Monday, September 29, 2008

A birthday quite ordinary

I celebrated my birthday number xx yesterday. All those shameless fellows who did not wish me, wake up atleast now and wish me. An email or a scrap in Orkut will do. Don't have to phone. Or even easier, add a comment to this post. See how easy I make it!

I am especially upset with those waste fellows who I wished on their birthday and they did not wish me. Just wait till your next birthday. I will call you and discuss the weather, maybe girls too, but will not wish you. He he he.

On the other hand, I was quite pleasantly surprised to receive greetings from some people I really did not expect would wish me.

This birthday was very different from the last few I've had. Probably because it was on a Sunday. Sunday birthdays are really waste. No hungama. No frills. Quiet. What crap.

I like everyone to wish me. I like people to give me flowers. Order a cake. And then have a nice party where beer is consumed like crazy. Nothing like that this time. Why, why, why did my birthday have to come on a Sunday? It really took half the fun out of it. I didn't even feel like it was my birthday.

Boo hoo hoo.

Friday, September 26, 2008

No transplant for now

I visited Dr. V. S. Reddy recently. I have been mulling over whether to get a transplant or not. Research papers on the internet were pointing to the high risk of recurrence in people like me whose primary kidney disease was Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). I had discussions with my nephrologist and we were still undecided.

I took prints of the relevant research papers. The Mario Negri Institute in Bergamo, Italy had done a lot of research on HUS. In one paper summarizing their findings, they suggested that a transplant in people with a particular type of HUS called non STX associated HUS, which I had, a transplant was almost contraindicated which means should not be considered.

Chiefly based on this paper, Dr. V. S. Reddy advised me not to go in for a transplant because the risk of recurrence of the primary disease in the transplanted kidney was high. And after recurrence it would be very difficult to save the new kidney.

I tended to agree with him. I had read up on all the papers I could find on the internet and it did seem that what he was saying was true.

I had got on the transplant list recently. I asked for my name to be removed. So, its going to be hemodialysis in the foreseeable future for me.

I am not unduly perturbed by this development. A transplant can be very mentally stressful. Apart from the anxiety over the functioning of the new kidney, the side effects and the care that one has to take after the surgery can be quite demanding. And in the end, after all this trauma, if the transplant does not work out, it can be extremely disappointing.

I am fairly happy with my life currently. Nocturnal home hemodialysis is working out fairly well. I feel good. My energy levels are good. I do not have to worry about my diet and fluids. Then why trade all this for the uncertainty of a transplant? Especially with the risks involved specific to my disease.

I'm glad that the issue is settled. Time to move on.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In search of the perfect Pongal

Pongal is probably the only dish in the world that shares its name with a festival. Pongal is basically made with rice, moong dal, cashew and seasonings.

There are quite a few variants of pongal. Rava pongal (powdered wheat instead of the rice) and shakkara pongal (the sweet pongal) are the most common. On the festival day, many of these variants are made together to make a sumptuous meal.

Traditionally, the pongal is made by putting all the ingredients into an earthen pot and cooked by wood fire. Purists insist that the true flavors of the pongal are only possible with this method. The LPG flame can never have the same effect. And making pongal in a microwave is pure blasphemy!

One important seasoning in the pongal is the black pepper. Well, you don't usually bite into the pepper and most people painstakingly remove the peppers before eating the pongal. But it undoubtedly provides that irresistable flavor.

Ghee is probably the most important ingredient in a good pongal, calories be damned. A pongal simply isn't a pongal without a generous dollop of ghee while cooking!

There are many places you get pongal. Murugan Idli Shop in Chennai makes very good pongal. Mumbai's Madras Cafe in Matunga makes excellent pongal too.

The best pongal I have ever had is in the old Taj Mahal Hotel in S. D. Road in Secunderabad. It is a Rava Pongal. They make it only on Sundays and on Pongal day. Many a Sunday have been started in our family with breakfast at the Taj, the Rava Pongal being an integral part of it. It has just the right flavor, the right amount of black pepper, just enough ghee and they serve it piping hot!

Why they make it only on Sundays remains a mystery.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ban the back stroke

When I went swimming this morning, there was this gentleman doing the back stroke incessantly. The problem I have with someone doing the back stroke is that they can't see where they are going. Everyone else needs to worry and scamper and scurry in the pool to avoid getting hit by them.

One or two lengths is fine. Our man was doing the back stroke continuously. Which made swimming for the rest of us humble breast strokers hell. So, I would start off from one end of the pool and notice this guy approaching. Of course he couldn't see. So, I had to take a long detour from my usually straight path to avoid being hit.

And the guy had an arm span almost equal to that of Michael Phelps. So, he pretty much covered half the breadth of the pool when he was swimming.

Only those that have compound eyes should be allowed to back stroke. Or they should get some head gear that has a rear view mirror attached. Would we allow cars on the road to move in a reverse direction without a rear view mirror? Then why in the pool?

At one point, I was taking a breather at one end and I noticed another person doing the breast stroke and the back stroker was approaching him from behind, unmindful of the impending collision. I was waiting with bated breath hoping the two would collide and the back stroker would get a nice scolding.

Collide, they did. But there was no scolding. They both muttered an apology and continued.

Which comes first - the artery or the vein?

I have been starting my dialysis treatments completely by myself for some time now. The trickiest part of the whole thing is the cannulation. Cannulation is basically the act of inserting the two dialysis needles into my left upper arm. These are used to draw out the blood and then put it back in.

Most people have their fistula in such a way that there is quite a lot of space between the arterial site and the venous site. So, it is fairly simple to do the cannulation. Mine, however, are very close to each other and what is more, are at right angles to each other. This makes it quite a task to get the second needle in after the first one is in place.

I usually did the artery first, for no particular reason. This made doing the venous difficult because the arterial needle would almost always come in the way.

The day before yesterday, when I was putting the venous needle in after the arterial needle, my finger accidentally flicked the venous needle and it jumped out! The venous site started bleeding. I quickly put my forefinger on it to stop the bleeding.

Luckily, my brother was at home. I shouted out to him. I asked him to give me a new needle. I removed my finger after a few minutes. The bleeding had stopped. I then carefully put the needle in and taped it securely. It turned out all right in the end. But I did get scared.

When I think about it, I wonder what I would have done had my brother not been at home? I probably would have had no choice than to remove even the arterial needle and either wait for my tech or start all over again.

Yesterday, I did the venous needle first to see if this would be easier. It was. Once I did the venous, the arterial was pretty easy.

I will be doing this for the next few days. Let's hope it turns out fine.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Custom ringtones on iPhone - yuck!

Ever since I got an iPhone, I've been badly missing having my favorite songs as ringtones. So recently, when I googled 'custom ringtones iphone' and found an Apple article describing how I could have a custom ringtone on my iPhone, I was very excited.

I tried it out. Dragged my song from iTunes and dropped it in Garage Band. Selected a 40 second portion, clicked the 'cycle' button and clicked on Share->Export as ringtone to iTunes. Voila! I had a new ringtone in iTunes.

I then synced my iPhone using iTunes. As expected, the ringtone got copied over and I could choose the ringtone in the Sounds section of Settings on my iPhone.

The next time I got a call however, I was appalled. The audio quality was so bad, it was embarassing. I quickly took the call before too many people around me could realize the sound was coming from my iPhone!

I quickly changed my ringtone back to the default 'Old Phone' ringtone.

When I got home I decided to dig a little deeper. Was something wrong with my iPhone speaker? I played some songs from my playlists. They sounded just fine. I played the ringtone in Garage Band. That sounded good too. Even in iTunes, the ringtone sounded good. Only when I sent it over to the iPhone the sound was bad.

I was disappointed.

I then googled around for this and finally found this article that claimed to have a solution for this very problem. I got excited again.

I knew the procedure described in the rest of the article. But steps thirteen and fourteen looked like the solution to my problem.

I reopened my Garage Band project that had the ringtone and did those steps - basically filtering out sounds below a certain frequency which was supposed to take care of the distortions in the ringtone.

I played the tone in Garage Band. Sounded fine. Exported to iTunes. Played it there. Sounded fine. Ok, I said, here goes and synced the iPhone. Played it in iPhone by selecting it in the Settings.

Yuck! As bad as before.

This was a huge disappointment.

What is the point in having a ringtone that sounds so bad? And it beats me about why a ringtone sounds so bad when the original song I've taken the ringtone from plays so well on the iPhone.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lunch at HPS

Well, looks like HPS is the flavor of the month! But lunch was such an integral part of life at HPS and memories from those years that I had to write about it!

Again, this was probably the only school during that time that offered lunch to its students. There was this huge dining building that had a number of levels and halls that had long dining tables with benches on either side. Students would troop in after the last pre-lunch class had finished.

At the appointed time, the doors would open and we would go in and take our places. Places were fixed. Once everyone was in, a bell would be rung and a one line prayer recited. All the students would then sit and eat. After about 15 or 20 minutes, another bell and another prayer would signal the end of lunch. Of course, people who hadn't finished could continue.

Lunch was simple and tasty. There was a fixed menu for every day of the week.

On Monday, they served rice, sambar, channa, curd and bread. For desert, most of the time, there would be the humble banana. Sometimes this would be replaced with a guava or a sweet lime. In the last few years of my schooling, we would sometimes get a coconut sweet instead.

Tuesdays were one of my favorite days. We got rice, sambar, rajma, a dry mixed vegetable curry, bread, curd and papads. The rajma was really great. Wednesdays would be rice, sambar, bread, chutney and ghee.

Thursdays would be special for no particular reason. We would get a pulao with sambar and a kurma curry, papad and curd. This was the only day when no bread would be served. The mango pickle that was served went really well with the pulao.

Fridays were pretty dull. Then the cutlet happened. When I was in Class 7 (or was it 8?), they introduced the cutlet on Fridays. Rice, sambar and bread were the other items on the menu. But the cutlet took the cake. It became such a rage that people would wait the whole week to get their hands on the cutlet.

Unofficial reports suggest that the number of people not attending school on Fridays dropped significantly after the cutlet was introduced.

The problem was that each student was officially allowed only one cutlet. In fact, one cutlet would be placed on each plate even before the students came in. And in case someone at the dining table was absent that day, all eyes would be on his/her cutlet. Once the bell rang and the prayer was said, there would be a race to grab that orphaned cutlet!

Imagine the logistical challenges of preparing a meal for almost 3000 people everyday. The staff did an amazing job of maintaining the taste and the quality. Well, there were one off incidents but by and large, I think they did a great job.

For many years after leaving school, I continued to miss the lunches at HPS.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

HPS school concerts revisited

I was thrilled this morning to see that Mrs. Marien Oommen, my English teacher for five of my twelve years in school had commented on my post on HPS school concerts.

Thanks ma'am! Yes, this is your student from HPS. How did you find this blog by the way?

The names of the plays came back to me. Tin Soldier, Charlie's Aunt and Poison Party. Poison Party was really hilarious!

The quality of these plays was really excellent and these were being performed by school kids.

Very few schools even today (and fewer back then) offer the kind of environment that HPS offered. No surprise then, that you find HPS students doing so well for themselves.

HPS gave students a complete education. Not academics alone. It taught us lessons for life. Team work, handling pressure, the importance of sports, leadership - all this and more.

The school a person goes to is so important. It has such a major impact on his or her entire life. The family is just one part of our upbringing. The school, the teachers and the peers play a huge part in making an individual what he or she is.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tank up, dude!

My brother likes to live life on the edge. No, he's not into adventure sports or anything. He's too busy sleeping or watching TV to have anything to do with either adventure or sports. Well, to be fair to him, he spends a lot of time at work too.

Getting back to his life-on-the-edge habit, let's say he has booked tickets for a movie at 11 in the night at the local multiplex (why would anyone want go that late for a movie?). He will leave home at about 10:50 for a drive that will take him a good twenty minutes and then drive at twice the speed normal humans do.

When he gets into the car, if he sees the petrol level indicator tantalizingly teasing the 'Empty' mark, he will not even stop to think if he should fill up some fuel. He will dart off for the movie and wonder of wonders even return in the middle of the night without bothering to fill up fuel.

Well, I really shouldn't have a problem with that, should I?

Actually, I do.

Because the next morning, when I get into the car (and my brother is into his third dream of the night - by then its too bright to be called night actually) and I see the petrol indicator that actually seems to be a little below the Empty mark, my whole body trembles as I drive to the petrol filling station, praying to every God I know the name of to help me get there unscathed.

Why, why, why? Why can't he spend those 5 minutes to tank up and then go wherever?

Monday, September 15, 2008

The strange concept of the family fan

In Andhra Pradesh and possibly some of the other states in South India, there is a strange concept of being a fan of an entire family.

For example, I know many people who are fans of Chiranjeevi and his entire family. So, these people will be fans of anyone who comes from Chiranjeevi's family. Then there is NTR's family. Many people are fans of the entire NTR family.

I can understand people being fans of a particular person. You like his/her looks or acting or demeanor or whatever and you adulate him/her. But liking the whole family by virtue of the relationship really beats me.

And Chiranjeevi family fans, by definition are against NTR family fans! So you have people getting into wars around the release dates of films featuring any member of the families. All the Chiranjeevi family fans will try to make sure that any film that has Chiranjeevi, Pavan Kalyan, Allu Arjun etc. is a huge hit while NTR family fans will ridicule everything about the film.

Similarly whenever any film featuring Balakrishna, Junior NTR (another first from Tollywood!) etc. is released the NTR family fans will try to ensure its commercial success while the Chiranjeevi family fans will go about denigrating everything about it.

I know some people from both the groups and don't miss an opportunity to tease them about this!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Black, white, grey

We often tend to classify people as black or white. The reality is often that they are actually a shade of grey.

We make up our minds about someone based on one or more events or actions and then find it difficult to change that view about them. Everything they say or do is seen through the black or white filter we have decided to use for them.

For example, someone says or does something to me that I think is grossly unfair, mean or bad. Forever, I will classify him as 'bad' or 'black'. In reality, that could very well have been a one off incident. The individual could actually be doing some really good things. It was just the context or the circumstance that caused the particular event.

On the contrary, someone did something good. We tend to associate him or her with good in perpetuity. Even if he or she does something bad later, we tend to justify the action with some possible reasoning.

Television and cinema often portray characters in black or white terms and we tend to follow this in real life too.

Individuals are rarely completely good or completely bad. Human minds are too complex to be easily categorized like this. All people are somewhere in between.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dialyzing alone revisited

There's been a lot of discussion on the Home Hemo Dialysis forums on Anna Bennett's situation and the issues surrounding dialyzing alone at home. I had written about it a few days back.

I have been following that thread with great interest and concern. It is not a simple decision to dialyze alone. Especially in India. All the people on the thread are talking about the US and Australia which have an entirely different medical system where clinics are responsible for a person's health. Many people are attached to clinics which have a monitoring system that is connected to the dialyzor's home and the entire treatment is being monitored continuously.

Even with these facilities, people are concerned about dialyzing alone.

Again, not all clinics have this facility. And yet, some of the clinics that don't, allow their patients to dialyze alone. The problem is there is not enough data (and there will not be for many more years) to conclusively prove one way or the other that dialyzing alone is safe or not.

Here in India I do not know how many people dialyze at home daily at night. I have a tech coming home and doing everything. That is very safe. But I was dependent on him. The number of hours I dialyzed depended on when he came. I did not like that dependency.

I am now able to start dialysis myslef without help from anyone. The independence is great. The tech does come still. But usually byt the time he comes, I have already started dialysis. I don't know how to get off dialysis at the end of the treatment though. But that is not a problem because I decide that and he is there till morning to help me get off.

But without any monitoring, I sometimes wonder what risks I am taking. I have started dialysis on a couple of occasions without anyone at home. I don't know how wise that was. Even if people are at home, they have absolutely no clue about what to do in an emergency.

Things in India are very different. In the US, I have been told, if there's an emergency, you can get professional help in minutes. In India, I realize that I might be dead and gone before anybody will even react.

The risks however with daily nocturnal dialysis are much less because the dialysis is slow and gentle. But it is not risk free.

I love the independence. I am worried about the risks. Catch 22?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In search of the perfect Jalebi

A jalebi is the perfect anytime of the year treat! Sinfully sweet, deep fried, soaked in sugar syrup, what could be a diabetic's bigger enemy? And a diabetic's ultimate fantasy?

Perfecting the art of making a jalebi is not for the weak hearted. You not only have to get the dough right, you have to also learn how to get the shape right. It is very difficult to put the dough round and round in hot oil without spoiling the shape.

I have been a big jalebi fan since childhood. Jalebi with fafda and fried green chillis was on the breakfast table atleast once in two weeks. Fafda is deep fried, long, wide streaks of gram flour (besan). The combination of jalebi, fafda and green chillies can be quite addictive. Sweet for breakfast, you might wonder? Well, we Gujjus can have sweet all the time! But try this combination and you'll thank me for life.

The jalebi must be distinguished from its cousins the imarti and the jahangiri. These are also sweet and similar in shape - concentric circles, sort of. But one bite and you can tell the difference. while the jalebi is usually smooth in texture, the other two are more rough.

Kesar (saffron) accentuates the flavor of a jalebi manifold.

In Hyderabad, the Agrawala stall in the Annual Industrial Exhibition from Jan 1st to Feb end makes great jalebis. The sweet shop, Makhan Bhog in Prenderghast Road in Secunderabad makes excellent kesar jalebis on Sunday mornings only.

I was told recently that there is a bandi near the Mahankali Temple in Secunderabad that also makes great kesar jalebis. I must try them out one of these days.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The big picture

In any company, everyone needs to be driven by a common goal. Every individual may have his or her individual objectives and that is ok. But the larger objective has to be common.

This overall goal for the company needs to be decided by the top management and communicated to the rest of the company. This is very important. Especially in smaller companies, when people within the company have greater visibility on things that effect the company and are more aware of the factors that influence the overall direction that the company is taking.

Right or wrong, every individual has a viewpoint. When that viewpoint conflicts with the viewpoint of the management, there is a problem.

Individuals do not generally have the complete picture, the big picture in mind. At that point, they have to rely on the judgment of the people that do, indeed, have this knowledge.

It is imperative for all to fall in line with the goals of management and align themselves with these goals. Not doing this can have undesirable consequences - both for the company and the individuals concerned.

That is not to say that there should not be any discussion. Management must, especially in a small organization, communicate effectively the rationale behind such important decisions. People with a different opinion must be heard out and then convinced about why management's decision is in the best interests of the company. Only then can the people within the company be expected to give their best. 'Yours not to reason why, yours but to do and die' will definitely not work here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

HPS school concerts

I went to The Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet, Hyderabad (HPS) from Class 1 to Class 12. I consider myself very lucky to have had the privilege to go to this school. A very large part of my formative years were spent in this school.

The beauty of HPS was that apart from the excellent academic education, it offered the student opportunities to develop in an all round manner. There was great emphasis on sports and other extra-curricular activities like music, theater and public speaking.

The annual school concerts were a very important event in the school calendar. The concert would be a collection of a variety of performances ranging from plays to dances and songs put up by the students.

Preparations for the concert would start a few weeks before the event. As the final day approached, the focus would be completely on the concert. Such was the emphasis that was given to the concerts. And we students would love those days.

I was a regular participant in most of the concerts during my school years. I remember taking part in the 'Kitchen Band' in Class 4, a play called 'Joseph, the dreamer' in Class 7. I also had a small role in a Hindi play called 'Ikkisvi sadi ki beemariyan' (The diseases of the 21st century) - we were still in the 20th century at that time!

During class 8, I became a part of the school beat group. This was an eclectic collection of students from different classes who could sing or play instruments. I played the keyboard. We used to have so much fun during the practice sessions. The music teacher, Mr. Dennis Powell who directed us was an awesome person. Our event would usually be the most popular during the concert. In fact, at one particular concert, pretty much half the audience walked out after we had finished our performance. That was the only thing they were interested in! So, from the next year, they started scheduling our performance towards the end of the concert!

Some other plays which I cannot forget are My Fair Lady (a part of the movie was played out), Sound of Music (ditto), The Tin Soldier, another play (I don't remember the name) which had our senior, Salman essaying the role of an 'aunt', and another comedy (ditto) directed by Mrs. Marien Oommen which had Abida Ahmed, probably the prettiest girl to have graced the HPS campus ever, playing the leading character.

The concert days and the run up to them were really the best part of school. The practice sessions, the nervous excitement close to D-day and the bonhomie with other participants including the teachers - there was no comparison to anything else in life.

I feel so indebted to my alma mater for providing these memories. Memories which will last forever. Moments that I continue to cherish long after they have gone.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Effigent celebrates 8th birthday

Effigent completed one of the most turbulent years in its history on 4th September 2008.

Every year, we used to all go out to a resort and spend the day there. The day would be filled with games, food, beer and a lot of music, apart from the mandatory dip in the swimming pool!

This year was different. There was food, beer and a lot of music. No games and no swimming pool. We had it at the rooftop of our office building.

We had sent out invitations to the current team and a lot of the ex Effigentians. Unfortunately the plan was crystallized on the morning of the party and so could not be organized very well.

We started the party around 6 in the evening. The cake was cut and we had snacks and drinks.

The music and the beer went well and people took to the dancing floor quite promptly. As the music system kept belting out the most recent chart busters, people danced and swayed and generally had a lot of fun.

Very often, an informal party like this one can be more fun than a formal day long affair.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Disastrous hard reboot of Mac

Well, I feel bad posting this. I have been an ardent Macintosh fan ever since Obul converted me in the year 2000. But of late, there have been an increasing number of things very un-Maclike happening with my Mac and iPhone.

Twice in the recent past, I have had to hard reboot my laptop (a MacBook Pro). A hard reboot means holding the power button down for 5 seconds and shutting down the laptop without shutting down from the operating system.

I had to do this because some application would misbehave and hang and also cause other applications to hang in the process. Slowly the whole system became unusable. So, you do not have any option but to hard reboot. Earlier, the OS would not allow any misbehaving app to effect the other apps. Not so recently.

Now I can live with that once in a way. What I wasn't prepared for was the unintended consequences of this action.

When I powered up again, to my shock and horror, my settings of most applications had disappeared.

For example, my email had to be reconfigured. My email files were all there in the file system but the Mail application could not see them. I had to import all the emails. My music is gone from iTunes. The files again are all there but I can't see them from iTunes. My Firefox bookmarks have disappeared. My dock is back to what it was when I installed the OS. All my stickies are gone.

This is a real pain.

For the most part, the data is recoverable but this is not how things should be on a Mac. You could be excused if this happened on a PC. But not on a Mac.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dialyzing alone

There's quite a lot of concern in the home dialysis community about the problems Anna Bennett had to face recently.

She was hemodialyzing by herself at home till now linked to a center in New York. There were some issues with the center and she was asked to move to another center. This new center did not allow people to dialyze alone. They needed to have someone at home to help. Because of this Anna was asked to come in center thrice a week.

Moving to in center thrice a week from daily home hemo is terrible. It takes away not only your freedom but also seriously undermines your well-being.

Many recent studies have decisively proved that daily dialysis is better for the body than thrice a week dialysis. The flexibility of doing it by yourself at home gives you a near normal life apart from the fact that you need to spend those few hours hooked to a machine.

Coming to the question of dialyzing alone. I have been dialyzing alone for the past week. With no help absolutely. Though there are people at home to help in case I need, I strongly believe that the decision whether to dialyze alone or not should be completely the individual's.

The risks involved are far less than those when a person is dialyzing in center. Because the dialysis is slow and more gentle. Are there no risks? Not true. There are risks. But it should be up to the individual to decide whether the risks are worth taking.

The dialysis unit, the state and the company providing the dialysis should not be the ones to decide.

Great customer service, Golden Tips!

I had written about a packet of Golden Tips Darjeeling Golden Pekoe tea here.

I am happy to report that their customer service folks got back to me. They said they have taken the complain seriously. They sent a person to collect the packet from me to send it to the laboratory where they would analyze the contents for what was wrong. They would also replace my packet.

Such a level of customer service is rare to find in India. I was very impressed.

They've hooked me to their brand for life!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The flawed new parking system

The Hyderabad authorities have introduced a new parking system in many places in the city.

Here's how it works. They have a nifty ticketing machine installed at the parking area. People who want to park their cars are supposed to walk up to the machine on their own, punch in their car number, the amount of time they want to park and insert two five rupee coins for every hour they want to park. The machine then generates a ticket which you are supposed to display inside your car. If you fail to do these things or if the number of hours you park is greater than the number of hours mentioned in the ticket etc., your car will be towed away, they threaten.

Now, now, what an excellent example of bad usability! I can guarantee this method will not work.

First of all, no one is going to walk up to the machine to generate a parking ticket. No one has the time for this.

Even if there are some conscientious citizens who will, how can someone know in advance how long they are going to stay? What if they expect to stay for an hour but get delayed? Will their car get towed away? Do they need to worry about the parking ticket time when they are attending to their work? Do they need to leave whatever they are doing and come back to their car and generate a new parking ticket?

And this takes the cake - after generating the ticket, they must come back to their car, open the car and display the ticket in a manner that is visible from outside! Pray, how do they do this? The ticket is a piece of paper. How can it be put in this manner? Are citizens supposed to keep glue handy in the car?

Who comes up with these things?

And they must have spent quite a packet on the machines. This will all go down the drain.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Consistency is the key

I am a big Darjeeling tea drinker. I have been trying different brands over the last many months to zero in on 'mera wallah' flavor.

I had started off with something from the Lopchu tea estate, moved to Lipton's offering, tried Khocha and Golden Tips in between.

One day I stumbled upon Golden Tips Orange Pekoe at a super market. I decided to try it out. That was it! That was what I had been looking for! It was very much like the tea I had had in Darjeeling many years back.

So, I stuck to that. Now I had bought a 250 grams packet and that can last quite a while since I was the only one having that tea. When it was almost finished I had to buy a new pack. I went over to the same super market, they did not have any.

So, I searched a bit and I finally found the same thing in Q-Mart, another super market. I bought the biggest pack they had.

When I got home and opened the pack the next day, I was shocked.

The tea smelt of chlorine. I emptied the contents of the pack into a container and brewed a little tea. The smell persisted even in the tea. I was hugely disappointed.

Now, I am in a quandary. I bought a big pack and it is not what I wanted. Now, should I assume this was a problem with only this pack and buy another pack? Or should I switch brands?

It may seem like a minor problem. But it is not. The flavor of my cup of tea is extremely important. I need the exact flavor.

I have emailed Golden Tips Support . Let's see what they have to say.