The AirTel Shocker

About a month ago I toured Hyderabad, a visit I would remember for a long time for many good reasons. But it was AirTel that gave me a shocker right at the start of the trip. Not long after I boarded the Kacheguda Express, I realised that my mobile was running out of balance and I needed a recharge desperately to be able to stay on Roaming in Andhra. Since there was no way I could recharge onboard, I requested my friend Pramod to recharge INR 200 for my number. Seconds later I got the recharge confirmation SMS from AirTel which made me say WTF!

WTF

MRP Rs. 200.00 for a talktime of Rs. 1.00?!?!?! What age are we living in? In the times where providers give full talktime or infact more than full talktime and have call rates at 29p per minute, this SMS came to me as a shocker. Soon after that the train went into out of coverage area which did not help me one little bit. I could not even call the customer care, nor have any talktime to make my calls or even send SMS-es. FMyLife at that time with me traveling alone amidst Tamil and Telugu co-passengers and having nobody to interact or call someone over the phone.

Till today I do not know where the money has disappeared nor have any explanation for this. Surely the balance does not reflect upon balance enquiry. So, here is AirTel looting public money and thereby being the costliest mobile service provider in the world.

PS: I have filed a complaint with the AirTel Customer Care and awaiting a response.

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Blog Stats Hit – The Great Firewall of China

With Google’s decision to review business operations in China has been sudden and surprising, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences which may mean having to shut down Google.cn, and their offices in China. Not very long after such a decision, the consequences have already started affecting Statistics and Hits across the Web. Something like WordPress¬† has one million Chinese visitors to their various blogs disappear, accounting for about a quarter of all traffic, and incidentally my blog has not been let free as well. It too has taken a beating as Google was the main source of redirection via search to my Blog in Asia and elsewhere.

The Great Fall of the stats

Clearly, the graph speaks for its own and needs no explanation. In the past two days visitors to my blog have considerably decreased and China’s traffic is not something one can ignore. With both parties striving to emerge winners in this battle of profits to each of them, People and Internet are at loss.

Dear Google, please give my guests back. Thank you.

The Town Hall gig

Date: 6-Dec-2009

Venue: The Town Hall, Bangalore

Time: 1930 hrs

After a super hit Mysore Se Aayi from last year, the expectation for this year had nearly doubled. We lost Rithika, Sharath, Govind Raj and Namrata due to circumstances but got Keerthana who by-far, was the best dancer, more than compensated for it. It took around 15 *really* long days of practice and sweat to produce a dance which ended up being the main attraction of the evening. Needless to say it was Nritarutya’s Rohan Raj without whom this dance would not have been come out in the manner it has. An awesome choreographer and a gem of a person at heart, Rohan’s success story has been a long one which you can read it here. And so here is my second dance in Ananda Balaga in two years –

The RR team
The Rohan Raj Team

L->R Standing: Bharath, Archana, /me, Kasturi Aunty, Rohan Raj, Keerthana, Renuka

L->R Sitting: Vidya, Medini, Ajay, Pradyumna and ‘Lakshmi’ is missing somewhere.

Yeah, comments please!

Advertisement: IIT Bombay, Techfest 2010

Techfest is the annual science and technology festival of IIT Bombay. It is the largest of its kind in Asia. In an endeavor to promote Science and Technology in India they had started an initiative named Nexus in 2006. Under this initiative they conduct events in different regions of the country. This year Nexus will be held at 5 centers in India.

Northern Region : NSIT Delhi
Southern Region : NIT Calicut
Eastern Region : NIT Rourkela
Western Region : IIT Bombay
Central Region : MITM Indore

The competition this year is based on wireless communication between robots. It is an extremely fascinating field with a number of applications. IIT Bombay’s Techfest will conduct this competition there and invite the top 3 teams to IIT Bombay to participate alongside winners from other centers in another competition named A.N.T.Z. The winners of A.N.T.Z will get to represent India in the Techfest World Challenge where in participants from our International Nexus centers would come. The international Nexus centers are at Australia, Thailand and Srilanka.

Wishing good luck to the Techfest team. For more information contact:

Hitesh Lalwani
Manager, Events
Techfest (2009-10)
IIT Bombay
+91 99679 30312
www.techfest.org

Download the Press Release here.

Travelogue: Sharavathi Valley Backwaters

There are some amazingly awesome places in Karnataka which need the right guidance and facilities to attract tourists. One step forward in achieving this is made by Mr. Sampath who is responsible for the revival of tourists flowing into the Sharavathi Valley Backwaters. All you need to do is inform Mr. Sampath a week in advance, the number of people in your group and rest is taken care by him.

About the place: Sharavathi Valley backwaters is formed as a result of Linganamakki Dam constructed across the river Sharavathi which later flows down the hill and results in Asia’s highest waterfalls, the Jog. Due to the sudden rise in water levels because of the construction of the dam, many low lying areas around the path of Sharavathi are submerged resulting in formations of a number of islands. The slow flowing water provides the perfect platform for swimming, boating, kayaking and other water sports. A small hill of moderate trekking difficulty gives the aerial view of the wonderful backwaters.

Atop Raja Falls (Jog)

Getting there: At a distance of about 300km from Bangalore, Sharavathi valley is a minimum of 2 days trip. Take a bus to Sagara and then hire a local taxi guy who takes you GubbaGodu, 20km from Sagara. Make sure you reach GubbaGodu well within 8 30am in-order to make the rest of the day enjoyable. Since our bus reached Sagara by 6 30am, we decided to view the Jog and proceed towards GubbaGodu. Heavy rains played spoilsport at the Jog and much to our disappointment, none of the gates of the Dam were opened.

Things to carry: Here is a list of accessories you *must* carry in-order to help yourselves during your stay in Sharavathi Valley.

  1. A proper BackPack. (A bag which can be put on our back and other kinds of bags wont do).
  2. A plate with a spoon for eating food. (Must)
  3. One cup for drinking water, tea etc. (Must)
  4. One light & thin bed sheet, Foam sleeping Mat will be arranged by them.
  5. A small hand torche. (Must)
  6. A 1 ltr. water bottle.
  7. Well worn in sports/canvas shoes/sandals.
  8. Toilet kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb)
  9. Sun cap and Sun lotion.

Please carry only items mentioned here. Carrying extra stuff might just discomfort you.

Day 1: GubbaGodu – Mr. Sampath’s men were waiting for us with Hot steaming Idlis with Chatni and Khashaya. The experience of sipping hot Khashaya on the river banks is bliss. One thing needs a mention here. There are no basic facilities for freshening up in these islands. Be mentally and physically prepared to get yourself up and going amidst the woods. Atleast you can tolerate that to see nature’s heart. Boats were kept ready for us and we proceeded towards another island. Everything here is environment friendly and that means you should not expect motor boats. Rowing your way all through these islands is the only means. For the first half hour you would enjoy the rowing, but afterwards you need the villagers to take you through. I tell you rowing against the current is not an easy task. Half way through some of us dared to swim across the river and repented heavily for it. The distance what you see is actually way too much less than what it is, and we ended up swimming half the distance. By the time we reached the shore, there was nothing left in us. We could barely walk. Sampath’s men then setup tents for us and we took some time off to rest from travel fatigue and swimming disaster. In sometime Sampath’s men prepared lunch and for the rest of the noon we spent time admiring nature.

By 4pm we set out to another island which is said to have a wonderful sunset point. Again rowing ourselves through a rather calm Sharavathi we reached the place which is another treat to the eye. As the sun went down behind the hill we felt the much needed relief from city life. Took some amazing photographs and headed back to the camp island. To our surprise Mr. Sampath’s men had readied the campfire. Now you are in the an island lit by just the moonlight, pitch silence, campfire and surrounded 360 degrees by water admist a forest. This is pure awesomeness. Hospitality of the best of its kind when we served Hot tea and Mirchi(Chilli Bhajji) at the campfire site. Could not ask for more. Sung, danced and screamed like no one was hearing or seeing us and not to forget the heated argument on Rahul Dravid vs Adam Gilchrist. We were then served dinner and the tents were setup with mats for out sleep. Most of us just roamed around till midnight and just passed off.

Day 2: Awesome breakfast which included Ragi Dosa and Akki Rotti with hot Khashaya. We had boats ready for kayaking. Put on our life jackets and entered the water — fun unlimited. Half the day was already over when we were done with the water sports. Had awesome Pulav for lunch and left for the main Island near GubbaGodu. No sooner we reached there, we set off on another mission — trek the hill which gives a breathtaking aerial view of the backwaters with islands. With heavy backpacks we had to walk nearly 45 minutes nonstop to reach the base of the hill. After recollecting some energy we started the trek which takes not less than another 45 minutes to reach the top. I promise you every step is worth its weight in gold. The scene from the top is just not expressible. With some final photography with the lowest of batteries left after two full days of life with no electricity.

We literally ran our way down the hill to catch the last bus to Sagara and then headed back to Bangalore from there on. To say the least the effort of Mr. Sampath is just remarkable. The price he charges is very nominal. You actually feel that you really got more than what you actually paid for. Here are his contact details –

For the complete photoset click here.