Posted by: dogstail | June 8, 2011

Makemytrip, Unlimited Memories or (of) a Ripped Pocket

I recently had an opportunity of using http://www.makemytrip.om website to book a flight ticket from Kochi to Doha & Back. I have used their services a few times before without any problem, though normally I prefer booking directly on the airline site so as to save a few bucks.

This time though the airline which I planned to use, our very own Air India Express were having there own website problems. Due to the problems I had to use Makemytrip website.

On the final lap on their rather lengthy format I finally managed to reach the point where I had to give my card number. On first attempt I got a message that my Card has been declined, please contact your issuing Bank. I Tried a second time; same message. Now at the edge of my nerves I contacted my trusted HDFC bank, who informed me that there is no problem with my card. When on the third attempt also I got the same message I got the same message I tore my hair and took deep breathes before trying my luck with Air India Express website again. Lo & Behold, I got my booking in the very first attempt.

The problem was noticed  few days later, when I checked my statement and saw three debits in the name of makemytrip.com….. Bloody hell, the guys are pure thiefs. Three times my card was declined and still my account got debited all three times. I immediately shot of a mail to their contact mail id.

Two of the debits were reversed after a couple of days, but the third one remained. On further enquiries I was told that actually one of the booking was successful and I have a valid ticket from transaction which was declined !!!. So now I ended up havng two seats on the same sector.

The saga does not end here. On trying to contact any customer service for refunding the amount I suffered following insults.

1. Go through tedious IVR menu, and when you get a guy/ girl, the persons pretend as if they do not understand the problem. After spending 10-15 minutes explaining them the issue, either the call will be dropped or they will place you on hold indefinitely.

2. If you call them again, and ask for the person whom you have spoken with earlier, they will not transfer the line. You again explain the issue to a different person, who will give another mail id, on which if you send an email, you will get another complaint registration number, but never a response or a solution.

3. After all this if you still have some stamina left and ask for senior persons mail id phone number, they will flatly refuse.

SInce I landed up with two tickets on the same sector, I cancelled the one fraudulently booked by makemytrip and ended up with a loss of Rs. 2500.00 on cancellation charges.

You would think that the guys lose money if you cancel the trip. Dont kid yourself, they have their own cancellation charges of Rs. 500.00, which is more than the commission airline pays them.

The web is full of complaints of their shoddy treatment of customers. Reader can visit http://www.mouthshut.com/product-reviews/MakeMyTrip-com-925031929 for further tales of woes.

I had great respect for Deep Kalra, how he made millions out of online travel business. Now I know, where acutually the Millions came from.

The best way to use their site is as a comparator. You will get the relative fares and timings of all the airlines on one page, and then you can visit the respective airline site and book the ticket. Even the humble Air India Express did not debit me for a failed transaction, which these crooks did.

Unlimited Memories….Indeed, who can forget a ripped pocket.

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Posted by: dogstail | January 5, 2011

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 3 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 26 posts.

The busiest day of the year was October 17th with 41 views. The most popular post that day was How to get Maximum Mileage out of your Fiat Palio.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were google.co.in, mail.yahoo.com, en.wordpress.com, bigextracash.com, and student-loan-consilidation.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for fiat palio mileage, fiat palio 1.2 elx mileage, maruti swift diesel maintenance cost, palio vs swift, and fiat palio 1.2 mileage.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

How to get Maximum Mileage out of your Fiat Palio November 2007
29 comments

2

Fiat Palio Mulitjet Vs. Swift DDiS March 2008
32 comments

3

Ownership Report on Maruti Swift Diesel July 2008
17 comments

4

About Me October 2007
5 comments

5

Corporate Bloopers 2 : Marketing Overdose : Parachute RDF February 2008
8 comments

Posted by: dogstail | December 14, 2010

Tata Indigo Manza

I am writing anything on my blog after a long time and I have been inspired by the Indigo Manza to do it.

The  thing that I have noticed about Tata cars is that their smile is becoming bigger with every passing model. While first Indica just grinned at you the Manza is positively laughing.

Another thing that strikes you about Manza is the Name. Most cars are named in obscure Spanish and Italian sounding words or are plain numbers, or do not mean anything at all. Manza seems to be in the last category but seems to overtly suggest its ‘Manly” affiliations, as in ‘Man-za’. The advertising tagline also exhorts you to move straight to the top, which by the way may not be the best way to move to the top at all.

This was a car which I got into my hand by accident as I was without a set of wheels for some time and my dear friend asked me if I can use his Manza for the time being, to which I gladly agreed as this was one car which I was meaning to test for a while.

The drive in the car gave me a lesson in what a decent saloon should not be. The fully loaded version comes around 7.5 lacs in Jaipur, which is actually jaw dropping, for Fiat Linea with the same features and near identical creature comforts retails at well over 1.5 lacs more. The more you drive more it becomes clear why cheap is some times actually cheap.

The looks of this car are pretty unconventional as you might have realised by now. The massive Boot overhanging the rear wheels and the overly bulging bonnet over the front wheels actually make the 15 inch rims appear too small for this car. The whole design is somehow disproportionate and irritates the eye. The older indigo comparatively had more symmetry and proportion. The lumbering body rides on thin 165 mm wide tyres which makes the whole package look like an elephant with polio.

Given the bulging proportions of the boot we would have expected it to be over 500 ltrs but somehow the specs only tell us that it is 460 ltrs, which by the way is adequate for all common uses.

Once inside the cabin you are greeted by vast expanses of beige and tan plastic with a golden powdered center console. The power windows switch housing is also similarly golden powdered. All  give a feeling that the Tatas tried very hard to appear BMWesque with as little money as they could possibly spend. The seating is high with very little lateral support for the thighs so it is not possible to rest your thigh laterally while operating the A pedal. The steering wheel is adjustable for reach and rake, but I was unable to find a comfortable setting even after much trying.

The clutch pedal is too close to the center console/ exhaust well so that your feet actually rest below the clutch pedal and if there is any need to quickly reach up and press the clutch, the foot actually fouls on the pedal first, thus delaying the response. When almost all cars worth there nuts can have such a basic sense of purpose, how did the Tatas miss out on this.  Oops sorry they were busy fabricating the “cheapest car” in the world.

Once you turn the ignition, Fiat takes over and you leave the Tata experience far behind. The 1.2 Ltr Variable Geometry Turbo charged engine is a breeze to drive. It is not pushy and do not expect to win drag races at the red lights, but is adequate for all civilised driving situations. Due to variable geometry the turbo-charger kicks in pretty early and the response to throttle is nippy. Gear changing speeds are touched at mere 1500 rpm and engine does not need to be pushed at all. 80 kmph can be touched at engine rpm a shade less than 2000. Talking of rpms, the instrument cluster carries the same Laurel & Hardy theme of the whole car. In that huge dash board Tatas have gone and stuck a instrument cluster that would have made a bike feel proud. The indicator/  headlight switch combo is sticky and sometimes the headlights switch off if you give the indicator. Maybe a problem with this particular model, but very disconcerting and dangerous at night. The audio controls on the steering are on the right side, which again fouls with your hands as you turn with one hand and manage the gears with the other.

The gear lever is not spring loaded at all and does not return to center of neutral if left free. If you lightly shift from 2nd to 3rd it is expected that the lever comes and rests at the gate of third and fourth on its own. This does not happen. You have to manually move the lever to the middle of the gates and push for finding the 3rd gear, which can be a very notchy experience if you are used some of the better Marutis and Hyundais. Push too hard and you can  end up engaging the 5th. With sufficient practice it is not too difficult to do it, though again it reduces the response time and can be tricky in expressway over-takings.

The car is not the one to be pushed around. A large bulk sitting on bike tyres ensures that even a slightly hard cornering will unsettle the rear end. God help if the corner road is potholed and patchy. If the vehicle is fully loaded expect it to roll a bit more and even lose the grip on the rear if pushed too hard. Each and every rut in the road can felt as the 165 mm wheels get stuck in them and  try to take the vehicle in the direction of the rut and and not where you would like it to go. This is felt in frequent direction changes and jerks on the wheel while driving on the well used roads of Indian cities.

The build quality is trashy with cheap switches and levers all around. Even the power windows housing was coming lose. Odd clicks and clacks can be heard from all corners of the car on encountering any pothole or speed breaker. This in a car which had covered only 10000 Kms in 6 months.

On the whole the only saving grace of this car is VGT 1.2 Ltr Multijet engine. Only those who cannot wait to move up in life should buy this car. I would really save 1-2 lacs more or if you are financing it would not make much of a difference to your down payments and EMI and buy a car in 8-9 lakh bracket. I would buy a linea or any other model in that bracket than just buy a three box sedan because the  marketing wants me to “move straight to the top”. As if moving up in life only meant driving big assed lemons.

Posted by: dogstail | January 18, 2010

Jyoti Basu, Irony in death

So Mr. Jyoti Basu is dead at a ripe old age of 95. The first thing that stuck me as ironic is that he died in a private hospital  after being a die hard communist most of his life.  After the death the news channels and politicians of all shades have been pouring accolades in tons. Newspaper op-eds and columnists have been trying to outdo each other in recalling their personal experiences and anecdotes with the man. Many have called him a towering figure of Indian politics, leader of the masses, man with humility, integrity and character et-cetera, et-cetera.

 I never did meet him nor had a close encounter of him still I can safely say that in-spite of all that the people have to say about him, in-spite of his being at the helm of affairs for of West Bengal 23 long years, he had to die in a Private Hospital. Nothing wrong in that, except that Lenin & Marx must be squirming in their graves, and that he died without making any difference to the lives of people of West Bengal. I am not talking about individual acts of offiicial or unofficial benevolence here and there.

He died in a private hospital because in his 23 years as chief minister he could not ensure that government hospitals are fit to take care of him (and his comrades) when needed. West Bengal remains one of the poorest states in India and Calcutta (Kolkata to be politically correct) is still one of the filthiest and most chaotic cities of its size anywhere in the world. Move out of Calcutta, things are even grimmer.

Yes there has been progress, but maybe that has happened in-spite of him. If you let lose a bunch of guys (and gals)with money and ideas, they will do something. That’s why he had to die in a private hospital, as some enterprising individuals came in to fill the void, which he could not in his 23 years. Yes he did something of a land reform in his early years, but then what?  He did not even manage to emulate the model of other communist governments around the world of at least ensuring quality health care and education for the citizens of West Bengal. But since that is the story of most of India, it’s OK  with me if the man is applauded just for his sense of humour, integrity, leadership, walking speed, longevity, sagacity, sophistication etc, etc, because as I look around there are not many who can lay claim to even these qualities.

 Yes I also liked the fact that he donated his eyes and his body for medical research. 

God let his soul rest in peace.

Posted by: dogstail | January 6, 2010

Viewsonic Monitors…..An Ordeal

I hate to do this…I never wanted my blog to turn  into my very own angst ridden consumer complaint forum, but that is what it is turning it out to be.

I bought this nice 17′ widescreen monitor from a local vendor a couple of years ago, who sold it to me on its low price and life-time warranty.  True the price was ridiculously low for a 17′ inch widescreen unit, which was comparable to an LG 15′ unit with only a years warranty.

Anyway the unit conked off on 7th Dec, 09 without any warning. It was working in the night but it would not turn on when I tried in the morning. I contacted the vendor, who gave me the all India tollfree number, which is 1800119999, and also the cell numbers of the local company rep. I contacted the company rep, who told me that he cannot attend the complaint unless it is logged in at the tollfree complaints number.

I started calling the tollfree number, which is nearly impossible to get during normal working hours. I could manage to get thorugh only on 12th Dec after 5 days of trying that too at the fag end of the day by around 5 PM.  An artificially concerned and polite voice took my call and generated an alpha-numeric ‘RMA Request’.

The number INAFS091200211 was also promptly sms’d to my cell number. Next day I called the local rep, and to my surprise he told me that he has not recieved my complaint from the ‘complaints office’.

I called the tollfree again at by 5 PM and got another voice who told me that the complaint will be attended to shortly. After 5 days, on 17th Dec, a guy called me ask my address. I requested him to come and repair the monitor the very next day, which he said he was not able to, and promised to come on monday 21st Dec. On 21st Dec, the rep informed me that there is a problem with the power card and since the spare part is not available with him, it has to be sourced from Chennai, therefore he can come only after Christmas.

He came again with a spare power card on 28.12.09, but he found that this particular card is not suitable for the unit. When I registered my complaint I gave the model serial number to the dumb voices on the other end, still they managed to get an unfit spare part.

Anyway I am still waiting for the correct spare part, which is supposed to come from ‘Taiwan’ as per my most recent conversation with the dumb girl at the ‘complaint’s office’ today on 06.01.2010. The girl promised to ‘escalate’ the complaint to her senior if not attended within two days. I asked her if she can ‘escalate’  it now. Predictabley after putting me on a hold for a long period she scould not locate her senior.

I will not stoop low and ask the readers not to buy the viewsonic monitors. They are good while they last, only thing is that they dont seem to be lasting more than a couple of years. My vendor has several of them piled up in his storage still awaiting spares. Now we know how they manage to sell the monitors at such a low price. Lifetime warranty’s are no big deal as theycome with really short lifespans.

Incidentally I also visited there website and left a complaint refering to my ‘RMA Request’, but no one has bothered to respond.

Why cant this company who is going all guns blazing in the monitors market put up a decent service network. Supply spares to local vendors and let them repair the units as and when required. What is the need for this cumbersome system, with company employees rushing around here and there not knowing what to do.

Please make your own decisions.

Thanks & Regards

Posted by: dogstail | December 2, 2008

India’s Soft Underbelly

So the nauseating and frustrating Mumbai experience, which left many of us feeling impotent with rage and anguish of not being able to anything is finally over. Finally something has happened which has actually made people angry and come out on the streets demanding structural changes in the way this country is governed. Even though the numbers may have been a wee bit too little for anybody to stand-up and take notice.

I was also extremely angry to begin with therefore I have not written anything for some time. I have allowed it to subside before actually putting my hand to the keyboard.

Indians are by and large very peaceful people and the resilience of Mumbai actually stems from the resilience of Indians in general, who are probably one of the most flexible people anywhere in the world , being able to put up with almost anything and continue with the business of life. It took our royals nearly 100 years to realise that the rug is being pulled from under their bottoms before they could put up a rag-tag coalition for 1857 revolt. It took the general population another 60 years to start doing anything about the humiliation and degradation they were being subjected to. After starting the process it took us another patient 40 years before we could hoist our own national flag and have our ‘tryst with the destiny’. This ability of ours to take shit and still be able to get up, dust up a bit and get along with the grind of daily life is sometimes mistakenly portrayed in the media as being resilience. This our ability to compromise and weasel through a situation without having to make difficult choices, which puts our life and limb at a risk for another day has helped us being very successfull in business field, which is dominated by people who exploit such situations.

At the time of independence the architects of our democracy made a big mistake by not jettisonning the british systems with them. So the police force with its ethos of subjugating and keeping the masses under control was retained and continues in its same role even to this day. Otherwise, where do you see in a democratric country police openeing fire to kill its own people with the impunity that it does here. The Indian Civil Service , whose sole aim was to fill the coffers for the british, was also retained and continues to dominate the country having resisted all attempts at specialisation and having subjugated all other government services.

The british system of indirect democracy works in their country, which is very small and is guided by very well entrenched value systems and traditions, whereas Indians with their tendency to compromise, take shit and cut corners could never be relied on to faithfully implement such a complicated system.

The system under the ‘leadership’ of Nehru quickly degenerated into personal fiefdoms and family hierlooms. With Nehru himself taking lead of ensuring that the power stayed in the family, by entrusting the reins of power into the hands of his daughter. Other more principled leaders like Sardar Patel and Shastri who were naive enough, allowed everything to happen right under their noses.

ICS meanwhile went around systematically denigrating one force that has stood by the country at all times, under the Nehru, who was deeply afraid of the Military, pushed the Army Chief out of the Teen Murti Bhavan and made him equivalent to the cabinet secretary, from his earlier exalted position of being second only to the prime minister. Not to speak of stripping the Military from all positions of decision making related to security and the running of the establishment itself, these days the generals are not even on the panel to advice the prime minister on security related matters. Compared to USA where the National Security Advisor is going to be a retired Marine general, we have a career Police officer on extension. The generals themselves were bought by the political establishment by the lure of gubernatorial and diplomatic assignments post retirement and have casually allowed the powers to slip from their hands so that now they are reduced to a status of beggars and have to go with a bowl through the IAS establishments to get their meagre salary hikes. On the operational front they have been reduced to a level of foot soldiers, who press the trigger when they are ordered to with no role in deciding on the security posture of the country.

The political establishment and the bureucrats have resisted all efforts by the supreme court to reorganise the police and make it a more speacialised and apolitical force. We have more agencies dedicated to gathering intelligence than any other country but with none of them having given clear roles, all of them keep fighting little turf wars, which results in confusing signals and lack of any accountability by anybody. Many of them are actively engaged in clandestine spying work on political enemies on the directions of their political bosses. So while the general population gets to face the bullet, the brokers of power use meagre intelligence resources to settle scores. ( Refer MK Dhar’s Book, Open Secret)

And mind you the bureaucrats and the police officers are supposedly one of the best that the country has to offer. They come through a very stringent even though outdated selection procedure, which ensures that only the best are able to make it through. Though most succumb to systematic rot that has set in and are overwhelmed by the daunting task of overhauling the system and making any structural/ systemic changes. Most prefer to go along with the tide and make hay with the politicians, while the sun shines.

The end result of systemtatic rape of this country was starkly visible through the 5 days of trauma caused by a bunch of hoodlums from Pakistan. The political bosses have consolidated their powers in increasingly narrow consituencies so that you see first families in almost all states. Not to speak of the first among the first families the Gandhi family. The whole set-up is even better than Monarchy or Dictatorship, which appears to be what it is. This comes complete with a very large fig leaf of ‘democracy’.

So much so that president of the Congress party now carries almost an Extra-constitutional authority, with even the prime minister and all congress chief ministers taking directions from her. Maharashatra chief minister offerred to resign to the party chief and not to the prime minister, which means that he, a people’s representative is reporting directly to an unelected authority. What can be a bigger slap in the face of democracy, which MK Gandhi was hoodwinked into supporting.

The rot can be assessed immediately by the way politicians confronted with the enormity of the challenge started shooting of their mouths. Maharashtra home minister called it an attack on Maharashtra. He conveniently forgot to mention that many non-marathis came to defend ‘Maharashtra’ in those gruelling days.

The lack of preparedness and lack of flow of information can be assessed by the live television reporting. When enormous amount of CC TV footage of terrorrists was available, and anybody could make out that they were prepared for a long haul resistance. Not to undermine the sacrifce of ATS chief Mr Karkare, it is hardly a role of a chief of a unit to go on a recce mission and get shot casually. Somebody may call it leadership, I’ll call it lack of preparedness, foresight and standard operating procedure under these circumstances. Didnt anybody clarify whether ATS is supposed to investigate the terrorists or actually take part in shooting wars with them. This lack of clarity of purpose plagues almost all agencies.

The much vaunted NSG came in with their modern weaponary, but also could not do much for next gew days due to lack of basic information such as floor layouts, exits and a painfull lack of night vision devices and gas masks, which would have enabled them to finish the job much earlier. Any modern Special Force does not go out without night vision devices, which is standard issue for ordinary American soldiers. Americans as a philosophy dont go out to fight on an equal footing, they go out to overwhelm the enemy. Our political leadership, throws under-equipped men at unknown threats and later goes out to malign thier deaths. ( VS Achuthanandan & earlier Amar Singh). The proposal for night vision devices no doubt would be hanging fire in some echelons of bureucracy.

Through out the drama, and even post events, the media is unusually obsessed with security at 5 star hotels and hardly a sliver is being shown of what is being done to increase the security of VT station, where many innocent and poor people have perished. The media in their zeal to be the first to report any development actually went ahead and compromised the operation with their obtrusive presense and giving live pictures to the handlers in Pakistan. The security establishment also did not cordon off the area, and everybody could be seen doing their own thing without any coordination.

When I was a kid, punjab was on a boil and terrorrists used to regularly attack targets of high value. During those days I used to wonder and thank god that nobody is enemy of the general public till now, otherwise there will be nobody protect the us. All my nightmares seem to be coming true.

With such systemic rot, it will some time before the killing will stop, as Pakistanis are prepared and motivated to ‘bleed India through a thousand cuts’, to quote Bhutto or some other dictator that they have had. With our short sighted foreign policy, none of our neighbours can be called as true freinds of ours. Even the country which, we have fought to liberate is our arch enemy and keeps shooting across the borders at BSF, and is involved in turmoil in Assam.

Is there hope?  I would love to think that there is, but I dont think so. As an ordinary Indians, we can die suddenly anywhere, anytime. If not to some brazen Pakistani, then on the hideous roads, in police firing, under shoddilly constructed buildings, due to food poisoning and hundreds of other reasons.

It is not a surprise that even though we have one of the biggest list of millionaires, we remain one of the poorest contries on the planet, with life expectancy and literacy levels comparing with some sub-saharan countries. These are the things, which the media, which is conveniently hands-in-glove with the political establishment forgets to highlight. They had no compulsions in shouting occassionaly about the ‘systemic’ problems facing our country. but none have  carried a sustained campaign aganist the rot, ‘political monarchy’,corrupt civil services and politicians. The media and intelligensia some days ago was actually out on the limb praising one of the most vicious and corrupt Politicians, Lalu Yadav as saviour of Railways.

Time has come for a 2nd freedom struggle. The british have left but have left behind a system and a plethora of leeches, who look like us but are differrent. They feed on our blood and their hunger knows no bounds. They need to be pulled out and crushed.

Posted by: dogstail | October 3, 2008

The Ant & The Grasshopper

This has been sent to me by one of my friends, and though the lesson is only partly misplaced, it makes a good read.

The Ant and The Grasshopper
 

 
An Old Story:
The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs dances plays the summer away.
Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.
 
New Indian Version:
The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The Grasshopper thinks the Ant’s a fool and laughs dances plays the summer away.
Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.
NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.
The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?
Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant’s house.
Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter .
Mayawati states this as `injustice’ done on Minorities.
Amnesty International and Ban ki Moon criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper.
The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the Grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance) .
Opposition MPs stage a walkout. Left parties call for ‘Bengal Bandh’ in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry.
CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers.
Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ‘Grasshopper Rath’.
Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the ‘ Prevention of Terrorism Against Grasshoppers Act’ [POTAGA], with effect from the beginning of the winter.
Arjun Singh makes ‘Special Reservation ‘ for Grasshoppers in Educational Institutions in Government Services.
The Ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes,it’s home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV.
Arundhati Roy calls it ‘ A Triumph of Justice’.
Lalu calls it ‘Socialistic Justice ‘.
CPM calls it the ‘ Revolutionary Resurgence of the Downtrodden ‘
Ban ki Moon invites the Grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.
Many years later…
The Ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi-billion dollar company in Silicon Valley,
100s of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere in India ,
..AND
As a result of losing lot of hard working Ants and feeding the grasshoppers, India is still a developing country…!! ! 🙂 🙂 🙂
 
 

Posted by: dogstail | July 12, 2008

Ownership Report on Maruti Swift Diesel

Its been some time since I have been active on the site, given my extremely lazy and laidback attitude to life and everything else.  Some time back I wrote a piece on comparison between Fiat Palio mjd and Maruti Swift Ldi/ Vdi, which has been very popular. After the analysis I then went and purchased a Maruti Swift Ldi in late Mar, 2008 based on the reasons that you can read here.

I wanted to write something about owning a Swift Diesel. Now whenever one experiences anything it is coloured by the persons previous experiences. My motoring experience is coloured by the fact that I owned an Esteem for some time, then I went for a Wagan R, then drove Fiat palio for 4 long years and then have now bought a Swift LDi. In between I had an opportunity to lay my hands on a Santro, Indica, Alto and even a Maruti Omni. Since most of life on wheels has been spent behind steering wheel of a  Fiat palio 1.2 ELPS, naturally I will tend to compare my experiences with the very superior performance of the Fiat in almost all departments.

I purchased Swift Diesel, because I wanted more mileage and Fiat was sleeping on its Palio MJD and Grande Punto Launches and also I have had some very bitter experiences with the Fiat Service. I was a bit apprehensive about Swift as Most Maruti Cars tend to be flimsily build with very little tolerance for bad roads and rough driving.

Now that I have driven more than 6000 Kms since 25th March, 2008. I have had some good surprises and some of the prejudices about Maruti have remained.

The looks are pretty unconventional and the reactions also are on extreme side. You can either love it or hate it, there is no middle path for this car. Some people like me even though they do not like the looks, have bought the vehicle, only goes to show the superior characteristics of the vehicle compared to others in same class. By same class I mean similar size, engine and seating capacity. Pricewise this vehicle is much more expensive than the competition, with almost Rs. 20000.00 lead over the Palio multijet and more than Rs. 1 lakh on the Indica. The looks are further spoiled by the thin 165 size tyres on the otherwise very chunky profile. It looks like a Sumo wrestler suffering from Rickets. Maruti has tried to squeeze maximum out of this vehicle. Thats why you get see such cheap cost cutting measures. I wonder how much more does it cost to put a 185 size tyres than 165, when bought directly from OEM. Some basic equipment like Tachometer and Prismatic rear view mirror are not available on the LDi model.

Swift like all Maruti’s is delicately built with lot of plastic staples holding the inside door panels and the carpeting. The plastic staples invariable start coming out after some time, especially if your door panels have been opened for fitting the remote locking and power windows. This reults in very annoying door rattles, while driving on rough roads and when careless co-passengers slam in the doors. The bumpers have started to come loose after driving on some rough Kerala roads.

Leg room is adequate for medium sized passengers, but reduces significantly if the driver is above 6 ft and uses all the available back slide. The drivers seating position was difficult to get used to, as the seat itself is flat and the lumbar support is not exactly where the lumbar vertebrae are, and is located slightly higher up, which results in very awkward seating positions for the driver, which has actually caused some back-aches during slightly long drives. Now after much experimenting I have arrived at a relatively comfortable driving position. In this postion the AC & Stereo controls are too far off and I have to bend forward to reach them. Of course in Fiat the seat encloses you in its embrace and no position is bad for your comfort.

The switches and knobs are high quality and have soft luxurious action.  Gear throw is short and crisp and makes this vehicle a delight to handle on quick overtakes.

The engine is the same 1248 CC Multijet that the Fiat uses albiet Maruti uses a different gear box, which allows it to have Overdrive ratios in 4th and 5th Gears. For the mechanically challenged Overdrives are gears which allow the drive shaft to rotate faster then the engine, therefore theoretically being more fuel efficient. Maruti Swft also has larger wheels, which means that it covers more distance for same number of rotations, which also makes it more fuel efficient. I am normally a very placid driver and therefore get more than average mileage out of any vehicle that I drive. In my first tankfull I got 20 kmpl, and after that the figure has been progressively on the rise and the car is now consistently delivering around 24 Kmpl. The driving is a mixture of town, open highways, winding roads. AC is on during day time.  You can read further on getting more mileage out of your vehicles here.

The engine is enourmously torquey and allows me to take-off in first gear with full AC, without pressing the A pedial. Initially when the vehicle was new it was quite noisy but now it has mellowed down quite a bit. As the A pedal is pushed it is possible to make out the slight whine of the turbine as it spools up, when you leave the pedal the turbo whines down. It is much fun to push the pedal to varying degrees and hear the different sounds that the turbine makes. Just around 1500 rpm the turbocharger becomes effective and the results can be heard in sudden increase in engine clatter. In first and second gears the turbocharging does not result in back pushing acceleration, but as the driver pushes 1500 rpm in 3rd gear and beyond the acceleration is phenomenal. Enough to overtake anything blocking your view on the road. The torque with turbocharging is such that I can climb gradients in 5th gear, which in a similarly powered Petrol vehicle I would have struggled in 3rd. Of course a small momentum has to be built up before attempting any high speed climbing.

The engine noise does go up with turbocharging but at high speeds does not intrude much into the cabin. In 1st and 2 nd gears you know that its a diesel motor. 3rd gear onwards the sound & vibrations progressively reduce. in 5th between 60 and 80 kmph you wonder why people buy petrol vehicles. It is very easy to get addicted to the torque after 60 kmph. Just a tap of Acc pedal and the vehicle lunges forward. Sometimes absent mindedly I try to shift into the non-existent 6th gear. There is so much of torque. The top speed compared to the petrol variant  I think is limited by the gear box and the fact that Diesel motors are low revving compared to Petrol ones.

It is possible to feel the high torque and the Engine Management System, if you try to stall the vehicle at low speeds say in 3rd gear. The computer tries to maintain a constant rpm of around 900 and pushes the vehicles and you can actualy feel the vehcle accelerating hard without pressing the A pedal.  It is also possible to idle at 50 kmph in 5th gear. The combination of high torque and computers does not allow the engine to stall, though it should not be practiced as the vehicle vibrates a lot.

My complaint regarding poor road holding and stability when compared to Fiat remains. The vehicle bounces on rough patches, and is decidedly nervous when turning on a rough road. With full load of passengers it is Ok though.

The nice small cubby holes in the dash are good for storing knick-knacks, but a larger glove box is sorely missed. The dash itself is very chunky and when opening the glove box, you would expect a larger storage area but you are greeted by a small sliver of a drawer, which can hold your service booklets and very little of anything else. The boot is only 35 ltrs less than Fiat but feels smaller as the usable area decreases sharply due to tapering profile of the vehicle. It is difficult to put large suitcases in the boot, but more stuff can be forced in if packed in smaller and softer luggage.

AC is a delight and it chills immediately. Infact it is better to use it with thermostat slightly above the full cool setting to prevent freezing. Power steering is soft and razor sharp. The vehicle goes precisely where pointed to and does not need constant adjustment. the 4.7 mtr turning radius, a full 40 cms less than Fiat helps in tight parking lots. A 20 cm shorter length also aids in easy maneuverability.

The service at Kottayam Popular was professional and courteous. A far cry from Fiat service. A service supervisor comes and takes over the vehicle, asks and checks for problems. He himself delivers back the vehicle, washed and nicely cleaned, after confirming that the problems mentioned earlier have been corrected. Though they love to profer useless services and stuff such as underbody coating, fibre floor mats etc. Dont listen to them if you dont want to. Overall good service. Maruti recommends oil change every 10000 kms, which further reduces the cost of maintenance. Although they could have done better with finer oil filters, thereby increasing the oil change period to 30000 kms as they do in Europe.

Maruti has gone ahead and built what they have never done before. A Car that actually drives and feels like a European vehicle, though they still fall short on many parameters, but they have improved the model with each passing year. If you drive the first batch of Swifts and then drive the current models then the differences are immediately apparent. The body rattle is significantly reduced. Clutch action is much better and softer.

Verdict, Buy if you have spare cash and drive at least than 800 Kms per month otherwise the fuel economy of diesel is quickly eroded by interest costs of alomost Rs. 80000.00 that you pay extra for the diesel.  Buy if you are a crazy drag racer.

Posted by: dogstail | June 28, 2008

Maneckshaw

I heard the news that Field Marshall Sam Maneckshaw passed away on Firday. I did not feel sad or overly emotional or anything, just a wee bit of remorse at the back of my head (if it can be felt there).

I had never known Maneckshaw, I only saw a glimpse of him as he was being whisked away with sirens blaring in an old Plymouth, complete with his own flag and  5 star plates on the bumpers. The grandeur and pomp of the ceremony surrounding his renk was enough to give me goosepimples. His presence and influence was all pervaiding during my childhood and adoloscence spent in Army Cantonements. During my teenage days when it was time to choose a career for myself, I was all fixated on wearing the uniform. We were living in Mhow those days, which is most military of all military cantonements. Nearby was an awe inspiring institution of The Infantry School, the mecca for all Infantry officers and soldiers who need to be trained in finer arts of destroying the enemy. My friends were young officers, doing what they call as Young Officer’s course. Our converstions after hours of football or squash used to be around wisdom and acecdotes related to Sam Manekshaw and Military leadership in general. Thats how I learnt about Maneckshaw.

Maneckshaw was what most of the YO’s wanted to be, though a cynical few, who could not be moulded by the years of indoctrination in the IMA and a few years of fighting in Kashmir, did not share the same viewpoint as most of us did.

As an officer of Indian Army a person holds almost Godlike power over the lives and destiny of men under command, especially in combat situations. It takes a great amount of power and self control  not to misuse the power and enjoy it too much that it gets into your head.

Maneckshaw stood for integrity, bravery under fire, chivalry (now a dead virtue even in the Army), love for his men, and plain old sence of humor. I was influenced by the force of his personality  through folklore transmitted through generations of officers. Bieng there I obeserved how a person had achieved God like status in the minds of men, who had not even met him, while still being alive. I spent hours daydreaming of bieng like him some day.

Of course reality is different and I never got to wear the uniform in the end, and my friends in the Army who wanted to emulate Maneckshaw are a disillusioned and a frustrated lot.  The values that he held dear and stood for are long out of style, though while he was alive we could still remember them and sigh out aloud while remembering good old days. Now that he is gone I dont know how long we can hold on to the vestiges of the decency, humanity, class and dignity that he brought to the uniform.

Maneckshaw Rest in Peace.

Posted by: dogstail | June 26, 2008

Of Newspapers, News magazines & News Channels

I love Newspapers. My day has to start with a hot cuppa Nescafe and a heavy news paper. In fact I read 4 of them in a day if I include the two online editions of the Times of India & The Economic times.

I have read many different papers during my days and here’s what I make of them.

The Times of India, the grandaddy of them all, was once my staple when I was in Mumbai, and the day could not start without one. Then they went and reduced the size, ostensibly to conform to some notion of international style (whatever that means). To me it was simply cutting on paper expense, saving on the news that they have to write and proportionately increasing the advertisement space, though the reduced size did help in handling the broadsheet in crowded locals.  They also went all colour, which was a nice touch. Along with all the superficial improvements, they have decided that tabloidesque is how people like their news. So you have crisp headlines, sharp photos and racy language but brainless content. Reporters who are factually incorrect while going breathless trying to be readable, amateur analysts with short memory and an irritating bias towards all things Congress. Capitalist mouthpieces telling us how we are so successful growing at 9% and all that. Then there is entertainment news and spicy snippets, whose sole aim is to find a lame excuse to publish a semi nude photo and tell us moron readers how people in other places are enjoying their sex.

INDIA TODAY was another venerated magazine that I grew up reading and I was very young in 1984 when I started reading it and have been hooked to it since then. But over the past few years since they have gone weekly, the standard is also going down. The problem is same affecting the times of India and print media in general. Every now and then they publish some or the other Sex survey. I am not against such surveys and am definitely not against any healthy discussion on the topic, but should some very adult discussion on a very adult matter be dished out in something as acceccible as a News-Magazine? I cannot help but pity them. What news can a weekly news-magazine bring in the age of 24 hour news channels and a plethora of newspapers, who have already dissected the issue beyond recognition. They have to ensure their survival and therefore seem to be trying to re-invent themselves as a regular dose of inane surveys.

Less said about Outlook and Week the better. The Reporters seem to be sitting on the web and gathering information from Wikipedia.

One news magazine that has retained its character is the ‘Frontline’. I loved this magazine but the availability was limited as it was published in far of Chennai. The incisiveness, the issues, the analysis, the humanity of the subjects chosen are still there,  but it is difficult to stand up to Machine Gun chatter of 24 hour news channels. I think Frontline is also in its decline.

The other papers that I read are The business line, The Economic Times, both are out and out business dailies, with very little interest for a lay reader, but I want to be informed about the world of business, therefore I take them with a pinch of salt.

Sometimes I get to  lay my hand on the Indian Express. Well the anti establishment tirade is still there, but the edge is gone as all the best columnists of their times.

Print I think is losing its journalist talent to TV. But when I watch TV and see all the greenhorns trying to speak serious English, while trying to give opinions about issues and events which they know nothing about, I wonder where all the talent is going.  With the IT boom I think best of Indian Talent including people who could have been journalists are writing code for TCS and the likes. Even celebrated TV journalists (I hate to name them) are trying to go for the TRP and appear more as Programme Anchors of political debates, where couple or more of second rate politicians try to tear each other to pieces.

Some channels, who have invented and given themselves multiple awards, rape and murder the hell out of any incident involving such a thing. They themselves play the role of police, judge, jury and the executioner. The way Aajtak, one of the most unashamedly idiotic, opinionated and self aggrandised channel on the air, went about dramatising and pronouncing the guilty verdict in the Noida twin Murder case, complete with fake actors and blood splashing on the screen, gave me bouts of nausea.

Another English news channel called Headlines Today turns girly magazine after 11 PM. Its no surprise that both Aajtak and Headlines Today are owned by the India Today group.  Then there are other insignificant news channels trying to ape and out do each other in the department of sleaze and un-invited, un-informed opinions. Some news channels actually air clippings of Reality shows running on their sister channels as news, complete with a voice over describing the latest nuances that have been played out while singing and dancing. I wonder whether they should atop airing any one of the channels to save Electricity and prevent ‘TV Remote Thumb’, which is a cramped thumb resulting from furious channel switching.

In the total chaos that the news media in India has become a few of news channels stand out. The old and respected NDTV, which still retains some of serious TV journalistic traits imbibed into it by Prannoy Roy and the original gang.  Rajdeep Sardesai though could not play second fiddle to old Prannoy and has left for CNN IBN where he is now anchoring his own shouting matches. NDTV also has been bitten by the TRP bug but thankfully they are launching other channles to cater to the baser instincts.

Then there is another new channel on the air by the name of NEWS X. I think they are affiliated to the 9X group. They have yet to come up to the standards as far as news and its presentation is concerned but they do it with a very stylish and sophisticated BBC manner. No  dramatisation, no shouting and shrieking anchors, no breathless reporters, not much of partisan opinion. Hope they improve and stick around and not get affected by the TRP race.

Then lastly the most revered member of the news media in my opinion ; ‘The Hindu’. The Hindu as the name suggests is not a communal paper and was published from Chennai for a long time before technology allowed it to publish more city editions. Now this is one serious paper deriving its style and line of thinking from the Left-of-Centre ‘The Gaurdian’ of England.

The paper is old broadsheet, not the abbreviated paper towels that the Times and HT have become. It is mixture of colour and Black and White. To prevent early morning head aches and death due to severe envy, there is NO Page 3 content. There are very few colour supplements to distract your chain of thoughts as they are formed by the deep analysis. Friday’s are a day for literary and art review, which would have put Old Illustrated Weekly to shame. News is crisp, headlines attract but don’t scream. Mistakes of spelling, facts and opinion are there but the  Managing Editor acknowledges every one of them pointed out by the readers on Mondays. Columns are big affairs as they have more space than any other paper. The columnists are people like P Sainath, Ramesh Thakur, Shashi Tharoor, Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman etc. And then there are syndicated pieces from ‘The Gaurdian’ and ‘USA Today’. Letters to the Editor are more than a couple of lines, and reflect more than one line of argument.

Its a joy to hold a ‘Hindu’ in your hand. It is difficult for someone used to the Times of India or Hindustan Times to immerse themselves in the sheer seriousness of The Hindu. I also found it very boring initially, but it grows on you like and acquired taste.

Not that I am one serious character. Just that I like my things to be pure. If I want to be titillated and thrilled then I have other means, which do just that.  News papers, magazines and channels should deliver just news and not try to be playboy, filmfare and BBC at the same time, because at the end of the day they become just a lot of ‘Raddi’ and a sore thumb from switching channels.

Posted by: dogstail | March 29, 2008

Fiat Palio Mulitjet Vs. Swift DDiS

I am a great fan of Fiat Palio. I owned one for the last 4 years before deciding to move onto something more economical like a Swift Diesel. Not that my Palio was a thirsty baby, just that it used to run on Petrol and given the way Petrol prices are I thought I should switch to Diesel.

You can read my older entry on Fiat Palio mileage HERE

I loved my Palio 1.2 ELPS extremely smooth ride and amazing handling. It took a really bad stretch of Road to perturb my baby. Most holes and ruts could not be felt at all, many were just a small sound, some were a bit of  a wobble but it took it in its stride without a jerk, jars, tail twisting or loss of direction. I could really throw it around the curves at 60 -80 kmph, without any fear, whatsoever. With curves I mean curves on Kerala roads, which are a bit more curvaceous than most.  I agree that I achieved the feat with 185 size tyres, which are a definite improvement on the stock 165.

Actually I was waiting for Fiat to launch the Grande Punto at the end of 2007, but that was getting postponed indefinitely, meanwhile I landed a good buyer for my old Palio and I decided to let her go, with some grief in my heart. I then immediately booked my next set of wheels in the form of a Swift DDiS. Immediately after my booking Fiat launched their own Multijet Palio. I thought that I should check out this vehicle before I take delivery of the Swift DDiS.

So I landed up at the Tata Fiat showroom in Cochin and the test drive vehicle was immediately available. I looked and saw this Silver Grey shape which looked similar to Palio.   Now the old Palio had a nice muscular, thickly curved bonnet, which lent it a very aggressive stance. The new vehicle’s bonnet seems to have been flattened a bit and the curves toned down, I think maybe to improve visibility. The grill looks good but looks like an afterthought rather than an organic part of the vehicle.

I opened the door and was greeted by a familiar layout complete with the Blue oval key. Only change is the Beige colour which they have tried to incorporate to lend a slightly modern look, but given the quality of plastic used looks a bit cheap actually. Cheap plastic looks better in dark Grey shapes rather than beige. If a company should use beige then the plastic should be similar to ones used in Chevy Aveo at least. Anyway……the layout is completely same as old Palio, they have not even given a digital odo/ trip meter. AC controls are same with heating and direction controlled by rotary controls.

Once I turned the key there was an earthquake and the whole Car shook once and then settled into a steady tak-tak-tak of a Diesel motor. The sound actually intrudes quite a bit into the cabin and the vibrations could be felt right through the steering wheel and the seats.

The ride quality remains as good as ever. Though the original fitment 165 tyres dont do much justice to the handling capabilities of the Palio. Under normal driving they are OK though, and the low profile of the vehicle and lower passenger seating helps bring down the centre of gravity and helps to hug the road . On Swift DDiS the 165 size tyres are positively dangerous, lacking in grip and frequently skidding under hard braking. Only when Swift is carrying four passengers it feels attached to the Road. So if you normally drive solo on bad roads, the the tyres should be upgraded to at least 185/ 70, or drive very carefully.

The Palio gear lever is the same though I feel with a smaller and cheaper gear knob. Gone are the precise gates and slick shifting. The lever is all wobbly and the gates are wide and sometimes difficult to find. Engage the first gear and release the clutch and you need not press the Acc pedal, the clutch immediately bites and the vehicle shoots of the mark. In-fact it is quite disconcerting. There is very little gap between fully disengaged and when it starts to engage, which means that the clutch needs to be fully pressed before engaging the gear and that it may be slightly difficult in bumper-to-bumper traffic where I drive only with the clutch. Also if the clutch is not released very smoothly the engine can also stall, like I managed to do once, even with a 1 lac kms plus experience on fiats. Swift on the other hand have come up with nothing I have seen on Maruti before. The gear lever is delightfully short throw, with nice smooth shifts, which click in with lovely TIK sound. The clutch also is light and has a good gap between fully depressed and when it starts engaging.

Both vehicles pickup is awesome with huge tank like roar filling the cabin as you push in the A pedal. The noise starts to get bothersome  very early in the Palio and by around 1500 rpm in Swift and may actually intrude in the driving pleasure as I love to listen to some music while tootling along.

Once you have reached a decent speed you need to brake. The Palio brakes are powerful and have an immediate bite like the clutch. I feel there should be smooth gradient in the brake force starting with a touch to some hard pressing. Old fiats had this nice gradient. With the pressure you could smoothly vary the braking force. Here the pressure comes all of sudden. A peculiar thing which I noticed was that brakes don’t disengage immediately when I released the pedal. There was just a fraction of a second delay before the wheels felt free from the iron grip. THe sales person said that it could be a problem with this vehicle only. Swift’s Brakes are also quite good and have the nice gradient which I have mentioned earlier.

AC is good and does not affect vehicle performance much in both cases, but pick-up from low rpms in high gears becomes slow, but that is hardly important as it is very rarely that I need to it. Palio says 184 Nm torque compared to Swift’s 190, but its impossible to make out the difference.

Palio also has this nice double barrel head lamps which illuminate the road nicely, though in true European fashion are highly focussed, designed not to blind the fellow coming from opposite side. But in India we have lot of ignorant and arrogant drivers who drive with high beam on. Swift’s headlights are a nice cure for such drivers. It throws a very wide diffused high beam which can blind such drivers coming from the opposite side and motivate them to dip their own lights.

Swift for all its good looks is built quite flimsily with door panels that actually stretch when the door is closed. Something or the other keeps making a nagging rattling sound. The bumps which could not even be felt in a Palio are a heard and those that could be felt,  positively make a jarring noise in the Swift. If the road is rough when you are taking a turn, you might end up loosing control of your tail, as it bounces out tangentially. Suspension is very hard and 36 psi of tyre pressure in the front does not help at all.

Swift seating is high with a lot of visibility, which helps handle this very wide vehicle. The seats are OK though not as comfortable as a Palio. The driving position is also not very good. I with 6 ft of height have to stretch for every control if I adopt a relatively comfortable driving position. Palio’s controls are within easy reach, I could comforably adjust AC controls by resting my hand on the gear shift.

Swift may probably have little advantage in Fuel economy as it rides on bigger diameter tyres and has overdrive in 4th and 5th gears, whereas Palio has it only in the 5th. Palio though may have better city driveabilty, but with almost maximum 19 Kgs of torque (same as Skoda 1.9 TDi)  both vehicles can be driven comfortably in any gear. Frankly with so much of Torque available, Palio could have done better by having Overdrive gears in 4th also. This when previous 1.2, 1.6 all had overdrives in both 4th and 5th gears.

Swift is serviced by Maruti, which has very wide network of fully equipped Dealer workshops and they have been servicing the vehicles for more than a year now, whereas in case of Fiat, all Tata dealerships have yet to get Fiat products and many still dont service them.

Multijet is a sophisticated engine and I would rather trust Maruti with the service than some Fiat trained Tata dealer workshop who is used to working on miniature truck engines.

Feature for feature Palio MJD wins hands down, with the top end SDX being almost Rs. 20000.00 cheaper than the Swift VDi. Come to think of it the Swift Ldi does not even have basic safety features like the passenger seat head restraints, Central Locking, Tachometer and prismatic rear view mirror and luxuries such as power windows and cigarette lighter, which even Palio SDE comes with.

Anyway my test drive was over and I decided to take delivery of my Swift DDiS.

First impressions of the Palio Multijet ?? It makes a lot of noise and vibrates a lot, I feel even more than the old 1.9 Palio D.  Even Swift makes similar sounds but they don’t intrude into the cabin until around 1500 rpm, which is where I do most of my driving. At least I could not feel the vibrations in Swift. Palio seems to have forgotten some of its good points, while Maruti seems to have picked up a lot..

As much as I loved my Palio 1.2 I cannot forget that once it took Fiat 2 months to arrange for a rocker arm, and all the while I had drive with a damaged Rocker arm. Its only a Palio that could have survived being driven around with a damaged Rocker arm and it could have been only Fiat, which could have left its customers in a lurch like that. I could have forgotten that had they come up with something superlative, but this is quite ordinary, even though it costs less than the comparable Swift.

So even though I am diehard fan of Fiat and my heart says Palio, my brain ruled in the favour of Maruti Swift in-spite of all the wekanesses, for the sheer peace of mind that comes with it. I will allow Fiat some time to grow and become more experienced in manufacturing, selling and servicing before spending my lakhs of Rupees with them  Maybe it will be a beautiful Linea…..or something absolutely ravishing like the Bravo. But that is in future

Posted by: dogstail | March 21, 2008

Arsenal Woes

Arsenal is struggling at the top of the league. They were on top of their form a couple of months back but after that  other teams have learnt to thwart their free flowing style.

Come to think of it Arsenal score a lot of their goals by quick  and fluid passing right into the penalty area. How do you counter such brisk passing. Simple,  flood the area with bodies at least one will be able to get a leg on a cheeky pass about to be pushed into the goal. Thats what all the teams playing against Arsenal are doing. Even teams placed at the bottom of table have sufficient defensive talent to choke any Arsenal advance. Thats why they are ending up with draws against teams  10 to 15 places removed from them.

Arsenal is still pretty successfull in the European arena, because most teams the European teams have not played many games against them and are still as yet to learn the counters to the fluidity.

Other teams like Manchester United have incorporated both quick passing and quick deep penetrating strikes with long range shots, which is giving them good results. Arsenal players meanwhile are continuing to look for the perfect pass, which will enable them to score that perfect goal, instead of improvising on even a quarter chance.

Even though I am big fan of Arsenal and their game but they need to capitalise on even small chances, instead of playing ‘passing the parcel’ at the Goal mouth, if they are hoping to finish the season with a top spot.

Posted by: dogstail | February 26, 2008

Corporate Bloopers 2 : Marketing Overdose : Parachute RDF

I googled RDF and came up with all sorts of answers such as Resource Description Framework & Reality Distortion Field, which I think is a very apt for what I saw the other day.

Parachute, a well known brand promoted by Marico Industries is advertising one new ‘Hair Therapy’. Hair loss they say is caused by RDF. I have searched the net and came up with everything else but hair loss. To see whether it is something they have invented, i searched on Parachute+RDF and came up with Military sites related to paratroopers and other such junk, but no RDF, which causes Hair Loss.

I cannot remember the Brandname of the product that they are advertising, but I dont think its worth remembering.

The ad centres around 4 good looking women, who have been made to appear educated and independent. I wonder if the women who are as independent and as educated would not love to know what is this new devil called RDF, which is causing their hair to fall like dead leaves in autumn, before dumping the latest Parachute product on their already deteriorating pate.

They do show some very microscopic fine print in the ad at the bottom of the screen, but the women were so distracting that I could not read it.

Posted by: dogstail | February 21, 2008

Force India Formula 1 Team

Shah Rukh Khan appears on the screen and starts talking in his melodramatic best. He talks about this new Formula One team promoted by Vijay Mallaya. How this team is the best that could have happened to this country. How this is going to represent the dreams and aspirations of 1 Billion Indians. How India has arrived at the world scene, by having this new formula one team.

How is it a sport which barely anyone in this country follows or understands claim to have brought its 1 Billion on to the world stage? It’s Billion, half of whom; a staggering ½ a billion live well below Poverty Line, which means that they find it difficult to find one square meal a day !!

It does not mean that the other half are well off. At least 40 % of the other ½ a billion, a good 200 million, struggle through the day, trying to make ends meet.

Can Owners and promoters and Ambassadors of Team Force India, claim to represent such people who have hunger gnawing at their stomachs, disease in their bodies and worries lining their heads, when this India does not even have time and television to watch their exploits (whenever it is going to start).

The only people who have arrived are Vijaya Mallaya and Shah Rukh Khan.

I am not against having formula One teams but how it is being promoted as a pride of this absolutely impoverished country. How success and sheer wealth of a few is being represented as being one of the whole country. Frankly the way Vijay Mallaya goes around strutting his stuff is vulgar to say the least. Not to forget that he is also an MP of the Rajya Sabha. I wonder what kind of representation he is giving to Karnataka, in the upper house?

Shah Rukh Khan I thought was a man of integrity in the slimy world of filmdom. I thought he did things with his head, but No if you throw enough money, he will say anything on the screen.

Formula One as such is an unfair and elitist sport where the winners and losers are more or less already decided at the beginning of the race. What chance does anybody starting in the eighth row have of winning? What chance does a team who is using Ferrari’s or Honda’s last years engine has of competing with them this year?

How can a sport where people start one behind the other, claim to represent One Billion hopes and dreams? It can only represent those who are on the pole position, at the head of the starting grid.

Do they know what are the hopes and dreams of the rest of one billion ?

It seems they do.

Posted by: dogstail | February 21, 2008

Kerala Guide 3

Please read my earlier posts of Kerala Guide series Here & Here.

Sorry for the delay. I got busy with quarter ending business activities and there was no time to write anything.

Anyway some feedback asked me to give guidance on specific things as to where to stay and what to do? But I think I should not deviate from goals, which is to inform about the spirit of this land rather than the physical infrastructure, which is known to all travel agents and available in all guidebooks.

But still I should just give some hints to those backpackers, who do not travel without any plans and are frequently stuck on the street without any clue.

As  far as Hotels and accommodation is concerned, Kerala is well endowed. You can find a relatively comfortable Hotel (By comfortable I mean a relatively clean room with an AC) in any mofussil level town in Kerala. The tarrifs at these hotels is also reasonable, by which I mean that it is within Rs. 1200.00. Hotels near major tourist locations such as Alleppy, Kumarakom and Thekkady command very high rates. It is better to stay at these moffusil level places and explore the touristy spots from there if you want to save money. But if you have money to burn then there is nothing like a lake side cottage at Kumarakom and Middle of the forest KTDC Aranya Niwas. You can google these terms and get the results, since I don’t want to do any free publicity for these locations.

As far as service is concerned Kerala hotels are not very reputed and anything less than the very best such as the Taj and Le Meridien, the service ranges from bad to indifferent. Only saving grace at most of these hotels is the food. These Hotels are generally not meant to attract any tourists and cater to the vast NRI population, who support the economy of this state and need some place to stay and unwind.

Most of these small Hotels don’t need any advance reservation. Star accommodation requires advance reservation like everywhere else.

The profusion of these small but OK hotels means that you can have an unplanned back packing trip to Kerala, without worrying about getting lost or stuck. Most of these Hotels are respectable establishments if not very well run, which are suitable to take your family to.

As such this is a very peaceful land, with very little violent and petty crime. Most women go around with Kilos of gold around there necks and limbs, without anybody molesting them. This does not mean that streets are safe late in the night. There is always a risk of being harassed by heavily inebriated men. If you are caught on the street late in the night, the best thing is to make a beeline for your hotel. Don’t try to get off your vehicle and mingle with the crowd. Men who in daytime are peaceful and harmless beings, become demons after downing a few shots.

If there is any trouble approach the nearest police post. Police in Kerala is generally very polite and helpful, especially if you are an outsider. This probably is because lot of policemen and women are highly educated but have joined the force because of dearth of opportunities. Though the police are not very well known for their crime solving prowess they are sincere in traffic direction, helping old people, women, children and lost tourists, which is very important to us.

More Later

Posted by: dogstail | February 5, 2008

Where are we headed….

Where are we headed……

Three Cheers for Thackeray and co. who could not bear the anonymity of their Marathi Name ‘Thakare’ and changed it to sound and appear more distinguished and English.

Are these the same people who are appealing to Marathi Pride (or Inferiority complex)?  Do they actually know who was Shiv and what did he stand for?  Does he really know the meaning of ‘Navnirman’? So this young Thackeray did not get his share of moolah in the original ‘Shiv Sena’ so he decided to float his own gang of hoodlums.  How does he differentiate himself and his pack from the original Shiv Sena, who was already venomously xenophobic ?  Very simple….take your xenophobia to the streets, be one up on the Shiv Sena.

Things do not seem to be so simple as they are made out to be. Why is he targetting only the North Indians (People from UP, Bihar)…because these people are poor and powerless to oppose. They clean the streets, drive taxi’s & rickshaws, work as construction labour, carry head loads, sell vegetables and are literally carrying the city on their shoulders. They have virtually shunted out the more relaxed local Marathi out of the trades at the lower spectrum, by their hard work and sheer endurance to inhuman living and work conditions that the city subjects its poorest to. Very few Marathi’s with their pride (or conceit) will work these trades.

Some of them are second or third generation and have got some education and are now begining to bite at the white collar jobs that most educated Marathi’s held in Private sector and government.

Why dont these people target Gujratis, Marwaris, Parsis, Shetty’s……….Its not that simple…. they are seriously monied. Mumbai pays 60% of India’s Income Tax, where does this tax come from?? Its easy to attack a cart puller but very difficult to put a hand on an Ambani or Tata or Birla for that matter. Marathi mannoos will not have any where to work if these people shift shop.  And kind of corruption that we have in this country its not too difficult to understnad that nobody attacks the hand that feeds.

So at the end its about Predation…..Thackeray wants to survive in an increasingly divided country and polity and he does what is easiest ot do. Marathi pride is the only one he can appeal to. Kill a few street labour in the bargain damage a few properties and voila I have a political career !

So what is this Marathi pride and respect for Marathi culture? I for one admire Maratha Valour stemming primarily out of my knowledge of Shiv and the Maratha Light Infantry. I love their Pav Bhaji, Wada Pav and spicy fich curry and am titilated by Lavani theatre. I dont speak Marathi  but I know many North Indians and others who can.

What more does Marathi culture stand for to a common man? I wonder if even Thackeray & Co can explain that? Have Marathi people worked to popularise their culture? Who watches Marathi films? Who reads Marathi literature?

I think Thackeray & Co will do much better justice to Marathi culture by opening a touring theatre company.

So are we headed for disintegration of this country?

Gujrati pride, Marathi pride, Tamil pride, Uttar Bharat pride, Naga  pride, Oriya Pride, Bengali Pride, Asamiya Pride, Kannada pride……..the list is long. We have already seen the effect of Punjabi/ Sikh pride on this country and are bearing the brunt of Kashmiri pride……

DO we need any more prides?

Why dont these people die early deaths?

Posted by: dogstail | January 26, 2008

Buying a Dell 2

So my Dell Inspiron 1520, which I had ordered on 08, Jan, finally reached me 22, Jan. (Read about the Ordering here). A full week earlier than the estimated delivery time of 29, Jan, given by Dell, which is very good, but the the cynic in me was wondering whether Dell gives itself too much time to deliver the stuff.

Anyway since I am in Kerala, I had to make a lot of effort to get the machine delivered to me. First I found out an acquaintance of a friend in Coimbatore, and had the parcel delivered there. A person then travelled from Coimbatore to Pallakkad to deliver it to my friend,  who then shipped it to Kottayam in local transportation.

All this rigmaroll because Dell will not deliver in Kerala without a certificate of ownership (Form 16) from Kerala Sales Tax. The sales tax department will not release the  certificate unless you have a valid invoice, which Dell will send only with the Merchandise once you send them the certificate in advance. So we end up in a Chicken and Egg situation, which is very difficult ot get over unless you have freinds/ relatives in Tamilnadu, Karnataka or in Kerala Sales Tax.

That is a lot of effort for a Dell, which I am saying in retrospect after getting the machine.

The machine reached me in one large box, which could easily have carried a desktop late on 22.01.2008. I was eager to open the unit and take a look at the result of my marathon effort. I fended off the day’s hardword crying through my bones and pulling on my eyelids, to cut open the parcel.

Things are very well packed with accessories coming in a seperate compartmented box. The nylon bag which come free with 1520 is well built, but looks cheap, compared to the imitation leather bags that come with HP or Compaq.

The notebook itself is packed in a Thermocol box. I had ordered a nice midight blue colour for my laptop. The unit looks nice from ouside with lovely well finished matt blue color on the screen lid. There is a plasti-chrome latch to open the screen lid, which I thought looked a bit tacky and felt similar with a lot of play. The latch also does not hold the screen snugly with the body of the machine and there is a some 2 to 3 mm up and down movement of the screen lid even with latch closed. Compare this to smilar HP which does not have a latch and screen closes with a help of pressure from a spring loaded cam as you fold the lid and fits quite snugly.

Once the screen is open you are greeted by a swathe of pure brushed aluminium finish (or silver if you prefer). Palm rests are aluminium, keypad and touchpad are also aluminium. The screen is bordered by a thick aluminium finished plastic, the top of which holds the 2 MP webcam and microphone array.

So much aluminium might look good to some people, but I thought that it looks a bit cheap. The Windows and Intel stickers are also very small and unattractive and in my case a bit skewed and do not any value to the looks of the notebook. The palm rests though feels solid with little depression due to pressure. The screen also is tightly fitted with no sideways or untoward movement.

The keypad is nice with uniform key travels  and no sideways play. The touch pad is also quite good with decent screen coverage and dedicated scroll areas. The media buttons located on the front edge are again made up of cheap plastic, with each having a slightly different finish.

My unit came with a 9 cell battery, which I tested, lasted for around 3 hours 45 minutes while playing movies, which I think is good for a couple of hollywood flicks. With this battery the unit weighs a good 2.5 Kgs, which does not make it very portable. The battery itself is very snugly fitted, unlike some Vaio and Lenovo models where the battery moves quite a bit in its housing.

The performance is blistering with booting time almost same as my desktop. The screen is OK with good resolution and around 30 degrees visbililty angle horizontally. Vertically though visibilty angles are very poor with constant adjustment of the screen required with your posture to get the perfect picture.

The speakers are good though lacking in Bass and start losing fidelity at slightly high volumes, this though can be compensated by using excellent set of Creative ear-plugs supplied with the unit.

There are lot of proprietory Dell softwares come with the PC such as Dell Support, which essentially records your sytem configuration and changes to both hardware and software and alerts Dell everytime you log onto the net. This helps Dell have a fair idea of your system whenever you seek support. The Dell media centre is also good and comes with a remote and can be started without booting the computer, so that you can play media without booting the machine.

Dell also supplies you with all the CD’s of the softwares installed on the unit including the Windows XP (in my case), which I think is the first in the market.

Overall first Impression 

The unit as a whole feels well built with very little fan noise and limited heat generation. Looks though are not very sophisticated but not bad also with nice well painted screen lid. HP and Compaqs though with their Cool Blacks, Greys and sophisticated contrasts and Sony with beautifull finish look much better. But this beast offers the best configuration possible for the money paid. HP will take at least another year before they will offer similar configuration in similar price.

Read my other post on ordering a Dell here

Posted by: dogstail | January 11, 2008

Kerala Guide 2

Ok Now that we are on the ground and ready to explore this beautifull land, let me continue further.

Earlier I mentioned the drinking habit of the taxi drivers. Well Taxi drivers are not the only drinkers in the town. On the topic if drinking…….

Kerala has the highest per capita alcohol consumption in the country. Yes THE HIGHEST. They even beat the hearty Punjabi, when it comes to worshiping Bacchus.

Alcohol is distributed by a Kerala government undertaking called the Beverages Corporation, whose logo is two arrows going up and one coming down encased in a circle. The symbolism in the logo is hard to miss. The shops will have this logo displayed prominently and there will be a big queue in front of the shop by around 6PM. If you want to procure your own booze then ask for ‘Bevco’ and anybody will tell you the shortest route to it. The shops remain open up to 9 PM everyday except national holidays and major religious holidays. Most brands of Indian Made Foreign Liquor are available.

Since the booze market is so big there is a lot spurious material available in the market. Though Bevco shops mostly sell good stuff , you should be careful if you are drinking in any shady bar.

Toddy is another favourite drink of Kerala. It is made by fermenting juice from the coconut palm. It is nice and warming and not so alcoholic if taken fresh. Leave it over for a day and it becomes a hammer of Thor, to blast the drinker out into oblivion. It is cheap and easily available.

Read More…

Posted by: dogstail | January 11, 2008

Kerala Guide

This is my new series for those who are planning to visit Kerala in near future. Since I am from Rajasthan, which is a completely different country altogether and have become a naturalised malayali, I think I am in a good position to dispense free advice on Kerala to my less experienced brethren who might have a good fortune of landing here on business or pleasure.  

 

This not about what to do or where to stay. It will be mostly about HOW to do it.   

 

Some of the people would not agree with me or may have different views, to which they are fully entitled. This is only based on my experience of living and working in Kerala and is not intended to be the last word. Kerala like the rest of the country is fast changing and some changes may even surprise people like us who have immersed themselves in the culture.Anyway let me begin 

Landing in God’s own country : You can come to Kerala either by Bus, train or air. It is very well connected to the rest country with direct trains to almost all metros and mini metros and direct flights to all expect Calcutta. If you are travelling by land and coming thorugh Konkan Rail then the transition from Rest of India to Kerala is not that apparent,  but if you come through Pallakkad gap from Coimbatore side, then the transition is stunning. Previous station is Coimbatore which is surrounded by brown, dusty countryside and as you cross the western ghats thorugh Palakkad gap, you are greeted by the most stunning greenery to be seen anywhere in the country. Although it is mostly rubber and other cultivated trees, but still the transition is amazing.  

 

From the air also, if you are like me and love to look down and out then you will notice some clouds approaching from far, below you is the dust bowl of India and suddenly everything is green as far as the eye can see. It is very clear to make out where the dust bowl ends and where ‘Gods own country’ begins.Anyway once you have taken in a fill of the greenery from air and land its time to face the people. 

 

Language : Most north Indians consider this to be another state in south India where everybody hates Hindi and northerners and can be spoken only in English. It’s a big mistake. All schools in Kerala have compulsory Hindi up to class 10th and given the popularity of Bollywood film and music your average Malayali is more likely to understand and respond in Hindi than anywhere in South India, except maybe parts of Andhra.Also Kerala has a huge expatriate population both in India and abroad. Most families have at least one person who has had exposure to north Indian or other cultures. Thus they have a somewhat cosmopolitan outlook, which is tolerant and more receptive to people of other cultures.  

 

If a person starts off in English, an average on-the-street Malayali will not be able to make a head or tail out of it, because after school he rarely uses English. Most signs are in Malayalam, government works in Malayalam, newspapers are Malayalam. But Hindi is a language which many retain, through constant bombardment by cinema and music. Also if a Malayali does not understand English, but if you insist on speaking in the language then he may even take offence as you will hurt his Malayali pride trying to expose his ignorance of the language. But most malayalis are proud of whatever broken Hindi they can speak and love to show it off to fellow Malayalis.  

 

Malayalam is very close to Sanskrit with many words common between the two. So a slightly sankritised hindi can pass off as rudimentary Malayalam.

Therefore if you don’t know Malayalam, then it is advisable to start your conversations in Hindi, people will understand and even if they don’t some Good Samaritan who understands will come and help you out.  

 

 

Taxi’s : Most airports have prepaid taxi service to the town. They charge 14 Rs. Per km for a non-AC car and I think 18 Rs. Per km for an AC one. It is advisable to use the pre-paid service as they will have exact distance to your destination and you will avoid getting fleeced if you approach a taxi driver directly.

Taxi drivers like the rest of India are dishonest and will try to make a fast buck, though the level of dishonesty is very low comparatively. A taxi driver in Delhi might ask for 3 times the normal fare, whereas a Malayali will only add a few kms to the actual distance.   

 

If you are traveling to far of places, which involves overnight halt, then the drivers demand anything from Rs. 50 to 300 as out of pocket expenses. This should be negotiated before start of the journey to avoid unpleasant experiences later.  Most Taxi drivers are heavy drinkers and it is very important to discuss this with the driver or the tour company before starting on a journey. It is advisable not to travel in case your driver gets unusually drunk in spite of earlier warnings, especially if traveling involves night driving. Kerala roads are one of the most dangerous in the country. To add to the curves, blind corners , narrow bridges, unmarked, unpainted road medians, the Bus drivers own the roads and overtake anywhere anytime with impunity without regard for anybody coming from front, back or side.  

 

For city travel it is good to use auto rickshaws. They are relatively cheap and can negotiate tight traffic conditions with ease. Except Calicut no other city has a meter system for auto rickshaws. Calicut Autorickshaw drivers are the most honest and ready for service type compared to anywhere else in the country. I can say from experience as I have visited most parts of this great land. A Calicut driver will charge you as per meter, most meters are accurate and he will return even 25 paise in change. Whatever be the time he will never charge anything more than allowed. The same cannot be said about other places but on an average you can estimate the distance travelled and pay at approximately Rs. 9 per km.   

 

When you get down in Ernakulam Railway station, it is very difficult to find an Autorickshaw or a taxi and you may have to take assistance of the local police to stop one for you.  For Inter-city travels you can hire Taxi which will again charge you at aforementioned rates or you can use public transport that is available in the form of Trains and Buses.  

 

Trains : There are very convenient trans available between most major towns. You may have to check out the local timings. Trains are overcrowded on weekends and before and after holidays. 

 

Buses : KSRTC (That is Kerala state Transportation undertaking ) runs regular inter city services to all major towns and even to Bangalore and major towns in Tamilnadu. The buses are mostly basic with 3×2 seating with little or no overcrowding. Most co-passengers are polite and keep to themselves. An  average malayali takes care of his personal hygiene and hence most people travelling with you will be clean. 

Deluxe and AC services are few and far between and may not be conveniently timed. Some private bus operators do have Deluxe and AC services, but then you’ll have to check out the local travel agents.

 Read Part 2

Read Part 3

Posted by: dogstail | January 10, 2008

Buying a Dell

I was on a lookout for a new notebook. After extensive search and excel tabulations vis-à-vis price and configuration I finally zeroed in on a Dell Inspiron 1520.

Why Dell??

Well Dell came out with flying colours when compared for configuration against price.

My budget was around Rs. 55000.00 and I seriously looked at Sony Vaio, HP, Compaq and Lenovo. Acer and others also were in my horizon at the beginning but the exact configuration that I wanted was not available in my budget.

Sony looked good but had lower HDD capacity and only 1 GB RAM. Also both RAM slots are occupied by two 512 MB cards, so if you have to upgrade then you have to discard at least one card, which is a waste.

HP was seriously competing with Dell, but was coming with only 6 cell battery and a spare battery was costing +4000 Rs. HP was offering a Vista home basic, which anyway I wanted to remove and upload XP. The build quality also looked circumspect because the shell underneath the keyboard was bending when I tried a bit of pressure on the keys. Also 2 GHz processor was not available. The 1.8 GHz model with rest of the things same as Dell was Rs. 62000.00.

You can watch an interesting video here.

Lenovo in the desired config was also too costly and came with 6 cell battery with no option of an upgrade and again had Vista home basic.

So after lot of thought and web search I decided to look at Dell. Now Dell in India like everywhere else operates on a direct marketing model, which means that there are no dealers and resellers. You have to go to the Dell website or contact them over a toll free number.

One major advantage of Dell, which is not available in any major brand is that you can configure your own PC, unlike others, where it comes fully bundled and you have to take some of what you don’t like with some of what you do.

It does not mean that you can configure everything. Some features especially the bundled operating system is thrust upon you. Like Inspiron 1420 does not come with XP, you have to necessarily take Vista. Also you cannot buy a naked PC without any software. You cannot touch and feel the PC and have first hand experience of the features.

Also once the delivery comes, you will have to setup the PC yourself as there are no Dell employees or franchisees to do it. This can be slightly difficult if you are technologically challenged. But you have help in form of a toll free technical assistance which will guide you through the process step by step. Let me see how effective they are once I get my delivery.

If you want to take delivery in Kerala, then things are a bit more difficult as you have send dell what is called Form 16 of the Keraka General Sales Tax, which is slightly difficult to procure, but you can try your luck at the nearest sales tax office. Better option is to take delivery in Tamilnadu or Karnataka and have somebody deliver it here.

All these disadvantages are small when you start configuring. The price at the bottom of the screen automatically updates as per your choice. The final price which comes will knock your head off.

You may have to shell out anything from Rs. 5000 to 10000 more if you buy any other brand with similar configuration.

Once the configuration is done you can submit the same and a Dell sales executive will call you to confirm the order and take payment options.

The surprise does not end here as I pleasantly discovered. My PC with desired configuration came to Rs. 56900.00.  Dell executives are very aggressive when it comes to closing a deal and there is fierce competition among them. After firming up the order I called up Dell to confirm something and my call was transferred to some other executive who had not dealt with me earlier. He immediately latched on to me and wanted to close the deal immediately. I told him that my budget was only 55000. He promptly obliged and reduced the price to 55000.00. After some time I called again to speak to my executive to finalise the order, I got transferred to somebody else, who promptly offered me the same PC for 53000.00. I thought, let me play the game further and tried to get some more discount through other executives, but it seems this was the lowest anybody will go. So I finally closed the deal at Rs.53000.00, which is a complete steal over all the PCs and configurations that I have seen.

I have finally ordered the following configuration

  1. Intel Core 2 Duo T7250 at 2.0 Ghz
  2. 2 GB RAM
  3. 160 GB HDD
  4. Windows XP Professional
  5. 9 cell battery
  6. Nvidia 8400 graphics card
  7. 2 years extended warranty and damage cover

 Other bells and whistles such as 2mp camera, 15.4 in screen,  remote, stereo sound, ear plugs, USB ports, DVD R/W, bag etc are part of the system. 

The Dell executives were very friendly and ready to offer discounts. The delivery time is 21 days, which is a bit long, but tolerable considering the discounts that I just received and that the machine is made in Malaysia and shipped here.

1420 model is being produced in Chennai, so that should have lesser waiting time

Now that ordering part is over I am looking forward to the delivery and using my PC. I’ll of course write my experiences for all to benefit.

(Read about the Delivery Here)

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