Sunday, February 27, 2005

Salaam Bombay

My last post from Bombay. I'm leaving for the airport in another 20 minutes. My time here has gone by too fast but time flies when you are having fun. Time to return to the daily grind, the humdrum routine.

Last thoughts - feels great to be at home and sucks to go back to an empty apartment half way across the world in an alien land. The telephone will be my only connection with my parents and friends and god knows, it is going to be USED in the next coming weeks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Finally, an iPod to suit all budgets!

ENC: Nutrient Value of Eggs

"Not only do eggs contain the highest quality source of protein available but they also contain almost every essential vitamin and mineral needed by humans [Sorry, no vitamin C in eggs. Chickens, unlike humans, can produce their own vitamin C and don't need to get it from the diet.]. In fact, egg protein is of such high quality that it is used as the standard by which other proteins are compared."

Read on for more eye-opening nutritional information about eggs. What was most insightful for me was the fact that egg yolks contain protein and are a natural source of choline. Gotta rethink that "No-Egg Yolks" policy of mine.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Jet or Sahara

Among other things I experienced by virtue of my trip to Bangalore, I got a chance to fly Sahara Airlines to Bangalore and Jet Airlines on the way back. As the Jet vs Sahara debate rages on, the arguments for and against each party have been anything if not partisan. I'm going to try and present a more objective analysis of the experiences I had flying the 2 airlines. Here are my arguments, in what I think is a reasonably structured format:

This is the most important category given that I'm a budget traveller. There is only a marginal difference in the fares offered by both the airlines on the routes of my interest. The scores:
Jet - 5, Sahara - 5

It is in this category that Jet nudges ahead of Sahara. The in-flight, check-in and ticketing crew are thorough professionals and extremely accommodating. By virtue of being the biggest private airline in India, Jet also has more counters, more personnel and the queues at its counters are therefore shorter. The scores:
Jet - 5, Sahara - 4

The Flying Experience
It in this category that Jet soars (no puns intended) over Sahara. The cabin is roomier, the food is better, the in-flight service is better, the choice of reading material during the flight is better, the announcements are clearer during the flight and barring technical difficulties, Jet flights are on-time. The scores:
Jet - 5, Sahara - 3

I'm part of the Internet generation and hate going to an intermediary (also called an AGENT) to book tickets. So when I wanted to book my tickets, my first avenue of exploration was the airlines website. I really liked the Sahara website over the Jet website. The Sahara website was not pretentious and navigation was more intuitive - for instance, I knew exactly how to get to the auctions page for Sahara's flexi-fares offerings but I couldn't find the page for Jet at all. Overall, Sahara's website is neater and over my dial-up connection from home, it loaded up faster than did the site for Jet. A final note, Sahara's tie-up with Indiatimes auctions is a boon for its customers - Keep up the good work on the site. The scores:
Jet - 3, Sahara - 5

The Final Tally
Jet - 18, Sahara - 17

This analysis isn't scientific by any means even though you might be fooled into believing it is :) As you can see, very little separates the two airlines from each other. I haven't written about the excess baggage issue but I'm all for airlines charging customers for excess baggage - that's justice of some sorts for people like me who travel light when flying domestic.

And before I close, don't even think of flying Indian Airlines :) The National carrier really needs to wake up and smell the coffee or else, it'll be relegated to the fringes of the domestic flying market.

Sahara -
Jet -

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Three weeks gone

And what a ride this has been... Literally, I've travelled the most this time around - in planes, on trains, in cars and on bullock-carts :) My sister is officially married and on her honeymoon in the backwaters of Kerela. Barring a few hitches, her wedding went as planned. The Sangeet was a super hit, total Bombay-ishtle with Bollywood type dances and a whole lot of hooting, clapping and whistling. Corbett was beautiful; the mountains never left our side and the sound of the Kosi river lapping against its banks made for the perfect setting for what we hope will be a union for life. My best wishes go out to Rachna and Vibhas.

I tried but couldn't make it for Karan's wedding. In the aborted journey to Amritsar I met a bunch of great people though, so I'm not totally bummed. I hope the day I spent with Viraj and Ria left them with as many memories to cherish as that day has etched in my mind. Their warmth, hospitality and love epitomise the cadre of people I've met on my trip to India this time. Thanks much for a wonderful time and looking forward to having you guys over in Seattle - you are always welcome.

I'm off to Bangalore tomorrow morning for the weekend. Looking forward to catching up with old friends and to making new ones (knowing me, that's definitely not going to happen). Before I sign off though, I thought I'd share an observation made of me by one of my old friends, and I quote:

"Manoj, you should wear your glasses more often. They soften what is otherwise a very stern demeanour."

I'll leave the determination of how true her statement was to you. Till later, ciao...

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Home, home in the subcontinent

Bombay just rules, especially at this time of the year. The weather is pleasant, the wind balmy and the hours just melt away when spent with family. But...

I've noticed somet things about the Indian populace and their psyche this time that have made me sit up and wonder. The alarming realization that ours is a society that prides itself in being shallow, outwardly progressive but inwardly conservative and our perennial obsession with being "hip" shouted out to me from the pages of The Mid-day on my flight in to Bombay from Amsterdam. And the surprises didn't stop there.

The continuous barrage of questions about what I've done to my appearance, why I have a beard, why I have put on weight, why am I working out so much - why why why - are beginning to border on the annoying. Let me be please...

It's not all bad at home, please don't get me wrong. Being a tester makes me critical; there is a lot to write home about, it just doesn't make for good reading :) What can I say about the simple life here, about the creature comforts that living with family brings with it, about the doting parents and loving brother that you haven't read/heard before? But wait, this isn't about grabbing attention, it's about sharing my experiences. So here's the bottom-line, Bombay rocks with all its flaws because it's where my family is, it's where my home is!!

My time at this cyber cafe has run out and it's now time to go for my dance practice. But first, a quick trip to my mom's store so I can get some moolah from her and drink my favourite Strawberry Milkshake at McDonalds :)