Saturday, December 6, 2008

Of Biriyanis,Raita and Drinks

Fridays nights are always a reason to celebrate. A welcome break from a hard week at work, Fijnbosch,Johannesburg comes alive with activities. A huge dinner normally for 8-9 people is made. Oh how can one forget the bevy of drinks being brought exclusively for the week end bash? Heineken,Castle Lager, Black Label, Breezer and Smirnoff Spin normally make up the list. Of course there is always a collection of Wine or Champagne too. Now comes the hard part, being a kinda of teetotaler,ahem,its tough and the worst part is to make the side dishes for the party. Normally we do get some chips and stuff but they arent spicy enough for us :) so we get to start off the cooking with mushroom curry dry or spicy potato mash.
Once that is done, we settle down on the patio. There is a table and 4 chairs and of course we pull in a couple of chairs more from the dining table and settle down for the drink of each person's choice.
Mine is a standard bottle of cocacola coke or an occasional Smirnoff Spin :) while we are at it, some of them get down to the task of cutting the vegetables and cooking rice. By the time this is done, a round or two of drinks are downed and we become ravenously hungry! And enter the chef, who incidently is me to cook :) This particular day, we made Vegetable Biriyani and Cucumber/Onion/Yoghurt Raita. I should say, the drink had may be mellowed their taste buds or I put in a lot of spice ... the biriyani was so damn spicy!!! It should be the masala. Or could also be the Mexican Green Chillies that I cut and added to the rice.
After a round of huffing and puffing at our respective plates, we settled down to watch a great movie, Rock On!!!
Life is Beautiful.

Recessionomics-Ours Not to Reason Why Ours but to do and die

Little would have Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson thought how relevant these lines would be to today's world when he wrote The Charge of the Light Brigade.Instead of Half a league of soldiers marching into Crimea, its the work force today of all major corporations.
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:

These lines match the job cuts being done across the globe. Some decisions taken by the higher ups normally has a ripple effect
later down the line. Now if I talk about the Butterfly effect or Chaos theory for this I am sure I will get a thorough beating from a couple of friends. Hence, let me follow the KISS principle. (Keep it Simple, Stupid) :) :) :) I wonder why some decisions that appears far from any applicable logic is not seen by the higher ups.
All in all, I would say
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Economic Rumblings

There are certain things that calls for a greater understanding.How can one explain the plummeting economies world wide? Were
we sitting on an economic time bomb, waiting to explode?The views expressed here are personal and not related to any
organization or individual.
The world economy is in tatters owing to one country's extravagance!US the behemoth of the world always believed that its
economic juggernaut is too huge to be pertrubed by anything.Ha! the age old idiom stands vindicated! Pride hath a fall! and
only this time the fall pulled the entire global economy into an abyss. The over indulgence of the banks and financial
instituions to provide money to all sections of people in US has caused mayhem world over.The Banking Acts of US, which aimed
to help the underprivileged to step up to the altars of banks is the culprit. A law "Equal Credit Opportunity Act" and the right
to put a bank in the docks for refusing money made the banks overlook their poor credit history and the inability to repay
the loans availed. The irony is that the KYC or "Know your customer" programs designed to check the credit history of a
person will have no meaning in this situation!
No. I am not against providing loans to the underprivileged. Its just that a person staying in a caravan cannot be loaned an
amount to buy a house. This is way beyond commonsense. Look at how Grameen Bank has done business. It never said No to these
people. Instead, provided them money to grow a business.The money involved in this type of transaction is very little and
hence the associated risk can also be played down. If a guy prospers with his business, then sure, you can loan him for a
house!Not otherwise!
I really find it stupefying to see that great nations discuss all this risks and issues, come out with Basel I, Basel II
compliance for Banks and NBFIs but never check how to recover money from NPAs(Non Performing Assets).
This statement that my brother said some years back, comes back to my mind now "Dei, in US, credit card speaks for you. If u
want to urinate u need a credit card" Alright, a little crass but drives home the point. Plastic money on a circulation is a
big gamble. You loan to repay a loan and very soon, you are in a vicious circle. This statement was made 6-7 years back when
the economy was opening up. A study by a Japanese professor proves that the basic US understanding of Spending and not saving
is the major blunder the US economists could have come up with.
Thankfully, albeit a touch cautiously,I can say with pride that Indians have a better system in place. We too started
following the US pattern in everything. But our laziness in updating the banking rules or rather sticking to the old one and
only modifying where ever required has put us on a relatively safer side.
We do banking like any other business, as a business and not charity. If we had had laws similar to the US for loaning money
to the underprivileged, then we wouldnt have had an economy to talk about. As the FM says, our fundamentals are strong but
the building is a little weak. Not everything the US does is always correct.For that fact, everything is right until it goes
The liquidity crisis may also be caused by the fact that US has more plastic money than money in banks.I am no expert in the
US economy policies, but then the way they value a thing is totally different. Leasing is a primary business in US and major
financial institutions are a part of them. But when you dont have an attachment to the asset, then in the long run we tend to
lose respect for the same. In case of India, ownership is pride! We would crib until we pay off a housing loan or a vehicle
loan. And we want to do it fast,because it belongs to the bank and not us,until we get the original papers back. This
sentiment has brought in us a great quality of repaying the loan and may be this has also helped us in having a stronger
For a nation of our size, this global bloodbath would have hurt us more, if we had taken the US example of splurging and not
saving.Many a person says that the new generation in IT splurge the most. But how many of them know that IT people are the
most prudent when it comes to saving? They have invested in shares/land/gold or just about anything. But the amount spent by
an average IT guy is far less than his US/Europe counterpart. Infact, these splurging by the ITians have helped in creating
the booming economy India has.
Most of us will now be aware with the terms global economic crisis and fed rate cuts and bailout packages.And with the inborn
nature, we will be more prudent to come to terms with the crisis looming large.
Its time world took notice of how India and its people have saved up our earnings for such a rainy day.I pray that we make use of this opportunity to tighten our monetory policies, particularly the FIIs and their pull-outs,and
for an economy that can be self dependent and be insulated from the global impacts. A strong regulation of the FIIs and FDI
(Foreign Institutional Investers and Foreign Direct Investments) will help us in a long run!
And most importantly, a young employee of a company should never ever think of an insecure job!
So next time a person calls you a nut for saving and not spending hard, smile to yourself and keep going.After all,season changes and not all days are sunny!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


On a dark desert highway....

Zebras enroute Skukuza:
Camping Site:

Sunrise on Freeway

The Road Not Taken,Taken!!!

Its been a couple of weeks since my Kruger trip. Sorry guys, was able to find time just now to give an account of the trip.This is just the beginning. Updates will follow soon!
And please bear with me... this one is pretty long :)
From: Fijnbosch Appartments,Johannesburg.Destination:Krueger National Park
The Trip to Kruger National Park was running on all our minds the week before the travel date.The excitment was
understandable because we were about to embark on a cross country ride in to the Mpumalanga Province, from Gauteng
Province.The estimate was around 400km from our homes.Three cars and 12 people made up the gang. Sasi,Himanshu and Nitin were
the people with cars.The planning for the trip was done by Arun Mathur of Nihilant Technologies.We knew him through
Ramani.The thursday before the trip, there was an "executive committe" meeting to chalk out the final plans. Route maps were
drawn up and the time to start was decided. The agenda for the entire two days was also shared. As is the case with all IT
people, talks of sending across excel sheets to everyone was also doing the rounds.As usual, i took up the logistics division
along with sasi. Plain enough, we were responsible for equipping the cars with ample food to last the entire journey, because
1) Most of us are veggies 2)We are in Africa where you cant trust to get a proper meal 3)The drive is quite long.In all, we
managed to get 450ZAR worth stuff for 3 cars.It included 18 tins of coke,12 bottles of bacardi breezers and Smirnoff shots,3
bread packets,3 jam tins, 6 litres of juice for the people who were observing the navratri fast,biscuits and fruits and
chips.You might think we were stowing away food as if there is no tomorrow... the fact is this helped us a lot over the two
days! Nitin had managed to arrange idlis and sambar for the entire group. So on saturday morning 3:30 Am we all wished
ourselves luck and began the trip.Now the only thing missing for the trip was a proper GPS, the use of which we were to see.So three
people read the maps for our friends behind the wheel, acting as navigators.Started our car with Harivarasanam.. i know i
know.. this was the only song remotely connected to bakthi ... We were to take the highway that will lead to Nelspruit
through Witbank and Ogies. As it is, none of us knew the exact roads and it was pitch dark. So if there was a road that we
could see in the map, we took it. Never a moment of hesitation to whether take it or not...lest there be a road that was not
taken ;) After half an hour of relying on a HTC mobile enabled GPS, we found the right track and headed our way to Kruger.
150km down the line, we took a coffee break at a fuel station and then carried on. The roads are fabulous!! three lanes for a
single track: slow, track change and high speed(left to right). Himanshu was leading the pack with his zigzag driving that made the
natives go red with anger!!! after much persuasion, we chose the high speed track and raced our way. we could never believe
that we had covered 400 odd km when we reached krueger.we stopped at our will and wish and reached the Skukuza Gate at half
past 1 having nearly been on road for 10 hours. Devil and Bertie would know my penchant for day travel and this time too i
did not miss the scenary ;) Gosh... mesmerised by the beauty.... when the sun broke ground in the morning, it was really a
sight to behold ... Just beautiful. We stopped to take a few pics of it too, with other vehicles rushing past us in 140s!! It
was really exhilirating to go on 140s... Dona di, we did 140 on an 80 track...similar to what u did in canada, not that we
wanted to.. we were forced to by the cars behind!
Long winding roads,picture book towns and great car, the Volkswagen Polo with the aircon on!! None of us were tired when we reached Kruger... we were already thinking about the night safari we were about to undertake later that
evening. After a round of idlis and sambar, we went through the gate. It was another 55km to reach the Skukuza Resort from
the gate.
This is where the GPS enabled phone played traunt with us. We went deep inside the jungle on a rut road, when
actually bitumen roads were available. Tempers frayed and frustration piled.After a long discussion, me and my car mates poured
over the map and sorted out the actual route. I am really bemused with my ilk for having the passion of using tools and make
things murkier when the application of common sense would have sufficed. Nevertheless, we had a good laugh at our own
The drive inside the jungle roads were breathtaking... wild animals in their habitats with out any inhibitions!!! We clicked
, clicked and clicked away... soaking in every inch of the jungle. A bigger realization dawned on us when we took the night
safari. We had been warned that any one who takes his car to Kruger will come back atleast with a minor scratch.
Hence we were very careful whilst inside the jungle.
A couple of hours through the jungle we reached the camping resort of Skukuza.There were traditional camping grounds where
people brought in their caravans and camped for a week or so. There is a community kitchen where people can cook.And the
hygine and sanitation is of the highest order here. Africa is a place where an insect bite could prove fatal as no one can
be sure what bit you! We had taken precautions against malaria. Its one of the things that we have to keep in mind when we
are in the Heart of Africa.
Half an hour later, we were all settled inside our tents. Comfortable one with a fridge to store food and a locker to keep
your belongings.Two cots and a huge pedestal fan made up for the rest of the tent.
It was an experience in itself. We had half an hour's time to get ready for the evening safari and we made the most of it by
taking a short nap.
4:45 pm we headed for the Safari zone where we boarded soft top vans ready to hit the jungle that house the Lion, rhino,
hippos, elephants and bison called the Big 5! Now that is a different story altogether!!

Friday, September 26, 2008


The week has just flown by! I visited a couple of cash and carry shops earlier this week,one of which is called Checkers Hyper. As the name suggests this is a hypermarket.It resembles a huge, almost mammoth warehouse.They sell everything that you need to set up your home.Its here that I got some groceries.Milk in a plastic carton,apples,oranges,coffee powder, sugar, salt, corn flakes, whole wheat bread and some fruit jam.Threw in a bag of tomato and onions for cooking.Rest of the stuff I have it at home right? Got a whole lot of stuff from home from pickles,sambar powder,rasam powder,tamarind paste,asefotida powder,corriander,chilli,turmeric powders and even morkuzhambu powder ;) never knew this existed!Ah.. how can i forget the khakras that my sis Dona "Di" handed over at the last moment!i still got a pack of it left with me.With all these, life shouldn be difficult here right?? Right... we cook at home.. and my roomy is bharath from gujarat.. i guess my excitement has also caught up with him .. its a real sight to see us cook.. its food and songs from us.. thank god.. so far none of our neighbors have complained.. its kinda great .. he sings the hindi version of a song and i sings its tamil version (pls forgive me ppl.. but this is the best time pass we have!!) and all of a sudden we break in to one of those olden goldies... kora kaagaz tha yeh man mera.... wah! and bharath does sing well!! once the song and cook routine is over, its time to pack my lunch bag for the next day.. yup.. its very much the freezer - micorwave oven life .. but its interesting nevertheless.. all set, we sit down to have a great dinner!Typically its a variety of dhal/sabji/rice combo .. ya.. i got a tub of plain yoghurt.. so we finish it off with a round of curd rice and pickle(gongura for now)..after washing the microwave tub and dishes, we talk for some time and then its time to sleep.. wake up at 6 and get ready for office by 8.. breakfast is either cornflakes with coffee or brownbread toast with coffee.. i take an apple a day to keep u know-who-away, neatly cut,in the tupperware that SHE got me ;) .. drive to office takes 25 minutes on the freeway.. then its routine.. till we get to cook again in the evening.. ai la! and one week has flown by..

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Johannesburg... the adventure capital of the world in south africa.. thats the place am gonna call home for an year ahead.Picture book town at times spooky coz of the vast area it covers, Jo'burg as they affectionately call, is a welcome relief from the hustling and bustling life in chennai. The roads are clean and broad, ample street lights that never falter, amazing cars and self-disciplined drivers are the marked difference from India.No No, am not already into India-bashing. Just pointing out some obvious things that came to my mind on reaching here.
People here are great and they greet you even if they dont know you!! And thats the best way to socialize here! And the best part is we get all the indian food stuff here! Right from puligore mix to payasam mix I guess! So in a way, I wont be missing FOOD!!!! OK OK.. i get it.. am on diet ppl! Believe me! Me having corn flakes/apples/Juice in the morning and had a brown bread sandwich for lunch yesterday! Of course my room mate had made a little rice and aloo ki sabji for dinner ;)
Office on the first day was excellent! I even had a BEER party for welcome!! .. Nay.. just kidding.. it is a quarterly get together in Nielsen with drinks on the house... Just that I happened to be there at that time.. Mark my words, I just a coke and veg samosa during the party! After the rounds of introduction and security tags, I was at my desk and already ploughing in to my mails :) it was good experience!... Evening, we went to one of the biggest malls here called Cresta to do my FOREX.. sounds odd na?? three days back I was riding a MTC bus to Kottivakkam and now am at Joburg to encash my Travellers cheque... Oh.. ya.. coming back.. then we all (Me, Sasi my team mate, Ramani , sasi's room mate and Ammiya, a mutual friend landed up at North Gate Mall for a round of Ice skating !!No .. i did not take the risk as I know my fall on the rink would have shattered the ice ;) what a sight to behold!! An hour and a couple of icecreams later (tobelerone with rum and raisin) we headed back home... of course with my local currency in hand.
Guess i did not describe the house that i am in.. its a 2BHK appartment on the first floor covered by mountains on all sides and fenced in electrically.. to save us from wild beasts :) And along the perimeter of the fence is a 10-15 ft dug outs just incase anything happens to dart in over the 10 ft fence. Now, i have living room with a cozy couch of beige and a seperate armchair of the same ilk. To the wall is a 21" flat tv with dish connection so that i can watch Sun tv! and also a decent dvd player to go with. To the right of the tv are glass sliding doors that open up to a spacious patio. there is a wooden table with four chairs, which is perfect for a game of cards over any kinda drinks/food. And we have a stand to hang our clothes to dry. Now right behind my couch is a dark wood, round dining table, just like the one my dad wanted, with four matching chairs. To the left of the couch is the kitchen entrance. Thats a fully equipped one with Electric stoves/Microwave oven, an electric kettle, a toaster, and fridge with freezer. It also has a Bosch front loading washing machine for laundry. All cutlery are in place. Groceries am yet to buy.. else am all set.
Now leading from the dining chairs is a passage that makes way for two rooms. A master bedroom and a smaller one. I am put up in the smaller one, as is the case with first come first serve basis. Mine is an excellent one with a cool spring bed with matching linen and a huge french window with drapes. Ward robe can put up with a couple of ppl's dresses! There is a seperate bath that comes with bath tub. As is the case with all foreign countries, the taps pour out hot / cold water with a twist of the handle.
So thats pretty much it for the first couple of days in joburg.. I will keep updating this as and when we progress!!

Au revoir!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

done thing

there are certain things in life that cannot be rued for once its done .... things like a missed meal, a call that was not attended... but take can always present you with some thing better at each curve of the road... so hey lets see... i just gotta leave now i will finish this thing as soon as i can.... christ ... and yes am back now.. after five months to try and complete this blog.. well as i was telling you ...done thing... can we say its innocence lost??? as kids there were no inhibitions whatsoever but as kids grow into the people tht they are, we tend to become more