Got A Star Trek Tattoo

I first got a tattoo back in 2015 (August 14 to be exact). While I was in Chennai, sent there from the office, and shopping on a Friday I spotted the store owner had a couple of big tattoos. I casually asked him where he got his, how much they were and if there were any tattoo parlours in the mall or nearby. When he gave me directions to the same one where he got his, very near the next stop I was headed too, which was a pub, I just had to get a tattoo done. Just like that, on the spur of the moment from me asking some guy I just met about his tattoos and asking for recommendations to me getting my first tattoo done at the ripe old age of 39.

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Today, after a bit more planning for the past few days, I decided to contact a few tattoo parlous and check out their Instagram pages. I selected one which is not too far from me. I arranged for my appointment (as they are only doing it this way since Covid) at 12 pm today and I left by 11:30 am. I reached 10 minutes early but it took me 4 minutes to locate the building. I walked the steps to the first floor and rang the bell. I met the two artists who run the place and showed them the design I had finalized on. They took a print out and then a stencil of it which was stuck onto my hand.

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I sat in a nice chair, relaxed (as much as you can when that needle is hitting you) as the artist (on seeing my ACDC inspired mask) and asked me what other bands I listened to. On hearing my tastes, he changed the music from the New Age stuff to more classic rock. I chilled to Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Guns n Roses,Ozzy Osbourne etc and we talked music and tattoos as he did the work on me. It does hurt but I can take it. I wasn’t expecting it to take almost 2 hours to finish. By the time he was done, I was close to wanting a break. I needed a cold drink.

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I didn’t get on at that time though. I went to a grocery store and bought some supplies, then to an ATM to take out some cash and later on also buy some medicines. I then came home and wasn’t in the mood to eat a full lunch as it was almost 3pm, so I ate a meat samosa and am egg puff with a Coke and then logged in to my work computer as they needed me to check on some data. I was checking on it till about 5pm and then messaged the details. I was ready for some coffee and music blasting on my laptop, so I shut down my work pc and chilled till just about now.

I’ve got grilled chicken alfahm coming my way and I am drinking a beer. Things are good.

Theatres To Re-open On Jan 5th

Word is out that movie theatres in Kerala will reopen from January 5 but only with 50 per cent capacity. Theaters in the state are reopening nine months after the lockdown forced cinema halls to shut down. Theatre operators must ensure that all COVID-19 protocols, including masks, social distancing and sanitisation are followed while functioning. Cinema halls in several parts of the country started reopening from October, months in the shadow of the pandemic. Theatres and multiplexes had been shut down since March because of the coronavirus crisis.

As per the guidelines under the phased lifting of restrictions under ‘Unlock 5’ the government had directed several measures. Fifty per cent occupancy, staggered show timings, social distancing, thermal screening, adequate protection gear for the staff, and compulsorily providing phone numbers for “contact tracing” were some of the changes that were called for. The announcement comes as a big relief to the Malayalam film industry, which has suffered due to the disruption caused by the¬†pandemic. According to reports, top executives of the Kerala film chambers have planned to meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday to seek the government‚Äôs support, including tax exemption and concession on the electricity bill.

While it is great that the theatres are reopening, I am not going to go for a movie anytime soon. I will wait, check with people’s experiences and see how it goes. Same for bars and I haven’t been in the inside of a mall in months either. I am gonna wait it out for a while. I don’t think I am missing out on too much but I do miss watching a movie on the big screen. That is an experience that cannot be beat at home, not with a 32 inch tv.

Yes! Finally We Have A Starbucks In Cochin

Read This. And then this little article. And then my first visit to a Starbucks (not in Cochin but in Chennai) back in 2015. And now….

We finally have a Starbucks open in Cochin! Finally after all this time. I first heard about Starbucks on a Discovery Channel program back in the 90s. I think. Coffeeshop culture hadn’t hit India at the time. Then Friends became a thing and Indian fans of the show wanted their own cafes. Enter Cafe Coffee Day which soon spread all over India and became our version of Tim Hortons & Starbucks. But we wanted more.

In 2008 I had heard about the possibilities of Starbucks coming to India but it was only in 2012 that they finally did launch – I was informed of this via an NYTimes article sent to me via Twitter by a Canadian who was living & working in India at the time. Starbucks had started a partnership with Tata Global Beverages LTD to launch Starbucks in India with 50 cafes. I visited a Starbucks for the first and only time back in 2016 when I was in Chennai and the mall that I was in just happened to have one. And now, 2020 we finally have a Starbucks in my hometown.

Located at Lulu Mall, Kochi is Starbucks‚Äô 14th city and the company‚Äôs 201st store. I’m sure than in a few years we will have a store in Calicut, Trivandrum and maybe Thrissur as well. Now if I can get a part time job there to be able to afford the coffees and food.

Kakkanad & Office Visit Post Lockdown

I went to the office today for the first time since March 20th. I didn’t realize that I missed it so much and was happy to see the premises. I was only there to get a replacement for a small device that I need to access the client tools. I woke up at 1:30 pm, after my 10:30 pm to 7:30 am shift and then waited for about 30 minutes before taking a shower and a shave. I then had my lunch and got ready. I had booked a cab and called him as he was nearby and went down, mask in hand.

We went to Kakkanad and I was passing by areas that I haven’t been to since the lockdown started. Kaloor, Palarivattom and Kakkanad areas. Happy to pass by with less traffic, not happy because of the reason. On the way I saw several taxi cabs and some are Uber and Ola drivers in them, seller chips and other snacks items out of their cars, which were parked by the side of the roads. That is a sad thing to see. Some of the snacks were cheaper than usual. They gotta make a living.

In 30 minutes we reached the office andI was only there for about 25 minutes or so, spoke to a couple of colleagues and then left. Still felt nice to see the place. I left soon after and bought some medicines on my way home. I came home, ordered some hot chocolate and had a light snack and then fell asleep after watching a couple of episodes of The X-Files.

Vlog # 10 Live Post Coronavirus – Will We Go Into Another Lockdown?

Vlog # 10 Live Post Coronavirus – Will We Go Into Another Lockdown? – other than a quick 90 minute venture for some errands to get some money from my bank, go to the head post office to collect some packages and a funny update from a former-colleague and friend of mine who got a new cushy & well paying job.

Like TVM, Cochin May Too Go Into Triple Lockdown

Kerala‚Äôs capital Thiruvananthapuram was placed under a weeklong ‚Äėtriple lockdown‚Äô starting July 6 after several Covid-19 cases turned up without a specific origin of infection. This has led to fears of a local transmission of the virus within the city. The areas falling under the jurisdiction of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation will witness an effective containment strategy devised by the Kerala Police seeking to suspend the movement of the public and allow more time for health officials to carry out contact tracing measures. The ‚Äėtriple lockdown‚Äô strategy entails focused interventions by the police at three different levels to minimise the impact of the community spread, if present, or prevent it altogether.

Due to the number of infected people rising, Kochi too may go into a triple lockdown as far the news indicates. The first lock is a general containment strategy to prevent the movement of the people all over the area. Except for one road for entry/exit, all other roads and bylanes leading to the area are shut down using barricades and police officers posted for security. Public transport is suspended. Private transport is allowed only for essential purposes. While grocery, vegetable stores and medical shops are allowed to operate, the public are advised to remain at home and call helpline numbers for doorstep delivery of services. Police officials and volunteers will engage in such services. People stepping out of their homes for essential reasons must carry signed declaration forms stating why they are outside. Police officers will verify such documents and allow them if found valid.

Criminal cases and fines will be imposed if people are found violating the lockdown without valid reasons. Movement of trucks carrying essential supplies, medical personnel, journalists, defence and health personnel, taxis ferrying people from railway stations and airports will be allowed. Government offices, religious places and educational institutions will remain shut.

The second lock is on the specific geographical areas called clusters where primary and secondary contacts of the infected persons are staying in quarantine. These are essentially containment zones where there will be intensified police presence. The third lock involves much more focused intervention on the households of the infected persons and well as those of their primary and secondary contacts. These are persons who are at greater risk of transmitting the virus to a large number of people. While those who test positive are ferried off to hospitals, asymptomatic primary or secondary contacts are monitored strictly so that they don’t step out of home.

Work @ Home Extended Again

I got the news late last night after a long day at work and while I was lying in bed and trying to watch some Agents Of SHIELD. A colleague in my team messaged me and asked if I had read the news shared in an announcement email sent by our country head. I hadn’t since I had shut down my system at 11pm and so I got the info that they have declared that those of us who are currently working from home (having got systems from the office) will continue to work from home until December 31st, 2020! They will look at the situation after a while and see if they can make a change but it does not look likely.

In the current situation, as the number of infected people starts going up in India and even in my state and city. I just heard that with 241 fresh cases, Kerala has registered a new Covid 19 peak on Saturday with the coronavirus situation taking a turn for worse in state capital Thiruvananthapuram and port city of Kochi. A worried Indian Medical Association (IMA), Kerala chapter has asked the state government to enforce a strict lockdown in containment areas and restrict movement of people to avert community spread. Saturday’s tally is the biggest single-day spike in the state since the outbreak in January. The total number of cases registered so far in the state has gone up to 5,204. 3,050 of these patients have recovered leaving 2,129 active cases. The state has recorded 25 deaths to the disease so far, said chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office.

The fact that the source of infection is unknown in many cases has worried the state government. The CM said that since the disease was spreading both in urban and rural areas, stricter cubs will be needed to contain it. The government is toying with the idea of enforcing a targeted confinement and triple lockdown in some of the worst-hit areas to check the spread of the contagion. Triple lockdown, a measure considered stricter than curfew allowing only police personnel’s movement, did wonders in containing the spread of the disease in Kasaragod in north Kerala earlier.

Covid-19 : Kerala Update 09-0-2020

Well it looks like the lockdown will continue for a while.Describing the COVID-19 pandemic as an “unprecedented” public health crisis in recent history, a Kerala government-appointed task force has pitched for a “phased” and “calibrated” lifting of the national lockdown, saying “time is not yet ripe” for its full withdrawal from April 14.Continuing restriction of large scale movement of people across international and state boundaries was critical and easing it should not be considered unless and until the situation was under control in every state, it suggested. However, the panel said it also felt that prolonged and stringent lockdown would lead to economic hardship, famine and law and order problems, which could undermine both the lockdown and the health management objectives. On Tuesday the state would be able to chart its future course of action only after knowing the Centre’s decision on the 21-day lockdown, imposed to check the spread of the deadly virus.

A phased withdrawal would be sustainable only if there was a steady recovery and decline in the number of cases leading to initial flattening of the infection curve and then gradual tapering of the curve to zero infection cases. The government should advise people of the state that in the event of a resurgence, they should be ready and willing to undergo the rigours of a complete lockdown once again, it said. It suggested that the unit for operationalising a phased withdrawal approach should be a district as it had defined boundaries and an executive magistrate who had the authority to effectively enforce the measures of the phased lockdown.

We might also see, as per the suggestions, wearing masks in public, limiting the number of passengers in public buses to one-third of the capacity of the vehicle, and rapid testing and screening of those who return to Kerala once the state’s borders are reopened. A draft action plan compiled by a 17-member task force has suggested continuing with strict restrictions on commercial, industrial, religious and cultural activity in seven hotspot districts that cover half of Kerala, where the risk of infection is higher. The administration does not believe that major revenue making avenues, such as tourism, alcohol, jewellery and lottery sales, will return to normal functioning anytime soon.

The Fate Of Southern Fried Chicken in Kerala

A few years ago I had written in length about the Malayalee’s love for Southern Fried Chicken which led to several KFC styled brands to open up shop in Kochi and other cities in Kerala. KFC & ChicKing, the main fast food chain that was established here in Kerala before KFC finally came to our green state, are thriving but the rest are fading fast. I do not see any Chicken Chicago, 3 outlets of Chickos & the 3 Chicknik outlets are long gone and part of history as is NFC.

We still have Krispy Chick’n, the one outlet in Oberon Mall, There’s something called Magj‚Äôs American Fried Chicken but there are no outlets near me, though they do have 2 outlets in the state. SFC Plus, which I love has now only 2 outlets, both of which I have never visited but I go to Lulu mall where one is. They had two other outlets which closed, including one of my favourite places to chill out. Yesterday, checking food for delivery dinner, I was sad to learn that the MarryBrown outlet near to me may also be closing down. I dunno, it’s kinda conflicting news. They do have another outlet a little ways away and I guess I can get them to deliver if needs be.

Now there are a couple of non-big name, single outlet, fried chicken places in the city but I have never tried anything from them. I will take a shot and see how they taste. Hope they are good too. I like a little competition.

Halloween Here In Cochin

So, Halloween has come and gone. India doesn’t really celebrate Halloween. The only reason we do is because of MNCs and BPOs, the call centers that are doing outsourced work for US, Canadian & UK companies. Most people I know have only heard of Halloween and do not know anything about it other than people dress up in scary outfits (and some none scary outfits) and that candy is passed around for free.

Last night in my office, as they had declared a “face painting and costume” competition, there were people using face paint and colours and trying to look scary. However it looked more like a Joker convention at the office. There were mostly the Dark Knight version of Joker than anything else. One stupid Why So Serious meme and stickers and this generation in Kerala sucked it all up! There were a couple of Harely Quinns out there, both were really well done. There were a few guys in white face paint with black designs on top of the white designs, which I am supposed to think represents evil ala Valak from Conjuring 2.

These were the three main inspirations and some other folks were painted in similar styles just not very conclusive enough to let me know if it was Valak or Joker or a combination of both. Some managed, with the help of black robes and black upside down crosses painted on their foreheads, to look like members of a Black Metal band but that was about it.

We just don’t do Halloween here!

New Cafe 17 Outlet In Ravipuram

Today was the day after almost a month that I was able to go out and enjoy the day. With the work going on in my apartment and then my foot injury/minor tor fracture. The last day I went out – enjoying a movie and dinner – was on July 6th. Since then I have stayed in, mostly not due to choice. Even last week I thought I might go out but the heavy rains and cold weather plus the fact that my feet was still tender. That would change today. I thought if I woke up earlier yesterday I would have gone out but I ended up waking only by 11:45 am and decided to stay in.

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Today I decided to go check out the new outlet if Cafe 17 which is in Ravipuram. Their original outlet is in Kaloor on Kaloor-Kadavanthara road, which is the one I have gone to a few times, and they also opened one in Edapally which is around 45 minutes away from me in heavy traffic. I thought this outlet would be better and wanted to check it out as it was bigger – the Kaloor one is very small with just a a couple of couches and 4 tables – and their food is awesome.

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I managed to find the place after a bit of trouble. It wasn’t showing up on UberEats or Swiggy’s apps when I tried booking a ride so I googled the building it was in and then tried guiding the driver to the area. However I made a mistake as there were two Dell outlets in that part of the city and I went to the one about 10 minutes away and spent 20 minutes trying to find the Cafe. Then I walked back and realized that it was on a parallel road and walked again for about 10-12 minutes before I found myself there. I wiped my face as I was sweating buckets and then went straight to their washroom on the 1st floor.

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That’s right, they have 2 floors although the ground floor section isn’t that big. But I like their new digs and quickly ordered a cold coffee with ice cream and the Crazy Beef burger but first asking for some cold water which the attentive staff quickly gave me. Nice place and plenty of place to sit. Loved the cold coffee and the beef burger was pretty good too. More than decent French fries on the side. The total bill came to around RS. 525. Overall happy that they have expanded.

Monsoon Is Here

The rains finally hit Kochi and the rest of Kerala this Sunday as the monsoon season is officially declared by the clouds over the state. Technically June 7th was the beginning but over here it really started pouring on Sunday.

Being at home all through the weekend I was watching a movie while in bed in the late afternoon when the rains started and other than a brief respite it has been raining throughout until Monday morning and the sun is mostly blocked by rain clouds. It isn’t raining now at 12 noon but the forecast is for showers and some thunder. Vigorous rainfall is expected across Kerala over the next 4 to 5 days. I just hope that it doesn’t get to be like last year with the heavy rains leading to floods that devastated parts of the state.

However, I must say that I love the rains. Especially when I am in the comfort of my home and in bed and can cozy up in my sheets and it’s raining outside. I didn’t feel like getting outta bed this morning and since I am only due to be at work at 7:30 pm I went back to sleep and that laziness won. A bonus, it’s not sweaty and hot and I enjoy this kinda weather. I do not enjoy getting wet in the rain but yeah I like this weather.

The New Mash Is Not An Improvement

Today was not a fun day to go out. My main interest was to go get some shopping done for groceries and toiletries but before that I wanted to get some lunch. The problem was my choice of place. I picked Mash RestoCafe as I hadn’t been to this particular place in 2 years. The thing was they had closed that particular outlet in Pallimukku and opened one in Edapally and had another one in Panampilly Nagar.

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From that rather big sized venue to this tiny cafe with just a few uncomfortable chairs & tables (4 in total) and built in benches. Neither the chair not the desk looked comfortable but I picked the chair at one end. Looked at the menu and picked a very refreshing banana & strawberry shake (which I have had before) and their meat lovers sandwich which is a double decker sandwich with a chicken ham, beef chunks, a fried egg, tomatoes & fried onions). I had a started of very thin fish fingers. The shake was awesome and very refreshing on a hot day. I couldn’t finish the fries having only made a slight dent and I couldn’t finish the sandwich either and feel it would have been better without the middle slice of bread.

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I had had enough of the place – food is good but I don’t appreciate the close quarters with the counter being just right behind me and having to hear the staff talking so loudly near me and also some guy who came in and perhaps knows these guys and him talking so loudly in Hindi. From that big setting in Pallimukku to this cramped space where you wouldn’t be able to have a conversation in peace. Chairs are uncomfortable and the bench – no thank you. I do like their food so will mostly order via UberEats.

Partying In Hotel Hill Palace

Yesterday was the quarterly get-to-ether of our department at the office I work at. This is a team of about 25 folks and some, not me, look forward to this dinner and gathering in a nice hotel where we book a hall or conference room and there are speeches, presentations and awards given for the performance during that quarter and then play some funny games and play music while we have dinner from the buffet.

Me, I am not a big office party kinda guy. Anways, I was working the morning shift and hence I wanted to go home as soon as possible yet I had to stay back. I waited in the office till almost 7 pm when me and a colleague of mine booked an Uber and went to Hotel Hill Palace which is about 6 kms away. It is a 5 star hotel and on the 3rd floor we had a conference haul booked for us. The function started and it was all fun and games until dinner time. I had a little soup, naan and rice with butter chicken and fish tikka masala and skipped desert as I wanted to leave by 9:30 pm.

I said my goodbyes and then booked an Ola ride from there to my home and reached by 10pm. And as the elevator was on the fritz for the past 4 days I made my long and tiring 7 floor walk up to my apartment and then washed away my sweat and dirt from the day and relaxed in front of the laptop.