Sunday, September 30, 2007

Indian constitution....

Read the following statement attributed to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar somewhere.

"Hindus have always needed someone from so-called backward caste to write their important epics. When it was time for Ramayana, it was Valmiki who was a hunter by caste. When it was time for Mahabharata, it was Vyasa who was a fisherman by caste. When it came to writing our constitution, it had to be me." B.R. Ambedkar belonged to one of the so-called lower castes and had contempt for caste system of Hinduism. He later converted to Buddhism as a protest to concept of castes in Hinduism.

It would be interesting to learn more about the circumstances under which he may have made above comments. Without the context, the above comments can be interpreted in variety of ways some of which may not go well with majority of Indians.


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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Freedom of speech

"Remember that as you have freedom of speech, other have freedom for their sentiments too." Not exactly the original quote was said. But, meaning is same. In our zeal to exercise our freedom of speech, if  we do not care for other people's sentiments, chances are our freedom is no good.

Sometimes people take the saying -"trying to please everyone is sure recipe for failure"- too far. They get the meaning wrong. Note that the saying says that if we try to please everyone we fail. Trying to please is totally different than not hurting other people's feelings. As long as we do not hurt other people's feelings, we can still avoid failure. It is not required to hurt feelings to not to please some. Just not hurt. That's all.

Some people think sugar coating is bad. They think it amounts to being hypocritical. What is hypocrisy? Being or doing what we are not and what we do not want to do is hypocrisy. Is hurting other people's feelings our true nature? Is our real-self so stupid as to hurt itself? If we realize that you and I are not we but one, then we realize if we hurt others, we are hurting ourselves too. We are all from the same indivisible unity. We are all cut from the same fabric. So, do not assume being frank, being straight forward means requiring to hurt other people's feelings.

"When we are good to others, we are best to ourselves." - this is a golden saying to remember. There is a easy way to avoid harsh words. Just ask three progressively blocking question for every word that we would like to utter. 1) Is what I am going to say true? 2)Is what I am going to say kind? 3) Is what I am going to say necessary? If the word does not meet any of the above criteria, just cut it out and stay shut. Lincoln said -"if you keep quiet, people may think you are stupid. If you open your mouth, you leave them with no doubt."

Nice guys(&gals) do not come last. They come first in the long race. Think of long term and imagine the good will your will accumulate by being nice to people and returning kindness for rudeness. Over the time, your goodwill will be so much so that you can get even complex of complex tasks without much hassles as everyone is on your side.


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Read once. Listen many times.

Do you like certain books which you read  over and over again?

If we enjoy reading some books over and over again, it may be a good idea to record when you read them. It is easy to do so with a pocket digital recorder which records in WMV or MP3 formats. You can then listen to them on your MP3 player.

I can not read some books as many times as I would like to do. This because reading requires far more attention and energy than watching a movie or listening to a recording. I can listen while driving or working out or killing time on a long flight. I can read for say 30 minutes. But, I can listen for hours at a time. It is true that we do not comprehend as well as when we do reading. It may be ok if we are listening for second or third time. We would have comprehended enough when we read for the first time and subsequent listening will help fill some missing points.

With this in mind, I recently started recording my readings every time I picked up some of my favorite books for reading. It has worked out well. I make sure I add enough details about the section of the book I am reading at the beginning of the recording for easy identification. I also organize my recording by chapters so that it gives nice structure to store on the media.


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First Impression

" First impressions is the last impression."

"You do not get a second chance to make first impression."

These sayings pack a lot of insight. We can get more out of these sayings if we think about how it applies to judge others and be judged by others.

There are only so many 'smart' people who know first impression can be extremely deceiving. They are the only ones who can get even an average worker produce superior results. Most of us belong to the category of 'dumb' people who base some of the most important judgments based on first impression. Read somewhere that most of us judge people within 3 seconds of the first impression they make on us. How wrong such decisions can be?

Since world is full of people who are going to judge us by first impression, we should make every attempt to make a good first impression. Different people prefer different first impressions. It depends on their own background and how their life has been up to that point. As long as we try to make a good first impression which is line with commonly accepted social norms, we are doing our best. If there is some weirdo, who bases his premature judgment based on some weird norms, hell with him or her.

Now, we have to look at the other aspect. That is how we judge people. If we want to move towards that small population of people who do not judge entirely based on first impression, we must not attach way too much importance to the first impression. This especially true when we are trying to judge people with far less experience, education and exposure.  Imagine a situation when a rank and file employee is meeting a CEO. Don't expect the employee to be little awkward due the situation he or she is in? In such cases, if the CEO is dumb enough to judge the person based on first impression, I worry about the company having such a CEO.

We must suspend our judgment of people who matter for as long as possible. One of the smartest thing we can do about any judgment is to defer it as long as possible. This does not mean we should procrastinate the judgment or decision. What is recommended is that we should set a deadline for a judgment. Till that time comes, we should not even think about the actual decision or judgment to be made. What we should during that time is to doing best due diligence possible. Collect data, analyze data and use  final few moments to make the decision.

People naturally make better first impressions as they get varied experiences in life. A person who goes to a new country for the first time is going to be center of fun and ridicule occasionally till he or she learns about the customs and rules of the new country. So is the new employee of a company. So, if we believe that people are who really matter and people who work with us or work for us are the ones who really determine our success, we should defer our judgment of people for a long time and give them every benefit of doubt as long as circumstances permit.

Deferring immediate judgment is a skill we can all learn. We just need to practice and practice for a long time each time learning from the mistakes of our premature judgment.

As a person who is going to be judged by many people during the course of our life, all we have to do is to try our best to make the best first impression possible and hope that majority of the people who judge us belong that small category of smart people and leave rest of the God. If we are judged wrongly based on some criteria for 'correct' first impression, let's not make the same mistake of judging other person's judgment as misjudgment. Learn from other person's mistake and vow not make similar misjudgment if we are faced with similar situation in the future.


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Friday, September 28, 2007


"There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness." - Josh Billings

Revenge may be rather a strong word here. Transformation may be more adequate in the place of revenge. I guess since revenge goes well with forgiveness, it is used here. But, this quote is a jewel indeed.

When we 'completely' forgive someone for something they did, real or imaginary, the transformation, we produce in the person is hard to miss. First it transforms you too for better. Your heart grows bigger and allows more space to forgive others. It slowly but surely fires up something in the person forgiven to realize his mistake and get closer to you. Was it not your objective in the first place? To win over the person to your side?

So, it can be aptly said - forgive and feast on the  fruits of forgiveness.


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"Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom." - Hannah Arendt

You may be thinking about forgiving others. But, we may be good at forgiving others. Are we equally good at forgiving ourselves? I guess not. If we were so good about forgiving ourselves for our mistakes and learn from them, we would have achieved 10 times of what we may have achieved today.

We do everything other than forgiving ourselves when we realize we do something wrong. We brood. We regret. We break heads over something stupid we did. But, admitting our mistake, taking necessary action and ultimately forgiving ourselves seems to be the last thing we do.

When we do not forgive ourselves, we hesitate to take action. It is like - 'burnt child dreads the fire.' Yes, it is true that child should dread the fire but if the child never learns about the fire, it can put fire to any good use.

So, take time to forgive yourself. Realize your mistake, make amends, seek forgiveness, easily forgive others and move on. Avoid making same mistakes. But, even if you end up making similar mistake, do not get disheartened. It takes many shots before you hit the bulls eye. That does not mean all the shots that missed the mark were useless. They were all part of the practice. As they say 'life is the biggest do-it-yourself project.'


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Self confidence

"Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act." - Jack Welch

If a manager fails to do anything else but follows this advice from great Jack Welch, he can easily become one of the best managers.

The above saying goes well with another saying - "I rather be looked over than over looked."

The essence behind both sayings is that without affirmation from someone we trust, it is very natural for ordinary mortals to feel diffident about our chosen path from time to time. There does come a time after a long time when we do not need affirmation from anyone on our chosen path. But till then people we look up to like parents, managers and bosses can do a great deal good to us and themselves by catching us doing something right and not just when we do something wrong.

When people do something we did not want or expect them to do, it is very easy to catch them doing that as it stands like black blot on a white shirt. However, when the person does something we expected, we take it for granted and do not make any effort to positively affirm the person's act.

Without positive affirmation, many people will take one step forward and waste twice the amount of time to make sure that they are in deed correct. Does it not make sense for others to proactively let people know that what they did or doing is correct and they should continue with that. With such positive affirmation, I will stop to watch my steps, say, once in every 10 steps and not after every step.


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Saturday, September 22, 2007 - this is a site which offers discounts at several stores. Depending on your needs and habits, you may find it useful. There is another interesting aspect to this site. You will normally come across a pitch to join this site when you shop online. At the end of your online purchase, many times they offer you to join this site. They normally offer 1 or 2 months free to become member of this site. Then they charge something like $15 a month. Depending on which site refers you, you may get interesting rewards for trying out In my case,I was referred to after buying air tickets at They promised 15% discount on Orbitz's purchase. Sounded like a great deal. So, I signed up. Anyway, first two months of trial membership were free. Although you may have to spend some time and effort to get the actual reward. First is supposed to send you the rebate form which you have to fill out and send back. I had to call them to have it sent. Interestingly they sent a wrong form which would allowed me to claim lesser reward. What shall we call that? Honest mistake. May be. Another 2 phone calls and they sent the right reward form. Then on it was smooth. Rebate for $75 arrived after a few weeks. Good deal it was to get $75 off of $500 air tickets. Most of these rewards bank on the fact that people are simply diligent enough to claim such rewards because of required paper work and follow up. But, if you are up to the snuff, rewards like this galore on the net. Some things to keep in mind. First, always maintain scrupulous records in the form of e-mails, phone call logs etc. Make sure to ask for id number and names of people you may speak on the phone. Be prompt with correspondence. Be relentless with follow up. Always ask to speak to supervisor if the person on the phone does not provide right information or gives you a run around. With enough patience and diligence, you can get the reward check ultimately.

This was not a mail-in rebate. But, even in the case of mail-in rebates, experience if more or less the same. Staples stood out for its better practices regarding mail-in rebates. Refreshingly, they automatically do the paper work for your mail in rebate. As soon as you buy any article with a mail-in rebate, they set up an account at their rewards' web site. That's it. There is nothing more to do. No rebate form or UPC bar code to mail and worry that it may get lost in the mail. After a few weeks, check arrives. I do not understand why other retailers can not do this. As everyone understands, businesses use mail-in rebate to improve their cash flow temporarily and to get free working capital. 4-6 weeks that they hold to your money is like loan without interest for them. I have no objection to that at all. Even after that, why make customers go thru the hassle of making copies of receipts, sending UPC bar code from the package, give run around before mailing the check etc. You promised to reward, just do that after you have held the money without interest for certain time. Staples deserves to be praised for its ethical and customer friendly practice of processing rebates without unnecessary paperwork. If other retailers do the same, they can hope to get better responses. Many retailers probably do not realize. But, the fact is many customers find mail in rebates a big turn off because the paper work involved to get a small amount back is simply not worth many times. So, they shop elsewhere. If the same people come to know that getting rewards is not that bad, they will happily buy and wait for their rebates. Staple should actually give publicity to its nice practice. Otherwise, people may shy away from Staples too.


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Caller ID feature on phones .....

If you take a telephone instrument from the US to India, most likely caller id feature does not work when the telephone set is plugged to Indian phone outlet. The caller id systems in India and US are different. Phones bought in Asian countries normally work in India. However, there is a way to work around the problem. There is a gadget called caller id converter which helps caller id systems to interoperate. Search for "EX-220" on Google and you can find where to buy such caller id converter.


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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Kuala Lumpur Airport

Recently I transited thru Kuala Lumpur airport enroute to Bangalore from Los Angeles. I liked the airport quite a lot for several reasons and thought write a few lines about Kuala Lumpur airport.

Singapore's Changi airport and Hon Kong airport were the best airports I had seen before I got to see Kuala Lumpur airport. I put KUL airport also in the same league. No doubt there. One of the finest airports I have seen anywhere. Beats lousy airports in LA and Boston (two airports in the US that I mostly use) hands down.

One of the best things I liked about KUL airport is that they have a nice hotel well within the airport premises. Since the hotel is right within the airport, you do not need to go thru customs etc. This way you do not have to worry about transit visas which are not available on arrival  to Indian passport holders anyway. This hotel came as a real savior as I had close 10 hours of lay over for my flight to Bangalore from Kuala Lumpur.

You can make bookings at this hotel from KUL airport site. Search for KUL airport and under services you will find "Airside Hotel" and you can use web form to make a booking and they will confirm the booking within 24 hours. You can also book shower rooms if you do not need to rent a room if your lay over is not that long.

Rooms in Airside hotel are comparable to what we see in budget hotels like Holiday Inn or Comfort Inn etc. Rates are pretty good. They rent in hours. First minimum duration is 6 hours. Then they rent in every 2 hour increments and up  to 10 hours at the max (I think). Rent for first 6 hours comes to about $35. It's a great deal. Shower facilities are much cheaper.

The hotel directly over looks good portion of the airport. The view of planes landing and taking off is great from many rooms. One can really relax gazing across the airport. Rooms in the hotel have basics like TV, Coffee Maker etc.

KUL airport also has very nice restaurants. All sorts of food are available at pretty reasonable fares. Duty free shopping also looked pretty attractive although I did not check for prices or shop anything out there.

One drawback, like in many other airports, is total absence of electric power outlets. There are hardly any. I do not really understand what is the deal with all these international airport. In this area US airports are pretty good. Lot of power outlets can be found in LA and Boston airports etc.

Airport and the hotel also have free Wi-fi. Great deal. In US most of the airports really suck with one having to buy services from T-Mobile etc. which is a $6 minimum from carriers like T-Mobile. It really beats what is stopping airlines from offering such simple service. Probably Las Vegas, NV and Manchester, NH are probably some of the very few airports in the US which provide free wireless Internet service.

I certainly recommend KUL to anyone traveling from the US west coast. It's great place and offers great deals.

I certainly recommend prior reservations as rooms tend to fill fast as most of the people going to Bangalore, Chennai etc. tend to take rooms here.


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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

This time I would like to review and write about my impressions about online travel portal which seems to specialize in good deals for people traveling from US to India.


1) Great web site. Very user friendly. Easy to find information. Fast searches.

2) Multiple ways to contact sales rep. Call them or chat with them online. Response times are pretty fast. I preferred chat to make the actual booking as it is easier to provide all the information correctly and also helps to record your chat transcript on your computer.

3) Prices are indeed competitive. Found the best deal among other Internet portals such as or etc.

4) Prompt delivery of tickets where applicable. Most of the tickets are e-tickets so there is nothing to receive. In my case, they had to send paper tickets which they did by FedEx.

5) Tickets seemed fine. Checked out confirmed and did not have any problems.


1) At least, I did not get any confirmation e-mail after the tickets were mailed. Since they had said it would take anywhere up to 10 days to send the tickets, I did not worry much. But, when tickets did not come after 7-8 days, I called them to find that tickets were already mailed and received by somebody in my apartment office. This was certainly worrying as it was risky to a leave a package unclaimed for 3-4 days after it was received. It would have been ideal if they were to e-mail me with tracking number. After being used to such practices by other e-tailers, this was a rude shock. The customer support rep was helpful and gave me the tracking number and the name of the person who had signed for receipt. I hope this was an isolated incident and also a rare one. It was rare because somehow the notice FedEx leaves when they deliver the package to the rental office was also missing or lost after it was stuck on the mailbox.

2) Meal preference was not correctly recorded. I had not remembered to mention "Asian Vegetarian" and had just asked for "vegetarian". I expect a travel portal specializing in travel to India to take some initiative to ask and educate customers on different vegetarian options and not all vegetarian meals are created equal and many vegetarian meals contain white meat and fish. They did not do anything and merely recorded my preference although I had meant pure vegetarian meal. Malaysia Airlines on which I was booked was able to provide me with vegetarian meal although it was a bit of a scramble and frustrating to them as well.

Other than these minor inconveniences, it was a very smooth transaction and price was a great deal. Cheapest fare I got in 10 years.

Unless something goes wrong on the return, I am glad to give this business a solid thumbs up.


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Monday, September 03, 2007

Kingfisher Airlines

Flew in Kingfisher Airlines for the first time yesterday for home trip from Bangalore to Hubli.

Great airlines. Lived up to the hype created when it was launched. Provides nice service for the cost of discount airlines.

Check in was very efficient. In addition to counters at the airport, normally you may bump into hand-held gadget carrying assistant who can issue boarding card even before you get to the counter. Great time saver if you do not have anything to check in. Baggage screening which is the responsibility of respective airlines in India is managed very efficiently with a large crew of people who efficiently get you bag in and out fast.

Service and aircraft are really good. More or less on time although my flight was delayed by 15 mains. Baggage was delivered promptly at the destination. An assistant at Hubli even stopped by to make sure I got my baggage. May be because I was there longer than anyone as my bag was probably the first one to be checked in and it took long time to come up. That's impressive that they notice such small things and ask customers if they can help.

Food was good. Very nicely delivered. Some small stuff like pens etc. are given in a nice Kingfisher pouch. Personnel are dressed in very smart and attractive red and white outfit. That's is surely an eye catcher.

Overall a great experience for my first domestic flight using Kingfisher. Online booking was also very smooth from their web site.

Slightly pricier than Deccan Airlines which is truly a budget carrier. But, Deccan does not provide any food and probably allows only 15 kgs of check in. So, what you save probably goes away in buying the food or paying excess baggage if you are traveling from abroad with at least 44 kgs allowed by international carriers.

Fly the good times is their slogan. Lives up to that.


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