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Showing posts from 2007

The Thiruvannamalai Trip

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For sometime we wanted to make a trip which involved a long drive. The New Year weekend offered a good opportunity for this.

For reasons irrelevant here, the chosen place was Thiruvannamalai. This place houses the famous temple of Lord Arunachaleswar. In addition, the place is also noted for Ramana Maharishi Ashram.

(Trivia: There are two Rajini movies/songs associated with this place. "Malai koil vasalil karthikai deepam..." song from the movie "Veera". "Athanda ethanda Arunachalam nan than da" from the movie "Arunachalam".)

Well! we are digressing, aren't we. The first thing was to figure out the route. MapMyIndia seemed to offer the best results for my query. It stated a distance of 205 km from my home - entirely covered by National Highway (NH 7 to Krishnagiri and from there NH 66). For some reason, it also said that the driving time was approximately 7.5 hours, which seemed too large for that distance, especially since it was n…

Jab We Met

Finally got the Mauser Baer DVD of this movie - one of the successful 2007 Hindi movies. The movie was in the limelight also for the wrong reasons - the break up of Kareena and Shahid.

The theme is refreshing - girl meets boy in the train. The boy is dull, downcast, passive. The girl is a contrast - cheerful, chatty and nosey. The girl can't understand why some one should not enjoy life. In the process, they miss the train. The boy accompanies the girl all the way to her home. The girl has planned to run away and get married and when she disappears, the connections are inevitably made - that she has run away with this boy, who came to drop her.

The boy is influenced by the girl and turns a new leaf. He is now successful, cheerful and joyful. He is happy for the girl, whom he thinks is now married and happily settled.

The movie takes a turn when the girl's family comes to him and demands to see the girl. Things are not so happy after all.

What follows next forms the rest o…

Australian batting

The Gavaskar-Border Trophy Test Series between India and Australia started with the 1st test in Melbourne on Boxing Day (26th Dec).

As I write this, the 3rd day's play is on, and Australia are 260/5 in their 2nd innings, leading India by 400 odd runs.

Having watched both the Australian and India batting, the first thing that strikes me (or any one for that matter) is the attitude and approach. Australian batsmen come to the crease and bat for runs - runs, runs and only runs - nothing else. They look for the slightest opportunity for taking runs - whether it is singles, converting singles to twos or running threes and fours. Very rarely are balls left to the keeper. This is not just the feature of one batsman, but all the batsmen. Loss of wickets does not change this attitude.

I got up early yesterday (27 Dec) to watch the Indian batting. It was a study in contrast. Dravid took around 50 balls to get off the mark - that too after he got a couple of lives (a dropped catch and …

Cheating in Petrol Bunk

The other day, my two wheeler was in Reserve and I stopped over at the Bunk near my home (Thippasandra Bunk, opposite Kanti Sweets) to fill it. I occasionally fill petrol from this bunk.

I clearly stated that I needed Rs.150/- worth petrol and opened my tank. There were three guys standing near the petrol dispenser. This should itself have aroused my suspicion that something was amiss. As one of the guys fitted the nozzle and pressed the start, another guy on my right asked "Sir, do you have 2 Rupees?"

I turned to him, "Why?"

"So that we can fill you 3 litres round?"

By the time I turned back, the indicator was showing 50/- "I said Rs.150/-." "Oh, let us fill Rs.100/- more". Rs.100/- more worth of fuel was filled.

Only once I started my vehicle and it had run for a minute that I realised totally only Rs.100/- worth of fuel had been filled. The first Rs.50/- was a sham - somehow the indicator had magically changed to Rs.50/- while I…

The RTO visit

My experience with RTO has not been flattering. The only times I have gone there have been
a) to get my Learners' Licence
b) to do my 4 wheeler Driving Test
c) to do my 2 wheeler Driving Test
d) get my computerised driving license
e) get a duplicate of my license when I lost my original

All of these have also been through Driving School, which meant I was oblivious of the rules, regulations, forms and procedures.

So, when a requirement came up to Transfer the Ownership of my vehicle, it was alarming, to say the least!

In an inspired moment, I googled for RTO Bangalore and hit this site - http://rto.kar.nic.in. I could not believe myself. This is the site of Department of Transport, Government of Karnataka. It has a wealth of information, from applying for a Learner's License to obtaining a fitness certificate for a transport vehicle. The site is well organized. It is in both English and Kannada, though the latter does not show up correctly in Firefox.

From the site, I could easil…

Digital cable

Last week, our cable guy came and set up a set top box at our home.

"Try it out for free, sir", said he.
"How about dish?" I asked
"No dish. This uses our normal cable. The only difference is you have digital channels - more of them, including audio channels".

The provider at our place is Hathway. It was a Humax STB - looked similar to the other STBs (a la Tata Sky). It also had the card slot.

"So how does it work? Where do I buy the recharge coupons", I asked.

"Oh! the card always works. There is no concept of recharge. We come each month and collect the subscription", he responded.

I had been contemplating changing my cable provider and go for Tata Sky or Dish TV. I had never explored the possibility of a digital cable transmission. I was also curious about BSNL's IPTV, but was reluctant to try out, since they did not have a free trial.

On browsing the web, I realized that digital cable is not something new. In India it has be…

The World in my pocket

It must be around 15 years since I read a James Hadley Chase novel. When I was young (in my school) and heavily influenced by my older cousins, Chase novels were a staple diet. They were available in the public library and I would finish a couple of them over the weekend.

Chase had an interesting style of writing. His novels are short (around 200 pages) and fast-paced. Some of them are in first-person. The characters in his novel are not clear cut heroes or villains. They are essentially forced by circumstances to be what they are.

Recently, I came across some Chase books while browsing Landmark. One identifying mark of a Chase book used to be a provocative dressed girl in the cover. This was no longer the case now.

I picked up "The World in my pocket" after reading the synopsis in the back cover.

It is about the attempt to rob a truck carrying a million dollars. A gang of four with a lady accomplice plot this daredavil robbery. The interplay between the gang members…

OSO - oh, so oppressing

Finally got around to seeing Om Shanti Om - the new Shah Rukh Khan movie.

In case you haven't seen it or haven't read the reviews, here it is.

It is 70s. Shah Rukh Khan is Om, a junior artiste, dreaming of Shanti (Deepika Padukone) who is the superstar of the time. He saves Shanti from a fire in the set for a movie produced by rising producer, played by Arjun Rampal. There is a one-side romance and some attempts at comedy involving Om and Shreyas Talpade. We witness some "twist" and Om is killed, attempting to repeat his heroics (of saving Shanti, of course).

Conveniently, a child is born to the current super star (Rajesh Kapoor - Rajesh Khanna + Rishi Kapoor ?) at the exact same time of Om's death. No guesses on whose body does Om's soul get into.

Om's now OK (Om Kapoor) and a superstar thanks to his father (a dig at celebrity families).

He gets vision whenever exposed to fire and in no time figures out his past life. He is reunited with his mom (Kiro…

Madiwala One-way rule change

I was surprised this Monday morning to see a huge pile-up of vehicles just after St. John's signal (next to Central Public Works Department), going towards Madiwala checkpost and beyond. The reason - the one way rule on Hosur Road had changed. The road had become two-way. Not only that, access to a a couple of side roads which most vehicles took to short circuit the signal near the Masjid had been blocked. It took 10 minutes to cross the signal (being on a 2 wheeler). The traffic was chaotic to say the least, most of them unaware and unsure of what was happening and where to go.

I was caught in the same signal this morning (Wednesday). I hope this is an experimental move and not something which the police wants to make permanent. If so, it is going to add at least 10 more minutes to my already long drive from home to work.

As I was waiting in the signal, another motorist remarked. "A new police commissioner comes. He changes some of the rules made by the earlier commissi…

Bhool Bhulaiya

Bhool Bhulaiya is a new Hindi movie by Priyadarshan. Priyan is a Malayalee director known for his superhit malayalam movies. He is more popular in Hindi for remaking some of the Malayalam movies, not necessarily his movies.

Bhool Bhulaiya is a frame by frame remake of the Malayalam superhit "Manichithrathazhu". Those who have watched the malayalam movie will find this a pale imitation. None of the actors can match the actors in the original movie. Shobana won the National Award for Best actress for this movie. Vidya Balan does not come anywhere close to Shobana. The same holds good for Akshay Kumar, who plays Mohan Lal's role.

Nevertheless this is one of the better remakes of Priyadarshan and a good way to let non-Malayalee world know about the quality of Malayalee film-making

Jagratha - CBI - II

I'm a fan of the CBI series of movies in Malayalam, starring Mammootty as Sethurama Iyer, CBI. The first one probably is the best of the lot, based on a real life murder mystery. Here, CBI is called to solve the case of a dead lady, who is alleged to have committed suicide.

The second one, "Jagratha" is similar in theme. Many of the characters in the previous movie are retained as well.

I got around to getting a DVD of this movie and how best to spend a Sunday afternoon than watch this.

The third and fourth in this series are not so good, since the focus has shifted from the story to the character.

Rat in the car

Yesterday we discovered a rat in our car. There had been some evidence of rat droppings as also some bad smell for the last two days. But yesterday the rat was actually spotted by a friend who was getting in.

A service for our car was overdue. Nothing like this incident to trigger us to take the car for service! As I write this, our car is being serviced. Hopefully the rat will be "smoked" out!

Electoral Roll revision

I see in the newspapers that the Electoral Rolls are being revised. People have been asked to apply to be included in the rolls or change their information, if it already exists.

Myself and my wife applied to be included in the Electoral Rolls in Bangalore a few years back. When the time finally came for the photo-id cards, my name was there in the rolls and not my wife's.

When the time came for the next revision to the rolls, we reapplied for my wife. I have no idea about the status of the application - whether her name is already in the rolls or not! What's the point in applying now if her name is already present?

With this in mind, I checked for the Election Commission website and found one for Karnataka. (http://ceokarnataka.nic.in). So far so good. Now to see if it allows you to search in the Electoral Rolls. There were two links - normal section and search by section. While one of them resulted in a "javascript" error (the page didn't load in IE7 or F…

Mystery of the Missing Credit Card

I had used my credit card to purchase some items from this shop on Sunday morning. I was in a hurry to return, there being work to do at home. I had signed the charge slip (in fact, had some difficulty in signing since the slip had to be signed on the glass table top). I had the receipts for the purchase as well.

I came home. Left my wallet in my usual place. Some time later, I needed to replace an item which I had purchased from the shop. I went back and made the necessary alteration (and in fact, got a Rs.5/- cash back in adjustments).

So far so good.

There was no power the whole day (refer to my earlier post). Finally, when it got restored, I decided to pay our mobile bill. Logged into the provider portal. It was time to enter the credit card information.

I took out my wallet and took out the card. Or rather, attempted to take it out. Where was the card? It was not in my wallet. I looked in the drawer. It wasn't there. Looked in my jeans pockets. No luck. Where could it…

A Blackout Day

It was Sunday - a day to catch up with TV, watch a movie, do the laundry - all of which need electricity. This was the Sunday, BESCOM (Bangalore Electric Supply Company?) scheduled a power down. This was announced in the day's newspaper - from 8 AM to 5 PM.

Electricity was there at 8.30 AM and I thought this was our lucky day. Not for long. Power failed at 8.45 AM. No TV. No washing machine. No mixie.

It was time to use the FM and MP3 feature in our mobile phones and listen to music.

5 PM came and left. 6 PM. No sign of current.

It was finally 9.30 PM when the power was restored.

Made one realize, what's life without power!

LIC and ECS

I received a letter from LIC (Life Insurance Corporation) of India stating one of my policies has lapsed due to non-payment of premium. From 2005 May, I had given an ECS (Electronic Clearance System) mandate for all my LIC premiums. The whole idea of ECS is for the individual to not keep track of the premium dates and having to manually pay the same.

So what went wrong? I looked back at my policies and premiums paid and discovered to my horror that there were two policies for which ECS debit had not been made at the scheduled date.

To make it worse, the information about my policies in the LIC portal (http://www.licindia.com) was also incomplete/incorrect!

So, off I went, on a Saturday morning to the LIC Branch where I had my premium. I met one of their officers,w ho made a startling statement.

"Stop ECS. That is what I am recommending to all. You are not the first person to come with this complaint".

"But ECS works fine for BSNL/BESCOM", said I.

"Well! unfo…

Restaurant and parking

Dhamu had a dual celebration - a new car and his birthday. We decided to celebrate with a lunch at Maharaja's in Koramangala (near Sony World). Dhamu took us to the restaurant in his new car. We reached the restaurant in moderate traffic.

"Where do we park", we ask the "security guard" (if one may call him so) of the restaurant.
"Oh, just put it next to that pole over there".

Pole? Over there? What about the restaurant parking. None exists.

Dhamu carried his traffic violation ticket of the previous day with him - for a "no parking" in Dickenson Road!

But did we have a choice? How many restaurants in Bangalore have their own parking?

This also reminds me of an incident a few months back, when we went to Ebony Restaurant in M G Road (before the Metro work started). I was in my two wheeler as usual and drove up to the parking gate.

"No entry for two wheelers"
"I am going to Ebony Restaurant and need parking"
"No parking …