Smart Auto

The Telangana government has definitely been proactive,

At the Hyderabad Litfest there was the electric auto’s on display. With two owners giving passengers a tour round the literary festival zone.

The auto’s felt good, amazing colours that it came in and some how it did not look like the harassed communters rescue operation, but it felt like a luxury ride, smooth and clean.

Aslam Haidiri one of the drivers who is one auto driver who opted to volunteer to use this for 6mnths and give a feed back to the government. Impressive exercise in itself.

The noise level was extremely low.

Passenger leg space in the current scenario is extremely good.

At the drivers space it is good, too, it does have the option of self start but the drivers are advised against it.  the engine needs intial 24hrs after which the charge has to be maintained, at least that is what Mr.Haidiri explained to me, according to him it works to about 70paise for a km, which seems a very good deal.

auto rani (3)

There are also built in billing system, which gives a printed bill to the customer.  This comes with zero pollution.

As a driver Mr.Haidiri was commenting that it takes, few minutes for the bill to be generated and customers tend to be impatient.  After the trail ride I was however left with a few questions, where will the charging points be? I mean will we have public charging points like the mobile chargers have… again Mr. Haidiri says there is a move to have solar charges that will allow the auto to get charged as it is parked.

I only hope it won’t go the same way that the electric run two wheeler or the Rewa went.



Making My Trip

Welcome to… press 1 for current booking…press 2 for whatever,

Required number pressed…


Pause…deep breathe

“Good morning Rakesh, My name is Rastapopulous Mindyourbusinessova, and I have a booking for Timbuctoo on the 30th of February I need to make some changes”

“Mr.MIndyouhbisnissnowa…do aih h’av da permission to call yah Rastapopulous?”

“okay, but it is not Mister it is Doctor,

“Okay, Dr.Mrs.Rastapopulous madam, Let me tell you I am here to help you how may I do so?”

“like I told you, I have a booking for February 30th I would like to postpone it but my ticket is a combined ticket for eerie miniee and mynimo and me so I do we do it?”

“Let me tell you Rastapopulous, I will need your PNR number then I will connect you to the airlines you can tell them your problem and they will break your PNR”

“What about the costing.”

“Let me tell Rastapopulous, the airlines will have to break your PNR and then we can go forward, I will connect you to the airlines please stay on hold.”

“Since I have booked the ticket through you can’t you do it for me?”

“Let me tell you Rastapopulous…” the call gets disconnected.

Redial and this time after all the preliminaries “yellomynameyizaneeshahowmayihelpyoutoday?”

“I was in conversation with one Marrakesh we got disconnected,”


“I have a booking to Timbuctoo on February 30th; I would like to reschedule it.”

“Can you give me your PNR number”


“Okay  itisatickettotimbuctooforthe30thoffebraurypassengersrastapopulousenniemeanieminiemow ifaiyamnotmistaken”(it is a ticket to timbuctoo, for the 30th of February for Rastapopulous,Eenie,Meanie, Minimow if I am not mistaken)

Well she was not mistaken.



“You are Rastapopulous Mindyourbusinessnova”


“How may I help?”

By now it is already 45mnts. Out, I take a deep breathe

Kindly reschedule my ticket, the others fly as scheduled.”


“Hell they will I booked the ticket through you you damn well do it, I do not have the time for it.’

 “please hold on”

She is definitely more efficient than her colleague,

“Dear customer your call is important to us, please hold on while we connect you to concern airlines.”… Call drops,

I rush to the loo, before I embarrass myself, and the mobile rings.

“Hello my name is Winnie pooh and I am calling from, kyameinMr.Rastapopuloussebathkarsaktahoon?”

“You may not, unless you speak English or Kannada or Tamil, or any language that I can understand, ”

“’well Mr.Rastapopulous let me tell you once your trip is over please contact us for the reimbursement of the cancellation”

“No Mr. Customer care, Let me tell you cancel my booking and send me the modified ticket that’s it.”’

“But your booking Sir,”

“Mind your Butt; it is madam and not sir,”

Phew, that is a relief,

I dial 0820-2570100,”hello, Lambodhar here,”

“Lambodhar I have booked flight tickets and they are a mess”

“Do you have a previous booking?”


“Give me the PNR and I will get back to you in about an hour is that okay”


Half an hour later, I get a message, “your PNR XYZ1234ABC has been cancelled and your new PNR number is NML1234ABC for the 30th of February by gone with the wind aircraft, and NML789WLC for the 15th of March”

Lambodhar never lets me down.

Though I have modified the names, this is an real experience, by the way Lambodhar and his contact number are real, the man is amazing.

Discovering Woman Power In Kerala

ranjitha-1I went on work to Kochi,

The work output was disastrous which more a material for a soul searching blog.

But it also meant I was out of work earlier than schedule, just as I was figuring out something to do, I wanted to go to Mattancherry the Jewish quarter,  there was a rather loud alteration going on, I do know Malayalam is kind of louder than Kannada, yet one does not anticipate an auto-rickshaw at a place like the Crowne plaza and still less loud voices.

It turned out, that the auto-driver was someone who came in regularly to drop people and this time round there were two foreigners who were intrigued and wanted to converse with the driver and that kind of offended the gate man.

The driver intrigued me too.

The smart young man at the travel desk was quick on the uptake, he figured my interest too.  he signaled a mutual settlement, spoke to the auto driver and told me, I could get into the auto just outside the gate.

Now if you are wondering what is so amazing about this driver she was woman.

She told me she would charge me 200/- for the morning, she would take me round the Kochi spice market, then to  another site, after which she said she would take me to the Thevada folklore museum, and pick me up after two hours since, ”madama..rendu…hour..nokaano..” I assumed that it was Malayalam to tell me I would need 2hrs to see the museum.

To me she was very intriguing, and we had a conversation, me speaking a mixture of Tulu-Tamil-English, and she a mixture of Malayalam-Tamil-English, we had chai at the “cutting chaya” picked up “aluve-varthakai” .(banana halwa and chips)

Ranjita that was her name had the rather familiar story of being cheated after couple of marriage. Her husband told her he was going to the gulf and she never saw him again, to bring her two children up, she decided to drive the auto, initially she said she did only school trips because the income was steady and she felt respectable.

That kind of hurt, she said, somehow being a driver for hire it was a huge challenge for the mentally, one day she said, she talked to a woman who was working as domestic help, it then struck to her that the domestic help was also hired, so did not have to feel polluted she was actually in a better position because she had an investment to her name that is her auto, she owned a vehicle.

She says office going women, hire her on monthly basis then there were two elderly ladies who she would take to doctor on weekly basis.

She was proud of children who went to school and studied, that they did well in their exams, Ranjita’s daughter is very proud of the fact that Ranjita dared to be different.

The day was really fruitful, and Ranjita dropped me to the folklore museum where I discovered another wonderful woman.



Culture in the Supermarket

The terrors of the future will not come from the drab repressions of an encroaching bureaucracy, but from the neon lights of a thousand supermarkets, the sounds of a million automobile accidents and from the public cremation of the dead astronauts as they return to earth.”
― Christopher Riche EvansMind In Chains

This was the opinion I walked around with until I went to Lulu’s Hypermart in Cochin, as I browsed the shelves I had an epiphany that this could be like the traditional open Kochi market with varieties of rice the red and white variety, dry fruits which Kochi was trading point for, pepper in sacks, I could be shopping in a clean air-conditioned local market.

Jogappa Shanbag our spice man.

1946 is apparently when the first supermarket appeared on American scene. Its not really very long ago. Though books by Agatha Christie do have a reference to grocery being packed in wrong sizes in bags, but until then where was the food? Well it was in homes, gardens, local fields and forests; it was grown in the kitchen garden they were cooked fresh and stored in the pantry, there was no branding.

Our rice came from our fields in the village, and vegetables were carried to us by women who grew them in the back yards so this entire concept of empowered working women is an old hat. Oh! Our spices came either from spice market during the Jatra… the village fair or bought from Jogappa Shanbag who doubled as the medicine man.

When we were young it was a given thing in among surgeons to go to England for a year do their MRCP or FRCS as it went return and talk about the travels as vividly as the narration of Sindabad the sailor, the existence of the supermarkets was one of the destinations to be addressed.

When the supermarket cult hit urban India, I kept thinking here it comes the “the Nth Aryan invasion” like Ms.Marple we will be buying our grocery in wrong volumes, the stocked would be homogenous without respecting the local food habits.

Ragi Hurihittu in the More. chains of highland Karnataka

Over the last three years, I have made it a point to observe the Big Bazaar in various towns, what I find interesting this also holds good for the retail chains like More… And Hyper-mart – the shelves are stacked with very ethno-specific goods. Like the Big Bazaar in Hyderabad has varieties of chutneys both wet and dry. The range of pickles is also amazing. They pack it up in small quantities like 100 gms  if you ask for it.  the vegetable section had banana stem on sale too. on the rack with masala along with usual Everest masala’s there were lot of local small scale industries with very specific Andhra masala like the Bagara Baingan masala. While the Bombay Big Bazaar was high on the Goda Masala, instant sabudhana khicidi and other Maharashtrian fare.

The super markets in Bangalore were high on Ragi and Ragi products.  While in Kochi we saw varieties of avalposi and banana in their breakfast and cereal section. The traditional masala mix for stew and avial and other coconut curries though the sales girl told me they were not as popular as the frozen masala’s. the vegetable section had local traditional vegetable cleaned, cut, sliced as per the cuisine’s need.

Maybe a visit to the local supermarket might be an eye opener to look into the food culture.

avalposi from Kochi Lulu’s Hypermart




Packing For a Road Trip

Am back from one road trip, and realized how much of unnecessary things I was carrying,  So to work things out here is what I did, I made a checklist.
A road trip is essentially a journey via automobiles, sometimes impromptu; it could involve some spiriting activity.
Before come into to the checklist of must have let me go through the stages of deciding what the must have’s are.
• Where are we going on the trip?
• When are we going?
• How long are we going?
• Who are our travel companions?
Very often travel instead of broadening the mind merely lengthens conversation!
A road trip needs to be planned well in advance. With at least a list of 10 places that we could like to see,
The next phase would be deciding the stop over’s, after which the travel breakers as a continuous journey might be difficult. These would depend on the travel companions.
The checklist would be then under the following titles.
• Essentials
• Safety
• Cleanups
• Boredom busters
• Extras
I would first put out the clothes and these would be decided on the availability of washing felicity during the trip. Things like:
• Tickets and bookings
• Automobile papers and coins for toll gates etc.
• Identification papers, emergency contact numbers
• Coins
• Cell phones with recharge vouchers.
• Water preferably cooler
• Medicine chest with prescription drugs, roadside first aid kit, general first aid kit, tablets for travel sickness.
• Toiletry, detergent for clothes.
• Flash light, emergency sewing kit. A nylon chord
• Wet wipes, paper towels, toilet papers.
• Trash bags
• Laundry bag, preferably a bucket which can double up if need arises
• Books for reading, and notebook for travelogue,
• Camera.
• CD with music of each traveller’s choice.
At the end of it all I would decide the size of the travel bag. Put in half the clothes I kept out and hopefully double the budget. 


This kind of works for me you may want to tweak this or create your own list.

Etiquette school drop outs

Carasid, is a lovely eatery at campal, they- have delicious cakes, now with Paratas and breakfast counter they have really grown.

What used to draw most of us to Carasid, was the feeling of sitting in the garden and sipping Tea.  The owners Sunil and Chris are great fun. Both are Marathon runners, yet they would indulge the arty- crafty crowd not to mention the Blogging world. If you had an idea that you were not sure of, Sunil is the go to person for a bounce off. His entire experience tempered with Landmark Forum Education is  a great guy. Then there is Sid, who is affectionate the entire experience was good.

It has been a great place, to eat somehow with food and coffee/Tea ideas and conversation seem to flow, discussions energized and how do I put it? it was like personal hospitality with Sunil-Chris-Sid around. Their staff is also extremely friendly and polite without intruding.

For the past month I have been observing, that when we have to have a meeting the group goes, “not Carasid”. We are now perplexed as to where do we sit for the one hour or one and hours we required for our work…. it isn’t that we have got bored the place it is that the place as morphed.

It is almost as if we are entering some office with stale coffee and lingering tobacco smell. The inviting kitchen fragrance no more wafts. The welcoming smile of Sunil – Chris – Sid and fellow foodies,is now replaced by obnoxious foul mouthed crew, of some event management company. I do not know the name nor do I want to know.

It is bad enough that they have hijacked most of the chairs, the two fans, and available plug points are totally hogged by this group, the most disgusting of them all was this guy who decided to plonk on my parked scooter, munched something and wiped his hand on my scooter seat, not to mention dropping ash I was petrified that my scooter would go up in flames.

Since it was just three of us meeting, and Carasid happened to be convenient we decided to me up  and guess what we had to hunt for chairs,Oh! Yes, after this jing-a-bing has hijacked al the tables, we are left with  2 and ½ unoccupied ones, half because there are laptop bags strewn over the place.  When we eventually found the chairs our conversation was rudely interrupted by  this demure salwar kameez clad girl talking about which male stripper to book for a bachlorette party, it was as if someone was pimping!!

Admist this great hostile territory the “on the move customers” add terror by driving right into the eating place, where the orphaned 2 and 1/2 chairs are located it is as if someone is trying to mow you down.

Sunil, Chris and Sid, when we have that wonderful warm place that Brand Carasid stood for back?

car invading the dining space at Carasid

For those of you who are working your start ups out of cafe’s and as  just a passing thought

A Lunch Break -On a Road Trip

Have a long weekend, then the place to go is Goa, people enter the state from the skies, through the trains, on the roads, my grouse with road trippers is whiny long blog for another day the way they piddle anywhere and everywhere, drink beer and dump the bottles where they drain the last drop etc. etc.

But these road trippers and their behavior is quite an entertainment when we are on our way to work.  I think a road trip is more about an adventure, its not like place to goa you just drive along. The other day on my way back from work I saw four gentlemen  squatting on the university lawn, cooking their lunch.

cooking in the open

I was quite curious so I decided to have a small conversation. The men happened to be road trippers form Shivamogga in Karnataka and this was an annual activity they did the days were fixed that is the last three days of Navaratri, as business is low people are busy with the Dushera celebrations these men took a men only holiday.

They traveled with few utensils their agenda was simple they would drive around, pick something to cook wherever they found anything interesting, cooked had lunch and drove around. In the evening they would go to the casino, spend time there and repeat the routine next day, on the third day they would drive back.

The whole idea as they explained to me was to go outside and switch off. They do not actually tell anyone where they are going, since they do these road trips twice a year, one is definitely Goa and the other is interesting, they turn their mobiles off, and just drive, taking turns where ever they felt like and they said they would soon land in roads that do not know. There is no definite destination, they just walk and sit down when they can, whenever they have to and this entire exercise they say is so refreshing and empowering. It is like the whole world is there right outside… it is the adventure…and not a place to go to.  They accidentally discovered that when they got lost they discovered beautiful terrain and great experiences.

I realized this was what drove people to go on a road trip, or plan a road trip or even those armchair travelers they are always talking about this, posting quotes and waging a war against organized travel. OMG! That sounds like I am saying wage a war against organized crime!!

When we go on a road trip we make it a point to carry one set of change of clothes, lots of water and then it is “yunhi chala..chala re.. yuhi chala”  we leave the house without targeting an destination and time of arrival.

It is about doing something, without actually doing anything yet doing a lot.

taking their road trip business men from shimoga.