Showing posts with label rant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rant. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

GMail’s confusing icons

 

For a long time now, I have hated GMail’s icons on the main toolbar. Specially on the app. It doesn’t make sense, and they are confusing. I wonder who are the numbnuts who came up with them, and on what basis.

Thankfully, others too have felt the problem. And somebody else wrote about it. Read on.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

India’s education mess

 
Today I saw a full two page ad in the national newspaper from Byju, the online student’s coaching startup. A full two pages about their free conselling session at home. This is despite the fact that their ads were recently blocked by ASCI in January this year for un-substantiated claims.
The Indian education system is a collage of contradictions. Its surprising that the world's largest democracy does not have a stable, self-sustaining system of eduction which can cater to the needs of millions of youngsters seeking education in the country. Successive governments have tried to 'reform' the education scene, whatever that means, but every time they have attempted so, something else has been broken. I  have been reading all kinds of news relating to India's education these past months, and they remind me of the hurdle I myself had to go through to reach where I am today.
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These are the weeks of student winners, it is the time when various education institutions in the country announce the results of the 'toppers' in their examinations. It starts with the central government's CBSE announcing the names of students who scored highest in each of India's 29 states. There are two sets of exams, for 10th and 12th grades. I never understood why the 10th grades are so important, seeing that it is the 12 th grade marks which act as the qualifier for college admissions.

But wait, these are just central board. Every state has their own 'board' of education, and have students enrolled for 10th and 12th grade exams. And with 29 states, that is a lot of student toppers ! And then there is one more private, central school education board called ICSE, but no one seems to care about them.
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Admissions to India's public colleges are based on the marks students score in these 'board exams'. Arts, science and language colleges setup a cut-off mark as the minimum marks required to gain admissions to their subsidized education courses. But simply scoring these minimum marks does not automatically guarantee admission, frequently parents arrange 'recommendation letters' from ministers and high profile officers and even religious heads as additional assurance. colleges also arrange for their own admission tests inorder to screen candidates. And some of those screening test are the toughest to crack in this country. 

The two streams of education most sought after after 12th grade education are Engineering and Medical courses. Students who pass out of these courses are trained engineers and doctors. And because of the demand and the overwhelming population of students applying,  the central and state governments have been organizing these 'entrance tests' at central and state level. Objective style reasoning tests with negative marks help screen the best of the best of millions of science graduates attempting to gain entrance to subsidized education. And there are so few seats up for grabs that there is immense competition.  For instance, only 4 of the 100 candidates attempting The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for medicine will win a seat. It is a little better for engineering seats, but that is only because there are more seats available.

And so, when the results of these entrance exams are announced, the toppers are again celebrated in the media. There are long interviews of the students, with their families and teachers, to understand how they cracked the system. And what are their tips and tricks to similar students who are attempting these tests in the future. Hell, some even appear on national TV, speaking about their experiences and giving out advise. Probably no other country parade their top scorers in TV like India does. In India, toppers are celebrities !

But again, these are the subsidized education seats we are talking about. The mafia in the private colleges are at an entirely different level. Education has turned to business in India, and if you don't have the wits to get a seat, you can definitely buy one. This is where the picture starts to turn bleak. Anticipating huge number of students who will not be able to clear the national tests, private colleges have mushroomed across the country, offering the same courses for a much higher price. In a way, private education is for the rich, but not academically gifted. The fees being charged at some of these institutes is so high that in recent years, majority of the seats remain unfilled.
Recently there was a directive to shut down as many as 150 colleges across India how had less than 50% of their seats filled. Just let that sink in.

Instead of trying and subsidising these additional seats in some way for the poorer students, the government simply wants to shut them down. Amazing governance.

But no test, repeat, no other is as tough and prestigious to crack as the Indian Civil Service exams. IAS exams. These are not education courses, but actual jobs people are applying for. Candidates need to have college degrees, and have to study additional subjects which are not covered by their college education. The civil services exam has among the lowest success rates among competitive examinations in the world, with a success percentage of less than .1 percent. Less than .1 percent of the applicants will land a job. Only one in every 10 candidate succeeds in the first attempt. There are people attempting upto 6 times, and some candidates can keep on trying until age 37 ! 
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And as always, the IAS toppers are the media's favourites. The sheer prestige and security of the jobs means that anybody IAS topper is seen as the hardest, most hard-working and able minded of students. I think the assumption is that they will never have to face any problem in their life from that point onwards. They have cracked the system. Now they can sit back and reap the benefits, while the rest of us fight it out among ourselves.

The tale of getting into the civil services is one of hard work and dogged perseverance. That’s why it is all the more baffling how the Indian bureaucracy, which comprises such hard-working and committed people, earned the disrepute of running what is considered an inefficient government machinery.
They say history is written only by the winners. And this is in fact , true. Nobody talks about the trials and tribualations of the losers. Those who put in whatever they could, but failed to clear the system. Despite all these ‘free seats’ or subsidized seats, millions of students fail to get a chance to pursue their choice of education in this country. India also has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, one student kills self about every hour in the country. 
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Yet, no one talks about them. They are just the collateral of having a skewed public education system, one which relies on intense competition. It is a broken system, and somehow the authorities have managed to make it even worse everytime they try to change something. I had it much better and easier 15 years ago. The future generations are going to have to struggle very hard to just maintain the pace.

It is case of textbook Darwinism: survival of the super-ultra-mega smartest.

Friday, March 23, 2018

India’s GST is so complex, its a joke

 

And that is not my opinion, it is of the World Bank.  Their annual India development report paints a fuzzy greyish image of India’s  financial governance, not too patronizing, but not too harsh either. Here is the graph:

 

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Its very weird seeing India featuring on the wrong side of the graph, while all the developed countries have a lower rate !!

The World Bank’ report provides that 49 countries employ single tax slab of GST, 28 countries use dual tax slab of GST, 5 nations including India apply four non-zero slabs of GST and rest of the countries (in list of 115 countries) enforce four or more slabs of GST. It was detected that as a consequence of the GST, firms are forced to bear increased administrative costs at a burdensome rate and the snail process of tax refund caused the firms to lock up the working capital.

The reason for high compliance costs is the prevalence of multiple tax rates mandating the firms the necessity to classify inputs and outputs based on the applicable tax rate.

Unfortunately, its already too late. They cannot make the system easier by adding more rules. Moroever , it is now a matter of political pride for the incumbent government to maintain the new rates system.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Communal chaos in South Asia

 

Communal chaos is brewing in South Asia. After centuries of ‘peace’ and ‘co-existence’, religion is now coming in the way of peaceful governance. India has always had it, like the 1992 Bombay riotsPakistan had it. Then out of nowhere, Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis got world attention. And then, just when everyone thought things cannot get any worse, Sri Lanka has declared an emergency due to communal clashes.

 

If anything, this is proof that there is no God. Only religion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Good show

 

Good show, India. Nice going at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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Our school children will have no problems if these questions are asked to them.

By the way, do you know who was the first Indian at the Winter Olympics ? It was Jeremy Bujakowski.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Rough start

 

This is crazy. Its only been a week into the new year and things are already to a rough start. Lets see..

First thing in the new year, this thing happened. First tweet of the new year !

Trump tweeted that he has a "bigger" and "more powerful" nuclear button than North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

A new book says Trump never planned on winning the election.

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Closer home, there were multiple fires in Indian capitals.

Access to the aadhaar database has been leaked. And UIDAI is crucifying the messenger. Lead by example.

The US is mulling changes to its visas. And this has got India rattled.

There has already been 34 terrorist incidents this last one week.

The US is freezing up, and it is simmering down under.

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Way to go, world ! Just 51 more weeks left.

 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Does quikr , olx work ?

 

After all the buying online, it was finally time to sell something online for me. I was moving, and wanted to dispose off some things second hand , which were in fairly good condition. Being in the tech city, it was obvious the answer was online. So I installed apps of the two top reselling apps in ‘demand’. And tried my hand on trying to make a little profit instead of giving things away for free.

Well, it did not work. Some did. But mostly not. Instead of what I thought were  intelligent, careful buyers who would ask questions about what I was selling, I was greeted by a horde of deal jumping numbskulls with quick fingers. The only question they asked were: can you reduce the price to zero ? Something very low. You get the point. I had success selling a steel cupboard when I reduced the price to 50% of what I had paid originally. But for everything else, the buyer wanted the product for free. Even when I asked them to come over and inspect the goods to check its quality , to justify my asking price, they flatly refused. All they were doing were judging the quality of the goods on sale looking at the picture. And thats it.

This poses a problem. What you sell must be in good condition, or it will be returned. But if it is in very good condition, you wont get a good price for it. So basically, you can only sell off things in good condition for throw away prices. Basically its a market to dispose of good things at near zero prices.

Some years ago I was building a top CRM product for eBay. You know, the online auction company ? The site which started the whole online auction and marketplace business, now left for dust. I could see production data were customers were debating the quality of items sold. Some customers had clearly been cheaten, sellers sold a box of bricks packaged as UPS batteries and electronics. But there were also lots of complaints of ‘bad condition’ and ‘poor quality’ in them. In most cases, eBay policy meant reversing the sale, and they were loosing money taking care of the logistics expenses. Thankfully I was not a case agent, I was just building the CRM system for the agents. But I could see that they had a lot of work cut out for them, even with all the automation we built for them.

Sites like quikr and olx are quick ways to dispose off your good condition stuff you no longer need. But for dirt cheap prices. Don’t expect to make money off them, specially after their sale commissions.

Well, coming back to my problem, I found success somewhere else. Another new second hand furniture service called gozefo. These guys buy your funiture and appliaces, refurbish and sell them. They will still offer you less, but before arriving at the final price, they send an agent over to inspect the goods. The technician verifiies the goods are in good condition and then quotes a value. They take away the goods in 24 hours, and sell it refurbished via their online marketplace.

Its a much better service, if you want to talk some more sane buyers.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Media is powerless

 

While growing up, we were taught at school that journalism is one of the most important & powerful career choices open to us. Because it takes an army of truth-reporters to breakdown the days news so that it can be understood by the common man. He who wields the pen, the pen is migthier than sword pen, has more power than the forces. Or so were were told. So it is disheartening to see how journalism and media are losing the war. Politiicians, corrupt or otherwise, are growing in power and are in control of the narrative, and media has no other option but to report as mute spectators.

I first came to notice this about 2 years ago, when assaults against reporters were reported in the Indian media. Any paper critical of the party in power or government, would be served defamation cases. Then the free and fair media were denied permission to report from courts etc. Then it became clear that the people who read thorough researched journalism did not vote,  and those who voted, did not read. Every big decision of the governement was criticized, clinically, by supportive facts and figures. But people failed to take notice. And nothing changed.

Demonitization was critcized, but to no avail.

The ill affects of GST were predicted. But no one cared. And the economy fell anyway.

Communal clashes were widely reported. But what changed ?

Rising crime against women were reported. But the crime only grew.

 

Although I speak of Indian media, it is a similiar story everywhere else. The biggest dumbstruck moment in 2016 was when no US-media could predict a Trump victory. All their prediction models and alaytics failed. In the US, its painful to see virtually every channel and talk show criticizing the administrations actions, yet not being able to keep them in check.

Late night shows in US have to demean themselves by making fun of….the first lady ! . Because they are…helpless ? There are numerous jokes about the first lady trying escape. There are jokes about ties (suit ties, not russian ties), hair and makeup, and food choices (fried chicken) even fat shaming (Chris Christie) and age shaming (Mitch McConell looks like a tortoise) representatives. Yes, they do report the news, but why do they have to bow so low themselves ?

Of course they can get away with these acts because they have absolute freedom of speech. Something we can only dream of here.  Its much worse this side. Journalists are now relegated to tweet reporters, busy reporting what is happening on social media. Everybody on twitter is angry anyway, so they just report their anger. This post go these many retweets…etc etc.

Pathetic.

Now they have started reporting on a new financial law, using which failing banks can take away citizens hard-earned money. Something tells me the law will be passed anyway, with no one having power to oppose it.

Low standards of journalism could be another reason why subscriptions of newspapers have also decreased.

Why pay for nonsense ?

With no power, comes no responsibility …, right ?

 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Who reads book nowadays ?

 

No really, who reads books today ? Text books prescribed in schools and colleges…well, they still have their takers. But I am talking of all those novels and long form literature. Buying those hardcover books is sheer waste of money. As I recently found out. You see, I had a bunch of these old novels lying around the house. And in order to make space, I decided to get rid of them. Now in the past, I used to drive straight to  the second hand book store, where the book-loving-sales/agent would give me at least 40% of the cover value of the books in return. Higher if it is an non-Indian author, and even higher for hard cover books instead of paperbacks. Enough money to go buy another brand new book.

So imagine my surprise when this time the seller blankly refused to take the book. No one reads them, he tells me. Nowadays everyone buys soft copy. By that he meant the PDF/EPUB versions of books sold online. He then further proceeds to make me an offer. I can exchange my 3 year old Tom Clancy novel for another book by the same author, and pay him 50 rupees for his inconvenience. So, he wants my money AND the book.

No thanks, I respectfully declined. And then gave the book, and a few more I had to the kabbadiwala. Those road side dealers of paper and scrap. I got the worth of the book in the weight of its paper. About 15 rupees. I had bought some of them for 750/- plus.

This was today. But then something else had happened around two weeks prior. We got a free promotional copy of the Hindu at our doorstep, with the advertisement: one year subscription rates halved !. What used to cost 1800/- a year will now just cost 900/- for one years subscription to the paper. They were actually giving them away for its paper’s weight. Now I have never taken a newspaper subscription during the 10 years I have lived on my own. But I could see that more and more people were turning of these physical news feeds.

Back home, I used to have my own little collection of english novels I loved to read, even when I knew the whole story in my head. But they too went into the garbage when the paper in them started to disintegrate.

So this lead me to ponder, who are the ones still reading physical books and subscribing to newspapers today ? Maybe they are still popular in small towns and deep within villages. But within the cities, it no longer makes sense to spend money on them, when you can get the news for free. And the books for slightly more than free.  In a way, mass media and book publishers are also being disrupted, they will have to find a new way to price their products within the spare budget of today’s smartpone wiedling techies, if they want to stay in business. No one seems to be doing anything about it. Digital is the way forward.

But I still miss the joy and smell of a good book during a rainy day.

 

PS: My favourite authors are Agatha Christie, Michael Crichton, and P G Wodehouse. I have read every work they have created.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bollywood is stuck



It has occurred to me over the years, I now watch less and less bollywood movies. The bollywood flavor of love stories is now irritating  and tediously repetitive. Its nice to see others come to the same point.


Watch how CBE breaks down the typical bollywood movie, and why its always just a fantasy, never realistic.



Monday, June 26, 2017

Snapdeal’s failure


Interesting read. Saw this article condensing Snapdeal’s fall into failure.I’ve had bad experience with them. Turns out they never had any focus.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Too many wallets, not enough money.

 

The problem is cost

Looks like latest technology  startups are interested in are online money-wallets. You know, the system which allows you to keep some money in an online account, and use it for online payments. I guess, they identified something banks were totally unaware of , and built up a system to fill that up. But then, other startups too woke up, and started copying each other.  I only realized how crazy it had gotten when today I was trying to make an online payment, and got this screen.

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Thats 10 different wallets !  Some I had not even heard of. So I got curious and searched for ALL the online wallet systems available in India. And I got this:

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Yup. There are a lot of them. Even some mobile network companies (Airtel,Jio) have joined the race. Some banks have also released their apps. But I am not sure if they are solving the existign problems, or adding to users’ woes.

There has to now be some sort of regulation for these wallet guys. For one, there is now way to transfer money between these wallets, without first transferring to a bank. And some of them charge for those transfers. More on that later.

Second, money in the wallets do not accrue interest, like it does in your bank. That is one advantage the bank apps have.

Third, I am sure all these apps have security problems, specially on their andriod versions. Its only a matter of time before some or all of them get hacked. And the lack of IT security laws in this country means there is no proper protection to the end users.

And fourth, the ultimate problem is cost. These are all private players (except SBI). And they need to make their own profit. Which means sooner or later, they are gonna have to charge the customers for their service. What some online sites call “convenience charge”. Being in the IT business, guys like me know there are huge mulitlayered systems which power these online behemoths.  Even if they use open source, they will still need skilled programmers and support guys to power their frameworks. And all these are going to cost.

This is one advantage traditional cash transactions still have. There are no hidden charges. Unless they figure out a way to charge nominal to the customers, most of these apps are not going to survive.

 

 

 

PS: By they way, I have a PayTM account, the only wallet I used. Because they accept these at my company cafetaria.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good Riddance, 2016

 

And so it comes to an end. Probably the worst year of our times. Or worst year so far. Although it started off well, this year was marked with long standing political turmoil. There were those terrorist attacks, shootings,and natural calamities. And a higher number of celebrity deaths. But what really marked the year was Brexit,and the unpredicted Trump victory in the USA. Sign of things to come. Back home, the central government attacked the common man by issuing a cruel note demonitization.

Its good to see this year finally end. Good riddance. Lets not talk about 2016 ever again.

Heres hoping for a better one. Got big hopes pinned on 2017.

Happy New Year !

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Snapdeal’s express delivery is a joke

 

I sometimes wonder why Snapdeal is still the third , struggling e-commerce starup in India. But then they answer the question themselves. This is the third time they have delayed my delivery, even when they promise express delivery.

The company promises the fastest delivery in Tier-1 cities. But the truth is that its a big joke. They can never do a next day delivery in the city.

Third time in a row. That is amazing consistency. Remind me never to shop there again.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Chaos for Cash

 

In its effort to bring out black money, the government overestimated  the efficiency of banks, and underestimated the time it will take to deliver new notes. Its now day 3 of the ban on high value currenty notes, and banks and ATMs have gone dry in the nation.

Meanwhile new generation plastic and e-cash startups have upped their ante, pushing new ads to market their services. And people are still converting cash into gold paying inflated rates.

The only good thing which happened to me was that Bangalore elevated tollway stopped charging their entry fees. So the tollways were free for all. And that lead to reduced traffic too.

I guess it will take at least a month to get fresh cash in circulation again.

Thankfully, cities like Bangalore had already gone majority cash-less. All supermarkets and most restuarants already accepted plastic money. In the wake of cash scarcity, they have reduced the minimum amounts required to make the transaction, and are letting people swipe cards for even Rs 50/-. Cab services which accepted cards and e-cash services had brisk business. But auto-drivers were left in the dark. There are talks of black marketeers charging upto 40% commission to exchange out the older notes in the system. There is also news of a person contacting the beggars-mafia to arrange for hard cash !

Somebody even made an Unboxing video of the new 2000 Rs/- note !

Sometime back I had read an article on gloomberg arguing why a cashless society cannot exist. I guess its author needs to take a second look at India.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Its a whole new world

 

I hate the open office configuration, what’s designed to facilitate communication sometimes leads to communication mayhem. Like today. The whole office floor was buzzing with bad news. The dual attack of bad news in the day. The biggest breaking news of this year.

One was the fact that Trump is leading in the US election results. And the other big bang was the Indian Government's decision to discontinue high denomination currency notes. And the third news was that the stock market was under attack , and the sensex was headed down.

When Election Day dawned, almost all the pollsters, analytics nerds and political insiders in the country had Hillary Clinton waltzing into the White House. Headed into Election Day, polling evangelist Nate Silver’s 538 website put Clinton’s odds at winning the White House at about 72 percent. By midnight, the site had more than flipped its odds making, giving Trump an 84 percent chance of winning.

This was the biggest 'error' statisticians had committed in centuries. It’s amazing how with all the latest analytics systems and big data and social media..and all those nonsense..they still got it wrong. By a huge margin.

I feel so bad for Stephen Colbert. And John Oliver. And Jimmy Fallon. And James Corden. And Trevor Noah. Even Bill Maher. And Jimmy Kimmel. The past many months, I have devoured their sketches and news and bits whole heartedly, knowing and trusting their hints that the Democrats would win. Here's hoping they are around for a lot more time.

Anyway, back to my office, it was clear there was cause for concern. A lot of Indian IT companies depend on US enterprises as clients for outsourced work. Trump and the republicans in power would mean its the end of it all. This could be end of Indian IT as we know it.

And back home, the incumbent government's struggle to contain blackmoney took a new turn when they announced the de-monetization of high value currency notes. Indian citizens now had 50 days to deposit all their de-monetized currency with banks. Keeping in mind there are over a billion citizens in the country, 50 days seems like too little time to get through it. But this short window is definitely required, to prevent people from converting all their ill-earned wealth to legal, 'white-money'. Its amazing how a decision of such high importance was kep top-secret till the Prime Minister got to personally announce it on an unscheduled address to the nation.

Kudos to the government for this ultra-quiet, sneaky, 'surgical strike'. This time, nobody is asking for proof.

Now just to be clear, no-one in the IT industry will have to worry about their wealth. It is probably the only industry to pay correct taxes upfront, with tax deducted right at the source. All IT employees are paid online, and they have their Form-16s and TANs and PANs to show. For once it turned out honesty indeed is the right policy to live by.

Historians are going to remember November 8th, 2016 as the day everything changed. The most unpredictable happened right in front of our eyes.

And no one saw it coming.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An Unforgettable Onam….

 

…In which we travel via Banaswadi and on Kochuvelly during the Water wars.

Happy Onam. It is easy to wish somebody in two words, but no true Malayalee can explain what Onam really means to us. For many of us, we stay away from our native, only so that we can come back to celebrate Onam. Which is usually easy, travelling is becoming easier and affordable every day. But this year, we had to overcome a different kind of adversity. The violent self-destruction of a state during its water wars.

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I will not explain what these water wars are, enough has been said of the matter by the media. We were supposed  to travel from Bangalore to Kerala on Monday, the 12th of September ,2016. The day started pretty well off in Bangalore city, with all its cheer and lovely climate. But shortly after noon, violent erupted when self-appointed 'protectors' of the state started putting public and private property on fire. A very ironical way to agitate against shortage of water. But that is what happened.

By evening, all public and private vehicles were being blocked from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu at their borders. And TN numbered vehicles were being targetted and burned in Bangalore. Our scheduled bus journey in the evening is cancelled by the operator. And we are stuck in the city. Section 144, and shorter version of  a curfew, is imposed very late in the day, after all the damage is already done.

It was safer to stay back home that day. The next day, there was still no decision if vehicle movement has been restored at the border. So we wait. It was the first day of Onam, when back home in Kerala, Malayalees would throng the markets for purchases. Last minute groceries to clothes, to shopping for Onam discounts. We were supposed to be there, but instead, were stuck 500 kilometers away.

That evening, I began to check travel sites. All private buses had stopped operations, there was no need to take such a huge risk and endanger the lifes of the crew and travellers as well. But it seemed, the trains were still on track. Pun intended. None of the trains bound to Kerala had been stopped. Instead, the railways had arranged for special extra trains to carry people stuck in the city back home. It was probably the only positive action taken by somebody in power that day. But these special trains were unreserved, and  undoubtedly crowded. So I decided not to opt for them.
 
So I checked the IRCTC site, and found that the last train to leave from Bangalore to Kerala was at 9pm. A non-daily , all AC reserved train called the Kochuvelly garibh-rath. It was scheduled to start from a station on the north side of the city (Yeshwantpur), which was faar away from where we were staying. And it had only one other stop in the city, at a small station called Banaswadi. Although I had heard of the name of the place many times before, I had never known it had its own railway station. That place was still far away, but still commutable. There were no direct buses from our location. We had to rely either on radio-cabs, or take three different buses to get there. BMTC public transport buses were still plying, but not to all places. All the major taxi operators had closed their offices, but some cab drivers , who were willing to take the risk, were still driving around.

And so the first miracle. The train was still accepting reservations, and there were berths available ! Unbelievable. I booked confirmed berths for our travel. Now all we needed was to get to the station on time. So we started attempting to book cabs on Ola. We tried other radio cabs as well,but they were not available.

Due to the curfew like situation in the city, lights had been turned off everywhere to prevent people from grouping together. Street-lights were off.  And the shops were still shut down, so no lighting from there either. It was an eery feeling walking through the city in pitch darkness. I have only seen a fully lit metro-city in Bangalore during nights. All the traffic lights had defaulted to yellow, so it was a free-for-anyone on the junctions. The lesser number of vehicles helped, but those vehicles were driving all over the place.

And then the second miracle. We had been trying to get a cab to Banaswadi. Finally, after more than an hour of pushing buttons on the app, a cab responded. There was a shared cab available to travel to Banaswadi.

Things were back on track now. It took some time to find the Ola-cab, then a one hour journey to the destination. This is the first time that Ola actually sent a cab when we really really needed one.

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The Banaswadi station was shorter than the length of a train compartment. It was a small locality with secluded roads, and nicely tucked away. And it was crowded. The crowd was overflowing through the front steps into the yard. And I could hear a lot of Malayalam and Tamil being spoken. Clearly they were all from neighbouring states and were waiting to travel home. We had arrived an hour prior to the scheduled departure time of our train. So we waited, and watched, as trains chugged in and out and ferried off stranded passengers. More passengers arrived via autos and cabs, a family was dropped off by 5 youngsters on their bikes.

Our Kochuvelly express was the last train to Kerala that night. And we could see the whole train was booked and boarded by anxious Malayalees who were travelling home for their state's biggest festival.

Now after celebrating Onam, we still have not decided how we are going to get back. Its now TN's turn to agitate. A day-long bandh has been called in the state, and buses and trains will be stopped at the Karnataka-TN border.

I hope the journey back is less adventurous.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

And now they are going to destroy Ustad Hotel

 

After the Bangalore Days remake massacre, they are now going to remake the hit new-age movie,  Ustad Hotel. They are going to retain some of the actors, but it will definitely be localized a lot.

You can surely separate the creative directors from the business minded directors via these remakes. Remake directors don’t have the courage to put together something of their own. So they resort to remakes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Google-Doodle reporters

 

Google is now releasing more of their doodles, more frequently now. And this has opened up a few job openings, at traditional news agencies ! I couldn't help noticing that every time a new doodle comes out, all of the nations dailies put aside a separate article about it.

Here's some from a few days back. Google released a doodle on Hedy Lamarr's birthday.

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And it can be seen that every paper in the world is covering it.

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The individual articles are examples of worst news reporting. They are nothing more than content from the subject's Wikipedia article.

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The NDTV article was written by a Aditya, and it seems all this person does is cover Google doodles.

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Pathetic.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bangalore Is Getting Inundated By Creeping Toxic Foam

 

Strange, puffy, dense clouds are descending on the streets of Bangalore, India’s technology capital. While whimsical-looking, they are actually puffs of a toxic foam inundating the city.

Documentary photographer Debasish Ghosh has captured images of the clouds floating around the city and overrunning the roads. The foam comes from Bellandur, a 1.4-square-mile lake that for years has been polluted by chemical and sewage waste. Every time it rains, the lake rises and wind lifts the froth up and carries it into the city.

The toxic foam gets in the way of pedestrians and cars, creating awful traffic jams. It carries a stench so strong that it burns the nose. And if it comes into contact with your skin, you’ll get an itchy rash.

“It causes a nuisance,” Ghosh says.

Making matters worse, the froth is flammable. In May and June, the entire lake caught fire, leaving a 56-year-old man who was standing on a bridge above the lake with a ruptured cornea.

The froth has come every summer for more more than a decade now, but Ghosh says that this year is particularly bad. He’s been documenting the pollution since May, making sure to immediately clean his arms, hands, and face any time he gets too close.

Harmful Snowy FrothWhen it rains, the froth rises up and gets carried into the city by winds. (Debasish Ghosh)Harmful Snowy FrothOfficials try to “hose” down the lake, using water to keep the foam from rising. (Debasish Ghosh)

Residents in the area have filed numerous complaints to the city, according to Ghosh, but the government has done little to remedy the situation. Ghosh says since his photos were first published by the BBC, the government has paid a bit more attention, but still not enough. For now, city officials try to keep the foam down whenever it rains by pumping water into the lake. “What happens is the water [mixes with] the foam at a high speed, and it disintegrates and doesn't rise up,” says Ghosh. “That's how they are controlling it at this point in time, so it doesn't fall on people.”

Actually cleaning up Bellandur and other polluted lakes won’t be easy. Once known for being the home of nearly a thousand lakes, Bangalore has become known as the “land of a thousand sewage tanks,” instead. Today, after years of urbanization, only about 150 lakes still exist, according to the Deccan Herald. The rest are either used as garbage dumps or, when they dry up, filled in and put up for grabs.

“There’s so much pollution that it will take lots of time and lots of investment to bring this lake back to normal,” he says. “To what it was maybe two decades ago, when people say there would still be migratory birds in there.”

Harmful Snowy Froth(Debasish Ghosh)Harmful Snowy Froth(Debasish Ghosh)Harmful Snowy Froth(Debasish Ghosh)Harmful Snowy Froth(Debasish Ghosh)Harmful Snowy Froth(Debasish Ghosh)