Thursday, November 29, 2007

Back Home

Im back home to Bangalore and its been an incredibly tiring last week or so. Had a flight from Osaka to Bangkok and to Chennai. Took the GT Express to Bhopal the very next day and after 3 days, took TN Express to Chennai again. 2 hours after arriving in Chennai, Took a flight with Megz and Diya to Bangalore. Megz seemed to like the kingfisher experience, it was good and the staff at the airport counters esp with the baggage were helpful. Had a similar experience while traveling Air Deccan recently. With Diya along, everyone seems to be very helpful!

Its back to basics now. From the super fast shinkansens (Bullet Trains) to Indian Railway trains chugging along, its been an amazing 2 weeks. Of course not to mention the move from the sleek hands-free toilet experience ( yet again of the TOTO washlets ) to Indian style and the Indian WC experience :)

Should blog about the Indian railways really-noticeable improvements and the toto washlets soon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mishima, Japan

Ive been in japan for about 1.5 months now and have stayed all the time in Mishima, which is about 120KM from Tokyo. Its a town and there are quite a few scenic places around which can tour. Mishima itself doesn't have much from a tourist's point of view but is like a transit point for a lot of people going to Mount Fuji or the F1 races (Held this time at the Fuji speedway). I am staying at Hotel Alpha 1, a 10 storied building right in front of the station (On the south Exit). Its just a 2m walk from the station and is a very convenient location to stay. At the entrance of the Hotel one can see the Family Mart Convenience store and the Lawson convenience store is also a stone's throw away. The Hotel itself is decent and seems to be booked pretty much all the time. Its advisable to reserver rather than walk-in directly. The rooms are all small, but then not many hotels provide you large rooms in Japan (Unless you are a millionaire willing to spend a fortune). The hotel has some weekly lottery scheme which i somehow never managed to win. I have no idea about what one can win as well :) The Staff is helpful (As in Japan everywhere) and they do understand English. One of the staff is also fluent in English. They provide a free internet connection which is very useful. I have stayed in Mishima Plaza Hotel about 5 years back and they dint provide internet connections then, not sure now. The hotel is also convenient because the taxi stand is again right in front of the station and there are taxis available all the time. The hotel seems to have ample parking space as well. I haven't tried their restaurant but you do get breakfast etc (i think for about 500-900 yen for a basic one with coffee/toast etc). All in all, its a decent business hotel.

Mishima offers a beautiful view of Mount Fuji which can be seen from the pathway along the Lawson convenience store (2 m In front of South Exit of the station). Fuji si now snowcapped and on a clear day, it looks awesome!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Atif Aslam's songs

I Loved this song of Atif Aslam and i often sing it to my daughter Diya (Not that she understands)

And now my wife loves this song, another by Atif Aslam. I think we should buy his albums now!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Things to Buy in Japan - 2 (Akihabara)

I'm in japan after 2 years and of course i have been to Akihabara again. So what are things i could have bought from here, well the list is big. Once you take the electric town exit from the Akihabara station and move towards to main road, once can see the big stores like Laox (see left), Onoden, Sofmap etc. Most foreigners usually frequent these stores coz you usually get the overseas electronics models and souvenirs too. I bought an Ipod Nano for about 16.5K yen about a week back. The real stuff lies in the streets behind the main road. You get stuff real dirt cheap. Most of it is either used (2nd Hand) but i belive of good quality. You also get genuine new stuff in these bylanes. Things that can bought here are
1) Used (2nd hand) ipods, nanos
2) 2nd hand digital camera (saw a sony p100 for 12K yen)
3) Brand new HP Ipaqs for cheap
4) Used and new PDA's for dirt cheap (cassiopiea, sony clie, sharp zaurus)
4) sharp zaurus linux kits for cheap
5) packs of CD/DVD for cheap (10 for 300 Yen kinds)
6) Amazing range of laptops (starts from 20K yen, yes decent configuration ones) (saw a pentium m, 512 mb ram, 20gb hdd, 12inch lcd screen, weight less than 1.5 kg panasonic for 25K)
7) usb stuff, usb fans (damn neat), lights, 10 number keyboards (500Y), hubs (400Y) etc!
8) Memory sticks (Must buy, very expensive in India at least)(got a 1Gb stick for my camera for 2.8K yen)
9) Mouse (usb/wireless) for cheap
10) mp3 players/cd players (1000Yen, being sold on street)
11) External HDD and compact USB HDD

You'd find a lot of this stuff in cartons lying outside shops and being sold. yous mostly find Japanese guys buying stuff from here. Also there are the DIY (Do It Yourself) shops here selling all kinds of computer it and u get it here.

On the other hand, there is the huge Yodobashi Camera shop (Yodobashi-Akiba). This is another must visit place if you are in Akihabara. Good stuff at reasonable prices and you always get some stuff for cheap here depending on how much time you spend and keep looking. Split your purchases into multiple days from here coz at the billing counter you can get the Gold Point Card and use it the next time to get discounts. You cannot use the points the same day and they are valid only from the next day.

I did still go to Laox coz you get good souvenirs here although they are way overprices. Am yet to know a shop that has a variety of souvenirs and is cheaper.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Taxis in Japan

Taxis are one of the most convenient mode of transport in japan, although they are pretty expensive compared to Train travel. The taxis in Mishima charge 610 yen as the minimum fare, wheras i guess in Tokyo and other places where ive used Taxis, it was 660 Yen. I use a taxi everyday to commute from the hotel to the office and since my hotel is just next to the station, there are taxis available most of the time. Most of these taxis have a car navigation unit which has the map of the local town you are in and so you get an idea of the route you are taking. Taxi drivers are a meticulous lot. My route usually involves crossing the railway tracks. Usually when the gates/bars (all unmanned crossings) of the crossing are open, the taxi drivers almost stop at the crossing, look right and look left and look ahead and then move along. They even use their finger, point right, point left and then straight ahead. ive seen this happen almost always. its an amazing sense of discipline which never is seen in India. You can ask for the fare receipts by saying "Ryoshosho Kudasai", although they do understand the word reciept (risitto) too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ubuntu Linux Desktop

I used the isohunt website to download a movie. I usually dont do this but in a reckless act, i actually downloaded an unknown codec (Riyo Codec) and it caused my internet connection to go kaput. Luckily i have ubuntu installed (Yes the latest one) and i booted into Ubuntu and googled for Riyo codec. It did turn out to be a hijacker. There is a howto to remove the program and i still havent tried it. More coz somehow i am very comfortable using the new Ubuntu Desktop (7.10). It runs a GNOME desktop and its very simple to use. Of course while using it for daily purposes, you will need to download and install a lot of plugins. The update manager in Ubuntu (Synaptic) does a great job at that. Browsing is easy, playing movies is easy and so is listneing to music. The rhythmbox music player plays easy and when i plugged my new ipod nano, it popped out and i could play songs of it. good stuff im impressed. linux desktops are now slowly but surely announcing their arrival!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

interesting news

Xerox document security blocks access to sensitive data. see the story here
NASA and ISS computer glitches reasons found here

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Live Cricket Streaming

The current India Australia cricket series is available online at

You will need Internet Explorer to watch this and install an active x plugin. Doesnt work with firefox though.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

HP's snapfish in India

HP has started their India specific Snapfish website. This is nice!! Helps you share and print photos online. They have some cool features like printing on T shirts, mugs, key chains etc. The calendar option costs about 800/= for a period of 12 months. Everything looks OK priced and im just waiting to upload my first album soon. Seems like the first 20 prints are free, but havent yet checked the disclaimer.

The website is

Diya @ 10 Months

Its Diya's Happy 10th Month Birthday and here are a few pictures taken by Megz

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Blogging after long!

Its been quite a few months since i blogged. Im in japan now and well other than the usual work here, haven't had much to do. The flight journey was uneventful and traveling on planes is something id avoid if i have to. The food that Thai airways provides isnt all that great to write about. The new Suvarnabhoomi airport at Bangkok is sprawling though. I reached early morning on the 24th (sep) and had to take the boarding pass for the connecting flight to Narita at the transit counter. They don't open their counter until 5.30 Am and thats a hassle. There is a really long line of at least 60-80 people waiting for the counter to open. so instead of seeing the airport, one has to stand in a queue By the time you get your boarding pass, its time to go for the security check. Reached Narita at about 4PM, was lucky to get through the immigration quickly. The baggage took some time to arrive and by the time i called Megz/Dhruv/Gopa, id missed my Narita Express (NEX) to shinagawa. I boarded the next NEX to Tokyo and met Gopa there. Had a good italian dinner with him. It probably was the best dinner i had at a restaurant in the last one week or so. Of course ive had dinner at Dhruv/Sundeep's place, and they cook well. I hope they read this. Thanks Guys! im going to continue piling upon them for as long as i stay.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dia's pics - updated

Taken in our Balacony in the morning, when Diya is usually in her best mood. All smiles,
very playful and very naughty.

maybe she is interested in finance!! already reading the economic time :))

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Maruti Swift blog updates

Id written a few lines about my buying a Maruti Suzuki Swift (Red) some time back and as i analysed my blog hits data, i noticed quite a few have actually read my blog. Anyways here are a few updates on my swift now about 8 months old. Its done 8K plus km and its doing just fine. I havent yet gone on a long drive and its done all the Km's within the city. Its giving me a average of 12KM/Litre. The gears have become very comfortable. As such the gears are much softer than other cars (is what i hear). I am a new driver and well i probably change gears a lil too hard. But 8 months down, i feel they are very smooth. ive done my 2 free services at the 1000KM and the 5000KM mark. Recently i realised that the engine has a higher bhp (its got 87 bhp) than Ford Fiesta (petrol), Honda City, Optra etc...thats way too cool. I guess like million other indians, buying any maruti as your first car is the best bet. Ive had a accident when i was a new driver and well the spares are cheap when you compare them to other cars. Its mostly expensive for the painting, but then thats more or less the same everywhere.

My Swift is a VXi and now its got scratches on all the corners of the car :) i have a difficult basement parking and most of the scratches have come from the parking. i guess ive just got used to it now. Ive driven at 120KMPH on the road to Devanahalli (via yelahanka) just to get a feel of how it feels. it did seem stable. Im dying to get on to a long drive say to chennai (kalpakkam actually).

There is a definite difference when the AC is on or off. Even a novice driver can feel quite a difference. I have no ideas about it is in other cars though. Also when the AC is not on and i switch on the air circulation button, within say 15m there is a peculiar smell. I really have no idea about the cause of this smell though (maybe coz of the hot engine/stale air??)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

12 December 2006

Almost the whole world had suggested that we will end up having a boy. I was probably the only one who always 'knew' that it would be a girl. December 12 2006 at 9.57 AM, our daughter came to this world. It was indeed an amazing feeling. Megz gave birth to our daughter in a normal delivery at the Sagar Apollo Hospital. The 3.5 hours prior to the delivery was probably the most tense period in my life. After the delivery, a nurse informed me about the birth of a baby girl and also told both mother and daughter were fine and doing good. This is what i wanted to hear. i waited for the nurse to bring MY daughter and when i held her for the first time, i dunno it was so different. it was a mixed feeling. A sudden release of all the tension coupled with the joy of being a father. Immediately after that i had to get some formalities completed to get Megz and the baby to a room. Those first few hours after birth are hectic attending phone calls, taking care of wife and baby, getting the right room, helping wife in getting the baby to feed. Its exhausting yet there is so much joy.

At about 4.30 or 5 AM on 12th, Megz began feeling a little uncomfortable and woke me up. The weird feeling she had happened every 5-10 minutes or so. we waited till 6 AM and then called both our doctors (Dr Leela Bhagwan and Dr Usha Menon). Both of them advised us to go to the labour room and get a checkup done. I took out my car and drove Megz and Amma to the Sagar Appollo hospital. It hardly took about 7-10 minutes to reach there from my place early in the morning. At the labour room, the doctor/nurse checked her and after about 15 minutes informed me the megz was in labour and she should deliver in about 2-3 hours. We went to the hospital empty handed and were actually not prepared for this. I couldnt be with Megz during her delivery because there was another delivery in progress in the labour room. Phew! those few hours are etched in memory.

Diya @ 3 months

My big girl Diya