Disdain for Elders is Paramount

January 12, 2012

It’s been more than sixteen years since Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was released. That means that the people who were impressionable teenagers when it released have now started having kids of their own. And in about six or seven years, they will be enthusiastically telling the kids about what an awesome movie it is and how the kids should watch it too.

The kids will then watch it, and a whole new generation will get infected with the idea that being an annoying jerk and a stalker is a good way to get the girl. (Hollywood, for all its faults, has never combined the two – either you have straight up stalkers as in Twilight, or you have the annoying jerks. Or to be fair, none that I’ve noticed.)

The only hope for future generations is that Kids Those Days will have no culture and values and thus ignore the advice of their parents, or if they watch it, to watch it with extreme sarcasm and eyerolling about the shit their parents watched.

Similarly, the tendency for Kids These Days to be Kids These Days is my greatest hope after reading this very scary story about the Bajrang Dal’s summer camps (link via Mihir S Sharma, discovered via Prayaag Akbar‘s retweet):

THERE WERE speeches: “Be weary of six M’s,” the boys were told from a booming microphone. “Muslims, Missionaries, Marxists, Lord Macaulay, foreign Media and Maino [UPA President Sonia Gandhi’s middle name].”

The warning of an apocalypse: Kalyug is upon us. The Muslims are taking over the country by converting Hindus, by pretending to be Hindu and marrying our women. Hindus will soon be extinct. Already the Muslims exceed Hindus in India. We must remove the mullahs from our country. They kill our Gau Mata; each cow has 2,300 devis inside her. (“We can’t trust Muslims, they don’t even spare our cows, why will they spare us?” says Anil, 14, the son of a vegetable vendor in Delhi.)

Since it is only a week long, I am optimistic that eventually about ninety percent of the boys who attended will discover girls (or boys, if that’s what floats their boat), and put the camp completely out of their mind, much to the despair of their parents and camp counselors.

We probably should be worried about the other ten percent, but if it wasn’t for the tendency of teenagers to treat the instructions of older people with contempt, things would be so much worse.

T-Shirt Idea

August 24, 2011

If you have to support a mostly-socialist, alcohol-forbidding Anna, then why not pick the original one, who also:

  • supported federalism
  • prevented Hindi from getting official status, kept India English-speaking, and so (unintentionally) gave it an economic advantage
  • wrote screenplays
  • actually fought and won elections?
Presenting the I Am Anna (Durai) t-shirt:
I Am Anna
Coming soon: the “Anna is TN and TN is Anna” t-shirt.


July 8, 2011

My career path this year consists of not being at the factory (located fifteen kilometres outside Kanchipuram) every day, but gradually shifting into a sales role, so that I’m either at the office in Chennai or travelling and meeting customers. Therefore, I am looking for a place to live that is not too far away from either the Bangalore highway or Chennai proper. This sort of narrows my choices down to Porur (or possibly Maduravoyal, though I haven’t tried that yet).

Apartment-hunting in Porur has not been fun. Everything advertised seems to be an old house with a floor on rent, not an actual flat. Well, not really. I did find two listings for flats in Shantiniketan West Woods. When I called, they had already been sold out. Oh sigh. All other apartment buildings seem to be still under construction. Oh sigh.

Unfortunately, the buildings that do exist and are available don’t seem to want me. I’m not Brahmin, not vegetarian, and a bachelor.

Now vegetarianism within the premises is easily done (I can always sneak off outside to thulp meat) and as an Arya Samaji I am technically more Brahminical than most Brahmins – so faking Brahminism is not too difficult – though it will involve the poonal, which I am assured is both uncomfortable and unsexy. That only leaves occupying the flat with a family, which presents more complications. My father will be there a week in a month, but I get the feeling that landlords are looking for something more permanent. There is grave danger here that I will have to resort to sitcom/ romcom style madcap hijinks and hire actors to play my wife and kids.

Actually, looking at how widespread landlord antipathy is towards singletons, I’m surprised that this isn’t already an underground business, with HR managers in Bombay and Madras whispering to new joinees about very convincing actors at very reasonable rates. Oh wait, that would require HR to do something useful. Silly me. But maybe the cool mentoring manager that every organisation has.

What makes the pro-family-anti-singleton bias particularly annoying is that it has two levels of irrationality. First is the prejudice against behaviour associated with single people – wild partying, getting members of the opposite sex over for sexytimes (what happens when landlords learn about gay people?), and all night poker parties. And the second is the assumption that all single people are up to these nefarious activities Against Our Culture, while the minute you get married you stop.

I mean, I can’t sympathise with a bias against premarital sex or drinking, but I can understand that people have one and want to enforce it. But in that case, why not specify no drinking or no sex when you rent out the flat, instead of a blanket ban on single tenants. There is some serious ‘All men are mortal. Socrates was mortal. All men are Socrates.’ thinking going on when you ban single people.

I have a dream. Actually I have two dreams.

The first dream is that one day I will be rich enough to buy a flat that has previously refused to rent out to me because of my bachelorhood,and then rent it out to the most horrifying possible tenant. Say, a drinking, smoking, North-East-Indian, hard-rocking tattooed Muslim with a succession of girlfriends, all of whom visit him. That’s right, blaggards, you could have had a sober young Punjabi tenant who got up to nothing worse than really bad puns when you had the chance, but you blew it. Pay the price now!

The other dream is a little more subtle, and will actually screw around with their prejudices instead of reinforcing them. Once again, it’s to buy a flat in an apartment complex otherwise full of uptight people *cough Iyengars cough*, get on the owners association, and pass a resolution to only let out flats to families. And then, for tenants, find a married couple that is Brahmin and vegetarian, but also one where the couple are swingers and throw loud and ostentatious orgies every weekend. This should hopefully cause permanent brain meltdown among the neighbours. It will be awesome.

I am still about seven megarupees away from bring rich enough to do this just for the lulz, but as soon as I am, I will let the internet know about it. Once that happens, if you are looking for a flat and fit either of these profiles, please let me know.

Until then, I am throwing myself on the mercy of Chennai brokers. Wish me luck.


A Modest Proposal to Solve the Euro Crisis

July 5, 2011

Yesterday, the rest of Europe bailed out Greece. While this will keep Greece going for a while, it can’t keep going forever. At some point it will have to default, bringing down the rest of Europe with it. Thanks to the Greeks having a lazy workforce, lying bureaucrats, and tax evading entrepreneurs; the German economy – based on a foundation of hard-working Prussians, brutally efficient Teutons, and stupendously badass engineering from the Rhine valley – will collapse.

This is unfair. It hurts the Germans. It also hurts me. Our company makes a lot of money by exporting to the Germans, and hoped to make even more. If the Eurozone keeps Greece on the Euro – and it seems determined to do so – then the only way it can manage is to devalue the Euro. So much for making money by exporting to Europe. Rascals.

Fortunately, I have a solution – which would not have occurred to me had I not recently read Adrian Tinniswood’s Pirates of Barbary and Sean McMeekin’s The Berlin Baghdad Express. (Psst. Those are affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I get a commission. And those are very good books, well worth buying.) And it is a delightful and elegant solution. Here it is: bring back white slavery.

There isn’t really anything the Greeks can do to pay back their debt. Their economy is unproductive. Their geography isn’t suited to either industry or intensive agriculture. The last time they came close to being part of the knowledge economy was twenty three centuries ago, and frankly, it’s not like they have the work ethic for even low-intellect services.

Under normal circumstances, that is. But if they were made to work to the drum and under the lash, things would be different. The Greek who responds today to talk of austerity by vandalising banks and setting fire to policemen would be a model worker if the austerity was enforced by an overseer with a whip and a pugio.

I think this can be made to work like this: first, we bring back the Ottoman empire, the institution which was historically competent at white slavery. Fortunately, with the AKP coming to power, there is a neo-Ottomanism revival, so this is not going to be too difficult.

Next, the new Ottoman Empire takes over Greece – also something it has done in the past – and agrees to pay its debts. It repays with the proceeds from selling the Greeks as slaves to whoever will buy them. China and India are both buying massive agricultural tracts of land in Africa, and will need somebody to do the sowing and reaping. Heck, thanks to the NREGA, agricultural and construction labour in India itself is so scarce that we might as well get the Greeks over to Punjab and Bangalore without having to transship them to Africa. There’s definitely going to be a market for able-bodied Greeks, so we don’t have to worry about this not being a sustainable source of income for debt repayment. Eventually the Greeks get sold off, the debt gets repaid, and Turkey returns to world power status. It’s brilliant.

The Greeks hate the Turks and it would be massively humiliating to be under the Ottoman empire again – but as far as I’m concerned, that’s a feature, not a bug. Thanks to their shenanigans, our export margins were annihilated last year. They deserve a little humiliation.

As Supriya pointed out on Twitter, there are other beneficial side effects to this scheme. An Ottoman state restored to its full extent would encompass Tripoli, thus ending Libyan conflict. Heck, it would encompass Israel/ Palestine, and so that problem would be solved. Well, it would replace an Israeli occupation with a Turkish occupation, but that would possibly be more acceptable to all concerned.

You might argue that uptil now the people most affected by the Greeks are the Germans, and they might not want to get involved with the Turks. But thanks to The Berlin Baghdad Express, I now know that there used to be significant German-Ottoman co-operation back in the day of Kaiser Wilhelm. He spent many, many years trying to ally with the Ottomans to weaken the British empire, feeling that if the Caliph were to whip up Muslim sentiments against the British, it could lead to insurrection in their colonies. If you remember your Class 8 history, you know that this strategy came close to working.

So if the Germans and the Turks co-operated in the past, they can do it again today. True, Ms Merkel does not have as intimidating a moustache as Kaiser Wilhelm, but I’m sure she is still badass enough to come to an agreement with Erdoğan. This can happen.

And what can happen for Greece can happen for the other European basket cases. Portugal, Italy and Spain are across the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa – which was also under the Ottomans and can be again. In fact, what with all the turmoil after the recent revolutions, why shouldn’t it? The Turks would do a better job than all the dictators so far.

That leaves Ireland, which isn’t quite as close to the Turkish sphere of influence. But we needn’t despair. Back in the good old days, the Vikings used to raid Ireland and capture the Irish for use as slaves. If this started again, it could mean that Iceland and Ireland could simultaneously repair their economies – Iceland could get rich selling the Irish, and Ireland would get rid of a lot of its population, most of whom serve no useful purpose otherwise. Dolores O’ Riordan is of course a notable exception. Now that global warming is making Greenland green again, there would be ready buyers as well. A longship would leave Iceland, raid the Irish coast, and carry a cargo of whining Irishmen off to Greenland, where they could be put to work growing soya, which would then be carried back to Iceland. And we would get some brilliant sagas out of this.

The more I think about this, the more I feel that white slavery is an idea whose time has come (again). It just goes to show how ancient and venerable traditions can take us out of the morass which modern times have dragged us into. We must bring this about as soon as possible.

The Power of Visiting Cards

July 2, 2011

I have commented about the awesomeness of visiting cards earlier. Today I found out that I have actually been underestimating their power. This was a footnote in The Berlin-Baghdad Express by Sean McMeekin:

The origin of Oppenheim’s title of Baron (‘Freiherr’ in German) remains unclear, aside from the fact that he put it on his own calling card. It took some time, but eventually the moniker stuck. After his name burst into the headlines in 1906, he was generally referred to both inside and outside Germany as ‘Baron Oppenheim’.

Wow. Evidently if you keep something on your visiting card long enough, it becomes true.

You know what this means, don’t you? If only Kiruba had stayed the course, he would actually be a Wikimedia director by now.

About the book: I’m three chapters in so far. It has Ottoman Empire politics, German railway engineering, and Orientalists. So it is awesome and badass.

Barriers to Style

March 15, 2011

A few months ago, I vaguely resolved to become a well-dressed person. The chain of thought leading up to this momentous decision was something like this:

  • I ought to have  really stylish visiting cards
  • Hmm, but if I have really stylish visiting cards I ought to have really stylish card cases too instead of yanking them out of my wallet
  • And if I’m going to have four different sets of cards for four different social contexts, I’ll need lots of pocket space
  • So I really ought to get a summer blazer to carry my card cases in style
  • If I’m going to wear a summer blazer, I might as well make sure all my clothes are that good
  • So I ought to be well dressed

Neo-Edwardianism is mighty! For twenty-eight years my mother has tried to convince me to dress well, and I could not see what the point was. And yet, the humble calling card led to a chain of thought that made me revise my entire outlook on being well dressed. Unfortunately, while my intention has changed at last, the outcomes have not. I remain slobby. There are three major hurdles on the path from wanting to be a natty dresser to actually being one. These are:

  1. I don’t know how
  2. My waistline
  3. My budget

I shall now elaborate on these three hurdles.

I Don’t Know How

A quote from Cryptonomicon is apposite here:

It is trite to observe that hackers don’t like fancy clothes. Avi has learned that good clothes can actually be comfortable–the slacks that go with a business suit, for example, are really much more comfortable than blue jeans. And he has spent enough time with hackers to obtain the insight that is it not wearing suits that they object to, so much as getting them on. Which includes not only the donning process per se but also picking them out, maintaining them, and worrying whether they are still in style–this last being especially difficult for men who wear suits once every five years.

So it’s like this: Avi has a spreadsheet on one of his computers, listing the necks, inseams, and other vital measurements of every man in his employ. A couple of weeks before an important meeting, he will simply fax it to his tailor in Shanghai. Then, in a classic demonstration of the Asian just-in-time delivery system as pioneered by Toyota, the suits will arrive via Federal Express, twenty-four hours ahead of time so that they can be automatically piped to the hotel’s laundry room. This morning, just as Randy emerged from the shower, he heard a knock at his door, and swung it open to reveal a valet carrying a freshly cleaned and pressed business suit, complete with shirt and tie. He put it all on (a tenth-generation photocopy of a bad diagram of the half-Windsor knot was thoughtfully provided). It fit perfectly. Now he stands in a lobby of the Foote Mansion, watching electric numbers above an elevator count down, occasionally sneaking a glance at himself in a big mirror. Randy’s head protruding from a suit is a sight gag that will be good for grins at least through lunchtime.

The scenario outlined in the second paragraph quoted above – good clothes, made by an expert, and delivered to you without you having to actually worry about how they appear is so aspirational it’s practically the stuff of high speculation (but then Neal Stephenson is a science fiction writer). Alas, in the real world, I have to figure out whether something looks good along with being comfortable or not.

This is tremendously hard. Being colour co-ordinated is just one problem, and even that can be solved with a brute force method – restrict all colours to white, blue, grey and black. But then there is the whole issue of fit. My mother hates a pair of my jeans on the grounds that they make me look weird. I can’t even conceive of jeans changing the way I look. These are matters beyond my understanding, like Things not from this world, but between.

Ahem. The point is, I don’t get which colours go with which other colours, and what cuts and fits are right for me. In fact, I don’t even get whether cuts and fits are the correct concepts that apply here. I suppose this may be learnable, and fear that it isn’t.

My Waistline

For the past five years, my waistline has been oscillating between a size 32 and a size 34. It keep buying size 32 trousers in the hope that I will get back down to size 32 some day, but this has never happened.

Never happened yet. For the incredible dreariness of the food at the Kanchipuram guesthouse ensures that I eat only what is necessary to keep myself going. A year and a half ago, size 32 trousers started fitting. This year, the waist itself fits comfortably and the problem is more with the slight roll of flesh that is squeezed up and out over the trouserline. That too shall pass. I have an exercycle and I’m not afraid to use it. Except when I’m really sleepy. Or I’d rather eat. Or write. Never mind.

My Budget

At an abstract level, being well dressed is an attractive idea. But when it comes to taking action, I find that all things being equal, I’d rather be rich than well dressed. This creates problems. When I have to buy clothes, I pick the cheapest possible option, even if a more expensive option will actually be more durable and thus more value for money. (On the note, see the Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice.) I make up for the lack of durability by stretching the item in question beyond its usable life. This isn’t always a conscious decision – as a corollary to point one about not knowing how, I may not even know that something is actually beyond its life – this is usually pointed out to me by my mother. With great exasperation and vehemence. Sigh.

There are sales, of course, but they come only twice a year, which means I have to buy a year’s worth of clothes with two months discretionary expenditure budget. And since they usually come in the months when I’ve already spent the budget on air tickets or some similar big-ticket item, I end up not making use of the sales at all.

The solution to this would be to set aside money every month, hold it in reserve until a sale happened, and then take advantage of it. And thirty kilorupees a year would probably comfortably cover my wardrobe requirements. Even if I decided to go all out – suits, summer blazers, dress shirts, multiple pairs of formal shoes, and so on – setting aside five kilorupees a month would probably cover everything.

Unfortunately, for two years now my monthly budget has been designed so that I don’t actually have five kilorupees to set aside. If my income rises to a point where I do, my first instinct will be to start a new mutual fund SIP. There are only two ways out: iron will power to keep the money aside for clothes and not savings, or to become so rich that I start making my investments in multiples of ten kilorupees and five kilorupees don’t register mentally.

I see a long, hard road ahead.

On Chequebooks

February 19, 2011

I used to work for Standard Chartered Bank, and so my salary bank account was with them. Even after I left, this continues to be my main account. This was partly because I already had mutual fund installments set up to be debited from it, and I was too lazy to go through the rigmarole of shutting them down, and starting fresh ones from a new bank. There is a moral here in how excessive paperwork prevents customer churn.

Anyhow. Right from the time I got the StanChart account, I faced a fair bit of mockery from people like Skimpy and Swami about how difficult it was for me to find ATMs, how I would never be able to pass a cheque in a small town, and so on and so forth. These days, the situation has flipped. My StanChart account is actually more convenient than an HDFC or ICICI account (perhaps not SBI).

This is because of three reasons:

  1. Debit cards and credit cards are accepted everywhere regardless of issuing bank, so the gap between an HDFC and a StanChart is closed.
  2. My balance and assets under management with StanChart have built up to a level where they give me unlimited free cash withdrawals at any bank’s ATM in India. So the ATM gap is closed.
  3. The major problem with StanChart is that cheques are only payable in forty cities in India (and that counts Gurgaon, Panchkula, Secunderabad and so on as separate cities). But now that electronic funds transfer is widespread, that doesn’t make much difference. You can just take someone’s account details and wire money to them instead of going through the nonsense of sending a cheque, having the recipient carry it to the branch, deposit it, and then wait three days for clearing. And – this is the best part – StanChart gives free EFT. HDFC and ICICI charge 5 rupees for every transfer.

(On the other hand, I have to pay Rs 250 to receive a foreign currency remittance. This will continue until I reach the truly rarefied echelons of private banking. Oh sigh. Then again, I don’t know if ICICI and HDFC manage to sting you for this too.)

Now as several people on my twitter timeline have pointed out, this is remarkable lunacy. Charging for electronic transfers and keeping cheques free encourages people to use cheques instead of EFT. This wastes:

  1. Paper
  2. The time of the guy receiving the cheque
  3. The time of the people working at the branch and operations back offices, who’re now processing cheque clearing when they could be doing something better with their time

This may be because ICICI and HDFC think that the convenience is worth 5 rupees per transaction. Moreover, there are so many old people who’re forcing them to maintain branches anyway, they might as well fleece internet users until the older generation dies off. The five rupee EFT charge is just the latest in the list of ways in which the older generation is screwing over the younger generation (other, more severe examples include fiscal deficits, ecological pollution, and tiger momhood). Or it could just be because they treat internet banking as a profit centre, their product managers are determined to show revenues somehow, and nobody on top has made the connection between EFT charges, people shifting to cheques, and higher operations costs. Which it is, only someone from the banks can tell us.

Assuming we lived in a sane world, everyone used internet banking, and actual cheque operations could be brought down to a minimum, the fees would actually reverse. You would have to pay to use chequebooks (oh, and I think ICICI and HDFC also charge for additional chequebooks in a year or something, while StanChart doesn’t. Snort.) while EFT would be free.

In such a world, cheques wouldn’t serve a functional purpose as much as an aesthetic one. You would give someone a cheque if you wanted to make a ceremony out of handing them over (white) money. Actually, this is already done with the giant cardboard cheques at cricket matches and quizzes, but I was thinking of something more understated and classy.

Because of the huge back office costs a bank would incur in maintaining cheque clearing operations, cheques would become ridiculously expensive, like annual fees on a top-of-the-line invitation-only credit card. Probably more expensive, honestly. They’d be offered only to really rich private or premium banking customers, and as such would be really good-looking cheques. They wouldn’t be the ostentatious prize ceremony cheques, but regular sized cheques on really nice paper – thick and creamy, with lots of embossing.

They would be to electronic funds transfer what a Vacheron Constantin mechanical movement timepiece is to a quartz digital watch: very good-looking and made just as functional at ridiculous expense. You could draw them out of a coat inner pocket and sign them with a fountain pen, and the aura wouldn’t be ruined by low-gsm paper. Or, for that matter, say “I say, Ram Avtar, be a good chap and fetch me my chequebook, would you?” They would be neo-Edwardian cheques.

Of course, none of this will be possible until electronic funds transfer becomes ubiquitous. But then it is only good and proper that modern technology brings about neo-Edwardianism.

Massage Parlour Madness

July 1, 2010

In Hyderabad, Commissioner of Police AK Khan has discovered that brothels often advertise themselves as massage parlours because, well, advertising themselves as brothels is illegal. He has swung into action and it is now illegal in Hyderabad for masseurs to massage women, and masseuses to massage men.

I really want to know what happens when Commissioner Khan finds out about gay prostitutes. Will the ban then be extended to all massage parlours? That will be kind of awesome. Hyderabad has already had alcohol prohibition – then it will have massage prohibition as well. Every weekend, really rich Hyderabadis will fly to Singapore or Kochi for their massages. For the merely moderately rich ones, massage parlours will spring up as soon as the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation limit ends. In fact, Y Rajeev Reddy will set up a Country Club with a massage parlour just outside municipal limits for this very purpose, and unleash ads showing him thumbs-upping next to a bevy of massage professionals.

Alternately, things could get all 1930s US-Prohibition style. News of massage parlours would circulate surreptitiously through word of mouth (or in these days, private facebook groups and twitter direct messages). People would go there in ones or twos, knock on an unmarked door, give a password and be let in for a massage. In case of a police raid, they will flee out the back door, leaving oil and towels in disarray.

Moreover, now that there is a beef ban in Karnataka, a massage ban in Hyderabad, and a virtual ban on decent booze in Tamland, the potential for a three-way smuggling operation is immense. Saileshbhai and Kalpeshbhai must be salivating.

Software Development Models and Weddings

June 23, 2010

In comments, BJ says that he has a fair idea of why I think TamBrahm weddings are like ERP implementations, and asks me to confirm his suspicions with a post on this. I don’t know if he is zinking what I am zinking, but here goes.

As someone who had only seen Arya Samaji weddings (and also one sardar wedding) up until the age of 21, I was utterly flabbergasted the first time I saw a TamBrahm wedding. The whole point of Arya Samaj was that if you were going to involve yourself with religion, you should bloody well understand what you’re getting into. So if you don’t speak Sanskrit, the priest must translate everything, and give a proper explanation while he’s doing so.

In contrast, at TamBrahm weddings (and any religious ceremony for that matter – we did a bhoomi poojan at the Kanchipuram factory with local priests), the involvement of the concerned parties is minimal. They just sit around while the priests chant stuff they don’t understand.

This makes TamBrahm weddings very much like the common, or garden-variety ERP implementation. The ERP consultants are parallel to the priests. Because nobody can understand them, you have to take their word for it that they’re experts and know what’s going on. Then, there is a long and painful period in which the priests/ ERP consultants do lots of stuff that looks impressive, but nobody actually knows if it’s accomplishing anything. Finally, they collect their fees, and leave the company/ happy couple to sort things out on their own.

Extending the analogy, Punjabi Arya Samaji weddings are like installing Windows. You’re given the opportunity to read the whole end-user license agreement and cancel if you’re not happy with it. But everyone is so excited about the bling and cool new features that they skip reading it, or just nod along to whatever the shastri says and install it. After the honeymoon period, you suddenly realise that this thing is taking up far more resources than you’d anticipated.

North Indian Sanatan Dharmi weddings are like the Apple App Store. Everything looks incredibly cool and blingy, but the license agreement is completely opaque and nobody has any clue what they’re getting into.

Living in is like installing and running Linux without a GUI and only with a console. And that too by compiling the source with gcc and not from some cool Ubuntu disc or Red Hat Package manager. It seems hardcore and revolutionary, but when you get down to the specifics, is really just a lot of housework without any bling.

The analogy has now gone far enough. That’s it for the post.

Notes From My Bombay Trip

June 21, 2010
  • My Jet Airways Citbank Card finally came of some use and I used miles accumulated since 2007 to get myself a return ticket to Bombay where I attended the NiTyaGu wedding. Regrettably, Airport Development Fees and Congestion Charges cannot be paid for by miles.
  • When introducting Konnect, Jet Airways seems to have forgotten to make provision for it in the frequent flier program. It takes as many miles to redeem a full-service ticket as a Konnect ticket. Naturally I booked full-service tickets.
  • Having a full fare ticket allowed me to finally enter the Jet Airways lounge at Chennai. Alas, the lounge has no wifi, is slightly dirty, and while I was there had not only hyperactive kids but a Malaysian couple who fought over the guy tying his shoe instead of listening to the girl. The guy then made the girl cry. Am I the only person who notices these bizarre domestic disputes?
  • Having a full-fare ticket also meant I got to watch 30 Rock on the inflight entertainment system (Nishit D and PGK, please note). Also, two episodes of Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai.
  • Apropos of inflight entertainment systems, now that K Maran has taken over Spice Jet and is going to rename it Sun Airways, will it start offering Sun TV as inflight entertainment? If this is too expensive for a low cost carrier, will it just play Kalaignar’s poetry on the PA system? Will Azhagiri now buy Go Air in retaliation? These are burning questions.
  • Bloomberg UTV has hoardings up all over Mumbai claiming to be blunt, and sharp. It is clearly the Schroedinger’s cat of Indian broadcasting. That means that if anybody actually watches it, it will collapse.
  • Speaking of hoardings, I did not see a single hoarding or OOH banner that referred to the football world cup while in Bombay. I fear its obsession with Indian celebrities is now crowding out everything else.
  • The banana lassi at Theobroma is awesome.
  • Theobroma is now offering to courier its brownies anywhere in India. Unfortunately payment can be made only at Mumbai. This makes it useful as a gifting option where the gifter is in Mumbai, but is pretty useless if you’re in Kanchipuram and want to order. This week I shall call the Colaba outlet and ask if they’ll take payment by EFT.
  • Kodhi made me (and others) watch the 90210 season two finale. This led to consequences that are too scandalous to discuss outside a W-File. Unfortunately, I am not going to start writing the next W-File until at least July.
  • The grub at the Rajdhani in Oberoi Mall was seriously good. In fact, the khichdi, kadi, and jalebis were themselves worth the price of the whole thali.
  • I met PGK at the reception. Like Sreesanth, he is a personable young man. Unlike Sreesanth, he is not Mallu.
  • TamBrahm weddings are like ERP implementations.
  • Sambhar in Chembur continues to rock.
  • My Jet Airways Citibank Card also came in useful at Mumbai airport, where I got complimentary access to the lounge, which didn’t even care what my ticket was. Unfortunately, the lounge is only marginally less noisy than the public seating area, so I shifted there. Oh sigh.
  • A lounge that banned children would be quite excellent. To fend of accusations of elitism and child-hatred from mommybloggers, it could accomplish this by serving alcohol and barring entry to anybody less than 18 years old. I am still not sure how it could get rid of other annoying guests, like the ones who loudlly discuss compensation schemes on their blackberries. Tchah.
  • The wifi in Mumbai airport was down and didn’t start working until it was almost boarding time. I will have to add the appropriate tags to this post later, when I get home. Also, the wifi is only free for ten minutes. Oh sigh.