Friday, November 28, 2008

I want to vote..

the (dumb, idiotic and very much eunuch-y) Congress-I government out of power. I found this resolve getting more and more steely with every passing hour last two days. Alternative? BJP? JD? I don't know. Not the Congress. Not this time. Since we do not have the luxury of an iconic leader, if we have to settle for less worse alternatives, so be it. But I can't bear to see these eunuchs running this country.

But can I vote? Subhash and I were brainstorming this morning. We are not in the voter-lists here in Bangalore. Neither are we in Hyd. We have just been away so long that our names have gone off the list (well, his parents' names went off the list even while they were very much here, so ours is a case to not even consider). Anyways, I want to vote. Can I vote please?

Apparently not. I have to be in the "Voter's list". Which was developed to prevent fraud. But no thought being spared for working professionals who might not be home while the friendly-neighborhood Election Commission (EC) officers stop by. One of my colleagues actually could not vote in spite of having a voters ID because her name was not in the "list".

I ask, why can I not vote if I present my very much valid Indian Passport at the booth? What else do I need to prove that I am an Indian citizen? Fine, you want to prevent me from using the passport again and again? Just like we have the black mark, go on and stamp my passport saying I have already voted. Done. Right?

Of course I can have fraudulent passports and vote multiple times, but hey, passport fraud is an even worse danger than voting fraud. You better check that before you try to check voting fraud.

But then Subhash says, you have to vote in your constituency and your constituency only. Please, can we not make that irrelevant for the national elections? Can we please find a way where I can vote no matter where as long as I vote just once.

For us to apply for a voter ID now, we need to have residence proof, since we are renting our place now and will move into our new house soon, we can vote neither here nor there :( We cannot register there now (since we don't live there now) and we cannot vote here then (since we won't be living here anymore). Maybe we can still take the second route since I think on election day no one checks to see if you are still living at the same address. Good. But hey, what about getting into the voters list?

I've heard people being removed from the list simply because they were not home when the EC officials came by. And then even if you have your Voters ID, its useless trying to tell that to the polling booth officials. Happened to both Subhash's parents and some colleagues. So? At least tell me when you will stop by and I will make sure I am home to give my name and enter this list.

I am trying the route. Lets see how much success I have.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The blasts .. no..the budding cricket star

I was going to write about the blasts as I saw them relayed last night on TV. But more and more incidents kept coming in and I didn't know what to say or write. I think this whole terror attack thing has stopped terrorizing anyone in this country anymore. Except those that get killed unnecessarily and their family :( The few good police guys we are left with are martyred in these incidents. Lets all go to the dogs now. When the whole thing has become such a circus, I think the terrorists need to realize that the "terror" part is so not working and find something else to do. Reams and reams have been written about the blasts and reams more will be. I have nothing new to add so I choose to focus on something else instead.

This morning a cousin of mine forwarded an article on another cousin of mine that appeared in Eenadu. (For the uninitiated, Eenadu is the largest selling Telugu daily newspaper) It was about his cricketing prowess :) He is a budding cricket aspirant and plays for his college Loyola in Hyd. And apparently he took 6 wickets yielding just 2 runs and scored 38 in his batting innings. And I felt so proud of him. I never managed to appear in any paper myself, so I am glad I can associate myself with some brilliance this way at least :)

Congrats to my cousin Ramakanth! We always used to say he would play in the national team one day and then we would all show off thanks to him ;) I wish today that this wish of mine comes true. Along with my prayer this morning that peace should reign in this country forever.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nice try!

Someone tried to phish me, the morons' cheek! It would have been easier for them in life to start cracking the password by brute-force than trying this. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Do they even know who I am?!!?!?!?! I am, ...never mind ;)

Of course I immediately reported the message as Phishing. You should do it too if you get one like this.

fromOrkut Security
dateTue, Nov 25, 2008 at 8:24 AM
subjectOrkut Password Protection

hide details 8:24 AM (1 hour ago)

Google asks for some personal information when you create a Google Account, including your email address and a password, which is used to protect your account from unauthorized access. .

Please Provide Below Details :-

Gmail/Orkut Email Address:
Secondary Email Address:If any

Reply to this email, otherwise your account will be deemed as inactive.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

The FM and the Volvo

The driver of the Volvo bus I took back home (I was lucky to get one) today played "Aaja Shaam Hone Aayi" (Maine Pyaar Kiya) and for some reason I felt happy listening to that song. I never particularly had the digs for it, but somehow listening to it after a long time felt good.

And I love how noiseless and comfortable the Volvos are. If there is one thing that BMTC did right, it was to get these Volvo fleets. In spite of bad roads and hopeless traffic, when you are in the bus, its literally "smooth sailing". There is also a small monitor where you can watch ads and "Tom and Jerry" cartoons (if you get lucky;) ).

The fare is twice as expensive (10Rs. instead of 5Rs.) but hey, I don't mind that so much. Better than paying 30Rs for the auto and enduring all that pollution anyway ;)

I have to mention the music mania here. All buses normally play some FM channel or another, if not for an on-dash music system. And you will find at least 25% of the people in the bus listening to their own songs on their mobile phone (with headphones). So much music was hitherto unseen or unheard of (in 1990s India it was not seen at all I suppose!)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

R2I: Monthly affairs

Subhash had suggested a few months ago that I do a post on how much it costs to live in India. As a working semi-IT couple. I thought it might not be of any use to anyone, and kept putting it off. Now I've had at least three requests asking for the same data so I decided to do it after all. Husband knows best, yeah yeah, ok!

Disclaimer: Monthly expenses is highly individual. They vary greatly based on attitude and how free you are with your purse strings, so I will try to keep this as generic as possible.

We live in a proper IT-professionals-infested area. Close to major IT companies, and most of the couples in and around us are like us. Twenty-somethings to thirty-somethings, DINK ones. Its easier to get to work for me this way, but if you live a little far off maybe you will end up saving rent.

Without much further ado, here goes

Rent - 16K
This is the average for our area. You will end up in the +/-3K bracket. For a 2BHK apartment. 3BHKs go up to 22K.

Electricity - 1K

Gas - 500
We take private gas, which is twice as expensive as government ones like Indane, so you can cut that in half if you have an Indane/HP cylinder access.

Petrol - 11K
Subhash drives 14KM one way to work. Plus ours is a 6 year old car, not a stalwart for fuel efficiency. If you live closer to work, this comes down. My expenses are about Rs.100 per month (quite negligible) since I travel by BMTC bus ;)

Trips to TOTAL/Nilgiris/Other places - 9K
Total is where we shop for groceries, toiletteries, creams, deos etc etc etc, THIS will be your huge variable. You can be like me in the past spending strictly what is absolutely needed and not be extravagant and you will chop off a few Ks from this figure. But as is, we are not extremely extravagant or anything, so for a decently liberal spend, you will arrive at around maybe 6-7K. (Sometimes, we buy our comfort zone gora stuff like Honey Bunches of Oats, Banana Nut Crunch, Ragu Pasta Sauce and what not, which are nearly thrice as expensive as lets say a locally made Kellogg's cereal brand. So sometimes it is more expensive than others.)

Medicines etc - 2K
For us major spends are contact lenses and related stuff AND my Dabur Chyawanprash ;)

Travel - 3K
If you count second class fare by Indian Railways to Hyd, you can estimate about 1500 per trip; Bangalore-Hyderabad including autos etc. AC will obviously be higher. Some of our friends travel much more often to Hyd than we do, so this is way higher for them. We are relatively sedentary beings, and we are not doing much travel to Hyd or otherwise this year, so this is below normal for us this year. If you want a holiday to Europe once in a year, you can add about 6K per month per person on an average to this for a decent 15-day long trip. Starting point.

Eating Out - 10K

If you visit a decent upscale restaurant twice a week, (we are doing that now because of this house renovation thingy, no time to come home and cook in the night :( )

Other staple items - 2500 (+2 to 5K Phone)

Cable - 200;Car cleaning - 300; Newspaper - 150; Maid - 1000; Milk - 500 (we spend less than that, not a very milk consuming household, we ;) ) (UPDATED: Landline phone + Mobile (*2) + Internet : 2-5K)

Other Miscellaneous spends - VARIABLE
That TITAN watch, this pair of slippers, that new T-shirt, this new sneakers every now and then. On an average maybe ours comes to 5K a month, MAX.

So a MAXIMUM of 60K per month, if you are living an extremely comfortable and upper-middle-class life and don't want to think before spending on anything.

If you add one travel abroad every year, your expenses will go up to maybe 65K per month on an average, minimum.

Figures do not include investments you make. If you have taken a housing loan, you should add EMI. For a 25 Lakhs loan @ current interest rates, you will shell about 30K per month in EMI.

So plan on your India moves people!


After all the comments, I noticed some things that I have to mention

1) This piece was not to encourage/discourage moves, just to give a perspective :D
This is for a luxurious living. In the same apartment complex, we also have single income families with one or two kids. And they employ maids for looking after kids. (I don't know the cost for this). So they balance it out elsewhere I am guessing.

2) Hyderabad is probably 70-80% as expensive as Bangalore but not a whole lot chepaer. If you live in traditional Hyd which is where we all probably grew up, you will pay only 5-7K on an average as rent. But I must say, if you live close to the Hi-Tec city areas (which is roughly equivalent of where we live in Bangalore) you are also looking at 12K+ rents even in Hyderabad. So rejoice not too soon ;) If you live in traditional Hyd, then you have to allow 2-3 hours for travel but then Hyd has MMTS which Bangalore doesn't. So commute is slightly easier in Hyd than it is in Bangalore.

3) If you are a DINK or a DISK couple, with a good 6-7 average work-exp, you are probably earning about 1.25L on an average in a month in take home (strictly IT industry, but then this whole expense worksheet is ONLY for IT or semi-IT couples:) ). So after spending 60K, whatever is left, you can invest, save, put aside for medical emergencies for parents etc. It is common for parents to have pre-existing conditions these days which most insurance companies do not cover. So you will have to plan for that.

4) I forgot to add Maintenance. We don't pay maintenance right now since brand-new first-occupancy apartments don't incur Maintenance charges. So you are off the hook for about a year to a year-and-a-half. After that, maintenance will be about Re. 1 to Rs. 1.50 per sq foot of your apartment area. So in all this could come to about 1-2K.

5) If you want to enrol at a fitness club, that might be an extra 1-2K per month.

(4 and 5 are reflected above now)

Shoot on anymore questions! :)

Ohh no!

I never thought I'd do this but I have a BAD restaurant review. Hotel in question, "Urban Nawab" on Outer Ring Road near the Marathahalli Staples store. Food: Forgettable.

We went last weekend, Saturday night, with S and V. We asked for Khus Sharbat and we got Sprite. In extra green. We asked what the relation between Sprite and Khus Sharbat was and he changed it from Sprite to Water with Khus flavouring. And since we had made the mistake of pointing out the Sprite, he added extra Khus flavour making it a deep deep green and nauseatingly sweet as a result.

Rest of the food, I don't even want to mention. Suffice to say I had an upset for the next two days.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A mesh of thoughts

(Disclaimer: Too much self-praise, nausea possible!)

Some events trigger some thoughts. Which spin more thoughts. Which spin some more thoughts. Today was one such.

After experiencing a sudden spiraling down of work load, I was getting rather itchy. I had gotten so used to working 15 hour days that 8 hour days were making me edgy. I needed to feel more useful. I needed to feel more capable. Working 8 hour days was not making me feel so capable anymore.

Today I did a couple of things (actually three) which made me feel a sense of achievement of some sorts. One of them was local work. And it earned me some email kudos. Nothing big. Nothing spectacular. Definitely not one of the bigger ones I've earned to date. But it felt good. So I was thinking about it. Was it because it was the first real kudos after moving to India @ work? So far 8 months have gone off just riding on past glory. I was doing my San Jose work, and coaching people out here, helping engineers with their queries and so on, but all that was based on what I did in the past. Nothing new was happening here. Nothing that made people here say "Good".

So I realized that this "feeling of success" needs to constantly fed and fueled. Its definitely not a one-timer event. You achieve success and you are done. No sirree.

The other thing that stemmed out of this is that maybe it felt good because the past few days I did a lot of "gap pointing". In the culture. In the system. In the process. In the inefficiency. (I am a hater for inefficiency in anything). And I was unhappy. Unhappy that I was pointing out gaps. If you've known me for a while, you know that I normally never complain. About anything. So I was unhappy that I was not seeing paradise around me like I normally do. Then I decided to do something about one of the problems (this was at least in my power to make a difference to), instead of just complaining. It was tough. I had some support but it was tough. And I did it. And I felt good. So I realized. Just complaining about things not working makes me feel even more agitated than the stuff that doesn't work. Either I do something to fix it or I don't complain. Period.

I also remembered something that my English lecturer in Francis' wrote in my autograph book. I always remember that whenever I try to get a perspective of where I am. She had said "You always do the best with what you have. You never worry about what you don't have. Keep this up, it will make you successful". Or something to that effect. I felt she was too effusive. I didn't realize till then that I had always tried to do my best with what was given to me. She sort of showed me a me I had not known. This got me thinking.

So long as I didn't know what I was worth, I was good to go. I always worked hard, I always just did what I had to without expecting much. The moment I felt I was doing something extra-ordinary, things changed. And I suddenly started "expecting results". So I feel that the biggest challenge to achieving success is to keep a level head and to continue working just as hard even while keeping in complete perspective the greatness of things you've already done. This is more tricky than it sounds. And I live in constant dread of not being able to achieve this balance. My move to India was a challenge. I came with a lot of baggage. Good baggage, but baggage all the same. "Ohh she knows everything" baggage. Suddenly, I realized, ohh people think I am good. And that threatened to change things. Only my dread of becoming a monster kept me sane. I've regained some balance and learnt to put all that kind of baggage safely stashed in one corner of my brain now. But I should practice this lesson constantly.

I should, if I want to be a successful me :)

All in an evening walk

Boy 1: My building is bigger than yours
Boy 2: My building has 10 floors
Boy 1: But my building is bigger
Boy 2: Where show? See, my building has 10 floors too.

.--walk on--

Boy 1: Hey so stop!
Boy 2: What?
Boy 1: So will you play with those boys?
Boy2: !?
Boy 1: ?????
Boy2: See, if we are not doing anything and they are not doing anything wrong, why should we not play with them?

.--walk on--

Little girl: Hey, get up
Maid : repeat
Littler girl: Smiling like an angel while sitting duck pose
Little girl: She will do poo-poo like that only if you don't make her get up (said to maid)

All some snippets of conversations heard on the way back from work.

My apartment complex has it all. Pregnant moms walking, new moms walking with smaaaaaaaaall kids, 1-2 year olds, 2-3 year olds, 3-4 year olds and so on all the way till 10-15 year olds. Each in their own gang and playing their own games. And if I am lucky to get home by 6 during these removation days, I catch a glimpse of them all! Its truly quite entertaining. I can hardly feel the thakaan of that walk :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

How? Why? What?

Totally random subject. Not related to the post in anyway. Those have been my GTalk statuses last few days. Generally. Just like that.

So the last two weeks have been spent at work and at the new house. Every evening Subhash and I make a site-visit to check on things and make sure work is going ok. In the dark that is. No lights in the house yet since we are getting electrical stuff re-wired as well.

So to get to the house, I take an auto from work. And my relationship with Bangalore auto drivers is not new to you if you've been regular to my blog ;)

So far it goes this way

-Between 1-2 pm - Walk 1 km to get an auto
-Between 3-5 pm- Walk 3/4th KM to get an auto
-After 6 pm- Walk 2.5 KM to get an auto AND pay 20 extra if you are lucky ;) (basically pay the auto driver for the distance that you've walked ;) )

So anyways normally I fall in the after 6 bracket if I've gone to the gym to workout. So its a 2km bonus cool down for me when I do that. Today was one such. But then the auto driver was chatty and the conversation followed along like this

Auto Driver (AD) - Yenu madam Kannada channagi maataadthaidira, neevu Kannada avara?
Me: Haudu Kannada, nanna appa avarudu Mysuru.
AD: Ade ankothaidini, illi yaaru Kannada maathadode illa madam
Me: Haudu yellaru horaginda bandavare alva
AD: Kannada yeshtu easy kariyodu, yaaru kariyode illa
Me: Kannada kariyodu avasara illa alva, English Hindi bandidre sakaagathe. Yellaru office hogodu, manege barodu asthe kelsa, yelli kareethare..

And so on we went to discuss the erstwhile Kemp Fort's status and he opined that this guy would have opened a mall on the new airport road. He wouldn't lose his business so easily you know and all that. And how auto fellows are not allowed into the new airport and how much money he could make if they were ;)

So anyways, I think people, that I can now pass off as a Kannada native, yay!!! for that ;)

Friday, November 07, 2008

What a personality?!

Took a cue from Laksh to take this test ;) You can check it out too ..

The Castle Personality Test
You are a bit tentative when it comes to new experiences. You have to push yourself to try new things, but once you do, you love the adventure.

You don't spend a lot of time thinking about how people see you. You're kind of scared to know what they think.

You are a very romantic person. You can't help but see the world as it should be.

Right now, you feel like the whole world is open to you. You see lots of possibilities.

Overall, your life is calm and steady. Not much stirs you, and each day is full of joy.

You feel like the fate of the future partially rests in your hands. You believe you need to help make the world a better place.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

India's own Obama?

So finally he has done it. America sees its first African-American President. It was a tough choice for a conservative belt. If you want democrats, you either take the first woman President or the first African-American one. I am glad they showed some intellect and voted Obama.

My take on this whole election and the post-election euphoria is that people saw a true leader. At least one that seemed remotely honest and didn't come with that "political manipulation" image. Someone that truly mobilized people and motivated them to get up and take charge if they wanted to change their lives. Youth. I really believe that for the United States to have a Black President, the young and not-so-conservative Americans had to do it, not those conservative very mid-west type people.

When you see the parties after the election results and the enthusiasm of people and the real hope they exude that this will change the course of a failing country, it almost feels like a super-charged game that has been won by the under-dogs.

When did we see such an election in India last? I don't know. With every election, its the same mundane stuff that happens. You vote, you don't vote, people get elected, people don't get elected, life goes on as usual. The only people that celebrate are political party workers and it feels like nobody's business.

Really now, not taking the time to vote or being too lazy to vote is one thing. Not having anyone to vote for is another. If we had a charismatic leader who got us charged about the future of the country being better, who showed an honesty of purpose, who showed that he/she is really interested in doing something good for the country, why wouldn't we vote? And why wouldn't we celebrate his/her victory? But alas, for us, often times the only choice is to vote for the lesser of two evils.

So what I think is that we need a political leader who can generate the same euphoria that, lets say, Sachin Tendulkar used to generate some years ago when he came onto field. I am sure just as people would take any amount of pain to go watch him live, so would they go and vote. And then we will celebrate just like we celebrate a victory over Aussies ;)

When will we have our own Obama?


What is with Indian students being murdered in the US? So many instances these days :(

And the latest is this (video). A friend had left me a message on GTalk last night with this link. Now Prof. Jinaga was Head of Department for ECE (Electronics and Communication Engineering, which is the department I graduated out of) when Subhash was beginning engineering in JNTU and when I joined JNTU, he was Vice-Principal. A much-respected man. So many of his students have gone abroad and done well under his eye in JNTU. I know for sure that at least 90% of his class students migrated to the US, every year, for an MS and a job later on. And when his daughter did the same, this is what happened? It must be really sad for him and his family :( Normally when you hear these things you feel sad and sympathetic for the family. But when you hear that it happened to someone you know, its just that much more personally hurting :( I pray that the Prof and his family have enough strength to tide over this absolute tragedy [-o<

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Back and following

Back from Tirupathi. EMI paying lord, still burdened under his loan, I say! TTD guys swindle so much money making him gold plated gopurams and gold laden stuff that none of that dearie monies is going back to Kuber. And so the loan becomes more and more sub-prime and the EMIs just keep growing in spite of growing donations (donations directly proportional to growing sins and growing populus)

We climbed the hill by foot for the first time and managed to scrape through decently :) Darshan was the best we've ever had. A full minute maybe, thanks to V's bro-in-law and his high recommendation ;) But really, nothing works in Tirumala these days without recommendation. I wonder how people without recommendation manage :( Even as late as 2004, me and my mom managed to go without any recos and even found accommodation impromptu which has become unheard of these days.

Anyways, back and busy now. Tiles, wall tiles, demolition, cement, paint, wood, doors, windows etc, discussions follow in not necessarily the same order. Managing ok so far since work load is not imposing, yet. Thank God! Else, the stress was going to kill me.

Following the US election. Yeah, US election means the media assumes that the whole world is interested, so no point cribbing how the TV is full of it. I am hoping the American populace is not dumb enough this time around to put McCain in the hot seat. When Bush won in 2004, I was literally shocked at the stupidity of those American citizens. But then maybe it wasn't such a free and fair election after all. And also I mainly blame Kerry for Bush's win. He just wasn't a strong enough or charismatic enough opponent. Even I would find it tough to decide between Bush and Kerry, and THAT is saying something;) Anyways, my entire 7 years in the US was spent singularly under Bush's rule. (2001 to 2008) So much so that Subhash calls him my favourite Prezzy. Yeah, of course, why not. No one hates him more than I do. Joker, saala.

And the next time I go to the US, I am hoping to go under Democratic rule. Enough of hopping in and out of Bush's America. Now I want to hop in and out of Obama's America :D ;)