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Published December 27, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

Google Nexus 5 buying experience via Google Play Store - must read

After all the hype behind the Nexus-4 and its technological prowess, a year later after frustrating users with a long wait and lots of similar hype, the Nexus 5 launched in India. I had a chance to take a look at it at the local LG store, which was about 10 minutes from my work location by drive. 
(source google.com)

At the store, I managed to play around with the device to my heart’s content for about half hour or so. After owning a Nexus 4, it was only logical that I personally check the credentials of the nexus 5 before opting for it as an upgrade. The store was selling the phone at about 1,000 rupees more than Google’s online price of Rs.28,999. Flipkart, the online megastore did not show signs of launching this phone yet, and as for other websites such as snapdeal my confidence on their shipping prowess was low. My patience was running out due to one main reason. I had just sold out my Nexus 4 and I was in a situation where I could not receive my office email on the phone. This was because I was using my Nokia Asha 501 as a temporary solution until I could decide on the Nexus 5.
Being a bit price conscious after having wasted lots and lots of money on phones, my logical thinking was to order this device directly from Google for two reasons - one getting it directly from the maker of the device and two, peace of mind. Or so I thought. Being the friendly guy that I am, I decided to also help my friend purchase one more device of the same type. So an order for two Google nexus 5 devices were placed with Google on November 20. The total bill amount was a whopping 60,000 rupees which by no means is something small to contend with. I had placed my order on a credit card and promptly waited for the devices to come to me in two business days. At the worst four. 

I also received a mail from google about my order saying it was shipped through blue dart courier (or carrier as per the language used by google) and it also had a tracking number. Upon going to blue dart’s website, there was no tracking number like that entered into the system. Giving the benefit of doubt that it would take upto 24 hours to update this entry, I checked the next day and still found no information. I promptly called google and a friendly support executive welcomed me with customary “hi, how are you doing?” question. Frankly I wasn’t doing alright. When it comes to ordering gadgets, I would like my shipping dates commitment to be met at all times. After having shopped online for more than 7 years in the making now, this order already had all the qualities of becoming a disaster.
Google confirmed my worst fears saying there is no such order via Blue Dart. I checked with the local blue dart office in Bangalore and they said there is no package even listed against my name. This was after three days. After a few back and forth calls with google, they routed my query to a shipping specialist who promptly greeted me with the same “Hi, how are you doing?” query. If he could only see my face, he would have got my answer. Well basically it was the 27th of November - a full one week later and Google - yes Google - the technological giant whose tentacles have engulfed the whole world via their search algorithm could not bloody locate where a teeny-weeny-tiny courier package was in the world !
After an angry exchange of mails literally, a guy named Abhishek answered my query not just with the right answer, but after fully understanding my frustration very quickly. He told me what I needed to know - the shipment was transferred out only around the 27th Nov, via Aramex couriers and not through Blue Dart. The pity was and is that Google has never bothered to make a note of the new shipping information against my order even till date. If you dont know what that means, just hang on a little while. Thanks to Abhishek, I could now contact Aramex and they indeed told me that my devices were on the way and could reach anytime in two days. Fair enough I thought. Around the same time, a third friend of mine who we where chiding telling him that he was incapable of buying a phone on time like us, actually was flaunting a nexus 5 in the office that day.
After a day’s worth of use, he was extremely satisfied except for battery issues. It was also the time when my cousins received a pair of nexus 5 devices (yes, basically everyone other than us two) and they also confirmed battery issues. People were getting 3-4 hours on rough use, and about 6+ hours on moderate use of data and calls. Compared to my nexus 4, that was three hours negative. Coming back to my third friend, he started facing wierd issues on day two. His SIM would not recognize no matter what and his battery life remained pathetic. Even if the SIM did recognize, he could not hear others, others could not hear him. To prove a point about the phone, my SIM did not recognize on his phone as well. So it boiled down to the device. This got me thinking. Was Rs.28,999 worthwhile for this device (after having owned a nexus 4 before) given the real time live problems that I am seeing with others owning this device? My mind did not feel comfortable with this purchase and I decided to opt for a refund.
I spoke with Google again and they offered me two modes of refund. Either get an RMA form and ship the device back to them, or just refuse the courier and the device would get back to them automatically. This suggestion was offered after a billion precious minutes of updating to them my new shipping information and the customary greetings and enquiries about my moods and feelings about this purchase. I decided to opt for route two, and spoke with Aramex to deny the courier. By this time the courier had been initiated from Bhiwandi, Maharashtra and had been received at Indiranagar, Bangalore. In spite of my informing the people not to get it to my home and return it then and there, they brought it home only to take it back since my stand did not change.
I decided to opt for a return of merchandise at source without receiving the courier (reject delivery) and it was on its way back to shipper. After a couple of days the Aramex website indicated that it had been shipped back to shipper (which I again did some R&D to find out that it was Gadgetguru.com). I contacted Google again and they had no idea that Blue Dart had not shipped this orginally to me. After telecasting the Ramayan again to them, they said they had not received the device back and that it may take upto 2-3 days for that to happen. A couple of days later, the status still remained the same. Meanwhile my credit card was swiped on 20th of Nov and the statement was due on 25th of December. It was already 3rd December. I decided to use my trump card again and contacted the friendly neighborhood spiderman Abhishek again. He let me know that the device had indeed been received by Google on 1st of December itself.



Additionally he also let me know that there is a 14 business day period for refunds after which the authorization to refund would be automatically lifted (ie., approved) and that date would be the 19th of December. I let my mind rest in peace even buying another phone during that timeframe assured that the refund process was well underway. Come December 19th and I called Google again and bloopers of bloopers :
  • They had no idea what my order was
  • They had no idea who had shipped it
  • Even though they had all the details of my previous interactions, they acted as if they had no information in front of them
  • They had no idea that the devices were returned via RMA or rejecting the delivery
  • They had no idea of the refund or when it would be done
  • The support executives had no idea what the shipping “specialists” were upto
  • The Google support had no way of calling me back again and they said they cannot put me to any specialist as they cannot attend phone calls (the specialists) - they are special people you see with only special abilities such as responding to only emails



I waited for a day more and blew up on Google for my next call. I told them their 14 day refund period was over and they had to keep their promise of refunding the money immediately. It was 22nd of December and 2 more days for my statement to come through for my credit card. Heard of nail biting finishes? Well sometimes you need to work hard for your money, if you don’t no one else will either.
I gave them an ultimatum that the refund had to be sorted out on the same phone call. I gave them details as usual:
  • no dudes, blue dart didnt ship it !
  • no lady its not armx.com its aramex.com
  • no google you cant say you didnt receive the device back, its listed as returned with the carrier/courier and the friendly neighborhood spiderman also confirms you got it back on 1st December.
  • For the last freaking time its not an RMA return, its a rejection during delivery !
So now the Google support exec decides he would rope in the shipping specialist on the same call and suddenly the two of them realize how much torture and trauma I’ve been through. So the shipping specialist who is more educated technically to “handle” the matter decides to issue me a refund then and there. And he does it, says sorry, thank you and whatever more and hangs up. 

I’m delighted for the next few minutes that I won a war not a fight only to realize that the shipping spealist has “handle” the matter so well that I’ve received the amount only for one device instead of for the two I ordered. I just almost faint imagining the process I’d have to go through again to get the other one refunded.
No - blue dart didnt ship, its two devices not one, its not RMA its reject of courier, its Aramex, its returned - aaaaaaargh .... please .... please ... please .... return my money.... my money.... please!
Finally Google execs realized their blooper and issued a return of the amount for the other device as well. The entire amount was reversed on 23rd December midnight. Just hours before my credit card statement was generated. Just in time. Saving grace finally.
This post is not to educate about the Nexus 5 device, but is to let you all know how bad Google’s supply chain management really is for India. Everyone knows they make reasonably good operating systems and/or devices, but what about the other part ? The shipping, the customer experience? The above story must be an eye opener for anyone wanting to order anything online directly from Google. I will let you all know about other better online shopping experiences a while later. But it’s to you own understanding of why you must NOT order anything more from Google. I seriously don’t want you all to go through what I went through. The trauma is enough to feel like just visiting a local store and picking up a phone.
The absolute horror of malformed shipping information, the absurdity of having to repeat the same information to multiple disconnected support executives, the handover of calls from support guys to shipping guys, the local tie ups for actual shipment of hardware, the refund procedure going awry and finally a partial refund - are these sufficient reasons for you to shun Google? Tell me about your experience.
And Thank you Tiffany, DeeJay, Ebony, Ashleigh, Kassydi, Christopher, Kadijah, Jason, Demi, Brandon, Christina, Woodell, Elizabeth, Dustin, Philip - it was great knowing you - if you manage to visit India, please contact me and I'll show you how supply chain works here just so that you may learn something more.
As for you Abhishek - you're my man - the real savior of the day for Google's goofups. For my case they must rename themselves Goofle. I am proud that a sensible man works atleast to make some part of this supply chain more orderly.
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Published December 23, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

Govt does a U-turn but private colleges not ready to budge

A day after the CET rules were changed, the government did a u turn to leave the CET pattern unchanged. However the private colleges who were on the verge of tasting blood have not yet given up. They are adamant about the fee hike and are arm twisting the government into accepting the same.
Only time will tell what the final decision will be but if this is approved then one can see a three fold increase in the current costs of education.
God help this state and country going further.
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Published December 18, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

The CET condurum



There has been a recent decision by the government of Karnataka to abolish the Common entrance exam for private colleges and also remove any cap on the maximum fees that can be charged by these private colleges. However to mitigate the possible consequences the government also states that there would be a governing committee or ombudsman to decide what fee the colleges can charge based upon their location, infrastructure, coaching and course (You can read the full news report here

Everyone who has studied in Karnataka for their entire life or atleast from high school would perhaps know how much of a game changer the CET exam was. Even during the early 90’s this exam was the most coveted exam which brought in a sense of academic discipline among both students from Karnataka and other states. Though one had the potential to clear the IInd PUC exam, that was no reason to say the same person could match up against the CET exam with similar potential.

Take my case in point. I am from the ICSE stream for high school. With an 86% and above in my Xth board exams, there was still a feeling in me that my state syllabus bretheren were much ahead of me in terms of sheer marks scored. After switching to the state syllabus for my pre-university college, the sheer amount of coaching I received from one of the most experienced teachers from Bright Academy and my equal willingess to put in the same hard work from my end saw me top my college and score close to the 20th rank in the entire state. While this was just half the story, the coaching for the CET exam was a challenge in itself owing to the fact that the exam was 2 months away and we had to learn up what mattered by putting in a year’s worth of hard work in two months.

It was not the question of whether someone cleared the CET or not. It was the question of whether someone had the right focus, the right aim and understood the challenge of time in front of us. More than the students, it was so challenging for the teacher to optimize the opportunity to bring out the best in students in the right amount of time - what we call smart studying/working rather than hard work today.

The CET itself was a mixed bag of luck for each student as it was an outright pressure which made everyone tense on the day of the exam. It was not about the technical complexity. It was about negative marking, it was about wasting time on the one hard question than on the 5 easy questions. It was about focus and hitting the target that mattered. As a person who was confident of getting a rank between 1 & 100, the day of the exam changed all that confidence in me to revise my guidance (!). Owing to the fact of twists appearing in the form of more questions from Ist PUC syllabus a span of 10 extra questions that were unexpected, changed the fate for me to now provide a new expectation of being numerically below the 500 rank mark.

A rank of 483 showed how much one could be precise about his performance. CET was about bringing the best to the forefront. It was a show of might. A show of dedication. A result of suspense. An atmosphere of tension. A feeling of euphoria. A nail biting finish of the counselling. A sinking feeling of the fact that an engieering or medical seat had been secured. A family union after the whole episode. A feeling of 12 years worth of hard work, and more specifically 5 real years of hard work showing results. A sense of pride of having achieved something for what the parents stood for. For having educated you with their sweat of hard work.

Cut to the present day situation. More and more private colleges mushrooming day after day. From 10 to 26 to perhaps a 100 or even more. The chaos was already in the making. And it only got cemented so well that the private colleges association now had more teeth to demand anything and everything from the government. The last nail in the coffin being fee structure control.

Coming to the government’s latest stand on grading colleges based on :

Location: So what the government seems to be saying is that colleges which are easily accessible score more? Now in today’s situation does it mean a college in Jalahalli which is accessible in 30 mins from byappanahalli scores more than a reputed college in Basavanagudi which takes 2 hours by bus to reach?

Infrastructure: Alright, makes sense. But how do you quantify what infrastructure means? Labs? Cabs? Cafeteria? Library? What exactly?

Courses: Again we seem to be treading the wrong path here. Is it the number of courses or the kind of courses? Are these going to be measured on how industry specific they are? How industry relevant they are in today’s situation? How much in tune they are with the way education is organized abroad?

Coaching: I’m not sure how to write about this or what to write about this. Roughly about 30% of the lecturers have no freaking idea what they are teaching. While the remaining 70% are really good, its impossible to grade a college on just the kind of teaching done given the attrition rate of the lecturers every single year.

Veerappa Moily’s soft protest against changing the CET regime is very legitimate. Not because he started it. Because of the kind of control it weilded and shaped today’s industry that you see in Bangalore today. The kind of organized education that it brought about for what Karnataka is famous for.

To me its not about the poor who will be marginalized. Its about the rich who would be made poorer. Arbitrary fee structure increase is the last kind of favour any college needs from the government to start growing into automous currency monsters. An engineering degree that costed 20000 bucks way back in 1995 is now costing about 6 lakh+ in 2013. while this rate increase justifies against inflation, imagine the next three years fee structure. Are you able to guess where this is leading to?

I am predicting a four fold increase in this cost. Upto 25 lakh for a payment seat. Notwithstanding the fact that management seats are being auctioned anywhere between half a crore to more than 1 crore in both the engineering and medical segments. Assuming one spends half a crore on an engineering seat it takes anywhere between 15-25 years of meticulous hard work and growth in the software industry to even get anywhere close to earning back that amount. Given the kind of industry irrelevant subjects on offer this money spent is not even going to be of any worth.

Of course the colleges want to invest more money by charging students higher fee to maintain some standards within themselves. But if you are with me in understanding how building bye-laws worked and the Akrama-Sakrama scheme, you would know that this situation under discussion is no different from growing into an academic racket with similar dimensions and irreversibility few years down the line.

By the way is anyone looking at the way the schools are mushrooming with their own fee structures without a proper ombudsman? Your guess is as good as mine.

While every country is striving to make education free until high school and bringing the focus back into developing individuals to a higher level of performance, our education system is weaning towards a dangerous path laden with high unaffordable fee structures which only promotes growth of those people with money. This will eventually widen not only the urban-rural gap, but now widen an already mushrooming urban-urban gap in the education system.

If a doctor pays up 1 crore to get a seat and doesnt study well, you can imagine the guarantee for the set of patients that go under his knife! Similarly if an engineer pays up half a crore and doesnt study well, you can imagine how relevant what he studied would be for the industry. Thankfully the industry lobby is different from the college lobby. They select candidates based on how relevant the candidate is. Not how much a college in which he studied has been graded by the government.

If not anything else this will only start making the industry more aware that they need to start looking at the merit in candidates rather than the grade of the college in which he studied (as given by the government) in future. Its about time the companies start looking at visiting all educational campuses irrespective of their industry or academic standing. In three years time, a meritorious candidate could be well studying in a college which hardly people know of, which is hardly accessible, but might have the right amount of coaching and a more relevant course offering.

Bye Bye UVCE, RV, BMS, PESIT & MS Ramaiah.

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Published November 02, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

Nissan Sunny dCI diesel XL 15000+ km review



The pros of Nissan Sunny 
  • Extremely lightweight aiding an awesome mileage of 18kmpl under city traffic in Bangalore
  • Nifty features such as automatic climate control
  • Bonnet release latch is accessible only on a slight lift of bonnet after open, something everyone else would not know!
  • Follow me home headlamps are a feature on this car that is never advertised
  • The maximum speed I could achieve is 162kmph, beyond that the car could not be pushed to its limits
  • 100-130kph is the sweet spot for cruising
  • Enormous rear and front space - and this is what the car is advertised for!
  • Huge boot space - can take about 2 large sized trolley bags, one child seat, 3-4 small travel bags, basket, at least 10 covers full of material and more.
  • Cruises efficiently with almost immediate pick up on demand
  • One of the best front seat arrangements
  • on slower speeds there is sufficient ground clearance for a fully loaded car
  • ABS, airbags, child locks, electrical adjustible side mirrors, window roll down block, are all expected and available features
  • upon reaching about 10kph of speed, the doors lock themselves which is a good addition.
  • handles very well on good roads
  • On potholed roads, it glides over some potholes, whereas it translates the road unevenness to steering over other deeper potholes
  • Only two service centers, and Shahwar is better than Surya in Bangalore going by reviews online, but online reviews only constitute 20-30% of actual owners and its hard to say that Surya isnt effective. But
  • Surya is a newcomer though and is still to prove themselves.
  • Shahwar does a decent job so far.
  • Service required only 10000km once, and if you dont push the car too much, then its smooth going for that many kilometers
  • has definitely converted me from a maniac driver to an executive driver from hatchback (Swift D) to Sunny.
  • Very suitable for family of four with lots of space to keep things including the floor.
  • Rear visibility is good though window curves are sharp towards the rear
  • Very good manouverability for taking turns owing to excellent EPS (steering)
The cons of Nissan Sunny 
  • Fragile after 140kph, better not to push it that far since is a japanese vehicle
  • Under thigh support is lacking in the rear seats but can be adjusted with presence of space
  • I have puny tyres of 14 inches (stock ones) which are highly unsuitable and an upgrade to Yokohama was suggested to me
  • Speakers are moderate and the audio system can have had bluetooth compatilibity for that price range
  • Lot of swing if driven carelessly
  • The bumper is a bit soft and if the car is driven too fast on road humps, likelihood of scraping underneath is high
  • The braking system of this car is NOT reassuring and you have to really decide when to brake much in advance. Also the front passengers are thrown forward while the rear passengers are at a more easier comfort on braking.
  • Using nitrogen on stock tyres makes the car float a bit which is not such a good feeling
  • On roads during very heavy rains and winds, upon driving fast into a puddle of water, the water hits the under chassis with way too much noise which is translated into cabin. Cabin sound deadening is not along expected lines of Vento, or Linea perhaps.
  • This is no more than five seater, so dont try more than that many people
  • Rear blower is a waste since its NOT an AC.
  • Seating for fifth person is not so ergonomic but then the fifth guy is always an unwanted invitee isn’t it ? :-)
  • Difficult to clean and maintain since its a caaaaaaar.
  • Parking in regular parking spaces at home can be trickly owing to length
  • Very torquey and requires that you learn how to handle the car in stop and go traffic, has the potential to gain speed on clutch release alone which is both a boon and bane as the case maybe
  • Could have been more bottle holders considering the car size
This is a car that keeps the driver and copassengers happy at all times. Time to strike a conversation then on long drives! 
  • 2 services done so far, both from company side, another pending at 20000km.
  • only oil and filter changes, and cleaning upholstery etc - nothing else so far
  • fill it shut it forget it car.
  • not so great for bad roads though there is enough ground clearance. SUV maks more sense for such roads
  • Nothing added except bluetooth to AUX, and a mobile mount
  • Nothing changed on car since purchase, no modifications done so far

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Published October 18, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran

The degree kaapi life


(image credit : www.indiarailinfo.com)

The man inside the house is dressed only in a dhoti and is sitting facing his bare back to the busy main road either oblivious to the surroundings or perhaps ingrained in the fact that life has to continue despite the contraints that the world outside has to offer. He is either watching TV or just medidating in the midst of all the hustle and bustle barely a few feet away from the floor where he sits on. His palatial house of yesteryears perhaps offers the solace to him that the outer world can’t.

The pavements are decorated with navaratri dolls and vegetable and fruit vendors lined up for many a kilometer that the eye can see. With not even an inch left on the road, the traffic is everywhere. A loud sustained honk generated when you press the squeezy green ball shaped invention is umistakable as it announces that a vehicle perhaps 100,000 times larger than the horn is arriving at breakneck speed at rubbing distance from you. The driver seems least bothered whether there are humans walking on the road, or other vehicles either merging from the alleyways or from the opposite side. Frankly its upto one’s destiny to heed that honk and move away. Else the bark of pure unadulterated tamil is worse than its bite in Chennai.

There are both fast and slow paced worlds coexisting here. The traffic is maddeningly fast. Someone exits the main road to join a by lane, while someone appears suddenly and merges into the main road. Another guy does the unpredictable act of darting from the opposite lane aiming his squeaky two wheeler straight into one empty parking slot on your side. Driving straight on your face that is without any feeling of an error. He got that most coveted parking for the next half an hour that no one managed to notice.

As I approach an intersection there is a large corner plot which has been demolished. The compound wall now has large structures standing tall made of thatched coconut leaves. Every now and then I can notice the moon playing hide and seek as I walk by this large empty land. Its only a matter of time before a swanky new commercial complex or some apartment comes up here. As I near the corner, I am only able to notice very bright rays of a couple of sharp yellow bulbs and can smell something large which will unmistakably squash me if I dont pause.

A large vehicle followed by a few pesky two wheelers dart from one by lane to another putting to a complete halt every vehicle on the main road (the bus included). This precision system works without a signal or a cop and its merely based on an understanding of the teams working at right angles to each other. The traffic is self managed. Almost twenty five years ago, when I came shopping here, a series of petromax lights on vegetable stall quadricycles welcomed be in the cacophony shouting at top pitch - thakkali, urulaikazhungu, keerai, vengaayam.

There was no way you could get along without buying any one of that after a heightened marketing pitch. The very same fruit and vegetable stalls still dot the busy main road even today - petromaxes replaced with swanky chinese CFL lamps running on solar charge - minus the marketing. The old charm still remains but no one calls you to buy unless you stop by anymore.

Along the corner is a temple with people stopping by paying a visit to the diety, wishing that their lives become better than what it is while vendors are busy selling puja items to help the cause. Somewhere along two guys dressed in lungies are sitting besides lots of unsold navaratri dolls lamenting on low sales this year and how people are losing the traditional touch. Opposite the temple is a small but clear board in tamil that reads white font on blue background - “Saloon” - hair in chennai will quadruple the amount of sweat your body can generate, so you do need someone who can “take care” of that for good.

As I walk along, I notice a rather burly man, about three times my size (just to let you know my wife feels I am a pot bellied ‘fother’ to my kids already). He wears a neat full sleeved shirt rolled to 3/4th of the arms. His veshti can give an inferiority complex to Mamooty in the “salute Ramrajkku salute” ad. The folds of his veshti expose his rather large thighs, knees and strong hairy legs ending in a sandal. His gaze is fixed on me, and his large eyeballs look threatening and menacing. As I walk forward, I realize he is looking at something behind me. Some distance further the street gets dark due to lack of shops for a brief period.

This is place where dimly lit locked up houses are present, and I notice two friends are chatting up sitting on the pavement. One of them explains his injured fingers to another while showing the bandage. They share a laugh or two as I walk past. As I go further, a share auto screeches to a halt in front of me blocking my path and a man in a hurry jumps right onto my face from the auto. The share auto revolution has now managed to make the normal auto drivers by storm and they think again and they now “put meter” which is equivalent to the 8th wonder of the world.

Strong smells of agarbathi, degree kaapi fill the air as I walk further past. At a corner of Brindavan street, a huge shop screams of Krishna Sweets with the traditional mysorepa kept all over the place. I continue walking past in search of a certain Jockey showroom when I notice how dark the street has gotten suddenly. There are vehicles constantly whizzing past you reminding you to take care of your mortal remains assuming they have scared the rest of the shit within you while brushing past. “Anney, Seenu anney” screams a guy across the street from his garage. I continue to be amazed how some people live their daily life in a garage in an atmosphere dominated by sweat. Seenu anney does not respond and I walk on.

A bunch of auto drivers are loudly discussing something and it seems like anytime they would break into a fight. Whether they would hurt someone is anyone’s guess but most probably not. A woman screams something from an apartment on top to someone on the road at a time when mobile phones are the thing of the day even to talk from one room to another within the same house.

A bit further I notice a rather neat and well built small apartment on my left with huge entry gates and some builders name glorified on it. I fail to notice on my right something dark, black and almost non existent to the naked eye unless noticed carefully. Its nothing short of about fifty years old and the moss and algae all over without any light around makes it an apartment in complete contrast to the one I just otherwise noticed. Not to forget to mention two big multi utility vehicles squeezed into an already small lane.

Finally I reach a junction from where one cannot miss noticing the all encompassing Pothi’s store glittering away in lights that could perhaps light up a locality of frustrated voters in some other village outside the city. I find the Jockey store finally and quickly get into the comfort of the airconditioned lifestyle inside the shop. As my sweat from walking during the evening dries up almost instantaneously a rather confused store attender wonders which undergarment to show me.

He looks at me like I have come from Mars. He gives me a stare like I am not going to make a successful purchase and the whole atmosphere is now beginning to turn a futile shopping experience. When I ask for something that he does not have he says - “two shops later there is Fashionberg, you must check there you will surely get it”. I sign out of the store and stand in disbelief two shops later. “Fashionberg” is a 10x10 store with 100 customers already standing inside and I am sure the Germans would be feeling the heat seeing someone use their naming style for a shop this small.

I decide to walk away almost instantaneously and walk past the Venkateshwara Boli stall. I must say that all Boli stalls have something to do with the name Venkat (venkateshwara, venkataramana) to be successful. A father asks his young daughter - “Bonda saapadrayaa?” as he points to the shelf full of Bondas lined up. As I ask the store owner whether he accepts card and get a negative reply some others are jostling behind me uncontrollably with their urge to eat that “soodanna bajji rendu” just ordered before me. As I walk further past back to my home I notice a few more stalls ahead after a dark patch. A whizzing two wheeler driven by a lady and her young daughter on pillion abruptly stop at the dark side of the street.

After witnessing what seemed as a never ending chaos of overflowing traffic I assumed that there is a traffic jam ahead only to understand later that the woman stopped just behind a huge DUSTBIN which has been intentionally left at the middle of the busy street. When I was just feeling good for the woman who stopped on time avoiding crashing into the dustbin I was dumbfounded when she picked up a cover full of garbage, threw it into the dustbin in “rajini style” and vanished from the place all in one go. I was left imagining what kind of person would come all the way with her daughter in tow on a two wheeler to a designated dustbin to just throw some trash?

Finally as I walk past the last stretch towards my home I notice a clothes showroom which is brightly lit with a board saying - ‘all credit and debit cards accepted with no service charge’ prominently displayed in front of the shop. In today’s world its a matter of being customer oriented and service oriented. In a world where shark eats shark, you need to woo people to stay in business. And its so much more the case in an area like west mambalam where the crowd is humongous, the hunger has to be fed at the earliest and a missed opportunity means that you would be out of business on a sustained failure.

I cannot help noticing the temporary shed blocking 50% of a street as I reach my home. It seems the lady who owns this shed has single handedly fought with everyone in the locality who tried evicting her saying the government alloted her the land years ago and she will see how anyone will try getting her to vacate her hut. She speaks of political contact at government circles who she will go to if people disturb her existence.

Welcome to west mambalam, Chennai.
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Published October 13, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

The Nokia Asha 501 - a cute little story



Nokia released erstwhile the Asha series of phone to pump some more life into the dying series 40 phones. Whe microsoft announced the launch of the nokia asha series for emerging markets, it was yet another launch story with the same old ingredients which would not make the phones a roaring success. It is somewhere after this that nokia was completely acquired by MS, and they also somewhat settled onto making rectangular phones with an eye for design.
After their failures with nokia lumia 610 and 710, the x20 series of phones started emerging as the post-guinea-pig-experiment product line having windows phone 8 operating system. It was at this time that MS was seriously considering unifying the desktop, tablet and mobile operating systems into one amalgamation more for the benefit of them rapidly being able to deploy apps on different platforms without much code change.
That the fact that the surface tablet was not such a great hit, and the non availability of MS own windows tablets beyond this, did not make such a great dent in the market. But then the x20 (520,620,720,820,920,1020) series of phones from MS and Nokia have somewhat managed to keep up the sales so far. The one thing I did not much like about the MS sales strategy is to price its dual core phones, in the same pricing leagues as others' quad core phones among the android brethren. MS can give any excuse they want saying "our os can run just on 1GB ram" or whatever such stories, but then the question still remains on the value for money when it comes to anything greater than the 550-600$ mark in India.
The Nokia 1020 with its 40MP camera as the main excitement is priced at 50000 here as well as about 800$ in the USA. I am not sure what MS is pitching as its sales strategy with this product at this price.
Coming to the lower priced side of MS/Nokia products, there were and are phones but there was no REAL phone in the making. That is until the Asha 501 was released. With this little fella, MS has pulled off an Apple within the 80$ mark (Rs.5000) with almost everything on this phone.




This phone boldly speaks some interesting design elements. I love squared phones as they are easier to hold rather than curved ones (cursing my iPhone 3GS). And this phone is the perfect fit in the hand. Its just one piece of back cover all over and it has everything else nicely integrated into that cover beginning from screen and ending with the battery. Sporting just 2G and Wifi it also suits perfectly for the homely-rarely-go-out type of phone user where the WIFI takes care at home and the EDGE takes care outside. Considering that many rural towns still don't even have 3G connectivity in India and considering you need to live life more than be using your phone more, this combination works well with some set of people.
The screen itself is made of hard material (gorilla glass?) and the capacitive touch is brilliant and just about right. It recognises everything that is touched and responds quickly and accurately to whatever is needed. The camera itself is nothing to write home about and one had expected that the falling cost of optics might have made MS rethink about introducing some real good camera element in this phone. But that is not the case. So if you are looking at this phone for Camera related usage, forget it. The screens themselves are reworked upon since the original series 40 and they are a pleasure to use with the fonts, and colours chosen. Each and every native app looks gorgeous to use on such a cute little phone. the responsiveness coupled with good tactile feedback on key press to the user is really a good effort by MS. Nokia has delivered on the hardware front to create a beautiful masterpiece of this phone.
Next up is the keypad on the phone. Compared to the Asha 3xx series of phones, MS has particularly paid lot of attention to matching up the keypad experience on the Asha 501 to the levels of the x20 series of its other phones. You must remember that early reviews of the MS windows phones including windows phone 7 were really very appreciative of the keypad that was extremely snazzy to use and nearly flawless. MS has carried on that tradition to the nokia asha 501 and the keypad is just so outstading for such a small screen size. MS has also reworked on every single native app to choose colours wisely and the size and type of fonts, buttons, and other elements to complement the overall phone appearance and use. At the same time they have ensured that they phone usability is not compromised one bit, though the screen is small.
I still feel the Facebook and twitter applications could have used better fonts, but then these applications are not native, and hence this is always debatable.

The dial pad as expected is large and easy to type on and anything that is touchable and clickable is take care of to be shown to the user accordingly. One thing to note about this phone is that since it emulated apple, there is exactly only one button to navigate back, and out of any screen. The apps screen is divided into the all apps, and frequent apps/ recent apps screens and we can toggle by swiping across. Notifications also appear on the screen and can be clicked/swiped out. The quick access pull down bar from the top, provides access to quickly switch SIM cards - did I forget to mention to you that this is a dual sim phone?, toggle WIFI, and also toggle Vibrate modes. Everything is so responsive and amazingly implemented in this phone.

Don't assume that this phone will provide you with amazing speeds on everything that you use on it, but then its not bad either. If asphalt 6 is pre loaded on this phone, you can imagine then!!
One of the popular and important grouses about this phone is that it does not support the Whats app application yet, and there are many people who don't buy this phone just because of that issue. You must remember that you need to give some time for app developers to iron out their issues and launch something that is stable and that is honestly not in the decision making from MS/Nokia side. A final comment on the battery life - well this is a nokia low end phone, so what do you expect? Guess. Yes. Its almost 2-2.5 days of use without hitting the zero percentile. Again a commendable effort by nokia on this device. I have used this device for long distance calls for almost an hour or more and it does not get hot at all, and is cool on the ears (thereby losing out to the overheating award winner - Nexus 4). People whom I spoke to mostly did not complain about not being able to hear me, but sometimes - just sometimes they said there was some issue in the calls. But I feel it has nothing to do with the device itself.
If you need a dual sim phone, and you don't care about 3G connectivity, whatsapp (for now) or anything more smarter - and have only 4500 to spend on, go right to the online stores and make the purchase on the nokia 501 asha. You will not regret the ingenious design of this phone. Definitely something to flaunt around to people. There are rumours of the nokia asha 502 with probably 3g, and other better things, but thats as always a rumour and no one has clear information on when this would be available in the market. This phone also has a 32GB memory card capability for all your music, it has radio, it has bluetooth and a 1200 mAh battery if you care to know.
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Published July 18, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

The Curse of Blackberry



(source: Blackberry.com)
Ever since the launch of blackberry Z10, considering the company’s fate which was going downhill otherwise, I was finally happy to see that BB was stepping up its efforts to match upto Apple and Google in making good phones. After all when the world did not have a proper smartphone, it was BB who brought phones into the market that could be put to proper business use. The BB Storm with the clickable keyboard wasnt all that bad, just that BB fanatics became angry about it as it was a new concept that they could not get used to and the phone itself felt like it would break on every click on the screen.
Then of course was the curve series, the torch series and so forth. It is somewhere down the line when their revenues started plumetting and shareholders started questioning the company fundamentals was there a substantial shakeup of the management. All this with the acquisition of TAT (the Astonishing Tribe) who felt rather astonished to be part of the company which was crumbling. And if there would ever be another good product out of the assembly line from BB, then there would definitely be a TAT imprint on that. Which is what was precisely going to happen.
And then came BB‚Äôs dream device. First on leaked pictures, on alpha modes, then some more interesting news leakages, and then lo and behold the device itself - the bold and beautiful z10. I am always a fan of blackberry devices in the build quality and the z10 did not disappoint either. Slightly bulkier than either the nearest competitors or the older BBs themselves, in some way or other, the z10 is still a beautiful device, great to hold, polished volume and other buttons which look upmarket and needless to say excellent call quality which has always been their strong point. 
(source: forums.trinituner.com)
Where BB did not concentrate to be unique was in the app world perspective. The app world itself was invented by Apple, piggy backed by Google who were a strong force in convincing developers to build the same or similar apps for them as well. BB however did not maintain the required traction with developers for the apps which led them to make the decision of supporting Google apps on their devices via sideloading in an effort to counter Apple’s progress on this direction. This was the biggest mistake that BB did, which not only led to its meek agreement that Google were (and surely were) better than them, but also that they could not counter Apple effectively.
BB’s own app store was not growing at the rate needed, I still cannot forget the day when I bought my shiny new BB tablet and realized the Facebook and Twitter apps were just mere links to browser based mobile sites for these services. If that does not suck then what does? It only portrayed BB in a very bad way and gave a perception on their preparedness to the world who bought their products. The damage had already started at that point.
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Published June 23, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

Intex and Panasonic challenge Micromax on its home turf



  1. Intex and Panasonic have launched android smartphones having jelly bean to challenge players like celcom and micromax on their home turf. Both these players have launched phones that boast of HD displays, 1GB of RAM, dual sim, Jelly bean 4.2. , 8MP camera and over a 2000-2500 mAH battery that must suffice to make the phones last a long while in a given day.
    While the ad shows that intex is priced at a paltry 11,000 , Panasonic have preferred not to put up the price ranges on the ad. However a small search reveals the price of the latter to be in the 25000 range. This puts panasonic in direct confrontation with the just launched Nexus 4 by LG, except that the LG phone boasts of faster google updates as well as a 2GB RAM which DOES make a significant difference in the way the phone operates.
    What is more in focus is that there are now serious challengers to Apple, not limited only to Samsung, which have cropped up in recent months. While Apple might actually keep screaming about the fragmentation of Android, that does not seem to hit any mobile provider too hard at the moment. This only in fact proves that Apple must roll out an iPhone with a higher sized display and more RAM and perhaps a 128GB flash drive as soon as possible (a.k.a September of 2013). As is the usual custom they have now created ios7 from the ground up as demonstrated a while ago in the keynote of WWDC and what matters to be seen is the followup on the device front in september. Whether or not this will make any significant impact in sales or the consumer's mindsets is still a question for which there is no answer.
    Only one thing is clear: Even phone makers like Nokia/Microsoft, and the small time ones, such as micromax or celcom or intex and of course the market leaders to some extent LG/Samsung have now managed to pull the carpet from under Apple's leg. The more Apple does not forecast or produce some good hardware on the phones segment, the likely it is that their value might take a further hit no matter how much is the innovation done. All said and done, Apple do things differently each and every time, but whether that alone is enough to keep a hungry public waiting is another question to be answered.


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Published May 05, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

Nokia Asha 308 review


 


I recently purchased a Nokia Asha just to experience the supposedly improved s40 operating system by Nokia. The new version of the operating system is supposed to be more smoother and richer compared to the previously boring user interface. So does it really meet the stated improvement as far as the user is concerned? Read on to find out.


Even after Microsoft aligned with Nokia to manufacture Windows 7, 7.5 and 8 phones, and Nokia open sourced symbian, their series 40 and 60 operating systems are still doing well in low cost markets. The team at Nokia has revamped these operating systems to a great extent to make better use of available larger memory and processing speeds.




The first thing you notice about the new Nokia Asha series is how the icons are more beautiful against a stark black background which makes the colours not only rich to the eye but also the fonts more clear to read at any point in time.


A notfication bar is almost an absolute must for those who do not wish to dwell into a million settings menus to get what they need. Given that the higher end smartphones have set that bar, Nokia has managed to implement a slick looking pull down blue notification bar for its Asha range of touch phones. Not only is the blue color soothing to the eye, it provides just the necessary information that is needed for us to glance quickly at the status on the phone. The slide down and push up is well implemented and its smooth and nice to use.



 


Another thing that I liked in this new operating system version is the concept of overlay user interfaces. For example if you wish to have chosen a profile to use for meetings, or outdoors, or slient modes, earlier one had to go into settings -> profiles, and choose one of them. A long press # key also put the phone into silent mode. However, in the Asha series, Nokia has managed to overlay the most important and always used 4 settings or profiles as a simple touchable option over and above the standard icons. This not only provides an easy way of setting the profiles but also goes along with the overall notion of a simplified user interface in the phone.




The settings menu is slick and scrollable and you can reach multiple levels quite easily with a few touches. The way Nokia has chosen the colors for the apps only emphasizes how good they are getting applications to look extremely unique to themselves and at the same time, pleasing to the eye without creating any form of strain. Take the calculator for instance, its neat white background with black keys, and light gray background with black fonts for the keyed in numbers helps the user focus more on using the calculator than getting distracted with wrong colors that hurts the eyes. I always have hated the work of people who used ridiculous colors on their apps or websites as they tend to expose their lack of concentration on how the readers or users of these can feel about their work. In this department its full marks to Nokia which has managed to refresh its really aged and super old s40 OS !




Next on would be the focus on really how usable any input mechanism on such a small phone would be. Compared to the ruling smartphones out there in the market today even in the budget range, the Nokia Asha is still much smaller on the screen which makes it a challenge for Nokia to make the input mechanisms more accurate. Whether its the calculator or the onscreen keyboard for messaging or chat, or whether its scrolling through menus by touching through, I can confidently say after what i have experienced - that the Asha series of Nokia phones finally nails what was missing in the S40 OS since a long time. A super easy keyboard, which is very accurate and highly usable even in spite of tight space between characters makes this phone all the more a joy to use in terms of its elegance!




Continuing with this new tradition, Nokia has left no stone unturned to ensure that all its apps merge with the overall scheme of things to make a highly saleable operating system. The Radio app, the clock, alarm and timer apps use the right type of fonts at the right places to emphasize on what the user should concentrate on. The only other way it should have been is that Nokia must have concentrated on these improvments long back which would have perhaps showed the world what they are strong at. Even now is not a bad time though, and its only more joy to see a new and rich operating system.




Finally much as in the other higher end phones, Nokia Asha comes with three slidable pages or sets of panels where one can put a much wanted app, or shortcuts to frequently used apps.


Coming to other matters, the Nokia Asha 308 has the following specs:


(source : flipkart)



At a cost of Rs.5000+,


This phone has: Bluetooth, navigation, EDGE, GPRS, USB, expandable memory, conferencing support, and dual sim


This phone DOES NOT have: 3G, personal hotspot, WiFi, rear camera.


To summarize on other aspects that we know where Nokia has its strong points:



  • This phone has good call quality

  • This phone has good battery life

  • Detachable batter slot and memory slot, supporting upto 32GB

  • Over the air upgrades

  • Good touch response

  • Socially connected apps are available

  • All formats of audio/video mostly supported

  • All mail mechanisms are supported

Some sore points of the phone would be:



  • Unlock button is on the right bottom which hurts the thumb

  • Overall the phone is quite slippery

  • Phone is tad bit heavy

  • Sometimes the user interface could be a bit laggy

  • Opening and closing apps can take time depending on the app

  • atleast Wi-Fi must have been included in order to help faster downloads and at the home or at the office use.

So should you buy this phone?


If you need dual sim, dont need 3G or WiFi and can manage with Edge and only need to see mails or chat, then this phone is for you.


If you need strong navigation support, mail attachments, downloading games, music over Wifi or 3G, good video call support and many more apps, then this phone is NOT for you.


 


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Published April 28, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran

The destiny farmstay, Ooty

In my last post , I wrote about my journey to Ooty, spiced up with certain constraints and situations. In this post, I will let you know my review of the Destiny Farmstay at Ooty. Read on ....



The Destiny Farmstay is about 25-30 kms away from Ooty main bus stand. The car parking in Destiny is about 2km away from the actual farmstay, and the road beyond that does not permit normal sedans or hatchbacks to get to the actual farmstay as its very slushy, extremely bumpy and risky in terms of damage to the vehicles. The directions provided by the resort is fairly accurate, but towards the end you may have to keep your ears and eyes open for signboards, turns, identification points and the likes.

An army truck belonging to the Little Earth group who run destiny farmstay, took us from the car parking into the resort. The ride can be very bumpy and little kids can feel rattled and extremely afraid as did my little one. So take care of this part. The reception at the resort was neat and kept well attended and the staff there were very courteous in welcoming the people to the stay. A welcome drink was also made available on arrival since it would mostly be beyond noon when people reach there. As other formalities were being completed, the lunch menu was also being taken for order from different guests so that lunch could be made available on time.

A point to note here about the lunch or dinner is that they are limited in timings and one has to be within the time frame of cafeteria being open to source the required dishes. Room service is available at a cost but not always. So its best you return to the cafeteria at specified times in order to avoid missing out on the food. And you guessed it right that there is nothing near the resort where you can otherwise go for food and so you are by yourself. Another thing I felt about the food was that it was quite expensive (even beyond bangalore standards) which is not a good thing. This is always a demand supply factor resorts capitilize on and I am okay with that if the resort were to be otherwise highly rated. Though TripAdvisor rates this resort high, one must understand the fact that there are actually very few new, other resorts, around this place. So naturally everyone who goes here would tend to recommend only this one. Additionally they do not add too much spice into the food, so its kind of kid friendly too which is a plus.



The rooms themselves are nestled neatly along a row overlooking a valley created by more than few mountain slopes. This is the valley where sloped farming is done. When we went to the resort rains were lashing ooty, and towards the evening the atmosphere was damp and the skies opened up a bit. The sunset was a surreal experience. The rooms were large with two single beds put back to back. So that meant some ample room for four of us (two kids). The toilets were large and neat, however not always did we get hot water. You can compare that to my review of the eagle eye holidays in chikmagalur where I did have hot water 24 hours of the day. So if they can do it, why not Destiny?

The room was supposedly a deluxe room, but the only deluxe part about it was the front verandah area overlooking the valley. Other than that the sofa inside the room was not well maintained and the springs had worn out. It was more uncomfortable to sit on it than anything the other way round. The rooms also had no tube lights or no fans and had a coffee maker in case you needed a quick one.

The farming itself consisted of many different type of flowers, cabbages, carrots and the likes being cultivated there. In addition to this they had a horse stable with atleast 3-4 horses who would take you for a ride at a specified time in the mornings with supervision on a high ground area. In addition to this were a large amount of cows, and some sheep. There were also rabbits and ducks which were near the pond down the valley. There were hundred odd steps that led to the valley below which is a good exercise if you take your kids down and back, assuming you are carrying them.

In addition to this, there is a disco room that's operational at night, and there is a bonfire every night which in my opinion is absolutely necessary. Its advisable to carry a set of diapers, all essentials for kids, and atleast three pairs of footwear for kids. Some woolens and raincoats and atleast one or two umbrellas are a must.

Please be advised that there are NO medical facilities anywhere nearby atleast for a good 20+ kilometers, so you have to take all medical supplies that you might need. Remember that your car is parked a good 2-3 km away from the resort from where the nearest hospital is another 20km away, so this could be risky if you need urgent medical attention. From what I spoke with hotel staff, I am not sure that they are addressing this need.



Its also mostly likely that the cafeteria or reception would remain out of reach beyond some earthly hours. There is also a well stocked library to spend some time in. One of the major reasons I went to this place was that they had advertised some activities for the kids such as nature painting and so on, but the person conducting these was away on holiday himself, so one promise never met. Luckily since I carried a whole lot of sketch pens myself, I was able to get some paper and let my son try his artwork there.

I stayed at Destiny Farmstay for only one night, but I feel its an experience where kids learn about farming, and look and feel domestic animals once in a way. To summarize Destiny is aiming to be unique in what it offers, but the expensive food and no medical help nearby might make it go out of your list for a holiday. If you still want to give it a try, the location is beautiful and would relax a tired soul.



The cost for a deluxe room towards end of March was 5,500 + and the three time meal cost came to almost 1,700 +, add a fuel of almost 3,000 + from bangalore upto the resort and we are looking at around 10,000 for a day's worth of holiday.



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Published April 26, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

Towards a new b...

Towards a new beginning, hoping for better reachability !
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Published March 29, 2013 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

In search of my Destiny

 


 



 


When everything is in your control, your life seems great. You can do what you need to, when you need to with predictable outcomes. If you are taken out of that organized lifestyle and put on an unknown path with a time limit to reach your destination, and your quest is spiced up with very less food, bad weather, poor visibility, and no end in sight then that becomes another situation altogether. You then have to resign to only one thing - your DESTINY!


 


This was the essence of a trip that I undertook during the last two days covering hundreds of kilometers with my family to a non descript location a few tens of miles of a fairly populated hill station - all from a concrete jungle infested with information technology professionals much like locusts eating up all the produce in a field and leaving it empty. The upcoming festival weekend only meant a long holiday and a certainity of unavailability of any room in any resort anywhere in Karnataka thanks to the smartness of the above mentioned locusts of the city.


 


So this time, my ploy was different - but a rather tried and tested one - with accurate results - that of using up the weekend days to make this trip possible when the locusts were busy elsewhere working away. In a situation where you have a couple of young kids, planning is of utmost importance for their comfort. My analogy of the kids being able to cover about a 150 odd km range in three hours or so as a maximum threshold at any given point of time proved to be right beyond which enjoyment turns into hunger, sleep and frustration. A brief halt at Mysore for the night proved to be useful to bring the kids back to a calm state of mind.

The next morning was fresh and the journey continued towards Nanjangudu, Gundelpet and Bandipur. For those harried souls of the information technology kingdom, whose only source of inspiration is a wallpaper on their laptop showing a never ending road with the mountains far beyond and only yourself to drive through - the above said highway would be the actual representation of such a wallpaper! This stretch of highway is a treat to the eyes and to the mind. For those who travel extensively one would not debate on the fact that distance and time are inseperable. You have to keep your eyes on the clock, and keep the vechile at a certain designated speed in order to reach a certain place in a certain defined timeframe! For these kinds of people the Nanjangud-Bandipur highway is a place to step on the gas!


 


When you enter the Bandipur forest area with the sole intention of ripping through forest land like a vagabond, the government has ensured that you give respect to the rightful owners of the land there - the animal kingdom of bandipur. India is a country where when people are said of certain things to follow - they do exactly the contrary. So there is only but one option left - keep crippling your enthusiasm until you start behaving properly and predictably. I was referring to the innumerable road humps in the Bandipur-Masinagudi highway which kill your enthusiasm just when you go past the 80kph mark to throttle upto 100 and beyond, much like if you receive a phone call in the middle of an intercourse :-)


 


You really know when Karnataka ends and Tamil Nadu begins. Much like a climate change would let you know the difference, here the road conditions change for the worse as soon as you enter Tamil Nadu. Without much to do along this stretch, as the number of kilometeres on the boards begin to decrease towards a certain hill station originally inhabited by the (yea you know who) britishers, the adrenalin begins to increase. It is then that you are welcomed by a huge mountain in front of you, with a head spinning 36 hair pin bend road that leads you straight to the top - if you are lucky enough.


 


This stretch of road is the best to test a car that you own or want to own. Forget all the useless test drives and the customary question Sir, so how was the test drive - just take the car to this road. The last time I took a Ford Figo it stopped on hair pin bend 26/36. In first gear. Just like that. It gave up. It wouldnt go forward even when Maruti 800s, altos didnt give up. Agreed this was a diesel but still the manners were ridiculous. And Ford says it is celebrating the sales of lakhs of units of a car that just gives up on the owner. Dear Ford, its perhaps time to take your vehicles up this curve and see for yourself what you are selling.


 


This was my second go on this road, this time with the Nissan Sunny Diesel and at 26/36 I was naturally a worried person. The feeling was one of frustration but thankfully the vehicle drove past all the way upto 36/36. It was not an impressive climb, but nevertheless it was completed. There was a feeling of euphoria of having reached Ooty or Ootacamund or Udhagai or Udhagamandalam and having neared the destination - only to understand that my destiny was something else. A thunderstorm with hardly 100m of visibility with rain lashing on the car from all sides. Just few tens of miles before it was as hot as hell and now this!? Google had advised me the route to the destination as just less than a mile ahead only for me to understand that it went horribly wrong for once. My destiny was 30 more km ahead. Google has this habit of saying take slight right and then turn left and this led me to a small road off the actual highway. Only later that I understood that this is just googles way of saying stay put on the same damn highway until there is actually a reasonably visible large right turn.


 


You must remember that in Ooty its best to ask people locally or rely on your own intuition than to choose Google maps as there are some really narrow roads that may or may not lead anywhere as your destiny is defined. After about 25kms of drive towards a place called avalanche (or avalaanchi) and further inside emerald town, I hit upon two bridges as advertised on the resort route map - one without water on both sides, and one with water on both sides - the latter being the emerald dam. Then I had to pass the White house (unfortunately obama was out and i couldnt meet him) towards two sign boards that brought me to my destiny - The Destiny Farm Stay!


 


In my next post I will share with you my view of the resort or holiday destination as offered by the Little Earth Group - Destiny.

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