Clicky

badge

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Monthly Update & August 2008 Summary

August marks my 6th consecutive month of travelling out of Chennai every month. Details later.

Of the 10 posts published this month, Two posts were most popular, going by the comment count- Gender confusion over my name and Bangalore police ban on live music in pubs. My post which was written for oneWebday- how we used internet for latest news a decade ago was the next best post.

The post, “branding tender coconut” was previously published in Churumuri and “Excessive Blogging Syndrome” was a repost from April 2007 archive. Lifestyle in Singapore” was a guest post (first guest post in this blog) and post wherein I said Yaari.com has resolved the concerns I had raised an year ago was a minor post written just as a customary to be fair to the site I reviewed negatively an year ago. Bad marketing approaches of Hertz and HSBC was another key post, wherein all comments were focused on HSBC and not Hertz. Had an offline discussion (through gtalk) on this post with one my readers, who felt that Hertz serves mainly corporate houses and as an individual I shouldn’t have approached it in the first place.

One of my articles got published in print this month and was happy to see my name in print after long time.

Intelligent scene recognition was the other post.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lifestyle in Singapore-Guest post

This is the first guest post in this blog, introduced as an experiment. As all these years I’ve been writing India based articles, thought of providing some international content to my readers. My engineering classmate SriHari has recently relocated to Singapore for higher studies and he had lots of observations to share about the place from his initial few weeks of stay there. Sharing below, few of his observations related to food, environment, culture and public transportation in Singapore, in his own words. Let me know if you like this idea of reading 3rd party contents in my blog.-Shrinidhi
Lifestyle in Singapore- by Sri Hari S J

We arrived at Singapore on 21st July. As usual, our plane was 3 hrs late. We were supposed to take off by 11.05, but the flight took off at 2:45 AM. We landed at Singapore by 10:30 AM Local time. Took taxi to NTU directly. It started to rain by 11:15 AM. Man, was it a down pour......... Raining stopped at 6:30 PM in the evening.
Coming to the various aspects at Singapore:

1) Food.
Let me make it absolutely clear that Singapore is STRICTLY NOT a place for pure vegetarians (people who do not even eat egg). This is a heaven for non-vegetarians and people who are ready to experiment with all kinds of things to eat. We need to search a place where we get some vegetables to eat. One thing good about this place is we get very good fruits and vegetables. All kinds and variety at that. But, we cannot survive on fruits and vegetables alone....:-)
We cannot even take chips and snacks, because you get all kinds of chips made from sea and animal organs, Even getting a good pastry is tough. Finding a decent bakery is tough. Like Aloo-bun from Bangalore, we get mutton, prawn and crab stuffed buns,
Slowly, with the help of my cousin, we found out a place where we get food for Buddhists. Here, we only get vegetables. It seems at these places, vegetables are substituted to meat and other non-veg stuffs. We can eat various cuisines from places like Thailand, China, Indonesia and others. Catch is all are vegetarian. ;-)

2) Environment
Singapore is one very beautiful place. Bangalore is nowhere compared to the amount of greenery here. People are VERY orderly. You have Q-system everywhere. Streets are very clean. This is a paradise for automobile enthusiast. I have seen all kinds of cars and bike here. Even went to a stage to ask the price of Yamaha R1.;-)
There is absolutely NO wind movement. All the leaves will be absolutely still. That is why you have no dust particles floating around in the air.
Continuing with the Environment aspect, weather here is pretty hot and humid. I am really having a tough time in washing my cloths. All clothes I wear will be wet the moment I step out of the AC room. It can be concluded that Singapore is literally run buy AC alone. All public places other than Bus stops are Air conditioned.

3) Culture in Singapore
Till today, I never say ANYTHING that is local to or indigenous to Singapore. This is one BIG mixture of all cultures. We get to see people from around the world in some corner of Singapore. Within first 4 days, I met guys from Sri Lanka, Mauritius and of course Pakistan. We plan to have a tri-series cricket match someday. ;-) We have people from Bangladesh also.

4) Public transport in Singapore
There is no doubt that the Public Transport system in Singapore is simply excellent. Everything is orderly and well maintained. As usual, all the transport systems here are Air conditioned.
You guys have heard about Hyundai Sonata/Embera right? If not, I would say to look around Bangalore. This car, in India is a premium segment automobile with a price tag of above 15 Lakhs. Here, it is a common Taxi!!!!! :-) (refer image)
People here do not buy cars as an investment nor for the greatness of Automobiles/Engines. They buy it because it determines the individual's social status. I heard some person in Singapore sold his AUDI A4 for a Mercedes Benz. If you ask me, this is the most stupid thing for an individual to do......
That's all for now.....Until next time....
Nov 2009 update: Sonata Emberra photo by Partho. Also check out: Jurong bird park, Singapore * Malaysia petronas twin towers * Singapore flier *

Monday, August 25, 2008

My article in print after a long time

Glad to inform you that after a long time one of my articles has been published in print. Chennai based ERGO issue dated today (25th August 2008) is carrying an event report and photos submitted by me. Ergo is a 5 days a week daily from THE HINDU group and circulated for free in IT Parks and other offices.
Shrinidhi hande's article on Steve Crocker's talk            Click on the image to enlarge. Or read it on ERGO website here


The event report is about a talk given by Dr. Stephen Crocker, Chair, Security and Stability Council, ICANN during his visit to Chennai. Dr. Crocker has been deeply involved with the happenings in the internet community, right from the early days of ARPANET. It was nice to listen to him sharing his experiences on the evolution of internet. The said article shares few experiences he shared in his talk and other information related to the same.

Well, it has been few years since any of my articles got published in print. Last time that happened was some 3 years ago when few of my articles got printed in Silicon Times (now no more Bangalore based local IT Monthly) and Vijaya Karnataka (No. 1 Kannada daily)(read some of my earlier articles:
Marketing Petroleum (Vijaya Karnataka, Kannada), Article on Christian Barnard * Some more articles)

Ever since blogging came to limelight I've hardly sent anything to print. Though print gives better recognition and satisfaction, the problem was that acceptance rate was low and I’ll have to wait for few weeks to few months for the article to appear, if at all accepted. Also there is no way readers can give a feedback. Blog was much more convenient to handle though reader base and recognition is low. But I feel it is critical to have some presence in print as well, because while any Tom Dick and Harry can publish a blog, one needs to convince the editor that the writing is worth publishing, if it has to come in print-that itself is an appreciation and certificate of worthiness.


This report was supposed to get published on Friday and I was disappointed when that didn't happen. However editor was kind enough to inform me that it will be published on Monday as they ran out of space on Friday.

Below: Dr. Stephen Crocker with members of Internet Society, Chennai Chapter.
Dr Stephen Crocker with members of ISOC
My other articles in Ergo- Wayanad Travelogue * Binsar Travelogue *

Friday, August 22, 2008

Intelligent Scene Recognition is not that intelligent…

Sony not so intelligent scene recognitionSome digital cameras claim to have a feature called intelligent face recognition and intelligent scene recognition, wherein they automatically identify the primary object you’re trying to shoot and give extra significance to that object and less focus to rest of the objects around. Recently I realized that this “intelligent scene recognition” is not intelligent enough.

There were some papayas outside the window and I made an attempt to photograph the same. In the first shot, as you see below, the intelligent scene recognizer decided that it is the window grill that I am trying to shoot and subsequently focused on the window grill, while blurring the papayas in the background.

I do not have clear idea how the image sensing and subsequent decisions are processed by the camera software. Probably whatever first layer of obstacle it encounters is being considered as object of importance.

Anyway, after manual intervention I was able to make the camera focus on the right object and ignore the window grills.
Pappaya fruit



In other photo updates, I suspect most of you aren’t visiting my photo blog. If you haven’t visited it of late, here’s a glimpse of what you’re missing…
Squirrels
Photo of Squirrels on Shrinidhi Hande's Photo blog
More photos of these cute squirrels

Impalas
Impala, the deer like animalMore photos of these animals here

Birds
More photos of Myna and other birds
Jugads (a.k.a Maruthas)- The assembled, unregistered and illegal vehicles found in plenty in north India
Assembled vehicles of North india!More photos and related details of these vehicles

For these and many more photos, explore http://photos.enidhi.net

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Excessive blogging disorder and compulsive writing syndrome

An old post- I was tempted to re publish it. Those who have already read it please excuse me.
-----------------------------from April 2007 archive-------------------------------

During a self directed introspection conducted for the quarter ended 31st March and financial year ended 31st March 07, eNidhi India Chief Blogging Officer (CBO) was diagnosed to be suffering from “compulsive writing disorder” and “excessive blogging syndrome” and as a part of its treatment, was advised to stay away from blogging for sometime.

Some of the common symptoms of these diseases are listed below for the benefit of our readers:

1. Writing too many junk characters, calling them posts and releasing them to public domain, like blogs.

2. Torturing all his/her relatives, friends, colleagues to visit his blog and read his junk characters

3. Expecting lots of comments and responses and getting depressed when there’re none

4. Feeling like a millionaire for every fraction of a dollar made from adsense

5. Trying to bring in his blog in every conversation, though no one is interested (like “I’ve written about it in my blog”, “check my blog for photos, videos and other info”, “I usually used to get 25 unique visitors per day but today I got 50 visitors” etc)

6. Attempting to bring publicity to the blog by mentioning the URL in all possible places, including but not limited to: Business cards, credit card charge slips, greetings, autograph books, mail and chatrooms…

7. Complaining about a possible fault in Google and Yahoo’s search engine indexing algorithms, as they are consistently failing to list your blog on top of search results

8. Developing guilt for not posting anything new in past 48 hours and fearing that this will disappoint the returning visitors who will be expecting new stuff…

9. More than 80% of the posts begin with “I did that”, “I achieved this”,”I’m so great”, “I want …”, "I"

10. Feeling sad that your manager only gave you a promotion and hike but didn’t leave a comment on your blog…

11. Clicking on one's own ads and complaining that Google kicked you out of adsense for no reason (Secretly wondering: "how could Google ever possibly know it was me who was clicking!!!")

12. Trying to make intimate friendship with strangers who bothered to leave a comment on your blog...


The most practical remedy is to apply correction between reality and expectation and spend time on activities other than blogging.

Check out the March Archive, Feb 07 archive, January Archive and 2006 archives and read all posts you might have missed.

Related: Internet Sanyas | eNidhi India New Year resolutions

Monday, August 18, 2008

Impact Analysis-Live music ban in Bangalore pubs

Recent topic of debate in Bangalore was the ban on live music performance in pubs by Bangalore police and subsequent protests by those affected by this. I was unaware and ignorant of these developments initially, but happened to learn about it from Sandesh’s blog and Churumuri. I am not a party animal and quite ignorant to issues pertaining to night life, alcohol and related subjects. So was kind of neutral on this issue and didn’t have anything specific to comment/blog upon. However Sandesh urged me to blog on this topic and after reading few discussions at couple of places, including Muziboo and Churumuri, I decided to study the matter a bit and pen down my thoughts.

I believe the discussions at Churumuri comfortably deviated from the core issue and even Sandesh missed the main point. While those who supported the ban focused their arguments around the facts like ‘nightlife is bad for society’, ’alcohol consumption is not good’, ‘pubs facilitate drugs and other illegal activities under the disguise of relaxation’, ‘accidents and crime rates are soaring due to late night partying, alcohol consumption and related activities’ and so on. While there is near 100% truth in these arguments, the point protestors were trying to drive home was entirely different. I believe the 11.30 closure time was existing for quite some time and is nothing new-several cities have this rule. Even other side effects are obvious and no one was advocating on its behalf. What caused the fury of certain people was the ban on performance of live music, in line with live dancing which had created a nuisance earlier and was eventually banned. While everyone supporting the ban expressed relief that crime will now come under control, no one cared to explain the musicians who were protesting, as to how banning live music in pubs had anything to do with the crime rates or other previously stated side effects. The sole argument, if any, was that music triggers consumption of alcohol and subsequently tempts the audience into dancing followed by other activities, which at a high level isn’t sounding logical enough.

Let us take a little closer look:
Media reports say that police have enforced a ban on all kinds of live performances in the places that serve alcohol. From this statement, I understand the following:
1. Live performance like singing music and playing an instrument are banned throughout the day in places where alcohol is served, not just after 11.30 PM.
2. No ban on playing recorded music. It is not clear if acts of a DJ (mixing different music tracks) is also classified as live performance. I guess it is not.
3. There is no ban on serving alcohol till 11.30 PM
4. No restrictions on performing live in places that doesn’t serve alcohol

Obviously, this has taken its toll on few budding musicians who used to earn a living by singing at pubs and bars. They can no more sing live and have to explore alternate source of income or shift base to another city. There’re some alternatives for these people but they are not sounding viable. For example,
1 Bars and pubs are not the only places where music can be sung/performed. Bangalore has several places of cultural importance like Ranga Shankara (JP Nagar), Ravindra Kalakshetra (JC Road), Sheshaiyya Memorial Hall (Malleswaram) and so on. These musicians can organize concerts/live shows here. But the problem is, most of their target audience, the party hoppers, may not have the remotest idea what Ravindra Kalashetra is and where it is located. So these people are unlikely to attend a show held outside bar premises. Rest of the Bangalore public doesn’t understand the western music often played by these folks and won’t be in a position to differentiate between Rock, Pop, Jazz, karaoke and sundry other types of music played by them, let alone appreciate it. (Add to that these musics are usually too loud and disturbing, unless you're used to it you're unlikely to like it)

2 If restaurants can say “We’ll play live music, but won’t serve alcohol”, then that should be fine as per law. But the party hoppers are unlikely to compromise on alcohol for the sake of music. They would rather go to other bars where alcohol is served without music. So the musicians and singers are unlikely to get support from their audience, who would resume their visit to pubs with or without live music.

3 Other revenue sources, like publishing an audio album are not practical and economically viable for small time singers, due to piracy and lack of support from big music houses.
Because of these reasons those affected by the ban are forced to try their luck in getting the ban lifted or find an alternative income source.


Coming back to the ban, I believe no use blaming police force on this. Shankar Bidri is one of the highly respected police officers in Karnataka (is best known for his efforts in clipping the wings of Veerappan’s gang) and he is technically correct in saying “we’re just implementing the excise act which prohibits any kind of live performance”. Yes, it is unfair to treat singers and musicians at par with bar dancers, and generalize that all party goers will behave like maniacs once they come out. But I guess protesters will have to approach the state legislature to get the law modified.

One question still bugs me-Isn’t banning alcohol altogether a better idea? Why don’t the government ask Vijay Mallya to shut down all his distilleries? Let us go to the root cause of all this and ban liquor of all kind - most of the problem would get automatically resolved. But no government ever dared to do that-both because of the tax money and because of the fact that liquor lobby is far more powerful than a bunch of musicians who are protesting because their daily bread is at stake. It is like, they want the money in the form of excise tax, but need someone else to blame for side effects of the same.

While those who imposed the ban and those supporting it claim this will help bring down crime rate, the effectiveness remains to be seen. In my opinion the side effects of alcohol consumption will not come down by curbing music, because alcoholics will go ahead with their indulgence with or without music. Mumbai police have much stricter rules-of jailing people found driving under the influence of alcohol. Such measures will be of greater impact than slapping a fine of mere few hundred rupees. Similar vigilance and actions will be required for other menaces like drugs. Bring in an atmosphere wherein each one fears law and stays in his/her limits-should be an easy task for people like Shankar Bidri, provided no one interfere in his way.

However this matter bothers only a very small segment of people and majority of people have supported the decision. For the general public, some ban is much better than no ban and they would naturally support any initiative that remotely promises them something better (provided they are not affected by it). Any attempt to explain that the decision is unlikely to have the stated impact will make you sound like a pro Jihadi fellow. Accusations such as “this move will prevent hard working people from having some relaxations and recreation” also sound baseless. There’re several ways to cheer up life other than spending whole night shaking legs in a disco under the influence of alcohol. One can buy a dozen books at the cost of one night party expense and keep themselves busy reading them for a whole month. Activities like gardening, painting, caring for pets all these are far more refreshing and fulfilling than sipping hard liquor till wee hours in the morning. But sadly most of us are not willing to explore these alternatives.

if this new ban has to work as it is claimed, then this (non availability of live music) has to either make people leave early from the pub or make them consume less alcohol. I doubt neither of it is going to happen. Those who addicted to alcohol will continue to drink as much as they want and as long as they are allowed to. May be for few days they will complain about the ban, but soon will get used to it. After some time Club owners will device new ideas to keep them entertained and hooked to the glasses and the show will go on, as if nothing has happened.

Last Sunday when the likes of Girish Karnad, Prasad Biddappa and his aides held a protest, it was said that the protest will be held every Sunday. There was no news of protest yesterday, has the resistance has died down?

I don't have a specific conclusion or verdict. Also I am not aware of ground realities and above statements are based on generic thoughts. Chances are high that I might have overlooked few aspects-feel free to correct me. Have to see how it goes-just shared what I felt. Your thoughts please.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Internet for latest news- A decade ago

This post, republished here, was originally written on the occasion of OneWebDay and was published at onewebday blog. This write up is basically about how we harnessed the power of internet to bring in a difference a decade ago. Excuse me if this sounds silly today.

The year was 1998-99. I was studying in Jawahar Navodaya Vidhyalaya (JNV) Udupi district, Karnataka. It was a residential school run my Dept of Education, Ministry of Humar Resource Development. (ideally there’s to be a JNV in every district). Everyday morning the school would assemble before the classes would start and one of the rituals performed during the same was to read the news headlines. Everyday a designated person had to collect news headlines from newspapers and read it in front of the entire school. The idea being, to keep everyone informed what’s going on outside the school campus.

I always had a feeling that students are getting outdated news. Reason was this… The assembly timing as around 7.15 AM in the morning. Our school was located far from city and English newspapers usually used to reach by 10 or 11 AM. So the headlines read in today’s assembly used to be from yesterday’s newspaper, which in turn reported the events happened the previous day. Effectively we were getting 3 day old news.

With a journalistic instinct in me, I was keen on giving more recent news to my school mates. The school used to allow us watching news on TV every evening. Doordarshan was the only channel those days and news was at 8 PM to 8.30 PM and 8.30 PM to 9 PM (Hindi and English, I am still able to recall the names of DD reporters of those days- Emani Krishnarao from Hyderabad, Maya Jaideep and Gayathri Chandrashekar from Bangalore and one Hashir Hasin Chamki (sounds something like that-exact spelling not known) from Delhi were frequently heard reporters as far as I can recall). Whenever it was my turn to read news infront of everyone next day, I used to take notes from the news shown on TV and then share this news next day. This way, I was able to reduce the delay from 3 days to less than 24 hours (Yesterday’s news shared today morning)

After finishing my class 10th I took some computer courses and when our school got computers in 1999, I was the first few people in the campus who knew something about the computers (I was the only one in entire school to have an email ID at that time). Only one computer in Principal’s chamber had internet access and I could get permission to use it.

With internet at my disposal, the quest to share latest news was even higher. If I was to read news at 7.15, I would check latest news headlines on internet by 7 AM, make notes and read the latest news in front of few hundred students. Some of the news I read out were so latest that I had the credit of transmitting it faster than TV and newspaper. (An incident which happened today morning could be seen only by late evening news bulletin or read in next day’s newspaper but whole school would know it early morning itself-there was no concept of 24 hours news channel those days)

Soon this became a standard (Of collecting latest news from internet than relying on newspapers or other sources which give obsolete sources)


This is how we used power of internet nearly a decade ago: though today this may sound like a silly narration- what’s so great in getting news from internet? you may think.

Similar:JNVC photos * Karkala photos * JNV Alumni website * My journalism experiences* Some of my articles in Media- Marketing Petroleum (Vijaya Karnataka, Kannada), Article on Christian Barnard * Some more articles * My event report published in ERGO

Indian SNS Yaari.com changes for good

April 2009 Update: This post has lost relevance as Yaari has changed yet again.

An year ago, Aug 31, 2007, I had published a post reviewing the Indian social networking website yaari.com and had criticized the same for indulging in unethical practices of tempting users to share their email passwords and subsequently spamming all contacts in their address book with a Yaari invitation, under the identity of the user, without his/her knowledge.

You can read that old post here.

Recently I visited Yaari.com accidentally and was surprised to see that they have reworked on their site design and have changed for good. Unlike earlier, now one can sign up and explore the site without having to reveal email password. Even when you share email password, Yaari promptly fetches all contacts from address book and displays them in front of you, allowing you to select only those contacts to whom you want Yaari to send invitations to.

In other words, the revamped Yaari.com site addresses all the issues I had raised an year ago, effectively nullifying the concerns I had raised. I don’t have any more complaints on this site and felt obliged to keep my readers informed of the latest developments, so as to give a balanced view.


Please note that this post is for your information only and shouldn’t be treated as if I am recommending the site. I am still of the opinion that we don’t need half a dozen Social networking sites- Just one or two would be sufficient, as it is too tough to maintain so many profiles.

I haven't seen any offline promos of Yaari.com compared to rivals ibibo.com (Their balti ad never made sense but created enough brand awareness) and bigadda. Also not sure what market share Yaari has. Anyone active on these sites? I haven’t cared to create a profile yet. Anything unique there?

December 2008 updates: My reader Suresh comments, stating that Yaari hasn't given up its habit of spamming email contacts:
"Seems you are misguided. I recently opened an account on Yaari.com, it's true that now providing e-mail passwords are not required, but in case you want to check which of your friends are on Yaari.com, and accidentally if you provide your password of e-mails just to check your friends, the Yaari.com website stores their ID's and without your permission they send repeated invites to all your colleagues. This has happened with me on 21st Dec'08, and I reported this to Yaari.com and immediately de-activated my account. But later after 4 days of de-activating my account, they kept sending reminders to all my contacts asking them to join else I will feel bad. Since I also had official contacts in this list, this was annoying. This proves that yaari.com is still into spamming, do not know how they can survive with such un-ethical activities."

Similar: How orkut can be made a better place *

April 2009 Update: Looks like Yaari has gotten into unsolicited Matchmaking, sending its members their prospective matches...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Branding Tender Coconut & Toddy palm

We’re already used to apples and oranges sporting a small sticker, branding themselves against others. What’s new is that more and more fruits are getting branded this way.

Spotted that some roadside vendors on the outskirts of Pondy have started sticking a sticker on tender coconut and toddy palm that they are selling on ECR (East Coast Road)
The sticker has provision for a brand name, date (of plucking from tree???), weight and price. Following are the thoughts that ran in my mind after seeing this, which I am sharing with you now in this post.

Do you think adding a sticker would fetch additional value? I understand that if we do some kind of processing (cleaning, purification, packaging, preservation etc) on the food item, to some extent we can justify branding them (for example, branding buttermilk such products make sense)…but just because you plucked it from the tree and brought it to market (read roadside) can you justify sticking a sticker on it and calling it “my brand”?

Also, what value will this sticker add? Tender coconut doesn’t come with an expiry date-what date are they planning to mention there? Date of plucking from tree? Or best before date? Anyone familiar with tender coconut will be able to judge it by looking at the visible freshness of the fruit (if there’re lots of wrinkles and dark spots on the surface then it is over ripe) and dates won’t make much sense.

And weight-another irrelevant parameter. For most of the other fruits, measuring by weight makes sense but in case of tender coconut, I don’t think there’s any mathematical relationship between the weight of the unit and quantity of water inside. A visibly huge and heavy coconut can have equally thicker shell and very little quantity of liquid inside while a small sized one can be full of fresh and tasty water. So trying to reach at some conclusion based on weight would again fail.

In fact, it is extremely tough to predict the taste and quantity of tender coconut and coconut gravy. A vendor usually asks if you prefer to have only water or water with gravy (coconut meat). But even seasoned vendor cannot assure you that his pick will 100% be as you asked, though by sheer experience he might manage to pick an appropriate one.


Are they using any propreitary methodology to grow these coconuts? Or some signature fertilizers?

The only advantage of branding, if any, is that it might convince certain customers (probably techies and international tourists, provided they are not much familiar with fundamentals of tender coconut) to believe they are going to have something of a better quality.

May be these farmers are trying their hand on global marketing and trying jump on the branding bandwagon.. May be I should stop analysing and appreciate their efforts?
Btb the text on the sticker reads "Shehajahan Stores". Similar explanation goes for Toddy Apple...
Cross posted on Churumuri.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hertz & HSBC-How they lost a prospect....

2 examples how companies lose prospective customers:

Example 1: Hertz car rental company, New Delhi

Me: (on phone) Hello Hertz, tomorrow morning 4 AM I need an airport transfer-From a hotel near Nizamuddin to Domestic airport. If that’s possible for you give me a quote.

Hertz Rep: Its certainly possible sir, can I have your number please…

Me: You don’t have a caller ID? It is 98xxx xxxxx.

Hertz: You’re Mr. Shrinidhi Hande right? (See they’re smart enough to store my details- I'd taken their car on self drive earlier)

Me: yes, now can you give me a quote for say Indica?

Hertz: We charge from Garage to garage sir, for 4 hours/40 kms Indica will be 550 Rs sir, in your case I guess it will be more than 55 kms sir, interstate taxes and tolls extra.

Me: I’m not going out of NCR of Delhi and I don’t know where is your garage-I’ve told you the pickup point and destination, which are around 15 kms apart, do your calculation and give me a rate.

Hertz: No sir, I’ll try to send a cab from our garage in place A (I forgot the name), if not possible I’ll have to send one from Place B sir.

Me: Enough. I’ll call you back. Thanks.

Hertz was rated best car rental company recently (by whom? I forgot :(-just remember reading somewhere). Wondering why they are so insensitive to customer needs, despite being so expensive. I’ve told them the pickup point and destination. I understand there’ll be some dry kms (where cab has to travel empty before picking me and after dropping me), but as a customer I have no idea where their garage is located and where the driver will go after dropping me. if they have a garage some 100 kms away, certainly I’m not going to pay for their garage to garage travel. Most of the call taxis and meter taxis start the meters after we board the vehicle, prepaid taxis ask for a fixed amount based on the destination, but traditional full service car rental agencies still insist on garage to garage charges, which might work well with corporates they deal with, but an individual may not always be comfortable with this scheme, mainly when they can't even give an estimate and expect me to blindly agree to whatever garage to garage time/km they claim. Why don’t they give a fixed quote keeping some provision for these dry kms?

Anyway, I pursued my journey in a cab arranged by hotel for Rs 350. Hertz would have charged atleast twice for the same service, under their garage to garage policy.

Example 2: HSBC Bank
HSBC direct selling agents had setup a tent in front of my place of work. I approached them, asking if I can open a savings bank account with them. The person went on explaining something like this: “Take this account sir, it’s very useful-you’ll get overdrafts which you can use for various things-interest is very low sir, just 1% per day”

Me: I don’t want to pay interest and not interested in overdrafts. Do you have a basic savings bank account where I can keep money and collect interest?

HSBC person: “Why sir, overdrafts are very useful no sir? Apply sir…”

Me: bye bye.

I’m sure SB account was part of powerVantage account and using overdraft facility is not mandatory. But this rep was not able to explain other advantages and was doing blah blah regarding overdrafts, turning a prospect off.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Gender confusion over the name Shrinidhi

Shrinidhi is male or female? gender confusionRecently I realized, that it’s not only humans, even facebook applications are struggling to recognize the gender associated with my name. Many think Shrinidhi is a female name and address me as Miss Shrinidhi or Mrs Hande… Others who are not sure either avoid gender specific references in the communications or reluctantly ask how I should be addressed.

Problem is, my name defies a naming pattern traditionally followed in India. That is, all female names usually end with a vowel, particularly “i” or “a” (Mahishi, Arathi, Madhuri, Rani, Anjali, Savithri, Gouri etc or Asha, Usha, Kannika, Kareena, Karishma, Priya, Prema, Hema, Urmila, Maneesha, Divya, Megha, Radhika, Roopa and so on) and male names usually end without an vowel (when spelt in English)- Mahesh, Raveesh, Rajesh, Kumar, Manoj, Rakesh, Gopal, Ram, Vijay, Sundar, Nagaraj, Prasad, Preetham, Manohar … just to name a few)

Though we spot exceptions in the above said patters like Poonam, Neelam, Kajol, or Gopi, Mani, Venu and such most of the cases they won’t be severe enough to cause a confusion. . At times confusion is evaded by appending another term like Poolan-Devi, Mani-Shankar, Venu-gopalan, Devi-Prasad, Gopi-Krishnan and so on or some people conveniently add a ‘Kumar’ or ‘Kumari’ to their names that eliminates any possible confusion. But the word Kumar doesn’t sync well with Shrinidhi and I don’t want to force it. (Even if I wanted, it’s too late now)

But the noun Shrinidhi (Or Sreenidhi or Srinidhi or Shri Nidhi or Sri Nidhi or any such combinations) is a bit unusual and can easily cause confusion. I know many gentlemen with name Srinidhi (Some blogs and other references of Male Sreenidhi’s- Srinidhi Varadarajan
, a police officer- N Srinidhi , Srinidhi of Carrolton, US, Srinidhi of Udyog Consultancy Services , Srinidhi Ramachandra and T G Srinidhi who writes regularly for Kannada media and has few books to his credit) but there’re some odds as well. There are few ladies like Srinidhi Chidambaram, and Srinidhi Raghavan who are a bharata natyam dancers based in Chennai. There may be many more, but above is what I could find through Google. If you know any famous Shrinidhis-male or female, let me know... Also just ‘Nidhi’ is a highly probable female name. A search for Shrinidhi in orkut returned 65 female users and 230 male users. For 'Srinidhi' I got 774 male users and 275 female users.

Sparing few inconveniences and embarrassments, it wasn’t an issue surviving with a slightly odd name

Some experiences:
Used to get gtalk invites from strangers (probably they picked my ID from some email forwards) who think I am a lady and if accepted, they would ping me whenever I am online and start asking personal questions. If entertained, the conversation would soon head to “I am coming to your city next month, shall we meet?” At that time I ask them to check my blog which has my photo. 100% of the cases never heard from them again.

Some departments and people who are otherwise lazy to respond or act, responded faster to my communications probably because of the reason they though I am a lady.

Many people address me as a lady without any hesitation-Like “Dear Miss Shrinidhi” or “she has to submit these document herself”. Unless otherwise necessary I usually let it go without making an issue out of it or trying to correct them. When I correct them, usually I get apologetic replies.

Some people who fall in dilemma hesitatingly ask for clarifications. Communications range from a simple “he or she?” to “Dear Shrinidhi, we’re sensing some uncertainty as to how to address you, due to confusion prevailing over the gender associated with your name. Please clarify!”

Having a unique name helps in better search engine positioning. If I had a very common name it would have been very difficult to come on top when people search for my name. Currently many souls lazy to remember/type my blog URL just enter enidhi or Shrinidhi in google and land at my blog. (I feel lucky!!!)

"Based on popular usage, it is 5.439 times more common for Srinidhi to be a boy's name. The popularity of Srinidhi is: 2.628 (where 0 = extremely rare, 6 = super popular)I am not aware of any deceased famous people named Srinidhi"-From: http://www.gpeters.com/names/baby-names.php?name=Srinidhi

Another site, Genderanalyzer feels that enidhi.net is written by man (with 68% certainity). Very close, but this site is not that reliable-several false positives-like Anita Bora and Mridula's blog it thinks are written by man.
But then, even Times of India mistook my name for a female and addressed me as 'her' in one of their clarifications...

So statistically speaking there shouldn't be much confusion that Shrinidhi is predominantly gentleman's name...Hope lady Srinidhis won’t declare a war on me reading this…
P.S: Did KarunaNidhi (TamilNadu CM) also face similar issues in his early days?


Update:

Please read below a Kannada write-up by me which got published in 01 Feb 2009 issue of Vijaya Karnataka, Karnataka's number one daily, Page 2 of Sapthahika Vijaya supplement.
Click on the image to enlarge it.

Update 2013: A lady Shrinidhi shares her experience at Nairobi terror attack
http://kannada.oneindia.in/news/international/when-westgate-mall-reopens-will-be-there-kannada-witness-srinidhi-rao-077692.html      

December 2016: Mangaluru girl Shrinidhi Shetty named Miss SupraNatural 2016 [link here]