Monday, November 23, 2009

Gearing up for the BIG run

24th Pune International Marathon (PIM) is here, the event which I was awaiting for an year. In the last marathon a friend of mine had participated and after hearing his experience about the run, I was determined to participate in the next marathon. Just a week ago I found out that PIM is on 6th December and so I started gearing up for it. I needed to check my stamina to figure out which race I am gonna participate in..

Day 1 - Thursday, Nov 19th:
I started with a try out of my stamina and covered about 5.5 Km. I must have walked for approx 1.5 km intermittently, but I didn't stop at any point. After this I took a 2 day's of running break but did some skipping n stretching instead.

Day 2 - Sunday, Nov 22nd:
I followed it up with a non stop jogging of 4 km on the Sunday evening which was quite fun.. I was feeling I could run more but decided against it.

Day 3 - Monday, Nov 23rd:
Last 2 session had been on concrete in Pashan-Sus road area which has inclines and declines all over. But today I was running in a garden on a flat dirt jogging track of 400 mtrs. First nine laps I jogged slowly and then walked for about 50 meters gaining my breath and ran the Tenth lap hard. I again covered 4 kms but was more exhausted than Sunday. It felt amazing to lie and stretch on the grass after the run.

Day 4 & 5 - Tuesday, Wednesday Nov 24th & 25th
On day 4 & 5 I tried a different course. In the same garden with 400m track. I did 10 laps but for every lap I first ran for half course and then I walked for half of the course. This way I could run at high pace. On second day I fully ran the last 2 laps at high pace. I had heard somewhere that by alternating your training patterns you train your muscles better.. Let's see how true was that.. as I have decided to give day 6 a rest for some recovery.

The one day break got extended due to one thing or other.. and I could continue with my jogging on Tuesday.

Day 6 & 7 - Tuesday, Wednesday Dec 1 & 2
I maintained the schedule of Day 4 & 5 and increased my continuous running. On Day 7 I ended with nonstop 5 laps of running at relatively high speed.

I skipped Thursday again.. and today on Day 8, Friday Dec 4th I will try running the whole distance of 4 kms non stop and see how do I fair.

Now that the D-day, December 6, is here its obvious I am not prepared for the longer run, so I will be participating in the AIDS charity run of 3.5 kms this year, committing to my self that next year it should be atleast 10.5 kms :)

Marathon day -- Sunday December 6th...
I left home at 7am braving the chilly but beautiful weather on by bike in a tee n track pants. But as soon as I reached starting point the energy and enthusiastic crowd made me feel cheerful and the chill was gone instantly.

The charity run of 3.5 km was scheduled at 8:30am, which I didn't know, but I was surely on time as I got to watch some of the opening ceremony and then I watched all the groups zooming at the wave of the flag. It was such a lovely sight to see people from all walks of life and all age groups run together for a cause.

I completed the 3.5 kms run without any problems. It was quite fun actually. Mostly people walked in groups. Some groups were waving banners of their companies or about AIDS awareness. There were also groups of people from Shiamak Dabar dance group jogging & dancing intermittently.. they really filled others with energy with their dhol beat. Now I am determined to prepare for next year with 10.5 kms run as target. Also, next year Pune International Marathon will be in it's 25th year. Silver jubilee celebrations should be some view. So, Happy running Pune!!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Call Break - A game of playing cards

From my childhood I have been playing Call Break, a very interesting game of cards. Interestingly it is hardly known outside of my native place Bihar. So, I thought why not share the knowledge and may be I will find it easier to find partners for this game anywhere I am.

This is ideally a 4 player game in which each player plays to reach a set target of 300. The game is played in multiple sets. For each set players score some points to help them move towards the target. The score can be positive or negative for each player.

So, the game is played in sets unless someone's total score crosses the target. Set is a collection of 13 hands played after each deal as the players are dealt 13 cards each (13 x 4 = 52). After each deal, all players make a call on how many hands they can secure in the game. After the set is complete the score is given to players depending on whether they secured more than, less than or equal to the call they had made. A sum of scores after each set gives the player's total score.

  1. A deck of 52 cards.
  2. A pen and paper to note down the scores.
  3. Finally 4 willing players who know the rules of game :)

Rules of the game:
  1. There are 4 players in game they form a circle.
  2. There is a dealer for each set and the deal rotates and also the game is played anti-clockwise.
  3. The person next to the dealer (in anti-clockwise order) starts making call on hands he can take.
  4. After the deal if any of the following conditions are met then the cards are dealt again by the next person (in anti-clockwise order). If any one person has all the four aces OR If any one person has none of the trump card (explained later) OR If any one person has cards such that he doesn't have at least one of the four (Aces, Kings and Queens).
  5. Sum of calls made by all players before start of the set is less than nine.
  6. Order or priority of cards are natural i.e. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace in ascending order.
  7. Trump card is a suite of card (Spades / Hearts / Diamonds / Clubs) which has higher priority to all other suites. For example if Spade is trump card then a 2 of spade has higher priority than an Ace of Clubs, Diamonds or Hearts.
  8. A player has to play the card of the suite for which the hand was started, if he has cards of that suite otherwise he has to play trump card if he has trump cards.
  9. A player has to compulsorily play a higher value/priority card than the cards already played in the hand, provided he has one. If the player doesn’t have a higher value card then he can play any card keeping in mind rule 7.
  10. The trump card can be fixed or decided for each set randomly. If you decide to have a fixed trump, it is a general practice to use spade as the trump card. If you decide to choose the trump at random then after the set is dealt the dealer shows everyone the last card dealt and that suite becomes the trump for the set.
  11. After one set of 13 hands is finised this is how scores are assigned,
  • If the player has secured exactly the number of hands he had claimed at the start of the set। He is given points 10 times that of call he had made. E.g. if the call was of 4 hands and 4 hands were secured. Then the points given would be 40.
  • If the player couldn’t secure the number of hands he had claimed he would. He is given negative points 10 times that of call he had made. E.g. if the call was of 4 hands and less than 4 hands were secured. Then the points given would be -40.
  • If the player has secured more hands than he had claimed. He is given bonus points which is computed as follows. If the player had called X hands and secured (X + 2) hands. Then the points given would be (10X + 2). E.g. if the call was of 4 and 6 hands were secured. Then the points given would be 42.
How to play:
  1. Ideally for each of maintaing scores a table is maintained in which each column is for one player and each row has score of one set. The columns are assigned to the players sitting in anti-clockwise order. This makes it easy to maintain & total scores.
  2. For the first time dealer can be picked at random of by consensus, it doesn’t matter much.
  3. The dealer shuffles and deals the cards to all four players dealing one card at a time and rotating anti-clockwise. He must get the last card which could be decided as trump if the game is of changing trump.
  4. Now every one decides the number of hands he/she can secure depending on how many Aces, Kings, Queens and trump cards he/she has got. As there are total 13 cards of each suite. There may be a maximum of 3 hands of one suite without anyone using the trump card. Generally people get cards in which some body will trump in the third hand of a single suite. So, Making calls on Ace & King may be safe but may not be that safe on queen. On the other hand if you are trumping any suite 1st, 2nd or 3rd hand you may accordingly secure 3, 2 or 1 hand by trumping that suite, provided you have enough trump cards.
  5. One also has to take in account that the person behind you can and probably will try to cut down your hands in order to secure his hands or simply to cut off your hands so that you go negative. For example: if you have a King and a 10 of club and the person behind you starts the hand with a Jack of club, now because of rule 8 you are forced to play your king of club and the hand eventually goes to someone next to you with the Ace of club. So, you lost your King and some one’s Queen will win the hand next time.
  6. Also, suppose you are trumping hearts from 2nd hand and you assume you will secure at least 2 hands by trumping it. But when you trump once you opponent starts playing game of trumps and consequently your trump cards are finished. Now he will be able to secure his hands of hearts and you won’t be able to trump again as you run out of trump cards. Then you will probably get a negative score.
  7. After the set is finished the hands secured by everyone is counted and accordingly the scores are given.
  8. Now the deal goes to the next person to the dealer of last set in anti-clockwise order.
  9. If some one is caught of cheating the rules of the game, that set is declared void and the cheater’s highest score on the game so far is selected and made negative.
  10. If the set can not be played because the total of calls was less than 9. The cards of the last person making the call (that is the dealer himself) are checked to see if he was purposely hiding the calls to cancel the set. If it is so the same penalty as cheating is given to him.
  11. Game progresses this way until one of the players cross the target score and then that player is declared winner.
The games becomes interesting because of the fact that you can force others to play a certain way so that they might not secure their call and get a negative score pushing you ahead in the game. This is possible because of rule 7 & 8. That is one has to play a higher value card if he has one and one has to trump a suite if he doesn’t have one. This is one of my favorite games of card. So, if some one wants a demo they are welcome to my place :)


Friday, August 28, 2009


Today we had Mushaira (sher-o-shayari ki mehfil) in our office, on the lines of poetry competition we had about an year back (You can follow this link or look up label Poems to read the posts related to our poetry competition). As the Mushaira was planned at a short notice we didn't see a lot of participation but it was a nice, short & fun event and set the right mood for the coming weekend. The theme of the Mushaira was quite interesting. It was "Sharab" and so possibilities were endless as you might imagine. But this being a hectic week at work, not many of us got enough chance to unwind. Same was the case with me and I also couldn't quite unleash my creative side <wink>. So, I asked my cousin Pushkar for help (who happens to be good at sher-o-shayari). In a jiffy he provided me with three good ones.

पीते है रोज़ नज़रों से और हाथों में कोई जाम नहीं
जो जाम से बाहर गुजरी हो ऐसी तो कोई शाम नहीं

पैमाने बने थे, चल रहा जाम का था दौर,
कितना पीते गए हम उनकी याद में ये किसने किया था गौर,
हर पैमाना भरा था मेरे टूटे हुए ख्वाबो से ,
पर हमारे यार कह रहे थे.... एक और, बस एक और...

पीने दे सकी के अभी शाम बाकि हैं..
तेरे होठों का एक जाम अभी बाकि हैं..
जाना हैं लड़खराते हुए महखाने से..
के अभी इन कदमो में बहोत जान बाकी हैं..

Then I felt guilty and at last minute thought I should have at least something original, but still couldn't think of anything new. So I thought of extending one of his shayari and thankfully it turned out alright. Here it is...

पीते है रोज़ नज़रों से और हाथों में कोई जाम नहीं,
जो जाम से बाहर गुजरी हो ऐसी तो कोई शाम नहीं,

वोह कहते हैं बुरे हैं हम जो नशे में दुबे रहते हैं,
कसूर तो उनकी नशीली निगाहों का हैं,
जिन्हें एक बार देखो तोह फिर दिल को आराम नहीं,

वोह कहते हैं हमारी मोहब्बत पे नहीं हैं उनको ऐतबार,
वोह क्या जाने उनके सिवाय हमारे कोई अरमान नहीं,

पीते है रोज़ नज़रों से और हाथों में कोई जाम नहीं,
जो जाम से बाहर गुजरी हो ऐसी तो कोई शाम नहीं...

There were few other entries as well I will post them in later posts... and hopefully by then I will see some good ones from my readers as well. So, Irshaad :)


Friday, July 31, 2009

The perfect tea recipe for this season

I have been finally be able to get to the perfect tea recipe, which will work as wonder in the rainy & winter season to keep the health problems away and of course is an aromatic tea to refresh you. This recipe is made with suggestions of many people. Here is how I make a cup of it,

1) A small chunk of fresh ginger (crushed) - I generally cut a piece of size approx 3 cm X 1 cm.
2) A leaf of Lemon grass, cut in about 2 inch pieces.
3) Pepper powder - just a very small amount
4) Sugar to taste - I use One and half teaspoons.
5) Fresh Lemon juice to taste - from a few drops to a tea spoon full.

- Put the crushed ginger & Lemon grass pieces in water and boil it for about 7-8 minutes, make sure you add some extra water for evaporation.
- Now drain the water in a cup, if you are going to make it in microwave using tea dips, or simply add tea & lemon juice to the bowl itself and boil for another 1-2 minutes.
- The tea is ready, drain it in a cup through a filter if you have made it in a bowl.

Now enjoy the aromatic and healthy tea. Two cups of it daily will help you keep cold & flu at bay and of course there are other health benefits of ginger & lemon grass as well. So, enjoy the tea !!


Friday, July 10, 2009

Suddenly Windows becomes very slow

If you are facing a dramatic slowdown in your windows system with symptoms like, Windows takes forever to boot up, Disk is being accessed all the time, CPU usage is consistently high, movies take too long to load and seeking is a nightmare, even the play back is not smooth anymore. When you run multiple programs you feel like you are using a archaic 486 machine because the applications take arbitrary long time to load or to switch. If so, most probable causes
can be
a) There is some virus/spy ware/Trojan active on the system which is causing the problem. Which is easy to fix, as all you need is a latest antivirus and / or tools like ad aware, super antispyware, spybot search & destroy etc.


b) Your windows may have switched your hard-drive from DMA mode to PIO mode.

DMA stands for Direct Memory Access and the devices using DMA can transfer data to & from computer's memory without involving CPU. Where as Programmed Input/Output (PIO) mode,
on the other hand, requires the CPU to read the data from a device, and then write it to memory. This takes the CPU usage up for all the data transfer tasks, and so naturally any modern multi tasking OS (like windows) will drastically slow down.

So, why would Windows switch to PIO mode if it is going to be a problem? Well, if a series of errors occurs with the IDE bus to which a drive is connected, Windows will assume that there are compatibility/hardware issues with that device, and drop to a simpler mode that is likely to be less problematic (but much slower). Unfortunately, PIO mode is so old and slow, that it
renders the machine almost unusable. Even worse, Windows sets a few registry values to make this change permanent. Once it has dropped down to PIO mode, it will never switch back.

Sometimes software issues can also cause the problem, In my case my secondary hard drive was causing problem as it was too old. I removed it but windows won't automatically switch the mode. It has to be done explicitly.

The Fix:

There are actually two ways to fix this problem: reinstalling the driver, and editing the registry. Only the registry fix is detailed here. For the reinstallation fix, see this webpage.

  • Run RegEdit (click on the "start" button, select "run,"type in regedit, and press enter)
  • Search for the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E96A-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}
  • There should be several sub-keys labelled "0000," "0001," "0002," etc. Sub-keys "0001" and "0002" are usually the primary and secondary IDE channels, respectively,
  • Find the sub-keys belonging to the IDE channel (primary/secondary) that the drive is connected to based on the DriverDesc entry within that sub-key. If you are unsure as to which one is correct, do not worry; the next step can be applied to all sub-keys without damaging anything,
  • Within the selected sub-key, delete "MasterIdDataChecksum" or "SlaveIdDataChecksum," depending on whether the drive in question is connected as master or slave. If in doubt, just delete all "MasterIdDataChecksum" and "SlaveIdDataChecksum" entries in all sub-keys; this will not hurt, and guarantees that the affected drive will be fixed.
  • Now restart the computer. Windows will re detect the appropriate modes for your drive(s).
Note: This article & fix has been composed with the help of this original article
which can be referred for more links & details.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Well this is not about any great achievement as such. This is about me, sticking to my commitment. A few months ago, I had decided of continuing at least one physical activity / sports everyday as a routine and learn new things in the mean while. So, it's been 4 months since and I am following that routine with ease. Interestingly prevailing conditions always threw challenges on my continuity & still I found ways to keep up anyway.

I had started with badminton, I used to play baddy in a ground near my office. Suddenly one day weather changed and it became too windy to play baddy at all. So, I thought about it & started with walking/jogging in a near by garden for half an hour everyday. I also got ligament injury in my toes which disabled my activities for 2 weeks, but I was back in action as soon as possible. As if, it wasn't enough my dear old shoulder dislocation started to trouble. Which thankfully started my physio exercises of shoulder again, doctor had said do it regularly some 3 yrs ago. Only if I could listen, but now I am at it regularly :) Finally pre-monsoon showers started & jogging was out of question because of showers and consequent mud on jogging track. So, I thought of it as a good opportunity and started with swimming, learning actually, which I wanted to learn since I was in Xth.

This changed my schedule drastically, as in order to get the coach I need to reach the pool by 8am and before that I have my shoulder exercises so I must wake up on or before 6 am. I thought I can't do it at first, as I used to wake up earliest by 8:30.. but interestingly I have been doing it for a week now and actually enjoying my new routine. I had thought I will learn for a month & then pick up an evening time from next month. But now I am thinking of taking the morning batch & coaching regularly. Especially because the coach is very good & fun, I am enjoying swimming, making good progress, getting set with the new routine and I get to go to Vahuman for breakfast whenever I want :D

Committing something to self and sticking to it and loving it at the same time.. It is an achievement for me.. let's see what lies ahead for me.. For now I am loving the splash!!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer King

Dollops of creamy vanilla & mango ice creams with alphanso slices,
topped with Mango crush & whipped cream... Absolutely heavenly!!
Another sundae @ Amul Ice cream, Koregaon park, Lane 7.

last I had enjoyed their Strawberry Sundae
now named Purple surprise.


Monday, April 13, 2009


From the time the pitch of the general elections is raised, one issue has been raised incessantly by all the opposition parties against our ruling prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. Opposition never misses a chance to attack him saying, he is a weak or puppet prime minister. As far as I have seen, different people have different opinion on all the issues, but their perception of our PM remains more or less the same, which I find very intriguing.

That is because I don't believe he has been a weak leader or PM. The fact is that he is among the most qualified person available in politics. As finance minister he has seen India through the tough times of financial crisis in 1991. As opposition leader he has provided good leadership to his party and constructive opposition during NDA rule. And when he was needed, he skillfully provided the country with his leadership as our Prime Minister. During his tenure he has constantly provided good leadership in shaping our financial and foreign policies, which have boosted India's image as a serious world player significantly. His regime saw many of the people friendly policies taking shape and become effective at the same time. His unflinching stance on nuclear deal was clear show of his mettle especially when his government and his chair were on the line. And finally his and his government’s handling of Mumbai terror attacks has been very effective. For the first time Pakistan found itself without any support and had to bow to the continuous pressure built upon her and she had to accept the truth. Of course we have not seen any affirmative action yet, but that will also come along if we continue to pressurize them and cut their support lines more fervently. It's the tried and tested strategy of blockade which has always been effective.

Then what calls for his image as a weak prime minister, I ask? Then I get the answer that it's because of only two reasons. First and the most important one is the lack of public speaking skills of our president. The problem is, no matter how efficient he is and how dedicated he is to his responsibilities, his PR skills are not good enough to project that image of his. History has seen that most effective leaders have most impressive oratory skills. They have the power to move the people to their support and agree to them just by an impressive speech. And this is where our Prime Minister lacks significantly. In fact we hardly hear him speaking publicly, perhaps because he tries to keep away from making speeches or that media doesn’t find it worth showcasing on their prime times. Consequently people don’t get to see and hear their leader address them on various issues, which they really want to. Second problem is that, our opposition has leaders with good oratory skills; we can’t deny that Mr. Advani and Mr. Modi are good speakers and they don’t miss a single chance to use it to project the weak and negative image of our prime minister to the public. So the common public starts to believe, as anyway they are far away from the facts and figures. All they get is lot of spicy & juicy speeches squeezed into the dramatic prime time news of Indian Television.

So, I feel if our PM has to break away from the stereotype created for him, he will have to work hard on his PR and oratory skills.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Gear up for Earth Hour

Once again the world is gearing up for earth hour and no of people & cities participating is ever increasing. It seems it has caught on in India too. While Amir khan is the face of earth hour campaign, Software giant Infosys has come in it's support too. More than that, this time awareness among people is far more than last year. So, hopefully we will see more participation this time. I don't know if the earth hour will change everything bad happening to earth. But I am sure about one thing, that it will not do any bad either and sure it will save some precious electricity in the process. So, I will be switching off my lights on earth hour and I urge you to do it too.

Earth Hour: Saturday, 28th March, 8:30pm - 9:30pm


Thursday, March 12, 2009


Remember what you used to do while attending a boring lecture? Not sure about you but I filled my notebook pages with random graffiti and I was surprised to find such a long Wiki page on Graffiti. But of course there are people filling Wikipedia for everything they can or can't think of. Perhaps that is more constructive use of their time.

But when I got really bored with the dull and drowsy atmosphere of working, I don't know how but I started scratching in my notebook and gave birth to this interesting character. In the picture you can see the various stages of evolution of this fellow. [Click to enlarge]

Final avatar at the top, below are different stages of evolution

This avatar was born in process of giving a facial shape to the following letters from my name V, K, U, M, A and R. I am not sure if you could figure that out from the picture.. but I like this character, especially with the @ eye. If I could fine tune the shape, I plan to use it as my online avatar. So, I can certainly use help/comments from the artists & creative minds out there.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Mutton Masala/Curry recipe

This is kind of strange that I have been cooking for over two years but never even attempted any Mutton recipe. So, I decided to change it. I made up my mind to make mutton masala for Sunday, but didn't know which recipe to try. As in, the recipe used back at home is good but that doesn't include marinating the meat, which I knew softens and flavors the meat. So I decided to mix both. It was on an experimental basis, but it turned out to be really good. After preparation the mutton was really tender and the spices were nicely absorbed by the meat. Resulting in an aromatic and spicy Mutton masala with great taste and left a nice after taste. Here is the recipe which I tried. I will write the exact amounts & steps which I used.

Ingredients for marination:
1) Mutton: 750 gm (cut into medium sized pieces)
2) Onion: 400-500 gm (thinly sliced 5-6 medium sized onions)
3) Yogurt: 2 tbsp
4) Salt: As per taste
5) Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
6) Chilli powder: 1 and half tsp
7) Coriander powder: 1 tsp
8) Pepper powder: Half tsp
9) Cumin powder: Half tsp
10) Ginger paste: 1 tsp
11) Garam Masala powder: 1 tsp
12) Fresh coriander leaves: Two hand fulls.

Ingredients for cooking:
1) Chilli powder - 1 tsp
2) Garam Masala Powder: 1 tsp
3) Clove (5), pepper(10), Black(3) & Green(4) cardamom, cinnamon (1 stick) and any other garam masala ingredient you can find. (It's just for the rich taste & aroma)

Clean the mutton properly, you can optionally add turmeric to it while cleaning. Put the meat in a vessel big enough to hold the meat for marination. Preferably prepare puree of coriander leaves. Other wise simply chop them as finely as you can. Then use your palms to rub the leaves applying pressure while you are spreading it on mutton. Gently mix the coriander with meat. After it's spread properly, add yogurt and mix it well. Now put salt & all the spices and mix it well. Once all the spices are mixed cover the vessel and put it in refrigerator for at least one hour.

When you think the marination is ready, heat up the cooking oil & put the sliced onions with half tsp of salt. From now till end, when you are stirring you can keep the flame on medium, but after that cover the frying pan & put the flame on low. When the onions turn golden (should take 10-15 mins), take out the marinate vessel and pour the mutton and juices in frying pan. Now mix it well with onions, cover the pan and let it cook on low flame for 30 minutes. But keep stirring it every 5 minutes or so to make sure mutton is cooked evenly.

Now add 1 tsp each of chilli powder and the ingredients of garam masala to it and fry it for 15 minutes. By now the mutton & spices must have cooked well, for gravy add some water (as needed) and salt to compensate for the water (if needed). Bring it to boil and let it cook for another 10 minutes, so that the gravy is well blended with spices & the mutton absorbs it as well.

Now the Mutton masala is ready, serve it with rice or bread. Another way of cooking is to fry the mutton for 10-15 minutes. Then put the whole mix into pressure cooker and wait for at least 5-6 whistles. This is the quicker way of cooking but I like the flavor from slow cooking better.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Google crawls into your Inbox

So finally Google broke the Internet barrier and crawled into perhaps our most personal devices, yes our cell phones. This is an important step by Google because not everyone could have Internet access on their cell phones to try and search Google. So they come to you, providing you with services which are sure to make you use them. Don't know about others, but this looks like a sure shot formula to increase their reach in Indian market, where GPRS penetration is still very low.

For India the number to use is 9-77-33-00000, on which you can send a simple text message containing a command and you will get back your results via SMS. You only pay your standard carrier charges for the transaction. Finding latest Cricket scores, Movie listing / schedules, Train & train ticket information, local business listings are just among the few services they are offering already. I tried the cricket scores, sent CRICKET INDIA to the number and got back the India vs New Zealand scores in a couple of seconds. I am sure we will see more players going this way, offering services over SMS without premium charges. But Google has taken the lead and I am loving it.

You can check out Google Mobile SMS for details on services offered by them.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Irony of Airtel's Unfair "Fair Usage Policy"

Less than a month ago I was all praises for Airtel broadband service. I didn't know my celebrations will be short lived. Although the customer service & speed of Airtel broadband still remains the same, I was disappointed to read Airtel's new Fair Usage Policy and certainly felt cheated. According to this if a user of an unlimited plan exceeds a certain download limit, his speed will be halved for that billing period. However he will have to pay the same rental for the remaining duration.

Coming out with draconian & repressive policies seems to have become the norm these days. The Facebook issue hadn't even fizzle out yet and now Airtel does a repeat.. thanks to the power of internet we have been able to educate our fellow netizens in order to protect our rights. To this regard an online petition has been filed and number of people signing it is rising fast. I have done my part by signing the petition & spreading the word for it. Hope we can create enough noise to be heard by Airtel.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pink Panther 2 and Post 91

Pink Panther 2 poster (image src:

I wasn't really inclined to watch the latest Pink Panther, esp because of the hue n cry over Mrs. Aishwarya Rai Bachhan and bad rating at IMDB. Nevertheless I succumbed to the charm of Inspector Clouseau and watched it anyway. Personally I found the movie entertaining to say the least. Steve Martin has done a good job in portraying a clumsy, stupid & yet sharp police inspector. I laughed out loud at many times in the movie & yeah against all odds & predictions Aishwarya was there throughout the movie. I believe people who didn't like the movie were the original Pink Panther movie(of the 60's) fans. But I hadn't seen that and so had nothing to compare and that was good as I could enjoy the movie as it was. Another good thing was, the run time was only 92 mins and thus no extra junk was crammed in it. So, after tickling my funny bone it was time for some

The bar at Post 91

It was a sea food festival at Post 91, a multi-cuisine, buffet concept restaurant in Koregaon Park at the end of Lane 7. The buffet contained 3 veg & 3 non veg starters, 3 veg & 3 non veg main course dishes, a live sea-food grill counter, chicken & veg biryani, salads, breads, a mind boggling collection of 9 desserts and the best part, unlimited beer (Kingfisher Blue), mocktails & soft drinks. The buffet was good, but the food didn't compare to the buffets I had at Barbeque Nation or Sigree. So, I would have to say the food was average, although there were some dishes which really stood out. Like in the starter prawns preparation in spicy gram flour was very good. In the main course Mutton rara was amazing, mutton was tender and prepared in a thick spicy gravy. Highlight of the buffet was the live Seafood counter, you could select from king fish, pomfret, crab, squid & tiger prawns and they were prepared on the hot plate in your choice of spices, sauce & optionally wine. We feasted on king fish preparations, tried the wine one also, it was superb.

Live Seafood Grill counter

Spicy King fish grill prepared with wine

Assuming seafood counter was there because of seafood festival, next best thing were the Desserts. A total of 9 deserts, all western but all of them made you want more. I tried one piece from each and wished I had appetite for more.

Desserts table

Strawberry Mousse cake

Lemon & Honey tartlets

Butterscotch mousse cake

The decor & ambience were also very good, they had mixed corporate designs with chic decor and dim lights to create a pretty feel good effect. They also had DJ playing music, which wasn't loud at all. There was also the option of open air seating with candle lights.

Me with Kingfisher Blue (its my favorite beer now)

In the budget of Rs. 500 per person (inclusive of taxes), this buffet with good food, nice ambiance along with unlimited drinks was real value for money and you couldn't ask for more to spend a nice evening.

Post 91, Koregaon Park Lane 7, Phone nos: 020-2610 9191, 09823138187

Post 91 pics courtesy Birenderjit Singh


2019 - heavily influenced by "Minority Report" ?

Microsoft business division president Stephen Elop unveiled, what Microsoft predicts to be the future in 10 years from now i.e. by year 2019. In this video, its shown that touch screen interface would be the next big thing.

Watching the video gives you dejavu of Minority Report. Going by the research & advancements in the multi touch UI designs now a days, this video looks quite believable or rather achievable now. So, if this is indeed the future, then there is one thing for sure, We will have a tough time adapting to all those hand movements & gestures to get things done in style ;)


Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Sometimes having a routine is really important & helpful. I have always found routines really boring and so didn't ever try to follow one. But I realize that subconsciously I have been following many routines nevertheless.

Like in avoiding to have a routine of waking up early & reaching office by a particular hour. I have made a routine of waking up late and anyway I reach office at a particular hour (late). No matter what, I tend to wake up between 8:30 & 9:00 and reach office by 11 - 11:30. I will wake up and look for my newspaper and spend half an hour with it, which has to be accompanied/followed by a cup of tea. Office is also kind of routine - reach office, check mails, check blog updates, start work, have lunch, work again (lazily), have tea, work again, have some snacks, work again, leave office. This hardly ever changes. Reach home, have dinner, watch TV/Movie, go to sleep. Even in a longer time frame, Whenever I get a long holiday or take a long leave, I go to my home town. Whenever I get bored at home I call up my friends & family and talk to them.

So, no matter How bad I think about the routines.. I keep following them all the time. Then I realize it's not all that bad. Because It kind of avoids the question "What to do next??" and saves a lot of time by that because that question is really difficult to answer at times.

But then I find that a scary thought as well. What if I never think of that question again & keep doing the same things forever? That is the kind of life I get nightmares about. As, I am a die hard believer of the motto "Change is Good".

So, I plan to strike a balance by consciously following healthy routines & then consciously breaking them on routine intervals ;) Well that sounded funny, didn't it. It's actually kind of tricky, as in I wish to use a routine to break out of routines. But then that could really work out. For example, I am going to set a daily routine, which includes time to wake up, daily office hours & few hours of sports. Then as another routine I plan to try out new things, like changing the sports/physical activity after some time. Obviously it will also give me the time to ask myself the question "What to do next?".

Now let's see how it turns out.. How well I could carry this will only become clear in a couple of months from now, but at least I feel good to follow a routine for a change ;)


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Moved to Airtel

I have been using Airtel mobile for last 4 years & have been more or less satisfied with their service. They have been a bit of pain in the butt at times but, If I look back, I have got a good service and more important good value for money all the time.

But this post is not about Airtel mobile service, it's about my painful adventures with Tata Indicom Broadband. I first got a Tata Indicom Broadband connection about 3 years ago. Then they had just started the service & Tata's brand name attracted me to them. I used their service for about 6 months (really??) and for most of this I was troubled with service disconnection, down servers, faulty recharge & worst of all extremely poor customer service. To get hold of one of their CC executive, I had to wait at least 10 mins & the issues got resolved when they really felt like doing it. So, naturally I got sick of their service and discontinued my alliance with them. Unfortunately at the point, not many service providers were there to avail the service so that might be one of the reasons for their poor show.

But that was past and they were new... so 2 years later I decided to give Tata's another chance. I took a new broadband connection from them and it got connected without much hassle in 4 days (not bad). This time I used the service for 9 months (not bad at all). During this time I faced disconnections/server down but less frequently, as in say twice a month or so. Speed was good but weird thing was, if I am doing a download using a download manager, my browsing speed virtually went to nil and it took a couple of minutes to open a gmail page. Another strange problem, when my account expired, I couldn't log into their online portal to recharge my account from any other Internet connected PC as well. So, it was time for customer service again. I filed a complaint for both and placed order for a recharge voucher. For the browsing speed issue they said they were clueless & will look into it.. Nothing happened. For the recharge issue, it has been about a month and I still can't recharge my account from any other PC. I was sent the recharge voucher, after repeated calls to them for 6 days, about 15 days after placing the order. Thankfully I was out of station at that time and I politely asked them to send the voucher back and not to bother me again, as I was again sick of their services again. I would like to add that there were the two major setbacks.. their service, customer service & technical assistance has been poor through out. I had to make at least one call to them every month. More than two years in service, have they learnt anything yet?

After I came back last Sunday, I heard that Airtel has started offering broadband connections in my area and that their customer service is pretty good along with many plans combined with their Land line connection absolutely free that also with zero monthly rental. Well tired of customer service that I was, this sounded really tempting and yesterday I signed up for Airtel Broadband service. To my utmost surprise they completed the cabling work yesterday itself and I was really impressed with the speed & the way it was done. I didn't have to see another dangling wire out of my window or a new hole in the window frame. It was done really smoothly & professionally. I hardly noticed the new wire-case used to cover the running cable. By today afternoon my broadband connection was functional & my land line connection was active. To top it all I am getting better download speed (old avg speed + 6kbps) as well. My browsing doesn't die when I am downloading in parallel. So, by far I am very impressed, but now the real show will begin.

Going by the start I expect a smooth ride with Airtel and will surely recommend it to anyone. But it may be too early do so. Let's see how it turns out :)


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bangalore se aaya mera dost

This weekend I had no agenda as such. I had to go home this week so I was planning to do some shopping and that's it. Suddenly one of my very few school friends, Rajnish, called up & reminded me that he was visiting me this weekend. Initially I was embarrassed, as I couldn't remember it, but that was instantly replaced with cheer & excitement. After I hung up & was wondering how much fun it would be to do all the masti here.. I got another call and found out that the same day was the anniversary of two of my very good friends and that their relatives are throwing them a surprise party and wanted me & their other friends to come. All of a sudden I was really busy over the weekend, which was of course a good thing.

So, I received Rajnish on Saturday morning.. we both were starving, so we had brunch and loads of starter chit-chat. Then, while he went on to relax after his tiring journey, I ganged up with another friend bought gifts for our friends and went to their surprise anniversary party, which thankfully was in Lunch time. Party turned out pretty well, they really were surprised to find us there :).. After that I called up Rajnish & took him to show around my under construction flat which I had bought last year. He seemed to like the flat [sample one of course ;-)].

Over coffee in Wakad CCd we were thinking what to do next and then I just asked him let's go to Tony da Dhaba (40 kms from that place) and have rabbit for dinner. First he was surprised then quickly agreed. We went back to my place, put some warm cloths on as it was getting dark & cold already, and left for Tony da dhaba. As it was not safe to drink & drive at night, specially with so much of police check posts everywhere, thanks to Republic day nearing, we decided to have booze after we get back. We drove to Tony da dhaba, enjoyed the ride... but were disappointed to find out they no longer served rabbit. Apparently they suddenly started loving the cute creature & so made them pets instead of serving them. How funny is that.. sudden realization of love for rabbits :P

Nevertheless we had Tandoori Bater, which was tender & good, but difficult to eat, as there were too many bones. Then we played safe and had Mutton Rara & Mutton Masala, both were cooked really nice & were pretty good. For dessert we had hot & crispy Jalebis. But fun for the evening was Double Apple Hukkah.. He was trying Hukkah for first time & really loved it. After dinner we headed back and were home by 1 am. Then it was time to relax, with soft music & rum, we talked about all sorts of things, our school days, friends, job, life & what not. Not sure when, but we went to bed quite late. Next day we spent shopping which was a need rather than fun :) We saw Shivaji Market (a huge meat market) and were startled to see so many Kites (bird) swooping across the street. They didn't seem to mind the ongoing traffic & swept very low, not sure why.. cause there weren't meat on the streets. But it was fun & scary.

After this we had lunch & then Rajnish left for Mumbai, his next stop. So, it was a really great weekend. I drove no less than 150 kms in 2 days, had a lot of booze, expletive count must have overflowed and fun factor was unlimited. After his visit I am determined to visit Delhi in coming days now. I am planning for a while to visit Delhi to see the city & visit some of my school friends there.

As of now, I am off to Muzaffarpur(Bihar), my home town for a week. Cheers!!

P.S: I recently started with Twitter & sure it's fun & addictive. Probably I will be able to post updates to Twitter so you can follow my twitter id "vikashskumar" for updates.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bloggers Anthem

Stumbled upon this video named fittingly the Bloggers Anthem and couldn't resist sharing it here :)

I Blog, Therefore I Am. I Am the Blog. - video powered by Metacafe


WATBlog Wednesday in Pune

Though I and many other people were skeptical about the idea, I thought I will surely give it a try, and thankfully I wasn't disappointed at all. It was a great meet with so many people turning up that it looked like a new year bash. Everyone was enjoying conversing with mostly unknown set of people over beer & also really cool lounge music in the background. The open air garden setting was just perfect with ample space. I talked to so many people from all sorts of start ups (mostly) and realized that Pune is actually exploding with start ups & entrepreneurs. Host of the evening & founder of WATMedia Rajeev has written a blog on the event here & shared the party album on Facebook here.


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