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In Torque We Trust

February 12, 2014 1 comment
… there are couple of kinds of car people,
some people have to have lot of cars
and they buy and sell.
 
… I’m a very old kind,
I came across that car in late 80’s and early 90’s
and it’s just one of those soulmate types of cars,
the more I’ve improved on it, the more I’ve driven it,
the more it just become a part of my life
I can’t seeing getting rid of it.
 
— Bob Gough (owner of 1967 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S)

 

How Norway Scores So Much Olympic Gold

February 9, 2014 Leave a comment
Norway… With only five million people, it has won 303 Winter Olympic medals, far more than any other country on the planet.

…many experts think the answer lies in the culture and lifestyle of the country, where an extraordinary egalitarianism runs through youth sports. Before age 6, Norwegian kids can only train but not formally compete in sports, and before age 11, all children participating in a competition must be awarded the same prize.

Norway’s cities are relatively close to the wilderness, and children are encouraged to play outdoors even on the coldest days.

Neighboring Sweden, by contrast, has its major population centers farther from the wilderness, and the Swedes are more inclined to play indoor sports in the winter, such as tennis or hockey, rather than bundle up and go skiing.

Norway remains a largely agrarian society that places a large premium on being outside. A Norwegian concept called friluftsliv—enjoying outdoor life—has been studied in books and represents whole areas of study at universities.

How Norway Scores So Much Olympic Gold – An interesting article from The Wall Street Journal, which gives an insight into the Norwegian culture and approach that shapes it’s phenomenal success in winter sports

Reflections of an Expat

December 25, 2013 1 comment

It’s the fifth Christmas for me away from my home country, India. I often think about how can I describe these five years in Belgium. I could never think of an elegant way to describe them. I’m currently reading the book “In Arabian Nights – A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams“. It is about a British man, married to an Indian woman and their life in Morocco. Tahir, the main protagonist of the book, describes his experience of settling down in Morocco. He says –

Settling into a  new country is like getting used to a pair of shoes. At first they pinch a little, but you like the way they look, so you carry on. The longer you have them, the more comfortable they become. Until one day without realizing it you reach a glorious plateau. Wearing those shoes is like wearing no shoes at all. The more scuffed they get, the more you love them, and the more you can’t imagine life without them.

Probably, I can say the same for my years in Belgium, and I guess you too.

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An Unusually Pleasant Auto Ride

December 8, 2011 6 comments

“Bhaiya, Chattarpur Mandir”, I asked an autowala who was reading newspaper sitting inside his auto. He didn’t even care to look at me and nudged his head, signaling he won’t go. “These Delhi auto walas will never change”, I said to myself as I walked to the next auto. I asked again, “Bhaiya chaloge Chattarpur Mandir”. “Haan chalunga, par meter se 10 rupaye jyada dene padenge”, replied the autowala. “Kyon? 10 rupaye kis baat ke?”, I asked. “Nahin 10 rupaye to extra dene padenge”, continued the autowala. He couldn’t convince me why he needed 10 rupees extra. Then a young school student approached and asked if he can share the auto with me. He had to go to Chattarpur Metro station which was close to the temple. I said, “Sure”. The autowala then said, “Dono ka double meter lagega”. “Sahi he! Loot macha rakhi he! Nahin jana he tumhare saath”, I told him and walked away.

Right then, another auto reached the spot. I approached and asked him. He said, “Haan chalunga. 60 rupaye lagenge”. My friend had told me that auto fare would be about 45-50 rupees. I tried bargaining to settle for 50 rupees. He then said, “Mandir ke andar jaoge? Puja karne ja rahe ho?”. I nodded yes. He continued, “Tab to aapko free me le jaunga. Baitho andar”. “Bhaiya aise nahin hota he. Sahi batao, kitna loge?”, I asked. “Arrey bhaiya baitho. Subah subah todha punya kama lunga”, continued autowala.

The young school student, who wanted to get down at the metro station, approached again. The autowala told him, “Aap mujhe 50 rupaye de dena. Ab aap dono andar baitho.” Unconvinced I sat inside, thinking I will pay him once I reach the spot.

When we reached the metro station, my co-passenger was about to pull out his wallet to pay the autowala. I said, “Bhai, it’s okay. I will pay him. I was anyways coming this way.” However, he wanted to share the fare but he didn’t have change of 25/30 rupees. He pulled out a 50 rupee note which the autowala took saying, “yeh 50 rupaye aap mujhe de do, baki aap aapas apna hisab kar lo”. I gave the boy 30 rupees and he got off.

A few minutes later we reached the temple. As I was getting down, the autowala wanted to give me 30 rupees. I said, “Nahin, rakho aap. Mujhe free me pahuchakar aap to punya kama loge, par mujhe to paap laga doge”. He then wanted to give me 10 rupees asking me to give it in the temple. I smiled and said to him, “Me aapke naam ka bhi chadawa de dunga. Thank you. Aap se mil kar acha laga”.

This entire incident left me with a very good feeling. It is a very rare experience, especially with autowalas in Delhi.

A Few Good Men

June 1, 2011 Leave a comment

… Why Mr. Narayanmurthy must come into politics, unless he is insane….

A very pragmatic and honest view on current Indian politics and plausible fixes to it by Dr. Jayprakash Narayan

(this is the first of the four part series of videos)

Dr. Narayan’s speech at Google on Indian politics and economics –

Railways Offers 10% Cashback on Flight Tickets

June 17, 2010 3 comments

I am subscribed to the promotional emails from IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited). This morning I received an email from them with the subject line “Limited offer on Airlines Tickets”. This made be curious to open the email and have a look at it. It was a surprise to see that IRCTC is offering 10% cash back on airlines tickets booked through their website. But I liked the enterprising aspect of IRCTC that although airlines are a competitor to the railways they are offering a one-stop solution to the customers.

In India the transportation – flights, trains and buses are not integrated as they are here in Europe. In India each of them compete with each other to get a larger share of the passenger traffic. Under this scenario, it is a welcome move by the IRCTC to also offer flight bookings and promotions on them.

I have been following IRCTC since they introduced the online booking of railway tickets. This made booking railway tickets a breeze unlike before where you paid hefty commission charges or queued up before the booking counters. Initially the online booking was available only for few important trains. Later it was extended to all the trains. They started with i-tickets where tickets can be booked online and are delivered by courier. Later they also offered e-tickets where tickets can be booked online and printed at home. The issue with i-tickets is that for their cancellation one will have to go the booking counter whereas e-tickets can be cancelled online.

All these has really made it convenient for millions of passengers traveling by train. I agree that their website still has a lot of scope for improvement particular with its constant server and connection errors. But given that the amount of traffic that it sustains, I feel it does a decent job.

Gradually IRCTC evolved into a railway tourism site from just an online booking site. They started offering holiday packages, railway packages, hotel bookings, etc. And now it is good to see that they are also offering flight bookings. Hats off to IRCTC :).

Categories: India, Living Tags: ,

Vicious Cycle of Address Proofs

April 14, 2010 10 comments

‘for an address proof you need an address proof’…  I’m sure at some point of time, most of us must have faced this dilemma :). Weird but true, and I faced it when I moved to Delhi with my family a few years back. The only document that we had in our name in the new city was the rental agreement. Surprising but it has limited use. Although there is a provision to register the rental agreement, most of the landlords and tenants don’t opt for it as it involves additional expenses and overheads. And ours was an unregistered agreement.

The best option is to first open an account in a nationalized bank in your locality. They usually accept rental agreement as address proof and require an introducer. The pass book and the statements of nationalized banks can be used as address proof. But usually if you produce a bank statement as a proof, it must be latest or not more than 3/6 months old. In my experience, I found it difficult to solely bank with nationalized banks because I couldn’t have my salary account in them and their facilities like e-banking, tele-banking, customer service, etc were not as good as private or foreign banks. As a result, there were no transactions and hence the pass-book wasn’t updated and statements weren’t latest.

However using bank’s passbook and the rental agreement, you can apply for a BSNL/MTNL landline. Utility bills like nationalized landline telephone, electricity, water, etc can also be used as address proof. But in case of rented house, most of these bills are in the name of the landlord. At the best, you can get landline telephone whose bills would be in your name. We applied for MTNL landline  using bank’s passbook and rental agreement. MTNL bills were quite useful and they are accepted for all purposes. Moreover since you get a monthly bill, you can always provide the latest one.

The other advantage I found with MTNL is that if you shift your residence within the city, you can get your connection transferred to the new address with very little hassle. This just requires filling up a form and they shift the connection without asking for any proofs of your new address. This is one of the best things I found about having a MTNLconnection. I’m not sure if it is applicable for BSNL connections elsewhere. Once the connection is transferred, you start getting bills with your new address and voila you have a proof of your new address :).

In our case, we kept MTNL landline connection just for address proof purpose. Otherwise we were using Airtel’s broadband and landline for internet and calling purpose :).

I found that updating address on your bank account (the nationalized ones) is not easy as it requires transferring your account from old branch to a new branch. So you first have to go to the old branch to submit an application there and then go to the new branch once the application has been acted upon. Moreover they will ask for a proof of your new address.

Normally passport and driving license can be used as address proofs very conveniently. But when you shift to a new city, you will have to get the address on them updated. I do not have an experience of updating the driving license as I kept using my old license. However, I did explore the option of updating the passport and it was not easy.

To update the address on your passport, you have to reside on that address for at least a year. You have to submit proofs for this. Thus it is not possible to update your passport immediately after you shift to a new place. In my case, we waited for a year, accumulated the MTNL bills and then applied for an address change on the passport. BUT that’s not all! On paper one address proof is sufficient. However the police officer who came for verification to our place asked for at least 2 address proofs. He suggested that it is better to submit multiple address proofs so that the verification cell processes the application without any problems. In his opinion, sometimes they reject the application if they are not convinced by the documents provided. The only other document which we had was the rental agreement which he was reluctant to accept. He asked for “sarkari” documents like voters Id, ration card, etc. and we had none of them. It took me quite some effort to convince him that we don’t have any of those documents and at the best we can provide him with the rental agreement. At last, he accepted it and with some “chai paani” completed the verification process. Ultimately and “luckily” the address got updated on the passport. Once the passport is updated, the problem of address proof gets solved to a large extent until you decide to move to a new place :).

On the basis of my experience, I would suggest that after you move to a new city first open an account in a nationalized bank, then apply for a BSNL/MTNL landline connection and then get your passport updated. Updating passport is not crucial but if you are planning to travel abroad and your visa requires police clearance certificates, etc. then it’s a good idea to update the passport as it makes the processes at RPO simpler and faster.

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