words that got more visibility during this COVID-19 lockdown.

I personally have enjoyed Staycation many times in the past. Every time I would return from an onsite trip which would be around 3 months or so, I would simply long to be at home. That's when I enjoyed the Staycation. Being at home and reading a book and probably do nothing substantial would be my way of enjoying and resting at the same time. 

However, when I think of Workation, that's not something that I long for. I would rather enjoy a vacation, rather than work during a vacation. And even if it means taking up and laptop and doing something, I would definitely want to do something which would be of my preference rather than work-related. 

But no matter what, these two words will remain in focus for this year or until the whole COVID-19 episode subsides. We will end up doing more Staycations and probably when we go to our home towns and spend time with our near and dear ones, we would end up working and will be a Workation. 

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Wealthy Families

Came across this small snippet - Probably on Quora.  Very deep meaning though

Wealthy Families: A brilliant plan is structured to transfer the family’s fortune in the financially optimal way. Estate taxes, private business interests, capital gains — all in the plan. The kids are filthy rich. So are the grandkids. But the soul of the family erodes, and so does the family fortune.

Wealthy Families: These families are not passing on money, they’re passing on a family culture. The family fortune is one tool entrusted to the family, and so they do want a great financial plan. But the fundamental legacy they’ve built is an institution, a culture — a family.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Hospitals and Clinics - The cleanliness for COVID-19

After a long wait of two months, all thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown, I managed to get an appointment with my regular Dentist. I was told to come a bit earlier than the appointed time to do the sanitization and other precautions.

As soon as I entered the Dentist's clinic, they sprayed some sanitizer almost all over my clothes. They gave me a shower cap kind of stuff for covering my hair. Then two more such covers for my foot and then a plastic apron. Finally two plastic gloves. Basically I was covered head to toe and there was no room for any physical contact. 

The dentist too was in similar attire, and much more if I can say. Overall, I was feeling safe when I was in that environment. The entire dentist chair was covered in a layer of plastic, which would be replaced once I was done, and before the next patient would turn in. I must add, its an expensive affair, both from an economic point of view as well as the environment. But then I guess that's something that needs to be done in this crucial time and can take no chances until we have a better method of sanitizing or we have treatment for this Virus. 

They didn't even take my credit card for payment and only wanted me to pay using my mobile apps/wallets. That was the amount of discretion they choose to opt and I must say that, its a must. 

Given the medical knowledge the Dentist's and team have; and add to that the commonsense which should not be missed, every aspect was taken into account. 
In the end, I was told to take an x-ray of my teeth in the next door diagnostic center. As per the ritual, I was given a hand sanitizer before I entered and they took my temperature reading with a contactless thermometer. So far all good. 

Once I entered and showed the prescription of the X-ray to be taken, he gave me a form to be filled. It didn't look like the pen or the cardboard where the paper was placed was cleaned well. I was not sure, how many people had touched it. Nevertheless I choose to use my own pen and wrote the details, with minimum contact of the cardboard, submitted the form, and took my seat. 

Suddenly someone behind me sneezed loudly. I just went away from that place, instantly and moved towards the reception. When I turned back, I happened to see a person in a white Kurta talking on the phone and the mask- not covering the nose or the mouth, but only his neck. As usual the mask is only a fashion statement. When I told the folks at the reception that, the person is sneezing and the reason for wearing a mask is so that, the virus doesn't spread, he only acknowledged saying OKAY. There was no action from his side. He didn't try and educate him not to do so. Everyone in that sitting area was at risk but there seemed no difference to him.  I told the receptionist the second time, but the response was the same. There was no difference during the third attempt. 

That's when I realized that when they are so careless of someone sneezing, how can I afford to take any risk with their x-ray machines which I will be in contact with. It was within a few minutes of difference I got to see two different worlds in a medical environment. I simply left that place, never to be seen again. I also made sure that I informed my dentist so that he doesn't send any other patients to the same clinic. 

This was the first time, I had visited a medical facility after the start of COVID-19, and these two huge differences in handling the patients made me understand that, we need to be in charge of ourselves and can't rely on any medical facility by its own. Different people have different methods of handling. 

In the Dental Clinic, the Dentist was responsible for the whole clinic, while in the diagnostic center, the owner or the responsible person was not to be seen. It was only the employees. And these small differences as to who actually runs the administration does make all the difference. 

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Lockdown 3.0 - Thoughts

As the news of the lockdown, kind of closing down, though step by step, there are few things that keep coming to my mind.

Freedom Birds

  1. All these days, there was huge propaganda to reduce traffic and use public transport. Now, due to the China Virus, this can change again. Those who can afford will try and purchase vehicles and avoid taking public transport. At the same time, there will be lesser travel. Everyone will try and keep traveling or going around to a minimum. So I do see a growth in the vehicle sales figures.
  2. People will get used to working from home and even from an employer's point of view, it will be more acceptable. So there is bound to be more purchases for good chairs and work tables for home. The amount saved in fuel and time will easily make up for the costs of furniture. 
  3. There will be more demand for broadband connections at home. Again, more UPS or power backup mechanisms. These will be on the rise.
  4. Hair Cutting Salons/Parlours - I think it's a funny scenario. Everyone will be wanting to cut their hair, but at the same time, they will try to get the job done at home. It's lesser touch and that will matter a lot. For the men, I get a feeling, we will see more people shaving their heads or having overgrown hair.
  5. The restaurants will take quite a hit. Yes, there will be people who will continue eating out, but a lot of people will stop at least in the near term of one year.
  6. Travel - one of the biggest hits for sure. I feel only mandatory travel will be taken by people. All vacations, leisure, etc will be postponed or canceled. Though travel by personal vehicles will rise. So, more crowding at the toll booths.
  7. Gyms will take Big hit. Considering that everyone touches the same equipment and everyone being quite sweaty, I guess fewer people will use the gym. Yoga at home will be on the rise.
  8. Trains will see lesser tickets being booked. I don't see a lot of waitlisted tickets which used to be a norm earlier. Even the number of passengers in a train or a flight will be reduced. We will see a huge change in the way Airlines operate now. 
  9. I think it's payback time for the airlines. They had started to suck every penny out of the passengers. First, they made your seat very very congested and then they would charge for availing extra legroom. I guess things will need to change now. There should be more room between passengers. I think I need to wait and watch this sector.

Some of the things which should be done going further -

  • It's high time that we abolish the zoos across the world. 
    • We now know, what it is like, to be stuck at home in a limited area. If we don't even realize our mistakes now, then when will we?
    • It's not easy to release the inmates of the zoos so easily, as they are not used to searching or hunting for food. At first, we can release the birds, a few of them, so that they can come back if needed. And food should be served to them if they come back or leave if they wish to. Then comes the bigger animals where they should be released in a bigger and safer forest areas, where they can adjust accordingly. 
    • Probably small steps, but they are needed and the start should be done.
  • Limit the needs of each one of us. 
    • There is definitely enough for everyone's needs, but not for everyone's greed - This was penned down by M.K. Gandhiji, but its high time we are doing it out of our own will, rather than compulsion. 
    • The Virus has shown us, how the environment gets better if we don't get greedy. We should let everyone live with equal rights.

COVID-19 Impacts - Airlines Sector

Airline Seating Arrangement

It wouldn't be wrong to say, that, one of the worst impacted industries, due to the COVID-19 would be Travel Industry. In a time, when even going out for essential services and day-to-day work, sounds risky, I can't even imagine taking a flight or public transport.

Keeping a timeframe of 2-3 months, and if there is a reduction in the number of cases or the spread, we might be able to see the Hotels opening up slowly. Not due to choice off course, but more for survival.  But every time I think of the airlines, the reasons for taking flights seem to be very very less. It will be only, as the last option or the last resort that one will take when taking flights. 

Reading the latest news in the Hospitality Sector, it's becoming clear that the industry will no longer be the same.  In India, all the Airline companies have been asked to reconfigure the sitting arrangement in the air crafts. Which will mean, that more space will need to be kept between seats? In all possibilities, the economy class sitting arrangement will look more like Business Class.  

A few years back when the airline's industry started booming, step by step, even without we knowing, the seats had become cramped. For a person like me, who needs a lot of legroom due to my height, it was getting difficult, from the early days in 2000-2001, when the legroom in Air India/Indian Airlines and Jet Airways was really spacious. With time and the need to add every extra seat that can be accommodated in the aircraft, every inch of space was used up. Then to top it all, they started charging extra for seats which had slightly extra legroom.  Life does come in a full circle. 

Now, if there are fewer seats in an aircraft, it's obvious that the cost per ticket will be more. But, if I compare the prices of the tickets during the 2000-2001 era, a Goa-Bangalore flight would cost 5000/-  but with time, they have got substantially less(For the low-cost carriers). 

We will for sure, see a huge change, in the way the Airlines Industry works now. In the past few years, we could actually see that the Pilots and the Cabin Crew have been pushed to the limits to reduce the operating costs and increasing the profit. Due to which we would see a higher percentage of so-called 'near misses' as compared to the earlier decade. All, thanks to the huge increase in consumer traffic.  Profits are important, but there was a pressing need to take things a little bit slow. 

Things have got reset, all thanks to this Virus, but should have ideally happened by our will, rather than greed and consumerism.  Hope things change for the better and everyone gets to enjoy life a little better than what it was, and more importantly, the Earth gets time to breathe.

Monday, April 06, 2020

The Virus and the Impacts

While the whole world has been under the impact of this China Virus, COVID-19, we have seen unprecedented changes in this world. I don't think there was a shutdown of the Earth,  ever. There have been wars, floods, earthquakes and have created havoc in the lives of people. This is something different. Just stay at home and you will be safe. Sounds funny but its indeed true.

Its almost been close to a month, ever since I have been working from home and I have to admit, it's getting very difficult every passing day. Thankfully, we are staying in a safe area and we have sufficient means and access to groceries and veggies.

At the same time, we have seen so many changes on this planet, which would have never happened, all thanks to this consumerism which has been very vocal on this planet. Someone had to reduce the pace or stop it. But as long as the Businessmen are hand in glove with the politicians this would never happen.

We really needed this stop, but not in this manner though, where so many lives are taken away by this virus, simply originated by eating some live bats. Nature has its own ways to get back to you. But never in my dreams, this is what I had expected.

The govt has taken strong steps to reduce the impact and the spread of the virus and so-called to flatten the curve. But it isn't as easy. There are enough idiots and I don't mind calling them terrorists who are creating enough damage to the planned activities.

Having said all this, there have been some great learnings that we all have learned in some or the other way.

The important part is that we should continue to use and follow all the learnings, even after this phase. Its seen that a lot of great ideas and learnings have happened during some of the worst phases of human life.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Movies during the Lockdown Period - Covid 19

I got this list from my colleague - Seems like a good list during this lockdown Period.

War movies:
‏1-Atonement (2007)
‏2-Saving private Ryan (1998)
‏3-full metal jacket (1987)
‏4-Hacksaw ridge (2016)
‏5-Valkyrie (2008)
‏6-war horse (2011)
‏7-Enemy at the gates (2001)
‏8-The thin red line (1998)
‏9-The English patient (1996)
‏10-Downfall (2004)

Western movies:
‏1-The good the bad and the ugly (1966)
‏2-once upon a time in the west (1968)
‏3-The ballad of buster Scruggs (2018)
‏4-Dances with wolves (1990)
‏5-Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid (1969)
‏6-The searchers (1956)
‏7-The man who shot liberty valance (1962)
‏8-The assassination of Jesse James by the cowered Robert Ford (2007)
‏9-The wild punch (1969)
‏10-Ned Kelly (2003)
‏11-Django unchained (2012)

Sci-fi movies:
‏1-The matrix 1&2&3 (2003-2005)
‏2-Annihilation (2018)
‏3-interstellar (2014)
‏4-Arrival (2016)
‏5-The Martian (2015)
‏6-bicentennial man (1999)
‏7-2001 space odyssey (1968)
‏8-Balde runner (1982)
‏Blade runner 2049 (2017)
‏9-Contact (1997)
‏10-a clockwork orange (1971)
‏11-Passengers (2016)
‏12-Lucy (2014)
‏13-The fifth element (1997)
‏14-E.T. The extra- terrestrial (1998)
‏15-A.I artificial intelligence (2001)
‏16-Moon (2009)
‏17-In Time (2011)
‏18-Inception (2010)
‏19-The Truman show (1998)
‏20-The lobster (2015)
‏21-The final cut (2004)

Time travel movies:
‏1-Back to the future 1&2&3 (1985-1989)
‏2-12 monkeys (1995)
‏3-Looper (2012)
‏4-predisposition (2014)
‏5-about time (2013)
‏6-The lake house (2006)
‏7-The jacket (2005)
‏8-The time travelers wife (2009)
‏9-The butterfly effect (2004)
‏10-groundhog day (1993)
‏11-Midnight in Paris (2011)

Zombies and post apocalyptic movies:
‏1-The road (2009)
‏2-The book of Eli (2010)
‏3-I’m legend (2007)
‏4-28 days later (2002)
‏5-28 weeks later (2007)
‏6-Mad max (all parts)
‏7-world war z (2013)
‏8-after earth (2013)
‏9-Shaun of the dead (2004)
‏10-snowpiercer (2013)
‏11-escape from New York (1981)
‏Escape from L.A (1996)
‏12-Children of men (2006)
‏13-Blindness (2008)
‏14-Resident Evil (all parts)
‏15-The quiet earth (1985)
‏16-seeking a friend for the end of the world (2012)
‏17-The mist (2007)
‏18-down of the dead (2004)
‏19-a boy and his dog (1975)
‏20-Zombieland (2009)
‏Zombie land: Double tap(2019)

Anime & Animation movies:
‏1-all Directed by (Hayao Miyazaki)& (Studio ghibli) movies
‏2-all Directed by(Satoshi kon) movies
‏3-all Directed by(Isao Takahata) movies
‏4-all Directed by(katsuhiro otomo) movies
‏5-wolf children (2012)
‏6-The girl who leapt through time (2006)
‏7-a silent voice (2016)
‏8-5 centimeters per second (2007)
‏9-Children who chase lost voices (2011)
‏10-The anthem of the heart (2015)
‏11-I want to eat your pancreas (2018)
‏12-a letter to momo (2011)
‏13- Wall.E (2008)
‏14-Toy story (1&2&3&4)
‏15-shrek (all parts)
‏16-The red turtle (2016)
‏17-The prophet (2014)
‏18-Ace age (all parts)
‏19-The garden of words (2013)
‏20-your name (2016)
‏21- Isle of dogs (2018)
‏22-Fantastic Mr.Fox (2009)

Gangster movies:
‏1-The godfather (1&2&3)
‏2-once upon a time in America (1984)
‏3-Scarface (1983)
‏4-Donnie brasco (1997)
‏5-Casino (1995)
‏6-Miller’s crossing (1990)
‏7-A Bronx tale (1993)
‏8-American gangster (2007)
‏9-Mean streets (1973)
‏10-Carlito’s way (1993)
‏11-The departed (2006)
‏12-Pulp fiction (1994)
‏13-Road to perdition (2002)
‏14-The untouchables (1987)
‏15-snatch (2000)
‏16-Eastern promises (2007)
‏17-The Irishman (2018)
‏18-Goodfellas (1990)
‏19-Public enemy (2009)
‏20-Gotti (1996)
‏Gotti (2018)

Drama movies:
‏1-Her (2013)
‏2-Lost in translation (2003)
‏3-good will hunting (1997)
‏4-Forrest gump (1994)
‏5-Cast away (2000)
‏6-green mile (1999)
‏7-Eternal sunshine of spotless mind (2004)
‏8-The curios case of Benjamin button (2008)
‏9-Pride and predjudice (2005)
‏10-one flew over the cuckoo’s nest (1975)
‏11-The Shawshank redemption (1994)
‏12-The perks of being wallflower (2012)
‏13-moonrise kingdom (2012)
‏14-The piano (1993)
‏15-The pianist (2002)
‏16-The piano teacher (2001)
‏17-The before (Trilogy)
‏18-portrait of lady on fire (2019)
‏19-blue valentine (2010)
‏20- 500 days of summer (2009)
‏21-Taxi driver (1976)

Outside of Hollywood movies:
‏1-The lives of others (2006)
‏2-Never look back (2018)
‏3-The secret in their eyes (2009)
‏4-wild tales (2014)
‏5-City of god (2002)
‏6-Cinema paradiso (1988)
‏7-Malena (2000)
8-8-1/2 (1963)
‏9-Y tu mama tambien (2001)
‏10-The 400 blows (1959)
‏11-Incendies (2010)
‏12-son of soul (2015)
‏13-The sea inside (2004)
‏14-Hunt (2012)
‏15-Ida (2013)
‏16-Cold war (2018)
‏17-In a better world (2010)
‏18-Hero (2002)
‏19-in the mood for love (2000)
‏20-Yi Yi (2000)
‏21-Train to busan (2016)
‏22-short film about love (1988)
‏23-El sur (1983)
‏24-The spirit of the beehive (1973)
‏25-Wild strawberries (1957)
‏26-Life is beautiful (1997)
‏27-Oldboy (2003)
‏28-The last emperor (1987)
‏29- it’s hard be human (Trilogy)
‏Directed by (Roy Anderson)
‏-Songs from second floor (2001)
‏-You, The living (2007)
‏-A pigeon sat on a branch reflecting on existence (2014)
‏30- Underground (1995)

Friday, December 27, 2019

How does FASTag calculate charges for round trip?

I have been a regular user of FastTag from 2017 onwards, and I must say, it's very convenient at the Toll Booths. Especially during the initial days, when there were very few users, it used to a Royal Treatment and one would get out of those crowded toll booths in no time.

Now, that it's made mandatory, I need to clarify and document a few observations which I have encountered during this short stint.

  1. I had bought the FastTag from Paytm using their online Portal. They charge around 350/- INR for the RFID Sticker and they would keep 150/- INR in your FastTag wallet of the Paytm app. That acts as a reservation for your next toll booth and if it goes below that, it will ask you to recharge your Paytm regular wallet.
  2. At run time, each transaction will be actually consumed from the Paytm Wallet, and the reserved wallet will always be kept at 150/-. 
  3. When you cross a toll booth, there will be a scanner above, which will scan your windshield and automatically deduct the amount from the reserved amount and approve your payment. The boom barrier opens when the transaction is a success
  4. Many times, there could be issues, and most likely than not will need to move your vehicle back and forth to get closer to the Scanner. 
  5. When the scanner on top, doesn't seem to help, they will do the scanning using a Hand-Held Gun Scanner.  From my experience, this always works.
  6. The return journey always costs lesser and to take care of that, fast tag, charges the One-Way charge when one crosses a given toll booth. If one returns the same toll booth with 24 hours of the 1st transaction, the 2nd one will only charge the difference of the Two Way charge and the One Way charge.
    1. Example - If the one-way charge is 90 Rs and Return journey is 135 Rs, then while going the first time, it will charge 90 Rs, and while returning will charge 135-90=45 Rs only.
  7. One does get an SMS with the amount charges and the time when you had crossed the toll booth. But normally I have seen a delay in receiving the SMS.
If you have any queries, then please ask in the comment section. 

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Bangalore - 20 Years Back...

It was on a chilled winter morning that I had landed in Bangalore, 18th December 1999 from Trivandrum. The TCS initial orientation training had just completed and it was time to jump into the real world of IT Industry.

While I completed this long journey, I thought I will pen a few of my experiences/changes during this long journey.
  1. We complained of Traffic then and we still do. The number of vehicles has increased, and so has our patience level
  2. Going to ITPL was considered a privilege. It would take around an hour from Sadashivnagar to ITPL by bus those days
  3. There were open green grounds in the ITPL campus and only one ATM. The Banks came in a bit later.
  4. The Marathahalli, narrow Bridge was the biggest traffic jam location. Not much traffic on either side of that bridge. Now, it's almost 4 Lane Road
  5. The closest good restaurant from ITPL was Golconda Chimney. All our office get-togethers and celebration lunches were to be planned there. And then there was no other good restaurant till Kempfort(Now, Total Mall).
  6. The last signal if travelling from Airport Road towards ITPL was at the Wind Tunnel Road. After that, till ITPL or Whitefield, there was no signal at all.
  7. HAL Airport was kind of outskirts, even though it was just a couple of km's from Leela Palace.
  8. Citibank Suvidha Debit Card was one of the first Debit cards introduced. Others only had ATM Cards. There used to be a lot of discounts available on using the Citibank Suvidha Debit card and entering the PIN was considered up-market.
  9. Brigade Road and MG Road, were the only happening places to be.
  10. I would ride on my bike then, Suzuki Fiero, which was one of the few bikes to have an auto-start
  11. I would cruise at 80-90 kmph after entering the Whitefield area.
  12. Nandini Restaurant was the most happening place for Non-Veg food especially Biryani's
  13. The Music Stores, Planet M and Music World were some of the happening places to hang out and buy the CD's, play your music and listen to them there./li>
  14. Every Friday, I would ride my bike from Vijaynagar to ITPL, a distance of 30kms. It used to be a chilled-out ride and I used to enjoy it.
  15. The common meeting point on MG Road would be the Food World Super Market. Don't think it exists now.
  16. Plaza theatre had one of the best Music System in a Movie theatre, but they also had a lot of bed bugs on the seats.
  17. MG Road, Church Street and Residency road had most of the Pubs and used to be the happening places for hangouts and pub hopping.
  18. The only malls of those days were on Brigade Road, which was Fifth Avenue, Mota Royal Arcade.
  19. Mota Royal Arcade was probably one of the few places which had an escalator. I do remember, my friend and me would stand there to watch peoples reactions when taking the escalator.
  20. There was only one Shoppers Stop and Westside during those days, and Westside used to my favourite place to shop for clothes.

Memories from Music

Today Youtube threw this video on my list and I couldn't stop myself from clicking the same.

Though the video is not from the movie clip, more of a live performance. Nevertheless, it took me back to my days in school/college, when we would listen to these songs on the cassette player.

I am pretty sure, this movie Vansh was not a famous or a hit movie, and it was not due to this movie's songs that we had purchased this cassette. We would get songs of two different movies on a cassette, one on each side. If I am not wrong, we had purchased this cassette for the movie Bazigar, whose songs were super-duper hit.  And due to that, we ended up with movie's songs in our songs collection, which became a part of our childhood memories.

That's the very reason, that when this song popped in the Youtube list today, listening to the song took me to the beautiful college days in Goa.

Songs have a unique way of relating to the places, where we have heard those the songs and relive those days.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Manohar Parrikar - A true Leader Rests In Peace

In a country like India, one doesn't come across Politicians who have come out from the IIT's.  And more importantly, give the respect the value that comes along with the premier institutes.

Manohar Parrikar, was one such gentleman, who gave a new dimension to the meaning of leadership and pushing the small state to a different level.  Today, as he leaves us, he leaves behind a lot of good work which he has done, so that the future generations can take it up further from there.

A simple man, who loved to go alone, wearing a half sleeved outshirt, and preferred to have the regular rice and fish curry for lunch, couldn't have set a better example for living a simple life in a leadership role.

From taking bold decisions to help the ordinary middle class people to taking tough decisions against the enemy nations, he has shown what he is worthy of.

He leaves us today, leaving us Goans and the country as a whole, with a big vaccum which is almost impossible to fill in.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Tawang to Guwahati - The never ending Road

The Rhino's in Kaziranga made the trip unforgettable, while the chilled weather and the breathtaking views of lakes and mountains in Tawang, left a lasting impression of the Land of Dawn Lit Mountains. This in theory also completed 50% of our trip.

A bit of homesickness had started to kick in. A bit of tiredness and mainly missing home cooked food or the regular Idli's and Dosas back in Bangalore.

The next part of the trip was to visit Meghalaya, mainly Cherrapunji, The Root Bridges and the Dawki Border towards Bangladesh.

The articles of the first 6 days are in the below links - 

Now, to enter Shillong, we had to head back to Guwahati. As per our initial plan, we had taken into account 2 days to reach Guwahati from Tawang. After discussing with our driver, we decided to complete the distance in one day. It will be a little hectic but we will end up with an extra day in our hands.  Well, that's at least what we thought.

Day 7 -  28th November 2018

We started around 7:00am from the Tenzing Homestay. We had an early breakfast and left Tawang. The initial part of the journey, the first half an hour was in complete silence. Not even the music was playing the vehicle. It was as if we left a beautiful memory behind us.  Even our cameras were inside the bags. Since it was six days up, we were also running short of cash in hand and had to find some ATM where we could withdraw. Things which are kind of taken for granted by us were not the same in these areas. Most of the ATM's even near the Army Canteen's were mostly running dry.

When we saw a Dzo, on the way, we got back to our core elements. We got the camera out and did what we do the best. Shoot.

As we moved on, it was kind of a refresher of the area which we had traversed a couple of days back. Just that we were looking at things from the other direction.
Change of Direction, does change the Perspective

The views were different, so were the perspectives, not just from what we saw, even what we felt. While going up, there was a sense of longing to see, now it was more of, what we will not see again.

Since it was early morning, while driving through the villages, we could see school children, with their backpacks walking towards the school. Most of them in uniform and many not in. Though we travelled around 2-3kms ahead, we did see kids with the same uniform still walking towards the school. Which means, they all had to travel all this distance on a daily basis. Every place has its own set of struggles.

    We did see a lot of these animals on the way. Mainly the Dzos. Another point to mention, we didn't see a single Yak up until now. What we saw were only Dzo's which are a cross breed between a Cow and a Yak.

    A touching picture of Cow and the Calf.

    One last view of the Sela Lake. We really didn't want to leave from this place. The serenity really makes you stand still there.
Sela Lake, Sela Pass

Houses of locals on the way to Dirang

As we moved closer to Dirang, we saw some structures, which we missed to see while coming.

The Dirang River

Villages Close to Dirang 

When reached the spots where we could see the Gorichen Mountain, we had to stop at multiple places to take the best possible shot again. The snow-capped mountains are always a stopper for pictures.

On Reaching Bomdilla, we found an ATM which had money in it, and we all withdrew sufficient cash for probably the rest of the trip.  A few pics near the Bomdilla town.
Bomdilla Town

We were told by an Army person, whom we had given a lift on the way, to have lunch near Rupa Bridge, after crossing Bomdilla. It was a nice Army Canteen, but with limited options but good food.

We stopped there at Chulha and had a hearty meal. The place was next to the river(Dirang River I assume).  There was an ATM too in that area and a nice shopping area, where all we had was a cup of coffee. I paid him by giving a 500 Rupee note and in return, I got new 100 rupee notes as change. I hadn't seen the new 100 rupees up until then. And its been a month ever since I have come back to Bangalore, and yet to another new 100 rupee note.

We then came towards Rupa Bridge and crossed over to travel towards Guwahati. It was close to 2:40 pm in the afternoon and we only had crossed Bomdilla.  Panic Button?

Crossed a few villages and I can say, it was as if we were literally going next to their houses. The roads were really bad, or I can say, just muddy roads. No Tar. Just because it was the Mahindra Xylo, we were not tossed up and down on those roads.  I am sure even an Innova wouldn't have been able to handle that terrain.
On another note, while we were at the Tenzing Homestay, another guest had come in a new Innova Crysta. which had got hit at the bottom and due to which the fuel tank got a leak. Somehow they managed to reach Tawang.  Though we learnt later from our next driver, that Innova does work well, but only with experienced drivers. Xylo had no issues at all, more so, considering our rash driver, who would only fly the vehicle even on these roads.

Temple after Crossing Rupa.

The Trans Himalayan Highway
On touching the Trans Himalayan Highway, we felt that finally, we were on a smooth road. It had just started to get dark now.  The road was fantastic, but we couldn't really see the views which we were looking for.  We filled in some gas at the next station. We were told that we will almost cross Bhutan Border on the way, and its ideal to fill in gas there, more so as it's cheaper also.  We filled half a tank and continued.

The above picture was the last picture which we took during that day. After a point, due to the same terrain, and darkness, we were resigned to the cars only. Just having the casual discussions with the driver. It had been six days, we have known him. As a person, he was good, not really as a driver though.  During our discussions, we got to know about our driver's family and his place etc. Also learnt of some of the customs in Arunachal Pradesh. Apparently, it's a Matriarchal Society which some of them follow. So after the wedding, the Guy comes and stays over at the Girls place. Not something we are used to hearing.

As we moved ahead, we tried to look for a place, where we can get tea. But we didn't. The roads were no longer that great, and quite bumpy after a point.  Around 7 pm or so, our Driver told us that the fuel is coming down and might get over suddenly. Apparently, the indicator needle apparently doesn't go down linearly, but more of an abrupt jump in the Xylo, as we move into the RED area of the fuel indicator.

Our agenda, changed from looking for a tea shop to finding a petrol bunk. Since we were on the Himalayan Trans Highway, I was expecting some fuel station, but miles and miles there was nothing in store. We tried to take one village or town at a time, hoping that we will get one in that place, but every place left us disheartened. The fuel indicator is going down slowly. I am the only person in the vehicle, apart from the driver who could see the indicator clearly. I only kept quiet, without making much of a scene. But our crazy driver was all in for tantrums. He started reminding us that, this is Bodo Land, and it's not ideal to get stopped there. Things only got difficult, but still, the vehicle was going smooth.

The worst part was that, since we were very close to the Bhutan Border, our GPS was not working, probably blocked at the International Borders. So was the internet and the phone connectivity. Nothing seemed to go our way. We had the local maps saved in the mobiles and using that, we were trying to see if we can find something, which can lead us to a fuel station. We could hardly see any people also.

In some areas, we could see lights mainly of camps from the BSF, and small shops. But nothing which would have helped us. The other parameter which we were fighting with, was the time. Mostly after 8 pm, most of these fuel stations close down for the day.   At one point, on the bad stretch of road, I could hardly see anything in front. Suddenly I saw a small stick which said, if water is above the stick level, DO NOT CROSS. Took me a few seconds to gather that, we were crossing a small stream. There was water falling from the top also.  But our driver didn't think about any of these and he didn't even know to read English, happily crossed the stream with a huge splash. It was all good again and we were back on the so-called roads.

A new found respect for Mahindra Xylo. Is my next car going to by Xylo ?
There were certain stretches which were completely forest area. So we did feel that we just be able to catch a glimpse of elephants crossing in the middle of this dark road😀

 Eventually, after crossing a lot of dark roads, with no sign of humans nor animals, we managed to a check post. There was a BSF person standing there. So before crossing that barrier, we decided to ask him for the closest fuel station, But he was not at all helpful. Only gave us ambiguous answers. There were two roads there, one which we could have continued on the  Trans Himalayan Highway,  while another would take us to the National Highway.  We did go ahead after crossing the check post on the Trans Himalayan Highway, but after a couple of kilometres, things didn't look good to us. We felt getting back on the NH was better.

So we turned back and came to the check post again, and crossed it and went towards the NH. Once we entered that road, we met a few villagers and they told us that, we will not be able to get inside the Bhutan fuel station at this hour as they wouldn't allow going inside Bhutan. And also, the fuel station would be closed. It was around 7:30 pm. But they indicated that we will get there in a few kilometres if we continued on the same road.  The next few kilometres were not easy. The road was not at all good, and very bad lights on the way. The only good part was that there were other vehicles also on this road, a sign much better than the Himalayan Highway.

Crossing a few more Kilometers, we saw some lights at a junction. We seemed to be on the right path as indicated by the Villagers earlier. We took the designated turn and finally saw a Fuel Station.
After a long time, finally, we all spoke with some energy.  This place was technically Assam now.  Our driver spoke to the person standing there, but he seemed have officially closed for the day, with all the accounts done and dusted for the day. We did request him, but he didn't budge. He told us to go to the next fuel station which was around 9 km from there.

Having no option we headed in that direction and we were glad to see a proper town with shops and fuel station. We filled up the gas and went to have tea. The tea never tasted so good before.  Gulped down some potato chips too.

The next agenda on the list was to find a hotel to stay close by. After a lot of googling, going through the reviews and phone calls, we finally decided we had to go Mangal Doi area to get a decent hotel.  It was already quite late. Around 8:30 then, and the hotel seemed to be around 45 km away from there. We asked the hotel folks to keep the dinner ready for us.  The road again, was not good, but the situation was better. We didn't mind much.

Then somewhere on the way, we stopped, just to enjoy the beautiful black sky. It was kind of Bodo land, but we didn't mind now. We had gone through enough for the day.  While we got close to the hotel, there seemed to be some kind of mela that day. I think it was Ram Navami or something that day. So, we did see a lot of activity and a lot of people suddenly. It felt good to see the people around.  Once we reached the hotel we quickly had our dinner and resigned for the day.

What a hell of a day it was !!!!

Kindly leave your comments in the blog let us know your feedback.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

The Stunning Route to Bumla Pass - North East Trip - Part 3

History of Bumla Pass

The Bumla Pass is the border between India (Arunachal Pradesh) and China. Or more technically, India and South Tibet.

Arunachal Pradesh, was earlier called a North East Frontier Agency, and later became an UT in 1972 and that's when the name Arunachal Pradesh  was given to this place which translates into 'Land of Dawn-Lit Mountains'. Finally in 1987, it was declared as a state.
Arunachal Pradesh - The Land of Dawn-Lit Mountain. Aruna, means the first rays of the sun in the morning.

Tawang was a part of Tibet, and still sometimes referred as South Tibet. If one looks at geography, Tibet and Tawang, are a lot alike, and why not ? It was a part of Tibet then. Due to some discussion between the British and the People of Tibet, Tawang was given to Tibet, but then China always claimed that Tibet was a part of China , which people from Tibet don't want to agree with. Moral of the Story, Tibet finally preferred Tawang to be Part of India rather than China.

So the border, which Arunachal Pradesh shares with China, is not actually China. Its Tibet Occupied by China.

Day 6 - Drive from Tawang to Bumla Pass (27th November 2018)

We had reached Tawang the previous day around 3:30 pm and also had got the Special Permit for Bumla. The ILP is one of the document, which needs to be submitted for this Special Permit. Normally the hotels where one stays, gets these arranged. To go to Bumla, only specific vehicles , which are part of the Taxi Association will be allowed. So we can't take our personal vehicles nor any other hired vehicle. We were told that, the trip to Bumla pass and other sight seeing places like the Madhuri Lake, will cost 5000/- INR. Its more of a fixed price. Also note, these Permits are only given to Indian Nationals.
Though the offices which issue these permits are actually open till 4 pm, but due to late arrival of guests, which is normally the case, they do issue these till 6 pm.

Bumla Pass Permits are only available for Indian Nationals
We had a nice breakfast of Aloo Parathas in the morning, along with nice tea at the Tenzing Homestay, where we had put up. The people managing this place were really nice. They are 3 sisters if I am not wrong, and trust me, they really manage it well. One thing, we couldn't help noticing was that the ladies in this part were really hardworking. By hardworking, I am not saying they are busy, but they do lot of work, which we would normally see, only men doing in our parts of the country.

The local driver there, came around 8 am with a pretty new Mahindra Xylo. This Xylo was in a much much better shape and well maintained, compared to the one which we were travelling. The driver was well educated and knew English and Hindi quite fluently. He had studied in Delhi and he was quite a well mannered person, and informative if I can add.

We first crossed the city limits,if I can say so, and slowly started to move higher altitude. Can't say the road was bad. It was bumpy. The definition of good road had probably changed ever since we started this trip. We had to show the Permit to the Army folks before we moved towards the Y Junction. Y-Junction is the point, where one road leads to Bumla, while the other towards Sangester Lake(Madhuri Lake).

The Road to Bumla Pass from Tawang

Dzo on the way to Bumla Pass

Pankang Teng Tso 

This lake is on the way to the Bumla Pass, and better known as Ptso Lake. We also saw a Yak with Red Ears here. They were different from the ones we had seen earlier.  The view of the Lake by itself was surreal, with a small Bridge in the middle, gave a different dimension to the view. 

Ptso Lake

Ptso Lake On way to Bumla

A couple of things regarding the names here. La in the local language means 'Pass' and 'Tso' is a Lake. So writing it as Bum La Pass, translates to "Bum Pass Pass" and similarly with Tso. But then we are used to saying it :)

Lakes on the Route from Tawang to Bumla

 So, it took us around 2 hours to reach the Bumla Pass and once we reached there, and after completing the security formalities, we were made to sit in a huge waiting hall. Hot tea was served, which was a God send, more so, considering the weather and the wind. I have to admit, due to the heavy wind and open spaces, it was the coldest experience I had during this trip.   We were then escorted by a jawan from the army who took us for a short walk till the last point in India.

Bumla Pass - This is the India Tibet International Boundary

Whenever some dignitary or Senior Army Personnel arrives, they will normally keep a memento here with the Date.

The land we see here, is not part of India. Its kind of No Mans land.

At the Border. The hill in the backdrop is where the Chinese Military is present.

Finally at more than 15,000 feet, we reached the India Tibet Border. I am purposefully mentioning it as Tibet, as its actually Tibet which we are sharing the border, and not China. It was a touching moment for us, to reach a place, which only army folks are residing and protecting us.

At this camp, there is a Hot Line Phone connection with the Chinese Army, and if there are any problems they discuss it over this line.. Apart from that, there are meetings held here 5 times in a year, with the army folks from both the sides being present. If I am not wrong, out of the 5 days, 3 dates are the important calendar days from India and 2 of China. 15th Aug and 26 Jan feature among the 3 dates from India's preference days.
I picked up a cap and t-shirt at this camp, which served as a souvenir from this strategic location.

Road to Sangester Lake 

To visit the Sangester Lake, we had to return on the same route , up until the Y Junction. And then moved towards the lake. The pictures below are on route to this lake.

Strong Words from the Army Folks

After a lot of driving, more of downhill this time, we got the first glimpse of the Sangester Lake. Better known as the Madhuri Lake. Though I mentioned downhill, this lake is at a height of 12500 feet above sea level. Its referred to as the Madhuri Lake as , Madhuri Dixit, the famous Indian film star had done a dance sequence for a movie, Koyla here(Song - Tanhai Tanhai).  I was wondering, in which weather did they did the shooting there, as it was freaking cold there, and doing a full song sequence, in the middle of no where, is no easy task. This movie, was one of the biggest thing that happened to this small town and got known for.
Its strange sometimes, how bollywood movies can change the tourism of a place.

Sangester Lake , also called as Madhuri Lake in Tawang

On the way down from this point, we saw a lot of old Bunkers , which were used during the 1962 war with China. They are not in use now. We managed to get a few pictures of them, but don't really want to post them here, even though they are obsolete.

The streams which we saw on the way -

The roads were completely covered with snow, even though, it hadn't snowed for many days.

Suddenly we could hear the sound of water falls - I just stopped there, enjoyed the whole falls for a minute or two in the freezing cold, just seeing the water finding its way down wards.

The pictures might not make justice to it. Probably a badly taken video might just work here.

So this Lake, was created due to a huge earthquake in 1971 and most of the people staying in this location couldn't survive.

The Sangester Lake
The First Glimpse of the Madhuri Lake

The Tibetan Flags - There is something about them, which makes them feel so lively. Couldn't stop taking many pictures of them... By both Prasanna and me.

It was lunch time, I started with a nice plate of Maggi Noodles followed by Chana Batura ( Yes, the regular lunch/breakfast we have got all through this trip). I did make sure to add a cup of tea also. The food here is served by the army folks again and we didn't see any civilians in this area at all.

The Photographer , now infront of the camera
The National Flag Flying High...And everyone in this area works towards  this to remain high always.

We Started to move uphill towards Tawang finally. One the way, we found a peculiar memorial, if I can call it so.  Its called the Beedi Baba Memorial. 

As you can see, there is a Beedi prototype, which is a local type of cigarette( Tobacco wrapped in a particular leaf)  found in India quite easily. Not sure of the history of the place nor the significance of the memorial, but apparently some soldier who was fond of smoking beedi.  So a memorial is made in his name, and a huge beedi is also placed next to it. We learnt from our driver that, every day couple of jawans would come and keep a packet of beedi at this place. Sounds Weird , but true. Had it not for this memorial which we actually saw, wouldn't have believed this story.

This is the vehicle which took us to all the difficult terrains. My new found respect to this Mahindra Vehicle. I would rate it much higher than the Innova, especially in such terrains.

Nagula Lake

Just before we reached the Nagula Lake, we found a couple of Army Jawans walking down the road. We stopped and asked them whether they would want a drop. They happily agreed. Apparently they don't ask for lift from any tourists as many don't really stop which off course makes them feel bad. Many a times they don't get a army vehicle to drop them to the town. We later realised that, they would have to walk around 23 kms to reach the town, had we not stopped. One request to all the tourists, if its possible to give a drop, please stop and then ask them, as they will not ask as such. I do understand that, since we were all guys, it was easy to ask and offer.

During the chat which we had with them, we got a lot of insights of the situation in this region from the army folks. One person was managing the artillery, which kind of means , he operates a gun which is a little smaller than a Bofors Gun. But even those guns are really huge.

One of the points he mentioned was that the life in these border areas, had improved for them, after the Modi Government had come in, in more than one way. There are lot of improvements in the life they live in these areas. More facilities, better winter clothes etc and many such things, which makes their lives much much better to live in such weather. They were really in praise for the Modi Government. Apparently huge difference in the past 4 years or so. Listening to the people who are actually on the border protecting us, say such words have lot of value, rather than listening to updates from Paid Media and Whatsapp forwards.   Though he was quick to remark that, there has not been any improvements as such on the personal front, when they need to travel back home, or with regards to leave policies etc. But as long as they are at the border, the facilities have drastically changed for the better.

We asked him about a news which we had got in the media and also had gone viral,that a particular jawan didn't get proper food in the difficult area where he was posted. His take was that, each place is managed by a Army unit. If one person has been discriminated, then it would be an issue in that army unit, rather than the supply to that unit. Distribution of food and other supplies is from a centralised place.   He was of the opinion that, its very rare that food supplies etc are not reaching them, unless some huge landslide etc have blocked the traffic. Even then the supplies do reach them via air transport.

We finally dropped them at the Tawang Town. It was a exchange of gratitude when they left, followed by a Jai Hind. 

Mobile Connectivity 

Another aspect which really hit us, was the mobile connectivity in these region, especially in the higher region.  We saw jawan's climbing the hills so that they can get proper range and can speak to their folks back home.
Jawans at the Hill Top looking for Mobile Connectivity( Need to zoom the picture)

Army personnel looking for mobile connectivity 
Both the above photos above, show how they need to keep searching for mobile connectivity. It felt really bad, especially since they stay away from families and its so difficult to reach their near and dear ones in today's age. I do hope that this message reaches the heads of the telecom companies to improve the connectivity in these areas.

One of the view, which we got as we came down was this Buddha Statue. Its a massively huge one.  But when seen from a far, it just looks as if Buddha is simply looking towards the mountains and meditating. It was simply a perfect view with a surreal feeling

The Tawang Monastery

Finally, we went to the last destination of the day, ie the Monastery. The Tawang Monastery is the second biggest in the world, after the Lhasa Monastery in Tibet.

With that we completed the day 6 of the trip and headed back to the hotel with lots of information and better perspective of our neighboring countries , who are protecting us from them and the efforts done by them.

Once in the hotel, even though it was very cold, Prasanna went out to take some pictures of the Sky. There is no light pollution in this part of town and hence the sky is really jet black and the stars very clearly seen. Though we couldn't get good pictures of the stars, but got a few of the Moon

We planned to start back to Guwahati the next day, directly from Tawang. Though we thought that it would be an relatively easy day, it was not meant to be. More of Day 7 in the next part of this blog series.

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