Wednesday, December 30, 2009

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Today morning, it was a shock to understand that our very own Kannada Superstar Vishnuvardhan was no more. He had died of a cardiac arrest in Mysore at an early age of 59 years. His movies are still etched in my memory right from my childhood and has brought cheer to many a fan in the state. No wonder then that his demise has brought about sudden shock to the state. With him, two superstars including Rajkumar are no more. Hopefully we will be able to educate our children about our great heroes of yesteryears!










You can read all about Vishnu here. Do listen to the song above, I really liked it as its not only great sounding, but also shows Vishnu in traditionality of Coorg in terms of dressing and choreography.


May his soul rest in peace.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

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Bengaluru has not been called cosmopolitan for no silly reasons. Moreso, the cosmopolitization has further gnawed into Bengaluru's very own IT locality - Koramangala. The locality is already known for some 300 odd good restaurants to eat in, and just when you thought it may not grow further, the Punjabi's decided otherwise!




Enter "OYE Amritsar". The very own Punjabi joint to tickle your palates one step further. We decided to check out on this restaurant for lunch a couple of days ago. It was an office team lunch and time to dig into what OYE had to offer us. After a good long walk, we reached the place. Thinking it would be like any other restaurant, I walked in. And the first thing I notice - is the language. Punjabis are known to misspell English and as far as they put forth the point, they don't really care how the language is used. My apologies to the grammatically correct Punjabi friends, but this misspellings are the things that make OYE an interesting place to eat in.




The food is only half the story. The shiny old Lambretta scooter at the front, the BarBar shop shutters depicting the types of hair cuts offered, the references to bollywood, London, and finally the big bold Sardar with his Kudi depicted on the walls - everything is part of the dining experience. One word - this place is a must go, since its mood changing. It has the potential to uplift even people with the worst of moods to uncover the grin on their faces.




Coming to the food, the customary drink was I think Jaljeera, but it was so intriguingly tangy with twists in every sip. Now a drink must leave you wondering, and thats what it was at OYE. The usual salads later, came the rotis and rajma dal, with butter panneer masala without which its nothing is a complete Punjabi restaurant. Some sweets and ice creams, and after a heavy dose of meals, came the knockout punch for those who dared it - sweet lassi. I would say this lassi alone is enough for lunch. Drinking it along with the buffet means you are either a hardcore punjabi, or you're sure to swoon into a heavenly nap after the lunch.




And for those whose stomachs cant hold more, there is always the TOLET, oops - I mean the toilet for the JENTS and LADISS.




If you guys and gals want something seriously different for the first visit, OYE Amritsar is the place. In short its full paisa vasool. Just ensure someone's around to drive you back home, coz I dont think anyone would want to attend office after something like this as a meal. The charges are reasonable as well, so nothing incomparable with other restaurants. Eat your fill!




And while you are there dont forget to notice the posters, subtly hinting that our current prime minister is also a singh, RELAX SINGH to be precise :-)




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Monday, December 14, 2009

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Ask a small kid and he would have given the solution. Ask an old man and his wiseness would have manifested as a solution. It took the Bengaluru infrastructure experts a few years to come up with a solution to the (stupid) KH Road flyover. What is wrong with the flyover many people might ask. Well I would ask - what is exactly right?




  • Its the world's only flyover with a signal light at the center

  • Its the world's only flyover where a cop sits managing traffic at this signal light

  • Its the world's only flyover which is mismanaged to such an extent that it has made proper roads crooked just because it exists

  • Its the world's only flyover (perhaps) which can crush an entire road beneath it and the people on it to death in seconds

  • Its the world's only flyover where the span of the column can be considered so huge to cause regular traffic jams

  • Its perhaps the world's only flyover that looks like an X in shape!


Yes we are talking about the great Double Road flyover. Finally atleast the mess it has created has been solved to some extent by keeping things the way they must be. See for yourself: (picture courtesy TOI)




Now for some questions on this way of traffic flow:




  • Isn't one of this enough either mission road to residency road or double road to richmond road, why both ways the traffic now needs to flow on the flyover?

  • Is that design not silly ?

  • The bigger question is whether this flyover is now required at all once you see the traffic flow :) ?

  • If they do decide next to remove this flyover, will it solve any issues if one ways are created accordingly?

  • Must a small stretch of road between richmond circle and VGP junction on double road make life hell ?

  • Will we never see architectural marvels in flyover making at all ?

  • What about the maintenance of such a flyover, what will be its state after say 10 years more ? Would you travel on it or under it ?


The issue is not with building flyovers. The issue is with people designing them and the limited scope of the needs of such a construction, that these people have in their narrow mind. Money flow aside.  Any guesses what the next great architectural marvel would be ? How about an underpass on both sides of this flyover ? Or better still a metro train running under this flyover ? Infrastructure planning is an art. Experience must speak by itself, without even a single question asked. You want an example, see for yourself the better part of Bengaluru infrastucture:




Image courtesy: BMIC - NICE


Sunday, December 6, 2009

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Its was winter of 1999. JTM was one of Karnataka's best networks. Outgoing call rates were Rs.10/- per minute and incoming about Rs.3 a minute if I am not wrong. I was one of JTM's customers at that time. Slowly JTM was taken over by Bharti Teleservices. That was the birth of AirTel, a company which would grow to be one of India's most admired telcos over a period of a decade. They were the best when it came to customer services, while the nearest telcos Spice and Hutch (what is Vodafone now) were by no standards near airtel be it in infrastructure or in customer treatment. Airtel pioneered many a revolution down the line and its venture into landline services made it even more popular.


Spice's mismanagement and Hutch's troubled history of having bad networks and bad customer services only made it better and better for Airtel quite inorganically. Over the period of the last couple of years though, India and in particular Karnataka has seen a flurry of entries from many a new telco who are all vying to take a share of Airtel's pie. Airtel's troubles have started very recently, and they are compounding it by not brainstorming on the potential failures that are waiting to happen. Some of the key things about Airtel that are beginning to go wrong include and is not limited to the following:




  • Peak hour call jams rendering the service useless

  • Call drops that occur very often leading to frustration amongst users

  • Caller tunes and the amount of agony it has been able to cause for people not really interested in them

  • Ineffective blocking of Telemarketing calls and SMSes that disturb thousands of people day in and out


Of late some more laurels can rest with Airtel:

  • Airtel's mismanaged and inexperienced customer service centers

  • Don't care attitude that has set in among the franchisees managing these centers

  • Low level executives making a mess out of technical situations which they are unable to understand or explain

  • Higher level managers who do not follow up on these technical problems that people have

  • Erosion of brand value due to the way these executives perform

  • Airtel's arrogance in maintaining the same call rates even when competition is eating into its flesh day by day


So then why are people still putting up with Airtel or for that matter any other operator? The answer is very simple to say the least. Its because they want to retain their mobile number without changing it.


For a moment lets then dwell into the case with other operators. Spice has gone one level up in capturing the youth market with a flurry of dual sim based phones and real low calling values. They are also busy fighting with their nearest and best rival Virgin mobile.  Airtel's arch rival Vodafone is now one level ahead with its famed ZooZoo advertisements addressing the core values of branding in an effective way drawing huge crowds towards the service. Not to forget to mention their Pug ads were also so adorable. Vodafone's prepaid plans now give you full talktime without any rentals or taxes even sometimes. Their low call quality and tower quality are now replenished to cover most of karnataka state.


Most of Vodafone's calls don't drop like before and their connectivity is at an all time high. Vodafone's takeover of Hutch has only fuelled their appetite for competing with anyone coming their way to maintain their customer base.


With Aircel, MTS and Uninor into the picture now along with Tata Docomo, Airtel's chances are only slimmer and slimmer day by day. Already Tata's aggressive pricing plan has forced Airtel to realize its diminishing customer base though very late, and they have also launched the same per second billing plan to save their skin. With MTS being even more aggressive at 1/2 paise per second along with Uninor, Airtel has some serious competition breathing down its neck.


On the CDMA front, Reliance and Tata are ruling the roost and will continue to do so. The only thing then comes back to how to save your mobile number. With number portability in the offing at the year end, from TRAI, at a mere 19 bucks for a switch, its now very easy to retain your number and give your old operator a boot. This only spells more bad news for Airtel who are likely to lose their coveted tag of 10 million customers on India's no more preferred network. Is it time then for Airtel, who were once FairTel, now unFairTel to go into history as a finishedTel ?


Only time will tell. And it will tell well enough.


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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.