Friday, October 25, 2013

Why a nameplate does not make a brand

This - is a poor experience that I do not wish on my enemy. But the sad reality in India is that we go through such experiences every day. It is abnormal if someone does their assigned task without requiring a reminder,a nudge, a raised voice, a yell, and an outcry in that order.  So, for example,  whatever Volkswagen may have been or even now is in Germany, the people manning the stores in our India have been recruited from the regular pool of common people. And hence it doesnt matter whether you are a Volkswagen or a local garage wala, unless you are willing to lung it out with people to get something done that rightfully should be yours, nothing is ever going to move here.

The curious case of Vishal Gondal's Audi loitering about on the streets when it was supposed to be at the service station is also under the same category.

The fact of the matter is that for a brand to give that feeling to you, there needs to be a synchronized commitment by the people(who form the organization) towards the customer - Right from the door man standing at the gate of the showroom, to the store manager, to the regional sales head, to whatever designation the big boss of the company holds. Because the spirit of the brand starts in the heart of the people working there, and then reaches the customer only through them. What name plate you hang in front of your store matters much less. An Audi board with heartless behaviour is worth nothing whereas some random "Batliwalla & Sons" with high customer orientation is a multicrore business proposition.

Think about it.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

today's Environment,Health and An Immune India tomorrow

In the last 60 years since India became an independent nation, many things have changed. The country's outlook has changed. Economy has changed. New Industries have come up. New companies have come up. Style of working has changed. And with all this few very important things have also changed which are going to define our tomorrow.

1. Environment - The climatic conditions, the amount of green cover around the country, the soil texture, the water table, the increasing use of chemicals (pesticides,fertilizer, today chemicals are even used to ripen the fruits on the day the shopkeeper decides to sell the fruit)

2. People  and their lives - Mindset of people has changed from "I need to keep things carefully and preserve them" to a "I can get a new one if the current item is not around" - A consumerist mindset and increased level of affluence has become the norm today. In addition to this, the society has become highly performance oriented. There tremendous pressure to achieve and deliver results across age groups and across professions, even children.

And because of these two factors, today, the entire brunt of this is taken by the human body. With vegetables having much lower nutrition levels, and a polluted environment, a child's body has to fight hard to cope with the pressures of school and extra curricular activities and demanding parental expectations today. And it is going to be even more so, in the coming years. Hence it is very important to ensure a healthy body, for which a good immune system is essential. But how to strengthen this, when all external conditions are averse to this? This is where our ancient knowledge about herbs comes handy. It is time to revisit the value of the various herbs that grow in the nooks and cronies of our nation and harvest the best out of them.
Like Aloe Vera, Tender coconut, methi  for its cooling properties.
Like Mustard Oil to keep warm in the harsh winters of the north.
Like Henna,shikakai and reetha that condition and shine the hair just like that.
Like taking chyawanprash and pepper tea when seasons change to protect yourself from seasonal flu and fever.

These are small things, and cost very little, but go a long way in building immunity.
After all immune children today ensures a Bharat immune to diseases tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How to connect Facebook Page to Twitter and Twitter to Facebook Page

I was recently working with Facebook pages at work and I needed to connect the posts on a Facebook page to a twitter feed and vice versa.

Connecting the Facebook page to Twitter feed is pretty intuitive, Facebook autoprompts you to do this if you havent done it within two days of creating your page.

This post is about connecting a twitter feed to a Facebook Page, Which is not so intuitive.
After a bit of googling I found this blogpost and it really helped.
What it does not say clearly/explicitly (or may be the workflow changed with the ever changing interfaces at the two websites) is that initially Twitter will connect to your Facebook account i.e. your personal Facebook Wall only. Thats alright, just go through the app permissions,etc and let it return to your Twitter settings page. Once back, you go to Twitter ->Settings -> Profile. As you scroll down, there will be a section for Facebook, with the text "Allow Twitter to:" there if you uncheck the boxes post to my Facebook Profile, it will give you the option to check post to Facebook Page with a list of pages associated with your profile that you can choose from.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Visit to Kolhapur - June 2013

We decided to do the trip by Train in order to keep costs down - Booked tickets in 3AC. It costed Rs1050 for two persons one way. The train number is 11023 Sahyadri Express for Pune(PUNE) to Kolhpur(KOP) and 11024 for Kolhapur(KOP) to Pune(PUNE). We booked our train tickets exactly one month before the travel date.

The train leaves from Pune at 10.30 PM and reaches Kolhapur around 6.00 AM. From railway station, we proceeded to the hotel – Hotel Maratha Regency(, a 3 star hotel – This was the hotel that fit our budget and hence while booking, we considered it a gamble and were open to face any kind of experience. But now after completing the journey, I will say that this Hotel is pretty decent and gives good value for money. The rooms are clean, and spacious. The bed linen were clean and smell free, and the toilets were clean and good too. And the best part on top of all this is that, the staff are very very courteous. Not only that, this hotel is exactly a kilometre's distance from the Kolhapur Railway station. It costed us 30 Ruppees and less than 5 minutes to reach the hotel.

A front view ( this is from the hotel's website) -

After consulting, We quickly got ready and proceeded to Mahalakshmi Temple for Darshan – We left at 7.15 AM for Darshan, by auto, which cost us 50 Ruppees. The temple is about 4-4.5 kms from the hotel, i.e. inside the town. While on the way to temple I noticed some boards saying “Yatri Niwas” which were closer to the temple, should try them out the next time.

At the temple, the queue was short. Even though one is not allowed to stand in front of the diety for more than 2 minutes, we had darshan  of the diety 4-5 times, by re-entering the queue, going around the inner complex of the temple; which the temple staff are ok with as long as you dont create a blockade while praying in front of the diety. It was a very peaceful and energizing darshan.

After collecting some momentoes(mostly photos and milk pedha offering), we returned to the hotel for breakfast, as we had a bed and breakfast booking there. The breakfast spread consisted of Idly Vada Sambar, bread butter jam, and corn flakes and milk. Being a tamil myself, and wanting to eat local food, I ordered for Sabudana khichdi and some Poha apart from having a taste of the breakfast spread. Having completed breakfast, we slept for two hours and proceeded to Phadtare Misal Centre for relishing some spicy Misal Pav, another culinary delicacy special to Kolhapur(or so I have heard). It was noon time and a long queue and Phadtare. This Misal Pav shop closes at 1 PM so we rushed, and made it in time. From there we proceeded to the Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj's Palace cum Museum - – It was good to know about a Maratha king other than Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The palace has detailed pictures of their family and also a detailed family tree about how this royal household came into being. (Photo below taken on Blackberry Bold)

We spent about 2 hours here and returned back to hotel at around 4 PM. We were planning to go for another round of temple darshan, but could not as I was suddenly down with temperature. We spent the evening relaxing in the hotel and left at 10.15 PM for the station to return back to Pune by Sahyadri Express. The train left on time from there and reached before time at Pune the next morning.

While roaming around in the auto to and from the various venues mentioned above, we crossed many inner streets of Kolhapur which felt a lot like the streets of Bangalore that I visited way back in the period 96-98(yes 1996-1998). The stilted houses, shops under road level, roads arched with trees, all re-inforced my understanding of how the Kannada speaking people's culture and the Marathi speaking people's culture are intertwined.

This trip was a good one day getaway on a very tight budget and in about 6k we wrapped it all up. My fever played a spoilsport and prevented us from exploring. Hope to discover this region some more soon. Until then so long.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A corpus fund for Travel

I am finding that the cost of travels for me is growing and is becoming a restricting factor while taking decisions whether to attend an event or not( be it tech related, or personal or whatever). I am hoping to find some way by which I can and will continually contribute to, at the same time it would be something that will pay me back at frequent intervals.

Any ideas and suggestions in this directions are welcome. How do you fund your travels? Looking forward to your insights.

Friday, June 14, 2013

BSNL landline complaint booking - Pune

Come rains and the telephone line has gone dead. After 20 years into the business of landline phones, one would expect BSNL to be better equipped with predictable events of Nature, but alas, expectations always lead to disappointment. 2 days ago my telephone suddenly dropped dead in the afternoon. Have been trying to find the complaint booking system since then, and found some interesting blog worthy stuff.

And these should work for you all across India, I would presume.

When your landline phone goes dead, you have two options:-

1. Call this number 21982198 preceded by the STD code of your city - and this will dial into the Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) for Automatic Complain Booking. Just follow the instructions of the IVRS and you complaint should be lodged. Keep a pen and paper handy to note down the docket number.

2. OR, if you are an Netizen, like I am, you can go to this URL - - And follow the link "Register a complaint" on that page. But a few warnings - a. Every page will take 5 minutes to load. So be prepared for that. b. Remember to take a screenshot of the complaint number that the web application generates, it wont show that number when you type your number again at a later date.

For now, I have lodged my complaint with the self care portal above, but lets see how soon this gets fixed.

Update on 16 June 2013 - My phone got fixed yesterday and I got a phone call from the telephone exchange and the telephone complain department, them checking up if the line is indeed working. Something finally worked without reminders! 

5 years And Alive

Its true.
I realized it just now as well.
5 years. Thats how long this blog has been alive, and thats how long I have been in this programming/software tech circuit. Its been a struggle, no doubt, but I have survived and pretty well at that. And I have grown (in every sense of the word) phenomenally in these 5 years.

When I started this blog, I was not sure of anything in life, and I never thought of anything beyond the next two-three days then. And definitely did not think that my blog would live for 5 years at a reasonable level of activity.

To all you faithful readers, here is a promise - Will continue posting interesting and no doubt 'eclectic' stuff here. And looking forward to the next five years in life.
P.S. - Yes just completed my 100th post, this is the 101st. :)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Instrumental Music - My Instrument My Voice My Recording

Hi Guys,

I just recorded a small piece of music, its a culmination of roughly 12 months of experimenting with my mandolin, exploring what is "my" music, and a lot of related matters.

You can hear it at -
Nothing path breaking about this song other than the fact that I picked up the mandolin last June, was a total beginner with qualitative music till then, picked up enough knowledge to play the preceding tune in the song at the link above.

Stay tuned.

P.S. - recorded with trusty INR 150 worth headset mic, so just about reasonable audio quality. not studio level and all.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Delhi Airport to New Delhi connectivity via metro - AirportExpress Metro Line

I recently had to hop step and jump across airports and railway stations to travel from Pune to Ludhiana.  My travel arrangements were thus - Catch a flight from Pune to Delhi. Reach Old Delhi Railway station. Catch the train to Ludhiana.

The first obvious choice that came to my mind was to book a call taxi/radio cab in advance because  -
1) I dint want to fumble around at the airport's arrivals lounge.
2) Plus I had never travelled to the Delhi airport in the span of my independent-life travels.
3) And adding to this list of unknowns was the fact that T3 was a relatively new terminal and the relatives network wasnt quite sure of any tips to give me.
4) And I had exactly 90 minutes time between the plane's landing time and the train's departure time. So I needed a conveyance that would be delay-proof

My own itinerary sounded like a simplified version of Phileas Fogg's (of around the world in 90 80 days fame) itinerary.

As I sat thinking about which taxis to book, or what to look for even on google, it struck me that I should check out the metro line and see if it was functional.  The website mentioned a bunch of details about routes, pricing etc, but dint mention when the service started functioning, or whether it was currently functional at all. And even though the website mentions train timings et al, knowing our Indian style of updating websites, I was not thoroughly sure that I could avail this facility.

A few tweets later, I got 70% percent confidence on this plan of using the metro and decided to stick to this plan.

The Actuals :-
@Delhi Airport T3 -
the flight landed on time. I wanted to quickly pickup my baggage, and rush out, but had to walk quite a bit to the luggage belt. No sign boards for Metro line inside the building. Few enquiries later, Found the ticket vending machine just before the exit door of the T3 building and then I was walking down a subway leading to the "Metro Station".
It travels from Airport to the New Delhi Station with a few stops in between which are outer suburbs of a fast expanding Delhi. But you need to travel to New Delhi station to get to any other place, as thats only station that is at the junction of other lines.

 The Metro Station has a token system, you get a plastic coin token as a ticket, you put the token in and the gate opens and closes fast enough to not let the guy behind you pass through. :)
Currently the Airport T3 metro station, and that line in general is new, so the station building is still clean and smell free. And I formed the opinion that finally there is one thing that is getting maintained properly.

@Inside the Train
You get "Mind the gap" audio announcements in every station. And station name announcements in Hindi and English. Also there is a rack where one can keep your suitcases and sit without lugging them around.
When I went(around 10.45-11.00 AM),the train was sparsely populated so it was fine, but I doubt if the racks are of enough capacity to hold suitcases if the train were to get say even 60-70% full.  But the few people present were dutifully using the amenity, including yours truly.

@Transit At New Delhi Station
I had to get to the old Delhi station to catch a train to Punjab. So I got down at the New Delhi (this is part of airport express)station and went to the Metro side of the same building. And the ticket and the queue for the ticket to the other Metro lines is situated on the Delhi Metro sideof the station.The Delhi Metro side of the same station is on the other side of the same building, but they make you climb up and down multiple stairs, with neither ramps, nor lifts nor escalators available. I was carrying a 13Kgs weighing suitcase (regular VIP skybag suitcase) with me, and by the time I reached the queue I was sort of tired. Walking around is ok, but carrying a luggage up and down 4 to 5 stairs is really tough.
And the Delhi Metro side of the same building(on account of being in use for much longer) was like any other railway station. Smelling of paan spit, and generally brimming with crowd, I finally felt I was back in India. Till then, it was a truly international experience.

I took the train to Jahangirpur and got down at Chandni chowk station. And a couple of more stairs up and down and up and down, I got out of the building to find myself in the portico of the Old Delhi Station. I thanked my stars and the Delhi Metro engineers for designing it that way. Atleast they dint make me cross an entire main road, which I would have to do in Chennai, if I took the otherwise very convenient MRTS to reach the Chennai Central Station.

That is the summary of my Delhi Metro Experience.
Hope this helps someone who is in need of this info.

So long.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Better Tools give Better Productivity

i finally decided to have a proper working setup for my work last December. And as part of that inititative I invested money in a low cost(200 INR) keyboard and a basic minimum costing ergonomic chair.

The keyboard was an Intex Corona keyboard from a local gadget shop here in Pune. And the chair was a basic computer chair, a 3 line office chair costing 2700 INR bought from Pyramid Seating Systems -

The effect on my productivity was seen instantaneously and this has changed a lot of things for me in the last 3-4 months.

So I decided to improve this further and have got a better keyboard - its a Microsoft Keyboard K120 worth 500 INR. And it arrived just now.
The reasons for buying this are two fold -
A) The other keyboard purchase was experimental and hence low cost - and due to that the keys were sort of clicky and the 'b' key stoppped working.
B) Since that experiment succeeded, I decided to go for a proper equipment, as I believe that the trade that gives you your livelihood should be done well with the right kind of tools and it is worth parking money in any endeavour that helps you achieve this.

And this blog post is also to test out the new keyboard - Indeed feather touch, Microsoft is still good with its hardware :) Loving the feather touch after adjusting with low cost keyboard for a long time now. This is the Microsoft K120 keyboard and can be ordered from flipkart here - Microsoft Keyboard K120

Here's to more productivity and to more blogging.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Two Years Up

Its been a full two years since I got married and just one more day left to complete 2 years since I shifted base to Pune.  And after the largely popular post about how the first two months went, I have been regularly asked,reminded, and nudged about writing some more report card-type posts. But I have consciously avoided writing such posts, for the simple reason that it becomes cliched. Its easy to get caught into a trap of type-cast and I dint want to do it.

But, this March, I crossed a major milestone, which I felt was blog-worthy - so hear it is.

This March I complete 2 years of the 'journey' called 'marriage'. And the one word that describes this time period entirely is "learnxperience".

Yes, You read that right - "learnxperience" - i.e. learning and experience both achieved acquired in the same duration of time.

As you may have read in the previous post in this topic, the first year pretty much went in figuring out how to live alone, how to run a house, how to manage your emotion in order to maintain a calm environment in the house, how to do shopping ( a science indeed, and I am not talking clothes and cute handbags here), and coming face to face with all the funky differences that mankind can create in following the same religion and celebrating the same set of festivals.

And I thought that was the hard part. Yeah, everything was like nearly setup, and I just had to continue living things that way, easy right? Absolutely wrong. It was after this that it dawned upon me that sustaining initiatives and efforts started towards a goal is WAAAAYYY tougher than actually establishing them in the first place.

And at every step of this journey, I more than realized how much every step in your life is not only the actions involved (moving your hands and legs to act that out, shopping, eating, going for a vacation, just everything), but much more the intention to do that act well, and the positive will power to get things done.

Living with your parents gives you an unfair cushioned advantageous environment - where you only act, i.e go through the various activities that compose your life. You dont need to think if it is right or wrong, you dont need to think if that is relevant or not, because you got your ass covered, to use an American Idiom. i.e. You know you have a back up, or someone to watch you and atleast raise an alert if you are doing wrong.

Imagine after smoothly sailing in a ship for a good number of days, you wake up one fine day, to find that the navigating compass on your deck is gone. *Poof*, just gone. And you have no clue how to get it back? Thats the feeling I have been dealing with since the last two years, the sense of hopelessness much reduced now(although not gone entirely), now that I have picked up reading signs and a bit of directions.

So lets take a very objective view of the gains and the losses so far :-
First, I have gained lots of insights after I have ventured off on my own.
1. Running a home(not just a house) is not very different from running a startup. You are always on a tight budget and under constant pressure to deliver in various fronts at the same time- the various fronts being food, hygiene(cleanliness of house),professional work, and emotional company.

2.Communicating in a language is way different from knowing the language. You can know 10,000 words in a language, and yet communicate nothing using all those wonderful words.

3. Going through the actions of reading a book, or watching a movie together, or going out of town DOES NOT MEAN it is going to be a joyful 'being together' experience unless all concerned parties' mind and intention is in SYNC with that task. It takes much team mental effort to function as a family.

"Unifying under one agenda","participating and contributing to an activity","involving oneself in common tasks despite various levels of interest","doing things for the sake of the other people's pleasure around you","understanding and appreciating the intention behind the action done" - I used to take such things for granted that people around you will do such things back for you given you do the same things to them. But the last two years have been a jolt out of the blue in this regard.
And as of today, I am sort of disillusioned with some of these things, because how much ever you do such things, if other party involved has no inkling about the same, you are only going to get a cold response. And I have learnt to live my life inspite of the conditions that exist around me.

The good things are that my confidence levels in general have zoomed way up, and this reflects in my professional work as well. I now proudly call myself "Systems-In-Charge" of my home, not a homemaker ( the word homemaker is a totally misleading word, one person never 'makes' and can never 'make' a home, everyone involved together 'makes' a home).

I have always had great faith in networking with people around even if they may not exactly be "your type" of person, and this belief has been vindicated time and again in these two years.

I experimented with a couple of hobbies, and I am member of the very active "Postcrossing" community in Pune. Search in Google about "Postcrossing".

I also realized that in addition to food, water and air, I need music to exist and conduct myself in a sane manner. And the need to express my musical ideas has grown A LOT. So now I learn mandolin. And from being super tone deaf I have progressed to a stage where I can decode simple tunes and play them on the mandolin, the graph has been in the upward direction.

I have also learnt that nobody will take care of you or say "You go take a break for a while". And that it is all the more important to ensure a way by which your physical and mental health is taken care of. So even if it burns a little hole in my pocket, I have joined a yoga class, as means of both physical and mental healing and a compulsory personal time-out where I dont have to think of any matters of responsibility.

I have gained significant knowledge(earlier my level was -ve :D ) in dealing with finances and investing money, thanks to a lot of handholding and mentoring by the Mister. From feeling super proud of having an SB a/c balance,and one single RD, to reading through mutual fund papers(and actually understanding them) and accessing bank lockers with elan, I have indeed come a very long way in the last two years.

I bought myself a 2 wheeler last year, with my own money. I actually 'own' a high value property and heck, I even have someone working for me :D, the scooter wash guy. :D

Needless to say, My cooking skills have skyrocketed. Highly inspired by the show "Masterchef Australia" and with the mission to have a "LEFT-OVER free" kitchen, I set out to establish a lot of standards and metrics to the adhoc measurements approach that my mom taught me. Make no mistake here, My mom is absolutely brilliant cook, but like all geniuses, her descriptions about measurements are at best vague and are very easy to pick up if you are at her level. But for a total algorithmically-wired beginner like me, her instructions would totally bounce off my head. So I set out to fix this by establishing standard measures, such that even if this is the first time you are entering a kitchen in your life, you can pull off a reasonably good tasting meal by following a fixed set of steps. And the validity,the effect and the quality of this initiative can be judged by the fact that the Mister now happily cooks up rice,rasam,a vegetable, a payasam for two people. And Yes, you are welcome for a feast any day by our budding in-house chef, the enthusastic Mister. :)

Last but not the least, the most obvious thing I have gained is "weight", mostly due to wrong eating practices driven by a foolish state of mind. I am correcting this right now.

These are the gains. The losses have been more in the realm of the mind, than in the physical world.
I have lost attachment to any particular way of life. My personal hobby and work goals are the ONE and only drivers to the "way of life" I lead.

I have lost attachment to the expectation that the family will understand what you are saying. Primarily because, the family that I actively dealt with has changed totally. Even otherwise, I dont expect anyone to understand what I say or intend. I try saying once, I show it in action twice. After that I move on with life. IMO, Life is too short to be caught up with these things.

I have lost the entire set of friends that I had, due to sheer geographical location. I am almost nearly irrelevant to all of my personal and tech friends as they are all in Chennai. I have made a few new friends both personal and tech related here in Pune, but its still very low.  And before some of my cousins start singing the "this is what you get when you work from home" chord, I have a decent network in Pune, but a network !=(not equal to) friends. I guess it takes a lifetime to build friendships. And this really throws me in a wonky mental state when the Mister gets outings with friends where I am barred from participating. Incidents like these really rub salt into the wound, I am still learning to become detached from such feelings.

That is the end to this ultra long post summarizing the two years that have gone by. And yes, the apartment where I live now definitely looks and feels like a home than what it was 2 years ago.

And how much ever I may camouflage it, MOM, you are the one that makes any place feel like home, and brings that family environment. And I MISS YOUR AURA around me. I miss the ENERGY that fills the house when you and/or DAD are around. No thing or person or activity or effort can ever fill that space. EVER.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Relationships and statistics

Real life relationships would be much more easier if we could treat it in our mind as a markov process.

In probability theory, A stochastic process is a collection of stochastic variables, which is often used to represent the evolution of some random(stochastic) value, or system, over time.

A stochastic variable is a variable whose value is subject to variations due to chance. Thats why its also called a random variable.

Consider a person's relationship curve with another person is a random variable.
When you get related to a another person(friendship, workcolleague, team-mate,spouse,anyother), the relationship curve involving either of you with others in the network on either side becomes a stochastic/random process with a conditional probability which represents the evolution of the state of your relationship with the others in the family over time and is dependent on the relationship value of the other person involved at any given time.

If this stochastic process can become memory-less process, i.e. a Markov process, where the future state of this system is dependent only on current state and not on the states that existed prior to current state,
i.e. if the future of your relationship with anyone in the network is purely based on current relationship state(good/bad) and not based on previous history of actions,

then by controlling current state, you can ensure that the future states will always be good.

The above is the result of studying NLP course by Columbia University in the state of New York via coursera.