Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Life at Ramco Systems, Chennai

Last Friday, Ramco Systems, a Chennai based ERP solutions and IT products company invited a bunch of bloggers to be part of a meet intended to explain how it is to work at Ramco Systems. I did sign up, but I could go there only after my regular office hours, which meant I was late by about an hour and missed first part of the activities.

This is my second visit to Ramco after the 2014 meet on wearable ERP solutions. Though I was late to the event, Ramco team was kind enough to give a quick walkthrough of areas that I missed earlier. In this post, I am sharing few of my observations. You may also read posts by Satish, Rajesh or Sarath in their respective blogs, as they have attended 100% of the event and have more photos and details to share.

Ramco strives to offer better work life balance to its employees and gives them lots of facilities and liberties to make the most of their time in office. Below are few of them:

An open and innovative HR Room- instead of fixed cubicles, HR room has different kinds of seatings- a part that inspires bar like ambiance, a section that looks like kitchen, hanging chairs for a change and so on. The monotony of standard cubicles is gone and employees can have better interactions. There were also a set of photo frames (like those you find in tourist places)

Discounted Laundry Service: Subsidized for 50% off, employees can bring their dirty laundry and get them cleaned and pressed while they return. This saves some time otherwise had to spent at home cleaning.

Punching Bags: Ever feel like punching your manager (or client?)- Go to the room on second floor where marketing team sits, get your gloves on and punch the punching bag till you are satisfied. I asked them a question "What happens if lots of people wish to use these facilities at the same time?" I was told that doesn't happen often. Hope real managers won't have to stand as substitute for punching bag :) 

Neck Massage at work: I was told that physiotherapists visit regularly and tired employees can avail a refreshing neck and shoulder massage at their work place, to help them relax. That is a very useful initiative I am sure. (Add a few massaging chairs for the leg and package will be complete)

Vibrant interiors: Most of the rooms had colourful walls and interiors, inducing energy and optimism, compared to plain walls we find in most offices.
Exercise: In house gym with instructor helps employees get enough physical action. When I went in bloggers were being given a quick dancing lessons.

Games: Different types of indoor games- such as table football to indulge in

Coffee Shop (Fika): CCD like atmosphere for a stress free interaction

Bloggers interacted with Ramco HR staff on various aspects of work life balance. Attrition is below industry standard and in single digit, we were told. Work from home is offered whenever possible and needed. Food in the canteen is highly subsidized, Most of the work force leaves before 8PM. Since Ramco is located in heart of the city (near Madhya Kailash, Adyar), commuting time to home is much less compared to those who have offices in say Siruseri, Sholinganallur or MEPS)
Besides experiencing #LifeAtRamco, event also helped us connect with other city bloggers. We had dinner at their cafetaria and said goodbye, with a wishlist of things everyone now wanted in their respective offices.
If all these excite you, you might want to check RAMCO's website for possible opportunities.

Motovation Track Days at MMSC Chennai

Last Saturday, I spent couple of hours in MMSC Chennai during an event called Motovation Track Days.

Motovation Track Days is a bike racing education/awareness program led by Anoop Pamu. He and his team conduct this session in various race tracks at regular intervals, where biking and racing enthusiasts can get some tips from professionals and can have practice sessions in race tracks. When I learnt about this event few months ago, I thought of participating myself. The cost was Rs 8000 + extra Rs 2000 for gear rentals if participants do not have one. Organizers even agreed for a small discount. I almost had made up my mind to sign up. But then, few realities stuck me-

One, I don’t have a high-end bike powerful enough for racing. My Apache RTR160 is good enough compared to other 100cc kids on the road, but it is not a match to power and torque of a KTM or Ninja and such premium super sports bikes. While I was told that Apache is good enough to participate, I felt that I ran a risk of looking like a street cricketer trying to play with international players.

Two: Racing is a serious and expensive hobby. I wasn’t 100% sure if I want to try this-I am fine with occasional long rides, superbike rentals and stuff like that, but should I try high speed racing? I felt I wasn’t sure. Serious racers spend lots of money on their passion- many participants had shipped their bikes from other cities, had come in their cars full of accessories and support materials. Most bikes were modified to get rid of unwanted accessories that increase drag (such as mirrors), a set of full body protective gear (helmet, padded jackets, knee pads, rugged shoes and so on) can cost as much as a 100cc bike. With all these investments, returns will be low if one is not serious about it or doesn’t race/practice regularly. Like all other serious passions, one day is not enough to master it- continuous practice is required. Practicing on public roads can be deadly and racetracks cost lots of money to access.

Eventually I decided to go there as an observer, just see how things go, take some photos and may be sign-up for next edition. With that thought I told the organizer that I will just walk in and observe. I went there at the scheduled time- most bikes were KTMs and few were Kawasaki Ninja. Bajaj Pulsar 200 CS was the cheapest/least powered bike in the league while a 30 lakh+ Yamaha R1M was probably the fastest. (1 litre engine with close to 200 bhp)

Many bikers were readying their bikes for the session. The tail lamp and headlamps were covered with tape, to prevent glass from shattering on the race-track, which can be deadly for other bikers whose wheels may run over the glass pieces at high speed causing damage to tyres and track alike.

Professional Bike Racer Sandesh Prasanna Kumar (Sandy) was one of the instructors.

Priyanka Kochhar, a popular lady biker from Mumbai was there too.

I was thinking there will be a class room session before they hit the track, but there wasn’t one. Organizers took a familiarization lap, felt that maintaining stability will be risky at normal tyre pressures and advised bikers to drop the pressure (approx. 20 and 22 PSI front and rear). Participants were split into two groups and went on to hit the track, led by Sandy. I did a mistake of not checking the memory card slot in the camera, so ended up there without a memory card, so had to rely on GoPro and mobile for some pics. Should be careful in future. Sitting in the pit stop I wasn’t going to learn anything about racing. Could have stood next to the track at a corner and click some pics, but the soaring temperature wouldn’t permit that for long. Eventually I left the venue, not before picking up couple of stickers for my bike, with permission.

MMSC rentals cost about a lakh per day if you want to use the venue. For serious bikers, events like Motovation Track Days (MTD) is a good opportunity to put their machines to test, learn tips from professionals as to how to save a few seconds at every corner and how to ride faster and safer. Amateurs, enthusiasts and even seasoned veterans can join the sessions to learn more and improve their riding skills. Check Motovation Track Days website for details. Motovation Track Days is NOT a Race. All part of the track is monitored and those who overspeed or violate safety instructions run the risk of getting kicked out.

Though I left early, I could see that everyone else had great time on the track, going by the pictures at their facebook group. Check it out if bike racing is something you would like to explore.

Similar posts: My 1 week, 2000km long ride biking experience in Thailand * My experience at Buddh International Circuit * Dirt Bike practice session at CS Santosh's Big Rock farm * Harley Davidson Street 750 * WickedRide luxury bike rental in Bengaluru *

Sunday, May 01, 2016

"A Sip of Love & A Sip of Coffee" Young adult fiction by Ganga Bharani

I attended the book launch of "A sip of Love & A sip of Coffee" by Ganga Bharani yesterday in Chennai. Bought a copy and finished reading within half a day. This post is a brief review of the book along with few notes about the launch and publisher.
Photo credit: Kavipriya Moorthy
About the book launch:
Book launch happened yesterday at AVM Studios, Vadapalani. I arrived at the venue slightly behind schedule after entering and exiting 3 other AVM buildings in the campus that came before the actual venue. Event was hosted by Kavipriya Moorthy, a published author herself (read her recent posts for lots of practical tips on book publishing) and was attended by several prominent personalities of Tamil film industry, including Director Balaji Mohan.
Book Launch: A photo from book launch, taken from Author's facebook profile as the photo I clicked from my mobile is not half as good.
Speaking at the launch, Ganga's father gave a golden advise- live the moment- enjoy your today. Do not worry about past and future. Learn to be happy with what you have. Greed will never help anyone. (Many of us lose our today in wild chase of future)

"A sip of Love & A sip of Coffee" is Ganga's 3rd book. The other two being "You me and a little secret" and "A minute to death" (both thrillers) I had purchased the first book but yet to complete reading it- should finish asap. During the course of the launch, audience realized the immense support author has received from her family and friends, (including in-laws who didn't object to my sleeping at 2 AM and getting up at 10 AM, in Ganga's own words.) That is great thing to have for any writer. Hopefully seeing Ganga's success more and more families encourage women to pursue their passion. Ganga also explained why she chose the venue and director Balaji to launch the book.

Director Balaji Mohan confessed that he is not a book reader but promised to change that from now by reading this book and more. Another director Nandakumar praised Ganga's name and spoke more appreciation in Tamil.

After the launch bought a copy of the book for Rs 140 and got it signed by Ganga Bharani. It was long time since I had attended a book launch and it was good to attend this launch again.

About the book: 
"A sip of Love & A sip of Coffee" is a teenage love story, targeted towards young adults, teenagers. It is a 150 pages fiction book written in simple English without any complicated wordings. Plot revolves around Avantika and Gautham, who are childhood friends who fall in love, break up, make up, break up again and eventually get on with their (respective) lives. Most of us will be able to apply the plot to our own lives and introspect. Most of the story happens between class 5 to class 12. Plot clearly illustrates what happens when school/college going kids fall in the love trap- losing marks and such side effects. It gives perspective of both guys and girls, so both gender can benefit from this book and can get a sense of what might be going on in the other person's mind. (A mild version of Men are from Mars Women are from Venus, if I can say).

"A sip of Love & A sip of Coffee" clearly illustrates that it is perfectly OK to have a crush during academics but it will be foolish to lose focus on studies because of silly things like break-ups.

The target audience of this book, school/college going young adults MAY NOT be buying this book on their own. If grown ups can buy a copy of this book and gift it to teenagers in the family it can save them lots of trouble later. Lot of youngsters enter into unnecessary complexities such as eloping from home, abortions, losing focus on studies and failing exams and so on, all in the name of love when clearing academics should be one's priority. MRP of the book is Rs 175 only and is not heavy on the pocket.

The plot takes place in 2005 where cordless phones were more common than mobiles. Author has kept the plot crisp and to the point- (few authors unnecessarily elongate to 200 pages) and the conversation style embedded into the book is very unique- where author interacts with the lead characters regularly to discuss about the story so far and the future plot.

At some point author says "I write to tell the story I have in mind, not to sell more books". Appreciate it.

As I read the book I spotted about half a dozen minor editorial errors, which I have communicated to author by mail (so that it can be fixed in next print). These are very minor and do not hamper reading experience in any way.

Key Summary
  • Title: A Sip of Love & A Sip of Coffee
  • Author: Ganga Bharani
  • Publishers:Story Mirror
  • Genre: Romance/ Young Adult fiction
  • ISBN 13 :9788193237625
  • Pages  151
  • MRP:  Rs 175 (I am told online sale will begin this Friday)

Overall a must read book for young minds. You can connect with Ganga on her website

About StoryMirror- StoryMirror is a relatively new publishing house, which is looking to launch 100 authors this year. After the event some of the bloggers had a chat with Devendra Jaiswal of story mirror, who reportedly quit is high paying banking career to start Story Mirror. Well established publishing companies seldom support first time authors.While lots of firms have come up recently to enable first time authors bring their book to life, most of them expect upfront payment from Authors (vanity publishing) instead of other way round. Lots of desperate wannable authors end up spending money to see their books in print, instead of earning from their books. StoryMirror claims it won't take a single rupee from Authors and will pay good loyalty like the traditional publishing houses. They are also getting into various regional languages and not just English/Hindi. For Ganga Bharani's book launch, they organized a pretty decent launch and marketing.

Other similar books:  The Dreamer * Life is what you make it

Saturday, April 30, 2016

10 Absolutely Free attractions to visit in Singapore

Singapore travel itineraries are often packed with city’s most popular attractions. But most of them are paid entries and shoot up your budget. What if you are on tight budget and prefer free to explore attractions over paid ones?

I have listed 10 Singapore attractions which are worth visiting and is Totally Free to enjoy. Most of these are not promoted well, either because operators and agencies do not see money in it, or because Singapore already has lots of paid entry attractions which can easily fill up a one week itinerary. Some of these free to visit spots can  be visited early morning/late evening without affecting the main agenda while rest can be explored if your package/visit has few free days. Better still, you can plan your own itinerary and plan the entire trip yourself- refer my earlier post- 5D Optimized itinerary for Singapore.

Let us read about those 10 attractions in Singapore that can be visited without having spend money on entry.

1. Labrador Nature Reserve: Located off Alexandra road, Labrador Nature Reserve has historic importance as British battle stations were based here. Labrador Nature reserve campus is green with lots of tall trees, waterfront and world war artifacts (A tunnel also exists but is closed)

Labrador Nature Park, Singapore can be reached by MRT (1.5 kms away from Labrador park station). Check my earlier post on Labrador Nature Reserve for full details.

2. Fort Canning Centre: 
Fort canning centre is a nice campus close to Clarkey Quay and is walkable from City Hall MRT. Fort Canning was HQ of British army when they were occupying Singapore. Centre of the park has the giant HQ building which is now a dance theatre. Fort Canning campus gives elevated view of the city and is located in heart of city. Great place for early morning walk.

Read my 2012 post on Fort Canning Centre

3. Marina Bay Sands Laser Show: 
Every evening at pre-defined timings, the laser show of Marina Bay Sands is an eye catching event. You just need to be in a spot that gives clear view of Marina Bay Sands to enjoy the show. Full details in this 2015 post.

4. National Gallery Singapore
This is one of the newest attractions in Singapore, showcasing two of its most historic and iconic buildings- Former Supreme Court Building and City hall. The campus is free to explore, tickets required only to visit art galleries. (For Singapore nationals even that is free)

Check my post on National Gallery for more pictures and details

5 Botanical Garden: 
Another large garden in Singapore with free entry. Botanical garden campus houses many attractions and activities. Half a day can be spent here in leisure. Must visit for nature lovers.

Check some pictures here and here

6. Sentosa Island
While many attractions in Sentosa- such as Universal Studios, Madam Tussauds, Tiger tower, iFly Singapore, Underwater world etc are ticketed, the Sentosa campus is free to explore. You can either walk or even avail free trains/shuttles that operate there to get from one point to another. Free attractions in Sentosa includes many beaches, a point claimed as southern most point in continental Asia and many more

7 East Coast Beach near airport
East Coast is the beach front in Singapore where residents go to set up barbecue dinner (permission required, limited slots), take a swim in the ocean or in general relax. Last year on our way to airport we stopped here for sometime. You can head there for regular beach crowd and experience.
Update: Ankur Sharma has stated that water sports here is not for tourists and is permitted only for registered clubs.

8  Postal museum (Singapore Philatelic Museum)
This one is near Fort Canning Centre, walkable from City Hall MRT. Free only for Singapore Nationals, others need to pay 6 SGD fee. If you are into stamp collection and or interested in postal history, this place is worth a quick stop.

9 Light and sound show at Gardens by the bay
Every evening at 7.45 PM, an eye catching light and sound show is performed in the supertree area of Gardens by the Bay. Entry to Gardens by the bay is totally free (except like flower dome, cloud forest or going up the supertrees). Do not miss this. More pictures and details in this post

10 Kinetic Rain at Changi Airport, T1
Changi has several attractions inside transit area, which you can explore while you wait for your flight. But the Kinetic Rain which is in public area in T1 is a must visit.

If you are flying in and out of T2, you will miss Kinetic Rain. Hundreds of gold coloured droplets moving in unison to create different shapes is a wonderful experience. Either while entering or leaving Singapore, go to Changi Airport's T1, enjoy the Kinetic Rain and then proceed to your terminal gate. Read my detailed post here.

I've not included Merlion park as it will be covered in most of tourist itineraries

Read all other Singapore posts under this tag.

Review: Sangam Hotel- Madurai's Premium Stay Option

Sangam Hotel is one of the popular hotels in Madurai. Costing about Rs 3700+ per day onwards (Add 25% To Whatever amount you see in the ad). I spent a night here. It was slightly above my budget, but I booked it thinking I will be spending most of the time indoor, given the temperature outside, thus a more comfortable hotel is a priority than budget hotel. This post is a brief review of my stay experience and observations.
Sangam Hotel, Madurai- Lobby and Reception
Good things about Hotel Sangam, Madurai
I was impressed by the Four different juice options for breakfast
  1. Breakfast option is great. Lots of items, including 4 juice options (most hotels offer only 2), south Indian and western food.
  2. Rooms are spacious, comfortable
  3. Check out was extended till 2 PM on request
  4. Hotel is located few kms away from the city centre- though this adds to travel time, locality is calm and traffic free.
  5. Spacious campus
  6. Central Air conditioning keeps room cool if even when keycard is taken out. (In cheaper hotels you need to wait for room to get cooled)
Room View (GoPro) of Sangam Hotel, Madurai
Lobby of Madurai's Sangam hotel and outdoor chess unit.
Sangam Hotel Madurai- Pool as seen from 3rd floor
Sangam Hotel Madurai- restaurant
Not so great things about Hotel Sangam, Madurai
  • WiFi was not reliable. Worked for some time but didn’t work most of the time or was of poor speed. BSNL is the network.
  • Breakfast that was supposed to be ready at 7 AM was ready by about 7.45- 8 AM (some simple items were available at 7 AM but most items were ready only by 8 AM
  • The videocon DTH remote was not very intutive. I had difficulty identifying the guide and navigating to a news channel. (May be because I am used to Tata Sky only, but a quick guide leaflet might help as remote doesn't have any text near the buttons)
  • On weekends expect the pool to be crowded. Hotel management seem to be selling pool access to locals in the name of summer camp. Expect a group of kids and their parents in the pool
  • Couldn't see any Tamil newspapers (Didn't matter to me, but those looking for local language papers may have to make specific request)
There are cheaper hotels with AC rooms in Chennai, but may not have a campus as spacious as Sangam Hotel. Hotel Tamilnadu is right opposite Sangam Hotel. Gandhi Museum is the only place closer to Hotel Sangam. (2kms). Everything else is about 5 kms or more from Hotel Sangam, costs about Rs 100 in Ola Mini for each trip to city/ back.
Sangam Hotel Madurai- Main entrance
Check Gateway Hotel Pesumalai  * South Indian budget hotels we tried in Nov 2015

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ISKCON Temple Madurai: Is it worth a visit?

Indian Bloggers
While I was looking for places to explore in Madurai, ISKCON temple came up as an option. As I was debating if I should go there, one taxi driver said he is not aware of ISKCON temple. Second one said “there is nothing, no need to visit”. Another Ola driver said “I know it is there, but don’t know if it is good or not”. Apparently no one in Madurai seem to take this temple seriously. Internet literature confirmed that temple exists but very small.

With no other attractions left worth visiting around Madurai town, I decided to go there anyway and take a look. ISKCON Madurai is a super small building located in a small alley some 2kms away from Meenakshi temple. in Below are my findings and opinion about ISKCON Madurai.

As I entered, I was given a print out with the krishna chant (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare) to be recited 108 times. I took my seat on left side of the hall (Right side is for women) after clicking two pictures. While I could see the deity, soon it was closed with the curtain. There were just a few staff. After sitting down for about 10-15 minutes I left, not before taking the Theertham and Prasad offered by one of the staffer

Is ISKCON Madurai a must visit attraction?
NO. It is very small and if you have visited bigger ISKCON temples (say in Bengaluru, Chennai or elsewhere) then this one can be easily skipped

Is ISKCON Madurai worth a short visit?
Yes. If you have an hour to spare and nothing else critical to do/visit, do drop by at ISKCON Madurai. It is good for a short meditation and visit

Is there a fee involved to visit ISKCON Temple in Madurai?
No. Entry is free, Shoe Stand is free. Free drinking water is provided for visitors. Of course you are free to donate or buy some books.

What are ISKCON temple Madurai opening timings?
5.30 am to 1 PM and 4 PM to 9 PM is the opening hour. Even within this, most of the time the idols will be in a covered status. Which means you can enter the temple building, but if you wish to see the god, you will have to wait (few minutes to half an hour or so max) till the curtain in-front of the idols is removed. So if you are going there go with at least 30 minutes to spare.

Where exactly is ISCON Temple in Madurai?
Madurai's ISKCON is listed on Google maps so there shouldn't be a challenge locating it. Address is
12/37, Maninagaram Main Road, Madurai, TN 625001. About 2 kms from Meenakshi amman temple, in the heart of Madurai city.

I wonder why cash rich ISKCON management settled for such a small campus in Madurai.

Similar: ISKCON Chennai Puja timings

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Start-up funding crisis and its adverse impact on bloggers

2015 was a great year for Indian start-ups. Besides those who already existed, thousands of new start-ups were born, hundreds of them secured multi-million dollar investments and a good part of this investment money was spent on brand building, marketing campaigns and needless to say blogging community benefited a lot from these spending. Unlike traditional companies that took decades to grow and are cautious in spending, start-ups were keen on quick growth and spent lots of money on activities that could get them better visibility, mileage and valuation. Good part of the promotional budget was spent on social media and bloggers, social media influencers and digital agencies that coordinated between brands and bloggers benefited a lot from these expenditure, in terms of sponsored posts, campaigns, paid trips or goodies. Of course bloggers and influencers did their part-writing about the brand and its product/services, giving the brand lots of back-links, twitter trends, facebook likes and such online visibility.
This huge spend on online activities by brand also resulted in emergence of thousands of new bloggers and social media influencers, who saw money in blogging/other online activities and wanted a piece of action. With no pre-defined qualifications or a governing body that certifies someone as an influencer or blogger, anyone and everyone could open a blog or call themselves as influencers. Many of these folks were happy to buy followers online so as to get noticed by brands. This sudden surge in bloggers and influencers made life difficult for brands and PR agencies- identifying and engaging a quality influencer among the crowd started to become increasingly difficult. With desperate influencers willing to work for very small amount, many brands found it sensible to go for quantity instead of quality- like engaging 100 newbie bloggers for Rs 1000 each instead of approaching 10 popular bloggers for Rs 10000 each.

But first half of 2016 is NOT looking good
  1. Few startups have begun to shut shop (TinyOwl, PetterTrap, Vasan etc)
  2. Few others (like Jabong) are on sale for an amount 10% of what they were seeking an year earlier.(news)
  3. Many other start-ups are having difficulty getting fresh funds and their valuations are under pressure, such as foodpanda (news)
  4. Investors are waking up to the reality that the joyride can’t go on forever and are pressing for cost cutting, consolidation and focus on profitability
  5. These have forced other start-ups- even if they are well off as of now- to review their spending and strategies
  6. Discounts, sign up bonus etc have nosedived.
This has already begun to show its impact on blogging community. Below are some of my observations
  • Many new social media agencies that have come up in recent times, which had begun collecting database of bloggers with an intention of pitching to brands and getting some business- are yet to get their first campaigns
  • Number of new campaigns at existing agencies/platforms (like Blogadda, indiblogger, blogmint) etc have reduced. Brands are avoiding big budget social media spends.
  • In 2015, Indiblogger used to have at least two new campaigns every month. Now may be one in every two months. (Good that they launched IndiPR, ensures some sustained revenue, even though not as lucrative as mega campaigns)
  • I have noticed few brands suddenly going cold. They were interested to engage sometime back but when the time has come to close a deal, sudden loss of interest has kicked in from nowhere
  • Have noticed few instances where brands have refused to pay after blogger/influencer delivered required posts, citing some silly reasons
  • Average delay in payment has gone up from few weeks to few months.
  • Some agencies are running campaigns for an amount as low as Rs 10 per tweet and even at that rate there’re enough people signing up for it. [Read this Mint article about trending your brand on twitter]
Thus we can say a sort of slowdown/recession is pertaining for social media community who were on an upbeat based on 2015 experience.

How Bloggers can overcome current scenario?
  1. Don’t quit your job. If you were thinking of quitting your job and doing blogging full time, may be now is NOT the right time. (That is just a thought. You be the judge. If you are already earning good money from online and have repeat business then maybe there’s no harm)
  2. Keep writing: When going gets tough, tough gets going. Once paid campaigns become scarce, all those who jumped blogging bandwagon with hopes of making quick money will go away. If you are serious, keep writing and use the time to increase your reader base, engagement rate. Keep writing at regular intervals, even if you don’t make money. When the situation improves, you will be ready to reap the benefits.
  3. Support worthy brands in their time of distress: If you have worked regularly with a brand/start-up, know their core team and/or believe in their product/service and potential, do support them during their tough time even if they are not able to pay you. Once situation improves, brand will remember your support and will be more than happy to start paid engagements with you again.
  4. Offer some discounts- I am sure some bloggers may not agree with this, but the market dynamics demand that prices go down when demand goes down. So maybe you can lower your quotes a bit for serious opportunities.  Where possible give extra discount for advance payment, so that there’s no painful follow-up to endure.
  5. Don't get desperate: While working for a small discount is fine, avoid getting desperate and accepting deals way below your value. This will only make things worse- you will end up disappointing your readers, blogging community and might end up in frustration. Let next level of bloggers get these deals instead of everyone working super cheap and reducing the bar.
  6. Try to deliver more value than promised. You will be noted if your contribution performs better than what brand expected
  7. Try additional revenue sources- there are many other ways to make money- such as affiliate marketing, CPC/CPM ads etc- these may not bring huge cash, but can give you some little but critical income.
  8. Focus on print: If you think you are good writer, try contributing to magazines in your area of specialization. If they accept to publish your work, it will get you some money and more importantly recognition.
  9. Network better with your peer bloggers: Indian bloggers are known to try outsmart each other instead of helping one another. If you can network well with other bloggers in your niche then you can know what’s working and what’s not working. Being aware and helping each other will put you in a better position against brands/PR agencies trying to take advantage of current scenario.
  10. Work more with offline brands/physical business: Build relationships with real entities in your city in your area of specialization. Form city based groups and try to engage with local brands (Chennai Bloggers' Club is doing great job in this regard)
Do you agree? What are your thoughts?

Similar: Startup Saturday at IIM B * The Mouse Charmers by Anuradha Goyal * How much to charge for sponsored posts? *

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Gateway Hotel Pasumalai, Madurai-campus pics

The Gateway Hotel is one of the top star hotels in Madurai with one night stay costing about INR 6K onwards (including tax). I went there for lunch, primarily to take a look at the campus. As buffet lunch was not ready yet, manager suggested I take a walk in the campus, which was exactly I had in mind.

The Gateway hotel occupies 62 acres of campus. Though hotel properties are located on hill top, entire hill seem to be taken over by the hotel. Right at the entrance security will check your purpose of visit. Hotel reception is couple of kms uphill. Steps also exit besides the well paved roads.

The Moon terrace at The Gateway Pasumalai gives great view of Madurai town.

The campus maintains lots of greenery, even in the middle of summer. However I was expecting some cool breeze but there were none. But the shades and trees themselves offer lots of comfort from heat.

While most blocks seem to be from old heritage building, some rooms seem to be added recently and they sort of miss the heritage feel.

Peacocks roaming freely in the Gateway campus. There are lots of birds too.
Dining area with bright orange theme. Buffet lunch costs Rs 1202 per person inclusive of tax.

Not very disabled friendly: I find this stairs setup interesting. Campus is full of ups and downs but only steps are available. Not very disabled friendly. Wheelchair guests may have some difficulty, but I am sure there will some rooms in ground floor and level ground which should be easier to access. If you have seniors then do specify the same during booking or ask for easy access room.

The open area swimming pool is nice but is fully exposed to hot sun. It is located in residents only area but visible from drive way. Not too much privacy
 View of rocks and town from Pasumalai
The Gateway Hotel on Pasumalai hills is about 6-7 kms away from Madurai city centre. Ola mini ride cost me Rs 129 one way. I did not stay here and do not have pictures of the room, but they are believed to be as grand as the campus and exterior.