The Perfect Road Trip

The Perfect Road Trip
Runners Up Award- Ambipur Contest

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My First Expert


With three noisy sons scampering around the house with never ending energy to drive anyone crazy, it must have been a harrowing time for her. To raise three sons just a year apart who could conjure ways to indulge in all pranks, fight, create ruckus must have been a daunting task. Still she never lost her cool or patience. When I look back, I realize how much of time she devoted in raising us and for having made gentlemen out of little devils. Since we had no sister at home, she ensured that we did not turn into men who do not respect the women later in our lives. She would get us occupied with things that were never considered to be a boys domain. We played Cricket, Football and also ‘Pittho’ with the neighboring girls. When tired and filthy after returning home, she would involve us in chores like peeling boiled potatoes, chopping lady fingers to assist her in cooking. It was these small things that taught all of us the basics of cooking. We did make many mistakes, sometimes hurt ourselves but she stood by our side and explained with patience how to do things correctly. As we belonged to a middle class family, our parents ensured that we get the best of education and sent us to good schools. To earn the extra income she travelled by bus each day to a school away from our house. She never failed to feed us well in the morning and packing scrumptious lunch box every day.

During the vacations she would spend time with us to teach small things like tidying up the house, serving guests, and praised us in front of the others so that the self-esteem never took a knock. By the time we reached our teens we had pretty much learnt to be self-sufficient in terms of going to schools located at other end of the city in public transport, and maintaining our uniforms. Small lessons in stitching to mend our shirt buttons, stitch a hook on the pants when it came off, has served all of us well.

 Mother was an excellent cook and would make all sweets and savories at home. She made pickles during the changing seasons with mangoes, lemons, carrots, and cauliflower. We would just gather around and watch her intently to learn the small tricks to preserve these.

She never allowed any unruly behavior and we did get smacked for misdemeanors but it was just being corrective.

It is said that as god could not be everywhere he created mothers. She was a friend, philosopher and guide. She would read the scriptures and narrate stories from the epic’ Ramayana and Mahabharata. She stitched our clothes on festivals and purchased story books to get us interested in reading. I got a princely sum of Rs 3/ every month to buy an Enid Blyton which I still have kept as a treasure and  passed on to my daughter. It would not be an understatement to thank mother for what I am today and for teaching me lessons on self-reliance which have served me well in life!

PS: This post is my entry for the Godrej/Indiblogger sponsored contest ’ My First Expert’ http://godrejexpert.com/single_used_pack.php

Friday, May 15, 2015

Little Genie


He has got that strange tattoo on his hand. He loves to play the music loud, she wears a short dress, see what funny hairstyle … and it goes on. The youngsters define the style quotient and make themselves heard and express how they would like to see the world around them. It is not surprising to see one company in synchronism with the youthful desires. It is none other than Airtel which has been continuously revamping its image and brand in tune with the changing times. The new smart phones are a rage amongst the youth. The biggest brand, Airtel is keeping pace with the fast evolving technology and modern global trends in launching the latest products be it smart phones, hand held devices  or technologies like LTE(4G). 

My Airtel Apps is an endeavor in this direction to offer the latest with good user experience and friendly user interfaces.  It continues to surprise its customers with goodies and pleasantries on every recharge; one can collect rewards in form of food, gift items and entertainment coupons from the leading brands like CafĂ© Coffee Day, Flipkart, Archies and many more.

The App also has a feature ‘I want to’ which provides short cut for Bill payment, Recharge, buying packs. It also provides the convenience of recording programs, downloading games, checking the balance, the data consumption details and history of recharges done. In short everything one would like to see and do.

The App takes care of all the safety concerns while doing mobile payments by incorporating features like PCIDSS certification and stored card details. The ease provided ensures that one need not remember the credit card details while initiating payments.

Some other very user friendly features that stand out are as follows:

·         Adding and removing services to one’s liking

·         One touch internet which gives lightning fast browsing especially when connected to ‘Airtel Live’. The glitch free video downloads enhances the experience when watching sports, music performances or movies.

·         The system is capable of giving alerts whenever the balance becomes low when availing prepaid services

·         In case of postpaid subscribers it is possible to check the history of past payments and thereby tracking expense

The My Airtel App is a free download for all Android devices and in future is likely to be available on the other operating systems like Apple IOS, Windows, Ovi Nokia and Blackberry. Besides all these, the incentives like cash back, free downloads act like catalyst for the users to enhance the feel good factor’! The cluttered domain of mobile world with multiple operators to choose from makes it difficult for end user to make a decision. Some good decisions like using My Airtel App will continue to lead the flock!(http://www.airtel.in/myairtel.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Tremors of Rage


The unchecked greed, the lustful eyes

      Raped and plundered the mother divine

For countless years they cut down trees

   Built towering edifices, on valleys green

Converted crystal blue rivers and ponds

     Into cesspools and murky pools of scorn

The lofty spires and statues filled space

    Replacing clean blue sky with dust and haze

It’s time to teach lessons few,

   To check desires to a heightened new

Every now n then there comes a flood

  Followed with a famine with gust renewed

The earth shakes and trembles with rage

   Scurrying humans to find  places safe

It’s time to pause n make new amends

  Lest we face extinction n see a dark end
 
PS : Image kind courtesy Google.(http://greenyatra.org/)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A New Kid on the Block


If one was to ask which technology has impacted the most, since the evolution of mankind, I am sure many things will come to mind but undoubtedly the way mobile technology has evolved in less than two decades there would be few parallels. From bulky phones with small displays and just basic function of voice calls and text messages and a few value added services like voice mail in yesteryears, the scenario has undergone a sea change.  The market is now cluttered with so many phones in different price/features segments that customers are spoilt for choices. There are some basic phones with add-on features like FM radio and a basic camera to the sleek , designer smartphones with huge screens and ‘just name the feature and you have it’! There are many variants available but it is difficult to ‘home on’ and short list one. Working in an environment where one only talks about phones it becomes even more difficult to choose one! The new Zenfone- 2 would be my choice for some of the most brilliant features that have been incorporated in the design. The most appealing features that are impressive and out of the world are as follows:

a)     Dimensions and Weight: A phone which is oversized and overweight is difficult to carry and is a liability! The Zenfone 2 with dimensions of 77.2X152.5X3.9 mm and 170gm of weight is just perfect when it comes to portability and ease of carrying.

b)    Future Ready: This is one phone which has the most amazing capability of being useful in the traditional 2G, 3G and LTE (4G) environment. There are a very few phones that can support all these. If an investment is made today in this phone, one can carry this phone in any part of the world and use it with ease. It will work fine in the remotest part of the world and is future proof as LTE is yet to make a foray commercially, in India and many other countries.

c)     Battery recharge: Most of the smart phones in market today consume a lot of power leaving the phone drained by the evening due to the multiple applications that are running on them. The unique feature of charging the phone battery to 60% within 39 minutes is very reassuring besides availability of a sleek power pack as an accessory

d)    Enhanced 4GB RAM along with a 2.3 Ghz processor which can make the phone work at a lightning speed with the latest state of the art technology. This will give a unique user experience in downloading huge files, gaming, music and glitch free high quality videos.

e)     Connectivity – The Zenfone 2 can work in all environments with ease and can be connected with ease with Bluetooth devices, Wi fi and USB. Thus one need not worry of added expense especially when traveling abroad to pay hefty roaming charges. One can get connected in a Wi fi zone and continue calling with Apps like Skype, Line etc with ease.

ASUS is a market leader and has brought very cost effective solutions with the cutting edge technology. The new Zenfone 2 will make the race even hotter with their brand new product!
(http://www.asus.com/Phones/ZenFone_2_ZE551ML/.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Day to Remember


A slow trickle of guests started to come as my father was pleasantly surprised. It was his 75th birthday and we had kept it a closely guarded secret to celebrate the occasion. The preparations started almost a month in advance to send the invitations to all my uncles and aunts, their children and some very close friends. It was a hush affair to  ensure that the element of surprise is maintained.

On the D day I and my wife woke up early and most of the preparations were completed by the day break where the entire food was prepared at home with a helping hand from my side.  When my father woke up we wished him with a bouquet of flowers and then had a nice sumptuous breakfast while the telephone kept ringing every now and then for someone conveying the greetings and best wishes.

Around 11 AM the first guest appeared and till afternoon it was a grandiose affair. Around fifty guests had shown up and it was most satisfying to see the glint of happiness in his eyes as more people showed up. The food that was prepared started vanishing fast and everyone contributed to the event.  Someone refilled the glasses of cold drinks while others circulated the small eats! What came in as a pleasant shock was that the stuffed karelas were devoured off as small eats while the table was being laid for the lunch! It was a totally conventional food all cooked at home, comprising kabuli chana, jackfruit kofta, aloo subzi, pooris, dahi vada, stuffed capsicum and stuffed karela with raita!  The guests kept pouring in till past 4 pm and it was a celebration that became memorable for more than one reason. It was after a long time so many of our cousins and family members had been able to unite on the occasion! All the guests were thrilled to eat the home cooked food that had been prepared without giving a wind to what is cooking! By evening all the guests had left and my father looked jubilant with the surprise party that was thrown. The biggest reward for us that day was to see the gleam in his eyes for a small gesture for which my wife had spent long hours to make it a success. These are one of the few moments in life that go down the memory leaving a sense of satisfaction which no amount of money can buy.
PS:“I am participating in the #DilKiDealOnSnapdeal activity at BlogAdda in association with SnapDeal.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Digital Revolution




Ever since the dawn of Digital Age, India has played a dominant role in the global arena by leading in the domain of software development. It has a huge pool of managers driving the cutting edge technologies in the IT and consumer world. It is not unusual to find engineers/ managers as key contributors in global technology companies. After having witnessed the ‘green revolution’ and the ‘white revolution’ the time has now come to usher a ‘digital revolution’ in the country! This can best be accomplished by paving way for ‘E Governance’ which can change the life of teeming millions in the country.

What is E Governance?

The application of Information Technology and Communication Systems to deliver the services of government constitutes the ‘E Governance’. This ensures that transactions and service delivery between the government agencies, the end customers and business happens seamlessly. If used optimally, this can increase the welfare of people by a ‘quantum jump’.

Service Delivery

The aspect of service delivery is of utmost importance to ensure that the system works especially when interacting with citizens and business alike. The scope is immense and range from registration of births and deaths, issue of licenses, payment of utility bills, insurance sector, crop yield, weather data, break-down of services during natural calamities, issue of passports, customs and excise, universal identification, job and education opportunities, results of examinations, medical services and countless others.

Benefits of E Governance

Almost every walk of life can be touched within the ambit of E governance. Major benefits that can accrue are as follows:

1.    Transparency of services

2.    Minimizing the delays

3.    Improvement in the quality of services

4.    Services are offered in user friendly environment

5.    Increased Accountability of those providing services

6.    Accessibility to a very large number of end users in several domains

7.    Scalability of the operations

8.    Public, Private, Partnerships

Impediments in E Governance

There are several factors that act as impediments in E Governance and some of the ones that are critical to the success of this scheme are as follows:

1.    Low levels of Awareness: The campaigns do not get enough publicity. The low levels of education often act as barriers in understanding. Any program undertaken must be able to strike a chord with the people at grass root level and must be easy to adopt.

2.    The interfaces like the tablets, laptops, smartphones and other devices must be available at low cost. At panchayat level funds should be made available to promote their use.

3.    There are several existing Social interworking sites like “Facebook’, ‘Twitter’ and ‘Whatsapp’ that can be easily integrated with the framework where it becomes easy to interact with people. Delhi Police has been using a Facebook page for grievance redress.

4.    Forward and backward linkages with networks and servers are critical to the success of this scheme

5.    Ease of use by the citizens with minimum requirements of data entry in the user multilingual interfaces.

6.    Credibility of services offered is  important as the trust of people can be built by ensuring low turnaround time ( which should  in fixed) for passing the benefit

7.    Simplifying the procedures, which are otherwise quite complex in current scenario

8.    These projects require a huge financial outlay for acquiring the state of the art servers, communication systems and transmission media like optical fiber networks, microwave equipment etc, so capital costs are high.

9.    In order to efficiently manage the systems, training of the people manning these would be a huge challenge.

10.  To maintain their availability 24X7 for 365 days, the systems must be reliable with back up facilities of hardware and power systems.

Currently most of the ‘E Governance’ projects are run on a pilot basis or on a smaller scale. The true test of their success will be gauged only if these are scaled up operations covering a district and possibly a state. If some of these models are successful, they can be replicated. E governance has a bright future only if the momentum is maintained and there is a determination to bring a change, for better tomorrow!

PS1. Image Kind Courtesy Google
   2. This post is my entry for Intel/ Indiblogger sponsored contest’ Digital India Vision’ (http://www.intel.in/)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Eat Breakfast like a King


The smell of cooking that wafts through the kitchen from Guptaji’s house, who lives next door is mesmerizing! There have been occasions when my attention got diverted to an extent, that by mistake I rang the bell of their house instead of mine! Fortunately, before they opened the door, I realized my folly and quickly retraced the steps back home lest I make a complete fool of myself! Last weekend, when I was just getting ready to go out, the bell rang and there stood, Mrs and Mr Gupta.  I greeted them and ushered them inside! We talked for about an hour discussing several things when they stood up and got ready to leave.

‘Why don’t you come home for breakfast tomorrow’ Mrs Gupta asked my wife. ‘It has been a long time,’ she continued.

We could not refuse the lovely invitation and thanked them for their kindness.

Next morning, we got dressed for the occasion, and landed at their house exactly at 9AM. Mrs Gupta opened the door. She greeted us  and asked us to join them directly at the dining table which was beautifully laid out. The forks and spoons were neatly arranged on spotless white table cloth and the glassware sparkled. Radhika , their daughter came and wished us as she helped her mother in laying the table. We kept joking till the food arrived. There was fresh orange juice, a heap of choco-cornflakes, cold milk and fresh slices of papaya, peeled oranges, grapes and currants. Two big porcelain dishes arrived and were carefully laid on the table. As the lid was removed steam emanated and filled the air with an aroma which elevated the spirits! Before we could adjust our eyes two more trays arrived with steaming hot bhatura and another tray containing Khandvi( a gujrati dish). The kabuli chana garnished with coriander, sliced green chili and small chopped onions and sooji halwa with fragrance of cardamoms and lavish sprinkling of diced almonds and cashew nuts were difficult to resist. I regretted for having helped myself to fruits, rather than wait with  patience to indulge in the lavish spread that was to follow!
The tender ‘Khandvi’ decorated with grated fresh coconut, laced with chutney melted in the mouth leaving a trail of soothing satisfaction! Next I demolished the two huge bhaturas that continued to send trail of hot air till the very end with the delicious tangy flavor of  kabuli chana! The Kabuli chana that Mrs Gupta had prepared were a good match to a similar preparation of ‘Kesar da Dhaba’ in Amritsar! She sure had a of ‘Midas Touch’ to make the food taste gorgeous! The grand finale was the ‘Sooji Halwa’ and the lovely cup of freshly brewed Cardamom/ Ginger tea!

It was breakfast befitting a king and there was no place now left to eat lunch like a prince! I could only think of having the next meal like a beggar now!

So anytime an invitation from Guptaji is the time  to go on an eating binge!