Friday, September 16, 2011

Response to the "Open Letter to the Delhi Boy"

Since I posted the other letter, I've been receiving a lot of comments. I reiterate that I reposted since I loved the way it was written. Doing justice to the other post, I am posting this response to the letter from Mad Momma's Blog (Again clearly citing the source)

Posting the response to this letter from Mad Momma's blog: (Source Link)

Dear Shahana,
I’m part ‘Madrasan’ just like you (Tamil for those who want to know)! And I began to read your post with something akin to amusement because I live in Delhi and am very aware of the foibles of the Dilliwalas. I love it nonetheless for embracing me and giving me a home. About 5 lines down your post, I felt a little ashamed of having ever thought that I was ‘just like you’. It seems nigh impossible to fall that low. For every Daalli boy living in Defence Callony there is a Medraus boy getting up ‘yearly in the maarning’. Why do we as a people deride our own regional accents while swooning over a French accent? Are you ashamed of your skin, accent or your food habits? Then why jeer at theirs? You’re weighed down by your colonial hangover, lady.
Autistic three year old on coke? Witty. And also so compassionate of you to think that a child with a disability is an insult. If you’re playing for the South Indian team, I think you just scored a self goal. For every showy Punjabi I’ve encountered a stingy, parochial Madrasi who won’t invite me into the house for a glass of water. For every caste based temple not allowing people in, there is a gurudwara that will feed you at the langar without bothering to ask after your background or ban your gender. But hey, I really hope the ‘punjabis’ don’t define the whole lot of us by the odd cranky old miser that crosses their path. (And what the hell is wrong with a Happy Gurupurab text message? Admittedly I hate mass SMS saying Happy anything, but why pick on their festival messages when these do the rounds for every occasion including Happy your-mother’s-best-friend’s-toe-surgery-day?!)
You say you come from the land of the ugly? Speak for yourself, sister – I’m cute! And I’ve never understood why people take issue with muscular Punjabi men either –  it’s not as though we lovely doe-eyed ladies prefer pot bellies and skinny legs peeping out from under mundus? I for one would never diss my man if he worked out, simply because it’s a ‘punjabi’ thing to do. It is merely the healthy thing to do, so you’re welcome to the shapeless slugs. Or did you mean that South Indian men are by definition, unfit and shapeless? I take offence on behalf of the rather fit men in my family. Honestly, I prefer my men well groomed, not smelling of coconut oil, and definitely no dusty feet in leather slippers. In fact, speaking of working out, did you mention you’re not scrawny? My sympathies – I could offer you the number of a dietician, because genetically we’re blessed to be built much smaller and more petite than the Punjabans and Haryanvis (God bless their souls and the ghee loaded parathas) who have to make an effort to stay fit. So if you have a weight problem maybe you need to get off your soapbox and on to a treadmill.  The first thing we women need to do is stop hating other women because we think they’re hotter/ making an effort we’re not willing to. I know I’d rather chomp on my murukku and slurp my coffee than get up and hit the gym – you make your own choices.
As for our guys not being good looking, I object to the apologetic sound of that sentence. I think my dad is dashing (okay, maybe I am a prejudiced daughter!) and my husband is bloody good looking (this one I have on good authority from many women) and both are true blue ‘South Indians’. If we think our men are not goodlooking and that Punjabi men are the gold standard for looks, we have a problem. Actually only you have a problem. I’m okay with leering after men from all around the country, starting with Baichung Bhutia and heading down to John Abraham (he IS part Mallu, you know) and taking a full circle back to Ashutosh Gowariker. Yeah, I’m open minded and fair like that.
What was that again about SUVs and big cars? If I had a buck for every South Indian man who can’t stop talking about his cars and gizmos, I’d be on a cruise instead of wasting my time writing this post right now. Our good old Coimbatore at one point had the highest number of imported cars. You might want to read this.
The open cascading tresses – clearly you haven’t seen a Punjabi woman or even a Sikh man let down his hair, literally, that is. The Bongs can give us a run for our money too, in the eyes and hair department. And sistah, I quite like my shaggy flip out and refuse to buy into the stereotypical long hair and olive skin bullshit. Who are you to define my South Indianness for me? I’m dark and I love it – I don’t need you to sugarcoat it for me.  But with people like you sounding apologetic about our looks, it is no wonder we need to import fair skinned actresses for our films. It frustrates me. If our men appreciated us for what we are, we’d not need the ‘northies’ on our screens.
And really girl, did you have to bring up Hema Malini and Sridevi of all women? Them of the adultery, the second marriages, the conversions, the plastic surgery and botox fame? Aishwarya with her annoying accent (it’s probably caused by the smile she got redone) and fake marriage is our claim to fame? I thank you – NOT! Funny how all three of them picked Punjabi and UP men when the time came, huh? Good for them. It just leaves the ‘Madrasi’ men free for us. I got my sweet boy from Karnataka instead of Ash!
One tiny matriarchal community does not a trend make. Have you missed the acid attacks? The dowry we offer for our daughters is mind-numbing. If I’m paying 3 crores for an engineer I’d like him to lose the pot belly and the hair oil please! Colleges with separate benches for boys and girls in salwar kameezes (yes, I can say it like them punjabans!). I’d hardly call that the height of freedom. Fight oppression and violence against women instead of just using statistics to score points against another city. Irrespective of geographical location, it is still our gender being oppressed.
Amma-appa sound cooler than mom-dad to you? How could you be so petty as to pick up on something so ridiculous? Were you running out of real jokes? Bharatnatyam is a higher art form than the gidda or Kathak because you say so? I’m tired of this whole ‘attitude’ we have because to me it reeks of inferiority. And I am damned if I am going to be made to feel inferior about my food, my body, my skin colour or my roots by you. Let’s lighten up, let down the butt length tresses and accept that we play Punjabi music at our discos for fun.
You lost me at the girls doing fake marches (check out what these LSR girls are doing, by the way)? What exactly is it that other college kids are doing that is so much more significant? They’re just college kids, leave them alone to have fun while they can!
What really got to me was the fleeing Pakistan reference. Would any of us consider saying something so heartless about Tibet/Kashmir/Cambodia? Are we so cold as to make a sneering reference to something that was so painful? Partition brought loss, bodies piled up in trains, blood, entire families wiped out … don’t we share history with them? Are you kidding when you say that you come from a defence background? I’m horrified that a girl from a defence background has been brought up to be so divisive. Is this the way the other kids in the armed forces think? I won’t go into statistics of the Sikh regiment and the history of every family giving a son to the army to protect our borders, all while we were sitting around dipping our paruppu vadais in coconut chutney perfecting an attack on the chess board. So yes, we do play a killer game of chess, but oh, we owe them for giving us the safety and luxury to practice it.
As for them not liking our food – are you kidding me? The Brunch carried an article on how the dosa has become the national dish – tit for tat, take that Hindi as official language! You’ll find dosas at every corner stall in Delhi and everywhere else in the country although I must raise an objection to the paneer and Chinese dosas! What if they get started on the image of licking rasam off elbows? Because if we pick on the lowest common denominator to judge them by, they have every right to define us by the elbow lickers.
By the end of your post I was embarrassed for you. For the anger, the bitterness, the hatred and the vulnerability you let slip through. I have no idea what brought it on, but a good bottle of wine and some girl friends and a box of tissues might have been more effective. What you’ve done is unforgivable – you’ve drawn lines and swords and hurt a lot of my ‘Punjabi’ friends. And oh yes, as someone else said – if you don’t want to be called Madrasi (what do you mean you’re part South Indian – you know there are four states, right?), learn to differentiate between Punjabi and Delhiite. Everyone who lives in Delhi is not a Punjabi and not every Punjabi lives in Delhi. That said, everyone is welcome in Delhi, and Munirka and RK Puram are mini-Tamil Nadus themselves.  I buy my dosa maav and podi from there.
And finally, I’m appalled by some of your lines – Texas chainsaw massacre your face? Your dead Dadi? Your mother’s shaven bosom? Kalari your tongue up your ass? Shove so many coconuts down you? Classy. Way to lose control of your point and make a fool of yourself. Crass, rabid and divisive is what these statements are. Driving a wedge of hatred where previously there was only a cultural disparity. It’s a pity you fell so low while trying to make a point on superiority or heck, even equality. To quote them Punjabis, you’ve MC-BCed our case altogether in this badly cobbled together, poor attempt at wit, crossing over into coarse, foul and ignoble territory. And you’re dragging the rest of us into the mire as you cross that fine line between wittily irreverent and decidedly crass. Maybe you just need a good nap or a cold glass of coconut water so that you can cool off and consider what you allowed your ire to lead you into.
I apologise to all those offended by Ms Shahana’s little hissy fit here. We have our good and we have our bad and to attack prejudice with prejudice is not the way the rest of us South Indians work. I need to get back to cracking my IIT now. Apparently Shahana thinks I have no other choice or mind of my own. Now where did I put my pen – in my Fendi bag or my Gucci clutch? Oh wait, I couldn’t possibly know the difference, stereotypical Madrasi chick that I am.
And oh, Shahana, I have a request. In future, do not presume to write on behalf of all Madrasis. Not all of us are quite as bigoted or rabid.
MM (I proudly spell it Yem-Yay-Dee, Yem-O-Yem-Yem-Yay), yet another mocha coloured Madrasan married to a sweet fayer Sawth Indian boy.
PS: Okay lets kiss and make up, North and South Indians. In fact let’s drag the Pakistanis into this big group hug with this lovely song – Hona Tha Pyar.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Open Letter to a Delhi Boy (Source Link below)


Loved this letter! Hilarious! Do note that I haven't written this article and neither does it mean that I share the sentiment! Loved the way its written.


Dear Delhi boy,

Namaskaram from the South of India, or as you may like to believe, the countries south of the Vindhyas. I came to your city 2 years ago with a brand new job and a bucketload of expectations. My friends and family here thought I was completely insane to choose Delhi over more female conducive cities like Bangalore or even Bombay. I am very sad to report that your reputation of being an ignorant, chauvinistic oaf with the intelligence levels of an autistic 3 year old on crack precedes you and it hurts me even more to admit to this rather accurate description.

Your reputation has travelled far and wide, to countries outside South India as well. And believe me man, it is not a pretty situation. I understand that your stone faded, ripped jeans, your V-neck cleavage showing t-shirts that revel to the world that you have infact inherited your mother’s voluptuous shaved Punjabi bosom, are what you think maketh a man, but it does not. It only maketh for a man who gets a pity license to share his girlfriend’s bra. I write to you as a woman who has been brought up in a society free of any discrimination towards women so thanks to you, my living in Delhi is as safe as Hugh Hefner’s playmate of the year living in Jedah.

You meet me at a friend’s birthday, talk to me about nightclubs and your new SUV and when I look like I’m in desperate need of a barf bag, you think I have an attitude problem. I understand this completely. But let me remind you that I am from SOUTH INDIA and not SOUTH DELHI, so no ,I am not scrawny, I am not fair, I don’t have straight hair and my topics of conversation go beyond the Fendi I saw in last month’s Vogue. I am olive-skinned, have lower –back-length lustrous cascading tresses that sometimes make me look like I fell out Jim Morrison’s tour bus. Got a problem with that? Well just suck it up coz I was born into a society where a woman can whoop your Punjabi patoutie to pulp. While your mother pretends to be very progressive but still cows down to the whims of her husband every single time, mine on the other hand was born into a matriarchal home where every single possession is in the rightful name of the girl child. Could you ever, my hunky handsome, cash throwing pig, imagine this kind of power in your society? So stop telling me that women are not treated like trash where you come from. Just shut up and admit to it. It’s just easier that way. And lest we forget that we’ve managed to curtail the number of rape cases despite not having a female Chief Minister. Amma ‘s body composition generates way too much heat for her get out of her AC room anyway, so don’t even bring that up.

And your English. Good Lord, what in the world is up with that? I don’t want you to ‘explain me’ anything. It’s like you need to go to primary school all over again. And call them your parents, not your ‘peerents’ or what your cooler, more happening brethren call them—‘mere mom-dad’. Like what are they? Conjoined twins? Are they joined at the hip? Your South India counterparts may not have your looks, but are way more mentally stimulating, a quality that alludes you obviously, but has been the single most sexy factor for us Southie chicks since the age of five. I mean once again, who can blame you? You were brought up on Gurdas Mann and the heroic deeds of Devinder Singh Bhullar and the ever so fair concepts such as elections in Phugwada while we mere ‘black-colour waale’ mortals had to make do with Bharatnatyam classes, M.S subhalakshmi and chess. Shame no? And yes, if by a slight chance, you do find my big dancer eyes attractive enough for you to prolong our conversations and meetings and if by an even slighter chance you fall in love with me and decide to marry me, you will have to wear a mundu and you will have to lie prostrate shirtless at the Guruvayurappan temple. A small price to pay for all the genuine independence I am giving up for you. And that’s the real thing, not what you see the Delhi girls at LSR and Stephen’s doing during their fake as hell protest marches coz ultimately they’re going home to a family who’re putting together money for Bobby beta’s bail coz he just ran over his girlfriend’s ex, by mistake of course.

I understand that I come from the land of ugly. I mean obviously Hema Malini, Sri Devi and Aishwarya Rai with their natural banal looks don’t even hold a candle to Priyanka Chopra after her two nose jobs and one lip reconstruction surgery. Not a chance in hell. But when you do come to ask for my hand, remember I am part Maharashtrian and part South Indian and NO, they are not the same thing. So please tell your family, not to drop racist bombs like “Arey woh sab toh ‘Sawth’ ke hi hote hai na?” And YOU—don’t walk up to mother in an attempt to make flattering conversation and say shit like “Aunty you don’t look like a South Indian You are so fair” In return she will verbally Texas chainsaw massacre your face so badly, your dead Dadi will haunt you the very same night, telling you how fleeing Pakistan was less traumatic. So don’t. Better still just don’t speak. Just glean and flex your muscles a little and keep smiling. Just whatever you do, don’t talk.

You may not like our food, but then we don’t like you, which is worse. We may not be even that into food, but then that’s coz we have other things to do with our lives, like crack IIT or become writers, journalists, activists and do things that we are very passionate about. The South Indian woman has a voice and boy can she yell. So if you want to Sambhar ‘Chawl’ your way into my life, then you got to toe the line. Be way more aware than what your are. Remember Delhi is not a country and we are not Black. If I ever hear you utter that name of that colour, I will Kalaripayattu your tongue out of your rear. Yes , that is the secret behind our awesome sex ratio. Just so you know.

For someone who is so confident of his physical abilities you really suck at luring an intelligent woman. Don’t send me text messages that say ‘happy guru purab’, you freakshow and if you want to be cute with your ever so charming (not) Punjabi advances, then don’t send texts that say “Dil laye gayee kudi Madrraaas di”! NO. It’s just not cool man. I may have have missed on a lot in this letter, but that’s ok because you’ll forget to read it and even if you do , you’ll get your cousin Jassi from Defence Callonny to translate it for you. And this letter can’t go on forever like the Punjabi male ego.
So long my love, and here’s two steps of gidda just for you, just to show that I can be traditional and will not accidently kick your sister while doing so.

Love, hugs, kisses aka ‘muah’ (only I shall ‘muah’, you please don’t do anything coz you tend to forget that these are my lips and not a piece of Tandoori Chicken from Kakke- Da- Dhabba)

(Only I can call myself that. If you EVER call me by this name, I will shove so many coconuts down your system that your little saver pack versions will begin to sprout coir.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Super Multi-tasker or Issues with Attention Span?

As I pause every evening before I leave for the day and wonder whether I should shut down my Macbook - that's when I look around to see tons of stuff open. I can't get to close my Keynote files, my MS Powerpoint files, my Google Chrome browser instances, my Safari browser instances and basically anything else open!

Is this because of my low attention span? Or is it because people are just sharing too much information. More than what I can comprehend? I open a link, read half way through and then someone sends me something else or I go back to working on a presentation. And at the end of the day, I have so much of stuff open that I really don't know what I can close!

My faithful Macbook is the one that suffers through this! It does take it all well though. I wonder how any other laptop would have put up with this! My HP gave up on me..... Well HP gave up on HP (No wonders here!).... My dell survived close to a year.... My Macbook is still going strong.... And to add to it... Steve Jobs helps many such MEs....He even got Lion to bring us back to where we were even if we shut down! He gave us multiple desktops (Which I can't seem to remember to use!!). He gave us a reading tab on the browsers - to put things there to come back to later!

Going forward, I have to start closing up on things!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Different types of fighters?

I was over at a friend's house a few weeks ago and something he said still sticks in my head. He was just getting past a fight with his girlfriend and was talking to her when he asked all of us around, "When you fight, do you fight only for that incident that you started fighting for or do all the other things you've been irritated with the other person also get into the picture?"

This actually got me thinking! It's been in my mind for quite a while actually. I think this can help us categorize our friends in buckets. In my humble opinion, they could probably be the below:

1. The Goody Two Shoes: 

This is the breed that tries to smile through everything that happens in and around them. They actually intrinsically start believing that smiling is their only option out or into any situation. These guys are sometimes unbelievable. They always are the ones controlling a situation and keeping people in check. They would pass super awesome dialogues like, "What are you going to get out of fighting with him/her?" or "Smiling takes less energy that frowning" and the likes!

So what are these guys thinking of when they get into a fight? Simple - They just don't get into fights! They keep all their thoughts into their head and basically dismiss them as nothing! But what they feel is nothing could be something just locked up. 

Beware of constantly pissing of such people as when they explode, they really do! And then the floodgates are open - They will bring up every teeny weeny thing you may have said or done in the past!

2. The fire-breathing Dragons

These are the short-tempered dudes who flare up at any given moment for the smallest of things! They will flare up for about a minute or two and then probably instantly cool down.

The more we understand such people, the better friends they will be. These guys are generally very genuine when it comes to fighting. They get angry, but are angry only for what you said or did right then! They're not really thinking about any other thing (Rather, they don't have the time for all that). 

3. The Silent Wizards

There is yet another type that is probably the most interesting of the bunch. It is this type that passes with a mysterious elan and you hardly ever do get to know what they're thinking or doing. They reserve their thoughts and feelings and ponder over them time and again.

More often that not, fighting with this lot is pointless as you really wouldn't know why they're angry with you. The fight may have started over something simple, but in reality the person is fighting coz of a whole other reason. That other reason could be something that happened days or months ago!

These guys will usually bring all the ammunition they can to any fight and it makes sense for you to get to a quick end here. Don't prolong the fight since the longer you take, the more the other person will bring onto the table and into the fight!

So what are the other types?  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Yet another Chapter - Mumbai calling!

Made the plunge finally. And today the world glorifies entrepreneurship to the level that its almost considered cool! In fact, for a while, I was almost on top of the world as people kept praising me for my courage and what not! And then reality hits you! You're out on your own, you really can't go out spending money like you know you're going to get more at the end of the month! You politely deny dinner invites from friends since you don't want to look at a huge bill! All of this and more! I think the word entrepreneurship is highly abused and misused (Similar to how innovation came and went).

However, I will focus on hiccups in startups in a new blog I plan to co-author with my partner and other interested startup bloggers. I would rather focus on Mumbai - The city of dreams and potholes!

I've been in Mumbai for a month now and I can't help but notice the following:

1. People are in such a hurry that they literally and figuratively step over other people's toes
2. It just rains like there's no end
3. The crazy pot-holes
4. The nicest of people here are the auto-rickshaw drivers!
5. The CRAZY property prices
6. It's almost impossible to find a house if you're single. Even more difficult for single girls
7. It's almost impossible to get a postpaid/prepaid mobile connection or an internet connection without a house or some sort of local address proof
8. Autos are actually cheap! (I'm from Chennai where auto guys charge you fares to take you to the moon and drop you in the next street)
9. I've seen more fist fights here in a month here than in Chennai for years!
10. There is a lot of bread consumed here - As Vada Pav, Samosa Pav, Maska Pav and what not!

A month gone and I can't help wonder why the government is not making the efforts required to improve the choked state of infrastructure in this city! One of the most densely populated regions in the world, Mumbai is filled with traffic and the fastest mode of transport in the city is the local trains. Travelling in the local trains is an experience of its own. It's only when I stand watching the train arrive that I wish I was born a girl. There's a separate compartment for ladies in the train that generally has some space for breathing. The guy's compartment is more packed than a tin of sardines. And in all this crowd, people are still able to fight and throw a punch. The other day I was in the train and I could hardly stand. Two guys got into an argument and one guy actually threw a punch!

For all the noise that is made about immigrants into this city, I now believe that the immigrants are actually the nice and polite people. Most Marathis have a tone that comes of as rude and they are so many swear words flying around the place that you would start believing that people haven't grown up after those high school days when swearing with friends was actually considered cool!

Ok, here's some advise for single folks coming into Mumbai looking for accommodation:

Remember, it's going to be very difficult for you to find a place and you should give yourself a good one month time to find a place. You may want to make arrangements with family or friends to stay for that one month. Getting a place here involves giving your resume to the society, getting an approval certificate from the society, getting a police clearance and then you have to register the lease! It's very difficult to find a place without an agent (for single folks) and hence you will have to plan on paying brokerage too (1 month's rent). Some brokers would tell you to just lie to the society that your folks will be staying with you etc, but I would advise against it as I have heard that some single folks have actually been evicted after taking possession of the flat. You would have already paid the brokerage then and you may be back to square one.

As you begin settling in Mumbai, its wise to look around and get the numbers of all the shops around you. They deliver anything and everything to your house here! Right from medicines, groceries to tea and coffee! Also, Mumbai is open pretty late - you could probably find a decent number of shops open even at 10pm and after. Accordingly, work also begins relatively later - at around 9:30am or 10am.

Getting a 3G connection - If you are like me and have to have a fast 3G connection on your phone at all times, you may want to get a Vodafone connection. I've been using it for about ten days now and have been very impressed with the download speeds. I did a speed test and at most places I see speeds above 3mbps which is impressive (I used to get around 200kbps with my "3G" connection in Manila). However, all 3G connections are capped at this stage. The highest plan with Vodafone is around 1200 Rs a month with a 5GB cap on data usage. I'm sure this will change as competition increases. However, to get your connection, you must have address proof and hence I would advise that you get a prepaid SIM card from whichever place you are coming from (in India) and use it on roaming (Roaming charges aren't that high in India). It's easier to probably get a prepaid from your place in India. Rules are pretty strict in Mumbai coz of the terrorist strikes etc!

If you are going to be working with the media and advertising industry, you way want to start your day late, coz most of these folks come into office really late and leave pretty late too.

Will update more in my next posts! Stay posted for some awesome stuff in the mobile marketing arena!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Domain Name Arbitrage (Name Game)

I guess I've entered this game very late! As in really late. Due to the recent turn of things, I was trying to think of company names and product names. The first round went pretty well, we came up with many different ideas for cool names right from Lemonade Ventures to many such things! We actually worked on a huge list, then ran a vote with veto powers granted to each of us and finally arrived at 3 short-listed names!

We took another few days to come up with one name from this one! And when we then go ahead to be excited! We realized that someone is holding on to that domain name. (We had just googled to see if there's a website with that name and found none). We wrote to the guy who owns that name and they replied saying they were willing to sell the name for 5000 Euros!! A domain name that costs around 10 dollars! We then woke up and as we checked many of the other names in the list, we realized that almost 60% of the names we had thought of were mostly randomly registered by someone even if they were not using it!

I guess there are a number of interesting categories of folks here:

  1. The category that just likes to accumulate cool names (mostly for personal use). They like a name, they register and keep it so that when and if they decide to start a business, they can use the name
  2. The category that are actually working on a business plan and are looking for suitable names for their new company/product
  3. The category that is scouting the internet space to reserve all the names they can think of will with sole intention of holding it till someone wants it and then selling it for the best price!
The first two categories are harmless but the last one seems to be holding a large majority of the names available on the internet! I wonder if there's some international body that can ban such practices! You feel so bad when you actually have to negotiate for 1000s of dollars with these guys just because they are holding on to a name you like! 

Anyways, here are my tips to startups looking to come up with their brand name or product name:
(Contrary to what you're thinking right now, this process is a very difficult and long process. I think it may be easier for you to come up with your business plan etc before you are able to finalize the right name)

Step 1

Think of the key messaging "phrases/terms" that your product or service is out there to establish. Ideally, white board all of these terms and words. Your product name should ideally be a combination or contain any of these terms.

Step 2: 

Open the site called Instant Domain Search

This site actually shows you in real time as you think the availability of domains on .com , .org and .net . This allows for the process of eliminating, accepting a name right at the early stages. 

I stayed on this site for about 3 days before I was able to come down with a list of any sort to choose from.

Step 3:

If none of the names that you think of in combination of the keywords that you have on your whiteboard, then go to an online dictionary and look for synonyms of each of your keywords. As you go through this process, a number of new ideas and names will pop up into your head again. 

Important point to note: It is important to take a break once in a while and clean your head! You may be biased towards a few names which at that stage may not be available. You will end up trying to find names that sound like what you like earlier or you will keep trying to find names that end with some keyword you like. So once in a while, try your best to start with a clean slate, both the whiteboard and the mind!

Once you like a name, you can use the Instant Domain Search to go to GoDaddy and register the domain name using your credit card. (There are a number of other payment options too). While you are making your payment, you may want to consider buying other domains apart from the .com (,, etc). GoDaddy generally gives you huge discounts when you buy the entire package!

All the best with your brand/product name for your startup!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

iPhone 4 Vs Blackberry Bold || Work - Life Balance

This post is long due! Alright, I admit, any post is long due! Blame my break from blogging to twitter! Twitter makes you feel you feel you are blogging though you really are posting a bunch of status updates and sharing links! Well, that's why they call it a "micro-blogging" experience I guess!

Anyways, to get to the point, as all my friends would say and I openly admit, I'm an Apple Fanboy and I would actually close my eyes and recommend any Apple product over another. I have gone to the extent of convincing so many of my friends to buy an iPhone or Macbook Pro! I've even been promoting the Magic Mouse! Ha ha.... I think I should ask Apple for a sample iPad 2 from them (I still don't have an iPad)

I stayed away from Blackberry with the idea that the only "Smart" phone in the world was made by our High Commander - Steve Jobs. However, about 6 months ago, my company put a Blackberry into my hand! The Blackberry Bold. I cursed saying why couldn't companies just use iPhones instead of Blackberries! I would actually get into huge debates with many of my friends, colleagues on the benefits of an iPhone over a Blackberry (without even actually using a Blackberry). But now, after I got one, I decided to give the BB a fair shot at being a competitor in the smart-phone market.

After 6 months of using an iPhone 4 and the BB Bold together (I use two phones), I must say that the Blackberry is not as bad as I thought. Of course, the first moment I got the phone and spent some time playing on it, I was like "What the hell is on this phone and why do people even spend so much to get something of this sort"..... But over time, as I used it, I realized that the reason why I would advocate a Blackberry is the very reason why Apple is winning market share, Android is gaining ground and so are others. THE APPS!

The very reason why people use the iPhone (the Huge App market) could possibly be the greatest reason I would advocate the Blackberry. Now hold your horses here folks, I have not come to the point where I announce a winner in this contest. The Blackberry is seriously, honestly a "business phone". A no-nonsense phone that lets you view your email, have corporate and other IM clients, use BBM (Another super winning proposition) and is well integrated to your office outlook email client! People who basically are looking for a phone to work as an extension to their office laptop/work station will surely swear by a Blackberry! Add to that the great battery life and the tactile feedback you receive from the keyboard (The Physical keyboard Vs on-screen keyboard of the iPhone). This phone is a clear winner with the older generation folks who are using it for business. Add to that the excellent Blackberry Messenger. Way ahead when compared to Whatsapp, skype, YM etc... and very simple interface! Delivers on what its meant to do.... And if you have a decent number of people using BBM, then you would surely want to hang on to your Blackberry!

But if you want your phone to move with the advances in the technological space, or you want your phone to allow you to browse smartly, book movie tickets, get a flight ticket, book a domain name, tell you what to eat, how to diet, where's the nearest free wifi network, how many liters of water to drink a day or basically anything else - that's got to be the iPhone (or atleast an android)! The other day, I was standing in the Thai airways check in counter (I had forgotten to do a web check-in before arriving to the airport). This was a huge line and it was moving pretty slowly. I took out my iPhone, downloaded the Thai airways app and did a mobile check in right then. And then I moved to the Web Check-In counter with a smirk on my face! Go iPhone! Yet another day, I wanted to get a domain name registered quickly and I was out travelling. The data card on my laptop had like the most hopeless speeds when I was trying to get it registered. Out came my iPhone, Godaddy has an app! I did the registration in 5 minutes! When Apple advertises saying "There's an App for that", they really do mean it!! Of course, I have to carry my charger wherever I go, coz with my usage, I don't get more than 7 to 8 hours, that too after I have reduced the screen brightness to the point of it going off! Also, add to that the on-screen keyboard which only gives you visual feedback (Which means you actually need to look at your keyboard). The keypad does have its strengths though. As I've mentioned earlier, after a point, the keyboard almost understands what's in my BRAIN! It autocompletes stuff!! That's like super awesome! And the awesome screen real estate on the iPhone beats the Blackberry hands down. Makes browing on the iPhone a much more pleasant experience. It also lets me view many more tweets on Twitter and posts on Facebook!

The Verdict

iPhone 4 hands down for folks who are looking to their phone to sort out any issue while they are on the move. It seriously seems to have a solution for everything! And never lets you feel disconnected from the world (The internet) at any place as long as you have a data plan enabled

The Blackberry for people who are looking to work 24x7. Who don't want to get distracted by everything else the world has to offer and miss their office laptops/email the second they are away from it. For people with a lot of friends on their BBM!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Japanese Boy teaches a lesson in Sacrifice - Very touching

I saw this link on my Facebook feed and clicked on it. It was a letter written by a Policeman in Japan to his friend in Vietnam. He tells of his experience with a 9 year old Japanese boy. Read ahead - It's really worth your time.


How are you and your family? These last few days, everything was in chaos. When I close my eyes, I see dead bodies. When I open my eyes, I also see dead bodies. 

Each one of us must work 20 hours a day, yet I wish there were 48 hours in the day, so that we could continue helping and rescuing folks.

We are without water and electricity, and food rations are near zero. We barely manage to move refugees before there are new orders to move them elsewhere.

I am currently in Fukushima, about 25 kilometers away from the nuclear power plant. I have so much to tell you that if I could write it all down, it would surely turn into a novel about human relationships and behaviors during times of crisis.

People here remain calm - their sense of dignity and proper behavior are very good - so things aren't as bad as they could be. But given another week, I can't guarantee that things won't get to a point where we can no longer provide proper protection and order. 

They are humans after all, and when hunger and thirst override dignity, well, they will do whatever they have to do. The government is trying to provide supplies by air, bringing in food and medicine, but it's like dropping a little salt into the ocean.

Brother, there was a really moving incident. It involves a little Japanese boy who taught an adult like me a lesson on how to behave like a human being.

Last night, I was sent to a little grammar school to help a charity organization distribute food to the refugees. It was a long line that snaked this way and that and I saw a little boy around 9 years old. He was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of shorts.

It was getting very cold and the boy was at the very end of the line. I was worried that by the time his turn came there wouldn't be any food left. So I spoke to him. He said he was at school when the earthquake happened. His father worked nearby and was driving to the school. The boy was on the third floor balcony when he saw the tsunami sweep his father's car away. 

I asked him about his mother. He said his house is right by the beach and that his mother and little sister probably didn't make it. He turned his head and wiped his tears when I asked about his relatives.

The boy was shivering so I took off my police jacket and put it on him. That's when my bag of food ration fell out. I picked it up and gave it to him. "When it comes to your turn, they might run out of food. So here's my portion. I already ate. Why don't you eat it?"

The boy took my food and bowed. I thought he would eat it right away, but he didn't. He took the bag of food, went up to where the line ended and put it where all the food was waiting to be distributed. 

I was shocked. I asked him why he didn't eat it and instead added it to the food pile. He answered: "Because I see a lot more people hungrier than I am. If I put it there, then they will distribute the food equally."

When I heard that I turned away so that people wouldn't see me cry. 

A society that can produce a 9-year-old who understands the concept of sacrifice for the greater good must be a great society, a great people. 

Well, a few lines to send you and your family my warm wishes. The hours of my shift have begun again.

Ha Minh Thanh


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Don't Ever look for Police to help you! ..... ANYWHERE!

It was just another regular weekend in Manila where I go out with friends for a party at Metrowalk. After the party, I wait in the taxi queue to get a taxi. When I get into the taxi, I see that the guy's meter is already running! And its already 50 pesos +! I ask the guy what was wrong with his taxi and he says its a new meter etc etc... I already know that the new meter starts at 40 pesos! Hence, the stubborn ass in me gets so pissed off and I tell him to just drop me off and i told the guy that I would find another cab. The cab driver starts telling me that I need to pay him for the small miniature trip! I told him that there is no way I was going to pay him! I then get down from the cab and call the operator of the cab to complain. The operator told me to go to the nearest police station and complain! I did just that - I got back into the cab and asked the driver to take me to the nearest police station. The guy takes me to a patrol car (the meter is still running). I get down from the cab again and ask the cops to help me. I ask them to check the meter then and it read 117 pesos already. I tell them that this guy is trying to cheat me and that I wanted to complain against the driver. They asked me to get into the police vehicle and said they would take me to the nearby station. Before I forget, the driver already made abuses at me and threatened me saying that I wasn't a Filipino and I was a Bangladeshi! And that we shouldn't be in the country... Blah blah blah... That pissed me off! And ensured that I didn't leave him right there!

I get into the station to see a totally new story! The cops were actually trying to get me to pay the guy! Saying that I needed to pay the driver and only after then could I file a case against him. I was like "Hello, my complaint itself is against the fare that the guy was charging me, I come to the police looking for justice, and you ask me to pay him".... They kept threatening me to pay him saying that if he complained against me, they would have to arrest me and stuff! I stuck to my guns saying I was looking for justice! And that I wouldn't pay the guy since he was cheating me (maybe by around 20 pesos tops huh)... But I told them to arrest me if they felt that I had done something wrong! I thought the cops who took me to the station were there to help me. They left me to the care of someone else and they got busy.... Doing what??? They logged on to FACEBOOK! Imagine! I have no clue how to put together this experience of mine.... However, I called the operator of the cab and explained the situation to them. They said that I didn't need to pay the cab guy... that worked sort of to my advantage.... But i was so irritated by then with the cops that I threw some money on the driver's face in my anger and frustration! They used this to build a case against me saying that I was disrespecting their office. While, all the time, I made sure I stood in front of the cops... said Sir thousand times! And they were holding me for this! But I still stood my ground looking for justice. The chief came and tried to act all serious like he was helping me but he threatened me too! Saying that I should pay the guy or else he would have to arrest me. I refused... saying that they were discriminating against me since I was non-Filipino... which was true to a large extent. These guys were talking in Tagalog and actually laughing at times! However, they finally filed a case and I didn't have to pay the guy. But during this process, my nerves were almost breaking. I also noted that the police guys were using fake ink in their printers! Imagine, the government of Philippines breaking laws in their own police stations.

I sensed however that the cab guy only seemed to be scared about my complaints to the LTRFB (Some Land Transportation organization). Hence, I decided I would surely complain to those guys! I held my nerves knowing for a fact that the taxi driver had more to lose in the form of his boundary (these guys rent cars from the operator for a 24 hour period)..... I held my nerves and insisted I wanted a case filed and they did just that at the end of this huge discussion and drama! Finally they filed a report, got some guys in the station to sign in! And those guys were signing without even reading the report. I felt like a JOKE over there! I even insisted one of the cops reads what he is signing! the other guys still went ahead and signed without reading.

Anyways around 3 hours later, I left the station, with the only form of justice coming from the operator and not the police! The Chief in the station went as far as to say that they were not going to give me justice but rather the court was responsible for that!

So where is the justice in this country for expats? Is it true that since we are expats, we have no access to assistance, justice and righteousness??? How would this country ever see any progress from tourism then? Or any form of development from the globalization front. Maybe this episode finally answers my question as to how the Philippines has not been as developed as it could possibly be! At the end of it all, it was the same as India or even worse! They would have actually taken me more serious at an Indian police station!

So for all you expats out there - Don't go to a POLICE STATION in the Philippines looking for any assistance/help coz you won't get any! Maybe this is a gap in the market and needs a business plan. I am thinking that maybe a company filled with lawyers etc who can protect the interests of expats would make a lot of sense. Something similar to an insurance company.

However, this is the tipping point. If I were to leave the Philippines anytime now, it would be because of this episode. The jokers that they call POLICE here are seriously jokers! They basically sit at the station using the computers to access their FACEBOOK accounts! And nothing else! I doubt they would even come to help Filipinos though Expats would be the last of their worries/issues. And the bloody cops actally wear Levis and Fila shoes! Where they get their money from is another question! But why not help when it comes to someone coming to them for help and assistance! I don't even remember the cab guy's name but I will remember the cops' name for the rest of my life!

Goodbye Philippines. You have truly lost one of your largest promoters. I talk about Philippines to all my friends, enemies, family! I promote your beaches, your people and everything! I have even had arguments with my mom saying that Filipino people are so polite and courteous! Well, I have no attachment to this damn country now! These are times you appreciate the Singapore way of doing things! They protect every citizen, tourist and resident!

Goodbye Manila, Goodbye Philippines - the clock is ticking and you're never going to get anywhere! Balls to the Philippines and Filipinos... you no more have my sympathy for why you guys are really not on the agenda of any country in the world!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Zamboanga Restaurant - Filipino Cultural show every evening

Time and again, when relatives and older people come to Manila, I am at a loss at what to show them or where to take them. What the Philippines stands out for are the beaches, the malls and then more malls! But once you've shown then a beach, a volcano and a dozen malls, what else is there to offer in Manila?

Well there are loads of churches that can make for better viewing experience that visiting Intramuros. I found Intramuros to be pretty boring - mainly ruins. But the churches are splendid.

Another evening can be spent at Zamboanga Restaurant in Malate. They have a free cultural show every evening at 8:30pm. The restaurant is primarily famous for its sea-food and attracts a tourist crowd. It's pretty expensive and a meal for 3 will push you back by around 1400 Pesos or so.

But you get to watch traditional Filipino dances and musical instruments being played. Worth spending dinner to enjoy an evening.

Check out the website at Zamboanga Restaurant

Hospitals - Designed to keep you away

I've always hated hospitals and doctors for that matter. But mostly since I've hated the injections I got as a kid! But also for the crowds and the solemn feeling that swept the entire area.

I've done my best to stay away from hospitals and have been pretty successful at that until now. I guess I pretty much am a great client for a health insurance company.

You get to a hospital and they make you wait for hours to see a doctor! Are they trying to get you worse? They're supposed to make you feel better. And doctors on top of that think they've been godsent to protect you and we are at their mercy. They walk out and take their own cool time to get back on duty!

These doctors assistants! They think they're even more important than the doctors themselves. They think no end of themselves! They talk rudely, refuse to tell you how long u need to wait, there's no transparency in how the scheduling works.

I'm at Makati Medical Center now waiting outside room 323 for a Doctor Emmanuel R Kasilag. I hope he's worth the wait as it's already been 2 hours and his assistants seem to be the worst Filipinos I've met!

Now I wonder whether it's easier to live with my sickness.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Tankuban Perahu Volcano, Bandung, Indonesia - As close as you can get

Initially, I was wondering what we were going to do in yet another volcano! We've seen quite a number already. But this experience in Banding was a whole lot different - we actually got really close to the crater. And the view was fantastic!

We went unto a point by car and then took the "okeks" ( bikes that ferry people around in the back seat). We got to beat a lot of the traffic by doing this.

The view was totally fantastic and mid blowing. We also felt really close to the crater which was steaming. We had seen most of the other volcanoes from a distance but we got really close to this one.

As Danny and Diar ( our local friends from the hotel now) told us, legend has it that the Sun God fell in love with his mother without knowing that she was his mother. His mother told him that if he were able to build a ship/boat in a day she would accept his love. She thought he wouldn't be able to do that. However, he completed the task successfully. The lady still refused him and in his anger, the Sun God kicked the ship and it overturned to form the Tankuban Perahu ( means overturned boat in Bahass). The mountains surrounding the krater actually look like an overturned boat. Check out the pictures.

After this, we went over to the hot springs. Since the area was really crowded, we didn't go to the public springs but instead to a privately owned resort which had it's own hot springs. We expected to see some spring and what we saw was a fabulous pool filled with hot spring water.

The dip in the hot spring pool was super relaxing! I felt so weak while I was inside and didn't even want to move an inch. Very refreshing and relaxing.

Remember to take your own towels to these places as they didn't have any on rent.

We had our dinner at the same spa/hotel and then got back to the city. I also got a bottle of Bintang here. That's the local Indonesian beer and it's pretty good.

It was actually nice to see Bandung's roads empty while we were getting back. Danny pointed it out to me that this was how Bandung normally was.

On the way back, I even got to visit a mosque. This is the first mosque I'm entering in my life ( yep, I haven't entered any in India). Was a nice experience.

With this, our grand Indonesia trip comes close to it's end. I will summarize our itinerary in a separate post to help travelers planning a 15 day trip to Indonesia.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Bandung, West Java, Indonesia - Cozy hill city

We're now at Bandung which is a small hill station in West Java Indonesia. Since it's New Years day there were absolutely no hotels with rooms available. We called close to 50 of them on our bus journey from the Jakarta airport to Bandung.

We finally found that there was a room available at a hotel called Hotel Provence which was closer to being a 2 star kinda hotel. And the only room that they had was a family room which coated around (USD 75). Since we didn't have any other option for the night, we took the room this making it the most expensive of our rooms in Indonesia. However, the room was huge and very cozy. The hotel itself was set a little away from the city and had a very cozy atmosphere. Check out the pics of our family room.

We however got to find a smaller room in the same hotel today. A delux room costing 350,000 IDR ( around 35USD). The people in the hotel are very friendly and it's a family running the entire place.

We tried booking a car in the vicinity and most of the travel services were already booked. The hotel owner's brother however offered to take us around for about 250,000 IDR ( USD 25) if we would put in some fuel.

We food that our wheels for the day was an old Merc! How awesome is that! He he.

He took us to the famous "Jeans Street" which loving up to it's name is filled with stores selling branded clothes at discounted rates. These are mostly factor outlets. I managed to pick up a pair of Armani Jeans for around 250,000 IDR ( USD 25 approx). I also got a nice bow and arrows set to hang on the walls! There were so many guys selling air guns too here. One of them let me take a shot at a plastic bottle hanging high up. I managed to hit it. Yay! These guns cost around 50 USD.

The interesting thing in this street is that all the shops have huge lifelike statues of Rambo, spiderman, batman and the likes. Also, the prices here are already discounted and mostly are fixed price stores. Shopping here is a pleasure as compared to Bali or thee places where one needs to haggle.

There was also a Levis factory outlet here with a poster of Kangana Ranaut ( Indian actress/model). One of the stores also had an old vintage Morris Minor standing inside. And an old scooter. These guys are very creative with their store decorations. Nothing fancy, but they have these huge models outside or nice stuff inside.

We're now on our way to the hot springs here in Bandung. It's at a place called Cheeatar here. We may drop by to see another volcano too here ( I know what you're thinking! Another one? He he. Indonesia is filled with volcanoes). This one is called Tankuban Perahu.

Will update further by end of day.