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Sunday, February 25, 2007

An analytical challenge: Predict Trajectory

If you like crime scene investigation, or reverse engineering or just analyzing things, here’s a nice challenge for you.

Accent car accident Kodapur Madhapur Hyderbad
About a week ago, during my morning walk, I found a car (Hyundai Accent) turned upside down on a two lane road between Madhapur and Kondapur, in Hyderabad India.

Unlike other accidents one might have seen, this scene was a bit peculiar. Usually, an accident happens when a vehicle hits another vehicle or hits other objects near the road (like hitting a tree, falling into a pit etc). But this particular accident was different because of following reasons:
car accident Kodapur Madhapur Hyderbad

The front and the rear end of the vehicle were almost undamaged, meaning the car was not hit by other vehicles, either in front or from back

The road divider (median) is intact. Meaning, the vehicle has not hit the median.

Thus, this is a case of speed, negligent and most probably drunken driving and the accident has happened without involving any other vehicle on the road.

Now, coming to the question, can you predict the trajectory this vehicle would have taken before overturning itself?
car accident Kodapur Madhapur Hyderabad
What might have triggered this? Did the vehicle tipped over a stone while cruising at top speed? (My flat mate Prasad feels this one is the most probable reason).

In the picture at your right, you can make out the radiator water spilled out, indicating vehicle has rotated a bit on its vertical axis before coming to halt
car accident Kodapur Madhapur Hyderabad

In the second pic you can see some grass. I'm not sure if the car dragged it along or it came there by other means (people placing it there or by wind etc). There're no trees (of that particular type of leaf) with branches hanging so low for a car to grab it.

The car has not dragged further after turning over and hence the passengers were saved (seatbelt should have done its job, no blood was found at the site). Had the vehicle dragged further, it would have squeezed passengers to death.
car accident Kodapur Madhapur Hyderbad
What made this car to spin exactly 180 degrees on its horizontal axis (clockwise)?

---Acknowledgments---
Data Transfer courtesy: Prasad.
Photos taken using: SE K750i

Saturday, February 24, 2007

My favourite video: ಕೃಷ್ಣಾ ನೀ ಬೇಗನೆ ಬಾರೋ....(krishna.. by Colonial Cousins)

Below is one of my favorite videos of all times.

I like the song and video because of the lyrics and the concept selected for the video. Was not able to get hold of the video for this song for quite a long time but recently found this song on YouTube



Note: Above video is supposed to be a copyrighted one, but was available publicly in YouTube (click here). Hence I assume the publishers of this video have obtained necessary permissions before posting this video on youTube.

Note: the phrase "Krishna Nee Begane Baro" in a Kannada means Krishna (refers to Lord Krishna), you please come quickly.

Full lyrics of this song can be found here:

Lesli Lewis and Hariharan are the artists behind this song. They are together known as colonial cousins. More about Colonial Cousins

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Outlook published my feedback in 2000

Today I had a pleasant surprise. I accidentally came across on old issues of Outlook Magazine’s online edition on internet which had published my feedback, way back in June 2000.



Outlook is India's leading Business weekly headed by Vinod Mehtha.

Sometime in June 2000 Outlook had published an article regarding IITs and after reading the same, I had written to the editor of Outlook mentioning about the possible 7th IIT that was supposed to be started in Karnataka. (That 7th IIT never came up so the issue is redundant now).

I was in class 12 at that time, studying at JNV Udupi. After I sent my "letter to editor" by post to outlook editor I totally forgot about it. Nearly seven years later, it is a surprise to see that my letter to the editor was accepted and published in a subsequent issue of outlook.

There’s nothing great in all these, probably I’m simply patting my own back, but the fact remains that my name was published in a national weekly (way back in year 2000 when I was just a student) and just sharing my joy through this post.

Check this link to see online version of that June 19, 2000 issue of outlook.

A request: If possible I wish to have print version of that June 19 2000 Issue of OUTLOOK for my personal archive. I know it's very difficult to get a 7 year old issue now. If you know anyone who have a collection of old issues of Outlook please let me know. Thanks

Note: I've recently included a blog post rating utility and now you can rate my posts

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

HTML “joke” tag and its attributes

Many people make statements which they assume as jokes. But people around them do not understand that what they just heard is supposed to be a joke hence fail to laugh. eNidhi India has an innovative solution for this.

When you speak a sentence which is meant to be a joke and expect people around you to laugh, embed your statement with a newly designed HTML tag and use attributes to clearly state your expectations.

Note: This post is supposed to be a humorous one and doesn’t intend to provide a tutorial on HTML. (For non technical people: HTML is a kind of programming language used to design web pages. A browser (such as Internet explorer) decides what to do with a text based on the HTML tags that surround it. For details HTML tutorial click here)

HTML joke tag can take following attributes:
isLaughOptional: Used to mark if listeners have an option of not to laugh. If it is mandatory to laugh set this attribute to "False" default value: "true"

laughDuration: Tell your listeners exactly how many milliseconds they are expected to laugh

laughType: Is a simple smile (widening the lips and showing 50% of available tooth) is enough, or should people laugh out loud with sound and if body actions (like hand movements, holding stomach and laughing etc) are required

Example:

Advantages: Using this format to tell jokes makes life simpler for others who do not understand that it is a joke…

If you can think of more attributes drop a comment

A recommendation is made to w3c in this regard and it’s least expected that this recommendation would be incorporated in next version of HTML

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Weak Mobile Signal? Try this (Patent pending)

ಈ ಬರಹವನ್ನು ಕನ್ನಡ ಭಾಷೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಓದಲು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಕ್ಲಿಕ್ಕಿಸಿ.
While all mobile operators make huge claims about their network coverage, the practical ground reality is otherwise. At most of the places one has to struggle for signal even within the city.

Worried about your mobile not catching signal at certain places? Here’s an approach adopted by villagers of Andhra Pradesh. Try this if you dare.

In yet another observation which proves Indian brain is the best when it comes to innovative solutions, villagers at a remote village in Andhra Pradesh, some 100 kms off Hyderabad, were found hanging their mobile phones to a pole outside their homes so that the device could receive incoming radio communication which was impossible had the phone be indoors.

Picture 1: Villagers hanging their mobiles to a pole outside their home so as to receive signal

Last week I was in Parigi, a village some 45 kms off Sadanagar on NH 7 where I found this new approach. My colleague, with whom I’d gone, hanged his mobile to the pole outside his home and when he had to make or receive a call, he would stand on a stool kept near the pole and talk.

This indigenous methodology of hanging your cell phone to a pole can be used only in villages, reason being, it’s only in villages where we can still find some trust and honesty. No one will steal your valuable things even if you leave it outside whole day. In cities, you can try this at your own risk.

Before some multinational companies file for a patent on this innovation and prevent Indian villagers from receiving radio waves through this method, its better we get this idea patented. What do you say?

Because the village I visited was just 100kms away from a state capital, hanging the mobile to a pole might have enabled them to receive signals. What can a villager do if his village is far far away from the nearest mobile tower? Here’re some advanced ideas:
1. Tie the mobile to national flag and hoist the flag along with mobile (when the mobile is around 100 to 500 kms from nearest signal tower)

2. Hang the mobile to a coconut tree (500 kms to 1000 kms from nearest tower)

3. Tie the mobile to a kite and fly it high in air (For ranges beyond 1000 kms)

Read this post in Kannada: Click Here

Friday, February 16, 2007

ಮೊಬೈಲ್ ಸಿಗ್ನಲ್ಲು ಸಮಸ್ಯೆಗೆ ಪರಿಹಾರ

To read this post in English, Click here
ನಿಮ್ಮ ಮೊಬೈಲ್ ಗೆ ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ಸಿಗ್ನಲ್ ಸಿಗುತ್ತಿಲ್ಲವೇ? ಚಿ೦ತಿಸಬೇಡಿ. ಆ೦ಧ್ರ ಪ್ರದೇಶದ ಹಳ್ಳಿಗರು ಒ೦ದು ವಿನೂತನ ವಿಧಾನವನ್ನು ಅನುಸರಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವುದು ಬೆಳಕಿಗೆ ಬ೦ದಿದೆ.

ಇ ನಿಧಿ ಇ೦ಡಿಯಾದ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಬ್ಲಾಗಿ೦ಗ್ ಅಧಿಕಾರಿ ಶ್ರೀನಿಧಿ ಹ೦ದೆಯವರು ಕಳೆದ ವಾರ ಹೈದರಾಬಾದಿನಿ೦ದ ಸುಮಾರು ೧೦೦ ಕೀ.ಮೀ. ದೂರ ಇರುವ ಹಳ್ಳಿಯೊ೦ದಕ್ಕೆ ಭೇಟಿ ಕೊಟ್ಟಾಗ ಕೆಳಗೆ ಹೇಳಿದ ಅನ್ವೇಷಣೆಯನ್ನು ಪತ್ತೆಹಚ್ಚಿದ್ದಾರೆ.

ಚಿತ್ರ ೧. ಹಳ್ಳಿಯ ಮನೆಯೊ೦ದರ ಮು೦ದೆ ಮೊಬೈಲ್ ಗಳನ್ನು ಸಿಗ್ನಲ್ ಸಿಗಲಿ ಎ೦ದು ಕ೦ಬಕ್ಕೆ ಕಟ್ಟಿರುವುದು
ತಮ್ಮ ಸ೦ಚಾರಿ ದೂರವಾಣಿಯನ್ನು ಮನೆಯ ಮು೦ದಿನ ಕ೦ಬಕ್ಕೆ ನೇತು ಹಾಕುವುದರ ಮೂಲಕ ಉತ್ತಮ ಸಿಗ್ನಲ್ ಸಿಗುವುದು ಎ೦ದು ಅವರು ಕ೦ಡುಕೊ೦ಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ.

ಹಳ್ಳಿಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಇನ್ನೂ ಪರಸ್ಪರ ವಿಶ್ವಾಸ, ನ೦ಬಿಕೆ ಇರುವುದರಿ೦ದ ಇದು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗಿದ್ದು ನಗರಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಹೀಗೆ ನೇತು ಹಾಕಿದರೆ ಸಿಗ್ನಲ್ಲು ಹಾಗಿರಲಿ ಮೋಬೈಲು ಕೂಡ ತಿರುಗಿ ಸಿಗಲಾರದ ಪರಿಸ್ಥಿತಿ ಇರುವುದರಿ೦ದ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಜಾಗರೂಕರಾಗಿರಲು ಸೂಚಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ.

ನಮ್ಮ ಹಳ್ಳಿಗರ ಈ ಸ೦ಶೋಧನೆಯನ್ನು ಯಾವುದಾದರೂ ಪರದೇಶಿ ಕ೦ಪನಿ ಪೇಟೆ೦ಟ ಮಾಡಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ಮೊದಲೆ ನಾವು ಇದರ ಪೇಟೆ೦ಟು ಪಡೆಯುವುದು ಅತಿ ಆವಶ್ಯಕವಾಗಿದೆ. ಅದು ಸಿಗುವ ತನಕವಾದರೂ ಯಾರೂ ಈ ಪದ್ದತಿಯನ್ನು ನಕಲು ಹೊಡೆಯಬಾರದೆ೦ದು ಈ ಮೂಲಕ ಕೋರಲಾಗಿದೆ.

ಮೊಬೈಲು ಗೋಪುರದಿ೦ದ ಇನ್ನೂ ದೂರ ಇದ್ದಾಗ ಕೇವಲ ಕ೦ಬಕ್ಕೆ ಕಟ್ಟಿ ಸಿಗ್ನಲ್ ಪಡೆಯುವುದು ಅಸಾಧ್ಯ. ಆಗ ಈ ಕೆಳಗಿನ ವಿಧಾನಗಳನ್ನು ಪ್ರಯತ್ನಿಸಬಹುದುಃ
ಮೊಬೈಲನ್ನು ಬಾವುಟಕ್ಕೆ ಕಟ್ಟಿ ಹಾರಿಸುವುದು (ಮೊಬೈಲು ಗೋಪುರದಿ೦ದ ೧೦೦ ರಿ೦ದ ೫೦೦ ಕಿ.ಮೀ. ದೂರ ಇದ್ದಾಗ)
ತೆ೦ಗಿನ ಮರಕ್ಕೆ ನೇತು ಹಾಕುವುದು (೫೦೦ -೧೦೦೦ ಕಿ.ಮೀ.)
ಗಾಳಿಪಟಕ್ಕೆ ಕಟ್ಟಿ ಹಾರಿಸುವುದು (೧೦೦೦ ಕಿ.ಮೀ. ಗಿ೦ತ ದೂರ ಇದ್ದರೆ)

ನೀವೇನ೦ತೀರಿ?

ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಟೈಪಿಸಲು ಈ ವೆಬ್ ಸೈಟ್ ಅನ್ನು ಬಳಸಲಾಗಿದೆ.
http://demo.vishalon.net/KannadaTypePad.htm

ಈ ಬರಹವನ್ನು ಆ೦ಗ್ಲ ಭಾಷೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಓದಲು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಕ್ಲಿಕ್ಕಿಸಿ

Monday, February 12, 2007

enidhi drives tractor

Hyderabad, Feb 13: Within days of ace industrialist Ratan Tata taking off in a Lockheed Martin F-16, eNidhi India CBO (Chief Blogging Officer) Shrinidhi Hande had a 30 minute sortie with a 1997 Model Escorts Tractor in a private property at Parigi village, some 100kms off Hyderabad last Sunday.

Video one: Outside view

Ratan Tata holds a commercial pilot license and pilots his company plane and happily accepted Lockheed Martin’s offer to take navigator’s seat in Flying Falcon. Shrinidhi Hande holds a valid Indian license for LMV and HTV and pestered his colleague who owns a tractor back in his home, for an opportunity to drive the same.

After few months of planning and wait, the mission was accomplished recently as Shrinidhi mastered the controls and took full control of the dream machine: tractor with trailer for a good 30 mins.


After getting down from the tractor and after ensuring that all parts and components (of the tractor and its driver) are in working condition, Shrinidhi Hande spoke to media and said it was a very nice feeling and a delightful experience.

How to drive tractor and how it is different from other vehicles?
In this section we give you some basic information about tractor driving. We assume you have some experience of driving a vehicle with gear or at least have theoretical knowledge of clutch, brake and accelerator combination.

First: Tractors will have two accelerators: One hand operated lever, while the other, foot peddle. You can use either of them at your convenience, but hand lever is usually used only when it is inconvenient to use foot peddle.

Second: The positioning of clutch, accelerator and brake is slightly different from a car. In a car you’ll have a gear lever at the left most side, clutch peddles used exclusively by your left leg, a brake peddle in the middle and accelerator peddle in the right most. Your right let toggles between brake and accelerator as required.

On the other hand, a tractor has clutch peddle at the extreme left, gear levers in middle (One lever for normal operations and an additional lever for overloaded situations using which engine can deliver additional torque), accelerator peddle on the right and brake peddle at the right extreme.

The slight difference between a car’s gear pattern and tractor gear pattern is illustrated in diagrams.

Other key factors you should bear in mind regarding tractors are as follows:
Tractors are not meant for speed. The maximum speed you can try is around 30-40kms under no load conditions. Be slow and steady. They’re not meant for luxury and comfort either. They’re designed to be driven on uneven surfaces of a farm land and to pull heavy loads. The tractor seats usually do not come with seat belts and there’re no air bags either. Reversing a tractor with trailor needs some skills because the one point joint which connects the two, the moment of which is difficult to predict

Tractors are usually classified depending on their engine capacity, in Horse Power. Entry level tractors will have a HP of less than 35, while heavy duty tractors will be of above 45HP. Engine capacity will be around 2 to 3 liters diesel engine. Modern farm tractors even come with Turbo chargers, intercoolers, advanced air filters, upto 8 forward gears and 2 reverse gears, besides many other features. In India Mahindra is the market leader in terms of number of units sold, while other popular brands are Farmtrac, Escorts, John Deer, Tafe etc

If interested check some specifications below:
http://auto.indiamart.com/tractor/mahindra-sarpanch585-di/index.html
http://www.lovson.com/tractors1.html

There’re several plug-ins available for a tractor, the most popular one is trailer, a two wheeled, load carrier which can be connected to the tractor with a joint. Rests of the plugins are various farm equipments, each having a specific agricultural usage.

Tractor Full History & details on Wikipedia
Disclaimer: The Motor Vehicles Act, Govt of India, stipulates that one should possess valid driving license before driving a vehicle. With full respect to the regulatory compliance, eNidhi India hereby clarifies that no statutory regulations have been violated as the driving was done in a private property and not on a public road. Shrinidhi Hande holds valid driving license for 2, 4 and 6 wheelers and is fully conversant with traffic rules, vehicle mechanics and emergency first aid, besides hands on experience in driving different kinds of vehicles.

Acknowledgments:
Location and Tractor courtesy: Jayanandan Reddy & Family
Video file data transfer and upload: Pavan Kumar
Camera used: Sony Ericsson K750i

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Product Reveiw-Club Mahindra Holidays Timeshare Membership

Post Revised on Jan 1, 2011: This article tells you why this writer feels investing in timeshare holiday memberships may not be a wise decision (with all necessary analysis and evidence), with Club Mahindra's Timeshare life membership as example. [Only personal and analytical perspective here. Individual experiences may vary.]

Major update: Club Mahindra has given Official Response to the concerns raised in this post. Read the complete interview with Club Mahindra Sr Manager to get got both side of the story so as to take unbiased judgement.

Quick in post Navigation: Pricing* Seasons* Disclaimer*Comments (490+ comments so far) * Club Mahindra Escalation Points *


Club Mahindra (Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India Limited) is part of Mahindra Group which is a 6.3 billion enterprise). Club Mahindra primarily own about 30 resorts across India and sell life memberships priced about 2-9lakhs + annual charges, under which members get to stay (Only if vacancy exists-No Commitment from Club Mahindra on this) for around 7 days a year at any of their resorts for next 25 years.

Before I go on to state why it’s not a good option to enroll for their life time membership, let me list what they claim to offer:
Club Mahindra As per Club Mahindra, by becoming their life member you get (refer CM ad/website) following benefits:
*7 days inflation free holiday at any of their resorts once an year for 25 years (Own a week at any club Mahindra resort for a week)
*Free 3 year membership to RCI and ability to enjoy international holidays at economic rates due to RCI affiliation.
*Flexibility to upgrade seasons and apartments
*Usually some entry gifts like Sony Bravia TV or free 3D/2N stay or other offers

*Invitation to member only events

Now this is what exactly they offer:

1. It is not a holiday package. All Club Mahindra offers is accommodation at their resort (subject to availability) for few days. You’ll have to pay for travel, food, site seeing and every other expense you might incur during your holiday. For a typical holiday, accommodation is only a part of the expense. So despite the membership you'll have to spend decent amount every year for holidaying.

2. Owning the resort for a week? I’m an owner if I have absolute power over something. I own a house if I have absolute power on the property (to sell, to lease, to rent or even to destroy). At Club Mahindra resort you’ll be one among several other guests. You're just allowed to use the rooms and don’t own anything there, sharing common utilities with other guests. There's absolutely no commitment if you'll get your yearly vacation. All depends on availability- how soon you can book and outsmart other members who'll be aiming for same unit.

3. Inflation free holiday !!!???: Mind you, the club mahindra timeshare holiday is not inflation free. Every year members will have to pay Annual Subscription fee (irrespective of usage, even when resorts r full and you're unable to get your week). This amount is is over and above the regular member ship fee which is in lakhs, described later and ranges anywhere between Rs. 8994 to 17717 (depending on Studio, 1BR or 2BR). This annual subscription fee may increase every year depending on Consumer Price Index and Wholesale Price Index. So the price a member end up paying will obviously keep increasing every year. (between 2007 and 2010, ASF has increased from Rs 6647 to 8994 for Studio Apartment and  13094 to 17717 for 2BR, roughly 10% increase every year-this provides for inflation and you'll have to pay for travel, food and other expenses at actual anyway).The Rs 9000 ASF might eventually increase to Rs 20000 an year say after 10 years. Hence, for the record, Club Mahindra membership is NOT inflation free.


4. Club Mahindra claims to offer five star accommodations but this can’t be validated. (only 5 resorts are RCI Gold crowned at the time of writing this post) If an ordinary well furnished apartment/Hotel unit is passed off as a five star accommodation how are you going to prove that it is or it is not a five star? Further, most of the Indians choose five star hotels only if the expense is reimbursed by their company. When they have to spend from their own pocket, they often choose basic economic accommodation. Staying at a five star place doesn’t make it a holiday and staying there may not be the sole objective behind holidaying. 


5. Why 25 years? 25 years is not lifetime! If I’m 25 today I may live up to 85 years and I may wish to holiday till I reach the age of 75. But Club Mahindra terminates my membership by the time I reach the age of 50. By life membership I should get benefit as long as I’m alive. Else it’s not lifetime membership. To be fair, even life time validity of a sim card is 20 years and life imprisonment offered by Indian court is not really till death. So may be we should not complain on this.

6. Why there's no commitment from Club Mahindra regarding minimum time required to ensure guaranteed booking? Why there's no compensation policy if all their resorts get fully occupied and members are unable to take holidays even if they have planned months in advance? (While a member can't expect CM to get him confirmed booking within 15 days notice during a popular season and at a high demand resort, CM shouldn't expect its members to plan their holidays 6-12 months in advance. If Club Mahindra has enrolled more members than the capacity of resorts, some of them will be guaranteed to be disappointed every year.  There has to be a SLA governed mechanism to ensure that all members get their share, without holidaying with Club Mahindra membership will be kind of luck based and equivalent of gambling.

2008 Data: For some 700 odd units Club Mahindra already had over 63000 members, which is nearly 2 times the capacity of resorts (No. of units (i.e rooms) * 52 weeks should be the max permissible member count, to ensure accommodation for all)) Also t
here were 51 Customer complaints pending against Club Mahindra amounting to Rs 5.62 million (As per detailed filed by Club Mahindra at SEBI for their IPO-Read full prospectus), mainly about false promises made by sales staff and not able to get accommodation.


7. Their commercials and sales staff are often known to mislead unsuspecting prospects by not revealing factors like ASF, how difficult it is to get a booking, cancellation terms, additional expenses etc. This is not a good, because many aren't familiar with the concept of timeshare membership, its pros and cons. They get fooled by exotic resorts shown by marketing staff and by the time they get complete picture, it will be too late to pull out of membership. (None of their pront page ads mention ASF...)[an example here ]

CM agents are known to collect contact numbers of prospects in malls promising a lucky draw. Everyone will be called to the office later in the disguise of they having won a holiday, and elaborate presentations will be made to sign them up as members. 


To your left is an old image of Holiday Coupon given to prospects. Many have stated that they could never utilize it.


The actual cost of Club Mahindra lifetime membership Go to TOP

The amount is fairly high from a middle class perspective. Refer the image below for the official Club Mahindra rate chart.



Club Mahindra April 2012 rate card

Club Mahindra April 2010 rate card



View Club Mahindra Old Price lists: August 2008 rate card * January 2008 price chart * CM 2006-2007 prices * You'll get an idea how membership costs and ASF are increasing every year. 



The official Club Mahindra website doesn’t mention how much their membership costs. The executives will not reveal the price till last moment. All these is probably because they’re sure the price will scare people away.

At the time of writing this post Club Mahindra lifetime membership costs anywhere between Rs 3,85,000 to Rs. 12,64,000 (and more, because this calculation is based on current ASF which keeps increasing every year). That is, Rs.1,60,311 to Rs 8,21,040 as membership fee (The exact amount depends on the season you choose to travel, the type of accommodation, number of EMIs etc) plus Rs. 2,25,000 to Rs 4,43,000 in annual subscription fee (That’s 9000*25 years to Rs 17,717 *25 years). In total, you’ll end up paying anywhere between Rs 3,85,000 to Rs. 12,64,000 all for accommodation, 7 days * 25 years=175 days. Meaning you’ll be paying Rs 2200 (during least popular tourist seasons with basic accommodation for 2 people) to Rs. 7223 per day of stay (in peak season for 2 bedroom apartment). Actual cost will be more than this as ASF increases every year. This is a relatively expensive deal because of reasons listed below

1. With the amount you pay as annual subscription fee (Say Rs 9000 per year), you can get a decent accommodation in hotels for 7 days. Why should you pay rest of the membership fee for? (say Rs 5350 every month as EMI for 36 months)

2. When you go on a holiday, most of your expenses will be on Travel, followed by food and accommodation. If someone is trying to sell accommodation as holiday package, better be aware.

3. While you have to pay lakhs of rupees as membership fee and keep paying ASF (irrespective of usage), Club Mahindra will provide confirmed booking only "
Subject to availability". They have no commitment what so ever and no refund/compensation policy. There's nothing you can do if they say "Sorry No vacancy. Better luck next time" . Ideally they should have an SLA (like if you book say 45-60 days advance you must get confirmed booking or else should get some compensation like extending membership by another year, waiving ASF etc). But dont expect all that with Club Mahindra.


4. Assume for 5-10 years out of your 25 year tenure you don't get to holiday with them (when they say all their resorts are full-which may even be vacant for those non members who pay cash), any cost advantage you may be having in becoming life member will easily get eroded.


5. I saw recently in a full page newspaper ad (ClearTrip or MakeMyTrip I can't recall), travel agents are selling holidays at Club Mahindra resorts at quite low rates. As a member who has paid several lakh rupees decades in advance, you would expect a lowest price guarantee and a minimum service assurance. Without these, you may regret later.


6. You may not need the luxury of a resort every time. Homestay industry is picking up fast and for a fraction of cost, a home stay in a remote place can give great holiday experience. (Club Mahindra has also entered HomeStay Business with ClubMahindrahomestays.com)


How are the Club Mahindra Resorts?
I've experienced Coorg and Binsar Resorts. This and several other resorts are really good and offer a unique experience compared to typical hotel room. Because of the location and ambiance, they do make considerable difference in the user experience. However not all resorts are said to be of same standard. [I've also visited Munnar and Yercaud campus. Good ones again]

Other things you should know:

Seasons
Club Mahindra has classified 52 weeks of the year into 4 seasons
Pink: Extremely popular timings and seasons: Like New Year eve at Goa. The pink season is not open to members and are sold at premium rates. There’s no way you can plan a holiday if the time and destination combination is Pink. [Update: Observed that No of purple weeks are going up steadily- click here for 2012 week classification]
Club Mahindra week classification
Red: All popular tourist seasons are classified as Red. If you want to visit their resort during these popular seasons either you’ll have to pay extra or reduce your number of days of stay.

White: Normal seasons

Blue: Least popular season-The cheapest option but if you go to a place in blue season you’re likely to regret as you wont be able to make best of your holiday(for example you can’t enjoy in Ooty during rainy season)
Club Mahindra week season classifications
Red and pink seasons make up nearly 50% of the year and only rest 50% is open for you if you’ve opted for white season.

Flexibility: If you increase the number of people, you’ll either have to pay more or will have to compromise on number of days of stay. If you’re going on vacation during peak season (say when children would be having holidays) again you’ll have to pay more and or reduce number of days. This doesn’t make economical sense as the choice you have is very few.(You can carry forward your holiday, advance your holiday, split your holiday).

Once you commit, you can’t cancel or pull out.(Initial 10 days within which cancellation in allowed will be lost before you face reality) You can only send someone else in your place. For the amount and duration involved in the contract, I feel customers should get time till they experience their first holiday, before cancellation time ends. Club Mahindra should offer some commitments from its side w.r.t cost and availability, without which
this membership is a long term obligation which doesn’t make much practical sense when you can just check in into any of the hotels with much ease. Taking one time vacation with Club Mahindra might be a risk free and better option than choosing a life membership.


Assess your style of holidaying:
What does a vacation mean to you? Some of us prefer intensive backpacking travel on shoestring budget, others prefer a remote place inside a forest, few might prefer a relaxed stay in a resort. The concept of relaxing at a resort is yet to gain popularity among Indians. For Indians, holidaying often means traveling a lot, visiting places of historic importance or places of tourist attractions etc. So evaluate all possibilities and options and decide if Club Mahindra Resorts are ideal for you.

Below diagram shows room layouts at few Club Mahindra resorts.
The verdict: Club Mahindra is not a comprehensive and all inclusive holiday option. Don't fall for their temptations like Sony Bravia. There's no commitment to limit the membership in proportion to resort capacity. No commitment that week classification will change unfavorably for members, no commitment that if quality of service drops some compensation will be given. So after say 10 years, you'll have to plan holiday not as per your convenience but as per the availability of their resorts.Sales staff make all promises under sun, besides hiding negative factors, to convince you to sign up. It is your responsibility to stay off the trap. Proceed with caution.

Disclaimer: All information provided here were as available at the time of composing this post (Jan-Feb 2007) and updated where possible. Check with Club Mahindra for current rates. I am not a Club Mahindra member and this analysis is purely from a 3rd party view. Please use your discretion.


All images and information courtesy: Club Mahindra.

Updates: Promoters of time share membership often claim that by subscribing to their schemes you get to enjoy tomorrows holidaying at todays expense. i.e. they claim hotel stay expense will increase over time and if you pay a lump sum amount and subscribe to their membership schemes right now, you will be protected from these hikes. However, there's no reason why hotel rates shouldn't come down after sometime. For example, air travel today is far more affordable than it was say 5 years ago. Similarly hotel stay may also become cheaper (like concept of no frills basic stay at minimum amount is already catching up) but Club Mahindra is unlikely to pass on such benefits if any, to you. 


So considering advantages and disadvantages, my recommendation is "AVOID". If you're still tempted to become member, try this first before committing lakhs on life membership: Find a known person (friend/co worker/relative) who is a member and take his/her opinion. Else take their one time holiday, visit their resort, talk to other guests there who might be life members, take their opinion and judge your own experience there and then decide. DO NOT take on the spot decision irrespective of what temptations their salesmen create (Like this offer expires today midnight)...

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While most of the readers have agreed with me, few say they are very happy with CM. If you’re lucky, if everything happens as promised great. But my primary concern still remains: What do I do if I cant get confirmed booking even when I plan several months in advance? Why there’s no SLA or compensation policy from CM on this? While I stick to my stand readers are under no obligation to take my opinion and are requested to use their own judgment after reading this post and comments.


Updates: Wish to BUY/SELL a used Club Mahindra membership- Visit this page
1. My review of Zest Breaks-A new venture by Mahindra 2. This article has got over 100 comments now and these comments have been analyzed in a different post here Be sure to check it. 3. Detailed review of Club Mahindra Kodagu Valley (Coorg Resort)



Club Mahindra Escalation points
If your concerns are not addressed by your local CM Rep or call centre, below are the escalation points you can make use of:
Other popular and related articles by this blogger: Wish to BUY/SELL a used Club Mahindra membership?- Visit this page

Friday, February 09, 2007

To advice or to advise?

All my life, I have been very careless about the usage of two English words: Advice and advise. (Not that I was extremely careful with rest of my English vocabulary)

These two words are often used improperly. Most of us do not differentiate the meaning they carry, while others ignore the difference thinking one might be UK English while other is US English.

Very recently I realized the difference they carry and the context in which we should use each of these words. This post attempts to share the same.

"Advice" is a noun that means "a recommendation." "Advise" is a verb that means "to recommend." (Examples: Your advice saved me time and energy. I advise you to go to bed early tonight.)
Courtesy:www.lausd.k12.ca.us/Van_Nuys_MS/glossary%20index.html

One more example:
You advise someone or you give them advice

There’re many such words which we often use at wrong places and in wrong context. While such errors might be easily ignored in personal communication, it’s very essential that we avoid committing such mistakes, more so in business communication and professional writing.

Some of the other pairs of words which are often used wrongly:
Affect, effect
Especially, specially

Below link has a list of such word pairs with illustration of their correct usage
http://wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html#errors

Happy writing

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Redundant Questions and obvious answers

There’re some questions, answers for which are fully predictable and asking these questions never serve any purpose. Still we keep asking such questions. This post list certain scenarios where asking a particular question is meaningless as the answer you get for these questions are obvious.

1. To a film star after the release of his/her latest movie
Q: How is your new movie?
A: “It is an excellent movie, I’m sure it’ll be a super hit, you should go and watch it, don’t miss” (No film star ever says “This movie hasn’t come that well, don’t waste your time and money watching it” still news paper and television journalists keeping asking this question and get the obvious answer, mainly because they want content for their media but they’ll never follow up with these stars if the movie turns out to be a flop)

2. To a fruit seller in a market:
Q: Babu are these mangoes good?
A: Yes madam they’re very good. (No seller will ever say “my products are not good, go and buy from next shop” asking them about the quality of their goods will always return a positive opinion but we still ask, mainly for our satisfaction.)

3. An employee to his manager:
Q: Will you give me better rating next year?
A: Sure. Don’t worry (No manager will ever say “next year also I’m going to give same bad rating”. It’s same the other way round. If you ask a subordinate, “will you deliver on time next time” he’ll say yes. He’ll never say next time also I’ll delay by 2 weeks.

Advertisements with customer feedbacks:
We often see advertisements in TV where customers say they used certain products and are extremely happy about it. The point is, for every one happy customer there might be ten dissatisfied customers, but no manufacturer is foolish enough to telecast negative remarks.

Politicians during election:
Every candidate says he’s going to win, his party will get majority and he’ll become minister. Irrespective of ground realities it some times becomes moral responsibility of a politician (or any leader for that matter) to up held the spirits of his followers high by speaking positive. Being honest doesn’t prove to be best policy at times

In all above scenario’s those who answer are forced by certain compulsion which doesn’t permit them to be honest. If a film star says movie is great his fans will see it at least once while if he says it’s not good, they won’t go at all. If a shopkeeper doesn’t boast about the quality of his products, customer will go to next shop. If a manager promises better ratings next year, chances are that employee will work at least till next appraisal otherwise he might resign right away.

And we still ask the questions though we know the answer. That’s mainly because we love to have an assurance and often prefer to live under hope. What do you think?



Enjoy some more photographs that came out of my camera....


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