Three cities one question

I grew up in Shimla.For a variety of reasons our family moved to Dehradoon in late 90s. In the beginning I didn’t like Dehradoon. It was a a city in a rush to become Delhi. But slowly I started enjoying doon. And how can I not. Mussoorie was literally walking distance and Ganga  was never too far away.

But Shimla never moved out of heart. I kept my links with Shimla alive by visiting the city whenever I got a chance.

Its been 24 years since I left Shimla. Out of which the for the last 14 years I have been living in Delhi. I call Delhi (South) home. I’m home in Delhi.

Life has been kind inspite the usual ups and downs. For the first time in my life I have the luxury of choice. I can choose where to live for the remaining years of my life.

Go back to the city where I was born or keep living in the city that made me what I’m today. Or take the middle path and move to Dehradoon.

Tough call.

 

 

To Protest or not to protest #Jallikatu

The answer came to me after a long time.

I totally agree that cruelty against animals is the worst form of cruelty and a slap on the face of entire humanity. Why ? Because animals can’t speak . They have to suffer silently the whole thing. If we are the higher beings then we have to treat other animals with kindness.

I’m all against animal cruelty but hey my morning starts with a healthy animal cruelty.

How ?

My morning tea has milk that is not meant for me. It’s for the calf. Imagine a cow who is lactating after delivery. Her calf is hungry. He is brought to the her just so that she can start giving milk. The calf doesn’t get to drink much. Almost all of the milk is taken away to be sold.  Now replace calf with your newborn.  Would you like mother’s milk for your newborn to be taken away from him.

So yes protest by all means but first put down that chicken wing and leave your lattes else you are just a Facebook animal friendly hypocrite.

Some would argue let’s start change with Jallikatu. I would say lets start change with us. Let’s start with our morning tea.

 

 

 

 

My resolutions for 2017

When you make your  resolutions public you can depend on the energy of the universe to make them happen. Also one can  count on good friends to remind  every now and then.

So here is a list of my resolutions for the coming year and I need everyone’s help to make them happen.

  1. Say NO: I find it impossible to say NO to anything. This year I want to learn to say NO to things that are not important or urgent or interesting. No more saying YES just because you feel obligated. No more saying YES to that extra Roti. NO to that conference or meeting that is just a waste of time.
  2. Say YES to Meditation and Yoga: I want learn meditation and Yoga. Its been on my list of things to do for a long time. I feel now is the time in my life to start doing it. Any leads on how to go about doing this?
  3. Learn something new: Either hone up swimming skills or learn to skateboard. I don’t remember when was the last time I learned something which was physical in nature.
  4. Read 12 books: On an average one book a month for year 2017.
  5. Learn to code .. again : 16 years ago I could write SQL code and make it talk to databases. The world has changed in these 16 years. I want to understand what people code now days. My first stop is the learning to do programming with Scratch. Scratch is a visual programming language for kids.
  6. Lead a minimalist life: Buy less and discard anything that is in excess is going to be a mantra for 2017.
  7. Eat and live healthy: I want to reduce 4 whites in my food. White rice, white sugar, white milk and white atta ( maid or anything processed)

So these are my resolutions for 2017. I would love to know what are yours.

The world as we know has moved closer to War

 

History has a uncanny habit of repeating itself.

The recent assassination of Russian Ambassador in Ankara is like  the  assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the archduke of Austria-Hungary. His death at the hands of Gavrilo Princip a Serbian was one the major reasons for the start of the First world war that killed 17 million people.

Let’s pray that this recent incident doesn’t lead to a “crisis of confidence” between Russia and Turkey.

Just a few months back Turkey had shot down a Russian fighter Jet. Both Turkey and Russia are heavily invested into Syria albeit on opposite sides.

Turkey is a NATO member. If Russia attacks Turkey NATO will be drawn into the conflict. America, who is also member of NATO will be  duty bound to get involved too. And with Donald Trump at the helm of affairs things can get  messy.

At the end of 2nd world war UN was created to make sure the world doesn’t blow itself up. So far the UN has done its job. But the recent killing of innocents in Aleppo-Syria and Iraq doesn’t inspire much confidence on the ability of UN to prevent wars.

Lets just hope that history doesn’t repeat itself or else the world as we know it will be gone.

Have you actually seen NaMO Demonetisation survey

Never mind fellow netizens and experts with a IQ of 200 and above. You are free to comment and make jokes about it. Buzzfeed has actually a whole list of it here.

So I thought for a change it will be nice for us to see what the survey actually is like. So I dowloaded the survey and took some screen shots.

First, I agree that that large number of poor people who don’t smart phone cannot respond to the survey. But I fail to remember when was the last time in our history we actually asked the poor about their opinion. So lets not bring the poor into the argument just to win some points. This is the first time a politician is even asking  people about their opinion on a policy. It may not be the best medium but its a start.

But back to the survey.

Some questions use a scale. It may not be a perfect Likert scale but its not that bad that you simply ostracise the survey. All the questions are easy to understand.  May be one or two questions like the one that says – anti corruption activists are now supporting corruption- Yes or No is over the top and should have been removed. In all  Yes or No questions one could have added- I don’t know as an option

And yes all those who have smart phone and want to have their opinion heard can always criticise the  demonetisation move on this app first  and then take to twitter. That way they will get to see the questions 🙂

 

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Now this is super bad question. This Should be deleted. Its a you are with us or against us kind of question

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Don’t agree click Don’t know

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The downhill has come O lord

For the last 7 years of  running I have made improvements every year. Slowly moving from one  goal to another. I started with a modest Airtel Delhi Half marathon in 2008 at 2 hrs 50 minutes to my personal best of 1 hrs 41 minutes in 2015.

So why this year had to be any different.

But yes different is what it turned out to be precisely on the 20th November at Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2016

Just previous year I had clocked 21kms at 1hrs 41 minutes which my personal best. I wanted to better my record and get over the other side of 100 minutes. But some things are  not to be. Not only I failed to cut the 100 minute mark I also slipped my personal best by 1 minute to finish the  half marathon in 1 hrs 42 minutes and 15 seconds.

Now this is not a bad time by any stretch of imagination. It just stopped my improvements over timing in the tracks.

I started the race with some lofty goals in my mind. Yes may be this is one where I will beat the 100 minutes mark that everyone Half marathoner wants to achieve ( We would love to boast that we finish half marathon in double digits- 99 minutes or less).

No such pleasure this time.

I know its not a big deal. The run was not to win any medals. Every runner knows that there are no prizes to win in the end . Its race against yourself.

And this is precisely I have failed.

The other area where I have failed is in making the same mistakes over and over. I ran the first 5 kms faster than I had ever run in my life sometime clocking as fast as 4 mins 36 seconds to a Km. This really pushed my heart in the red zone from where I never recovered. This made me struggle a lot in the last 7 kms of the race. Close to 50 runners overtook me towards the end of the race. Yes I was counting.

So what are the lessons.

Wait for muscle soreness to get over. Wait for another 12 months. Airtel Delhi Half Marathon we will meet again in 2017 and we will see if we are getting any older or not.

May be I should train more regularly and learn to pace better or else like they say- This is the beginning of a slippery slope my friend.

 

 

 

 

For 50 days Modi Jee give us these 5 things

Okay,  Indians will give you 50 days to make things normal. Lets hope you will be able to get ATMs to start dispensing cash. Lets hope you can make sure that everyone who doesn’t have a bank account is also able to change his or her currency and get started. But all of this will be well begun half done if you don’t do the following things. Worst,some of us will also start questioning the point of this exercise.

  1. Keep a limit on cash withdrawals from banks for ever. You can only withdraw so much cash in a calendar year. If it needs a new ordinance so be it. If there are no limits on cash withdrawals from banks then we will be back to square one. If you can’t legally limit then make the process difficult.
  2. Build a national invoicing system- one single software that everyone needs to use to print invoices.  For instance Delhi government has a single system that connects all their liquor shops. No more back entries in the books. Those who are not online please connect them using digital India mission.
  3. Introduce a cash transaction tax. Any cash transaction that is done will require a 10% tax. I’m sure you have smart people who can figure out how to do this.
  4. Make political parties including BJP disclose the source of donations- both cash and cheque.  Accountability has to start from your yard and rest of us will follow
  5. Digitise all land and building records. Make sure property cannot be purchased or sold without confirming the title on the digital records and not below the circle rates.  PAN already is compulsory. No PAN, No Property .

Start with suggestions 4 and 5. We are ready to face the brunt of demonetisation. We want to see if you are ready too: 🙂

I hope these things are already planned because I believe that you and your team is quite smart and have the right intent.

Air india website please grow up

Have you ever tried doing online check in with Air India. You will go nuts. First of all they have 4 options and then each of the options they  have a long list of things that they require before you check in. In todays day and age they  want you to  give you Flight number and date with your name, PNR  etc

The four infamous options

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After you have chosen one of the above you will be presented with another screen with more information to give. All these six fields are compulsory but they don’t tell us that upfront. You will realise it after doing dance with submissions and errors.

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Now see how Indigo does web check in. PNR and name and its done. No wonder they have pipped Air India in everything.

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Indigo Web check in options

Our Indian state carrier is also not ashamed of using stock photos and that too of a foreign national.  They are just too lazy. If you have to use stock photo please choose a Indian face at least.

I don’t know when will Air India grow up to be an adult.

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 Air India customer service agents looks like her ?

A brief history of Chaddis for Hommes

Men don’t discuss chaddis because under that nice Diesel Jean there is Rs 90 very un-comforatble VIP frenchee hiding. But seriously what can we do. We don’t have Victoria’s secrets. Just some stuff hanging here and there.

If you were born before 1979 its certain that our chaddis have a common ancestry. It is from the time when the words like briefs, trunks and  boxers were not invented. Our modesty was guarded by our faithful “Naade walla Kaccha” Also known  as “Latthe wala kachaa ” ( chaddis made of coarse cotton with stripes and string ). Man,  these were popular. You could see the entire men folk out with their pride and stripes everywhere. It was perfectly okay to wear one and go  buy things from Kiryane ke Dukaan. Most likely the lala jee will be  wearing one too and going one about his business.

These Kaccha’s were handy ( and airy). Almost everyone in family had  atleast one Kaccha with ” Chor Jeb” where one can safely keep cash while travelling. These Kaccha’s also had a camaraderie around them. They all looked the same .Y ou could never know for sure if you were wearing your own or someone else. Early morning men could be heard asking their wives – Sun na Zara ek Nada to de dena.

As if it was the curse of the  ” Naada” one day everything changed. The super cool and elastic band enforced chaddis came to the market. Overnight our good honest Kacchas became underwear and and the rest is history. We got invaded by Amul, VIP,  Jockey Rupa et al.

The trouble with men and their chaddis is that we are very narrowly focussed- Sastee and tikaoe ( long lasting). We love to buy the cheapest and wear them till you can do star gazing through them. We take special pride in having holes in our chaddis- Mujhe koi problem nahi hai, tujhe hai to nayee laa de.

Have you ever wondered why there are no specialist Chaddi stores for us. Imagine 650 million men in India and not even one ” Lovable” equivalent store for us. There are millions of blogs on advise on cars, homes, love, cooking, mother in law etc.  But no blog for advise you on good chaddis.

So here is some honest advise. What ever you are wearing, discard. Rush to a Marks and Spencer store. Buy their Autobiography range of Chaddi’s. They are 850 a piece but I guess you have saved enough money so far on those 100 ka pair chaddis. These M&S chaddi’s are super cool. They are so comfortable  that you will wonder if you are actually wearing one :).

But just one word of caution- Don’t call them Chaddi’s else the store guy will instantly know what you are wearing under your Diesels.

 

 

 

 

Spot the difference-Cash vs the rest

Case 1: A skill building organisation is training people in skills. The participants pay nothing. Indian government foots the bills

Case 2: A new non-profit is doing unconditional cash transfers. They will give money directly to the poor and let them decide what is best for them. No strings attached.

When ever I go and speak to someone from the non-profit sector they are very quick to point out that Case 1 is a life change investment where as Case 2 is just a dole ( Implicit  argument  is that somehow Case 1 is superior).

The trouble is that really there is no  difference per se- both are doles or handouts. The only difference is that in Case 1 you have decided on the behalf of the poor that skills training is best for them.

I do  feel that there is merit in skills training and all the other kinds of poverty alleviation programs that NGOs and Governments run in India and across the world. But billions of dollars are spent in these efforts but very little if at all anything is given as cash  to the poor. May be there lies a fundamental distrust that if we give money directly to the poor then they will waste it. I have two big problems with this distrust. One, NGOs and Governments are themselves super inefficient and wasteful and two all the money is spent in the name of the poor.

May be for a change we need to rethink our prejudices and assumptions and trust that poor are as responsible as we are with money. We have tried all other approaches to lift poor out of poverty. May be its time to just give them cash and see what happens.

Still not convinced. Read what happens when you give 1000 USD to ultra poor.