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Showing posts from 2014

Preparing for a trip to Kenya

This is my Nth trip to Kenya, primarily Nairobi in the last 6 months. I have spent 90% of my time till date in this beautiful country. The experience has been amazing and enriching. I have met people from various countries across the globe, observed the life of a Kenyan closely, basked in the natural beauty of this country and as a result changed for the better, as a human being.
Like always,  I am planning to write a series of posts about the experiences I have gathered, Inshallah! Time will tell, whether, like always, I will fail. :-) But, like the journey of an engineering degree starts with the first back, I will start with this introductory post, my first step. This one is just about how to prepare for a trip to Kenya, from India that is. If you are travelling for the first time to Africa, your trip preparations should start at least 45 days in advance. This is mainly for the yellow fever and oral polio vaccine that one needs to take before coming to this country. Mind you, you can…

The disconnected world

So, the world is a global village! Stuff and people moves across continent in days if not hours. Information travels in milliseconds and technology changes every hour. So when someone wears a fine pair of snickers, they don't really care if it was manufactured in a sweatshop in Bangladesh in totally inhuman working conditions. They just buy them in an air conditioned shop (or better still, on line from the comfort of the couch). Everyone is in for a 'good deal'. The person who has provided us with the product or service is in some far away land majority of the time. This has made us all ungrateful. If the Internet 
Now, Imagine a world about 50 years ago. People cared more than they do now. Because everyone who catered to you, lived around you. It was a more human world.People cared about other people. Your tailor mattered to you. Even if you had a fight with him, he was still part of your village and your world. So was the carpenter, the mail man, the farmer ...everyone.…

What development do we need

India has elected a new government based on the promise of development. Wider roads, more free water, more industry, better power (electricity) supply etc. And within days of swearing in, this government has kicked into action to deliver. Deliver, it will, what we expect. But have we 'base-lined' our definition of development?  As a nation, development or growth still is measured in terms of GDP, roads, FDI, malls, construction, number of millionaires and everything that can be counted! There is no real measure for inclusive growth. What developed nation would have people dying of hunger? Would GDP measure the plundering of natural resources and the irreversible nature of this 'growth'? Is this growth healthy? It is time we start looking at other nations who have plateaued on development and learn from their experience. Course correction for such a large country will be painful. But sooner the better. And the government needs to lead the way. Instead of giving in to t…

Learning from a business trip

I am currently on a short business trip to Nairobi, Kenya. While I sat in my overnight flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, tired from all the running around I had to do, I decided to learn from this experience. The overweight luggage, carrying things I didn't need, hat books to carry etc. Now, the experiences here are personal. So, to some of you, it may be quite obvious or irrelevant. But, pick what you like.
1.  Starting early - start everything early. Start packing early. Start weighing your luggage early, contact the hotel early. Book the cab early. Do everything earlier than you think is 'sufficient'. People may think you are crazy. But they are not going to run around for you. So screw them!
2.  Invest in bags - If you are a frequent air traveller, invest in good bags. Light, sturdy and those that will keeps your stuff in place. My biggest mistake on this trip was to carry a suitcase that was utilised only 70%. There are multiple problems with this. Firstly, the bag eats in…

How to pay property tax in Hyderabad

It's that time of the year when the GHMC property tax notice has reached you and you want to pay the tax before deadline (30th June 2014) without attracting penalty.
While GHMC tells you there are multiple ways of paying, ranging from online (most convenient) to visiting the circle office (least convenient), all of them have their plus and minus points.
While online payment is most convenient, most of the time it doesn't work and an error is thrown . You end up wondering if it really got paid or not.
Paying at the Municipality circle office is the most sure shot way, but they follow strict office timings (which coincide with your office timings), are crowded and they accept only DDs.
From my experience, the most convenient way to pay GHMC property tax is through APonline or eSeva counters. These have extended working hours, are plenty in numbers and are not much crowded. The only flip side is they accept cash only. Moreover, they charge a commission of Rs.10 per Rs.1000 paid …

He now wants a smartphone

My father is a doctor and will turn 62 in a few months. He contested the Lok Sabha election in March 2014. And all the volunteers who worked for him told him he now needs a smart phone. So that they could connect with him on WhatsApp. So he asked me for advise on buying a smart phone.
I, on the other hand, am trying to run away from a hand held device. The only utility that my existing device has is it let's me remain connected with my official email and chat while on the move. I am thinking I will trade my device for my father's conventional mobile phone. I will do it as an experiment.
The experiment will server quite a few purposes. One, it will help my father get used to a touch based, low battery smart phone. Two, it will allow me get used to a life without a smart phone. And three, for the time being, we won't add to the unnecessary stuff in the world by just going ahead and buying a new phone for my father. Let's see how that goes.

The politics of pupular decisions

Two years ago when the BJP Government came to power, they reduced the VAT on Petrol to 0.1%. This was one of the most popular decision by this government. It also received a wide national publicity. All the countrymen applauded the Goa government's decision and judged Goa to be a progressive state just based on the fuel prices. There is no doubt Goa is a progressive state, but this is a wrong measure! The Goa government's intention was probably to insulate the common man from increase in petroleum prices. But, in my opinion, there are better ways of doing this. How about overhauling the public transport? Since the implementation of this VAT reduction, Goa has lost about Rs.300 crore worth of potential revenue. Had this money been used for a up-gradation of state owned public transport, it would have had a far wider impact than reduction in Petrol VAT. Not to forget, it would have generated revenue, jobs and made the roads in Goa far more free. The Goa government already distr…

Hyderabad to Goa by Road...again

This is is update to my previous post on travelling from Hyderabad to Goa by road.
I did this trip again on 28th March 2014. But this time I took a different route.


This is a pretty decent road except for the road from Raichur to Belgaum. There are unmarked speed breakers that make it really horrid to drive on. We (I had a co-driver) did the distance in 12 hours with all breaks. Remember NOT to take the Khanapur --> Anamod route when going from Belgaum to Goa. Take the Chorla ghaat. And if you are taking the route for the first time, try to make it in the day time. Happy driving!

A new life

There comes a point in life where you start questioning everything. Call it mid life crisis or whatever you may, you want to know stuff, want to be more rooted and productive in every possible way. I have been living a pretty much a procrastinator's life all along. Looking for some greater good to happen.  But today is the day. I was going through this website - www.storyofstuff.com  . It's not the first time I have come across this thought process. I have read about frugal living (www.raptitude.com), met a few people who believe & practise sustainable development/ livelihood. I have read books, attended seminars and thought I'd done my bit. But I always thought that it was some sort of a fad. I hadn't bought the idea completely. But today, I am sold on it! I begin today by not using the air conditioner. I usually sleep in an air conditioned room; Telling myself that keeping it on for a couple of hours is not going to cause much harm! But today onward, I switch it…

How to change flat ownership in GHMC records

It's been close to a year since we bought a new flat in Hyderabad. It has been one hell of a learning exercise for the sheer amount of paper work and procedures it involved before, during or after the purchase. Buying a house in Hyderabad has been an exciting and taxing journey, so far. All through this journey, I had a desire to document my experiences so that it would help others who wished to be helped. But luck, laziness and life kept me away from this. However, I'll at least start now with an account of what needs to be done to change the ownership records in GHMC [Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation]. The first time it struck me that I need to do this is when I received a property tax notice addressed to the previous owner of the flat (we made a second hand purchase). All along I thought once I had registered with the land records department, the government would take care of updating all other records. I was so wrong! So, I rushed to the nearest Municipal Citizen S…

How to have an effective communication with a toddler

I have a 27 month (2 year +)  old daughter and she is a handful. Hence, my opinion in this post is not based on hearsay or from other parenting blogs, but from our experiences with our daughter. And like most learning, these have also majorly come from failing to communicate in the first place. 
1. Kids don't understand sarcasm 2 year old kids are at the very nascent stages of communication learning curve. They don't understand complex of figure of speech like sarcasm or rhetorical questions. I'm sure every parent is aware but this point gets missed in the heat of the moment. So when your kid has just emptied an entire glass full of juice on your couch and you should 'neat! that should make you happy. no?'. They don't know what you mean! You are only spending your intellect on something totally uncalled for.
2. They are allowed to shout; you are not. It's not a parliament where you will win (or assume to have won) an argument by shouting on top of each other…

Consume or Create

This post is a result of a brief discussion I had with a dear friend over chai a few days ago. At various levels of our existence, we are always consuming something. Water, food, literature, information, petrol, music and Oxygen if not doing anything else. If we choose to be, we can be consumers forever, almost parasites. But then there is a part of us that wants to be 'creative'. We want to be making something, creating something. And to be creating something, we should be well aware of the consumer. A good photographer should have seen a lot of good photographs. A good actor should have seen a lot of good performances. You get the point! But then where do I draw the line? When does one say, 'Ok. I have seen enough, now let me do something about it!'. I am in a state right now where the social network and the Internet is showing diminishing returns. When someone shows me that '10 most beautiful photographs of 2013' post, I say to myself  "so what?".…

Should water be free

Let me leave this question unanswered by telling you a tale of 2 states -
I belong to a place of abundant and free water - Goa. My village is self sustaining in terms of water ( in fact surplus) and hence water is free there. We have a well in our backyard that gives us enough water through the year. Though this is a function of geographical advantage that Goa has, we have taken extra efforts to deploy rain water harvesting to recharge our well. The government as well has a water shed development program across the state. In other words, we earn our water. 
I currently reside in a water deficit place - Hyderabad. Hyderabad is so unplanned and densely populated that it is almost impossible to make it self sustaining for water. Last summer, we ran out of water (like every other summer). Our bore-wells (that run thousands of feet deep) ran dry. The tankers took care of our water needs. These tankers were filled on government owned bore-wells in nearby villages. And one day the inevitabl…