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To The Taj and Back May 1, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Blogging, City , 2comments
Go and visit the Taj

Taj, as I saw it

The Taj Mahal as I saw it was under restoration. It is almost off-white or yellow today and the “Multani Mitti” (Fuller’s Earth/ Bleaching Clay)  is being used to restore or take us closest to its original color, milk-white. If the one minaret which is ready is the benchmark, I agree the Taj Mahal would be closest possible to what it would have been.

I had last visited Taj Mahal some 16-17 years back, in my recollection, it was much whiter  and river Yamuna had more water. Probably now it gets almost 10x of people it use to get, so there are lot many restrictions today.

I have borrowed photograph from my friend & colleague Bill Spicer’s update on FB, Bill and I traveled in what was definitely above 45 degrees to see the Taj Mahal. It was a dream destination for him, and it is not that he travels to India for a living, at least not as of now.
We did “supersonic speed visit” – hired a guide, in this case Dilip Guide, who worked for his money and his tip. Dilip was adequately knowledgeable for a quick trip, but depth was 1/10 of a good article on internet. His knowledge was very functional. 7-10 spots, where to stop, where to talk, where to take pictures, all set before hand and reversed.  We were quick and he made sure that he had Bill get the buck for his money, specially the “been there done that photographs”. We negotiated Rs 1,000/- for his guide trip, and Bill tipped him another 500, for good work.  I am glad, I didn’t carry my camera, with camera I would have been very disappointed as I wouldn’t have taken even 5 photographs in the little time we had. I am sure, on a good sunny day in December, I will be back at the Taj for a dawn to dusk shoot. it would drain me and they don’t allow any food inside, but i think one can manage, if weather is not too bad and one is willing to buy a couple of entry tickets.

Heat definitely got better for us, we concluded that the only way to cool ourselves was to have a chilled beer, and we did, and it helped. I have heard people falling down in the Taj Complex due to heat, not being adequately hydrated leads to enormous sweating not getting compensated enough. This leads to blood getting thicker and making it more difficult for it to reach brain. Person passes out, falls on the ground, if he or she doesn’t break their head, blood starts flowing again due to fall, situation of TIA is handled, more life to live.

Almost everyone over-speeds on Yamuna Expressway, we didn’t. We were at 100 +-10, but it was nightmarish to see a 10 year old Hyundai Santro being pushed to do 120/130 plus. Too risky for the occupants and for all those on the road.
It is a toll road and there are no ATMs on or around the expressway. In 20 years, this Expressway would be completely done with, the amount of construction which has started coming on both sides, would ensure Noida-Agra would be a commercial/residential belt.
I think if they increase official speed to 150 and ensure that every other car which jumps is punished, this expressway would be safe.



Take Me In Your Arms May 1, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Life, Poems , add a comment

Take me, take me

Take me in your arms

Make my love immortal.

Immortal love

Immortal life

Life needs a meaning

It doesn’t have to be demeaning.

It is not about who I am

It is not about who you are

It is all about what love is

It is all about how we embrace it.

It is not about this life

It is about eternity

It is about the soul

It is about the soul’s immortality

Why do I long for silence

Why I don’t long for voice?

Be that voice

Be that music

Be that music which my ears have been yearning for.

I don’t wish to just see you

I wish you to be within me

I wish you be one with me.

Life questions have always been tough

I just couldn’t be that rough.

This pain was never an asset I wished I owned

I am sad is a sentence I wish I never moaned.

Lessons learned from sorrows are no lessons

Lessons learned from love are lessons of life.

How hard I try

I can’t love my tears

How hard I try

I can’t live without my fears.

Take me, take me

Take me in your arms

Make my love immortal.

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…