Abhi achche din aye nahin hain Modiji

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a Modi hater. It is the reverse actually. I am such a big supporter of his that I am hugely disappointed when I see a governance failure in his term. If it were Congress who were at the center I’d say that it is fitting that we got such a bad service. But with Modi at helm I want everything to be in order.

This post is my vent on the rotten experience we LPG(Liquified Petroleum Gas) consumers, in Bangalore, had to face due to center’s decision of deciding to transfer our LPG subsidy to our bank accounts directly. This meant that our Aadhaar number had to be linked to the LPG account and to the bank. Here, I have to mention this to Mr.Nilekani: however much noble your intention was behind the Aadhar card it was not done properly. We spent a lot of our precious time to get our Aadhar card made, when it was introduced. And also numerous rounds to our house to get this or that documentation or when we were told that there is no power. We had attached our bank details(with cancelled check) and our LPG account details too at that time. Why didn’t the linking happen at your end, Mr.Nilekani? Good that you didn’t get elected again!

Like always when our LPG cylinder is empty we book the refill on phone. We realised that something was wrong when we didn’t get our cylinder even 10 days after I got an SMS that my cash memo was generated. When we called up the IVR we got a shock that our booking was cancelled. We booked another time and even that was cancelled by our LPG distributor(LPGD). We knew that Aadhar linking to LPG was on. We even saw this in our PG booking SMS “You can handover your AADHAR card Xerox along with Form-2 to Delivery boy”. So, the LPGD had no business cancelling our bookings.

We then went to his office to find out why he is cancelling our bookings without even telling us the reason. There we found a person who was extremely rude who was running the show. He greets you with his rudeness. He shouts at you for no reason at all. We gathered from his shoutings at us that until we do our Aadhar linking to the LPG a/c the bookings will get cancelled. Then he says that get him a cancelled check and he will link our bank a/c to the LPG a/c and he will give us a cylinder. Obviously, we were not carrying our checkbook nor our gas cylinder. We ran home and got both and gave him the cancelled check. Now, when he is entering our details in the system we see that he has got our name wrong in the system. At this point, he throws up his hand and says that I must get a notarized affidavit on a Rs.20 stamp paper to get this corrected. Without that he cannot give us the cylinder. We were trying to reason with him that the error happened, most probably, by their operator, at the time of entering our details and he should correct our name without this long procedure. He gets more rude and more shouting follows. He alleges that we gave him the wrong spelling! These are the kind of monsters who are running the show, Mr.Modi.

We then came home and started doing our investigations online on how we an get this linking done online. On mylpg.in we found a way to do it. And we linked our aadhar card with our LPG account. We then picked a day when we first went to Jayanagar (12kms both ways in bangalore traffic) and for Rs.200 got an affidavit to correct our name in the LPGD system. We then went straight to the LPGD armed with the affidavit and aadhar card photo-copies. On this day, he was extra rude. He says he won’t do any documentation on this day because of the rush of customers at his outlet. We also found out that in his system our Aadhar is still coming as not linked! In his rudeness and shoutings he ranted at us “Why don’t you go and trouble the bank and link your aadhar card there where the employees draw 80K salaries!” Again, we were turned away from his outlet without our LPG refill. We went to an HDFC bank branch and we were pleasantly surprised by the way we were treated by the officer over there. It was like the difference between hell and heaven. It was then, we wondered why we didn’t approach the bank directly, in the first place. We gave the required documentation there very smoothly. We were told to wait for 5 working days for the linking to happen.

At the end of five working days we again picked the nerve to approach our LPGD to give us our refill. This time we were prepared. We even packed our car with a printer and a UPS (pictures below) just in case he again sends us on a wild goose chase of getting this or that document. Remember, he had cancelled two of our bookings in the past. We had made another booking too, just in case he says that we don’t have any booking, just to refuse us the refill again. This time we were pleasantly surprised to know that his system was showing as linking done successfully. And he also was ready to give us the refill. Now, I told him to take the affidavit he had asked us to make to correct my name. He says that it is not required since the linking is done. *facepalm* I spent one half day into getting this made. 😦

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According to a government notification, no gas agency can stop supplying your refill. Yet, this LPGD is blatantly doing so putting all consumers to hardship. Also when this fact was pointed out to him, he openly challenged us saying, “Go complain.” Today, my wife found a baffled lady in the queue who wanted a refill but he was denying it since she did not have a booking. Well, her booking had been canceled by him without information and now he was using that as an excuse not to give her the refill.
The other day, a Senior citizen came with his LPG book and empty cylinder after making a trip home. When he reached the place at some minutes before 1 pm, the security guard rudely told him to come back at 2.30 pm as it was lunch time.
No one cares for the elderly, the women or the needy who are made to suffer to get the cylinder refills they anyway deserve.
What was despicable was their attitude to yell and make you run around even more instead of trying to help you out.
We also tried complaining on the online portal but no one responded to our queries. The helpline where we tried to complain after taking all our details said that their systems were not working and hence could not register our complaint. The system has been painful beyond compare. It is like no one cares.

Modiji, this is how shabbily your people are implementing the government schemes of subsidy transfers directly to the bank. If well-read people and people who reasonably know our rights are treated like dogs in this way we can only imagine how that outlet guy must be treating lesser people. If you are in any position to take any action on this fellow (Sri Sai Prasanna Gas Service, Arekere, Bangalore) please take it.

Desi Price Compare

Desi Price Compare – The new way to buy anything!

At Tranquilsoft we have launched yet another useful and creative app called “Desi Price Compare” to make the lives of consumers easier. This app, as the name suggests, is targeted to the Indian audience. With it one can do a real time check on the price of any item, anywhere on the most popular e-tail websites of India. For now, the app fetches search results from three of the most popular e-tail websites i.e. Amazon.in, Flipkart.com and Snapdeal.com.

Let me take you on a tour of what you can do with the Desi Price Compare app:
1. Assuming that you have zeroed in on the product you want to purchase. And let us say that the product is Google Nexus 5. Then you would open the app and put the search keywords as “Google Nexus 5″ (minus the double quotes). The basic idea is that you must be as specific about the product, as possible. It is always better to use model numbers of the products along with the names. For examples, if you are interested in checking the price of a laptop Apple Macbook Pro 101HN/A then please use the name and full model number. It helps in obtaining more accurate results. Searching for only Macbook Pro would get search results of all Macbook Pro laptops but not necessarily the exact model you are looking for.

Desi Price Compare

2. When the search finishes you will be shown a screen with the search results of products from all the e-tailers and sorted on price. Thus making your job of selecting the right e-tailer easier.

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3. That’s not all! You can select the search result you have short-listed. On selecting the product you will be shown more details of the product, like what was the Maximum Retail Price(sometimes this might not be available due to some technical short-comings). From this popup detail window you could also choose to go the product website, perhaps, to purchase the item. And we encourage you to do so.

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4. As you can see here, you will be taken to the product page in your favorite browser. Here, you could proceed to purchase the item!

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The days to come are pretty exciting for Desi Price Compare. We will be adding more e-tail sites. We will add more features too. An iPhone app of the product is awaiting approval from Apple. So watch the space. And thanks in advance for downloading it and keeping it in your favorite list of tools on your mobile phone!

Interstellar – A journey into the miracles in store for the stellar traveller

Yes, you guessed it right. This is my take on the movie Interstellar.

By some quirk of fate all of the family was at home mid-week today. And we spontaneously made this plan of watching this highly rated movie on the big screen. We thought Rachna doesn’t dig sci-fi and Gautam doesn’t understand such hi-fi movies, anyway. So it might be a good idea for Sid and me to go for it. But the rest of them protested and they were promptly included into our plans. And, boy, did we all come home satisfied! It’s one of those movies which we come out of with more questions than answers 🙂 Each one of us had numerous questions and the others would chip in with their understanding and then promptly they ask their own question 🙂

Until now we had movies where the movies were entirely science fiction like Star Wars and Star Trek or movies like Gravity which borders on sci-fi and reality but doesn’t scratch profound theories of interstellar physics like worm-holes, time dilation or black holes. I am amazed at how my 12 year son, Sid, has a grasp of such profound theories of interstellar physics. He has nothing to learn from my knowledge of black holes or concept of time in universe. More on him later 🙂

Here are some things that bamboozled me about the movie(spoiler alert, if you haven’t watched it already);
1. Cooper sees gravitational anomalies at his home due to which they find the co-ordinates of the super-secret NASA center. Which in-turn eventually triggers his selection to captain the space flight to discover new habitable planets. Which in-turn leads him to get stuck in a black hole where he is able to see his young daughter and communicate with her in morse code. Which in turn leads to the co-ordinates of the NASA center being given by Cooper. This leads you to think of this as a cyclic chain of events which don’t have a start, you see?

2. How does Cooper manage to transmit the data of singularity to the seconds hand of the watch given to Amelia? And how does it keep replaying? Does it even keep replaying? These events seem super-natural, at best. It is hard enough to communicate profound concepts of physics in pure english and think how hard it must be to convey it in morse code!

3. How does a person come out of a black hole, even if he is not crushed to a small ball? What is a tesseract? Reminded me of Thor 🙂 Black hole, afaik, is a ball of infinite mass which attracts anything closeby to its core. Not even light escapes its attraction.

4. On earth can you create conditions that would make time dilate? That is go slow with respect to the time outside the test area? Scientists have spent billions to create the particle collider at CERN to create god particle. This can be another project they must consider 😉 A person walks into the test area and spend a few minutes and walk out to find that his children have grown up 🙂 Wow!

5. And, boy, where does god fit in these scheme of things? Is he the one who creates the worm holes 🙂

6. Last, but not the least, we think we know a lot about the universe and, particularly, the solar system. It looks to me like we have hardly scratched the surface of the things yet to be discovered in the universe.

Once again we get to see a power-house performance from Mathew McConaughy. He might be in for a back to back Oscar this year! Loved the moview, as you might’ve guessed by now. Not to be missed if you are a science lover.

Things that make me happy…

Just came to know that today is the international day of Happiness. Just the day to list out the little things that make me happy 🙂 Here is the list, not in the same order.

  1. I remember during our school days, when Mom and Dad used to get us our new notebooks and textbooks. The smell in the books is something which I still remember. And the anticipation of new things that we are going to learn. I used to try and read as much as possible of the new textbooks as soon as they came in.
  2. Talking of the school days, who can forget the exhilarating feeling we kids used to go through for a little while after our exams got over. It felt like I was on the top of the world. I once told my sister that I feel like a free bird, flying in the sky 🙂 And she teased me about it.
  3. Coming back to these days..I am an avid gardener. And I feel immensely happy when I see sprouts coming out of the seeds I sowed. Greater happiness is when these little saplings  choose to settle in my garden (‘coz many small saplings don’t make it through to being a healthy fruit-bearing plant). Even greater happiness is when you see them fruit and when you are able to savour their taste.
  4. I am software developer. And it gives me great happiness when a piece of code I write works the way it is intended to work. Much greater happiness is when software created by me comes to someone’s use. And even greater happiness is when someone commends my work.
  5. It gives me happiness in trying out new software. When I am learning a new programming language I on the edge happy. It is like meeting a new girl friend 🙂 In my mind I keep measuring it up against my previous longterm girl friend (which is Java) 😀
  6. Happiness is when I get my pay-check from my customers.
  7. Happiness is when my investments bear good returns.
  8. Oh, happiness is when I am watching my favourite movie on the big screen. I’d be lying if I say that I don’t enjoy movies on my computer too. But on the big screen it is movie time with the whole family. And it is usually to sci-fi movies which even my sons dig. I am already being pestered about that we have watch Avengers-The age of Ultron on the big screen in 3D 🙂
  9. Happiness is when my wife cooks my favourite foods like Chicken Biryani, Baghara Baingan, Maa ki daal, Rajma, Broken Wheat Upma with Eggs, etc.
  10. Happiness is when I get praise for the cooking I do at home. My kids and my wife will always keep this cooking only for me: Egg bhurji / Omlette, Mushroom masala, Raita, etc.
  11. Last, but not the least happiness is when I am sipping my favourite drink 🙂

That warm fuzzy feeling of positivity

I was very small at that time. Maybe 5 or 6 years old. But I still remember the incident. It is etched in my mind like a laser engraving on something hard. It was a weekend trip to the Charminar area for some shopping that Mom must’ve wanted to do, perhaps. For those who don’t know, Charminar is the center of the old city area in Hyderabad. It is always crowded there. People jostling for space. You can’t walk on the streets there without rubbing into each other. There are all sorts of people there. People who are there for shopping. Roadside vendors and of course the shopkeepers who are selling the famous stone bangles of Charminar.

I remember the whole family being on the trip. This inspite of me having a weekend off on Mondays and my sisters having theirs on Sundays. I don’t remember if we had our trusty little Bajaj scooter then. We must’ve taken an auto to this place. And we were going about hopping shop to shop in search of the best bangles at the best prices, I think. I was in awe of the whole place. The maddening crowd and the crazy paraphernalia on display in the shops. On the streets there were vendors selling Pomegranates, Guavas, Roasted Peanuts, Pineapples,etc. There were rag-tag vendors selling digital watches, pens, etc.

In all this hoopla I don’t know when I let go off the finger of my Dad that I was holding to or was it the other way around? I was lost in the middle of the crazy big market of Charminar. You can imagine I was in tears. I was crying and shouting out to Daddy and Mummy. I was winding through the market trying to find my Dad and Mom shouting for them, wherever they were. Looking at my plight some street vendor who was selling Pomegranates took me aside and was trying to calm me down. I was hysterical, as anyone can imagine. Millions of thoughts were going through my mind. Is this it? Am I ever going to see my family again? I don’t remember if I gave any meaningful replies to the vendor who was trying to pacify me. He was discussing with another vendor of handing me over to the Police. For some reason, that seemed to terrified me even more. For at that age us kids never had a good feeling of anything to do with Police.

And then suddenly I saw my Dad coming my way looking for me, frantically. He was closely followed by Mom and my sisters. You can’t imagine the warm fuzzy feeling I had there and then when I saw the familiar sight of my family. They were glad to have found me and I was more glad than them, I am sure. I remember my Dad picking me up and pacifying me, for I was hysterical by then. I don’t think we did much shopping after that. And I don’t think I ever let go of my Dad’s finger after that. At home my Dad told me of possibilities that could’ve happened to kids who get lost and get into wrong hands. Boy, was I more glad now?

This one memory of my childhood still gives me the goosebumps and also fills me with positivity and optimism for the future.

Little steps I took 5 years back which paid big time…

You are in a stable IT job which is well-paying. And you are not working too hard. In fact you get to spend a lot of time in the cafeteria drinking tea/coffee and chatting with your colleagues. You also get to leave work early like 4:30pm to beat the peak hour traffic! Everything is comfortable about this life. Isn’t it? And you are still not happy with your work. What do you call a contradictory existence like this?

It is an existence without a purpose. And when faced with such a situation I was so unhappy that I sometimes couldn’t sleep at night. Those were the days in late 2009 and early 2010. I was faced with a dilemma. To keep living this hollow life or seek another job? Or perhaps go the Entrepreneurship way?

Let us look at the option number 1 (pursuing another job). It requires time for preparation. It requires time to attend interviews during office hours. And after all that, what do I get? Not a great big jump in position. Because you didn’t have much to show for your work in the past few years because of the hollow job you were carrying on with. So, what do you get? The same old wine in a new bottle. Will I be happy with it? How long will I be happy with it?

Let us look at the option no.2 (the Entrepreneurship route). What does it offer? I had listed offerings as the following:

1. You are not pursuing some growth chart prepared for you by your managers or the society. Society? Yes the society needs to look at you as growing through the years. No matter how much you liked the work you were doing, you can’t be seen carrying on with old roles as that would mean that you amount to nothing.

2. You are your own boss. You are going to do what makes you happy.

3. You have the choice to work closer to your house. Heck, you can work from your home for all you care. So no stress of dealing with the damn traffic everyday.

Well, this platter of goodies comes with its own share of risks. What if you are not able to get any paying customers? How will you pay the bills and EMIs? Well, I was lucky that my loan payments had just got over. I had not even a dime of loan left on me. But the question still remains. How will you pay for other bills like Children’s education, food on the table, travel costs, petrol for the car(s), etc.?

You know that you have the savings to last you for a few months of such an experiment. And if things don’t work out the way you planned it then you always have the option of walking into a new job. But there is this another big obstacle to surmount. How are you going to convince your wife about this great idea you are toying with? For, God knows, that wives will give all solace in the world for your troubled mind but shudder to think of you leaving the safe confines of a well-paying job. This idea is the most outrageous idea they hear in their lifetime. Why would anyone want to leave a well-paying job to pursue a fluid thing like Entrepreneurship which is loaded with uncertainties.

So, seems like my greatest fear was for a few months was how to broach this new idea with my wife. I took up the courage and talked with her about it and after a few days of revolt she gave in. It has been a rewarding journey of 5 years for me. I haven’t led a more satisfied life before. I haven’t slept so well for years together, before.

 I was going through the website of Housing.com. And this commercial of theirs reflects so much positivity in the same way my little step 5 years back brought me.

Swift Programming Language by Apple is funny in patches

I was going some learning videos of Swift and I laughed out loud when I came across its white-space balancing part. Almost all languages I have cared to learn so far don’t care for white spaces around their operators or variables. But Swift is particular that one must balance the white-spaces around the operators. What were they smoking when they created this rule? Their OCD forced onto others?