November 24, 2011

School Days - I

On my way to the office happened to cross a small ground where kids were playing, I was a bit taken aback 'coz it wasn't even half past 8 in the morning and they were already in the ground, if we can call it so b’coz it was just a basketball court. That reminded me of my school days, where we used to wait eagerly for our PT period--- a 40min window for playing in the ground...during THE school hours!!

The earliest of school times which I can recollect are I guess when I was in 2nd or 3rd class may be, they were the days of 'BIG FUN'....I remember begging, pleading n crying for ...wud you believe me, a 50 paise to buy one...all for the CRICKETING HERO within the pack! There was this shop within our colony near the school; fondly called as '4th line shop' it was THE buzzing place for all of us. It had stock of all the goodies which any kid would crave for the chocs every variety, chewing gums, Gooseberry, Guava, Stickers (He-Man, Spiderman, WWF..), biscuits and the necessary stuff like pencils, sharpeners, Pens, MAPS, Plain paper sheets... u name it they had it. All that one needed to do to reach this shop was..... just squeeze through the bars on the fence and there u were!!

And then there were promotional events for products aimed at schools, like- stretching the AASA choc wrapper to the maximum length possible, I don't remember HOW MANY of these I bought but I remember stretching one to 33cms only to be beaten hands down by my classmate Kumar who stretched it to I think 44cms :). AASA guys promised something...I don't think they gave what they promised. Ohh yeah there was also the competition of--- return 10 Maggie masala covers and get 2 packs or something free. I remember us kids scrounging through thrash everywhere just to find a few covers...:D.

Our daily routine begun with assembly which had a prayer, pledge, some other activity like news, a short note on great personalities and rounded it off with the National Anthem. Just can't express the pride in singing the Anthem. Everyone of us were encouraged to present one activity in the assembly daily, kids were elected by teachers randomly and the whole purpose being to remove the fear of public speaking and gaining a little bit of knowledge on what's happening. Ofcourse there were a few naughty guys who skipped the assembly ... to finish off homework of the FIRST PERIOD!!

I remember my first ever class teacher who I am sure was the favourite of the whole school, she taught us Social and Hindi when she wasn't teaching girls to be strong ---She was our NCC ma'am too. Another Ma'am who happened to be our Class teacher for 3years in middle school taught us science and later Biology too, she was my favourite. She taught science in such a way that I just didn't forget ANYTHING she told even today. Our whole class worried during assignments time, we don't our HW properly or don't write assignment in time --- She just took our PT period as punishment!! Then there's my Hindi teacher for seven straight years, she was very friendly until we screw up annnnnnd THUDDDD!! We all loved our Hindi periods 'coz we had to go to another room owing to the majority of class taking telugu as second language and us the minority had to move out in a single file.

Don't know why but I always loved the subject of English at school, maybe the simple pleasure of reading stories was the driving factors. We had very good teachers there too, our principal used to take this subject once in a while and damn he was good...naah the best at it. He loved to teach prose the best being "I wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by William Wordsworth. We used to have these nice activities of Elocutions to hone our command over the language and MY CLASS had great orators at that-- Sasank (kept it so short n simple but darn he had amazing command and conveyed the message superbly), Anil Pappu (He was awesome, his script was the best and he was so animated that he could convey the meaning of every word literally through his actions), Sri Sri (His script had examples which conveyed the message), Krishnamohan Menon (loved his accent). the mis-spelt name suggests is a story and ought to be taught as such. We had great teachers who read us through - start of civilisation- Harappa & Mohenjadaro, Mesapatomian, the Incas, Mayans, the great Indian dynasties of Mauryas, Guptas, Chalukyas, Cholas, Marathas, Vijaynagar, Mughals, The rise of East Indian company, Battle of Mysore/Paniput and then the Independence struggle, the civil disobedience movements, the 2 world wars, the treaty of Versailles, the axis powers etc etc. Everything was etched in our minds because they taught us so and not because we read through them.

Maths was, for some reason an unknown devil for me. We had good teachers for that too, but I somehow was #@!& scared of that.... it was one subject that always pulled my grades down. And, here too there were a few guys in my class whom I wanted to emulate Vishnu and Kumar....damn they were just Genius at this subject. They ripped apart any problem thrown at them in moments.

All our teachers commanded a respect which everyone of us obliged by free will and not because they imposed upon us.

There’s much more than just this study part..... I will leave the rest of it for the next part. Hope to write that soon.

September 17, 2011

Is the price of petrol in India very high?

I was becoming a bit concerned with all the information floating on the internet…. Emotional netizens passing on snippets on how low the prices of petrol were in other countries and how the ‘Indian Government’ was ripping the public off. So, I decided look into if all that was real and found that all of that was half cooked truth (in red). Following are the current prices in those countries-

Pakistan               Rs. 26    (88.41 PKR = 47.72 INR) May '11-- Reuters
Bangladesh        Rs. 22    (76 Taka = 48.07 INR) May '11—Reuters
Cuba                      Rs. 19    (1.15 CUC = 54.53 INR) Mar '11 -- Havana Times
Nepal                    Rs. 34    (102 NPR = 63.78 INR) June'11 -- Himalayan Times
Burma                  Rs. 30    (551.88 Kyatt = 4085 INR) Mar '11 -- Irrawady($1.45/ ltr)
Afghanistan        Rs. 36    (54 AFN = 59.1 INR) Jul '11

We need to rationalize how we compare the prices in two countries, if you want to compare say between India and Pakistan should we compare INR to PKR or convert prices to USD and compare so? The later definitely might not (for I am not too sure about economics) always give the ‘right’ picture. Let’s see if we take USD as the base and compare fuel prices across the globe as shown in the map below:

This depicts that price of fuel in India is quite low compared to the ‘Whole of EU’. So, does it mean the EU is ripping of their people ‘better’ the Indian govt is doing? In which case, we are doing better than them isn’t it? For example the cost of gasoline in UK is around 129.3p which roughly translates to around 90 INR. But, it here that the factors of per capita income or cost of living or PPP and few other reasons (DO NOT ASK ME WHAT) are missing. I am sure someone other than me can throw better light on what are all the factors?

Now for price of Petrol in A.P.
The current price after the latest revision is 74 INR per litre. The info floating on internet---
BASIC COST PER 1 LITRE 16.50 + Centre tax 11.80% + Excise duty 9.75% + Vat cess 4% + State tax 8 % = Total Rs. 50.05 + Now extra 23.35 Rs, PER 1 LITRE .

For the sake of those, I have tried to put together the break down of fuel price as follows:

International price of a barrel of Crude Oil
$ 105
Price per litre of Crude
$ 0.66
Price per litre in INR
INR 30.10
Customs/ Import duty on crude @0% (‘11 Budget)
INR 00.00
Cost of Crude Refining + Transportation + Margins
INR 09.10
Customs Duty on Petrol @2,5% (‘11 Budget)
INR 00.98
Central Excise Duty on Petrol (''11 Budget)
INR 14.50

Price of Petrol arriving in AP
INR 54.68
Sales Tax levied by AP State Govt @33%
INR 18.04
Vendor Commission (assuming @1,75%)
INR 01.30

Price Paid by the citizen (in AP)
INR 74.02

There were a few assumptions made--
1.       Current price of crude oil is considered against the avg price in India’s energy basket which stands at around 110 USD
2.       Vendor commission assumed same as neighbouring states and thus arrived at petrol price arriving in AP
3.       Indian oil companies earn an avg refining margin of $8.4/ barrel.
4.       1 Barrel = 158.99 litres
5.       1 USD = 45.6 INR (Avg conversation ratio)

From the above figures it is clear the nearly 45% of the price is due to taxes levied. Central government has been trying to get off with the taxes levied at State level, but it is being resisted by the individual state heads as the tax amount is a substantial part of the state revenues. The states that levy the highest taxes on petrol are-  AP – 33%, Punjab – 32%, Karnataka – 25%(plus 5% entry tax), Kerala – 29%, Tamil Nadu –27% (they cut 3% since May ’11)….. will see if I can get the same for rest …… big ask, better forget it!

So, the conclusion if the taxes aren’t levied the price at which “WE” can get petrol is around INR 40!! Does it mean taxation be abolished? The petroleum taxation accounts for 3.1% of national GDP and close to 16-17% of state government’s own tax revenues. And thus it becomes the case of the chicken or the egg??? Make your own inference!

June 3, 2011

Summer Vacation- I

I was just whiling away the time, suddenly something stuck my mind...this is the month of MAY!!! A decade and half ago this would have been the most awaited time in of the year.... the long summer vacation after the sort of feared "annual exams". Lucky for me and my bro though we had very good teachers at school and never really had to fear exams, ofcourse Maths was an exception for me then!!

The preparation for the month long vacation sometimes even more, rushed through at frantic pace with mom having to do all the packing with me and my bro playing around after the exams. The 4-5 hrs of 'Himsadri" a.k.a Simhadri train journey was always filled with, me and my bro fighting it out for the window seat, if we got only one. Our refree, my mom used to time it- say 20 mins each at window ...thinking about that now makes me smile at all the goofiness we used to display...shamelessly!! And yeah, pestering, begging n sometimes even threating (fake) mom to buy the 50ps samosas or those batani packs :) and all this started with a Frooti packet bought by dad & may be a Chandamama or Tinkle or Chacha Chaudhary ....At the end of the journey, we used to be excited at the prospect of taking the rickshaw ride as always back to my ammamma & tata's place going all along the banks of Godavari... just the very thought gives me goose bumps !!

Once home, we used to rush through the neighbourhood, to find who all from our gang of cousins made it there by then. My grandpa's side was a biiiiiig joint family, so in all there used to be close to 25-30 cousins around almost all within the same age group, that was excluding our pinnulu, mamus, babais, attas who are just a bit more elder than us only the number in age was the differentiator, they were hard to be picked out from us once the fun started!! RJY is quite a hot place in summers, and our elders did had quite a hard time restraining us from venturing into the sun--- to play!!

The day started quite late and the mornings were usually confined to the house and indoor games, few of which cannot be named due to embarassment :D ...we were treated to sumptuous breakfasts ranging from pesara punugulu, chapati, poori, dosa etc lunches n loads n loads of summer spls. Escaping on to the terrace along with cousins in the noon when elders were sleeping just to put our feet into the cooler and sometime flying kites, playing cricket before one of our moms used to get the stick (bettam) and everyone used to scurry for cover.... Due to sever heat everyone used to get blisters and in the evenings everyone used to be covered in BORO CALENDULA powder, resembling white scare crows!!

The wonderful time used to be while playing Housie, around 40 or more used to play until late night and yeah the winner had to buy for the rest!! Spending times at our cousins places, the eagerness to buy our new uniforms, shoes.. the Karachi sweets maan the hot hot pakodas, mudda kova, kakinadu Kaja... the rose milk center, Hanuman Temple, the DeviChowk temple, Ajanta Biryani, boat rides in Godavari wish I could get back to those days, with all my cousins!!

To be continued later........

May 6, 2011

Thank you for calling!!

Over the last weekend there was hot news in the industry, regarding a Top honcho from Banking sector moving into the Commander-in-Chief role for a company in the IT industry. It was hailed as the best that could have happened, for he had the qualities of an inspirational. He had revolutionized the way automation could be made & technology applied to make the Bank one of the best.

Now, the grapevine has been abuzz with wicked rumours that similar ideas could be implemented even in this company, which is already supposed to be a torch bearer for technology. The grapevine fears that the overhaul of the company may start with the most basic level--- the board numbers. Don’t be surprised if you hear the following conversation when you reach the board number—

“Call karne keliye dhanyawad….

IT services ke liye '1' dabaye

Engg services keliye '2' dabaye

Consulting services keliye '3' dabaye

Arre yeh poochna hi bhool gaye (similar to missing a particular test on a program)

Agar aap naye customer ho tho ‘1’ dabaye…. …aap hamare naye customer ho…. Badhayi ho!!

Aarre aapne kuch bhi nahi dabaya, iska matlab aap existing customer ho.. tho krupaya apna gala dabaye!! J

Aap abhi bhi line pe ho!! Aapko batade ki humare saare PLs abhi vyast hai… haa bhai, woh PLs bhi jinhone aapke project pe kaam kiya!!

Aapke project results mein kuch gadbad ho tho no problem… aapke contract mein clause hai, jiski badaulat XXXXX bank insurance cover provide karega aur aapko financial asuvidha nahi hogi !!

Insurance cover ka clause aapne hatwa diya contract se!!! ab tho bhaaad mein gaya tere paise…

Hum kuch nahi kar sakte….Thank you for calling!!!

March 29, 2011

F1 season beginnnsss…

The brand new season of F1 has begun after a 2 week delay (Bahrain GP non-starter owning to political instability). There were lots of changes asked from the teams – adapt to new tyre makers Pirelli, no f-ducts, a big yes to KERS and the new DRS apart from few other technicalities.

As was shown in pre-season testing the Red Bull was the quickest car, faster than the next speeding car by nearly 0.8sec. You really can’t beat that. The DRS was meant to provide opportunities for overtaking and it did produce those, but not in the desired scale. The top teams to finish had one commonality, while one driver was faster the other suffered. Vettel, Hamilton, Petrov, Alonso came through while their team mates Webber, Button, Massa, Heidfeld couldn’t replicate the same.

In short—Vettel & Red Bull are untouchable, McLaren are the closest, Renault the surprise package, Ferrari needs loads of improvement, Force India lucky to get points, Sauber needs luck, Mercedes needs luck & improvement and Williams needs to make Rubens understand the need to stay calm afterall he needs to be taugh, he’s raced in just 300+ of them.

For the Malaysian GP-- all teams watch out for RED BULL, they won the season opener without using the KERS !!! Just imagine what they could do, if they use that !!

March 8, 2011

Wanna be gifted or work hard for it?

The hottest topic of the town at any given point in a year is CRICKET and everyone is an expert at making a SWOT analysis of players --- I thought for a moment and decided not to let go off the tempting offer to be ‘one-amongst-those-so-called-experts’

We were discussing the most argued Q of – ‘Who’s a better batsman, in India?’. That is the NOT the question you ought to be asking any cricket frenzy public in India, for the deafening voice would answer it as ‘Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’.

I always wondered why people are hell bent on comparing any batsman in India or around the world with Sachin. He’s the most gifted batsman that god could ever forge; he is a limited edition with just one copy made. Period. (trying to copy the style of some bloggers!!). Yes, gifted he is with perfectly still head while caressing a cover drive, absolute sense of timing, slick wrists to flick the ball from middle & off to fine leg, ability to pick the line & length of delivery in fraction of second and what not. These features have been hardwired into his mind, he could play the cover drive/ the straight drive/ leg glance even in his slumber.

Sachin is seen as the role model for youngsters, but I guess people shouldn’t be trying to ape him for they never can do so. Everyone ought to learn the aspects of dedication, discipline, work ethics and most important humility—having your feet on ground even after attaining dizzy heights. Youngsters should stop here, to learn anything more from Sachin would be like playing god!!! I definitely don’t think any cricketing coach worth his salt would want his pupils to emulate Sachin, unless ofcourse the kid’s been wired with the same programming as Sachin or simply said God made an extension to the limited edition copy!!!!

This is where I would want to bat for players like Dravid, straight forward truth- he is not a gifted player. He is what he is he because of the hard work he has put in to learn the game; he is a willing leaner and puts his heart and soul into understanding the game. He put in innumerable hours in the nets correcting his flaws, perfecting his technique and kept track with the changing rules of engagement. He has imbibed the coaching manual and ‘that’ is hardwired into his mind, not by god but by his own efforts.

One may not/ cannot coach or learn to become a Sachin but Dravid you can become. I always felt people have the habit of eyeing things that are easy to obtain- like Sachin’s batting prowess all u need is god’s gift and ofcourse his unflinching dedication. On the other hand, many would not like to sweat it out and put in mountain loads of hard work to attain the heights in life as Dravid did in his pursuit of cricket.

Lets choose the path we want to take.


Being an ardent fan of sport, be it any I often follow many of them ranging from cricket, tennis, football, F1 etc, ofcourse I do sometimes watch basketball but hate it for the fact that the basket is placed way too high – I ‘will’ be needing a ladder to dunk the ball !!! … very bad game it is :)

I always saw the refree/ umpire being lambasted for any minor difference in judgement, the best example being cricket. Of late, the sport has been trying to imbibe the technology into regular useage. The umpires are under the lens every moment, they face immense pressure already from the players on field now add to that the ‘giant screens’ that display the replays over and over again in any dubious case. One mistake and the spectators, the commentators n everyone involved in the sport jump onto them, but do the IDIOTS forget that “we” have the advantage of technology- the ultra slow motion replays, the hot spots, the snickometers n even hawkeye. The umpire makes the call in real time—a split second infact.

I definitely agree that they are paid to do the job, the job to make decisions for others, the decisions that have an effect on the outcome of an event. But no one’s perfect and people do make mistakes. Just translate them into real life situations--- assume that you are entrusted to make a decision for others like a selecting a course, advicing on a career, counseling some on their life or even the simplest of tasks like picking a piece of clothing etc. How would one feel if they come back and state that their life had been screwed because you made a wrong suggestion? Someone keeps cursing u for one small piece of advice that went wrong or someone makes u know that ur choice of clothing wasn’t good!!!

We are all good at making decision for our own lives and do not crib at it, because we can’t blame anyone on how our lives pan out n neither can we pay someone to do the decision making on our behalf. But we never miss out on an opportunity to make a scapegoat out of someone just because they were kind enough to use their precious time in suggesting something to us. Lets understand the simple fact that, no matter how good we know the other person, their tastes and preferences we ‘can’not always make the perfect judgement everytime.

Next time you try to blame someone understand that they too are human and are bound to pass an advise they think is in concurrence with the situation at hand and don’t have the foresight to predict the future.

On a finishing note, I wouldn’t mind the on-field umpire making a mistake but will love to nail the @$*@#&@ like the 3rd Umpire, who makes the mistake even after going through all the evidence aforementioned. So, all the 3rd umpires out there, be careful I will not spare you guys!!!