Showing posts from December, 2013

The tatkal experience - the manual way

I had managed to get tatkal tickets - from Bangalore to Coimbatore and Coimbatore to Cochin - both during peak travel dates, but my luck ran out when it came to getting a return ticket from Cochin to Bangalore.  But, then there were some learnings from the experience.

I wanted tickets for the trains on the night of Sun, 29 Dec.  This meant, I needed to try tatkal tickets at 10 AM on Sat, 28 Dec.

The Reservation Center in Ernakulam is a 5 minute walk from my home.  I thought I could try booking in person, as logging into the irctc website at 10 AM is next to impossible, especially for Fridays and Sundays.

I reached the reservation center at 8.05 AM. There was a separate Tatkal queue - not to buy the ticket, but to get a token which determined the position at 10 AM in various tatkal queues.  The Reservation Center had earmarked 5 counters for tatkal reservation from 10 AM to 11 AM each day and the tokens were issued for each of the counters.  When my turn came, it was the 21st token in…

Watching Dhoom 3 in Kochi

It was a dark winter evening.  In Kochi, winter is about 22 degrees in the night, if not warmer. It has been ages since I went for a nigh show movie in my hometown. I decided to check out the latest Bollywood superhit movie Dhoom 3.

Shenoys was my theatre of choice for many reasons.

One of the oldest theatres in Kochi, with a vistarma projection.  Walking distance from my home (about 1.5km). 
I caught a Volvo bus from the bus stop near my home at 8.40 PM (I know - an indulgence).  Ideally it would have been a 5 minute ride to the theatre, but traffic jam due to Metro work on M.G.Road meant I had to alight, a few metres before the theatre.  Hey, did I mention a third reason for the choice of theatre - the cost?  A Balcony ticket cost me Rs.70/- - I would have paid that much for parking in Phoenix Market City.

The movie started on time, at 9 PM.

It is 1990. We see the Great Indian Circus in Chicago going through a financial crunch.  The lenders are unwilling to bail them out. So the pro…

What Singham 2 teaches us

When you see the same movie thrice (once in theatre and twice in TV), you are likely to perceive a lot more than what the film offers

That is what happened with me on Singham 2.  So, without further ado, here are the learnings...

a) You need to shout to be heard.  It pays to be loud. The language doesn't matter - you can shout in English if your listener can't understand tamil.

b) Keralites are skilled tree-climbers.  If you knock down their vehicles, they can easily hang-on to available pole.

c) Getting a South African visa for a Tamil Nadu police man is a piece of cake.  Possibly, you don't even need a visa.

d) When applying for your passport, it is good to give your occupation like "International Drug Dealer"

e) Bright female students from affluent families steal question papers from school, for the heck of it.

f) Wearing helmet or not speaking on cellphone through bluetooth headset while driving is not applicable to DSP or such ranks of policemen

g) Thou sh…

Health insurance for senior citizens

Ever since my employment (and after my dad's retirement), my parents have been covered by the group medical insurance in the companies that I worked for.  I never had to worry about either my personal health insurance or my parents'.  When my dad was hospitalized a few years back, the insurance covered (most of) the charges (though the claim process was laborious and the time it took, protracted).

I realized a couple of things too late:

a) It is good to have a personal medical insurance, even if you have company provided insurance.  This helps when you change companies and/or if your company does not provide (adequate) insurance
b) In the absence of a), if you have a company provided group medical insurance, it is good to convert it to an individual/family medical insurance when you leave the company by paying the relevant (additional) premium.  This ensures continuity (which is required to cover pre-existing illnesses) and avoids the need to do any check-up.  This is especia…

The KYC experience at Citibank and SBI

It all started when I received an email from Citibank with the following subject "Action Required: Update your Know Your Customer (KYC) documents on your Citibank Account No.xxyy"

The email asked me to visit the branch with a passport photo and a proof of identity and address.  The email also mentioned the list of acceptable documents for proof.  Among those which served both purpose were passport/voter id/aadhaar/drivers license.

Of late (after my BSNL disconnection), I use aadhaar for my address proof.  It also saves me the trouble of having multiple proofs for id and address.  (The address in my passport and drivers' license is not current and as for voter id, it is kind of incomplete)

Armed with the original aadhaar and a photocopy (and along with a passport photo), I boarded the empty Metro on a week day and alighted at Trinity on M.G. Road, from where Citibank is walkable.

The lady who was kind-of the Receptionist asked me to fill a form.  She asked me if I had t…

Solving a programming exercise

One of the practices that we follow to select an intern (in fact, even developers) in our start-up is to administer a programming exercise.  It is a fairly simple problem, sent over email and the candidate has a week to solve it in a programming language of his/her choice.

Besides the fact that the program has to work, there are two additional criteria that are specified

 it should meet coding standards  it should have unit tests These are not elaborated, allowing the candidate to figure out and do what he/she feels is appropriate.
Here are the kind of responses that we have got.
Word document: Some of the candidates sent across programs in Word format.  I believe this could be the effect of writing programs as part of their exam papers. (Write a program to illustrate the "for" loop, for example)   The exercise to copy the content from the Word format to a text format and compile and get it to work was left to us.
Netbeans project:  Another set of candidates sent across a zip…