Saturday, 29 November 2008

The 200 km journey of my phone and back

This is another unbelievable thing that happened, but this one is with a happy ending. About 6 weeks ago, I lost my new phone within a month of buying it.. and my brother and I have been trying to trace it with unprecedented support from the police and encouragement from some of my colleagues. After we got the details of the person whom my phone was last tracked with, lets call him, Mr.ABC, I got in touch with a constable, Mr. Nagaraj in Holalkere who passed the case to the Sub Inspector, Mr. Prakash Patil of Chikkajajur police station (Chitradurga, about 200 km from Bangalore). A few days later, Mr. ABC was summoned to the police station and interrogated, only to find that he had a different model of the phone which he had been using for the past 2 years for which he had the bill too. Obviously the IMEI numbers weren't matching. But, the tracker message can't be wrong. The SI also was convinced and promised to continue the enquiry. I put him in contact with the person-in-charge at the ACP office (Mr. Suresh) at Bangalore who had got me the address of Mr. ABC.

Today morning I got a call from SI Prakash Patil saying he was not able to establish any connection with my phone and Mr. ABC. I said fine, Thank you. What else could be done? I gave up and started planning on buying a new proper phone and all the contacts that I will have to feed in. After about 2 hours, I got another call from the SI seeking details about the phone model again, my address and how I lost the phone. I felt that he wanted these details to close the file.. actually, I had only an acknowledment for the lost phone, yet, the police were cooperating so much. Then he said, I have your phone here in the station. I couldn't believe it. I thanked him so much and told him that I would like to come to the police station and thank him personally. He was so calm and composed, just doing his duty, but I was so excited! He said they got the phone after some cross questioning on Mr. ABC. Apparently, Mr. ABC's friend Mr. XYZ's aunt had been to the same wedding that I had been to and she picked up my phone near the handwash and gave it to her nephew. And the 'innocent' nephew happily started using the 'gift' from his aunt. On 6th Nov, Mr. ABC put his SIM in my phone out of curiosity, for a few minutes. For his bad luck and my good luck, we were able to trace him and eventually my phone.
Coincidentally, mom is in Chitradurga this weekend and she collected the phone in the evening.

OK. it doesn't end there. I messaged Mr. ABC and 'thanked' him for returning the phone. After a few minutes, I got a call from him. I deliberately did not want to call him and create a scene. But, Mr. ABC himself called as he wanted to clear a few a things from his side. He explained how Mr. XYZ had got the phone and how he was not aware that it was not legally bought by Mr. XYZ. Infact, for the first few days of the enquiry, he had no clue why he was being interrogated. After he was told about the tracker message that came on 6th, it struck him that it could be because of Mr. XYZ's new phone from Bangalore. He convinced his friend to return the phone. Unfortunately, poor Mr. ABC had to pay the price for his friend's mistake.

All in all, a happy ending, and a great job by the police. A big thank you to Suresh, Prakash Patil and Nagaraj. I am happy to note that the system works :)

Hope this wasn't true

The seriousness of the situation did not strike me till after a day or so. It was too filmy to be true. I did not want to believe that a handful of young men could hold so many people hostage and the country at ransom. I hope and believe that those cold blooded, inhuman creatures will be tracked down & punished.
It is finally over now, after losing so many brave soldiers, policemen and innocent civilians.
I hope God gives the strength and hope for their families. A heartfelt thanks and a big salute to all those who laid down their lives with Hemant Karkare leading from the front.
I also hope that this serves as a warning signal to all fellow Indians to stop fighting over petty regional issues and come together for a bigger cause - the cause of our safety and progress.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Eat Happy at Mast Kalandar

This was some three years back when I along with a few colleagues were discussing the idea of opening a restaurant. A few days later, I saw this article about 3 techies who actually did it; they quit their jobs to start Mast Kalandar. I was inspired. Dont start looking for our restaurant.. it's still on paper.

I have been a big fan of Mast Kalandar (on Bannerghatta Road) ever since for its healthy tasty food. Though it is a little heavy on the purse for everyday eating, it is really worth visiting once in a while. They have a branch in Koramangala as well. The menu is interesting, the food looks good, is the right quantity and tastes like home-made stuff. The best part for me is the amount of oil used - it is just enough to make the food tasty, nothing more. And my parents like it too.

The only bad part in the Bannerghatta joint is the deteriorating road. These days, it is all the more worse due to a never progressing construction activity on the road opposite the restaurant. Well, Mast Kalandar offers you a free Gulab Jamun/Rosugulla for braving the road to eat at their place. Isn't that a 'sweet' gesture :) And going by the progress of the construction or the lack of it, the offer would go on for a looonng time. Happy eating!!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Lost and not found.. yet..

Some of you might already know or experienced (if you tried reaching me) that I lost my new mobile before its first month birthday. Ironically, I had just started looking into the manual the very day I lost it. Had been to this wedding reception, mainly as a chauffer for mom and dad and was generally cribbing about some silly rituals when I did not realize that my phone had fallen off my lap during dinner. I started missing my tall, dark, beautiful Nokia E51 within minutes and went back to be told that some elderly woman had picked it up. I was pretty sure that I would get it back immediately; the idea of an elderly woman who is attending a wedding, keeping someone else's phone did not even cross my mind.. I still cannot believe it. But, I called atleast 15 times without getting an answer. The phone was actually switched off within 15 minutes of losing it. The couple who had seen this woman described her in a little more detail, and I tried to spot her in the video. But the video guy was too busy and committed to his work. I tried to coax him into believing that tracing this woman who apparently 'took' my mobile was more interesting than editing and mixing the video of the couple on stage which he gets to do almost everyday. He was not convinced by my argument.
Well, I spent a day in repentence and worry, the only hope being the mobile tracker which was enabled on my phone. With this, my brother would get a message when the SIM was changed without providing a password. So, we waited and the message finally arrived, exactly 24 hrs after it was 'taken'. Two different SIM cards inserted within a matter of few minutes. The information also included the IMEI number of my phone as well as the cell info.. some brushing up of Mobile Communications from.. was it 7th sem?? Having the SIM Id was like knowing the unique identifier of the thief..

The next day, we got an acknowledgement from the nearest police station to be able to enquire on the SIM ID. A little bit of running around and we (wrongly) estiblished that the SIM belonged to AirTel. Well, AirTel wouldn't give the details so easily, so, we now have to get an approval from the ACP of Bangalore South District. The current status is that we have got the request forwarded from the police to various service providers to trace the SIM ID. Meanwhile, we got another SMS today that the SIM was changed yet again. Looks like my phone is rejecting any SIM other than mine :)

The search is still on. Watch this space for updates.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Driving in Newport

Naseeb may disagree but I was happy that the 4-day trip to Virginia was cancelled. It gave us an opportunity to drive around on our own. It was a first time for me, also for Naseeb. We wrote down the directions and thought a GPS would help but were unable to rent it out. So, it was now upto me to check the directions and navigate. We were careful in the beginning not to miss any route or exit, but became a tad over-confident and missed getting on to the correct lane. Luckily for us, we could get back onto the right track again without losing much time, thanks to Google Maps on her phone. Needless to say, we were very careful from then on. We reached our hotel, owned and run by an Indian. Surprising! as this was one far corner of USA and a really old port city with minimal population.

Within minutes, we set out again, armed with a local map and mutual trust between me and Naseeb; I had confidence in her driving and she trusted my navigation skills :). There was no other option anyway. Part of the route was driving past huge mansions, which is what Newport is famous for, apart from the port itself and various lighthouses. The mansions seemed like they were coming straight out of fairy tales and story books.

We had got onto the 'Scenic Ocean Drive' part of the route and scenic it was, true to its name.
Now, I had to drive here, couldn't wait any longer. We stopped at a really beautiful spot with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and a state park on the other side. It made for nice pictures of blue and green background. We switched places here and I finally got to drive which I enjoyed thoroughly.

A couple of miles later, we got to a place called Fort Adams. As we approached the coast, a picture perfect view appeared out of nowhere. Hundreds of sail boats in still water and a beautiful mansion atop a hillock. It looked like a painting.

The pictures are from my new SLR, limited by a 18-55mm lens. Nevertheless, I thought most of the pictures have come out well. We drove back along the same scenic ocean drive to catch the sunset which was not bad considering the weather change due to Hurricane Hanna.

The next morning was a damp start due to rain and mist but it did not prevent us from checking out the mansions. We saw one of them in detail and were struck by the luxuries.

I don't think I will ever live in them even if someone gifted it to me ;).
A really stupid thing happened or had already happened when we were about to exit out of the mansion. We had left the car keys inside and locked it (and that was the first time, we were to repeat the act again in the evening. The next time Naseeb calls them, they know what to do :) ). Thankfully, the AAA guys came and opened the car quite skillfully. It was an impressive show.
We saw another mansion right next to the ocean. The rains in the morning and the fog had not detered surfing enthusiasts. There were quite a few of them providing entertaiment for curious tourists. The ocean looked really vast and scary, especially with the mist making the horizon invisible.

We headed for home earlier than planned, due to the expected thunder showers. We got lost yet again, but came on track after going around in circles at one place. At the end of the day, it was a great experience for both of us.

Cycling along Manhattan

I was waiting to get off the tour bus and meet my friend, Naseeb after 3 days. As the boat tour which was part of my tour got delayed, she left for her next destination and we planned to meet at Madame Tussauds near Times Square. As I got off the bus and walked back towards South Street seaport, I felt a sense of freedom. I was all by myself in NYC, with no clue how to get to Times Square. It was to get even more complicated with me having no phone and no credit card. I still hadn't known about pre-paid phone connections then.

I relaxed for some time over a sandwich, watching all the people, soaking in the energy that this amazing city has and feeling part of it. I was trying to figure out which form of transport to take to Times Square when I saw this bicycle rental place called BikeAndRoll. A quick enquiry and everything looked fine; it was a reasonable price ($15), a great route along the coast(as can be seen in the photo), manageable distance(5.5 miles) and I could just leave the cycle at 42nd Street from where it was a 15 min walk to Tussauds. But then, I had one problem; I did not have a credit card to be able to rent the cycle. I tried convincing them that I am OK to make a cash deposit but it wouldn't work with them. Now, I had to make a call to Naseeb to get her card details, but there was no phone. I tried calling from a public telephone but it dint go though and I gave up after losing one dollar. Back to Bike&Roll and some more convincing and confusing, finally managed to get the cycle after giving my debit card details for identification. And there I was, cycling along Manhattan on a cool 10-gear TREK bike; I couldn't the hide the smile on my face :).

After a few hiccups in the beginning, (had forgotten to pick up the map), I got onto the right path; it's called the Green Path and goes around the coast line of Manhattan. The path is shared by people on roller skates and cyclists and they just whizz past you. There are specific traffic lights for cyclists to allow for pedestrian crossings. I cruised along on the route, enjoying the views of the beautiful skyline. After a while, I couldn't see the numbered streets and was a little worried, so checked with a couple of fellow cyclists. They confirmed that I was on the right track and I should be able to see the numbered streets again. And yes, they did start appearing.. 23rd street, 30th street, 40th street, 42nd street, 12th Avenue. I had reached my destination.

I just had to park the cycle at Bike&Roll, no paperwork and quickly started walking on 42nd street. 42nd street is quite famous and it houses some big names including Madame Tussads, a few theatres, New York Times off South Station. I couldn't see other big names as I had to really rush; I was already late by 10 minutes. Another 10 min and I was there, 20 minutes later than the planned time. Naseeb was frantically looking for me and we finally met for the second time in the day. It was past midnight when we reached home. Uff, what a day!

Sunday, 31 August 2008

A visit to the Niagara

After a day's rest to get over jetlag, we (Naseeb, her mom and sis) were off to the Niagara falls on a bus tour. Many long hours and a couple of breaks later, we reached thousand islands. Actually, the ride is quite monotonous and boring, especially if you are not driving or navigating. Thousand islands is a region in Lake Ontario where there are more than thousand islands and we were told that these are owned by American and Canadian individuals. Some of these have been gifted to them. Isn't that cool? Back home in India, people do own islands, but it is seasonal, especially monsoon season.

Now, at this point in the trip, I did a Lavanya act after a long time. I went to buy some drinking water in a shop across the dock and missed the boat which was going to show us the 1000+ islands. I had no clue about the date or time; blame it on jetlag. By the time the boat arrived, Naseeb got us icecream and we took some 'rocking' pictures of boat houses. I hope you will be able to make out the rocking of the boats in this picture :)
Moving on, we reached Niagara city in the night. After seeing the falls in the night, I realized that the long ride was really worth it. The falls seemed mystical in all those colorful lights. We enjoyed watching the American falls and the Horse shoe falls in the backdrop of nicely lit buildings in Ontario on the Canadian side.
Even as I was taking pictures of the falls, I couldn't believe it was real; I couldn't believe I had come all the way from Bangalore, India and standing close to the beautiful Niagara. The best was yet to come though.
Next morning, we were to take the maid of the mist, a boat trip close to both the American and the Horse Shoe falls.
As a build up to watching the falls, we watched a movie about how the Niagara was 'discovered' and all the daring feats attempted and acheived at the falls. There were not many people around, could be because it was already end of summer, so we quickly reached the Maid of the Mist boat, donned in blue ponchos.

As we neared the falls, there was a mad rush to take pictures, and I was part of it too. But I did take a moment or two to just watch the crystal clear water fall gracefully and powerfully over the cliff.

It was all over in a flash.. I somehow wasn't satisfied with the duration.. that is the attraction of water, for that matter anything that nature offers.

It was time to go back.. I gave away the camera and stood on the observation tower for a few minutes to take in as much of the Niagara as possible... just me and the falls, for some time.

Friday, 22 August 2008

US Vacation Day 1

Had a comfortable flight to Boston, the land of Universities.

Weather is bright and sunny. Took a nice long walk in this pretty little place called Waltham. Had heard about the cars in US but still cudn't stop being surprised by the many number of cars. Also getting used to the vehicles on the right hand side of the road.

As I was walking on the pavements, saw something strange. Huge trees were being used as electric poles. Never expected that here in US where everything is metal and man-made, or atleast I had thought so.

Looking forward for more such pleasant surprises.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Thank you Abhinav, you have made us proud

Today, there will not be any scope for negativism, to honour Abhinav Bindra's words. Even the fact that India did not even qualify for hockey in Olympics where we once ruled, will be pardoned.
By winning India's first ever individual gold, Abhinav has brought hope for crores of Indians.

When I first heard about this, I did not believe it, it was too good to be true. This is what I call truly 'breaking news'.
It was such a pleasure to watch the Indian flag go up while the national anthem was being played, just a few days before the 62nd Independence Day. And what composure and calmness after acheiving such a feat.

Abhinav, you have made us proud, you have united us, you have brought a lot of joy and cheer.

I hope this is just the beginning for India.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

My birthday gift

Today as I complete another year of existence, I took my first baby step in blog world. I had heard about and read many blogs but never felt I needed to blog myself.. when finally I realized I was missing out on all the fun. Now here I am, gifting myself a blog of my own.

Wish me luck.. Wish me that I travel more so I can blog about it. Wish me that I meet interesting people whom I can write about. Wish me that I get crazy ideas which I can share and validate with you all.

I would like to thank a few people for making this blog possible (list is not in any particular order). Aravind for all the tech support, Thej for inspiring me to blog, Sri for financial support (effective when I eventually move to my domain) and last but not least, Vize and Naseeb for moral support for everything that I do.