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.

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








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

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.




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.







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

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).

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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)

Watched A Short Docu-Drama With A Social Message

While having lunch I watched some program they had on one of the Hindi channels. The story, which is to create awareness & social commentary goes like this : A young man, late teens or perhaps 20-21 is gay and hides his sexuality from his family & friends. He is made fun of because he is shy. Lonely and desperate for love, he turns to the internet and, pretending to be a girl, he befriends a popular young man (on whom he has a crush) in the same city. The youngster uses his pretty sister’s photos to get his crush’s attention. The other guy has no idea that this is a male on the other end and shows himself to the boy via webcam. The boy refuses to activate his webcame, claiming that the cam is defective. Instead, after the man asks for a recorded video, he secretly video tapes his older sister – as she is dancing semi-clothed in the privacy of her bedroom.

The young man then uploads this video of his sister to the crush. The man is smitten by the good looks of the girl in the video. A couple of days later while the gay young man, his father & his sister are shopping at a mall, the man approaches the sister, recognizing her from the pics and the video and speaks to her. When she says she doesn’t recognize him, he thinks she is fooling him and gets angry. When the father intervenes, the man shows them the video of the sister, dancing semi-clothed and says “she sent this to me”.

The father is furious and slaps his daughter and drags her home and confines her to her room. Now this is a grown young woman, early 20s atleast. For the next few days the sister protests her innocence but her father is so angry that he refuses to speak to her and files a case with the cops to find out if someone else uploaded the video. The sister seeks solace with her brother but he is too ashamed to say anything.Finally the cybercell reveals that the IP address was traced to their house and the father is furious again and slaps his daughter a couple of times. The girl is devastated but then recalls that her brother is frequently on the web and catches him with her pics on his laptop. Beside herself with rage, she lashes out at him, hitting him and berating him for ruining her reputation and life and pushes him outside the house. As passerby watch, the boy confesses to his dad who also beats him a few times and then refuses to let him into the house.

The gay young man cries alone outside the house and sleeps out in the rain throughout the night. He then leaves the neighbourhood, writes an apology letter to his sister, asking for her forgiveness and then kills himself. At the end of the clip, the sister is seen addressing a crowd showing pics of her brother and begs people to be more understanding and accepting of people who are gay. She says that even though what her brother did was wrong, she must have been a bad older sister as he could never confide in her and if so she would have been there to support him. Instead he acted in a desperate manner seeking the love of a stranger hiding being a false identity. The narrated then goes on to tell a similar moral of the story.

What is however not mentioned is that the father could also have been a better father, allowing the son to open up about his sexuality. And also not beat up and lock up his daughter like she is a slave to him!

International Package Rant

I gotta rant here. I find Indian postal service to be heavy handed and highly bureaucratic. Earlier I only used to make online purchases from seller in India, not having a a credit card or an International usage enable debit card from websites like ebay India or Indian websites like Snapdeal, Myntra and Jabong. I also lived in a country where PayPal usage is also allowed for transferring money to and fro (currently India only allows you to receive money, which automatically is withdrawn towards your bank account) which makes it a pain in the ass when making payments. I only got my credit card in February and have made good usage of it.

I’ve been buying a few Star Trek ship models which are all from sellers abroad and hence I need to make them payments in dollars or pounds and it is done by the credit card via PayPal. Now this is fine, although there is a charge for doing so, which I don’t understand, but it’s like Rs.64 and I am not complaining. My complaint is on the Indian postal service & customs department, which only seems to be affecting packages from Hong Kong for some reason. I have made 3 purchases from Hong Kong, 3 from the US (all from one seller) and 1 from Germany. The second purchase from Hong Kong had 3 ships in it. The 2 packages from the US and the one from Germany, I received in10 days – 10 from the date that the seller ships it, which is usually the same day I make the transaction or the very next day.

10 days from the USA or Germany is totally fine and reasonable. But from Hong Kong – it takes so long. The seller ships it on the same day or the next and it reaches India in 3 – 5 days! Then it goes to the Customs office nearest me, which is about 25 minutes away, and it just sits there. Take this purchase for example; I made the purchase on the 14th of April, seller ships it to Hong Kong post on the 15th, it goes on a plane on the 17th and reached India on the 18th of April. It goes to the Customs office on the same day, in Cochin, and it just sits there! It is the 4th of May today and I still haven’t received it. This is ridiculous! The German seller used his IPS (Indian Postal Service) equivalent Deutsche Post and it reached me in 10 days. The US seller sends the packages via USPS and reaches me in 10 days. Hong Kong is closer to me than the US or Germany – and still!

Ugh, rant over!

Fuck; These Morons Are At It Again

Here we go again:-

A division bench of Kerala High Court Tuesday ratified the new liquor policy of the Congress-led government, which had envisaged the closure of all liquor bars except those in the five-start category. The division bench also nullified the single bench order which allowed liquor licence for four-star and heritage hotels.

However, the court ratified the government decision to amend its liquor policy to allow beer and wine parlours in closed bars. The beer and wine parlours were allowed in the closed 418 bars to address the loss of jobs and cushion the impact of the new liquor policy on tourism and hospitality sectors. With today’s decision, the 312 three and four star hotels now operating can apply for only beer and wine parlour licences. Bar hotel owners association said they would challenge the verdict in the Supreme court.

What is wrong with these idiots in politics? Democracy is not for you to abuse your power and make decisions based on your own biases and agendas. Let people decide if they want to drink or not or eat a certain food or not. If you don’t like them don’t eat or drink them.

It’s time to get rid of these bastards who are dragging India back to the 13th century!