The Greatest Trip Ever

In three hours of extensive enthusiasm, Kodhi and me have come up with what we think is the greatest travel route ever. I decided that it would be cool to travel overland from the Pacific coast of Asia to the Atlantic Coast of Europe. In a stroke of genius, Kodhi decided that it would be even cooler to travel back to the Pacific coast once the Atlantic coast had been reached, with the additional rule that you couldn’t visit any of the same cities. We came up with the following route, which (I repeat myself here) is the greatest ever (except that we couldn’t fit in Ulaan Bataar). For your viewing pleasure, here it is:

Hong Kong – Beijing West
Beijing – Urumqi 
Urumqi – Almaty
Almaty – Tashkent
Tashkent – Samarkand – Bukhara – Nukus
Nukus – Turkmenistan (border crossing) – Ashgabat
Ashgabat – Merv 
Merv – Mashhad (border crossing)
Mashhad – Yazd – Shiraz – Esfahan – Tehran
Tehran – Tabriz – Istanbul
Istanbul – Sofia – Belgrade
Belgrade – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Ljublubna – Venice
Venice – San Marino – Naples – Rome – Florence – Genoa – Milan
Milan – Ventimegla – Monaco – Nice
Nice – Perpignan – Barcelona
Barcelona – Valencia – Sevilla
Sevilla – Faro
Faro – Lisbon – Porto
Porto – Vigo
Vigo – Madrid – Bilbao – San Sebastian
San Sebastian – Bordeaux – Nantes – Paris – Lille – Brussels – Antwerp – Rotterdam – Den Hague – Amsterdam
Amsterdam – Koln – Bremen – Hamburg – Berlin
Berlin – Prague – Vienna – Bratislava – Budapest – Krakow – Warsaw
Warsaw – Minsk – Vilinius – Riga – Tallinn – St. Petersburg – Moscow – Vladivostok

This will take 13 visas (I counted) and cover about twenty or thirty countries (I didn’t count). Porto is basically journey’s end on the first leg of the trip since that’s where Vasco Da Gama started from. The trip starts with the trans-Chinese railroad and ends with the trans-Siberian railroad.

Since Kodhi and me are poor FMCG traveling salesman and retail broker  in the midst of a financial crisis, and we don’t have the coolth that Popagandhi has to just pick ourselves up and start traveling, please contribute generously so that we can quit our jobs and undertake this trip. We will be very grateful for this act of kindness.

Dare I Make a Microbrewery Joke?

Yesterday, Skimpy forwarded me this link, and immediately changed his tagline to “2 dollars. Why didn’t I bid for Lehman Brothers?”. This sparked the following conversation.

me: Look at it this wat
*way
$2 = 93 rupees
3:26 PM
with that you could buy a hummus and pita bread
and have some change left over
would you be happier owning Lehman?

Karthik: 11 11

me: or having hummus and pita bread

Karthik: hummus

The original inspiration for using Lebanese fast food as a standard store of value came from this profound post by Kunal. Please read it.

Later on in that conversation, I brought up employee buyouts. But things quickly took a scatalogical and American-beer-bashing turn:

me: you know
4:30 PM
at two dollars, why didn’t the employees buy Lehman?

Karthik: agreer
would’ve beenfight to split the cost da
4:31 PM
2K people together put together 2$ => each guy pays 0.1 cent
how do they pay that to each other?
jai

me: in beer
4:32 PM
Karthik: dei you don’t even get half a glass of beer for 2$
so what? each guy contributes a drop or what?

me: or they can deduct it from their PF

Karthik: 11

me: axshully
American beer is piss

Karthik: 11

me: each Lehman Europe banker contributes one drop of piss

Karthik: hahahaha
that’s tough too
just one dro

me: sells it to Dick Fuld as Budweiser

It’s not that tough. They can use droppers or something.

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A Step Up from Stealing Jobs

Raj Thackeray bitches about how bhaiyyas from the cow belt come to Mumbai, become cab drivers, and steal jobs from the Marathi Manoos. I’m not sure how he’ll react to this amazing story (TOI link. I’m sorry, but nobody else is carrying it). Here’s the summary:

  • Shop assistant steals two kilos of gold from a Bangalore jeweller and decamps to Mumbai, intending to go further to Dubai and live a life of pleasure alone
  • On getting off at Dadar, he gets into a cab being driven by a UP-wala
  • Cabbie realises that shop assistant is new to Mumbai and drives him all over town with the meter running
  • While in the cab, the thief tells the cabbie about his nefarious doings and his plans to move to Dubai
  • Cabbie tells thief that he needs to get a passport and visa first, that he has a friend who’s a visa agent, and that he’ll take thief over to meet him and get a visa and passport made
  • Cabbie drives around Mumbai with the meter running even more on the pretext of taking thief to visa agent
  • After a whole day of driving around, the thief needs to pee and gets down
  • The cabbie drives off with the two kilos of gold
  • The thief is indignant and goes to the police station to complain about the theft of the gold he’s stolen.
  • The Mumbai police check with the Bangalore police, and book him for the original theft
  • The cabbie remains at large

The whole thing is like a Saki story. I love it.

The Palin Family in Australia

So John McCain gets elected and to make up for all the allegations about lack of foreign policy experience, the first thing that Sarah Palin does is to go on a world tour meeting heads of state. And since she’s a hockey mom she takes all her kids along.

In Australia while Palin is meeting Kevin Rudd, her kids go around seeing all the famous sites. The guide takes them to Bradman’s house. While they are just outside it the paparazzi photograph her youngest daughter. What is the headline in the papers the next morning?

Continue reading “The Palin Family in Australia”

Is Justice Khetrapal related to Pyotr Periyar Pandey?

How else do you explain this?

“Such a person must be taken to be astute enough to know the difference between a Harry Potter film and another titled Hari Puttar. In my view, the cognoscenti, the intellectuals and even the pseudo-intellectuals presumably know the difference between chalk and cheese or at any rate must be presumed to know the same,” the Bench said, dismissing the plea to pass an interim stay on the release of the film with the same title.

(Indian Express)

Stealth Reform

The fact that I’ve posted in one day about two separate reforms that aren’t getting noticed suddenly reminds me of Ravikiran’s thesis that the only time the UPA can carry out reform is when the Left is distracted with other things (follow-up 1) like privatising airports when everyone is concentrating on the Tsunami.

The thing is that the Left has now been replaced by the SP, so I’m not sure how far this idea is still valid. But maybe the UPA is now so used to doing stuff by stealth that by sheer force of habit they announced the (limited) liberalisation of foreign media when everyone was distracted by the Delhi blasts, the Delhi encounter, and the I-banking crisis. Again, it’s slightly depressing that carnage and loss of life and livelihood is required before something happens.

Another Unbottled Genie

Along with mobile banking, another sector got a little freer this week. Foreign news magazines can now publish Indian editions:

In a significant further opening up of the print media, the Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a revised policy that would allow Indian editions of foreign magazines in the news and current affairs category.

The review of print media policy permits Indian publishers entering into such agreements to include local content and carry domestic advertisements, both of which were forbidden under previous guidelines.

(Financial Express)

Because I am an impractical libertarian I will now find fault even with this welcome opening up. As the Financial Express also points out, FDI is restricted to 26%, which means that the true benefits of foreign money coming in and setting up professional news organisations will be limited. (At this point, my skeptical alter-ego intervenes and points out that what with the currrent financial crisis, and foreign media organisations not exactly sitting on mountains of cash, there wasn’t going to be a huge amount of money coming in anyway.)

Also, the requirement of five years of prior circulation of at least ten thousand copies means that if News Corp decides to launch a new magazine worldwide, they can’t do a simultaneous launch in India. Oy vey.

It’s a start, though.

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