Oct 29, 2014

Quikr - offering the best of two worlds

We Indians are no stranger to this word, are we? We’ve seen the television ads and we’ve noted the online ads. But what is it, really?

The 12 categories
Widely regarded as India’s most popular online classifieds site, Quikr started up over 7 years ago in 2008. Since then, it has gone on to cover over 900 cities across the country, making it easier for both buyers and sellers to deal from the comfort of their homes.
All that sounds fine and good but how does that translate in real life? We have a gazillion online stores offering products like mobiles, electronics, clothing et al, right?
So I decided to put it to the test. With Rs 5000/- in my pocket, I decided to see what Quikr could get me that others couldn’t. I chose to scrutinize Coimbatore for this venture because that in addition to the love and serenity, Coimbatore has a lot to offer that remains unseen.

Logging onto Quikr was an easy-peasy affair and I found Coimbatore sitting right there among the list of most Popular cities. Choosing it logged me onto the general page which featured 12 main categories to choose from. This was an amalgamation of all online stores, bringing in categories like mobiles and electronics alongside services offered and needed including film crew, educational courses, land for sale and yes, even matrimonials.

Clicking on any of the 12 buttons then opens up a whole new world of sub categories. From there on, it’s like being a kid at a candy store! 

Oct 25, 2014

The Honda Eco-Light effect

I've written about my Honda Brio earlier and how smooth a ride it is.
One among the many fun features besides the wonderful i-VTec petrol engine and deceptive spaciousness within is the ECO-LIGHT signal which lights ups when you're driving at the most optimal speed and rpm for that gear.  
Earlier this week, I was returning back after watching a movie late one night when I decided to take up the ECO-light on its word.
Over 30 kms which included two states, wonderful highways and ridiculously bad pot holed sections of 'road', my aim was to keep the ECO-Light on for as long as possible during the ride. Contrary to what you may think, this did not involve driving at a snail's pace either (in general, I maintained it at roughly 45-65 kmpl in fifth gear.)

The final result:

31.2 kmpl (The best I noted while driving was 31.8 in between) over 30 kms of mixed roads is ridiculously awesome, if you ask me. In general, the Honda Brio has always been wonderful when it comes to fuel efficiency and for me, will always remain a totally underrated car in India.

So here are my questions:

  • What's the best mileage you have noted in a vehicle you have driven or been in over any period greater than 10 kms? 
  • Conversely what is the worst mileage you have ever noted too in a vehicle you have been in?

Oct 23, 2014

Batman adventures: The Matrikas Mystery

So the owner of this blog thought he could outsmart me. He knows that everything that he receives needs to be screened by me before it can be used at home – you just cannot be careful enough in today’s world. I would know. 

After all, I am Batman, the ‘World’s Greatest Detective’. 
So imagine my surprise when I came home one fine day after driving around in my autorickshaw Batmobile and found three new additions in the room. Books, no less… empty books or so they seemed, at first.

What evil villainy is this?

You know by now that the man likes to write. Not just on blogs but on paper too. He started out that way – love letters on perfumed stationary that probably gagged the girl due to the scent, letters to penpals every month that went on and on about how awesome he thought he was (which somehow no one else recognized), short hand notes while studying and even the odd script and storyline. In fact, the only time he was frugal while writing was invariably when an answer sheet was placed in front of him during examinations, I recall.

We will have to examine this in detail

Oct 20, 2014

The 'Vadde log Vaddi baatein' post

I honestly haven't been to Mumbai a lot. The last time I was there - technically also the first time I was there - I had a pretty good time. I won the award for Best Creative Writing Blog in India, you see. Prreeeety good time, as I was saying. It's been nearly eight months to the day that I picked up that award and when the opportunity came to visit Mumbai once more, I would be lying if I said I wasn't licking my lips with anticipation.

You see, I had been thinking a lot about some advice fellow blogger Nisha had given me awhile back during a discussion - about saving a third of your money for traveling and seeing the world outside your regular walls. That's something I had not really done in the years prior to this one and it was something I did intend to change in style.
In the days to come, I would hear the familiar refrain of "Vadde log Vaddi baatein" many a time and I could only laugh. After all, I had decided not to think of the purse-strings for once and instead chosen one of Mumbai's finest five star hotels as my not-so-humble abode to stay in while I was there.

Grand Hyatt deserves every bit of applause that you could conjure up in your mind. Wonderfully pleasant staff, immaculately maintained rooms and a gorgeous ambiance are just the thoughts that crossed my head in the first hour I was there. From being extra-helpful in accommodating me when I landed there a few hours prior to the official check-in to catering to my every need with a smile, this hotel single-handedly redefined my image of a luxury stay.

Some of the things I would like to highlight from memory:

  • The overall design of the lobby interiors - par excellence. High ceilings, very spacious interiors allowing for a relaxed ambience as you stroll from one end to the other.  
  • The complimentary chocolates on arrival: best I have had in India. And that is not an exaggeration.
  • The 'shopping store' downstairs. My impression of in-hotel shopping stores has always been about the odd store which sells rural trinkets and the odd painting. Hyatt ups the ante with a two floor shopping complex, with designer gowns, Mont Blanc, luxury watches and suits et al. 
  • While I regret not being able to try out two of the in-house restaurants (Cellini and China House), I have no regrets about the place I did have my 'meals' at. I used to say that Barbeque Nation was the best buffet I ever had. Well, I change my stand.
Fifty-Five East is officially the best buffet I have ever had and I mean both for breakfast and lunch.
Once more, there is such a beautiful aura to the place with perfected lit backdrops and shades. The staff are not just courteous but extremely knowledgeable and helpful, guiding you with choices and yet being unobtrusive once the food has reached your table.

Grand Hyatt Mumbai

  • There are separate live counters in action for every style of cooking: Japanese, Thai, Chinese, continental and Indian. Each section offers a dozen or more options at hand. Watching the vast set of chefs in action as they sliced the hams and sushis while making the steaks as per personal requests was simply poetry in motion. 
  • This is in addition to the awesome range of unlimited martinis, margaritas, wines and mocktails too, for a ridiculously minimal price addition.
  • The dessert section again, consists of two sides of a very large table and I would be lying if I tried to tell you I recalled everything I saw and ate there. 
  • Honestly, this is now my official breakfast place whenever I step into Mumbai from here on in. Yes, yes... I know. Vadde Log...

Oct 17, 2014

As free as the air

In 1845, a dentist stepped onto the spotlight at the revered Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He wanted to show his medical brethren something unique, something unheard of back then in the field of surgery.

He wanted to show them how the world could finally be rid of pain.

The young man - at thirty, that’s all he really was – had performed this miracle successfully for over a year prior to this moment. In fact, history notes that he tested it on himself first successfully before trying the drug on his patients. In the one year he had been using the drug, he never considered patenting it even once. In his words, pain relief was meant to be ‘as free as the air’. The stage was set for the greatest advance in surgical history – the discovery of anaesthesia and pain relief.

It was a soul crushing failure.

Oct 10, 2014

Bards of the Blogosphere - Week 3 Chapter 9: Epilogue #CelebrateBlogging

Authors note: This is the final chapter of the tale of the Bards of the Blogosphere. You can read the previous chapter here

“Would you like a balloon, little girl? Which colour would you like?” The vendor asked, pointing at all the colourful variations he held in his hand. She stared at them and smiled, before nodding and pointing at the green one.
“Hey!” A voice shouted out. “Hey! Step away from her.”
The vendor turned around, frowning. A middle aged man was racing up to him, his feet hindered by the resistance from the sand as he visibly struggled to make up the distance between them. As he neared them, the girl ran up to him. The man clutched her in his arm as he bend down, grimacing as he held his stomach. 
“Step… step away from my daughter.” He panted in labored breaths.
“Sir. I am just selling balloons. Are you okay, sir?”
Behind the man, the vendor spied a woman in a long flowery skirt and maroon t-shirt hurrying along, making up the distance between them. She seemed to have sized up what had happened better than the man who still stared suspiciously at the vendor.
“I’m sorry.” She told him, reaching into her purse and taking out two ten rupee notes. “Forgive my husband. Can we have two balloons please?”

Half an hour later, Shekhar and Tara sat by the dunes of the beach, watching Roohi as she gleefully ran from side to side, doing her best not to allow the waves to touch her when they come forth. The parental duo looked almost comical, a couple of fluorescent balloons held absent-mindedly in their hands as they watched their child play.
“You want to talk about it?”
“I really liked his balloons. I was just running to make sure I got the best ones before someone else got them.” Shekhar quipped. Tara noted that his eyes remained focused upon their daughter even as he spoke to her.

He sighed and shook his head. He reclined slightly, his gaze towards the myriad shades of the evening sky. The cacophony of the other families in the beach seemed a million miles away, almost as far as the sun setting peacefully at the farther edge of the beach. When he did not respond, she continued.
“It is okay to be scared, you know.”
“We almost lost her, Tara. She did not do anything wrong. She was sitting at a table in a conference you and I took her to and a random man came and sat beside her for a few moments. We almost lost our child because of that.”

“I know but…” Tara started but Shekhar cut her off. His voice rose as he spoke.
“At Kochi, I was so scared in that moment when the crowd was running all over the place and I was searching for her. My heart was just pounding with the possibilities. We was really lucky to have her found unharmed through such a stampede of imbeciles. It should have been over there… but it wasn’t. A man came into our house and nearly killed her and I could do nothing to save her. If Jennifer had not…”

Oct 7, 2014

The Liebster Award tag

Back in the early days of blogging, a common way to escape 'writer's block' was to take up tags. It's been years since I've done one, yet I have to admit that I enjoyed seeing the "tag culture of blogs" is still prevalent even a decade later.

Fellow blogger and co-author Asiya tagged me for the Liebster award.
Quoting from her blog,

"According to Lorraine Reguly's research of this award, this award exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. It has German origins – the word “liebster” has several definitions: dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, welcome, sweetheart. "

These are the guidelines to the awardees:
1. Post 11 facts about self.
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you by your awarder.
3. Nominate/award 5-11 bloggers you find deserving and probably have less than 1000 followers.
4. Tell them that they have been tagged by you.
5. Include the image of the award in your page.

11 Facts about myself:
1. After wearing glasses for over twenty five years, I underwent Zyoptix laser surgery on my eyes a couple of years ago. No issues thus far.
2. Though I am a doctor, I never read Robin Cook novels or watch shows like Grey's Anatomy. Scrubs and House M.D. are my style of doc based shows.
3. I am a comic book geek, always trying my best to be up-to-date on what goes on at Marvel and DC Comics. I find they deal with more mature themes than Bollywood, frankly.
4. Blasphemy alert: I would say that on any given day, James Spader (The Blacklist, Boston Legal) is a much MUCH better actor than anyone in Bollywood, the Big B included.

Sep 26, 2014

Of Man & Dog

No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish - consciously or unconsciously - that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.” 
                                          ― Dean KoontzA Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

A random moment between Snoopy & my father...

The early days