Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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Its been a momentous achievement for me personally with any car I owned. I've cleared 30k kms with a vehicle which I can deem an asset. While most fuel inefficient vehicles and uncomfortable ones end up being liabilities, I can atleast feel proud to say that this car is every Indian's asset for a long time to come. Before I proceed further, thanks FIAT for the wonderful engine, and thanks MARUTI for the great service that you have been known for all this while.


If you have read my earlier 10000 and 15000 kms review, by now you would know what the car is all about. The car still feels like showroom condition after 2.5 years every time I switch on the ignition. Generally the car is rugged to handle roads well as long as the roads are not too undulated. My car has gone through some real rough road patches but handled well, mostly due to the great Michelin tyres I've added onto the car. The car has been scratched on the mirrors and the underside of the bumper a few times. While the mirrors are too large to avoid getting scratched, the visibility issue while we sit within the car is another reason for misjudging a few manoeuvres.


Being a single user, and driving alone most times, sometimes with one or two other people, I must say this car has reasonable amount of power at the tap for a city user. The continuity in the accelerator response and the eagerness to pickup which occurs at all gears uniformly has made this beauty the darling of many a car owner in Benglauru. Just with the help of the torque of this car, I was able to negotiate the car upwards a ramp from the basement to the ground floor of the building, while in first gear with my foot off all pedals. Shows how much we can utilize the car to the best extent in city traffic to give some rest to those weary legs.


The front row comfort is good, cabin feels involving, dashboard soothing, and its generally airy. I would have felt great if the Swift VDi was a two door version. The back row is good so as not to cause too much body roll, but as far as space is concerned, Maruti will have to work quite hard to get to the level where TATA is currently with its Indica and Manza offerings. Generally I would include claustrophobia as one of the features of the Swift :) The boot is good for not-much-luggage drivers and there ends the argument. If you want to transport truck loads worth of baggage, well - then buy yourself a truck! The rattling windows are a gift from Maruti for the Swift and I might just end up spending another 6-7 years more with these rattles. These rattles are like extra noises within the family life. :D Just got to put up with it. There is a lot of dust accumulation over a period of time on the dashboard but hey that's part of growing old of any car isn't it?


The mileage has dipped over time, and each time I service it to change the engine oil, it bounces back to a healthy 16kmpl. So this is a car that satisfies the FE hungry junta of India. I can stretch it upto 19kmpl but with normal tyres and mostly higher gear driving the latter being an impossibility in the city. The tyres seem great even after 30k of driving, and Michelin knows its business better than anyone else out there. It should be good for another 20k to go. I am you customer one more time after that Mich!


To summarize on the drive, the car has been extremely well mannered where required, has displayed enthusiasm required for a rally mood where required. Its agile, easy to manoeuvre in the city, good for two people, sturdy, great engine, FE and service and it will rock the Indian Car Scene for some more time until newer more well designed comfortable cars come up at this price. Till then enjoy the drive!









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Sunday, November 15, 2009

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Many of you might have noticed an email sent from Citibank very recently where they have increased the minimum account balance for non salary accounts that one has to maintain in order to be receiving the services of the bank. Citibank was known to be the pioneer in India to introduce online banking, and also for utility bill payments among other useful services. The bank's image merged well with the minds of young engineers who adopted Citi as a part of their daily life since a decade.


There was also a point in time when Citibank was the new face of banking as against banks such as Canara Bank, SBI which our parents were accustomed to. While salary accounts of Citibank had the zero balance scheme, non salary accounts started off with a minimum account balance of Rs.1000/- in 1999, and grew to Rs.5000 and Rs.10000 subsequently. The email that most of us received a while ago, gave us nightmares when we saw that the new minimum balance for non salary accounts has now been increased to Rs.25000/-. While this kind of amount is perhaps the salary of many engineers across the country and perhaps the savings of a few wealthier folks, the mail also reflects the way Citibank is headed if they continue such tantrums.


Its about time that nationalized banks have increased their image in front of the public, and at a time when Citibank just came out of crisis in the USA, tantrums like these are bound to make people reject Citibank for banking and move to much more reasonable banks in the near future.


I happened to check out on Bank of Baroda, and was pleasantly left surprised at the kind of service they offered though they were still a bit naive to internet ways of banking. What mattered finally was that I could open an account in no time, and was a happy customer of theirs sooner than later. Canara Bank has lately restyled their logo trying to connect more to people as they continue their dream run forward. IDBI has now introduced banking for all to shed their image of only being a loan disbursement company. ICICI is already in the list of the not so good banks to deal with. HDFC and AXIS Banks have retained their image through tough times due to their consistent policies. SBI and its sister banking divisions have enhanced their images through beneficial loan schemes and exchange rates. ING Vysya is about to launch FD products giving 12% interest even in good economy upswings.


With all these banks vying hard to woo people, one wrong move that Citibank has done can start denting its Indian image pretty seriously. Today's youth connect well with nationalized banks yet again and its only sooner than later that it will be the good old golden period of nationalized banking to the fore yet again.


As for me, I've decided to log off from Citibank for obvious reasons. Your choice is not yet made! Think for the longer term and make a wise choice.







Tuesday, November 10, 2009

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The last fortnight of political parleying around Delhi by the BJP has been nothing short of showing off gloriously, the filth inside the party. Money doing the rounds, resorts getting business, MLAs on their 'fitness' regimes and a bullied crying CM on the TV. Well what can I say, its enough to beat the TRPs of any soap on TV. Add to that the decoration, music, lighting and thrill that TV9 adds to all this, and you have a real box office hit.


Give the opponents some reason and they are always available to whine away and bite more of the CMs flesh than they can chew. Also seated on the knife are cool headed, least bothered stalwarts from the chaddi wearing RSS. Throw a brick or a boulder at them and they still do what they do best. Laze around. Citizens always do what they have been doing. Crying hoarse over infrastructure instead of asking for some better governance in the first place. Any development whether literal or metaphorical can happen only when the game is played right. What we have are the politicians from the 50s and 70s era who are experienced at mud slinging rather than any developmental politics.


What did not take a Sadananda Gowda or a Venkiah Naidu or a LK Advani or a Rajnath, took one Sushma to solve?  And must we all believe a mining baron of 5500+ crores of income will listen to a matrushri rather than his own intuition? This has not only shown that no one in the top level of the party is capable of handling a crisis and unless these are all laid off  (corporate management rejig if i may call so), one can say a goodbye to BJP in the next elections as well. This notwithstanding the 'success' they have had locally.


Sobha is out (she deserved to, didn't she?). Why would a revenue minister managing revenues of a mining department owned by his brother take easily a lady of rural development ministry questioning the ongoings between the former two ministries? Not only did she interfere there, but also managed to say 'cheese' in every photo having the CM leading to some ridiculously obvious rumours which were all unwarranted. Whatever the stature of the RSS lady, the final verdict is there on the wall. The IAS officers can never escape a transfer in their lives. It will be news if even one completes the full term in one place.


Now to the speaker (how ironical!). How many times have you heard Shettar actually speak? Or for that matter how many times have you heard about him in the newspapers that otherwise crow about Yeddy and Sobha beside him? Not even once. There is a serious problem in understanding that he actually holds any clout at all in the present scenario. Finished is the turn of the Reddy's in gunning for Yeddy's head. Now common opposition, its your freaking turn! Enjoy.


Who won this game? There is only one answer - the media. They enjoyed making a mockery of everyone including the public (yes us!). All the way upto showing on TV Yeddy and Reddy eating cake after cake shamelessly without any explanation.


Alright now enough of this masala movie. Get back to your favourite soap on TV guys!


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Srikanth Eswaran
Bengloor Huduga

Srikanth is a blogger, reader, photographer, butter dosa eater, an urban car racer & an apple fanboy. He loves music, playing table tennis and traveling. Most times he would like to be solitary to introspect on what life has thrown to him and the bigger purpose of life.