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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bilikal Rangaswamy betta, Kanakapura, Bangalore

Bilikal Rangaswamy betta is a lesser known hill some some 75 kms from Bengaluru. It is some 15 kms off Kanakapura. The last 4 kms do not have smooth roads, can be covered by SUVs or by foot. Bili Kal means white stone in Kannada. The hill gets its name from a large white stone at the centre of the hill.

Bilikal Rangaswamy betta offers nice view all around. Below are some photos of the destination.





For some reason, this destination remains lesser known and hasn't caught fancy of weekend travelers. May be it is good to leave this place that way, we don' want it to become another Nandi Hills

Other nearby places: Bheemeshwari * Galibore * Sangama * Ramanagara *

Book Review: 'My Stoke of Luck'-Vijay Santhanam

When I got this book- "My stroke of Luck" from Blog adda for review, I flipped through few pages in random and realized that it is not a fiction. For a moment I wasn't sure what to expect from the book and felt it might not be interesting to read. But as I read on, I realized that I was wrong.

This book, "My Stroke of luck" narrates a remarkable true story of a stroke ('heart attack' as it is commonly known) victim. Irrespective of your appetite towards reading, reading this particular book is critical because of following reasons:

We all agree that we'll die one day, but none of us expect or plan for encountering a danger today, tomorrow  or in near future. We never suspect that we might get a stroke or meet with an accident or something else any time soon. Heart attack can happen to anyone, even for those who have perfectly shaped body and seemingly healthy and active. So knowing the symptoms and safety measures can make all the difference between life and death.

Stroke or heart attack is not end of the world. It is very much possible to recover from it and lead a normal life. Good family support, undertaking right medical advise and therapies and lots and lots of will power can aid in quick recovery.

Back to the book, Author Vijay Santhanam has shared his life experience of surviving a stroke and recovering fully from it. Half of his brain and body becomes non active and author undergoes a remarkable journey to recover back to normalcy. While many would have resigned to their fate and give up, author managed to push the boundaries, recover much faster and take back control of his life. Author had to re-learn alphabets among many other things. It is difficult for me to explain here in few paragraphs- one should have either experienced it or read from someone who's undergone it and taken the trouble to document everything in a book

While the author was financially well off, living in Singapore with access to good medical facility, adequate insurance coverage, not all of us could be that lucky, in terms of money power and access to medical help. Hence it is even more important to plan well, stay alert and stay prepared. Do read the book for tips and inspiration to recover from cardiac arrests.

Another point to note: You might forget all your passwords if you suffer a stroke. Keep a plan how to recover it later- either share it with trusted people or keep them safe somewhere, some place you'll remember to look for.

However there seems to be another book with same title, written by Kirk Douglas and published by HarperCollins

Key facts
Title: My Stroke of Luck
Soft Cover
Author: Vijay Santhanam
MRP: Rs 299 (Rs 224 on flipkart)
No of Pages: 234
Publisher:  Hay House
Genre: Medical/Inspirational

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books! Image from flixcart.com

Other book reviews: Tantra by Adi * RIP * F?@k knows * How I braved Anu aunty and co founded a million dollar company * 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Raman's start up challenge- part 2


Launching any company needs preparations. One needs a plan- what to sell, how to sell, at what rate to sell, how to approach customers, how to handle break even, from where to get the initial funds, how to expand, when to expect break even and so on.

Raman was good at numbers, good at planning and he got started preparing the ground work. He got cracking on above preparations on the sidelines of his office work and day by day he was inching closer to his dream.

But beyond a point, he couldn't just sit in his office and dream about his own start up. He had to get on the field and get cracking. For this, he had to quit his job.  With lots of courage, he finally filed his papers. He had confided his plans with few of his very close friends and colleagues by now. Initially they thought he's gone mad, but once they realized how serious he was, they were very supportive.

While serving notice period, the news of his resignation spread and many thought he's joining a rival company for better salary and position. A few even attempted to make him speak which firm he's joining and if there're openings. Telling them that "I am not joining any other company" was yet another challenge, as many wouldn't just believe him. He is not speaking out because he doesn't want to refer us- they thought.

Soon Raman will not have the comfort of monthly salary credited automatically into his account. This meant huge lifestyle changes. Yet another challenge for Raman, which he cherished none the less. He had to cut on all unnecessary expenses and learn to live on bare minimum. Raman chose to suspend all eating outs, unnecessary shopping and so on. To save on fuel, he kept aside his car and took out his bike. This and many other changes helped him save more.

To set up the company, Raman had to go through lots of red tape- Another challenge for entrepreneurs in India. Officials felt he is starting a company with millions of dollars in hand and they felt it is their birth right to demand few lakhs under the table for every approval and signature. But if there's a will, there's a way and Raman relished this challenge and soon his company was registered. "Dream Tours" is the title he chose.

Next he had to prepare basic infrastructure- the website was under preparation, brochures and other promo materials were getting read. Raman had to sell his idea to get his first few customers

With company registered and basic infrastructure in place, Raman planned few unique trips, promoted it as much as possible and waited for his first customer to sign up.


One should experience it for themselves. The joy of getting first paid customer is much more than that of getting one's first job. It is an assurance that someone has believed in our idea, value proposition and quality. When Redbus got its first customer, whole team came down to boarding point to meet the customer and see him board the bus. 

Eventually Raman did win lots of customers and soon his trips were getting sold out within days of announcement. Those who were skeptical about his success were now on the backfoot. This is how Raman took up the challenge, relished it and succeeded in his dream mission.

Image from thecompanywarehouse.co.uk

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mid year update- Jan-June 2013

Half of 2013 is about to be history. Here’s a quick summary of what’s happened at enidhi.net for first 6 months of 2013

A popular travel website, hoteldepot.in ranked my blog among top 5 travel blogs in India for 2013. [Details here]. Feels good.

So far there have been close to 100 posts this year.
Most viewed posts (1000+ views and counting):
Travel: Visited Kabini, Goa, Jaipur, Delhi and few more places. No international travel yet this year. Missed an opportunity due to visa issues. Waiting for Air Asia to begin India operations- hoping for some sweet deals during the launch period.

Media article:
Several articles got published in print media- mainly Kannada ones, on vehicles
Ecosport Review * Vista D90 review * disadvantages of SUVs *

Was also quoted in May edition of Moneylife Magazine in an article on timeshare

Vehicles: Drove Vista D90, Ford Ecosport, Safari EX, Scorpio LX and Figo ZXi this year.

Others:
  • Refer this post for most frequent commentors of recent times.
  • Have contributed few articles at inkmytravel.com 
  • Blog stats, page rank, Indirank etc remain more or less stagnant. No major changes.
Looking forward:  Not too much travel lined up, but hope to make couple of good trips.

Raman's start up-Relishing the challenge

This post is an entry for Cinthol contest. It uses a real story, with changed names to protect identity and some minor details have been tweaked to avoid revealing clues or to increase readability quotient.
Raman has been a busy professional. He’s been working in IT industry for over 12 years and was a respected name in his peer group, among his relatives and society. He was working for a respected IT major with handsome salary with a few dozen people working under him. That was a dream life any normal individual would aspire for.

But deep within, Raman was not happy. He was craving for more. He wanted to try some business on his own. He wanted to be his own boss. It was an era of startups everywhere and he knew deep within that he’s to be part of it. He had to start a start up and try his luck.

Leaving a well cushioned job and starting a small company is a challenge. Challenge was more in breaking his intention to the family and well wishers, than taking the plunge. His conservative parents would never approve of such mis-adventure. According to them, it is too much a risk and one should not venture into such uncomfortable situations, putting entire family vulnerable.

Raman was an avid traveler and had explored most of country side and remote destinations in his and neighboring state. He knew several spots often ignored by tourists and his idea was to start a small travel company which will organize tour packages to these remote and lesser known attractions. Raman had a good network of friends in IT companies who would readily sign up for his trips and Raman had made rough plans on setting up the company, having a website, marketing the tour packages and reaching out to prospects. In order to save on margins, he decided that he would buy a tempo traveler and run it himself, in which he can ferry his customers to destination cities. Later he planned to expand his fleet, hire drivers and guides and other support staff, so that he doesn’t have to go on each tour himself.

However, breaking this news to others was a challenge. He had to gather courage to do it. Telling someone that “I’m planning to leave my IT managerial job and am planning to become a cab driver taking tourists around” was the hard part. There was no assurance that he will succeed. He might not even break even and might end up losing his savings. But then, even if he loses, he would have tried and lost. This is the challenge he had to relish. Gathering courage to do so was a big task. He contemplated for weeks trying to fine tune his idea. His IT experience came to his help, refining the process, covering various use cases, plugging the gaps and defining project plans. The next challenge was to break this news to close friends and family, get started with new company preparations (registrations, building websites etc)

One fine morning Raman gathered enough courage and spoke to an entrepreneur he knew. Mahesh Seth was a serial entrepreneur who had interests in series of companies and was an inspiration to many first time entrepreneurs. Mr Seth listened to him carefully, understood his ambitions and growth potentials and gave him a first dosage of confidence that was required. Seth also guided him on how to break the news to others- what mistakes to avoid and how to communicate effectively.

Armed with the support and confidence, Raman’s next challenge was to study his target market- identify the gaps/niche and fine tune his strategy around that. He went about surveying his friends and relatives about their travel preferences, kind of destination they love to visit, what’re their concerns during a trip and so on. He did these without revealing his vision.

As he made progress in his preparations of launching an own company, Raman had been relishing the challenge so far. He was thrilled by the thought that he would soon be his own boss, not having to take a late night client call or having to deal with stupid escalations. He will be in control of his destiny and deep within, he was confident that he would succeed.

How did Raman manage to convey his career decisions to his family? How challenging the process of quitting his iT job and starting afresh a new life was? Stay tuned for next part.

Update: Read part 2 here

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

3 in 1 Book Reviews

This post consists reviews of 3 books I read in recent times. Since I didn't have enough contents to write detailed post on each of them, clubbing the review together

Book 1: Office Shocks
I bought this book only because it helped me cross Rs 500 mark on my order and thereby avoid a shipping fee of Rs 50. In this book, Sumit Aggarwal narrates the story of a fresh MBA graduate, on his first day at work at a consultancy firm.

Book was supposed to be funny, but I find it any overdose of imaginary text. Right on day 1, this guy gets to experience over a dozen things-meet a client and learn that he's being billed at 30k an hour, save a colleague from committing suicide, working late filing a report, office rumors, colleagues having 'fun' on rooftop, gossips, working out of a colleague's system using her login details and so on. 

The book is priced cheap (Rs 95) and can be read without losing interest, but I would have enjoyed it better if it had spanned across few weeks and give us much better insights, instead of stuffing everything back to back.

As his first book, it is great effort by the author and I wish him success for his future projects.

Book 2: Jack in Back -Corporate Carnival
If you'd liked PG Bhaskar's earlier book, "Jack Patel's Dubai dreams" you'll like the above book. It is by the same author, narrating Jack Patel's second innings in Dubai, this time for another large Banking Corporation.

This time the focus is on the infighting and politics happening in the new firm he's joined, besides extensive travel to South Africa and some personal life. Overall makes fine reading, doesn't bore the reader with too much detailing.

I liked the images of parachute in each page, which made for nice animation when pages are flipped at speed. (Refer image at the left to get an idea)

While Jack stays at the centrestage, other characters go get their due and adequate humor is included throughout the book

Priced at Rs 150 and published by Harper Collins, this will be a nice read if you're interested in Banking world. At the end of the book Jack and his team quits to set up a private equity fund interested in farming, hotel, movies and so on. Author has also set the stage for sequel very well. Next book I assume, will be about the adventure of running this PE firm.

Book 3: 5 P.M. to 9 A.M. Entrepreneur
This is a recently launched book on entrepreneurship and gives lots of insights for wannable business owners. 

Written by Kanth Miriyala and Reethika Sunder, it takes the readers through couple of examples of start ups- by the author themselves and their known buddies- the mistakes and success stories. Author has shared his/her experience as well- they have been involved in couple of startups which were later sold off to iGate and Skype for millions.

Some basic concepts- like doing multiple small experiments/tests (instead of one big experiment), gathering live feedback instead of speculating what is the best solution, identifying strengths etc. But I am not too convinced on  the book, as I feel it didn't elaborate much on how to do all these without quitting the job.

It was not clear which part of the book was written by which author. It runs in first person narration. 

Priced at Rs 195 and published by Rupa, this is a good read for those thinking of their own company.

Read this book, along with "How I braved Anu Aunty and co founded a million dollar company" and F?@k knows for better inspiration.

When I received this book from flipkart, it had 2 pages torn. This was my first experience with flipkart receiving a defective product.Same day I logged a complaint and flipkart has promised a replacement. Hopefully this week I'll get my replacement, though I've finished reading the book. Update: I've got my replacement

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Temple of Dawn- Wat Arun Bangkok

Wat Arun is a popular temple in Bangkok, on the other side of Chao Praya river. We spent a short while here, about 30 minutes or so (because we came in via a boat ride and we were asked to return in about 20 mins)I believe we could explore only a part of it, but being our last day in city we'd seen enough of temples, hence didn't mind returning after a short exploration

I don't have too much text to narrate- wikipedia is good at those details if you're interested. Sharing some photos below


Temple entry fee was 20 baht per person and we were also charged a boat parking fee of 20 baht.

Climbing up 100s of step is a nice exercise and we went up as high as steps allowed. Besides exercise, it allowed good view of the city.

Also see
 To view posts on other Bangkok attractions, click here

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Quoted in Moneylife Magazine on timeshare

I was quoted in 30th May 2013 issue of Moneylife Magazine on a cover article about Timeshare memberships. It narrates the side effects of timeshare memberships (covers Club Mahindra, Sterling, Country club etc) and very much reflects my findings about timeshare in this post on Club Mahindra)

The contents of the magazine are not available for free online. Costs a subscription (Starting Rs 99 per month for digital access). If you have a subscription or if you can buy one, you can read the article at link below http://www.moneylife.in/article/timeshares-are-bad-deal/32726.html


I was quoted in a part of the article w.r.t my first experience/encounter with Club Mahindra and subsequent setting up of a facility wherein members can buy/sell their timeshare memberships.

A quick snapshot of section of the article that quotes me is mentioned below for quick reference.

 Article is written by Kenneth S

Monday, June 17, 2013

'Scammed' by Anonymous: Book Review

"Scammed" is a fiction written by an unknown author. No idea why he chose to remain anonymous-may be it is a real story and he feared life threats? or anything else?

"Scammed" is another corporate fiction I read this weekend after Puneet Gupta's "The Suicide Banker". Scammed is a story of an accountant, who while slogging for a cheap salary at an auditing firm, discovers several irregularities at one of their clients- Supreme Motors

Hitesh is a hard working accountant, who is denied his rightful promotion and is subjected to excessive workload. During one such assignments, he discovers that his client- Supreme motors have falsified books, several malpractices and are in a precarious financial position. But Hitesh is pressurized from all corners to tone down his findings and not to create any trouble. During a meeting with Supreme Motor’s boss, Venugopal Reddy, Hitesh explains him possible ways of fixing company’s troubles and one of them being to launch a cab company, which can use cars manufactured by Supreme Motors. However, the investment comes in from a politician with unaccounted money, routed through various foreign companies.

The new company kicks off, Hitesh quits his thankless job of accountant and is made CEO of the new cab company. He defines business model, builds a team and is soon on cloud 9. Supercabs seems to be doing great, expanding rapidly and Hitesh getting all lime light and media attention. Share prices of Supreme Motors rise as well.

However, rapid expansion results in poor quality checks and many other complications, most created due to poor quality of outdated vehicles and some selfish acts by former employees of supreme motors, whose fraudulent activities had cost them their jobs. Soon the empire begins to tremble- workers go on strike, customers complain of poor service and harassment, source of funds are questions and company and its CEO’s ethics is questioned. Eventually it forces the owners and top management to go into hiding, till Hitesh manages to come out clean.

Book focuses heavily on Hitesh- his professional and personal life, ups and downs. How he rises to top, falls to bottom and recovers from the crisis is well narrated in the book. To a common man, it narrates functioning of the company, how frauds can take birth and grow its tentacles.

Book made a good read, but question still unanswered is, who wrote this book and why did he chose to remain anonymous?

Book has 175 pages and is priced at Rs 175 (available cheaper online) and published by <>, it is a good read if you enjoy corporate/business stories. Book has multiple names on it- Silverfish, Westland,Grey Oak publishers etc, so looks like a combined effort.

Also read: Devils in Pinstripes * The Incredible Banker * Bankster * 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Suicide Banker-Puneet Gupta-Book review

The Suicide Banker by Puneet Gupta is another interesting banking related fiction, at par with the ones by Ravi Subramanian (Read: Devils in Pinstripes * The Incredible Banker * Bankster * )

The suicide banker is focused on the concept of rural banking- lending money to farmers and villagers. Sumeet is the lead character who hops from SBI to Citizen bank to Ind-Credit bank. In his role as fraud detector, he smells the rot in agri-business, but people at the helm of control are in no mood to retrospect. They are riding high on the initial wave of success- of being able to disburse large amounts of money in short time and build a large portfolio. However, not everything is well at the bottom- aggressive sales people are throwing caution to winds and indulging in malpractices hand in glove with franchises, in order to meet their targets and increase their own income. Money meant to finance villagers is also routed to stock markets and other investments, using bogus documents. This bubble had to explore one day. The book explains it in detail.

Conflict of work-life balance is also nicely illustrated in the book.

I could relate very well with the story, because I've myself invested about 10k in micro finance, via RangDe and lost a part of it due to micro finance related escalations in Andhra Pradesh

Couple of missing things:

  • At the beginning of the story, there was a mention of author discovering a fake ATM of Ind Credit Bank set up in Mumbai- this aspect was not covered further- who did it, how did it impact customers and so on
  • Author completely misses out on the technologies like Blackberries. No where in the novel there's a mention of blackberries
  • Venkat not taking his laptops to any of the meeting sounds a bit strange
  • Couple of minor typos have sneaked in- like in Page 78, begged instead of bagged

Summary:
Title: The Suicide Banker, paperback
Author: Puneet Gupta
MRP: Rs 195 (Available for less online)
Publisher: Rupa
Genre: Fiction

Friday, June 14, 2013

Melukote near Mandya

Melukote is a scenic temple town off Bangalore-Mysore highway. It is located about 30 kms from Mandya and has couple of major temples, one located on a hilltop.

We visited Melukote in April, wrong season, wrong time. We reached there by afternoon, only to learn that temple opens by 5.30 PM. As we weren’t keen on waiting, we left the place, but not before taking some photos


 A pushkarini or small pond

 Dried up location- should be green and refreshing post monsoon and even more scenic during sunrise/sunset



A monkey drinking water from tap

Should visit this place again

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Chayakruthi-a bike photography exhibition

I was taken to this bike exhibition last month in Bengaluru. Organized by Sumanth Raj Urs, it housed a collection of nice bike photographs, few modified bikes and accessories on sale. Worth a visit if you're in Bangalore and are enthusiastic about bikes. They conduct occasional bike photo walks, exhibitions and other activities around bikes.

A few photos below for your quick reference:

Below: A modified Honda Dio

 An old bike

A few good photographs on display- these were for sale, priced about Rs 5000 to 10000


 
A laptop bag priced at Rs 18000 and few other accessories were also on display. I forgot this US based brand name. Priced at 18000 (which includes hefty customs duty), this backpack is shock proof, comes with life time warranty.

These guys are available on facebook at below link
https://www.facebook.com/Chayakruthi.Artist.Photohouse/ 

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Top commentors at enidhi.net

Last time I did a post like this was about 2 years ago [Read this post], felt the need to recognize my readers again.

Below is a brief list of regular visitors to my blog in recent times. Please note that this list is chosen based on comments received at enidhi.net in past 6-9 months time frame. There could be many who read regularly but comment rarely- I don't have a way of tracking and recognizing such readers, hence kindly accept my apologies.

No. 1 spot goes to spammers. These days I am getting huge volume of spam comments which even Google is not able to filter effectively. Spammers seem to have developed tools to submit comments automatically, even without visiting the post manually. As of now I've close to 10000 spams in spam comments section. Earlier I used to delete them manually, now I've stopped that. I move them to spam folder and let it die natural death. Blogger doesn't have a "Delete all spam" as in gmail and I can't afford to keep deleting 100 at a time. It is good to see so many comments awaiting approval, but disappointing to learn subsequently that most of them are spam.

Anyways, back to main topic, below are some of my regular readers, who've been commenting fairly regularly.

Arumugam Easwar: Arumugam sir blog at http://miraarvind.blogspot.com/

M D Subramanya Machikoppa:  He blogs in kannada, at http://machikoppa.blogspot.in/. Very interesting stories and incidents.

Deepak: Deepak is a Mumbai based blogger with a pen name Magic Eye. He runs a series of blogs around travel, photos and more

R Niranjan Das: Niranjan Das runs a set of blog, prominent one being Tales of a Nomad

D Nambiar: D Nambiar runs a travel blog http://www.dnambiartravelblog.com/, most of the posts about US

Mysay.in - I couldn't trace real name of the person running this portal. Has commented a few times and runs an interesting site. Knowing your name would have been nice, but I guess you'd have reasons of your own to remain anonymous. Whoever you are, your readership and comments are appreciated

Ajeeth runs a photoblog at http://www.ajeethboaz.com/ , do have a look, as some of his clicks are really captivating

Ramakanth Pradhan: He runs a nice photoblog at http://tryst-with-the-shutter-bug.blogspot.in/

Rajesh: Rajesh seems to have visited every nook and corner of India. His blog has photos and briefs on temples and places all around India. http://myindiantravel.blogspot.in/

Arvind CJ blogs at aravindgj.blogspot.com, with lots of trekking, travel info, photos of lesser known destinations.

Deb or Debaprita was my fellow blogger during Tata Nano Superdrive 2010. He blogs at http://www.archi-star.net/, mainly on architecture and photography.

There're many other commentors who've written their comments. This post is not intended to say they are not valued. Every reader, every commentor is valued. IN today's times of instant like and share, not many have the time and patience to write detailed comments. There're many who've liked and shared it on facebook and twitter. Those gestures are also appreciated. I don't have a way to track that and quantify.

In an unlikely event of you having written multiple comments in past 6-9 months and I've missed from above list, please let me know.

Again, thanks to each one of you for your continued support in my 7th year of blogging.

Aero India 2013 random photos

Few other photos from Aero India 2013. Sorry for posting them some 4 months late though.

I didn't know planes can have sun roof... Or is it the other plane behind the jumbo?

Below is another view of people standing on the plane and watching the show
Bullets/mini bombs used in fighter helicopters
Indian Forces displaying combat and rescue skills

This jumbo cargo carrier from US Airforce (C17 Globe Master) did some rounds, but no one cheered for it, as it looked like a fat lady walking on the ramp
However, it looks majestic when parked. Below are some images to help you understand relative size.
See the width of the plane

Personal jets for sale. Note to self: Should revisit after I make my millions. Wanted to check if any of these are available for self drive
 Close up of a rotter
View other photos: Russian Knights * RutanRedbull Tigermoth show at Aero India  * Sarang Helicopters at Aero India * Security issues at Aero India

Monday, June 03, 2013

Chennai Airport- Cheaper transport option

Cheaper options to go home from Chennai Airport
 
Reaching Chennai Airport from my home/office in a call taxi costs Rs 360+/- 20. (fast track call taxi)
However, reaching home from Airport costs almost double, about Rs 600
 
This difference is because of high parking charges levied in the airport and other fees.
 
However, there’re a few alternate options to save some money while going home.
 
Option 1: Take MTC bus @ Rs 120 per seat.
MTC has deployed few AC mini buses to ply between Chennai Airport and CMBT (Koyambedu). A ride in this bus costs Rs 120 per seat, irrespective of where you get down (Same fare for Guindy, Ashoka Pillar, Vadapalani or Koyambedu)

The bus is too old and shakes too much. The rattling noise of the vehicle, its glasses is unbearable. A/C is hardly effective. There’s one bus every 30 minutes or so, but not many people are aware of it. Sometime these buses ply empty, but often they manage to fill most of the seats by the time bus leaves airport campus. Because the conductor keeps the door open and keeps shouting Koyambedu,Koyambedu, whatever little effect Air conditioning had gets nullified till the bus leaves the campus and door is closed.
 
This mini bus service is only to Koyambedu. No service to other popular destinations in city like say Central or Siruseri etc. It is a budget option if you have some luggage and going towards CMBT. If you’re more than 3 people, renting a cab makes sense instead of buying 3 tickets at Rs 360.
 
Option 2:  Catch an empty cab outside the toll gate.
Cars coming to drop off passengers are given a short 5 minute window. They need to drop passengers within that time and leave, else an hefty parking charge is applied. While primary motive to put 5 minute restriction seems to be ease traffic, the main motive is to prevent these cabs from picking up passengers at lower fares, so that other cabs paying heavy fee to airport do not lose business.  If you can walk few hundred meters beyond the taxi exit gate, you’ll find many taxi drivers willing to ferry you for very nominal fee (they would have got their full fare while dropping off passengers. Whatever they get now is a bonus. At times the cab you flagged down might be heading to another part of the city. In such cases, try the next one.
 
Option 3: Come to main road and catch a bus.
Hundreds of MTC buses ply in front of airport every hour, but there’s no organized way to stop for some time and pickup air passengers. The buses rarely stop at designated places and passengers are often forced to catch them at signals.  If you’re healthy and have not much luggage, this is the cheapest option.
 
Option 4: Airport Metro- coming up, god knows when…

 

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Shoes of the Dead-Political fiction by Kota Neelima

I got this book- "Shoes of the Dead" for review from Blogadda, started reading it on Friday evening and finished it by Saturday morning. That should explain how captivating the book must have been.
Shoes of the Dead- image from flixcart.com

The Plot
Shoes of the dead is a hardcore political fiction, based on farmer suicide incidents (which were very rampant last year in central India). It is a serious subject and book is equally serious, written with lots of facts and analysis.

Focus of the story is Keyur Kashinath, a first time MP from central India and son of party secretary. He has to prove his effectiveness as MP, but increasing farmer suicides in his constituency is hurting his political prospects. His mistakes, decisions and people he is associated with outlines functioning of a politician and his compulsions.

Other other character is Gangiri Badhra, whose father and brother had committed suicide due to unpayable debt, while were denied government compensation. Gangiri decides to fight for justice, giving up his job in city. He returns to village, fights against the system and powerful people to get some justice to the families of dead farmers. His actions agitate others, who took advantage of a dead farmer by cornering his land. How he deals with difficult people, handles the crisis and sacrifices personal comfort and benefits for common good is the core of the boook

Journalist Nazar Prabhakar plays the whistle blower role, operating out of Delhi. Somewhere in the middle f the book it looked like he would romance Videhi, but that angle got thrashed once he was aware of her super rich husband.

Money lender Durga Das Mahajan and Maha Sarpanch Lambodar play key villain roles. These 2 have vested interests in farmer's life and death and use their influences to get favorable outcomes in a committee set up to decide if a farmer's death is indeed caused due to debt.

What I liked about the book:
  • Stays focused on the topic. No unnecessary deviations like a love story between lead characters or forcefully induced drama/action
  • Is an eye opener on how a farmer's life is controlled by various entities in a village, and political agenda behind twisting unfavorable numbers.
  • Explains ground realities really well. Author did express her inability to thank everyone who helped her in her research of the book, because the story connects very well with real people and real incidents of farmer suicides.
What could have been better:
  • In Page 80, the paragraph begins with his/he etc and suddenly there's a mention of 'she'. Couldn't understand who is the lady referred to here
  • The industrial angle doesn't get adequate coverage/investigation compared to political angle
  • A soft cover version could have reduced the price a bit
  • The end wasn't pleasant- perhaps the reflection of harsh reality. No one ever gets punished, no implementation of any solution explained.
Key facts
Title: Shoes of the Dead,
Hard Cover
Author: Kota Neelima
MRP: Rs 495 (Rs 364 on flipkart, Rs 372 on Indiatimes)
No of Pages: 274
Publisher:  RUPA
Genre: Political Fiction

Some catchy lines "Where booked enjoyed better air conditioning than half of country's population"
"Where family of dead farmer owned land, compensation was denied, so that family is forced to sell off land, where they had no land, compensation was granted so that debt could be repaid in cash"

Shoes of the dead is indeed an eye opener and is a good reference for those studying politics and agriculture.

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Other book reviews: Tantra by Adi * RIP * F?@k knows * How I braved Anu aunty and co founded a million dollar company

My photography used as stage backdrop

Most of the photos I take are usually used in blog posts and facebook updates, while a few making it to newspaper articles.
One of my images was used recently at an event as stage backdrop.  One of the few occasions where my photographs blown up to super big size banners and backdrops.

 The potential of multi mega pixel is felt in such occasions. The actual image below, clicked in Singapore's Sentosa


One of the other occasions where my image was blown up was during Tata Nano superdrive grand finale- along with other images, my photo of Mangalore temple was used in the banner.