Category: Social


Are you aged 25-26 ?

25-26 is certainly not a nice age for a man….

Your ex-gfs are getting married , Your career has just started, Elders treat you as unproven theorems, College guys feel that you are too old to have in there group.

You seem to enjoy both cartoon and news. You can no longer eat whatever you wish without putting on weight. You look like an ape if you don’t shave daily. You are not invited for weekend cricket matches.

Every Aunt you meet asks ‘Shaadi kab kar rahe ho beta!!’ while uncle asks ‘Career ka kya socha hai beta…?’. When the reality is that you are just riding the wave and going with the flow. You have all the confidence in the world but little achievements to show, You already have the first hand experience of the life, You know that whatever you have been taught about the world in schools has been sheer waste of time. You can be denied a job even after passing the test and you could be given a job if you know someone placed high enough. Politics till now was a dirty word but now you feel it everywhere.

You know now love is not that blind and that friendship has its terms and conditions. You know there is nothing for granted and free lunches are not free. Your overconfidence is now making way for a humble conscience. You now know it is not exactly what you thought it would be.

No, don’t think I am being pessimistic. It’s just a phase of life where luckily reality has stricken me. And as one of my friends said, be optimistic ! you never know if you might remember this period as a golden era when you turn 30, have a wife, a kid and a decent job but loose the freedom you used to have. Is this optimism or even more pessimism, it amuses me.

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A unique discussion came up with a fellow customer while buying my weekly groceries. It caught my attention for the uniqueness, simplicity and yet the potential dangers in it. It’s a way which is used(quite frequently to my surprise) by local people belonging to lower middle class societies to fulfill their debt needs and investment aspirations. It’s something they call the Committee System.

Now the traditional means of getting debt at a local level involves either dealing with a bank (which grants loans based on lots of financial criteria) or borrowing from a friend (lot of trust involved if you ask for a big amount) or the local money lenders (which charge huge interest). These are all difficult avenues for lower middle income class and lower income class people. Similarly investment options are very limited to PPF and Post Office Savings. It is probably these reasons which led to the development of this unique methodology of investment and debt raising. How legal is it I am unable to comment but I thought it would be interesting to share and get views.

The Committee System involves a group of people (can range from 5-20) coming together to form a “Committee” where each person contributes certain amount of money towards a corpus of funds. Typically the person initiating the committee is the cashier and is responsible for each transaction and servicing of everything that goes for that particular committee.  So for example lets assume that Mr. X is the cashier of a committee floated by him having 10 members and each member contributes Rs. 10,000 towards the corpus which amounts to Rs. 1,00,000. Now the committee holds an auction among the 10 members for granting this corpus as a debt. The auction amount is basically the interest portion on the corpus. So in our committee of Mr. X with a corpus of Rs. 1,00,000 the auction starts at lets say Rs. 5000. What is means is that the person bidding Rs. 5000 will, if he wins the auction at that bid, take the Rs. 1,00,000 corpus for a cost of Rs. 5000 so effectively he will get Rs. 95,000. The start amount is declared by the cashier because in case their is no higher bid he has to take on the debt. So each member is given a chance to bid. Let’s assume that Mr. Z is the winner of the auction at Rs. 10,000. So Mr. Z will get and Rs. 90,000 (Corpus of Rs. 1,00,000 at a loss of Rs. 10,000). The Rs. 10,000 bid amount is divided among the 10 people forming the committee. So at a investment of Rs. 10,000 each member get profit of Rs. 1,000 upfront. The principal amount has to be paid by Mr. Z in a time-frame (lets assume 12 months) on 15th of each month.

For Investor

Upfront investment = 10,000

Upfront interest = 1,000

Principal per month for 12 months = 833

(Effective Rate of Return) IRR = 20.2% per annum

Similary,

For Borrower

Loan Taken = 1,00,000

Upfront interest paid = 10,000

Principal Installments for 12 months = 8330

Effective interest Rate (IRR) = 20.2% per annum

Innovative and effective ! And most importantly useful for those who can’t get debt from banks. Now obviously there are risks here. The biggest is the credit risk that the person does not pays the principal payments. In that case the burden falls on the cashier to pay the members of committee. For the same reason committee are often formed between close members of society where trust level is high. As I said before, I cannot comment on the legality of this system although my fellow buddy did tell me that they do paperwork (enforceability of which is again doubtful to me).

Have you heard or know such a system in place ? Are there other such unique models out there among the local masses. Let me know 🙂 !

The movie ‘Aarakshan’ starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone is set to be released tomorrow and it is already banned in UP, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. A movie which has been certified and passed by censor board to be viewed by public and strangled at the hands of politicians who claim to do it in the name of voice of people who have elected them. This form of political censorship is totally absurd and a outright abuse of the freedom of speech.

Aarakshan does touches the sensitive topic of reservation. It talks about a topic which undoubtedly is the most burning issue of this country and yet it is a subject which has been never actually discussed with an open mind. Not to say that the movie does anything substantial on it, but the director has the full right to create a movie which talks on sensitive topics. Freedom of expression and speech doesn’t stops at sensitive topics. When politicians themselves can use reservation as a topic to fuel their election campaigns in the name of supporting the minority, how can they restrict a movie maker who is trying to make his living from the subject and at the same time throwing light on the issue through the movie. A couple of dialogues are being touted as potential cause for riots and offensive to certain communities – are we really that immature ? Cinema has always been meant for entertainment. Even though it is a reflection of the society and its values, yet its intended purpose has always been entertainment. I am sure no rational person would feel offended and cause to break a riot for a few theatrical dialogues.

Aarakshan banned in 3 states

What amuses one even more is that few leaders/representatives of minority communities are asking film makers if they give roles to backward class people in movies ? So are we now talking about reservation quota in movies? Isn’t asking for reservation for a few communities a way of stark cast-ism in itself? Reservation was initially proposed to be a mean to help the backward classes and the oppressed; it makes one sad to see it has become merely a political agenda and a mean to create uproar for personal and political motives.

What’s needed is a stronger reaction from the film community and a greater sense of responsibility from the political parties by not treating reservation as a toy to play around and painting it on everything they can get their hands on. Let’s respect the censor board and accept their allowance for this movie and let the public decide the worth of the movie. It’s entertainment people, not politics !

PS: Let me know your views and whether you agree with the ban or not? Just to make it clear, my blog is not about supporting or opposing reservation, its about whether the ban is right or not.

PPS: Post your view on how the movie is if you watch it tomorrow. Is the movie really that electric to deserve all the bans ? I will write a review of the movie, once I watch it, in my upcoming blogs.

The views expressed are personal to those of the author.

Image: Courtesy IndianExpress

Aloo Pyaz Parantha : With Butter

If your thoughts are similar to the first two options of the poll above, then you need to visit Sukhdev Dhaba. Yes, this dhaba also has a website. Cool right !

A couple of us decided to hit the road and visit this much recommended place 60 km from Delhi on GT Road. The first good thing about the trip is that the highway is pretty awesome. The roads being smooth and the weather being good, we hit a continuous speed of 100 kmph for most of the stretch reaching there in less than an hour from South Delhi.

There are a lot of Pure Vegetarian Dhabas in Murthal – all equally good by one standard or the other. We chose Sukhdev Dhaba for it was highly recommended. The Dhaba serves everything from Indian cuisines to Chinese, Italian, Continental and Street Foods. We picked up the famous Aloo Pyaz Paranthas and Kadhai Paneer along with Dal Makhni and Chilli Gobhi. Much to our surprise the Paranthas came loaded with butter – fresh butter !! Well..I did promised myself for a minimal fat diet 2 days ago but can a foodie really ignore delicious butter ?! Infact as we realized the taste of paranthas become super yummy just because of the butter.

Fully stuffed, we just wished for a dhaba style ‘khat’ to have a good after meal sleep. Well that was not there so we decided to walk around a little before sipping on to lemon soda and much recommended tea. Trust me you wouldn’t have sipped a better tea elsewhere ! It was time to head back  – running on the smooth highway with soothing music and in the company of friends – Sumit, Varun & Gurpreet.

For those who chose option 3 – Still do you not feel like tasting all these ? If no, then you are missing some seriously good food !

Must Try at Sukhdev Dhaba  – Aloo Pyaz Parantha, Kadhai Paneer, Tea

For visiting Sukhdev Dhaba, refer the Google Map Guide Below.

Recently I came across an article in IBNLive which goes on to describe 5 types of guys a woman should have in her life. The author symbolizes Draupadi as the lucky one having 5 husbands and goes on project the need for current woman to have five different types of men to satisfy five different needs. Relevance of such a post in Indian context is questionable; however dark the truth may be behind curtains.

Recently I also watched – Pyar ka Punchnama. Amazing movie I must say where the director has truly captured what really goes on in relationships – existing and potential ones. The movie does exaggerate a bit at points but there are examples in real life that surpass those exaggerations too!

Well, call it a retaliation or inspiration from the movie; I have captured 5 types of girls that each guy should stay away from if he wants not be hurt. As you can guess, this is the guy side of story – you may most certainly go on to say that the same applies to men also: An argument that is most old and repetitively used.

1. The one who is “just good friend”   

Ishita Sharma

Ishita Sharma

You can relate this character with Charu of Pyar ka Punchnama. Such a girl will try to make you your best friend. Such a girl will care about you at the right moments, tell you her secrets and always add a line – “I have not even told this to my best friend.” Being a guy you would continue to be charmed by her spirits and pamper her all the way through even if to be a friend. She expects and you will clean up all the mess and mistakes (popularly known as “raita failana” in hindi) that she commits. It may also happen the she already has a boyfriend and just needs you for the emotional support – a shoulder to cry on; somebody to make her feel good when she is ‘not in the right mood’. At this point she might let you be a little more intimate than usual (letting you feel loved and feelings reciprocated) only to set things straight right in the face the very next morning. Despite all this slowly and steadily, you will start having feelings for her and when you express it – will come the classic statement – “We are just good friends”. Best part is she will give all sorts of mixed signals and yet ridicule you and mock you if you try to come close.

2. The confused one

Sonalli Sehgall

Sonalli Sehgall

You can relate this character with Ria of Pyar ka Punchnama. Such a girl is the one who has just gotten out of a relationship or even worse – has not been able to forget her ex-boyfriend till date irrespective of the timespan. You may fall just at the wrong place and time to be used like a rebound. Initially things will go great as these relationships start with rebound sex. But then comparisons will creep in. She will constantly argue with you over issues and compare you with her previous boyfriend. She will promise to forget her ex and ask more time – the next day you will see her more engrossed with those memories. Being a good guy and still in her charms you will try to console her and try your best to be the only man in her life until one day she will tell you to give her space and don’t interfere in her personal life. The nail in the coffin would be her getting tattooed with her ex’s name. <here comes the exaggeration but who knows :P)

3. The one who dominates

Nushrat Bharucha

Nushrat Bharucha

You can relate this character with Neha of Pyar ka Punchnama. Such a girl is one who would like to dominate your life to every possible extent. She will take up every space that you have & make you paranoid – yet you will keep falling for her. She will change your living style, ask you to get better clothes that she likes, change the setup of your house even though you might not live together, ask you to be with her everywhere, give up your social life for her, emotionally blackmail you for anything that is not to her liking, make you feel guilty about all the pleasures you have without her – in short be her little pet. At times you will get frustrated but then she would have all the weapons that make men weak and use them at the right time.

4. The over obsessed career woman

Shraddha Das

Shraddha Das

Most easy to spot, you can relate this character to Gungun of Dil to Bachcha hai ji.  Best thing about such a girl is that she doesn’t hesitate in telling you that she is career oriented. Given her ambitious nature, she is upfront about it. I don’t say that don’t be with a career woman – in-fact a career woman is much more sensible –  I personally believe but I use the word “obsessed” here. The obsessed kind will chose career over love even though she knows she will regret it later. She will treat you as the most important second priority. She will expect you to understand everything – you will – but men are by nature possessive – and this understanding will find its cracks someday.

5. The one who “needs” you

Tisca Chopra

Tisca Chopra

This is the most secretive woman. She has needs – than can be physical or emotional. And she would go to any extent to find a guy who satisfies those needs. Obviously everything would be discreet. You can relate her to Anushka of Dil to Bachcha hai ji. Being felt “needed” is always a good feeling and hence men fall easily in this trap. She will use you as an emotional support but shrug you off when you get too personal. She will want you in bed and expect you to be amazingly good yet if you get a little sentimental she will run off. She will come back to you even after a fight because she knows she can talk to you and you will be discrete. She needs you for all the things she cannot go anywhere else.

Photo Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

The views expressed are personal to those of the author.

Ishq-e-Dilli

Ishq-e-Dilli !

They say Delhi has had many lovers in its emperors right from the Mughals to the Britishers. Remnants of such love stories lies in bits and pieces across today’s Delhi. For those who visit Delhi are bound to fall in love with the city; if for nothing else then its history. The ancient capital of India – Delhi, has seen many cycles of life, cultures, civilizations as it stands across history.

Old Fort Entrance       Old Fort

One such occasion to experience the history is the Sound & Light Show at Old Fort,New Delhi called “Ishq-e-Dilli”. The 60-minutes show which runs through 5,000 years of the Capital’s history surely leaves the audience spellbound. A unique combination of light sound and state of the art laser technology makes the audience glued to their seat and feel proud of their city’s history.

“Ishq-e-Dilli” depicts the spirit of Delhi through a lively narration of the ten cities of Delhi – the formation and resurrection of the city with its phoenix – like character. The narration begins from 11th century in the reign of Prithvi Raj Chauhan and proceeds towards the history of the city associated with Lodhis, Mughals, Britishers & finally independent India. The story takes through the history with the establishment of the first city of Quila Rai Pithora, runs through Qutab-Mehrauli, Kilokri, Siri, Tughlaqabad, Jahanpanah, Firozabad, Shahjahanabad and culminates in modern-day Delhi.

       Kohinoor Diamond !

The story also touches parts of Mahabharat and the creation of Indraprastha. It also has interesting facts about the Indian Jewel ‘Kohinoor Diamond’ and the history associated with it. The Kathak rendition on Chhap Tilak, sung by Rekha Bhardwaj, and a Sufi song by Kailash Kher are also pleasant to the ears. At times, the narrator even brings out the connection between historic places like Kilokri and its current geographic locality of Jangpura Extension, or Taimur’s battleground and the present-day Safdarjung Airport. Such connections make you realize that wherever you are in Delhi, there is a piece of history that happened there.

For those who are interested in technology, the show utilizes the technology similar to the ones being used in “Light of Liberty”, Pennsylvania, US, the “Edfu Show” at Pyramids of Gaza, Egypt. The entire narration, sound and music effects promises a wonderful evening. It’s most certainly a place recommended to all, a place to fall in love with Delhi.

Do share your experience if you have visited the place and those who haven’t do let me know if my blog post excites you to visit the show.

Check out more pictures at my Facebook Album Ishq-e-Dilli.

More details regarding tickets and timings can be found at Delhi Tourism Website.

BLISTERING HEAT!

It’s not even June and the heat is unbearable already. For people like me enjoying vacations at home, there is nothing much to do except stay at home during the day when its 45 degrees outside. No point discussing the reasons for this super hot summer which started breaking records in April itself. Our own actions are distorting the nature’s cycle and we are the ones who will have to bear the wrath.

I feel really sorry for the little kids who have to go to school in this scorching heat. Although the government and school administration are doing their bit to reduce the school timings to around 10:00 AM before it becomes hot but it isn’t helping when it’s the temperature starts hovering around 35 degrees at 9:00 AM in the morning. My cousin goes to class 8th leaving for school at 6:30 AM and back by 10:15 AM. If heat was taking away the fun of going to school, the reduced study hours is not helping the kids learn much. My cousin gave a description of the worsened situation with insufficient infrastructure at schools that have not been upgraded to deal with the hot summers. With old fans and frequent power cuts they have to rely on opening windows and letting the hot air in to get ventilation and fresh air. Add to this the afternoon tuition timings imposed by teachers gives the kids no respite in summers.

As I write this, the best thing that has happened for the kids is that the schools have closed for summer vacations. I, for my cousin, went to her tuition teacher and requested to change the tuition timings to evening. Hopefully now she would be able to enjoy the summer holidays like we used to and then go back to school, after the vacations, in July when it would be comparatively cooler due to the monsoon rains.

Happy Holidays!!

Yatra.com: A bad experience

Yatra.com sucks ! It does!

Recently I had a lot of travelling to do from Indore. I usually do my flight and hotel booking either directly through the Airline Website or through MakeMyTrip. This time I had heard a lot of discount and schemes on Yatra. Well I went on to make my domestic flight booking and it I got a Rs. 1000 discount voucher for a hotel booking. Generally all travel websites offer such discount as a way of marketing knowing well that majority of travelers rarely use such coupons.

So during my recent travel I needed to book a hotel and I thought why not use the discount to get accommodation in a good hotel. So I logged onto Yatra and made my booking. I was given a reference number and a Yatra Representative was to call me and confirm the booking. So it was time to wait!

And the wait just continued…. The journey time came and I didn’t get a call. Yatra never bothered to check up on the booking I made and that was really unprofessional by a travel website boasting of excellent customer service. I tried calling the Yatra Customer Care myself and it was just a waste of 30 minutes call time as the call was just put on hold forever.

I decided to make my hotel arrangements on reaching the destination. I reached the same hotel where I had made a booking and showed my reference number. The hotel staff was surprised and declined having received any request for booking from Yatra. So the “esteemed” travel website Yatra didn’t even cared to take the booking request forward. Is the Yatra Hotel Booking Service just for fun?

Further the hotel staff told me that the hotel doesn’t gives it’s rooms for booking on Internet, rather only 1 Room of each kind is given at discount just for marketing purpose. Now that was again a surprise! So the booking service is not a business, it’s a marketing scheme!! And it’s the case with all travel websites.

The experience which I had with Yatra was pretty disappointing and caused me a lot of inconvenience. Atleast Yatra is not going to be my preferred travel website for a very long time.

I was looking forward to this day with great eagerness. 27th February 2009, the 25th Wedding Anniversary of my parents. Due to the “rigorous” procedures, I could get a leave for 28th only and I had convinced my parents to shift the celebration to 28th Feb. As it turned out, the day started hectically. Loads of classes, a Marketing quiz and French Class. Add to it the mild fever that I was having and it made the recipe for a frustrated person.

    7:00 PM

Happy that I was to get a break to be with my parents, I reached the airport to leave for Delhi. Well, the planning was pretty good with the flight supposed to land at 9:45 PM and then I was to catch the train at 11:55 PM. Seems destiny had much more surprise for me in store.
The turn of the events started with the flight getting delayed by 40 minutes at the Indore Airport. Add 40 minutes, the landing time becomes 10:25 PM, I thought I can comfortably reach Delhi. The flight was in air exactly after 40 minutes delay and I thought luck was on my side.

    10:00 PM

The pilot announced that due to congesting, the speed would be reduced. I cursed Kingfisher Airlines and Delhi Airport and the stupid congestion. ETA was now 10:45 PM. Safe …eh? I was trying to be optimistic. I could reach Delhi Station ( I forgot to tell.. it takes 1 hour drive from airport to station with traffic). I tried not to think much by immersing myself in music and Khushwant Singh’s Novel.

    10:45 PM

PILOT announces

We are above Delhi Airport, but will be moving away from it due to congestion. ETA 11:05 PM. Sorry for the inconvenience

Screwed !..The man sitting next to me sensed my frustration and asked. After hearing he couldn’t help much except words of comfort. Slowly he started irritating me whenever he saw me by saying
“Bete… touch and go case hai… waise to bahut mushkil hai..”

Arrrrgghhh !! I know…! 😦

    11:05 PM

The flight lands and bad luck again follows. It had landed on the international runway and would take another 15 minutes to reach domestic airport. Why the hell do they not increase the capacity of airports??

    11:20 PM

Finally I reached the domestic airport and made a rush for the baggage area. Took another 10 minutes to collect my luggage and rushed outside to find the cab driver I had hired beforehand. It was 11:30 PM and I asked him if I could make it to the station in time. What could he say.. He wanted to shake his head in a denial but preferred not to. I started coming to terms that my train would miss, so I called up my friend to search for next trains which I can take. It turned out that the next train was due at 4:55 AM.

    11:50 PM

Cab driver told me that we are just near the station. I looked at the watch. Maybe I would be able to make it. I tried optimistically to be less pessimistic. Just when I saw the station, the metro barricade met us. The driver had to take a U turn and go through a longer route. I could only sit and watch..

    11:55 PM

I rushed out of the taxi immediately after reaching the station. With luggage in both hands, I was running and the scene was similar to the one in the movie “Jab We Met”. I reached platform 8 only to find that there was no train. A chaiwala sensed that and called out

Gaadi nikal gayi 2 minute pehle…thoda der kar di aapne

    12:00 AM

I came out and asked the cab driver (whom I had asked to wait) to take me to old Delhi railway station so that I can catch the next train. He got me there and I decided to get some food first. Then I went to the ticket counter and got myself a reservation on the next train. While waiting I met a person(ha had also missed the same train and was going by the same next train I was taking… what coincidence) who was my company for the next 5 hours. With the chilly wind blowing and me having no woolen clothes, the wait was unbearable. However, we two got along well..chatted.. had tea and finally the train arrived.

    5:00 AM

With me inside the train, I went to sleep immediately. It was a good 8 hours sleep. The train again was late by two hours and I reached home at 6:00 PM on Saturday ! As they say, Just In Time for the celebrations !

How often have we thought about doing something good for the society and then just forgotten it. Happens many times. If only we could act on our thought and go out to extend a helping hand, will we realize how much it is needed.
Our course “Society for Business Management” gave me an opportunity to do this. The course started with making us “feel” the ground issues existing in society – an important shareholder for any business. The best thing about this course was that it didn’t stop here but gave us an opportunity to experience and contribute to the society through a 1 week stint at an NGO.

I got the opportunity to work at CHILDLINE, Allahabad.
property of CHILDLINECHILDLINE is a project of the Ministry for Women & Child Development, Government of India in partnership with State Governments, NGO’s, the Corporate Sector, UNICEF, Department of Telecommunication, street and community youth, academic institutions and Concerned Individuals.
Initially started in Mumbai in 1996, CHILDLINE is currently operational in 83 cities. CHILDLINE aims to reach out to the most marginalized children between the age group of 0-18 years, and provides interventions of shelter, medical, repatriation, rescue, death related, sponsorship and, emotional support and guidance.
It also has a free phone helpline for children in need of care and protection. The CHILDLINE number 1098 is a toll free number that is common in all cities of India.

My experience was a learning experience. I got to interact with children in slum areas, and it was delightful to see their smiles and the respect they had in their eyes for us. Addressing us as “Bhaiya” they asked innocent questions, recited poetry and alphabets, shared some jokes and bid us goodbye. I got to learn that a separate world exists out there, different from what we have seen, a world where basic education is denied for the least reasonable explanation possible.

I also got an opportunity to do the ground work for CHILDLINE along with their members. Its amazing how dedicated they are to this cause and contribute throughout the day just so that some children somewhere doesn’t suffers. Despite all their efforts they sometimes face resistance from general public.

Well, although the time was less, but the experience was great calling for more devotion whenever opportunity arises. When I came back to college, the feeling was there with many. Excited, emotional and sensitive to the social issue they had seen at their respective NGO’s.

At last, I can only say that if you can, do find sometime to extend a helping hand… believe me..there is never a word “enough” for this cause.