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Showing posts from April, 2014

Book Review - Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer

I have always been a Jeffrey Archer fan, liking his book for the simplicity of language and the consequent ease of reading.  I have read pretty much all his books (save the Prison Diaries).

So, when I came across the Clifton Chronices, it was hard to resist.  Archer has written 4 books in the chronicle, one each year - the last one due in 2015.

I read the 4 books back to back - probably the first time in more than a decade to do so!  Another difference was reading them in iPad (mostly from 10.30 PM to midnight after our little one goes to sleep).

Clifton Chronicles is about the life and times of Clifton and Barrington family in England from the year 1919.

Only Time Will Tell  (1919-1940)The Sins of the Father (1939-1945)Best Kept Secret (1945-1957)Be Careful What You Wish For (1957-1964) Spoiler alert - especially across books... Do not read further if you want to retain suspense.

Only Time Will Tell

Harry Clifton is the son of Maise Clifton, who lives in Bristol.  His father is no mo…

Elections, Rio 2 and voting discount

Election Day (Thu, 17 Apr 2014) was a holiday.  What better way to spend post-voting time than a movie?  Our little one had seen the English animation movie Rio (in bits and pieces) a few times.  We thought why not go for Rio 2, which he will enjoy as well.

Tickets were available in Gopalan Mall (my new favorite movie destination - closer home and reasonable ticket price) for 3 PM show.  It was good that we reached the theatre 15 minutes early since there was a queue to convert the bookmyshow tpin/code to ticket.  A lot of kids were present (it being vacation time).

Rio 2 continues from where Rio ended.  Blue and Jewel are married (if one can say that about birds) and have 3 kids.  Linda and Tulio discover the presence of blue bird in Amazon where they are on expedition.  Seeing this in TV, the Rio-based blue bird family decide to visit Amazon, along with their friends (except the dog).

Nigel (the bad white bird) is alive, but unable to fly.  He and his friend, the poison frog spot t…

Why poor voting percentage in Bangalore?

According to the Press, the voting percentage in the Lok Sabha elections in Bangalore for 2014 increased to 54% compared to 48% percent in the Assembly elections last year.  In comparison, there was 65% percentage of polling in the whole State of Karnataka, compared to 72% last year.

This is despite so much campaigns - both from political parties, as well as various social organizations and media.  All forms of media were involved - advertisements, SMS, door-to-door, hoardings, meetings - there was no lack of information.

Incidentally, I was surprised to find a long queue when we went to our polling booth at noon.  (In previous elections, I had never stood in queue - perhaps I had gone in a different time)  We stood about 40 minutes for our turn.  This gave me enough time to make a few observations.  There were 8 polling stations in the school where we went.  Only two of them had queues - the remaining 6 were empty, with one or two coming in every two minutes.  If only there was a si…

Voting time again

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Bangalore is voting tomorrow (Thu, 17 Apr) for Lok Sabha.  (The last time we voted was for the assembly elections last year) There is unprecedented information about candidates in the internet, unlike earlier elections.  We are not talking about candidate's own web page or their party web pages (which could be arguably biased).

It is important to know your candidates even if you were to vote for a specific party.

The best place to start (for me) was Google's election page.

You start off by typing the Pincode (where you stay/plan to vote).  In my case it is 560037.

You now get a list of candidates, with their party (if not independent) and symbols.  For each candidate, there is a Candidate Info link.  Clicking that link gives the following summary information
AgeTotal criminal casesAssetsEducation
(If existing MP),
AttendanceDebated ParticipatedQuestions Asked  This is decent information to start with.  You can check how you educated your candidate is, how rich he is (can we s…

Annual fee on credit card

I am cancelling my Manhattan Platinum Credit card (from Standard Chartered) after they refused to waive the annual fee.

After I requested them to waive my annual fee in good faith considering the business I was giving them, this was their initial reply on 12th March (relevant section cut/pasted)

In this regard we wish to apprise you that the annual fee debited to your card account is a basic product price. The same is debited to your card account for the various facilities extended on your card account.

Accordingly the annual fee has been billed as per the terms and conditions and is mentioned in the Most Important Document signed by you while availing the said card.

As a service gesture, we have arranged to reverse the Annual fee of Rs.x along with the corresponding service tax debited to your card account. This credit will reflect in your next statement.

The annual fee was not reversed. On 10th April, after I followed up on the non-reversal of the charges, this is what I got.

We would…

The Generation Gap

Here is the transcript of an actual conversation that happened yesterday.

Phone call:

"We will come in Skpe after dinner"

Skype:

I see them Online (Green color and all).  I click on "Video call".  I hear the rings - multiple times - till the message "No answer" comes up.

I repeat this after a minute with the same result.

I now call.

Phone call:

"I called you in Skype - you did not respond?"

"Skype is open. But we don't see your photo"

"Hmm!  what do you see"

"We just see Skype"

"What else?"

"We don't see your photo.  Nothing is coming.  H symbol is coming on the tab - so internet is on"

"Do you see Sign in"

"Yes"

"Can you click on Skype Name"

I hear something happening.

"Can you see two boxes in white - Skype Name and Password"?

After a few minutes

"Yes, but nothing is happening"

"Ok, can you enter the username "

I hear somethin…

The Mysore Trip

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It was a long weekend - on account of Ugadi.   The summer in Bangalore was at its peak.

"Why don't we do something?" 
"Why not a Mysore trip?  We haven't been there..."
"Forever" (an exaggeration, but not too far off the mark)
My brother-in-law and his family were game too.  
Ok, so the first order of business was to find a place to stay in Mysore.  Saturday morning found us checking the 'Net and calling various places - hotels and home-stays.  Tripadvisor helped and we were lucky to get a call from Hotel M B International, who gave us quite a decent deal for their A/c accommodation.  That was around 1 PM.
The next decision to take was, whose car. After weighing pros and cons, my Indica won.

We started around 3.30 PM and after braving the Bangalore traffic, hit the Nice Road.  The Rs.90/- toll was worth the money (read diesel saved) and time.  But the pleasure was short-lived as we hit Mysore Road.  There was a road hump every 2 kilometer (i…