Category Archives: me

Live from Ballarat

Today’s my last day in Ballarat out of my 3 day visit here and I just love the city. Its one of those cities where one could think of settling in after retirement.

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Ballarat is a small city about an hour and a half from Melbourne. Its a historic city which got up during the gold rush. Its very Victorian with all the heritage buildings reminding me of UK.

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The best part of Ballarat is that its got everything you’d need for your daily living – Food, Entertainment, Business along with the peacefulness of the much needed break from the city rush and hustle.

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The roads are large and concrete with a good traffic management system. There are a few uphills and downhills but nothing unpleasant.

I also couldn’t find a 3 storied building in Ballarat, perhaps there isn’t any need for it. I personally stayed at an AirBnB accommodation near Strut street in Ballarat and the house was just lovely. Below are some pictures:

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Myself being a fully vegetarian was not at all a problem. There’s a subway, a Chinese 100% veggie restaurant and plenty of other Indian restaurants where I could fatten myself. I am sure I must have gained a few kgs in these 3 days.

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You don’t need a car in Ballarat – you could go almost anywhere walking within 15-20 minutes or so.

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The roadside shops are mostly glass and no shutters. You just lock your front gates and everything is just fine. I hardly saw a police officer – Not sure if they need the police 🙂

I was in Ballarat on a short business trip. I came to the city to meet a client and am heading back with lovely friends. The people are just so very friendly.

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I didn’t get time for any sight seeing at all, but I wish to come back again with my family for just a small holiday!

Open letter to Didi Mamata Banerjee

Dear Didi,

My response is to your Facebook post about “The Ease of Doing Business in Bengal reaches a new level.”.

I don’t think its easy to do business in West Bengal. Specially when TMC License department and WB sales tax department officers never bother to entertain commoners without bribe. If Bengal has to progress, first you must remove all the co
rruption in the very first step of starting a business. Each Trade License is charged at Rs 1000-2000 bribe. WB tax registrations cost about the same. The Babus never talk to anyone except the so called agents. Dear madam, first you must analyze the ground reality of Kolkata and then take necessary action to improve it and make everything online. I bring to your notice that it takes almost one month to register a new business which is not only a problem to the owners but a loss to the government. If the government removes corruption, more owners will be welcomed when the middleman is cut off.

West Bengal is the land of agriculture, but when it comes to the ground reality, the poor man is not earning anything even after working the hardest in the sun. The prices of Potatoes are lower than cost of producing it. Why no farmer wants to product potatoes anymore? Why so many farmers committed suicide? This is all linked to corruption. Do you think the news is not going to the investors about corruption in Bengal?

As a commoner, any government work which can be done by individual is given to the agent. Without agents the work doesn’t progress. Why this Agent-Babu relation is encouraged? Does the government pay less to the Babus for which they ask more bribe ? If they don’t ask for bribe, they start troubling. Didi, I think you know all this very well, I just wanted to re-iterate the facts for your reminder.

Dear Didi, If we, your own countrymen are facing problem, what will the foreigners face? How can you promote brand Bengal with so much corruption at every stage?

In so many interior parts of Bengal, there is no business. Do you think Business is only about cities? What about villagers? They have no hope. Again, rich becomes richer and poor is becoming poorer. In many areas, farmers are selling off their land as Agriculture is no more profitable. Why? Bengal has 97% cultivable land and yet this is the sad state of Agriculture.

Compare it with Denmark. Bengal is as big as Denmark in area ( Slightly less). But look at their transparency and process of work – It has made a name in the world as the country for most high tech agriculture. Why this cannot be in Bengal ? Why more focus is given to outside investment when we can be self sufficient. Bengal is very rich in its soil. Why then middlemen are making most money ?

Its my humble request to improve the internal policies to build a non corrupt system and then the investments will come by its own by looking. You have to set an example of how friendly the businesses are in Bengal. Only seminars will not help. If any foreign company will inquire about Bengal, they will only get a report about corruption – Who will invest ? Dear Didi, imagine yourself as a business owner, will you ever invest in a country where without corruption, nothing works. The simple answer is no.

Yours Sincerely,
A Common Young Entrepreneur in Kolkata.

Back!

After almost a break of 4 years I’m finally back. I must apologize to my readers for taking the time off. I am honest enough to admit that I was focusing on minting money and that I had lost interest in writing anymore. Suddenly, I felt like writing today which has not only broken my writer’s block but also given me an opportunity to talk directly to my readers.

I remember one of my employee who was an avid reader of my blog come to me and ask about why I stopped writing. I hope he’s reading this as I still remember his words while I am starting to write again.

Over the last 9 odd years, I have been blogging continuously and except for the last few years. I have blogged from technology to religion to politics to personalities. Almost anything which came in my mind.

So why was I away?

Just two reasons and nothing else.

– I was busy in expanding and focusing on business
– I had a writer’s block – Just didn’t feel like writing at all.

So what’s changed over the last four years?

– I have been catching up with few of my childhood friends. I took a trip to Leh/Ladakh in Kashmir which was quite a memorable one.
– I am still a vegetarian – Going strong.
– I am married and have a little baby girl now.
– My skin is growing old and I have started to realize that I’ve lost the evergreen look – I am working on it to get it back soon.
– I have grown all the more spiritual in my research. Performed Hajj in 2014.
– I have stopped listening to Mr. Jagjit Singh after he died. I do listen to him sometimes, but I feel as if the sparkle has gone. Sometimes I listen to old Rabindra sangeet songs and Pankaj Udhas when I feel like, but with him gone, the music’s gone too.
– My patience level has increased exponentially. I have become very calm and tolerant
– My talks have become more logical and convincing.
– Felt almost 4 earthquakes in last 4 years.
– I have moved to a larger office wherein I feel like home – Only thing missing is a bed.
– Expansion operations at office have started for Australia and Sweden.
– I miss conferences and events as I’ve not been quite social these years.
– And many more things..
– The most important thing is that I am happy and content with everything around me and I am thankful for everything.

I don’t know if I’d continue writing or not. I make no promises but I do promise to try.

Why Indians should stop buying GOLD?

Why are we Indians fascinated about Gold so much?

Having a friend’s or relative’s marriage in future? Mere 1 gm of gold coin costing about <3k INR would sound mightier than a washing machine costing about 8k INR. Over the last 5-6 years, Gold has been the most promising investment. Giving about 25% returns in a year. However, there is a problem. Gold is just a shiny metal which is over-hyped. I remember I attended a workshop in Bombay stock exchange where in the ex-president of the BSE just ridiculed Gold as an investment.

Some of my thoughts:

1. Gold is very trustworthy metal. It has a proven record in the history of mankind to bring them out of trouble in times of need – Be it marriage, Be it war, Be it a big loan repayment – Gold comes in handy. About 6-8% of human mind in India revolves around Gold. Whenever they want to go for ‘shopping’ when they have large amount save, they would buy GOLD. I know many people who would spend their entire savings only to buy GOLD. There are Gold schemes in India which encourages everyone to invest a part of their salary in GOLD every month!

2. Fact: Gold is not mined in India so much. Gold has to be imported. Like OIL, Gold is very less in India but the increasing demand has created a lot of Gold imports in India.

3. Gold is nothing but a stagnant yellow metal:  You practically can’t use Gold to do anything. Just sit back and relax while its locked in your locker. Its just a useless metal which has blocked minds of innocent Indians with its glittering sparkle! Btw, over the years, I’ve found one great use of gold. You can make Gold wires in your homes electrical cabling. Gold is a very good conductor with a very low power loss in transmission! I.e if you care for electricity bills and I.e if you’re super duper filthily richie rich!
But hey, for an average Indian, a locked asset in their locker – which they take a look at only to see that its safe, gives them mental peace and a feeling of superiority over others which is far more satisfying than a good meal – So yes, Gold does bring mental peace to Indians which is an Irony understated.

4. What next: Once you have all this Gold which is already imported into India by millions of buyers, what next? Since Gold has no other practical use, no one wants to trade gold with one another unless something important comes up like financial crisis or war. What’s the probability of such happening and to how much percentage of the general public? So basically it becomes a lumpy piece of metal lying in your locker giving you mental peace ONLY without any economic growth.

5. India doesn’t sell Gold. May be it does but the percentage is very less. Why would someone want to buy gold from India. Yes, Iran would get gold from India because India cannot pay them for the imported Oil – Due to the dollar problem (Not that Indian cannot pay)

In Conclusion: What can you do as an Indian ?
Its practically impossible to tell any Indian “Stop buying gold”. It would be like telling an Indian “Be there on time – Sharp”. What’s recommended is that do not buy Gold if you have excess cash. Invest in something else – in may be a business! Or something else..! Give a percentage of it as charity..

Mark my words when I say this: The more Gold India imports, the more liability will it add in the future. So its my very humble request to all you super duper richie rich fellas reading this blog – Invest wisely. All that glitters is not gold!

Poetry and me

A language without its literature is like a beautiful beggar. She has her beauty but still unaccepted in society. Literature in the form of Poetry has been part of my life since childhood. I *do not* write poems. I have to admit that I did try writing but then I would also proudly admit that its not my cup of tea. And so I put myself amongst the cattle class who are confined to just appreciating poetry.

I love recitals. I love to know people by their words. I enjoy each and every word used by a poet in a poem or couplet. I try to dig deep into the mood or situation for which he may have chosen that word. Why not use another word in place? Has the poet done justice by using that word?

My love for recitals is not just confined to poems, but any form of creative writing. Recital is also an art and when done in the way it should be, would sound like music. Poetry which is easy to understand without the use of heavy words is mostly appreciated. Most of us regard Poets as a “Devdas” kind of a person. But remember, a Poet is not a mad-man scribbling anything. Its a perfect combination of words for the illiterates like us to understand and who do not know or care about poetry.

What makes me write this weblog is an incident over which me and my sister laughed tremendously a few days ago. It happened that I sent her an audio clip of a recital called ‘Mushaira’ of a famous Urdu poet. She started laughing immediately making fun of each and every couplet; I didn’t mind. I let her enjoy. After all, the reason I sent her the audio clip was for her to enjoy. Although the reason may be different.

Nevertheless, My journey with poetry started from the school days. We had poems in every class. Be it in English or regional language. Some poets/Writers who have inspired me back then were Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Vivian Derozio, Ghalib are some to be named. I enjoyed every moment of my childhood reciting poetry and speeches in front of the mirror, making expressions to myself, and clapping to myself. This is a gift I cherish till date. Many of the recitals I remember it till date. And I will not be modest to say that I have become an avid speaker now.

Words are really important in a person’s life and his/her upbringing. I am proud to belong to family of two cultures of my mom and dad. My Father and Mother are from same state of Gujarat but their hometowns are in opposite directions. Mixing up both has given me enormous number of daily proverbs, similes, and synonyms in their own literature. I always tried to translate them. Even my grandmother has played an important role. I still remember a proverb which my grandmother told me. She said “Measure your words and then speak”. When I was young, I made a funny comment. “Should I bring weighing machine”. She knew that I would one day understand its true meaning. Many other proverbs that still go behind my mind, and another such is “Go and earn and you’ll know how many 20’s make a hundred”. I used to immediately answer “5 20’s would make a hundred”. What a carefree was I ?!

Over the years, I myself have matured due to this. But this is dying. Today’s youth is more about social networking. Poetry for them is only to be shared over text messages. The literature behind the poetry or creative writing is lost. Who encourages his/her son to become a Poet except a Poet these days? Most students take up literature because they are poor in Math. The graduates in Literature usually become journalists or become literary quacks writing poor quality books.

Nonetheless, I encourage everyone to read poetry in any form. Poetry doesn’t only express the literature of the language but also the poet’s mind and mood.

Ramadan 2011

How I spent my Ramadan in my childhood
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Most of the time in my childhood, we had exams during Ramadan or just after it. It was an advantage for waking up early to study. Ramadan for me in my childhood was to wake up early before sunrise, eat as much as I could, drink tea to kill the sleep and study for 1-2 hours and then doze off again until time for school. At school, during tiffin break, I would see other kids eating or buying food. I would abstain myself and half of the day was spent thinking about the Iftaari which would be prepared at home. I would come home at 2PM and count for the hours left to break the fast and EAT! I would watch television for an hour and take a short afternoon nap and wake up at 4 to realize 2 more hours are left. But I would be excited to meet friends for evening prayers. I would make faces at mom for packing less amount of Iftaari as I was a real hogger (I am now too). Many a times I would fill up the tiffin box myself without her consent.

During Ramadan, we make small groups and perform evening prayers together in a small community hall. My clothes would be spotless white. Always trying to keep the praying mattress extremely clean and tidy without any spots. I wouldn’t even want someone to place a foot on it so as to get a small imprint of his foot on the perfectly ironed white praying mattress. The only black spot would be the slippers. We were told to wear old slippers or the cheapest slippers because it would be easily misplaced in the prayer hall. I would reach the earliest to get the best place under the fan and reserve places for my friends. Sometimes they would be early and reserve place for me. We would pray together and share Ifaari together and then have dinner together. Before Dinner was served, we would play small games or hand tricks amongst ourselves. Childhood games like “See see, I can do this, can you do that” or a pretty famous game called “Dal Gosh Singa Bulbul”. A game played with fingers and counting them. Something like Rock-Paper-Scissors. Only that the loser would be hand slapped (Slap on the hand, not cheek!) by all others. Post dinner was a time to gossip and take a walk. Numerous days I have played video games like Mario and Contra at the parlor nearby (1Re for 7 minutes) after dinner.

So, this is how I spent my childhood during Ramadan. Mostly carefree, Doing things at free will and mandatory things – only what was told or expected out of me or rather say “going with the flow”. Things are different when you’re all grown up.

Importance of Ramadan.
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Ramadan, the month which every believer bows down willingly without any pressure or fear but sheer due to the love towards the almighty.
Its this love which brings every believer to his knees thanking and asking for for more chances to thank. Yet many of us fail to realize its importance. Many Ramadans just pass by until one realizes and understands the true reasons behind it. Many of my own Ramadans have passed away carelessly.

Fasting
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Many people fail to understand the importance of fasting. The fasting during Ramadan is to kill the worldly desires. Yet many people fast only to have wonderful and lavish Iftaar parties everyday. Many people I know put on extra weight due to this. Some people have Sehari like a king. Dear people, kindly restrain to such activities; The fasting has a cause. Allow your stomach to feel the crunch. Only when your stomach crunches you will truly understand the importance of food. When you break the fast and drink the first sip of Sherbet, it should remind you to thank the Almighty for the sweetness he has provided. Remember, not everyone is lucky as you to take that sip of sherbet; Many do not even get clean water to break their fast. When you quench your thirst, your glands are moist and the reward is confirmed.

Charity
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Ramadan’s second name is the month of Charity. Most of us are generous on Fridays; Everyday is a Friday in the month of Ramadan. Do your best. Do not hesitate in Charity as Allah has given you more than what you need. Be thankful and help the ones who cannot afford. There are many people who cannot afford the extra expense of Ifaaris during Ramadan; Give them food grains, pulses if you do not trust them with money. Give the needy what they need rather than giving simply money. Giving money is good, but giving exactly what they need solves the purpose.

Prayers
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I once read a blog of a person who was a nurse in Saudi Arabia, She wrote her experience that the patients in the hospitals who are sick and are exempted from prayers also do not want to miss prayers. It becomes a serious case sometimes in their treatment but still they do not want to miss their prayers. So why many FIT and FAT people like us simply ignore prayers? If you ignore prayers, on the day of judgement, the prayers will ignore you. What will you answer to “Why didn’t you pray?” . Answers like “I was stuck in some work” or “I was held up in a meeting” or “I had a headache” are simply to give yourself a self explanation and satisfaction, these self made answers will be ridiculed. If you are delayed and genuinely stuck try to amend for it later but never miss it purposely. A late prayer with genuine reason is far better than just skipping it. Many people simply make a lame excuse saying “Oh, its already late for the prayers, so sorry I missed it”. They feel no more than 30 seconds of guilt and they are back to their normal worldly pleasures. I ask those, How can you get a sound sleep at night without the satisfaction of prayers?

Abstention from Music and Entertainment
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Many people believe that they should not watch TV or movies during Ramadan. Watching TV is not illegal. But it depends on what Niyat(intention) are you watching the TV. Many people simply turn off TV, do not visit movie halls; But keep sharing SMS jokes. Do you think with only outside show off, the Almighty is not watching your deeds? NOooo, for He knows what your reveal and what you conceal (Zahir and Batin). Remember the Angels are always watching you from behind and any activity you do is noted down. Most of us do not realize this at all or are too ignorant and simple feel no one is looking at them. Others will just feel 30 seconds of guilt. Keep a clean mind and clean Niyat and Allah will take care of the rest.

Fighting with the Satan
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Its true that bad thoughts keep coming as the Satan keeps whispering in your sub conscience. But while one is fasting, It is a TEST on how you fight with your own bad thoughts. What is Satan for you? Its not a physical thing which you could see, but its his whispering voice and thoughts which tries to corrupt every human being. Being positive and asking for God’s forgiveness is the best way to frustrate the Satan.

Let us all try to clean our souls, clean our hearts in this month, for this month comes just once a year.

An open letter to Bank of India : Are you bothered about your users?

Bank of India has launched its yet another terribly ‘faltoo’ service. This time its a software! There are no more browser based services available after March 18th 2010. I am not surprised but rather annoyed at the foolishness these people carryout sometimes always.

1. It works only on Windows. I gave up windows due to virus & security reasons. I am now on Macintosh. I can’t use any of Bank Of India’s online services. So its a waste for me. There are 20% people like me who are using non-windows operating system.

2. There is not much information about the digital security. The first time I use star token it asks for a PIN. How can I confirm that the information is going out securely from my system? It is not mentioned anywhere on the website.

When we install it says Publisher is Uniken Systems Pvt. Ltd. : Who is this Uniken Systems? How many of you know these guys? How does a lay man know about it? Should Bank of India website give some instructions for this?

Its ok to have a vendor do certification for you. But where is the information passed to the users ?

3. The first time Bank of India has mailed a secret PIN number to all their customers.(note the huge postal cost). What If I format my windows? I have to re-install the Star Token which will demand an authentication PIN which is mailed to me via post. It appears that this pin is usable only once! I am stuck! Help me!

4. Not sure if Bank of India thinks long term or not. According to a news, Microsoft windows will be shipped with an option of NOT having Internet Explorer. How will you guys deal with this? The software is heavily dependent on embedded Internet explorer control(Not just heavily, but rather say fully dependent!) which internally connects to BOI website! I am sure the software was heavily invested product. An unplanned investment. Any Answers BOI?

5. The software’s usability is very annoying. It blocks the entire screen. This means I can use only and only one program at a time. I am not sure if it has been tested with other intrusion detection / anti virus programs. Technically speaking, when the program requests for a full screen hook blocking other program, its a virus like activity for many anti-virus programs unless you add a exception to it.  Have you tested it BOI?

6. The whole idea of Internet Banking is ruined. This particular software restricts me to use the services from ONLY and ONLY 1) Windows AND 2) Internet Explorer AND 3) Only single Application at a time as it disallows me to use any other program at other time. I am not sure how this will work with ONLINE payment gateways!

7. According to a news report, French and German government has officially asked everyone *NOT* to use Internet explorer. Indian govt systems were compromised due to usage of Internet Explorer. Time and again it has been proved that Internet Explorer has been more vulnerable towards attack than any other browser/system. Why so much dependency on a single browser and racism towards other browsers? Isn’t Bank of India technically capable of providing services to another operating system?

8. Most of the Internet explorers in *India* are A) IE 6.0 and IE 7.0. Out of them 90% are default with their operating system which are *NEVER* patched to the current security level which Microsoft has to offer. There is always a threat of hackers using existing loopholes in the system.

With this step Bank Of India may publicize that it has added an extra level of security with all these hassles and restrictions, I rather use my old banking way of depositing a cheque/ draft than using such system. Or may be just close an account with them. They don’t care a damn for a single person! Do you BOI?

Security doesn’t mean you will narrow down options for users. It rather means you have to narrow down Hacker’s options and attempts to break into the system.

And yes, its not the end of the world. There are other banks which provide higher and secured system without A) annoying the user or B) Restricting the user for a particular operating system which has time and again proved to be more vulnerable than other operating systems. Any comments on this one, BOI?

Why does Bank of India invest in padding up existing technology and not open to newer options and not giving a though that ultimately the service is going to be used by end users! If you be evil to the the end users and they aren’t happy, it will be inevitable that sooner or later they will close an account with you.. !

Bank of India, I am not going to close the account with you immediately(But with such ‘funny’ services, I will soon). But yes, Its my humble appeal, Please employ better brains to put up a better security system which is easy and user friendly.

Best friend’s wedding

You know you’re someone’s best friend when you goto to that person’s wedding and everyone knows you! And for those who don’t, you’re introduced as a very special member with words like ‘Hey, Meet my best friend”, and their family members as “Meet him, he is bride/groom’s closest friend”

I had this experience yesterday when such friendly love was bestowed upon me by my friend’s family members. I felt like a family member. Simple yet meaning words like ‘closest’ and ‘best’ carry a very special meaning for me as I don’t get to hear this a lot.

Yesterday I understood how much happiness I’ve given my friend by being present on her wedding. And the same on my side to have received such warm gift of being special. I was too excited that she is getting married with a guy who will take care of her no matter what! Its not everyday you get this but its a life time opportunity.

My friend had an inter-caste marriage at a mosque(she being a muslim) and a church(groom being a christian) on the same day. The Boy converted to Islam and she converted to Christianity. Very rare in India and I’m quite lucky to have witnessed both in front of my eyes.

When I was leaving the reception she said to me “and you know the best part is that you attended all the events in the mosque and the church and finally here at the reception party! “. I enjoyed this wedding more than any other social events.

I wish the lovely couple my heartiest congratulations and may they enjoy lives and fulfill their dream.