Monday, December 31, 2007

Techy: Questions

Q1. Find k random elements from a very long linked list. The size of the list is not known.
[Update: if the size of the list is given then how does the answer change]

Q2. Find the kth smallest element from a list of integers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

More on Chak De

From Mr. Narayan Murthy's observations on Chak De India in the Times Of India:

  1. We have to identify as Indians first and rise above our affiliations with our states, religions and castes.
  2. We must accept meritocracy and enthusiastically play the role we are best suited to. We must embrace discipline to strictly follow every step required for success.
  3. We have to put the interest of our nation ahead of our personal interests, subordinating our egos and biases.
  4. Finally, we have to put in tremendous hard work and make short-term sacrifices for long-term glory.

To this I would like to add one more point which is also the biggest:

Self Belief. If the coach didn't believe that the team could win, the team wouldn't have won. He took risks and knew given the right training and right strategy the team can be a world beater.

Techy: CPU affinity on Linux

How do you assign a process to a specific CPU on a multiprocess Linux box?

Ans: Use "taskset". There are C functions for this command also, which can be see using "man taskset"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Indian Communists and Reliance Retail

This post echos similar thoughts as in one of my earlier posts: Pandian v/s Geetha.

Today's newspapers carry a report about the attack by members of Forward Block, a left wing party, on an outlet of Reliance Fresh (a grocery store chain owned by corporate giant Reliance Industries) in Calcutta. The outlet was still not open and was under construction when the members of the Forward Block vandalised it. When asked about the reason of this attack the members of Forward Block said that they think that Reliance Fresh is a threat to small businessmen.
What I interpret from this attack is that the communists think that it is their duty to protect the small businessmen from the onslaught of a corporate giant which is a symbol of crony capitalism in their eyes. Now I have been to Reliance Fresh stores in Noida and have found that it works on a very good marketing strategy. Sell one or two items which are popular real cheap and sell everything else a shade costlier than the market price. So a customer is attracted by the low prices on say, potatos and onions, and when she goes to buy these she invariably buys the rest of the vegetables from the store as well. Now the other vegetables are not cheap, so the total grocery bill is nearly the same as it was earlier when I bought these stuff from the small neighbourhood store. The only difference is that now I get everything from a single store and that is a huge convinience. So now, for me, it is a choice between convinience of buying everything from a single store or going around the whole market to buy the rations.

The question now arises, if I can see this, why can't the communists see it, that what stores like Reliance fresh offer is convineance and not low prices. What is wrong with letting the common man have some convineance? And since when the communists started favoring the small businessmen. They are after all businessmen who are doing business for profit and not for charity and would not deter from making an extra profit if they have a chance.

I think the communists are just opposing the corporates because it is in their nature to don't let anyone grow. They want everyone to be remain small and fight to live, not to live to fight. As I had highlighted in Pandian v/s Geetha, the communists need to look at the big picture not the small ones.

Saturday, August 18, 2007 - Ellison's New Yacht

Recently read Ellison's New Yacht on The Wealth Report - about Larry Ellison building a new smaller yatch. A very amusing quote from this article: it looks one of America’s flashiest billionaires may actually be downsizing.
Another interesting thought: Larry sold a share in his existing yatch to billionare David Geffen, which makes me think that billionares like Larry don't miss out on an opportunity to make money. Even when he didn't like his yacht he made the most of it by selling it partially, till the time he gets himself a new one.
Would love to hear your comments on this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It doesn't pay to be smart

Recently read this study from USA TODAY - It doesn't pay to be smart - about how people with IQ in most cases are not as rich as there IQ and have nearly the same rate of bankruptcy as people with IQ of 80. It doesn't take me much to get convinced with the outcome of the study because this is what I have been seeing all along my life in India.
People with highest IQ in any class end up being scientists and with most of the research being controlled by the government they end up working for the government which is the worst paymaster in India. The students who are a shade below end up being doctors and engineers who are decently rich to get along with life. The next lower rung of students is an anomaly in my theory and they end up in arts and commerce and a few of them make it big with the finance or such sectors. But when they make it big it is BIG. The last rung of students become the politicians or rogues and everybody knows who is the richest of all in India.
So for me the lower the IQ in India the better it is, if you want to get rich that is. :)

Postscript: Happy Independence Day to all the Indians.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Technical: CPU Affinity | Linux Journal

Interesting article on how to bind a process to a particular processor on a linux machine: CPU Affinity Linux Journal
Gives out a small C program which helps one bind a process to a processor.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Movie Review: Chak De India

After a long time I saw a movie which kept me engaged for the full length of the movie. When the intermission came it seemed that the movie had just started and when it did end it seemed like it had started half hour ago.
Chak de India is a movie about loving your game and playing for your team and not for yourself. It makes you forget the differences and tells you that we are all Indians and after a long time a movie that says "Winning is the only thing". To me it is a generational shift, the movies in yesteryear used to preach "participation is the only thing, winning is not". Not since Lagaan, another movie that said, winning is the only thing, have I seen people clapping in a movie hall. Seeing such movies being made, makes me believe that India is now poised to find its rightful place in the world and that now more and more Indians believe that they CAN.

Though the movie has its a plethora of characters who still believe that India and Indians cannot make it, but there are few like Kabir Khan and his unnamed friend, who helps him get the job, who believe that they can and so can others and therefore India.

Shahrukh Khan delivers one his most restrained performances and shows why he is a star. The girls are well casted and there are no over dramatic scenes. There are dialogues - catchy, motivational and philosophical - which you will probably remember for days to come.
"aaj mein pehli baar kisi gore ko India ka Tiranga lehrate dekh raha hu".
"haar ka bhoj jhelne ke liye tumhare kandhe abhi bane nahi hain"
"yeh sattar minute agar har player apne jeevan ki best hockey khele to koi is team ko nahi hara sakta"

Chak de.. might be just what the doctor ordered for Indian hockey which despite being the national sport of India is now no longer a priority sport.

My rating on the movie (5/5). Watch it if you want to get motivated, feel patriotic, feel enthusiastic and above feel like you can do.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Customer satisfaction 103

In Delhi NCR, PRJ Auto Services provides a 24x7 service for emergencies on road. For this service they charge an annual fee of Rs. 400/-. Recently my subscription had come up for renewal and as is the practice of most agencies they called up and reminded me that my subscription is about to end and that if I wished to get the subscription they would send an executive to collect the money from me. So I said fine send someone to collect the money. When that person came he collected the cheque from me and gave me a new subscription number and when I asked for a receipt he said that the card itself is a receipt and there is no need for a separate receipt. Since I was more interested in getting the renewal done I ignored this.

Some days later, I found that instead of Rs. 400/- a sum of Rs. 3000/- has been deducted from my bank on account of the subscription renewal. I called up bank to get the mistake rectified, they said they have received a cheque for Rs. 3000/- so have deducted that much and asked me to check with the concerned party. When I called up PRJ's helpline, they confirmed that they had in fact received a cheque for Rs. 3000/-. However they said if this is a mistake they would gladly refund me the money. Then they enquired at their end and found that this was indeed a case of mistaken payment and then to my utter relief sent me a cheque of Rs. 2600/- to refund the excess amount paid by me.

This is what I call customer service, I was not required to follow up with them about the payment. I called them twice to enquire about the status and at both the times they were quite friendly and concerned about the issue. And then after a week or so they called me up to inform that they are sending a cheque to me for refund.

If more companies follow practices like these and show concern for the customer, then customer dissatisfaction will become a word found only in dictionaries.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

India's Tour of England - Second Test review

Some jelly beans, Great inspired bowling by Zaheer Khan, the unintentional beamer by Sreesanth which made Kevin Peitersen too loose his concentration, excellent batting by the Indian top order and some really helpful conditions on the first day made it possible for the Indian team to register its sixth win in England, Micheal Vaughan's century not withstanding.

It was a great contest between India and England and a treat to watch. Every time you checked the scores from office on something had happened and you rued being in office.

Read an interesting statistic on post match - in its last 12 tours India has a won at least one match in 10 of the tours and in at least 4 of these series against major cricketing nations, India has drawn first blood and taking a lead in the series only to let it go. Lets hope this does not happen this time around against England.

In my first article on this series I had said almost all of the earlier tours of England, India have lost the first test and that has caused them to loose the series. The only tours they have not lost are the ones where they have not lost the first test. After the rain gods saved them, it seems that history will be repeated, India will now not loose this series and there are high chances that we may even win the series given that the pitch at the Oval has always been a belter.

Lets hope that it is not a repeat of India's famous tour to Australia in 2003-4 where we drew the series after saving the 1st Test, by some inspired batting from Saurav Ganguly and then winning the 2nd Test after a memorable knock by Rahul Dravid.

Postscript: the advertisements on Star Cricket are on the rise again and Sachin Tendulkar's Aviva advertisement is now on air again after a hiatus. Happy days are round the corner for the sponsors of the Indian Cricket team and the players.

Back to normality.

Eldeco is at it again

Imagine a brand new housing complex, less than an year old, where residents are charged around Rs. 3000 per month for maintenance service and then what are they provide with:
  1. muddy water in the taps
  2. seepage in the walls,
  3. a fountain which is not even fitted, let alone not working,
  4. overflowing drains which are not rectified even after 4 days of complaining, (I have not seen this problem even in 20 year old houses and this building is hardly an year old)
  5. street dogs freely roaming in the campus,
  6. power backup which takes an eternity to come in action.
  7. centralized complaint system, but there is no one to pickup the calls made by residents to make the complaint. And when the poor residents walks down to the office, there is no one there too.
  8. Prepaid system for electricity system with an IVR that does not work, so that the helpless residents are not able to know if there is any balance left in their account or not. They have to rely on their memory or wait for the electricity to get cut to know when the account recharge is required.

Can't believe it? Come to Eldeco's Ananda Apartments in Sector 48, Noida and you will get to see all of this and much more.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

India's Tour of England - First Test review

After a tantalising fight, India was finally able to save the match courtesy some gutsy batting by MS Dhoni and the Rain God. Had it not rained for the last 3 hours of the match India would have surely lost this match. Today's papers are full of reasons of Indian teams sorry state in this match. My own analysis is not very different from them. We bowled really bad on day 1 of the match and that was the major difference between the 2 sides. After that India was always catching up with England.

One thing that surprises me these days about the Indian cricket is the way we play spinners. Gone are the days when we used to treat the spinners with disdain. Shane Warne's performance against India is pathetic. Muralitharan's average against India is worst when compared against other countries. Performance of spinners from other countries against India in past is not even worth mentioning. So it is very surprising when one sees Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly giving respect to spinners from Bangladesh and then again to Monty Panesar, both when he toured India and now when India is touring.

I don't know what has caused these changes in the playing tactics of Indian batsmen against spinners, but we continue to play this way then one thing is for sure that we are going to loose out on what is our strength. In our continuous pursuit to improve our performance against the quickies it seems that we are forgetting the art of playing against the spinners. And this is not going to take Indian cricket forward. Nobody ever improves by forgetting ones strengths while removing the weaknesses.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

India's Tour to England -- Pre tour thoughts

The Indian Cricket team starts its tour to England tomorrow with a Test Match at the Lords Ground. The newspapers have been carrying articles on the past tours of Indian Cricket team to England. The one consistent feature of all the tours barring the 1986 tour is that we have lost the first Test always. Even in the famous last tour where we almost one the series had it not rained in the last Test, we lost the first Test quite easily, with only Ajit Agarkar saving grace with a cherished hundred at the Mecca of Cricket.

This time around, my patriotic self, would like to see that we repeat the 1986 tour, winning quite comfortably. But my realistic self, says that given the Indian performance in the tour matches till now and the still undecided batting order, we may land up in a familiar situation. This is the last chance for the famous trio of Indian batting, Sachin, Saurav and Rahul to leave a lasting impression. Sachin has already shown his intents in the tour match with a match saving knock of 177 against the England Lions team. Saurav, though lacklustre till now, have in the recent times shown a penchant of staying on the crease for longish periods in both versions of the game, so he can be counted on for at least staying on the crease and wasting time if not on scoring runs. This may be helpful for us in case we have to save a Test. Rahul have always been reliable and had been India's best bat overseas. He is sure to come up trumps this time around too.
Of the other players I have great expectations from Dinesh Karthik. He has shown a lot of improvement in recent times and I would place my bets on him.

In the bowling department, the Indian pace attack, though dependent on Zaheer Khan, I would trust Sreesanth to get wickets and along with the ever reliable Anil Kumble could be the match winner. I don't have much faith in the other bowlers. But to win a match, it is the bowling that has to come good. Lets hope it comes good this time around, like it did in the first Test in the latest series against South Africa.
And lets also hope that the Indian team does not let go the initial advantage like it did in South Africa.

Best of Luck India!!

Eldeco update - Power woes

The residents of Eldeco Ananda have had some meetings with the Eldeco officials in the last few months. One of the issue raised by us was the need of a UPS backup for the EPABX system that has been installed at Ananda.
In the first of such meetings in June Eldeco readily agreed to get this done. The residents have yet to see the UPS working. There was another meeting between the residents and the Eldeco officials on Saturday June 14, 2007, where Eldeco said that the UPS has been commissioned. However at the time of writing this post, there is no electricity in the complex for the last 4 minutes and I tried to check out if the EPABX was working or not and guess what it was NOT working. I wonder where did the UPS go. Seems like it too failed along with the generators for power back up.
While the power was down at Ananda, I couldn't help notice that the lights of the building next door, Kesar Garden Apartments, didn't even blink. I wonder what was the talk about uninterrupted power supply mentioned by Eldeco in their marketing brochure for Ananda. It still seems a distant dream.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Freakonomics Blog » The False Altruism of Alumni Giving

Mellisa Lafsky in her posting The False Altruism of Alumni Giving on the Freakonomics blog mentions an interesting study about how the alumni donation are correlated with the child's age and likelihood of applying to the school. My take on this:

there could be another reason for the increase in alumni contribution which is that as the child's age increase so does the alumnus' too and so does his/her income. Which can directly result in higher disposable incomes which in turn would lead to higher contributions to any charity including donations to college.

My personal thinking in this matter is that I would not donate to my college if I think that could have an impact on my kid's chances of getting an admission. It would be unfair on my part to think so and it would be even more unfair on the part of the college to consider the amount of my donations as helping the cause of my kid. I would like my college to take the best students no matter what their pedigree is and no matter what their parent's contributed to the college.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sleep Your Way to Better Fitness -

Recently read this interesting article on fitnees at Sleep Your Way to Better Fitness -
This makes an interesting read for especially a person like me who is not into a fitness program, regular or irregular, but I do give a lot of stress on sleeping and eating right. Maybe that is the reason why I have been able to maintain my weight at nearly the same levels for the past 5 years. I think a weight of around 66-70 kgs is good for a body of 5' 5".

But that is not to say that exercise is not to be done. At times I do feel that some exercise is required for the body so that the muscles do not become hard.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Indian Cricket -- then and now

Read this interesting article on cricinfo about India's first Test match ever, against England in 1932. It was all praise about the Indian team and how they had England in trouble during the match on atleast two occassions in the match.
My observations from the article about the state of Indian Cricket then and now is that it has not changed, few quotes from the article show that:
1. "they play the game in the most attractive manner" it was true then and it is true even now.
2. "Their batting depends on too few men" it was true then and it is true even now. We still depend on 3-4 batsmen to take us through. All others are there to make numbers.

And then as it says that we had the english team in trouble but it was we who lost. How often this story has been repeated in Indian cricket history, I can't remember. It was the story then and it is the story now. Seems we don't learn from our history and moreso the Indian cricketers.

Good luck to them on their English tour this monsoon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

From Freakonomics Blog

Recently read this post on Freakonomics blog No Price Discrimination at Northwest Airlines.
My own experiences about the service provided by the airlines are similar. The crew at most times gets confused about how to react when they are faced with a situation that is probably not mentioned in their handbook.

So is the quality of air crew going down or is that the passengers are getting more demanding these days?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Reservations in India

In a recent news report in the Hindustan Times about the Gujjar agitation for the demand for their inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe list I found a thought provoking comment from Col Kirori Singh Baisla who is leading the agitation. The report says that it took Col. Baisla 7 years to mobilise the Gujjars to fight for the demand for reservation. When the reporter asked Col. Baisla about the motivation behind this, he replied "I wanted to do something for my community as I felt that these simple people were victims of injustice. I had no political ambition in mind when I laid the foundation of the movement seven years ago."

If there are leaders, like Col. Baisla who believe that to uplift a community it has to be first made backward, then even God will not be able help us. No wonder, the Supreme Court recently said that India is probably the only country where being backward means that you are forward.

Reality of Real Estate In India

The other day I was having an animated chat with one of the employees of Eldeco Properties about some of the complaints that I had. During the course of our chat, I asked him why does he do this job where he has to hear hard words from nearly every customer? And if there is no other option then why don't you ask your superiors to help you resolve the issues faster so that no one would have any complaints from you.
To my utter surprise he said that he loves this part of his job where he gets to hear hard words from his customers. So far so good - no harm in loving some one who is out to abuse you. Remember Mahatma Gandhi. But what surprised me even more was when he said that he in fact welcomes such stuff from his customers. And that this is the reality of the real estate industry in India where the service providers have to hear abuses from the customers. And that every single company in real estate business in India welcomes such abuses.

Now this made me speechless, cause, if someone welcomes the abuses showered on him, to me that means that he does not care about taking corrective action about the reason for which he is being abused.

This made me wonder if that is the reason why in spite of the real estate industry being on the rise, the trust that the public shows in the builders is still very low, and is nowhere near the amount of trust public has in other sectors like automobiles, FMCG, etc. Is this the reason why, baring few, real estate stocks have not been the darling of the stock market till recently.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Info: Gmail tip

Found this interesting tip on LifeHacker for the Gmail users. It has cool keyboard shortcuts for folder access.

Find your Gmail by label short names

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Info: Life's tweeks and tricks

Interesting site having information about how to make life run smoother

This site has interesting tips from making Gmail easier to how to reduce weight.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A concealed threatening from Eldeco

Today we recieved a letter from Mr. Vishal from Eldeco Marketing saying that the maintenance payment that we make to Eldeco for maintaining the "beautiful and wonderful" (pun intended) Ananda residential complex where we live, will now be made part of the "pre-paid" system that is used for track our electricity consumption.

At first it does seem to be a good idea to ensure that regular payments are recieved by Eldeco, but wait till you read the next para of the letter. It says that in case the payment for monthly maintainance is not made then the electricity supply may be disconnected!! That is even when I am regular in paying my electricity dues!!

I wonder if this is due to the comments that I have written on my blog about the pathetic service from Eldeco. But why am I wondering, I should have expected this from them given the kind of people they are.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cricket World Cup 2007

This is the most boring World Cup ever seen. With not a single country managing to give even something of a fight to Australia and not a single exciting match on show. With only a few matches that can be counted as exciting - Zimbabwe v/s Ireland, Pakistan v/s Ireland, West Indies v/s England - this World Cup can be remembered with only one word - boring.
Hardly any exceptional performances - Lasith Malinga's four-off four is the only exploit that can be remembered for times to come.

With so many "world events" happening - the champions trophy happened less than an year ago and the 20-20 world cup is round the corner - it seems that the Cricket World Cup, which is supposed to be the show piece event of World Cricket, has lost its value to most teams. They seem to be fatigued and bored. With countries like India treating the World Cup matches as just another match, the excitement of cricket seems to have been on the wane.

It is time ICC does some radical rethinking on its strategy of how many matches a country should play in a year and also how many show piece world events should be there. Unless this is done the Cricket World Cup is in grave danger of being reduced to just another tournament with stakes that no one cares about.

Friday, April 20, 2007

What difference a Wheel can make

Recently this article on The incredible story of Tata Motors and the Rs 1-lakh car on, about how Tata Motors turned around from the lows of late 1990s and how it transformed itself from a truck making giant to a leading car manufacturer.

I would like to share one interesting part of this article which gives an interesting insight in the mindset of rural India. Mr Wagh mentioned in the para was invovled in the designing of the latest Tata offering Ace and he narrates his experiences when researching in the early part of the development of Ace.

Before starting the project, Wagh did something no one at Tata Motors ever had: He talked to customers. The three-wheeler men inevitably insisted on a cheap, dependable truck that could go from village to market carrying, say, 200 chickens, a ton of onions or potatoes, or 2,000 eggs. One night, as sunset approached, Wagh stuck with one rickshaw driver. "I kept asking the question. Why? Why? Why do you want a four-wheeler?" Wagh remembered. Finally, he got the real answer. It turned out it wasn't really a problem of chickens or eggs. "If I had a four-wheeler, I would have better marriage prospects in my village," the young man said. Drivers of three-wheelers are looked down upon in India. Wagh realized that four wheels had emotional, not just practical, appeal.

Even in the wildest of my dreams I could not have thought that an extra wheel to man's vehicle can enhance the marriage prospects in rural India. Interesting isn't? Is this the reason why truck drivers have such a good image in the villages?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

More on Eldeco

This is what one of the readers have to say about the Eldeco and Ananda, Noida:

The blokes at Eldeco Infrastructure and Properties Ltd, the makers of Eldeco Ananda at Noida, have a way of plumbing to new depths of ineptitude. Case in point? The massive steel tubes that have come up in the basement car park. Who ever wanted them anyway. Even assuming that these barricades serve a purpose i.e. we get disciplined enough to park our cars in a way that enables others to also find their space, these bars could have been a little lower and hence making it possible for people to get out of their cars without fear of banging the door onto these bars.
Someone in Eldeco needs his head examined. Not only is this effort so hopelessly counterproductive and irritating, it has also cost them a tidy packet, with all the fabricating and welding and painting, which amount could have been spent on a better treadmill at the gym.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Customer Satisfaction 102

After my recent posting on Customer satisfaction, I got some responses which highlight the issues that a customer has to face these days from the service providers. One of these makes an interesting read.

I am a highly satisfied customer.So feels my vegetable vendor, Kabadiwala, maid servant, driver, barber and all other persons with whom I have to interact regularly. This is because I do not have an alternative.
Recently I had to visit office of Registrar of marriage to get marriage certificate of my son. The counter clerk asked for sending across certain documents, like marriage invitation card, proof of residence, photographs, two witnesses and insisted that I need not come personally to deliver these documents. Any official on my behalf could come and see her. I was very satisfied.
My representative on reaching there phoned me to intimate that a sum of Rs.200/-has been requested towards some welfare organisation, for which a receipt would be issued. Shortly thereafter he intimated that another Rs.400 has been demanded for expediting the process. On the appointed time we all reached the office of Deputy registrar and the certificate of marriage was issued in about 30 minutes time. We were satisfied.
However the lady too wanted to be satisfied. She requested us to come to her cabin and fill up an opinion /feedback form. The information was sought on courtesy, promptness, etc and whether any one demanded any bribe.
Any suggestions?

Would love to hear what you have to say about this.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cricket World Cup 2007

Will South Africa reach the semi-finals? This is what everybody is wondering about after South Africa lost to New Zealand in yesterday's match. With Australia guaranteed to top the league in the Super 8s, New Zealand already in and Sri Lanka, with one match against Ireland remaining, are sure to make it to the final four, the race for the last of the semi-final spots is between South Africa and England. The current form of West Indies and the reputation of Bangladesh makes them not so hot in the race for the last spot of the final four.
The interesting feature of this race is that the English are there in the race thanks to the inconsistent showing by South Africa in the Super 8s. There are numerous statistical analysis available about what combination of results in the next few matches along with the run rate equation would make which team reach the last four, but my take is that whoever of these teams reaches the last four is not a deserving one. The only team that can be called deserving would be Bangladesh, if they make it.

The other three - South Africa, West Indies and England - can be blamed for making this World Cup lacklustre. All of them promised a lot before the tournament began. South Africa climbed to the number 1 spot in the ODI rankings. England beat Australia in Australia for 4 consecutive times and West Indies were looking a rejuvenated side after there recent form in the Champions trophy. And the cricket fans were finally hoping that there would, finally, be some competition for Australia. But it was too good to be true. They only flattered to decieve.

The only hope now is that one of these teams pick themselves up in the same way as Pakistan did in the 1992 World Cup. Pakistan were then nearly down and out of the Cup until they miraculously made it to the semi-final as the last of the lot and then went to beat the league toppers New Zealand in the semis and finally went on to win the Cup in the most astonishing manner. If only one of these teams can do to Australia, what Pakistan did to New Zealand and then go on to win the Cup, it will not only help this dismal Cup end on a high not but will also electrify the international cricket scene.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Info: Product Comparison Site

Here is a good site where one can compare electronic/electrical goods available in India.

I found this site informative and useful. It also has the price and feature comparison tool which I found particularly useful.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Customer Satisfaction 101

Recently I learned a new lesson on how to make a dis-satisfied customer satisfied, courtesy the most-intelligent staff of Eldeco.

Long time back we had given a list of complaints to Eldeco. There was no response to the list for quite some time and then all of a sudden recently the Eldeco staff came to review the status of list of complaints. One of the points in the list, was the bad quality of wooden floor that they had put in one of our bedrooms and we had asked for a replacement.
The person who came to us asked us to write a letter to Eldeco mentioning this complaint along with the fact that we are a "satisfied" customer and that this is our only complaint towards Eldeco. And he also quitely suggested that if we show our statisfaction from the services provided by Eldeco it would help him pursue our case with the Eldeco Group's Management and if we don't show our satisfaction then it would be very difficult for him to get things done.

This whole thing shocked us to no end. Imagine the guts of the person saying this. We obviously refused to write such a thing in the letter.

Moral of the Story: The whole episode showed us how to make a dis-satisfied customer, satisfied. Ask him to write a letter saying that he satisfied in case he wants to get his work done.

Postscript: Nice lesson from Eldeco on customer satisfaction, must be put together with the brilliant case study on them which they have been displaying on thier website.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bangladesh's growth in Cricket continues

Yesterday's match in the Cricket World Cup 2007 between the first (England) and the latest (Bangladesh) Test playing nations throws up yet another instance of how fast the Bangladeshi cricket team is matuaring. Thier recent win against South Africa surely have boosted Bangladeshis and it showed in yesterday's match.
Despite being cleaned up by english bowlers in less than 40 overs and not posting a challenging total, they didn't gave up and put on a decent fight streching England to nearly 45 overs. That is really a good job done by the bangladeshi bowlers. Making the English take more time to reach a not-so-challanging target. As per fashion it can be said that they were helped by the poor form of english batsmen, but then you still have to bowl well to ensure that the poor form continues. And that is why credit must be given to the Bangladeshis.
In their match against India in the World Cup, there was a banner which said "Bangladesh: World Champions 2011" and that time it looked like wishful thinking but not any more. If the recent improvements continue my take is that the Bangladeshis would be a force to reckon with in the next World Cup. They won't be pushovers then!

मेरी पहला हिंदी पोस्ट

आज जब सोचा कि एक नयी ब्लोग एंट्री कि जाये तो देखा कि ब्लॉगर ने ब्लोग कोम्पोसेर में एक नया बटन दिया हैं, हिंदी में लिखने के लिए। तो सोचा क्यो नही ट्राई किया जाया हिंदी में ब्लोग, परंतु जब लिखने बैठे तो सब अंग्रेजी में ही लिखने लगे। और ब्लॉगर ने जब उसे हिंदी में कनवर्ट किया तो लगा कि कुछ तो गड़बड़ हो गयी हैं। जो सोचा वो लिखा दिखायी नही दिया। फिर समझ में आया कि जब हम सोच अंग्रेजी में रहे थे तो ब्लॉगर भी तो अंग्रेजी में ही लिखेगा, बलेही लिपि देवनागरी हो। तो यह हुई थी गड़बड़। फिर कोशिश कि की जब हिंदी में लिखना हैं तो हिंदी में सोचा जाये, पर बड़ी परेशानी हुई लिखने और सोचने में। शुरुआत में कुछ कथनी हुई पर बाद में कुछ कुछ वापस आ गया। और फिर तो दिमाग एकदम हिंदी में ही चलने लगा।

पर इस सब के बाद एक विचार आता हैं अपने मस्तिष्क में की आदत कितनी खराब हो गयी हैं, की हिंदी में भी जब बोलते हैं तो बीच बीच में अंग्रेजी की कितने शब्द आते हैं। थोड़ी (अभी तो बस थोड़ी सी ही) शरम आती हैं की अपनी मात्रा और राष्ट्र भाषा से कितने दूर होते जा रहे हैं हम। और अपने बच्चो को क्या सिखायेंगे? क्या व्हो हिंदी ठीक से पढ़ भी पाएंगे? या लिख पाएंगे? या फिर हिंदी पढने की कोशिश भी करेंगे?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Customer (Non-) Support from Eldeco

We had filed some complaints regarding the finishing of our house when we shifted to Ananda in January 2007. Some of the complaints have been taken care off but most of them have not been taken care off till date. See the portion circled in red in the photo, which has been taken from the complaint register maintained by the Estate Manager at Ananda, Noida. We had filed complaints on 23rd Jan, 2007 and till date some of them have a "not done" status.

I wonder what does Eldeco mean by customer satisfaction, with complaints remaining unanswered for nearly three and half (3.5) months. They do not seem like an progressive organization and are not at all bothered about the customer once they have sold the apartment. The funny part is that they are not even ready to handover the maintanence to the residents even when we have been asking them to do so since last 5-6 months. It seems Eldeco wants to derive some sadistic pleasure from putting us to this misery.
I think even Government of India departments are better performers now. Earlier I was staying in a flat constructed by NOIDA and I used to crib about lack of support from NOIDA, but I think Eldeco has managed to put even NOIDA to shame.

What happens when a maestro plays the subway?

Recently read this interesting article in the Washington Post. Its about what happened when Washington Post arranged for Joshua Bell, a world famous violinist, to bring his $3.5 million violin to a subway stop, open up his case for donations, and see how people respond. The story even shows you hidden video. Before you read the article, take a guess at what you think happened.

One particular piece of the article which caught my attention about why babies love music:
The poet Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother's heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too.
Which makes me think about my daughter Nandini, she is only a year old and the way she has taken to dancing is really interesting. Niether of her parents are into dancing, her mother does have an ear for the music. Since she learned to walk Nandini has been dancing and has improved on her steps without any external help or teaching. Seems like she is a born dancer. And the moment music starts playing on our radio, she drops what ever she is doing and starts dancing. It is really fun to watch her dance. Its so natural and straight from the heart.

We always used to wonder how she has learned to dance, now we know!!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Funny - How to Cheat the Mumbai Train System

Read this post on Freakonomics about how people in Mumbai Suburban train system have devised a way to cheat on the local train system.
"Here’s how it works. You pay 500 rupees (about $11) to join an organization of fellow ticketless travelers. Then, if you do get caught traveling without a ticket, you pay the fine to the authorities and then turn in your receipt to the ticketless-traveler organization — which refunds you 100% of the fine."

My thoughts on it:
It is very amusing to read this and not at all surprising, given the level of intelligence in India. The person who thought about this has to be given credit for thinking about this system and also credit to people who have made this organization popular. The government of India should now hire the persons who established this organization and ask them to devise methods to reduce ticketless travel in the local trains. These are the persons who should be there in the administration.

The Strange World of Eldeco

Recently read this article on Eldeco:
It says that ".. (Eldeco) are trying to deliver dream homes to savvy customers, not just in the metros but in the second tier cities as well."
Sure they do know what the customers dream of, otherwise how would they how to make them a nightmare. Eldeco Ananda at Noida can be made a good case study on how to turn customer's dream into nightmares. The list of problems here are endless.
1. Erratic power supply (even with power backup), which even causes the bulbs in common corridors to fuse every week, not to speak of what happens in our homes.
2. Water supply which seems straight out of Yamuna river. Even Noida Authority flats have better water quality then at Eldeco Ananda.
3. Poor construction quality, seepage in walls galore.
4. Massive delay in delivery. The deadline for possession was March 2006. Its now April 2007 and the work is still at least 5-6 months away from completion. Though some brave hearts like us have agreed to shift due to monetary pressures.
5. Its summer now, but the swimming pool is still empty. I think they are waiting for the winter to set in to start the swimming pool, so that people can enjoy sun bathing by the pool side.
6. The piped gas supply has not started yet. The residents are made to believe that it is not safe to start the supply until 75% occupancy is there.
7. High maintenance charges with no accountability from Eldeco Management.
8. The gymnasium is a sham, with 72 houses, they have equipment which can not even handle 5 persons at the same time. Private gyms which charge much less are much better than this.

Maybe its Ananda, Devil style.

Electricity bill woes at Eldeco

The electricity bill for the month of Feb '07 at Ananda is another case in point of gross mismanagement by Eldeco. The electricity bill has an item called "electricty duty" which is calculated based on the consumption in the currect month and this has been the case since the bills started coming. But this month a gross error in the "computer generated" bill was made by calculating the duty on the total consumption of electricity till date. Not that the "mis"-calculation amounts to much but it is beyond ones thought that how come such errors could suddenly pop up in a computer generated bill.
When will Eldeco stop cheating on us???

Cricket World Cup 2007

Yesterday's match in the Cricket World Cup 2007 between Bangladesh and South Africa showed that Bangladesh's win against India in the group stages was not a flash in the pan. With victories against three big Test playing nations - New Zealand, India and South Africa - in last one month, it shows that cricket in Bangladesh is improving and Bangladesh can no longer be considered pushovers in international cricket.
In today's Hindustan Times, Sunil Gavaskar had said that after the recent losses of the Indian team at the World Cup, instead of deriding the Indian team the Indian cricket fan should instead praise the good cricket played by both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Yesterday's victory against SA goes a long way in supporting Gavaskar's comment. It is time the Indian cricket fan starts praising the other teams for playing better instead of just criticising our own team. The criticism is justified but not praising the other team is not. Time the Indian cricket fan grows up.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Eldeco Marketing

Sometime back I had a discussion with one of the marketing folks at Eldeco Properties and Infrastructre Ltd, regarding the house that I had bought in their premium project at Noida, Eldeco Ananda. I had a problem regarding my electricity bill which was generated by Eldeco themselves and had asked the marketing person to get the mistake rectified, to which he had agreed to and told me that he will get back in a couple of days.
After a few days I found that the problem is still there in my bill, so I called this person again and asked him about the status. He said, matter of factly that this was not his problem and he would not be able to get the issue fixed. When I said that then why did you commit to get back to me when we talked the last time. To my utter disbelief he said that he had never said that he will get back to me and instead it was I who was supposed to get back to him. Now I wonder if the problem was with my bill and if I had agreed to get it resolved then why would I get back to him. I would get the issue resolved and be happy, why the hell would I give him a call to tell him that the problem has been fixed. That would have been the most stupidest thing to do.
So I got a litte disturbed and the cumulative anger of all the promises broken by Eldeco till then, caused me to say that "Enough is enough, I had made a big mistake of buying a flat from Eldeco and now I will make sure that no body from my friends and my acquaintances buys a flat from Eldeco".
To my utter disbelief the person said "if you want to do so, then sir that is your problem".

Shocking, isn't it? but true to the last word. With persons like this in the marketing department, not even God can help Eldeco. Not to talk about the poor people like us who have been hoodwinked by Eldeco to buy a flat. :-(

Pandian v/s Geetha

Recently read this interesting article on Shobha Warrier's blog at "Of Cabbages and Men" about how the growth of organized retail sector in India is a double edged sword - it benefits some and kills some.

I say that, that is how capitalism works. It lets people who wants to grow, grow more otherwise someone else will grow more than you and overtake you.

Had Pandian, the vegetable seller, who was doing well, been a growth oriented person, he would have thought of setting up a bigger shop instead of letting himself be confined to the street where he started his life as a business man. This would have made him grow big and make his life more stable. Who knows if would have grown so big that Reliance would have felt threatened by him. Didn't Dhirubhai himself had the same humble beginnings as Pandian. Maybe he would have created many more Geethas and much earlier.

It is a dog-eat-dog world and one has to be constantly on one's toes and ensure that one is not eaten up someone at the back.

Eldeco cares ;-)

Ever since we moved to our new house at Eldeco Ananda we have been facing a lot of problems and have been reporting it to the authorities. And it seemed that they didn't care and that all our pleas were falling on deaf ears. This was the story of all the residents here. But we were in for a "surprise". On April 4th, two of the Eldeco representatives came to our house asking if are facing any problems in our house. We thought that Eldeco finally has cared about us helpless people. But it seems that it was all a cruel joke on their part. When we asked why they said that they have got an email from us regarding our complaints. The strange thing is that we haven’t written any email to any one in Eldeco about anything.

The two things close to an email that come my mind are either an email from RWA (residents welfare association) or a blog that Sonal has been maintaining chronicling all our troubles with Eldeco.

If it’s the email from RWA managing committee kudos to them to finally get things moving.

But if it is the blog that Sonal has been maintaining that I think she has been partially successful in achieving the goal of generating enough bad publicity which will make Eldeco care about us.

Sonal maintains her blog at and one of the things that she writes about is our troubles at Eldeco Ananda and the lackadaisical attitude of Eldeco in addressing the issues raised by us. Off late the blog has been getting a lot of hits regarding Eldeco and Mr. Pankaj Bajaj, one of them being “Pankaj bajaj scam”!!. It does not seem strange after what have been through, but I wonder who else would have connected Mr. Bajaj with a scam.

At Penang, Malaysia, 02/12/2006

Working alone on a Saturday afternoon in the cold hall at Intel's Penang Development Center waiting for the compiles to get over. Random net surfing, watching live score of ashes and that too is over now, so what to do?

Do a long pending wish, write a blog. So here it is: my first entry.

Its been 2 days since I arrived at Penang on an official trip. The task ahead was critical and required extra effort and hearing stories from my collegues already there at Penang, I was very apprehensive if I would be able to turn things around. On top of that leaving Nandini and Sonal at home after such a long time was not an easy thing to do. So I was not very upbeat about the journey.

The trip wasn't finalized till the last minute and that made things even worse. Nevertheless work had to be done and some one had to go, so here I am at Penang reluctantly or otherwise.

The first impression of Penang was good. The view of the airport from the plane reminded me of San Francisco. Though the differnce was in size. But the similarities were striking. An airport surrounded by hills on one side and by the sea on the other. Lush green hills made the view very pleasent. The temperature was pleasent, but humidity little bit on the higher side, which was understandable. After all Penang is an island.

After arrival at the airport, my first task was to quickly check-in at the hotel and reach office as soon as possible. And ever since I have been here in the office, understanding the setup and how things work and what do I need to do to move to the next level.

Now that my collegues have left for home back in India, I am alone, trying to manage on my own, so the wait time is more prononuced. Earlier we used to have a small gupp session and discussed life and musings, but with me alone, I thought its a good idea to start my blog.

Lets see till how long I manage to write.