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29 January 2008

Parental Bonding

Lying in my bed in Bogota the other night, I was missing my family. I decided that I have to spend quality time with my son and try to bond with him more.

Not wanting to procrastinate, the next day I called home and started the 'bonding' business in right earnest.

"So Aditya, how are you?"


"How is your school?"


"How are your friends?"


"What are you doing now?"


"Are you playing a lot?"


"Did you do your homework?"


"Is there anything you want to tell me?"


I shot my bolt. 'Over the phone bonding' was obviously passe. I had to start again after I reached home two days later.

With such a taciturn kid, it was difficult to identify the appropriate 'bonding' ambience. I saw the 'bonding' opportunity the other day when we were having lunch.

"I know how to get all the three badges in Pokemon." He informed to no one in particular.

I felt that this was the bonding opportunity that I was looking for. What could be a better way to bond than to show him that I am also interested in his 'specialized areas'.

"How?" asked I. A curious father, if you see what I mean.

The kid started off like a TGV or something.

"From Palla town, go to Veredian City. In Ceredian city, go to Veradian forest. Here you will see three paths. Take the first path, this will take you to Vermillion City. There you go to HM01 and give a cut and a flash. The animal like figure will turn into human form and give you a pokemon. Now you go cross the underground path and go to Digglet town. Here you will see a pokemon center. You have to get your pokemon healed.

Then you come out of the pokemon center, cross the Digglet town, cross the underground path and come back to Vermillion city. Here you take the third path. You will see a buttsha and also you can get picachoo and other pokemons. Here you have the option of going either to Lavendar town or to teach your pokemon the fire trick. It is very difficult to teach a pokemon the fire trick, but you can't get a badge if your pokemon do not learn fire trick. Now you will come across a ship which will open when you show the cut and flash you received in the first path......

This started at lunch, continued thru dinner and the last I know of he is yet to get his first badge.
He also told me to sit with him so that he can show me how to get a badge. I am now thinking of my next onsite assignment.

Guys and Ladies, better learn this language. This is going to be the language of future generation.
If you can't, then go onsite.......

View from Bogota: Quality of medical facilities

I was chatting with Luis Mario, when he got a call from his son.
Luis Mario is my project manager. A very nice and contented individual, he is fun to be with. He has been with the organization for the last four years. Both his sons are well educated and doing well.
I asked him what the call was about.
"My son had nasal bleeding. He called up to say that he went to the doctor and has been advised that it is no problem. He need to take two days rest."
I enquired regarding the quality of medical facilties in Colombia.
"It is very good", replied Luis Mario, "the quality of medical profession in Colombia is supposed to be the best in Latin America. In fact, we get a lot of patients from Canada and North America since Colombia provides top quality health care at very low rates".
"What are the main specializations here?" I queried
"We are good at Cardio, Medicine, Heart Transplant, Opthalmology and of course 'static' surgery (Plastic Surgery). In fact many ladies from Canada come here for plastic surgery". He informed me.
Luis Mario was silent for a moment. Weighing his words probably.
"In fact," Luis Mario continued "Cali, the place I live is in the valley of three mountains. Most of the women here have undergone plastic surgery that Cali is known as the 'Silicon Valley' of Colombia."

18 January 2008

Jay Leno: The wittiest guy out there!!

I think Jay Leno ('Tonight with Jay Leno') is the wittiest talk show host out there among all the stalwarts. Sample these......

1. Democrats has come down to either Hillary Clinton or Barrak Obama. That means they have to choose between a Black Man or a White Women. Imagine this...This is the kind of decision that Michael Jackson has to make every day.

2. Yesterday President Bush went to Mt.Rushmore. Don't confuse this with President Clinton who was in a rush to mount more....

3. President Bush Says he has no plans to attack Iran. Oh, he will still attack Iran. Only he just has no plan....

4. Hillary Clinton has asked President Bush to pull out of Iraq. She should know. If any woman knows how to ask a president to pull out, it should be her.

5. The $10 million Clinton is getting for his book beats the old record of $8.5 million paid to the Pope. How do you think this makes the Pope feel? The man dedicates his life to the 10 Commandments, he gets 8.5. Clinton breaks every one of them, he gets 10

6. According to a new survey, 11% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 could not find the United States on a map of the world. How pathetic is that? Isn't that amazing? President Bush commented on this today. He said, 'Why do we need our kids to find the U.S. on a map? They're already here'

7. Candidates always like to say it, they're gonna get tough on career criminals, Republicans especially. Republicans love that word, 'career criminals.' I mean, what other kind of criminal is there, really? Is this a hobby for a lot of people? Have you ever been robbed and have the guy say, 'Actually, I'm an architect. I just do this on the side 'cause I really enjoy it. And when it's no longer fun, I'm gonna stop. Give me your money

8.Actually, President President Bush had some good dog advice for the president-elect. Bush advised him to get a dog that's easy to train. Bush said it took almost eight years to get Barney to bite that reporter.

9.The big rumor in Washington is that Barack Obama is considering Hillary Clinton to replace Condoleezza Rice as his secretary of state. How about that, huh? That would make Hillary the new white rice, I guess.

16 January 2008

View from Bogota - Public Transport

I wish I had explored this earlier.....

I was handicapped by my Spanish Communication skills that I was hesitant to get into a public transport. Typically in India, if you get into a bus, you need to provide the following information.
'Where do you want to go?'
And you have to receive the following information
'What is the charge per ticket?'

Since I did not know enough of Bogota to provide the information and did not know enough of the language to ask and receive the second information, I did not venture out..

Now I know that you dont have to do either, if your objective is just to wander around the city.

In Bogota there is only one rate for a particular bus. Depending on the condition and size of the bus, the rate will vary from 1000 pesos (Rs.20) to 1250 Pesos (Rs.25). This is the only charge whether you are travelling just 1 kilo meter or you are travelling the whole hog. You can imagine how much of a relief it is not to ask the second question in espanol (Pronounced 'Espaneol'). Now you need to know only where you want to go.

That also is easy since Bogota is divided into 'Calle's (Roughly pronounced 'Caje') and 'Carrera's. Every bus will show the calle and carrera that it is going to (Esp. Calle also called Avenue). So if you know that the Indian Restaurant is in Calle 90, you just have to get into the bus which goes there.

So easy, no?

Public transport is frequent and safe in Bogota.

Next time you come to Bogota, get into the public transport on the first day itself. Jump in and explore the city. You don't have to know a word of Espanol..

14 January 2008

Best song I have ever heard !!!

This can be a bit controversial....

I have no doubt that 'Ragasudha Rasa' sung by Yesudas and Chitra in the malayalam movie 'Sargam' is the best song that I have ever listened to.....

I have heard and liked a lot of songs in different languages and loved most of them. But none of them match the kind of emotion that this song causes. I don't even understand the language. Try listening to this song by closing your eyes. Brilliant !!!

You can hear this song in Music India Online. Search for 'Sargam', 'Malayalam' and 'Movie Name'

Tell me your views on this song....

View from Bogota - Being an Indian in Bogota

When I speak to people in IT Industry in Bogota and tell them that I am from India, the immediate response is "India's Tata group has a big presence in Latin America. They have operations all over Lat Am with operations in Colombia also"

Way to go, Tata group, I am proud of you. I am also proud that I was a part of you for a brief period in my career. You do us good.

When I tell to non-IT people that I am from India, immediately there are two questions which follow. 1. Are you from Bangalore? 2. Are you from IT? When I say yes to both the questions, the immediate response is 'Of course'.

I am surprised at the way in which India, Bangalore and IT has been able to attract the 'Global Mind Space'. The global reach and growth of Indian IT industry makes me very, very proud as an Indian, and I consider myself very fortunate that I am a part of that Industry. The close linkage of IT with India in the minds of people worldwide is a pointer that it will take a lots of effort for countries like China and others to replace India from the minds of people.

One of the news items in CNN - Espanol showed that 'India's Infosys declares 25% growth in quarterly earnings'..

My point exactly.....

But we should not forget the rapid strides being made by other sectors of India's industry. With Tata's (Again!!!) Nano being released, India's domestic manufacturing sector is fast catching the global attention. Also one should read the following set of three articles by Arun Shourie (Written in Indian Express. Unfortunately, I don't have the links to the articles here) to see how rapidly India's Manufacturing sector is growing...

Not to mention other sectors like the Health Services. India's Apollo Hospital Group is fast becoming the 'Tata' of health services sector. One should not forget that the Doctor's of India and Engineers of India are two sides of the same coin that is 'India's Talent'. There is no reason why if Engineers can make India proud by their exploits in the IT sector, doctor's cannot do that in the health sector. Considering that India's medical education is considered at par with the best in the world!!

Best time to be an Indian!!. Three cheers to our country!!!

10 January 2008

Amazing Ad of Honda Accord

Watch this Ad for Honda Accord.
The only sentence in the ad says it all

38 Ways to win an argument

Here is a list of 38 ways to win any argument

Most of it focusses on the person than the argument....

Blog Readability Test

I took the Blog Readability Test.
My blog scored a level of 'College' or above. Is it good? Is it bad? I don't know...
I think it is because of two reasons.
1. I do not (has not yet started) follow the practice of linking various articles of interest from other sights in my blog. Since my blog is 'Thoughts @ Random', I pen only my thoughts. I think it is a wrong practice. I should start adding more links in my blog.
2. Since I write only thoughts of my interest, the posts tend to get long. The average length of a post could be about 1000 words or so. Who has the time to read these especially since everyone has similar thoughts and people are looking for different perspectives in other's blogs
A lot of food for thought here.....

09 January 2008

View From Bogota - Being an Indian

"Why do Sikhs wear a turban?" question from a curious Bogotan who had spend some time in Canada and had interacted with a lot of Sikhs.
I have answer for this. "Sikhs consider their hair as holding their strength and Spirit. So cutting down their hair is like cutting their spirit"
"Excuse me, does it apply only to hair on the head?" comes the counter question.
Bogotans are incredibly curious about India. Unlike those in England and US, who get a lot of information about India through the English news channels and papers, the Spanish papers do not spend a lot of ream on India. These people have some idea about India albeit not very accurate.
If Americans and English men think that Indian's are snake charmers, the people of Latin America has a different view of India. They think that India is a country where cows roam about on the roads freely. Their staple food being meat - especially beaf - there is a touch of self interest in knowing this aspect of India.
"We hear that India is a country where cows roam about on the roads?" they ask me with a touch of wistfulness on their voice. All those free food roaming about and here we have to pay for the same meat through the nose.
"Is it true?"
I nod in the affirmative.
"Here in Colombia, if we see a cow on the street, we kill it and eat it", they inform me.
"Why do you let them roam about?"
"Cow gives us milk and we consider it as equivalant to the mother" I tell them in a 'holier than thou' tone, "You don't eat your mother"
Not very convinced, these Bogotans.
"How many languages do you speak in India?" comes another FAQ
"We speak over 22 languages" I inform them proudly.
"Of course you should, you hold about 15% of world's population"
I point out that China with more population than India speaks only two languages. This silences them. But not for long.
"Is India a poor country?" comes the next question
"Are all Indian's vegetarians?"
"Why are Indian's vegetarians?"
"How many gods do you have in India?" first time I am hearing of gods specific to India.
Some of these questions can make you think. For example the question, why are Indans Vegetarians....
I tell them that Indian culture considers all thing as a part of god. So killing animals is a sin.
"If all the things are a part of god, then you should not be eating plants also" opines the questioner.
I did not know what to say

08 January 2008

View from Bogota - Addresses of Vegetarian / Indian Hotels

I have not been to any of these. I will update this list with my comments as soon as I have one.
Most of these guys sell salads I think.

Indian Restaurant in Bogota

1. Calcutta (Indian) (There is some confusion if this restaurant exists)
Calle 75 # 8-12
Phone: 249-5892

2. Flor De Loto
Calle 90, No 17-31
Phone: 6170412
You can select the menu and order over the phone. They have home delivery. We just got 'Mutter Paneer' and 'Chappati' deliverd in our room.
Expensive. One plate of Mutter Panneer costs 24000 Pesos (12 Dollars, almost 500 Bucks, but what the heck, it is not the food that matters, it is the fact that it is available that matters)
Food is OK. Not great. But when you are in Bogota and yearn 'Onion raita', think of this restaurant.


Boulevard Sésamo
Avenida Jiménez No. 4-64
Tel. 341-7123
Zona/Zone: Centro

Chez Pierre
Calle 62 No.15-76
Tel. 249-7731
Zona/Zone: Chapinero

Calle 78 No.12-03
Tel. 346-2178
Zona/Zone: Norte

Carrera 13-78-09
Tel. 236-6451
Zona/Zone: Norte

El Integral Natural
Carrera 11 No.95-10 L-2
Tel. 256-0899
Zona/Zone: Norte

Cra 6 No. 30a-20 (Costado Norte Museo Nacional de Colombia)
Tel. 232-2664
Zona/Zone: Centro internacional

Ventura Soup & Salad
Calle 90 No.16-33
Tel. 618-4297
Zona/Zone: Norte

Calle 100 No. 8 A-49 L-117
Tel. 611-3048
Zona/Zone: Norte

Calle 24 N° 7-12
Tel. 342-3168
Zona/Zone: Centro internacional


Carrera 16 No 93A-95
Tel. 256-2666
Zona/Zone: Norte
Diet - Health Dietética

Carrera 13 A No.93-17 L-104
Tel. 601-9746
Zona/Zone: Norte
Diet - Health Dietética

Bio Plaza Comida Energética
Transversal 17 No.98-13 L-105
Tel. 257-4047
Zona/Zone: Norte
Diet - Health Dietética

Natural Fast Food
Calle 116 No.22-96
Tel. 521-9325
Zona/Zone: Norte
Diet - Health Dietética

Carrera 10 No.28-49 L 2-29
Tel. 283-7414
Zona/Zone: Centro
Diet - Health Dietética

07 January 2008

View from Bogota - Travails of a vegetarian

Being a vegetarian in Bogota is something like being a penguin in Antartica !!

The predominant food here, as in any Lat Am country is meat. Every time I mention that I am a vegetarian, 'askance' looks are exchanged, lines start appearing on the foreheads and the brains start getting confused signals. What could we give him?

The best option is to offer 'Salads'. Or Breads

I am fed up of the time when I have received offers of 'Salads' when I mentioned that I am a vegetarian. It is almost like a reflex action. For drinks the offer is limited to Fruit Juices and coffee.

In the last week, I have eaten so much of bread that I am starting to dream them. I have eaten white bread, oat bread, barn bread, Croissants, Cakes..... You name it and I have seen them all!

And finally, yesterday, I discovered Curd !!!

It took me a lot of explorations in various supermarkets and an intensive bout of learning Spanish language to finally land upon the 'Manna' of a South Indian Veg.

Bogotans go with a single term 'Yogurt' for anything associated with fermented milk. And in their experience, yogurt is a drink that one drinks for breakfast. Normal yogurt, as per a lay Bogotan is fermented milk added with fruit essence and sugar. For them, yogurt without sweet do not exist.

Yesterday, I went to a Super market. Whenever I go to Super market, I can be found near the yougurt / lactose counter, much like a fish in the aquarium which always comes near the glass, in the hope of catching a passing 'sweetless' yogurt. One good thing is that the yogurt is color coded with different colours for different fruits. I was looking at plain white packets.

Then I saw this packet which said, 'Yogurt Natural - Sin Dulce'. This is where my knowledge of Spanish language came handy. Extensive work in the past week had told me that 'Sin' in Spanish means 'Without'. The opposite is 'Con' (Isn't is funny? In English a 'Con' is one who commits some type of 'Sin'). Dulce as everyone knows means 'Sweet' (As in 'Dulcet' Voice meaning 'Sweet' Voice). I immediately knew that I had landed on a 'Gold Mine'. I purchased two packets of the best, along with a packet of Potato Chips ('Yogurt Sin Dulce con Patatas de Fritas') and immediately headed for my room.

Here again my knowledge of Spanish came handy. I ordered 'Arros Claro' which meant 'Plain Rice'. The time stood still as the room service took about half an hour to get me the plate of 'Arros'. Though my heart was beating wildly, I put in an air of non chalance as I patiently signed the bill and saw the waiter out of the room.

To say that I hogged will be wrong. The right way to say will be that I carassed the curd rice. Each morsel was inspected, smelled, mixed with chips and slowly and sadly (the food was getting reduced with each morsel) put away into the mouth and after staying there for a minute, was slowly gulped down...

Man, it was heaven!!!

The tip for any Vegetarian coming to Bogota: Bring pickles from home and be either a bread fan or a yogurt fan. Also you get plenty of fruits here. And better learn Spanish....

06 January 2008

Difference Between Australia and India

Sydney Test:

Australia First Innings: 137 / 6, all out for 457
India Second Innings: 137 /6, all out for 210

Only the old warhorses played on, VVS, Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar, not to mention Anil Kumble. Where are the famous Jaffers, Yuvaraj's and Dhoni's gone?

05 January 2008

View from Bogota - Of holiday lists, traffic rules and vehicle registration numbers

OK, here is a riddle. Can you find the relationship between the following? Your vehicle registration number, the official holiday list and the traffic rules in your city.

Racking your brains (or whatever that is there) aren’t you? What could be the relationship between these totally different entities, you wonder. You could sense a nebulous relationship between registration number and traffic rules, but relationship between these and your holiday list? Impossible, these are like chalk and cheese. How can you have a relationship between two unrelated entities?

Well, here in Bogota, everything is interelated and are a part of a unified whole. Much like Indian philosophy of ‘Vasudeva Kudumbakam’

Let me tell you the story of how each of them are related here in Bogota…..

I wish I could start by telling you that it all began in the year 2000. Unfortunately I can't because it all did not begin in 2000. It could have begun in 1995 or it could have begun in 2001. Safe to say that it all began around the year 2000.

Till that time, Colombia's economy almost in tatters. With inflation ranging from 20-30%, and the currency highly devalued, the country was going the same direction as the other lat am countries.

Then the slow turnaround began and the economy started to look up. The inflation came down to single digits and businesses started investing again. Soon people were buying cars and other vehicles and within no time the city was rampant with traffic jams and slow moving vehicles.

The city adopted a multi pronged strategy (Don't I love those cliches?) to counter the menace. (I could have lifted this sentence straight out of ToI Bangalore edition and no one would have known that I am talking here of Bogota). One of them was to bring in a rule that one can take his vehicle out only 2-3 days a week on working days.

(Notice how subtly I am bringing in the 'Vehicle Registration Numbers' into play)

Here is how it works. The vehicles whose numbers ending with 0,1,2,3,4 and 5 cannot come out between 6.00 AM to 9.00 AM and between 4.00 PM to 6.00 PM on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The vehicles whose registration number ending with any other digit cannot come out on the other days during the peak period mentioned above. This system will go on for a year after which the counter will move forward one day as it were.

The only people who were happy with the new system were the Car manufacturers. This is because, now people bought two cars instead of one. You had the 'Monday cars' with numbers 1 to 5 and 'Tuesday Cars' with numbers ending in other digits. Needless to say, the new system hardly helped in bringing down the traffic congestion in the city.

Now let us smoothly transition to the the motif of 'Holiday Lists'.

Colombia is a high holiday country. (Public Holidays 2008). The country has an average of 2 holidays a month, in addition to the weekends. The holidays can be divided into two categories. There are those 'Fixed Holidays' which cannot be changed. For example, Christmas and other holidays related to Christian Saints which has to be celebrated on the fixed day.

And then there are 'Movable Holidays' or the 'Monday Holidays' ...

These are mostly related to Wars, Centeneries, Memorials etc for which there is neither a fixed date or a day. (Unlike for example, India's Independence day falls every year on 15th of August) If any of these holidays falls on a week day, it is moved to the Monday so that people can enjoy an extended weekend. This means that many of the mondays are holidays in this country.

Since Monday is predominantly holiday and you do not have any restrictions on taking out your vehicle on a holiday, there is a lot of demand for 'Monday' numbers. This means that there is heavy traffic snarls on those mondays when the country is working.

Tail Piece: Recently Govt. is focussing on creating a better public transportation system and creating 'Cycle Routes' known in spanish as 'Ciclo-ruta' . These are dedicated bike path network which has rekindled interest in cycling in Bogota in a big way.

04 January 2008

Rare photo of Rajiv and Sonia

I got this amazing rare photo of Rajiv and Sonia. Both of them look so stunning.....

01 January 2008

Wish you a very happy new year 2008

Wish you all a very happy new year filled with peace and prosperity.
Don't forget to polish and reuse those new year resolutions of yesteryears.