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Cheese and Me April 11, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Food , add a comment
Cheese and me

400 Calories on my plate

Am I crazy about cheese? No, definitely not. Just short of it. Yes, I can eat one cracker with 7 types of cheese though, it is not about cracker you know, it is all about cheese. My favorites are cheese variants which leave a long lasting taste in mouth.  Varieties of Blue Cheese, specially a few varieties which have Spanish origin are very good, of course they are pungent but, overpowering? No, they are not. That works best. I just don;t like a cheese which kind of plays with your palette so much that you just can’t identify any flavor after that.

Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella  is my next favorite.  I have never been to Italy, but surely I’ve had Fresh Mozzarella made with milk from Italian Water Buffalo. I have also had Fresh Mozzarella made with cow’s milk and they are very different from each other. A decent size ball of Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella with side of cherry tomatoes and some twigs of fresh Mint, is heavenly experience. Cutting through fresh cheese gives you so much pleasure and specially when nothing sticks with the side of the knife.

My third favorite is home made style cream cheese. I prefer ones which are not seasoned and canned/ packaged. From start to finish 7 days kind. Better fat content better the cream part of it and more. If the ratio of butter milk to milk while fermenting it is not right or it has been fermented too long this variety of cheese leaves a sour taste in mouth, which doesn’t taste well at all. I have seen that this one is most difficult to make in India in summers when room temperature goes as high as 40 degrees centigrade and beyond.

The plate above is from my Sunday evening dinner, first course of a seven course – all the cheese for the next meal week.

 

Amazon India is my go-to retailer, and this is why April 10, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Review , add a comment

I knew it was happening, I was sure Amazon’s India store was creeping in somewhere inside me and settling down to become a habit. Over last three years, slowly but surely Amazon has become my Go To store for anything and everything which is not needed just now.  Juices, tea, pens, watches, mobile phones and now television, Amazon is pulling out money from my wallet and I am loving it. Why is it happening? What are my internal touch points which Amazon has been able to cover? What are my anxieties which Amazon has put on rest? And hundred other questions come up whenever I place an order at amazon. In next few points I try to put together my reasons for buying from Amazon.

  1. Amazon sells what I buy.
  2. Amazon announces what I wish to hear.
  3. Deals are for real.
  4. UI (User Interface) is mature and bug free.
  5. There is no selling on my face.
  6. There is no reason why I should go and shop around after looking up a product at Amazon.
  7. It has elementary form of AI, which works for me. It reminds me on what I may need to buy now, it helps.
  8. I simultaneously buy from Amazon.in & .com using same control center and credit card.
  9. Fulfilled By Amazon and Prime are really cool things to happen to me.
  10. Tracking is a nonissue.
  11. Returns is a nonissue.
  12. Free shipping saves me money and time both.
  13. There are sufficient confidence builders on each page.
  14. Multiple address management is a boon, so is gifting.
  15. Packaging & breakage issues are less than 5%.
  16. “More Top Tips” for you makes me buy.
  17. My book reading habits are mapped wonderfully. Suggestions I am made are always good and worth considering
  18. Gourmet store is good, allows me to look at quickly procure stuff which is not available at local kityana or Easyday next door.
  19. Points which I earn are redeemed easily.
  20. I go and look-up Deal of the Day when I am buying what I need.
  21. Range and brands of chocolates and cookies is wide.
  22. Search always gets me to the product I need.
  23. SMS alerts are all meaningful.

I am sure i can go on and on, maybe some other day, maybe Amazon or Flipkart would like to pay me to say more, just maybe.

Having said all of that, what would make me buy more?

  1. I am satisfied with delivery systems, but they can improve quite a lot.  I get too many calls associated with delivery, they are an irritant. Delivery teams also arbitrarily add “not available” almost 10% of the time and schedule delivery for next day.
  2. High value items must be packed more securely.
  3. I don’t get to see my summary sheet, if I get to see, it will help. I should be able to see organized reports of my buying.
  4. I need “bill to my office” or invoice my company option.
  5. I need a short URL for my daughter and wife to add things to my cart.

I am going good with Amazon, would love to go more and more. Saves me time, money and anxiety.

 

Definitions Simplified – II April 8, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Life , add a comment
  1. Impressions – Fake but sincere attempts to project what you neither are nor desire to be
  2. Warning – Disclaimer to reduce insurance premium or payout
  3. Prize – Consolation for making organizer get bang for his buck
  4. Excuse – Declaration of putting other to inconvenience at his/her own expense
  5. Lucky – Useless person in existence because of  God’s carelessness
  6. Wrong – What doesn’t work for me, but works for others
  7. Explorer – One disgusted with regular life and now looking for solace
  8. Difference – What you know is right but won’t still accept
  9. Giveaway – What you don’t need and what you won’t need
  10. Self-esteem – Something which is perishable even before it exists
  11. Best efforts – Statement made to demonstrate acts which were to be done but haven’t been done
  12. A true friend/ My best friend – Go to man when nothing works or all has been messed up
  13. Gesture – An act of goodwill done now, to be redeemed in very near or near future
  14. Modern Art – What can’t be defined by someone who can’t draw a straight line
  15. Nature – You are reminded of, or resort to when there is a catastrophic calamity
  16. Soul – Part of you which you abuse everyday but trust can withstand a diamond cutter
  17. Limit – Slighting others while remaining a holy cow
  18. Off the cuff – Comments intended to do damage which can be condoned at leisure
  19. Faking – Some things only those you are envious of are capable of doing
  20. Amateur – Boasts skill but injects a rider/ disclaimer to disown

Defintions Simplified April 6, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Life , add a comment
  1. Smile – Gets more out of life of others ;)
  2. Logic – Acceptance of unacceptable
  3. Safety – Map your actions, man
  4. Practical – Run after dog so that dog doesn’t run after you
  5. Equivalents – When logic beats facts unequal become  equivalent
  6. Accident – When at least something gets dented, your pocket, your body, your property, your motor & of course your brain
  7. Sweetness – Best served by those in need or greed or both
  8. Light – Better be light if you wanna be bright, else go fly a kite
  9. Wisdom – Analyzing poop
  10. Loo – When you can’t hold, you go to loo
  11. Free – Get once, pay forever
  12. Prayer – Wishlist not worked for
  13. Question – Effort to corner or game
  14. Translation – Right to change meaning or substance
  15. Experiment – Failures Justified. Never seen anyone eating through his ears or eyes ;)
  16. Pure – When Malice and Lies are perfectly concealed
  17. Upside – When legit is inadequate
  18. Helpless – No desire to call a spade a spade and shoo monkeys off
  19. Fairy-tale -Where tail gets more importance than the brain
  20. Confidential – Failed attempt to confine

Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Sons of the God April 5, 2016

Posted by simarp in : India , add a comment

Living on earth is stressful, one has to cope up with someone like Baba Ramdev who goes ahead and instigates violence by his random uttering. Baba Ramdev does not speak because he has some value to add, he speaks because he wishes to stay in limelight, that’s it. Otherwise, why else would someone go ahead and say that those who don’t say Bharat Mata ki Jai, should be beheaded, yes, seriously, beheaded. He is not the only God Man or may I say media-branded God Man to talk like this.

I am sure without political patronage, it would have been impossible. Baba Ramdev is extremely politically savvy, he does speak silly and get away under the garb of doing larger good to the nation. I would love to see him get arrested for instigating violence and encouraging people to take tough stands and resort to violence for their purported stand’s protection.

I fail to understand, how can anyone get away with saying “We respect this country’s law and Constitution, otherwise if anybody disrespects Bharat Mata, we have the capability of beheading not one but thousands and lakhs”, is this country becoming selectively tolerant? Is this country becoming vindictive? At times, I wonder aloud, is this the Bharat Varsha with its continuity and flow from Ramayana? The statement is even more damaging as it has been made at an event organized by the parent organization of ruling party. Not one person out here said, hold on Mr. Baba, you can’t be saying this from any platform, leave aside our platform.

What saddens me is that all those who went all over the world stalking Aamir Khan for his comment, which surely is not malignant by any yardstick, have nothing to say for Baba Ramdev. Shri Anupam Kher is not taking out any march and the nation moves on.

This is indeed sad, becoming sadder still.

Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Lesser Mortals of This Earth April 4, 2016

Posted by simarp in : India , add a comment
Good Morning!
Here are my two cents on Bharat Mata Ki Jai.
For me it has always been Bharat Mata Ki Jai, no challenge whatsoever.
With little understanding I possess about Gurbani, which I try hard to follow and understand, earth is a notch above her peers Air and Water – Quote “Pawan Guru, Paani Pita, Maata Dhart Mahat…” unquote. Air is the teacher, it connects, Water is the father, it flows and quenches thirst and Earth is the supreme Mother, yes Supreme Mother and not just mother.  So, if I am an Indian and India is also called Bharat, it is pretty simple, isn’t it? Of course I am not expected to create or respect a deity holding flag of India. Visual and materialistic reverence is an individualistic call, to each their own.
For me Bharat Mata Ki Jai is like Jai Hind or Hail India or India is great, it is my country and it is my respect.  All those Muslims as well as Hindus who are trying to give a religious twist to Bharat Mata ki Jai are doing a great disservice to our nation. It is a non issue which has been fueled for political gains by both sides.
We have a long way to go, we must evolve slogans which are more inclusive like “May no one die due to malnutrition” or “May the corrupt be hanged in public” hmm… yes, I am sure those on both sides of this divide include corrupt and indifferent, let us make some slogans to wake them up to India’s priorities other than sloganeering and increasing decibel levels.
Long live India and may no child die of hunger and no farmer take his life due to to governmental indifference.

Why I am never going to buy or recommend Honda ever again April 3, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Cars, Review , add a comment

Sharad finally sold his Honda Mobilio and with it I am surely done with brand Honda for life. A vehicle which costed on road almost Rs 13 lakhs was sold for Rs 6.6 lakhs after 14 months. What a burning.

Honda went ahead and hyped the product, priced it in a segment it didn’t belong and messed the whole after sales service and support.

Price: Obnoxious

Exterior: Looks good, but as a raw material it is worse than Datsun Go.

Interior: Looks good, but actually is all very cheap and substandard.

Engine Transmission: It is inadequate for this vehicle, car drags. Engine and body mating is imperfect.

Performance and Handling: What performance, it is a shame on cars and handling is very tentative, car never gets grip of the road.

Braking System: Never drive if there is water on the road, the vehicle can skid and kill you.

Safety Features: Seat belts are not good at all, mechanism is not up to the mark and neither quality of belt.

Mileage: Never gave above 12.

Verdict: Don’t buy, if someone gits one to you, sell and buy whatever comes for that money.

Going Brand Agnostic April 3, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Marketing, Marketing Strategies , add a comment

Over last few years I can see my self turning brand agnostic, it is a very gradual process and not a switch-on-switch-off thing with me. I am discovering value and power of purchase over and above value and power of a brand.

If I wish to wear a fine 100% cotton socks does it mean I need to buy a particular brand? No, I just need to know what I need, specify need and find for least price for my exact need. Works. Saves. Makes me feel happy.

There are at least 100 brands I have strong association with and becoming independent of them is a daunting task, most difficult it is to disassociate wit brand Tata. I have always believed that brand Tata stands for value for money mated to good work ethics and business fairness. This is the brand which is most under test. From cars to tea bags, Brand Tata dominates my spending habit. Tata launches Grand as a brand extension for coffee and there I see myself going for it without looking whether I need coffee or not. That is power of the brand, and that is exactly i wish to turn agnostic to.
More to come…

Donald Trump Is For Real – Why Trump Can’t Be Trumped February 29, 2016

Posted by simarp in : USA , add a comment

March 16/ 2016:

Good Morning! Anxious trumpeters understand that Trump has trumped them despite his trumpery conversational approach and accept that he has earned his trumpeting rights.
(I reserve my copyright over this Trump statement)
Original post begins from here onward.
Feb 28, 2016

On July 24, 2015, I told myself, “Be ready for some fun.” I had seen two US elections closely – 2008 & 2012 – and both times they were Republicans vs. Democrats.   This time I predicted and told myself that this is different, it is Trump vs. Republican vs. Democrats and look at what has happened in 6-7 months after that. Trump has almost trumped all Republicans and now we all know that we may be heading for Trump vs. Democrats. Some may say that the way Hillary has operated it is going to be Hillary vs. Trump, but Hillary is a Democrat. Trump, at best, can be called an opportunist Republican. Fundamentally, he is Trump and not a Republican. The best we can say is, Trump is fighting on a Republican ticket. That’s about it.

If I look back to what has made this happen, there is Trump’s single trait which has consistently stood by him: he always calls a Spade a Spade even if he is seen as a monkey or an idiot in the process. Psephologists conclude invariably a few days later, he can get away with this; and they conclude the same every time.

When he wrote off Latino and Muslim votes very early in his run for nomination, it looked like that he is a non-serious candidate. The way he brought in polarization is a masterstroke. People who feel that the borders with Mexico and intake of new Muslim immigrants hurt the US dream, pushed his campaign to seriousness and eventually made him a front-runner. He takes criticism on his side but does not go back often to regret it.

Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson have tried hard, but with the kind of fences which Donald Trump creates around him they just don’t have the guts and strengths to break them. By December 2015, he had already pushed Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina out of the race. Though Jeb Bush still felt that he had a chance, for all practical purposes he was written off.

From January, Trump started addressing a different audience altogether. He started taking nations to task. His comment, “We have great power over China but we don’t know how to use it”, made people seriously think that this guy believes in “Let us make America Great Again.” All through these 6-7 months, he has been an A class entertainer, who can put any stand-up comedy artist to shame, and he demonstrated to the world that entertainment can be married to determination seamlessly.

In India, we have Rajnikant jokes. Rajnikant is the Superman of Supermen who can say and do just about anything in the world and get away with it. By end Jan, I was convinced that the US has discovered their Rajnikant.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Trump knows clearly and says articulately that Indians have taken US jobs. There is no lie in it, but it has never been politically correct to say this. What would be needed of Mr. Trump if he becomes POTUS is to understand why US jobs went to India and fundamentally show courage to revamp the US education system from the ground up. That I am not sure whether he has it in him or not.

I was thinking what can derail Trump at this stage? Almost nothing. A massive sex scandal may do some damage but I think his campaign has gained enough momentum to withstand that.

All through these 7-8 months, Donald Trump has been aggressive and has not played any games. However, he hasn’t spared those who tried to play games with him either. Macy’s stock price, after they openly went against Donald Trump, has effectively fallen by almost 30%, which is definitely not in line with other retail stocks.

Folklore describes instances in mythology when determination has moved mountains. Looking at Trump and his determination, maybe that is not mythology after all.

More interesting days lie ahead.

Budget 2016 – BJP/NDA Present First Socialist Budget February 29, 2016

Posted by simarp in : India , add a comment

Unless there are zillions of fine lines in the budget document, this budget is the best which Congress, UPA and other Socialists would have put together in a non-election year. In an election year, they would have definitely gone overboard with Socialistic zeal. It looks like last year’s drubbing and a flat year has left BJP thinking. Sensex remained flat, Rupee depreciated, lots of money was not spent, the promise of Achche Din never happened, and on top of it the tag of ‘Suit Boot Ki Sarkar’ got very closely linked to the way the government functioned. This budget aims at moving away from Suit Boot Ki Sarkar to Kissan aur Gareeb Ki Sarkar. This budget has a clear pro-poor and pro-farmer stance to it, which is very good news for India. Making cars and cigarettes expensive is always good. The benefit which car companies and cigarette companies give to the country is diminished by several times because of the burden it puts on Infrastructure and Health Care.

This budget signals acceptance that hype and dreams require a base which India still does not have. I am not sure whether this budget would contain inflation. My first reaction was that it would actually fuel inflation. Most economists’ early comments say that this is going to reduce inflation and help middle class, I doubt.

It is high time that government looked at Public Sector banks and gave them support,  this budget tries to do that to a considerable extent. For this to work,  it would be important to ensure that the NPAs do not start piling up again for which government must seriously run after entrepreneurs who have defaulted in hundreds of crores but still live lavish life and own assets under dubious companies and names. Government must also penalize and arrest those MDs of Public Sector Banks under whose regime NPAs grew maximum.

Those in opposition, who are claiming this budget to be pro-rich, probably feel that they have nothing else to say.  I don’t see how this budget is pro-rich as it has no such symptoms and it doesn’t apparently favor them any way. It essentially makes everything they love more expensive, whether it is dividend income or eating out in restaurants or buying luxury cars or traveling.

Government’s proposal of taxing black money by 45% and converting it into white is not very attractive because Black money generators, in any case, @35% could have managed to have it white. However, if the government aggressively chases black money then this could be a good proposal.

This budget, if executed properly, would help Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, UP, Orissa and Rajasthan most and farmers of Punjab, AP & Haryana to a great extent, too.

Two things which surely need some explanation from FM are, why the tribal sub-clans budget has been reduced by half despite planning commission’s stipulation  and why do we not find  any visible nuggets about reducing current account deficit.

Getting every poor to a health cover scheme is a good step and also Rs. 30,000 one-time grant to poor Senior Citizens is a step in the right direction. Jan Aushadhi Yojna or in other words Public Pharmacy Stores are like Fair Price shops for medicines. They would work if they are stocked. Though the number of 3,000 stores looks extremely inadequate but this is a good step in revamping and making Public Distribution System an inclusive affair.

An amount of Rs.15,000 crore has been kept for interest subvention for farmers. It looks to me that it is too little and too late. When farmers were committing suicide, just keeping interest for subvention may not make much difference.

Budget 2016 proposals have brought a degree of optimism in me. However, I remain skeptical as I do not see any landmark proposals in education and skill development sectors.