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RIP Vinod Khanna

Veteran actor and Gurudaspur MP Vinod Khanna passed away on Thursday in Mumbai after battling cancer. The actor had been ailing for long recently. Vinod Khanna acted in lead roles in many superhit films and is best remembered for his performance in films like Mere Apne, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Gaddaar (1973 film), Jail Yatra, Imitihaan, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Inkaar, Kuchhe Dhaage, Amar Akbar Anthony, Rajput, Qurbani, Kudrat, Dayavan, Kaarnama,Suryaa: An Awakening and Jurm. After making his debut in 1968, Khanna first acted in small second lead roles or negative roles. His angry young man role in the superhit movie Mere Apne, his negative role as the main villain in the superhit movie Mera Gaon Mera Desh and his role in the crtically acclaimed movie Achanak as the military officer turned fugitive received tremendous applause from both- the film industry and his fans.

Khanna was born in a Punjabi family to Kamla and Kishanchand Khanna, a textiles, dyes and chemicals businessman, on 6 October 1946, in Peshawar, British India (now in Pakistan). He has three sisters and one brother. Shortly after his birth, India was partitioned and the family left Peshawar and reached Mumbai. In 1982, at the peak of his film career, Khanna temporarily quit the film industry to follow his spiritual guru Osho Rajneesh. After a 5 year hiatus, he returned to the Hindi film industry giving two back to back hit films Insaaf and Satyamev Jayate. Khanna is popularly hailed as one of the most handsome lead actors ever in Bollywood, along with Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna and Shammi Kapoor.

Between 1973 and 1982, Khanna played the lead role in solo hero movies which include Farebi and Hatyara with Moushumi Chatterjee; Qaid in 1975 and Zalim in 1980, both with Leena Chandavarkar; and Inkaar in 1978 opposite Vidya Sinha. He did successful movies like Gaddaar with Yogita Bali, Aap Ki Khatir and Raajmahal opposite Rekha, Main Tulsi Tere Angan Ki with Neeta Mehta, Khoon Ki Pukar , Shaque and Adha Din Aadhi Raat with Shabana Azmi,Aarop with Saira Banu, Taaqat with Rakhee and Parveen Babi, Jail Yatra opposite Reena Roy, Daulat with Zeenat Aman, The Burning Train with Praveen Babi. In 1980, he starred in Feroz Khan’s Qurbani (1980) which became the highest-grossing film of that year. He accepted supporting roles in films with Rajesh Khanna as the lead hero through out his career – Aan Milo Sajna had Vinod in antagonist role, Sachcha Jhoota, Kudrat, Rajput and Prem Kahani had Vinod in character roles.

Vinod also starred in 47 multi hero films. In Shankar Shambhu, Chor Sipahee and Ek Aur Ek Gyarah he co-starred with Shashi Kapoor, in Hera Pheri, Khoon Pasina, Amar Akbar Anthony, Zameer, Parvarish and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar Khanna appeared with Amitabh Bacchan; and in Haath Ki Safai and Aakhri Daku he co-starred with Randhir Kapoor. He appeared with Sunil Dutt in Daku Aur Jawan.He acted with Jeetendra in Ek Haseena Do Diwane, Ek Bechara, Parichay,Insaan, Anokhi Ada and Janam Kundali. He did Rakhwala,Paththar Aur Payal, The Burning Train, Batwara and Farishtey with Dharmendra.

In period 1974-1982 Vinod Khanna was paid more than Jeetendra in the film Insaan and more than Amitabh Bachchan in 4 films like Parvarish, Hera Pheri, Khoon Pasina, Amar Akbar Anthony. In post 1987 period, Vinod Khanna was paid more than Rishi Kapoor, Govinda, Sanjay Dutt, Rajnikanth, Salman Khan in the films he did with them from 1987-1995. Only in the films he co-starred with Shashi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Sunil Dutt, Raajkumar and Randhir Kapoor in period 1968-1982, Vinod was paid lesser than them.

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Effects Of Demonitization

Not that some section of Indian society will believe it but the effects of demonetization has not been good at all for the country. I was reading an article in the NY Times the economy is suffering. The manufacturing sector is contracting; real estate and car sales are down; and farm workers, shopkeepers and other Indians report that a shortage of cash has made life increasingly difficult. This has been noted earlier as well.

Indians had to line up for hours outside banks to deposit and withdraw cash. New notes have been in short supply because the government did not print enough of them in advance. The cash crunch has been worst in small towns and rural areas. The amount of cash in circulation fell by nearly half, from 17.7 trillion rupees ($260 billion) on Nov. 4 to 9.2 trillion ($135 billion) on Dec. 23, according to the Reserve Bank of India. No economy can lose that much currency in a few weeks without creating major hardship — certainly not one like that of India, where cash is used for about 98 percent of consumer transactions by volume. And while a growing number of people have debit cards and cellphones that can be used to transfer money, most merchants are not set up to accept such electronic payments.

There is little evidence that the currency swap has succeeded in combating corruption or that it will forestall future bad behavior once more cash becomes available. The government had said that people bringing more than 250,000 rupees ($3,660) of the old notes to banks would have to show that they had paid taxes owed on the money. Because of those rules, officials had expected that a lot of black money would never make it back to banks. Yet local news outlets are reporting that Indians have successfully deposited the vast majority of old notes. That suggests that either there wasn’t as much black money out there as the government claimed or that tax cheats found a way to deposit their hoards of cash without attracting the government’s attention, perhaps with the help of money launderers.

Hopefully things will get better as the weeks go by.

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RIP Om Puri

Veteran actor Om Prakesh Puri OBE, 66, has passed away after a massive heart attack early on Friday morning. He was an Indian actor who appeared in mainstream commercial Indian, British, Pakistani and Hollywood, independent films and art films. His credits also include appearances in American films. He was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India. Om Puri’s friends and colleagues from Bollywood reached his Andheri residence to pay their last respects to the actor. Puri’s body was taken to Cooper hospital for postmortem, following which the funeral will take place. His close associates confirmed that he had a massive heart attack.

Puri was born in Ambala, Haryana, to a Punjabi family. Puri graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. He was also an alumnus of the 1973 class of National School of Drama where Naseeruddin Shah was a co-student. Puri was on the forefront of what was called art films movement in the 70s. He has worked in acclaimed films such as Bhavni Bhavai (1980), Sadgati (1981), Ardh Satya (1982), Mirch Masala (1986) and Dharavi (1992). Among his other roles are Maachis, Wolf, Chachi 420, City of Joy, The Reluctant Fundamentalist etc.

Puri married Nandita Puri in the year 1993. The couple had a son named Ishaan. They separated in 2013.

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RIP Jayalalithaa

Jayalalithaa Jayaraman (24 February 1948 – 5 December 2016) was an Indian politician who served five terms as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, from 1991 to 1996, in 2001, from 2002 to 2006, from 2011 to 2014, and finally from 2015 to 2016. She was a leading actress before her entry into politics and appeared in 140 films from 1961 to 1980 in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi industries. She was re-elected as Chief Minister on 19 May 2016 and took the oath as Chief Minister for the sixth time on 23 May 2016. She died on 5 December 2016 after 75 days of illness and subsequent hospitalisation, where multiple attempts to resuscitate her after she suffered a cardiac arrest failed.

On 22 September 2016, Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospitals, Greame’s Road, Chennai, for infection and acute dehydration. Over the next 74 days, she was treated by a team of specialist doctors from Apollo, AIIMS and from the UK. Her condition slowly improved. Her official duties were handed over to her aide O. Panneerselvam on October 12. She was also said to be suffering from severe pulmonary infection and septicaemia, which were cured. During the course of treatment, her right arm was said to be swollen, as indicated by her inability to affix her signature on the November bye-election nomination papers for three of her party members who were standing for the elections. On 4 December, specialist doctors at AIIMS declared her “fit” and ready to be shifted to her house in Poes Garden whenever ready, indicating that she was well, conscious and aware of events around her since her first signs of major improvement in November. The next day, however, she was re-admitted to the CCU after she suffered a cardiac arrest around 16:45.

The hospital’s Executive Director Sangita Reddy said that she was in a critical state. The hospital also released a press statement saying that the chief minister’s condition was “very critical” and that she was on life support. According to India Today, AIADMK MLAs were summoned to the hospital to sign a declaration naming Panneerselvam as her successor. In the afternoon of 5 December, Tamil channels issued premature reports of Jayalalithaa’s death, which were swiftly rejected by the hospital. The hospital officially announced the death of the chief minister on 5 December 2016 at 11:30 PM.

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Rs.500 & Rs.1000 Notes Banned

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a special address to the nation, announced that currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations will be illegal starting 12 midnight on November 8. That is not even four hours after the surprising announcement was made. “Currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 will be just paper with no value,” Modi said. The move comes as a strike against the hoarding of black money. “A few people are spreading corruption for their own benefit,” he said, adding that “corruption and black money is (sic) something we have fought for immediately after assuming office…There is a time when you realise that you have bring some changes in society, and this is our time to feel the same.” It was then that he announced that the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes will be deemed illegal starting midnight.

The news comes days after Twitter was buzzing with photos of bundles of currency notes of Rs 2,000 that were being shared with the idea that the Reserve Bank of India might be issuing them into the market soon. Well, now the wait for those notes – and new Rs 500 ones – is almost painful. People wanted to know what this scheme was initiated? The incidence of fake Indian currency notes in higher denomination has increased. For ordinary persons, the fake notes look similar to genuine notes, even though no security feature has been copied. The fake notes are used for antinational and illegal activities. High denomination notes have been misused by terrorists and for hoarding black money. India remains a cash based economy hence the circulation of Fake Indian Currency Notes continues to be a menace. In order to contain the rising incidence of fake notes and black money, the scheme to withdraw has been introduced.

Banks will remain closed tomorrow and some ATMs will also not function tomorrow and day after as RBI stocks banks and ATM machines with lower denomination notes, Modi said. The prime minister expressed confidence that the staff of banks and post offices will rise to the occasion to introduce the new order within the available time. He said he is hopeful that political parties, workers, social organisations and the media will go further than the government in making it a success. Following the announcement, there were huge crowds outside ATMs across the country as people lined up to withdraw currency of smaller denominations.

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Cyber Mall & Soi7 Brewery Pub, Gurgaon

The second of the two pubs that I hit while I was in Gurgaon was the Soi7 Brewery pub in Cyber Mall. This mall is huge and it has a lot of eateries and other fun stuff to do. After coffee and breakfast and a long walk through, I finally went to Soi7 brew pup. Take a look at the photos the large outdoor mall and the pub

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I had some awesome beer while I was there. They have their own brews with boxing related names. Enjoy the pics!

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The Manhattan Brewery & Pub, Gurgaon

Although it has been a few weeks, I would like to now introduced you, my dear viewers/readers, to the excellent Manhattan Brewery & Pub in Gurgaon, Haryana. During my 2 week stay in that city I took the time off on a Saturday and went to the Global Foyer Mall on the outskirts of the city to drink some craft beer and try some awesome food.

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They have a dark yet inviting and welcoming lightning and the decor is awesome with some tv screens showing the current live sports and a larger screen that displays music videos.

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The beer was cold and delightful and the food was amazing too. The video reviews will follow up soon.

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Change Of Stay In Gurgaon

Ok, change of plans. What happened is that after we finally confirmed our training venue in Gurgaon and sent a mail to our company’s travel desk team, it turned out that the earlier place we had agreed upon, the WudStay Hotel, was all booked up. The second and more expensive option was also booked up. So they tried to find us another place near the venue.

When I came into work at 4:30 pm yesterday I saw a mail from the travel desk with the confirmation of rooms being booked in a place and I checked out the pics online. It looked like a bit of a dump and the online reviews were scathing and it was pathetic to read. There were a lot of comments about rude staff, power outages and the reception refusing to turn on the generator if only 1 or 2 rooms were occupied at the time, no hot water during the colder months and people facing issues with their electronic devices like mobiles & smartphone because of the older electric outlets.

I shared this with my colleague and she also wasn’t happy with the way the place looked; it was in a bit of a remote area and safety was a question for her. I’m sure that it would have been ok but for women it is a big issue. The other guy from Chennai, who I hadn’t met but have spoken to on the phone, was also a bit upset. I checked my superiors here and they were berating me for not selecting a really posh place like Ramada Inn (Rs.5,000) a night as the company will reimburse us for the cost. But to be honest it feels like too much. But we had to change the hotel.

A couple of emails later the travel desk sent me an email back with three more options near to the venue and I was floored by all 3 of them. The last one looked like a dream and the 2nd and 1st were not too shabby either. But the cost being what it was, I didn’t want to make the company spend too much on the rooms for 12 days (they give us an advance and we have to pay the hotel directly but get the money reimbursed once we get back and provide them the bills. Still, giving Rs.3000+ or even Rs.2000+ seems a little excessive to me.

Especially when I checked out the first option, cheapest but still looks so good. Situated in the upscale and vibrant centre of Sector 46 in Gurgaon, The Signature Leaf offers to its guest’s one of a kind comfort and convenience. As one of the leading hotels near Medanta Hospital, a highly acclaimed medical facility, along with close proximity to business hubs such as the Iris Tech Park, the Unitech Cyber Park and Mckinsey and Company, this hotel near sector 48, Gurgaon attracts a host of business travelers and medical tourists.

We’ve booked 3 of their Executive Rooms spacious and elegantly decorated and is ideal for soothing luxurious stay. They have air-conditioning with individual temperature control, duvet, mattress & pillows. 24X7 100% power backup & security, an executive work desk, 32? LCD TV and, most important for me, hi-speed Wi-Fi internet access.

They also havea well stocked mini-bar & Fridge, herbal toiletries, complimentary bathroom slippers & in house laundry services. They have a small multi-cuisine restaurant, a guym, a jacuzi, steam room and sauna 24 hour on-call doctor and 24 hr room service. And yes breakfast is included in the room bill. What more could you want? Did I mention that they have a mini-bar???

The guy from Chennai has already reached and signed into the room and he says it’s very neat and tidy. He loves the bathroom and says the place has a nice homely feel to it and the staff seems very courteous. A big plus. He sent me some pics of the place and it’s just like what they advertise.

So expect some blogs with pics, some videos and more coming up real soon. I will try to vlod every day and upload them using the hotel’s wifi (hope it is fast).

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Ringing Bells Freedom 251 : What A Phone

Everyone in India and their grandmother has been talking about the Freedom 251 smartphone. Ringing Bells, a company based in Noida, is called the cheapest smartphone in the world, priced at just Rs.251 (less than $5) – yes you read that right. The next cheapest priced phone in India is around Rs. 4,100 and it has lower specs than the Freedom 251 phone. Whaaaat???

The smartphone is 3G-enabled and features a 4-inch WVGA resolution display. It is powered by a 1.3 Ghz quad-core processor coupled with 1GB RAM, 8GB total storage space and sports a 3.2 megapixel camera on the back. It will have 0.3 megapixel camera on the front and has a 1450 mAh battery. You would otherwise have to pay atleast Rs.4000 for these specs. Here are the problems though, and it seems like a typical scheme that rings around in India ever so often. Firstly, the initial ads showed us a much better looking phone than what it actually is. The actual phone is posted to the left.
Secondly it’s not a made in India phone as they claim it to be (as part of the Make In India initiative that this government seems to dangle in front of the public). It’s actually a phone from Chinese manufactures AdCom and you can see that they have hidden the logo with a whitener. On all the phones! The cheapest phone you could get in India till date was the Rs.1449 – and the Freedom 251 actually has better specs than the other phone! Experts say that the cheapest phone in China, with these specs, will cost $28 to make and $40 to ship and sell in India. How are these folks at Ringing Bells making it available at just Rs.251? It remains to be seen. The review phone sent to a couple of tech magazines & websites seem to be working well for it’s spec and dirt cheap price.
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Roads Of India

Hilarious Article by a Dutchman who visited India

For the benefit of every Tom, Dick and Harry visiting India and daring to drive on Indian roads, I am offering a few hints for survival. They are applicable to every place in India except Bihar — where life outside a vehicle is only marginally safer.

Indian road rules broadly operate within the domain of karma where you do your best, and leave the results to your insurance company.

The hints are as follows:
Do we drive on the left or right of the road? The answer is “both”. Basically you start on the left of the road, unless it is occupied. In that case, go to the right, unless that is also occupied. Then proceed by occupying the next available gap, as in chess. Just trust your instincts, ascertain the direction, and proceed.

Adherence to road rules leads to much misery and occasional fatality. Most drivers don’t drive, but just aim their vehicles in the generally intended direction. Don’t you get discouraged or underestimate yourself except for a belief in reincarnation; the other drivers are not in any better position.

Don’t stop at pedestrian crossings just because some fool wants to cross the road. You may do so only if you enjoy being bumped in the back. Pedestrians have been strictly instructed to cross only when traffic is moving slowly or has come to a dead stop because some minister is in town. Still some idiot may try to wade across, but then, let us not talk ill of the dead.

Blowing your horn is not a sign of protest as in some countries. We honk to express joy, resentment, frustration, romance and bare lust (two brisk blasts),or just mobilize a dozing cow in the middle of the bazaar. Keep informative books in the glove compartment. You may read them during traffic jams, while awaiting the chief minister’s motorcade, or waiting for the rainwater to recede when over ground traffic meets underground drainage.

Occasionally you might see what looks like a UFO with blinking colored lights and weird sounds emanating from within. This is an illuminated bus, full of happy pilgrims singing bhajans. These pilgrims go at breakneck speed, seeking contact with the Almighty, often meeting with success.

Auto Rickshaw (Baby Taxi):
The result of a collision between a rickshaw and an automobile, this three-wheeled vehicle works on an external combustion engine that runs on a mixture of kerosene oil and creosote. This triangular vehicle carries iron rods, gas cylinders or passengers three times its weight and dimension, at an unspecified fare. After careful geometric calculations, children are folded and packed into these auto rickshaws until some children in the periphery are not in contact with the vehicle at all. Then their school bags are pushed into the microscopic gaps all round so those minor collisions with other vehicles on the road cause no permanent damage. Of course, the peripheral children are charged half the fare and also learn Newton ‘s laws of motion enroute to school. Auto-rickshaw drivers follow the road rules depicted in the film Ben Hur, and are licensed to irritate.

Mopeds:
The moped looks like an oil tin on wheels and makes noise like an electric shaver. It runs 30 miles on a teaspoon of petrol and travels at break-bottom speed. As the sides of the road are too rough for a ride, the moped drivers tend to drive in the middle of the road; they would rather drive under heavier vehicles instead of around them and are often “mopped” off the tarmac.

Leaning Tower of Passes:
Most bus passengers are given free passes and during rush hours, there is absolute mayhem. There are passengers hanging off other passengers, who in turn hang off the railings and the overloaded bus leans dangerously, defying laws of gravity but obeying laws of surface tension. As drivers get paid for overload (so many Rupees per kg of passenger), no questions are ever asked. Steer clear of these buses by a width of three passengers.

One-way Street:
These boards are put up by traffic people to add jest in their otherwise drab lives. Don’t stick to the literal meaning and proceed in one direction. In metaphysical terms, it means that you cannot proceed in two directions at once. So drive as you like, in reverse throughout, if you are the fussy type.

Least I sound hypercritical, I must add a positive point also. Rash and fast driving in residential areas has been prevented by providing a “speed breaker”; two for each house. This mound, incidentally, covers the water and drainage pipes for that residence and is left untarred for easy identification by the corporation authorities, should they want to recover the pipe for year-end accounting.

Night driving on Indian roads can be an exhilarating experience for those with the mental make up of Genghis Khan. In a way, it is like playing Russian roulette, because you do not know who amongst the drivers is loaded. What looks like premature dawn on the horizon turns out to be a truck attempting a speed record. On encountering it, just pull partly into the field adjoining the road until the phenomenon passes.

Our roads do not have shoulders, but occasional boulders. Do not blink your lights expecting reciprocation. The only dim thing in the truck is the driver, and with the peg of illicit arrack (alcohol) he has had at the last stop, his total cerebral functions add up to little more than a naught.

Truck drivers are the James Bonds of India, and are licensed to kill. Often you may encounter a single powerful beam of light about six feet above the ground. This is not a super motorbike, but a truck approaching you with a single light on, usually the left one. It could be the right one, but never get too close to investigate. You may prove your point posthumously.

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RIP Saeed Jaffrey

Actor Saeed Jaffrey, a veteran of dozens of Bollywood and international films, has died at the age of 86. Tributes have poured in since Jaffrey suffered a brain hemorrhage in London. Jaffrey starred in such acclaimed Indian films as Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) and more than 100 Bollywood productions. He also appeared in A Passage To India, Gandhi and The Man Who Would Be King, and earned a Bafta nomination for his role in 1985’s My Beautiful Laundrette. The news of his death was announced on Sunday by his niece Shaheen Aggarwal on Facebook.

He was born in Malerkotla, Punjab in a Punjabi Muslim family. His film credits include The Man Who Would Be King (1975), The Far Pavilions (1984), and also appeared in many Bollywood films in the 1980s and 1990s. For television he starred in Gangsters (1975–1978 ), The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Tandoori Nights (1985–1987) and Little Napoleons (1994). He also appeared as Ravi Desai on Coronation Street and in Minder as Mr Mukerjee in Series 1 episode The Bengal Tiger.

He also worked with actors including Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Pierce Brosnan. He starred in popular cinema directed by Satyajit Ray, James Ivory and Richard Attenborough. He was the first Indian to take Shakespearean plays on a tour to the United States. He was also the first Asian to receive British and Canadian Academy Awards nominations, and also the first Indian to receive the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to drama. He also served as the Radio Director (1951–1956) for All India Radio and Director of Publicity and Advertising at the Government of India Tourist Office, U.S (1958–1960).

The actor was married to actress-author Madhur Jaffrey with whom he had three children, including actress Sakina Jaffery. They divorced in 1966.He is survived by his wife Jennifer. His funeral is expected to take place in London two weeks’ time.

Saeed Jaffrey, OBE (8 January 1929 – 15 November 2015)

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To Beef Or Not To Beef, In India

This little map of India shows you in which states beef is banned. Or rather I should say that it’s cow slaughter that is banned. I suppose in most places buffalo meat was what was served rather than cow meat but I could be wrong. Kerala, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim are the states where there is no restrictions on cow slaughter. I live in Kerala (13) and hence I eat and have eaten beef with no restraints whatsoever.

India produced 3.643 million metric tons of beef in 2012, of which 1.963 million metric tons was consumed domestically and 1.680 million metric tons was exported. India ranks 5th in the world in beef production, 7th in domestic consumption and 1st in exporting. However, most of the exported “beef” is water buffalo meat; water buffalo are not usually considered holy in Hinduism.

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RIP Manorama

Prolific Tamil actress Manorama passed away having been unwell for some time recently. She passed away on 11 October, 2015 due to multiple organ failure in Chennai at the age of 78. She holds the record for being the most prolific actress and also playing the most leading roles. She acted in her 1000th film by 1985 and has done about 1200 films by 2003. An item in the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” newspaper feature has her picture and the accompanying statement: “‘Aachi’ Manorama, a veteran of India’s Tamil film industry, has appeared in more than 1,500 movies and 1,000 stage performances!”

She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2002. She won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for the movie Pudhiya Pathai in 1989. She was the recipient of the Kalaimamani award by the government of Tamil Nadu. She fell in love with her manager in the drama troop S.M. Ramanathan and got married in 1964. The couple begotten a son named Bhoopathy. She got divorced from S.M. Ramanathan in late 1966 and then resided in a separate house in Chennai.

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My Chennai Guest Apartment

Well I am back home in Cochin but I thought I’d give you an idea of where I was staying for the past 6 days. From the last Monday to Saturday I was put up at Apartment 47 of Desh Apartments in Urapakaam on the outskirts of Chennai. It really is a dumpy area and not at all like the city section of Chennai. There infact was a large garbage dump, filled with rotten & slimy, smelly shitty stuff and waste and who knows what else. Worse the dump was infested with flies and there were a bunch of stray cats, dogs, cows and crows scavenging the garbage for things to eat. Worse, I had to walk past that – gagging the whole time and trying not to lose my breakfast – to get to the junction and hail an auto rikshaw.

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Having said that, the large apartment complex – with 4 blocks – that is called Desh Apartments was an old but neat and clean apartment building with proper security at the gate. The buildings were quite old but the flooring was good and newish. Bathrooms were pretty old and could really use an upgrade. My shower was so powerful that I had to use the lowest settings or the needle like sprays would hurt my face and body.

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I lived in a 3 bedroom (2 with attached bathrooms) apartment, which was about 1600 sq ft in total or thereabouts. It had a spacious living room with a tv, a coffee table, chairs and sofas. They had cable tv for all 3 rooms as well but the tvs were pretty old and hence did not support any of the HD channels. I watched very little tv when I was there. It had a small kitchen, pantry area, the 3rd bathroom, and a small hall in between with a small table seating 4 on which breakfast, lunch & dinner were served. There were two small single beds in my room with a small bedside table and a tv stand with an old cathode ray tv. A built in cupboard / closet for your clothes and a small balcny competed the room.

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Here is a view from the back of the apartment. Rather lovely area there. Also I have a video tour as well of the apartment.

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RIP APJ Abdul Kalam

Indian lost an iconic figure yesterday when former President APJ Abdul Kalam, the ‘missile man’ who came to be known as ‘People’s President’ died on Monday after he collapsed during a lecture at the IIM in Shillong on Monday evening. Kalam, who would have turned 84 in October, was confirmed dead more than two hours after he was wheeled into the ICU of Bethany hospital in a critical condition following the collapse at around 6.30 pm. According to reports, Kalam suffered a massive cardiac arrest during the lecture at IIM, Shillong. Considered the most popular President, Kalam became the 11th head of the state and occupied the post between 2002 and 2007 but lack of consensus denied a second term in office for a man who came from outside political spectrum.

Kalam was the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. A career scientist turned reluctant politician, Kalam was born and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu and studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and was intimately involved in India’s civilian space program and military missile development efforts. He thus came to be known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He also played a pivotal organizational, technical and political role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, the first since the original nuclear test by India in 1974.

Kalam was elected President of India in 2002 with the support of both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Indian National Congress. After serving a term of five years, he returned to his civilian life of education, writing and public service. He received several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (15 October 1931 – 27 July 2015)