Last week India’s first cashless store, WhatASale, launched a vending in our office building. What is WhatASale? It is India’s first cashier-less store that’s opened up in Kochi, Kerala. You need to follow three simple steps: download its app, open it and scan the unique QR code while entering the store. That’s it. You can now pick the items you need, and you can pay for via different online payment options.
Subhash S, CEO & CTO, Watasale, shared that he was inspired to attempt this because of the media attention received by Amazon Go. Using a combination of QR codes, computer vision, sensor fusion, deep learning, and AI this concept of pick up and go has been made possible. While they have an actual store, my experience is limited to the vending machine. You download the app and enter a one time password of 4 digits on the keypad. This will open the door.
Then you check and pick up what item or items you want. So far I and my colleague have only picked up Lays and Orea cookies. You know, when you get peckish 4 to 5 hours after dinner. You get the bill sent to the app and you pay later. You can use your credit/debit card or online payment apps. So easy. Best thing – this is a local company!
It’s finally here! Well not that I or anyone I know was waiting eagerly for it but Taco Bell is finally coming to Kochi. It’s the inauguration of the first Taco Bell outlet in Kerala and it’s in Lulu Mall, Edapally – which is a suburb of Kochi. Lulu Mall is largest mall in India (for now anyways as that title will soon be gone) and has KFC, Dominos, Pizza Hut, Burger King & McDonald’s.
Now they have a Taco Bell too. I have never been to a Taco Bell and never had anything from them. They have outlets in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad & Chandigarh – 11 in all and I guess Kochi makes 11. If it’s a success I guess they will have one each in the two Lulu Mall outlets that are being setup in Calicut & Thiruvananthapuram. But since India does not allow national/international food chains to have beef products (local joints in Kerala can have beef but not in most of India) what will they serve? Chicken ofcourse. Let’s look at the menu!
Mexican Paneer? What the fuck??? Tikka Masala Nachos Veg/Chicken? LOL, to be honest the rest of the menu looks interesting and I want to try a bunch of them. No beef ofcourse but lots of chicken option. I hope it’s good.
Thiruvananthapuram: Under the influence of Cyclone Gaja, Kerala state will experience isolated rains and strong winds till Monday. Squally wind speed reaching 35-45 kmph gusting to 55 kmph likely over Southeast Arabian Sea. The sea waves could rise at a height of 2.8 m in Kerala coast and Lakshadweep region till Sunday. Fishermen are advised not to venture into these areThe meteorological department has warned the formation of low pressure in the middle of the southern Bay of Bengal by Sunday.
Landslides, mudslides and other damages were reported on Friday in various parts of Idukki district, where the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) had issued an orange alert for November 16. The heavy rains have largely affected Munnar, one of the main tourist destinations in Idukki. Landslides were reported in Mammal and Edamal areas in Vattavada near Munnar on Friday around 10 am. A home in Vattavda was partially destroyed due to the landslides. The landslides and heavy rain also submerged acres of winter vegetable farms in Vattavada. Traffic was partially disrupted in the Kochi-Dhanushkodi national highway in old Munnar as the roads were submerged in the rainwater. A mudslide was reported near Mattuppetty road in Munnar and the traffic disrupted in the top station route.
Incidentally, the recently rebuilt Periyavara Bridge was also washed out due to heavy rain on Friday. The bridge, which is on the Munnar-Udumalpet interstate route, connects tourists to Rajamala tourist destination and the Eravikulam National Park.
Just a couple of evenings ago when I headed out to the balcony the clouds formed this enormous cover over my part of the city. It almost felt like that giant alien ship or ships that hover over the cities in “Independence Day”!
The death toll from the fresh onslaught of rain in Kerala since August 9 has climbed to 75 as the state is reeling under one of the worst floods in history. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had once again called PM Modi on Thursday to seek more aid considering the situation. or the first time in history, the state has opened 35 of its 39 dams. Meanwhile, operations at the Cochin International Airport have been suspended till August 26 due to flooding in and around the airport. A red alert has been issued in all the 14 districts of the state.
Train services have been disrupted and road transport services are in disarray with stretches of roads coming under water. Officials said a holiday has been declared for educational institutions in all districts barring Kasaragod for day while colleges and universities have postponed exams. Rise in flood waters in Periyar River due to the rains and opening of all shutters of all major dams including Mullaperiyar, Cheruthoni, part of Idukki reservoir, and Idamalayar, have severely affected lives of people in downstream areas.
My uncle and aunt in Chenganuur have their rented house flooded and they moved to the second floor. The second floor is quite higher than the ground level so they are ok for now. The Navy is patrolling on boats and checked on them but they are good for now. Tomorrow they might have to move. They have biscuits, bread and some snacks with water. My cousins in Aluva have had to move from their home to their mother’s family home yesterday but the water levels in Aluva and neighbouring suburb of Kalamaserry was rising way too high. So they evacuated based on the advice of authorities and moved to a flat that one of my cousin’s own in another area of Cochin.
No cabs are running today and even autos seem to be rare. I stayed home from work after thinking about it for a while. A lot of people did.
Days of incessant rain have led to raging floods across Kerala. Buildings and infrastructure have collapsed, leaving over 54,000 people homeless. Dams, reservoirs and rivers have overflowed, roads have caved in, sections of highways collapsed, and homes swept away in ferocious floods. People are homeless, tourists are stranded, and wildlife is in danger as more than half of Kerala is dealing with severe flooding due to the unforgiving rain. Opening of all five gates of one of the dams of the Idukki water reservoir have only added misery to the already-dire situation.
29 people have died and tens-of-thousands have been evacuated from affected areas. Rescue operations are being carried out round-the-clock, and around 500 relief camps have been set up so far. Over 50 tourists stranded at a resort in the popular hill station of Munnar in Idukki, have been rescued by the army. The army, navy, air force, coast guard, and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have joined hands, by coordinating on a massive scale to carry out evacuations and relief operations. A fourth red alert has been issued for the Idukki reservoir, the gates of which were opened yesterday after 26 years.
The water level at the Idukki reservoir went down from 2,401.60 feet yesterday to 2,400.72 feet today. The maximum capacity of the reservoir is 2,403 feet. Northern and central Kerala have been battered by heavy rains resulting from the southwest monsoon since August 8. Of the 29 people who died, 25 were killed in landslides, while four people drowned. Officials said that over 54,000 people are now housed in around 500 relief camps across the state. The situation however, eased somewhat on Saturday afternoon, with the intensity of rain reducing considerably.
It’s been cold for several days. It’s been raining almost every day and on some days it’s been raining almost non-stop. My last post was about floods in the town of Pala in Kerala but it’s bad everywhere. Kottayam, Kozhikode and even Cochin. The railways stations in Eranakulam North Junction and in South Junction are both flooded and people are even using boats to float on the waters above the railway tracks.
Worst parts are the roads! Cochin is famous for having potholes that the local government take their own sweet time to address and when they do get to fixing it, they do a barely minimum job which they either ruin by having pipe work done on the sides immediately after or they fix the roads just before the monsoon season. All this ensures that the contractors get their contracts signed every year regularly and the corrupt politicians gets to steal money.
Yesterday the cab I was in had to use two diversions because of huge pot holes on two side roads onroute to my office in the evening as the waters were deep and sedans as well as smaller cars and bikes won’t get through without damages. I lost a lot of time, almost 30 minutes because of this.
It’s fast becoming a pain in the ass. My outlet for buying liquor is the Self-service BevCo outlet (Kerala State Beverages Corporation BevCo for short) in Gandhinagar. This is the closest Bevco outlet that is self-service to me. The reason I like the self-service ones is because I hate standing in a queue at the smaller outlets which are more in number and I have one closer to me. But the snake like queue outside them are a blight on society and it’s ridiculous to stand like that for 30-40 minutes, sometimes longer and then ask them what they have.
I prefer this – no rush, no fuss! Go in, pick a basket, browse through the aisles and pick your poison and then go and pay. A few months ago they started the option of accepting payments through debit and credit cards – YES – and that was convenient. Yeah, until mid 2017, a government beverages outlet only accepted cash! And mind you, we also had a demonetization issue in between! Anyways, what my issue with them is that they have such limited selection of beers now. No Budweiser or Magnum, Miller or Tuborg in the last few visits and this weekend when I went no Carlsberg or Heineken either. Foster is available but I hate that.
But they have the Indian brands – Goa, Black Fort, Hunter, British Empire and lots of Kingfisher! Lots of it. And some new brand that I hadn’t seen or heard of before. I am not 100% sure but the other outlets seem to have more stuff and stuff that I want. I might have to check out ConsumerFed’s Liquor store or another self-service BevCo because others have said that they have better stock.
Last night as I passed by Kaloor on my way home from work, I saw the commotion on the streets. Tension gripped the city on Thursday night when the basement of a building under construction at Kaloor collapsed, threatening the structural stability of nearby buildings and roads, besides forcing the suspension of the Kochi metro services. The incident happened around 8.30 p.m. when the two-storey deep basement parking area of the building of an upcoming textile major caved in during the course of piling work being undertaken using excavators.
Following the incident, occupants of a section of Gokulam Park Hotel and another three-storey commercial building, which reportedly developed a slant to either side of the upcoming building were evacuated as a precautionary measure. As a crack appeared near the road in the impact of the collapse, traffic between Kaloor and Kacherippady was also fully suspended. At least three Kochi metro services were suspended midway through following the incident. The last train from Aluva to Maharaja’s terminated service at Palarivattom, while a train bound for Aluva from Maharaja’s suspended service at MG Road. Another train bound for Aluva never took off from Maharaja’s station.
Track experts of the Kochi metro are already at work, and the service up to Maharaja’s will be resumed only after their assessment as the incident took place close to the metro pillars. The site identified for the third extension of the culvert in front of PVS Hospital had developed a crack, and that if it had already been constructed, it would have collapsed in the impact. A Kerala Water Authority (KWA) pipeline also burst in the impact of the collapse, and the thick jet of water further worsened the situation.
My favourite joint – it’s not really in my immediate neighbourhood but a quick 20 minutes away – is the original Golden Dragon restaurant which is located in Mercy Estate, Ravipuram. So it’s an old joint and it’s been a favourite for quite a few years. I love Chinese food and my family and I have ordered it several 100 times over the years.
We used to love to go with uncles, aunts and my cousins to Chinese Garden but as I turned into my 20s, I started loving Golden Dragon. Mostly because it’s more authentic and it’s also more tasty. Plus – and this is very important – they have license for beer and alcoholic drinks. I love sitting there for a few hours, tasting some awesome pork, beef, seafood and chicken while downing a few beers or drinking vodka.
My cousin and I go once every couple of months and sit there for 4-5 hours and drink a few and eat a lot and chat quite a bit. I also go there with friends. I love this place.
Prompt from The Learning Network at The New York Times
I hear all this talk about snow melting and the onset spring in my timeline and on Youtube because of my friends from the West. Meanwhile over here, it’s March and it’s fucking hot. It is humid and sweaty and unless you are in an air-conditioned environment you will suffer. It is so humid right now that immediately after you take a shower and come out after wiping yourself down with a towel, you will start to sweat.
It’s 3:47 pm and 33 degrees Celsius and around 91 degree Fahrenheit. I just went to the bathroom a few minutes ago to wash my hands with soap before I went to make some coffee. The water from the tap was boiling hot. I will take a shower in about 45 minutes and I am not looking forward to the heat in the shower. No wonder I feel like drinking a few cold milkshakes in a day though I don’t actually do that.
I would like to look at getting an ac in my bedroom – the outlet is there and I only just need to buy the unit but when I think of the electricity bills I am hesitant. I guess I will sweat it out.
My internet connection has been down for three days! It went down early Friday morning – I reached home at 2am and wanted to stream a football match but the connection went down and so I called and complained. This is day THREE and I still don’t have a solution. Congratulations Asianet Broadband, this is a new low performance in customer care for you.
This is despite two technicians coming to my apartment and who told me that the problem was fixed. The internet then worked for 45 mins after they left and then went dead again. When I asked them what was the issue for me not getting internet since early Friday morning, they told me that after a fibre cut in the area they were upgrading the system here which is why I had no connectivity. So this is a known problem and yet no one in Asianet bothered to inform me about this!
Also wonderful fixing of the solution – they come here, it works for 45 mins and then it goes down again. Terrible service. 3 whole days and you STILL have no solution to the problem. I have called up one of the technicians and informed them that it is still down. You have no answer. I just spoke to someone at your call center and he told me that as it is a Sunday they have less technicians which is why there is a delay in solving my problem. When I reminded him that I raised the complaint on Friday and Friday and Saturday this should not have been a problem, he had no answer. “Sir tomorrow morning you issue with me solved – for certain”. He has no clue as to what is going on!
What are you planning to do about my problem? No internet service for 3 days other than a bit here and there (in total maybe 3 hours). THREE DAYS AND YOU CANNOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM!! Fibre Cut or System upgrade, I don’t know what is the real issue. I only hear excuses. Even before these three days I was having regular outages for over a month (PLEASE CHECK MY CALL HISTORY TO YOUR CUSTOMER CARE CENTER and the COMPLAINT HISTORY) – is this all a fibre cut and gross incompetence on your technicians part?
Last night after work, I wanted to go to Dominos in Ravipuram but they were already closed (it was just after 10pm) and I was starving. I happened to see that there was a new, barely one month old, Burger Hut on the opposite side of the road. Alright, I’ll go in for their cheap and simple burgers. While I placed my order I also asked them what the deal was with this whole Burger Hut vs Burger Hutz thing. The guy there said that they were one franchise originally and then later they split up though their menu, logo and overall look was quite similar. Those Hutz do not seem to have fried chicken and wings while Hut does not have momos. Weird!
Anyways, I had the double cheesy burger with a mango shake and medium french fries. The shake was a very generic almost vanilla shake with mango syrup squeezed in. Tasted very bland. It was just about ok. The fries were fresh and hot and I liked them. It comes with a little mayo. Burger was ok, decent and not something you’d tolerate in one of the bigger places like TBJ or Cocoa Tree but still satisfying in a way. I hate that they add lots of ketchup in their burgers – I don’t like ketchup with burgers! Odd since I normally add ketchup with anything and everything. Fried rice, noodles, sandwiches, heck once I even added ketchup to a biryani (I know, kill me).
Light on the wallet and a good choice when you stuck to get something to eat late at night. They have delivery too!
So, off the bat let me tell you that this is a comparison or atleast this post is only about the Indian versions of both these franchises. KFC is an American giant which has a global franchise and reach while Chicking is an Indian owned, Dubai based company that has outlets in India and the UAE but no where else that I know off. They also outgun KFC in the number of outlets in Kochi & Kerala overall. I think KFC has four franchisees in Kochi while ChicKing may have 5 to 6.
Now what matters is the taste. Head to head having had their flagship style batter fried chicken buckets in the last 2 weeks – Chicking two weekends ago and KFC last weekend – I must say that taste wise and even option wise, Chicking seems to be the outright winner. Along with the various options for buckets, they also give you buns, coleslaw, garlic sauce dips and buns. KFC will give you buns & French fries but neither of the other two. Both will give you packets of ketchup. I just feel like as a meal, KFC have to start getting you sauces and coleslaw to make it a real meal especially for family size buckets.
And taste wise Chicking seems to have the edge too. KFC has a bit of a metallic taste in their meat; not too pronounced but just there. Chicking’s chicken meat feels more juicy and fresher compared to KFC. I think they are clear winners!