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Holiday in Pondicherry May 5, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in Auroville, hidesign, Kailash Beach Resort, Le Cafe, Pondicherry, Promenade, Satsanga.
4 comments

My wife and I, took advantage of the long weekend and zoomed to Pondicherry. Our last vacation seemed like a million years ago, so we thought of making the most out of this one! Since, I am in Chennai for a couple of months, we gathered that we may not ever get such a good opportunity to visit Pondicherry ever again.

We drove down to Pondy, which is at a distance of about 150 kms from Chennai, along the extremely scenic East Coast Road (ECR). The alternate route is through NH 45. It took us about 2.5 hours to reach Pondy, and then about 30 minutes to reach our destination, which was a little out of Pondy.

The idea was to spend 2 nights and 3 days in Pondicherry, and be back in Chennai on Sunday evening. April to September is typically off season for Pondy. After some research, we booked our stay in the Kailash Beach Resort, about 12 kms out of Pondy, on the Cuddalore road. I must say, that I was not expecting anything great as far as accommodation was concerned, but boy was I surprised when I reached Kailash and checked in! The resort is spread over an area of about 8 acres, beautifully landscaped with a extensive green cover and a plethora of colorful flowers! The resort is complete with facilities for massage, a exotic looking swimming pool, and excellent cuisine. Needless to say, I was more interested in the Bar. But before that, I had to dump our luggage in the room. There was another surprise awaiting us there. The rooms here were very clean, extremely spacious, tastefully decorated and practically furnished.

Kailash advertises itself as an eco resort, and consequently there was no TV or fridge in the room, neither of which we really missed having. The best part of the entire stay was the excellent service. Everyone in the resort always had a nice smile, and was eager to help. The restaurant serves a variety of cuisines- Italian, French and Indian. Their Chocolate Mousse, has been the best I have ever had, anywhere in the world. Simply par excellence.

Now the best part – the Bar. At the Kailash Beach Resort, attention has been paid to the details. The bar is tastefully decorated, gorgeous with a very simplistic décor. The bar man- Shankar, knows his drinks well, and can make a fantastic Mojito. Just 5 steps from the bar, is the swimming pool, and one can leisurely sip on their drinks by the pool side. Aah. Bliss. This is what heaven must be like!
The pictures on the website do no justice to what the resort actually has to offer.

The Kailash Beach resort comes highly recommended for anyone who plans a trip to Pondy, and does have car/bike to get back to the main city. And yes, don’t forget to get your own toothpaste, as the resort does not supply any.

Once comfortably settled on the first day, we decided to explore the city. Since we reached a little late, we did not have sufficient time to explore the streets, so we went directly for dinner. “The Lighthouse” at the Promenade, a Hidesign hotel, was highly recommended for its ambience and food. The ambience lived up to the hype, but sadly the food missed by a long shot. The setting is perfect for a candlelight dinner, with the twinkling sky above, and the sea in front. Only if the food was half as good as the setting! Alas, no. the menu was limited, the service poor, and the food ordinary. Safe to say, I am going to avoid it next time. Maybe drop in for a beer in the evening or something. Nothing more. We paid Rs. 1100 for a meal comprising of a starter – Jamaican Jerk Chicken (very spicy, and not out of this world), some strudel (Very ordinary), a bottle of beer, a Daiquiri and a Vodka (Small) and Sprite. I miss that money.

At the end of day one, we were smug in our wise (and lucky) choice of the accommodation, and tipsy from the fine liquor.

Day 2

Early morning we decided to hit Auroville after breakfast. We had heard a lot about this international city dedicated to the cause of unity and brotherhood amongst all of mankind. But only after breakfast. Well, we were in for yet another surprise. Excellent spread of breakfast. Fruits, freshly squeezed juices, Eggs – the way you like them, Idli, vada, Cornflakes. Exceedingly refreshing.

After a hearty breakfast, we left for Auroville. Now this was on the other side of Pondy, towards Chennai. Both of us are not too much into meditation and all, but we had heard good stuff about the Maitri mandir at Auroville. It took us about 45 minutes just to reach Auroville, along dusty roads, that pass through countless villages. Finally, without too much of a trouble we found Auroville. There was an exhibition about Auroville, and a small video also. But frankly speaking, I could not figure out much about the underlying philosophy. So after getting the free visitors passes from the exhibition center, we made our way to the Maitri mandir, the star attraction, the main meditation center. The signage indicated our path to be shady and the walk to be about 10-12 minutes, but in the blistering heat, it took us a good 20-25 minutes to reach, and by the time we reached, around 12:45, the place was ready to be shut for the next couple of hours. After a little goading we were permitted to enter, walk another 5 minutes and see the Maitri Mandir. It is a beautiful structure, a very well thought of design, but a little spooky for me. It looks like a giant golf ball, ready to be hit any minute. We spent 5 minutes there, gazing at the large ball like thing, and walked back. Exhausted from the long walk in the sun, we were very close to losing our sanity and become like dried fish. Only the thought of a glass of chilled beer made us endure the next 30 minutes.

We left Auroville, stopped to buy some shorts and the loose t-shirts, change, and headed straight for Satsanga.

Satsanga, is a French and Italian restaurant, established in the backyard of old house. The setting was very cheery, multi colored cushions adorning the seats, and they served the best chilled draught beer in town. We had a Zatziki (Excellent), Chicken Kebabs (good) and Chicken in Red Wine Sauce (ok ok) accompanied with lots and lots of beer. J. It is priced fairly for the equality and quantity it offers. Our total bill for the entire meal, the three dishes and 4 glasses (330ml) of beer was about Rs. 826. Not bad.

We had decided to have dinner in the Resort, as that ways we could drink to our hearts content and not have to drive. But before we went to the resort, we stopped at the Chunammbar Resort, hoping to get a boat ride on the Chunammbar river to the Paradise Island. But when we reached, the trip to the beach was already closed for the day. So we made it back to the resort, with time enough to spare for a quick dip in the beach, which was about 200 meters away from the resort. This beach, I don’t know the name, is not very swimmable. Most of the beaches in Pondy are not for swimming, only gazing! The tides were too strong, the sand too coarse, and the water full of shells, one of which pricked me in the foot. So, not really recommended for swimming.

After spending about 30 minutes on the beach, we went back to our room, cleaned up, ordered tea followed by Sprite. I had already bought some liquor from the city, and we had a couple of drinks in the room before raiding the bar. Like I said the bar was well stocked, the bar man knowledgeable, and the setting perfect. We lay next to the pool on the beach beds, devoured our drinks and starters, had pasta for dinner and chocolate mousse for dessert. The total bill was a thousand bucks which included one large and one small Bacardi with coke, one small Signature with coke, a Mojito, a chicken starter, Spaghetti Bolognese and Chocolate mousse. Happy ending to a happy day. J

Day 3

Time to leave. Went to the beach at 7 am. Had a gorgeous breakfast, again, went for a dip in the resort pool, and checked out at 11 am. Total damage, including room tariff, food, drinks tips, Rs. 8300.

Once we left the resort, we cruised along the beach road, and stopped for coffee at Le Café- a Pondicherry Tourism Development Board restaurant. This was probably the best setting for an afternoon snack. The vast blue expansive sea in front of us, a cool breeze caressing us and the smell of the ocean wafting in! Sea facing tables, excellent menu, and superb service was like a cherry on the top. I had a Grilled Tomato and Basil Baguette (vegan) and my wife had a chicken salad, and lemonade for each of us. We topped all of this with a cheese cake. Bill about Rs 400.
And it was finally time to say good bye to Pondy. We left contented of a long week end well spent.

Resort Bill –Rs 8300, Car and fuel – Rs 3000. A Happy holiday and a happier wife – Priceless.

In Chenna(h)i April 19, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in Chennai, Cognizant.
1 comment so far

Hi folks,
i have moved to Chennai for some time. No, it is not for introspective reasons, but purely professional.
I have moved to Cognizant Chennai, and will be getting “Cognizantized” for some time before ic an move back to Pune.
Till then, email me for my new number 🙂

-Ketan

The Big Daady of Conspiracy Theories! March 20, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in conspiracy theory, Secret rulers of the World, youtube.
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Price of my Faith! March 12, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in Sai Baba, Shanideva, Shignapur, Shirdi.
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This weekend the wifey and I decided to visit Shirdi and request the almighty for a soul cleansing, good luck for the year ahead, and basically to help us through the tough times that seem to pervade everywhere.

So we took the 10:30 bus at night, which would take us to Shirdi just in time for the first aarti of the morning – the Kakad Aarti, meaning ‘prayer at the dawn’. We reached Shirdi at 4 am, and felt very happy having made it just in time.

Our happiness was to last for sometime before the so called soul cleansers approached us with offers of VIP darshan, the best place to refresh our bodies before we begged god to clean our souls, and what not. After having refused the ‘ godly’ services, we proceeded to buy the ritualistic prasad and other offerings. And here came the shocker – there were ‘packages’ that were on sale. I was taken aback to see this kind of blatant commercialization of my religion, and this ‘let me make as much money of you as i can right away’ attitude of these thugs. The package cost me 350 bucks, which was not a problem at all, but the fact that all i got for the 350 bucks was a very badly done garland, one coconut, one chaadar for Baba and some prasad. When we reached the prayer hall, these offerings were not even accepted by the chief priest. Infact, he very rudely threw away a lot of offerings that other devotees has bought with them! Literally threw them in their faces. Fortunately, by the time we reached, this old ‘man of god’ was apparently no where to be seen. We had a great darshan, and thanking the lord we came out of the prayer hall very glad.

After Shirdi, we decided to pay homage to the most feared of all lords- ‘Shanideva’. It is said that if Shanideva is angry with you, then you can be sure that nothing in one’s life will be ok. and if he is pleased, one will have the best of times always. Now, i didn’t know if he was happy or angry with me, so to avoid his wrath we decided that it would be best to go pay our respects :).

Now, Shanideva’s temple is about 70 odd Kms from Shirdi in a place called Shani Shignapur, and there are these shared cabs that operate. The only hitch is, you have to be prepared to be stuffed into the cab with as many people as possible, and expect a deathly ride. Atleast that’s what we got.

Anyways, about 90 minutes later, and with our hearts in our mouths, we reached Shani Shignapur. The cabby, took us to a place where we could ‘purchase’ the needed offerings etc. What we did not realise was, that this bugger would be getting a ‘cut’ out of whatever we spend in that shop! How dumb could we get! So this new dacoit in disguise gave us the ‘must be followed’ rules for the prayer. Only men can pray to lord Shani, and that each male must have a bath, be dripping wet, and have a basket of offerings to please the mighty one. I did not have a problem with the first three, but the last one – ‘offerings’ was what cheesed me off. Again. Arre, my logic is, god is not going to love me more, or hate me more only if i dont take these offerings along. I could be a pauper with no money to eat, and god would understand would he not? But no, we had to buy some offerings, and this cost me another 250 bucks. I found out later, that some other vendor, was giving the same basket of offerings for 5o bucks! Imagine my frustration at the cartelized dacoity! But since we had traveled a long distance just for some soul cleansing, we decided best to let the matter rest. But learn from these events.

What irritates me the most is that in the name of religion, profiteers have stooped to such a low level that it actually makes people question these practices. No one would like to offend the gods, and everytime people will end up paying these dogs who claim to be doing service to mankind.

And everytime i return from a pilgrimage, i don’t want to be upset by the blatant in-my-face commercialization!

I think i have learnt a very important lesson from this trip.

Why are we Tolerating Pakistan? March 4, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in India, Society.
Tags: , , ,
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Why?
Your options are:

  1. Because the Mahatma said so
  2. Because our own leaders are too busy with their own election campaigns
  3. Because we don’t know what to do
  4. All of the above

Pakistan is a certified rogue nation. I still dont understand why our own leaders are still in ‘dialogue’ mode with them. Pakistani leaders are just taking India for a ride, what with their constantly changing statements and all. Why cant we just shut them up once and for all? Why so much ‘baatcheet‘?

Ever since i am stepped into this world, Pakistan has meant nothing but trouble. Constant infiltration into Kashmir, rising number of terror camps, continuously increasing political instability, and an economy gone to the dogs because of the dogs.

The Mumbai attacks and now, the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team. How much longer before someone starts shouting and getting Pakistan to get their act together? I for one thing feel, that the trouble is just around the corner for India. Lahore is about an hour away from Amritsar. What stops these gun totting Quran preaching asses to jump the border into our country. Many already have.

Why are we as a nation entertaining anything Pakistani? Till a few years ago, we tried opening up relations with Pakistan, in hope that one day things will turn around. We gave space to their musicians, artists, comedians, actors, cricketers and everyone in between. But to what avail? I think we should stop all of this now. Enough of having any sorts of Pakistanis in India. Send back Adnan Sami, Shakeel, Atif Aslam and the rest of the jing bang.

What, you may ask is their fault? What, i will counter, was the fault of the people who died in Mumbai? What was the fault of the children of the folks who died in the attacks? What was Karamvir Kang’s fault?

The thing about terrorism is, it is everyone’s, and no one’s fault. The people in position to do something, are either to scared to ruin their images or they haven’t a clue as to what to do.

Who suffers? It is people like you and me, you face the misdirected bullets.

Why are we Tolerating Pakistan? March 4, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in action, India, Pakistan, Terrorism.
3 comments

Why?
Your options are:

  1. Because the Mahatma said so
  2. Because our own leaders are too busy with their own election campaigns
  3. Because we don’t know what to do
  4. All of the above

Pakistan is a certified rogue nation. I still dont understand why our own leaders are still in ‘dialogue’ mode with them. Pakistani leaders are just taking India for a ride, what with their constantly changing statements and all. Why cant we just shut them up once and for all? Why so much ‘baatcheet‘?

Ever since i am stepped into this world, Pakistan has meant nothing but trouble. Constant infiltration into Kashmir, rising number of terror camps, continuously increasing political instability, and an economy gone to the dogs because of the dogs.

The Mumbai attacks and now, the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team. How much longer before someone starts shouting and getting Pakistan to get their act together? I for one thing feel, that the trouble is just around the corner for India. Lahore is about an hour away from Amritsar. What stops these gun totting Quran preaching asses to jump the border into our country. Many already have.

Why are we as a nation entertaining anything Pakistani? Till a few years ago, we tried opening up relations with Pakistan, in hope that one day things will turn around. We gave space to their musicians, artists, comedians, actors, cricketers and everyone in between. But to what avail? I think we should stop all of this now. Enough of having any sorts of Pakistanis in India. Send back Adnan Sami, Shakeel, Atif Aslam and the rest of the jing bang.

What, you may ask is their fault? What, i will counter, was the fault of the people who died in Mumbai? What was the fault of the children of the folks who died in the attacks? What was Karamvir Kang’s fault?

The thing about terrorism is, it is everyone’s, and no one’s fault. The people in position to do something, are either to scared to ruin their images or they haven’t a clue as to what to do.

Who suffers? It is people like you and me, you face the misdirected bullets.

How i think we can sail through this recession- Part 1 February 27, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
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A lot of times i think that this global recession that is going on, is just a reality check. It has only been catalyzed by the great financial crash in the US of A. The pointers i thought of may not be extraordinarily out of the box, or anything like that, and may be you have heard of them earlier, but still. Just consider it a list of what can be done at the ground level.

  1. Help Others – Help anybody. Lots of people out there are losing jobs. These guys have a lot of responsibilities, loans etc, just like any one of us. What can we do? May be our network can help? Maybe that good friend of yours who just set up a plant is looking for a plant manager? Maybe someone you don’t know, who has lost his job, has relevant experience. Maybe anything! What i am trying to say is, try and help anyone who you think could use a hand. You don’t necessarily have to know them to help them. Open up. Release an email id, where people can reach you. Yes you may be spammed, but hey is this the time when we should really be worried about spam? Be careful about fraudulent emails though.
  2. Power of the Network – The actual power of the network has been severely under-utilized thanks to the plethora of so called business networks that have come up. Your contacts can come in handy for someone. Maybe someone you don’t know could be helped by someone you DO know. 🙂
  3. Do some free service- Do you think you have good writing skills? Help someone out with their resume. For free. And why not? Did no one help you when you started writing your own? I am ready to help anyone who needs help with resume writing. Mail me at ketalystus@yahoo.com. And i’ll see what can be done.

Ok. So this was part I. Watch this space for Part II and beyond.

How i think we can sail through the recession- Part I February 27, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in help, job cuts, network, recession, resume writing.
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A lot of times i think that this global recession that is going on, is just a reality check. It has only been catalyzed by the great financial crash in the US of A. The pointers i thought of may not be extraordinarily out of the box, or anything like that, and may be you have heard of them earlier, but still. Just consider it a list of what can be done at the ground level.

  1. Help Others – Help anybody. Lots of people out there are losing jobs. These guys have a lot of responsibilities, loans etc, just like any one of us. What can we do? May be our network can help? Maybe that good friend of yours who just set up a plant is looking for a plant manager? Maybe someone you don’t know, who has lost his job, has relevant experience. Maybe anything! What i am trying to say is, try and help anyone who you think could use a hand. You don’t necessarily have to know them to help them. Open up. Release an email id, where people can reach you. Yes you may be spammed, but hey is this the time when we should really be worried about spam? Be careful about fraudulent emails though.
  2. Power of the Network – The actual power of the network has been severely under-utilized thanks to the plethora of so called business networks that have come up. Your contacts can come in handy for someone. Maybe someone you don’t know could be helped by someone you DO know. 🙂
  3. Do some free service- Do you think you have good writing skills? Help someone out with their resume. For free. And why not? Did no one help you when you started writing your own? I am ready to help anyone who needs help with resume writing. Mail me at ketalystus@yahoo.com. And i’ll see what can be done.

Ok. So this was part I. Watch this space for Part II and beyond.

Crashing Realty February 26, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in Crash, India, Obama, Realty, Tax SOPs.
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Like i predicted more than a year ago here, the realty rates are going South. And boy am i glad.

DLF’s move to cut prices by upto 30% will definitely see some positive feedback from the market. Some say this as a bodl move from DLF. I say it is a necessity if they want to survive. A lot of big builders have defaulted on their EMIs to banks, Unitech being one the big ones. Till August 2008, people were buying because they thought that the rates would only go up. This was further aided by the fact that the global recession was not any where on the horizon, atleast what we could see of the horizon.

Now people dont want to buy, thinking the rates will further go down. And mark my words, the rates WILL go down. Atleast another 10-15% correction is still left. The banks have reduced lending rate, the builders have reduced property rates. As far as buying opportunities for first timers go, i think they have ample reason to celebrate.

The market outlook for employment may look bleak, and Obama’s announcement yesterday of No Tax SOPs for firms that Outsource has not done anything for the moral of the massive IT workforce in India. This announcement will further cut spending on major stuff like realty since the majority of buyers are from IT. So all in all i think the realty sector is far from recovering yet. Though Obama’s announcement may seem like a lot of bold talk, but who wants to risk it. American companies today are in no position to not outsource, considering the major financial crisis everything American is in. It may be a long time before the implementation of this “No Tax SOPs” comes into play.

Till then, all we can do is wait and watch.

Crashing Realty! :) February 26, 2009

Posted by Chatore Diaries in India, Society.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

Like i predicted more than a year ago here, the realty rates are going South. And boy am i glad.

DLF’s move to cut prices by upto 30% will definitely see some positive feedback from the market. Some say this as a bodl move from DLF. I say it is a necessity if they want to survive. A lot of big builders have defaulted on their EMIs to banks, Unitech being one the big ones. Till August 2008, people were buying because they thought that the rates would only go up. This was further aided by the fact that the global recession was not any where on the horizon, atleast what we could see of the horizon.

Now people dont want to buy, thinking the rates will further go down. And mark my words, the rates WILL go down. Atleast another 10-15% correction is still left. The banks have reduced lending rate, the builders have reduced property rates. As far as buying opportunities for first timers go, i think they have ample reason to celebrate.

The market outlook for employment may look bleak, and Obama’s announcement yesterday of No Tax SOPs for firms that Outsource has not done anything for the moral of the massive IT workforce in India. This announcement will further cut spending on major stuff like realty since the majority of buyers are from IT. So all in all i think the realty sector is far from recovering yet. Though Obama’s announcement may seem like a lot of bold talk, but who wants to risk it. American companies today are in no position to not outsource, considering the major financial crisis everything American is in. It may be a long time before the implementation of this “No Tax SOPs” comes into play.

Till then, all we can do is wait and watch.