Tea @ 5 am

10 Oct

Is searching for a good cup of tea too difficult @ 5 am in mumbai??

Not at all if you are aware of the hidden gems mumbai has to offer. Recently, after a busy Saturday night I needed a cup of tea before I crashed for the night. I made a couple of enquiries on whatsapp and was instantly directed to santacruz east. Turn right under the flyover on western expressway towards santacruz railway station and u’ll see a place selling bhurji/pav bhaji and a small tapri giving tea for 5 rs @ 5 am ūüôā¬† superb tea though!!

PS: I cudnt take any photo’s as my battery died ūüė¶ damn you battery sucking android

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college fees are no longer affordable

23 Feb

Despite the outcry over high college costs, tuition rates are still going up. There are plenty of schools like IIM, SP Jain, Fudan, HKUST, Princeton, Brown, Stanford and George, for example, all announced increases in the last year. Although there costs were already very high for an average citizen, raising tuition cost seems to be an annual or a regular phenomenon and not a need based program. I agree that inflation and input cost are going up at an unprecedented rate, but tuition cost have crossed beyond the average household savings.

Recently I came across a small post on the internet which read that a college in Tennessee USA, called University of the South which is better known as Sewannee will be reducing the cost to attend school by nearly 10%. Soon I was all over the internet to get a detailed analysis of what Sewannee had to offer and why it has decided to cut costs even though it was also facing higher input costs and could have gone the easy route of passing the costs to the students.

Many questions came to my mind – Is Sewannee attempting a marketing gimmick and advertising itself to students/parents by reducing tuition cost and silently increasing indirect costs? Is the quality of programs going to take a hit? Are they reducing high input cost programs and increasing class size to the lower input cost programs?

Before I can answer these questions, let‚Äôs have a closer look at how high tuition fees affects the society at large – The cost of education must include all costs and how they are financed. Students and families are almost always borrowing money (often not from friends/family and unsecure sources), so as the student goes through college the cost of tuition inadvertently increases with interest to substantially higher amount than the original principle. Even families who use their credit lines for cost are paying more than the original price. This cost of borrowing affects how a family spends which results in cut ‚Äďdowns and lesser savings. Now assuming that the student gets a good paying job after the college program, everything would become hunky dory soon (assuming the student pays back the borrowed money to their family from his/her earnings). But ‚Äď If the student is unable to find a good job or a job which would help pay off the debt, the cycle of debt starts to restrict and burdens the family further.

Let‚Äôs take an example – Say a student gets in at College A, which costs $40,000, and College B, which costs $20,000. College A gives the student $20,000 in “scholarships” (which are handed out like candy), and College B gives the student $5,000 in “scholarships.” Thus, attending College B will now cost $20,000, and attending college B will now cost $15,000.

The student will typically pick College A, even though they’ll be paying $5,000 more per year. Why? Because they got a 50% tuition scholarship, $20,000, and at a more expensive and therefore more prestigious school. The injustice of course is that unless your parents are well-educated themselves, a family is unlikely to realize that tuition sticker prices are just a game, and won’t even apply to either of these colleges, assuming them too expensive.

Coming back to Sewannee – Through my research I realized that Sewannee was an average sized college offering many specializations and grad degrees for both tech and business streams. Although its size and ratings fall below the Ivy League; it boosts of many high-profile and high paying jobs offered to its alumni. Though Sewannee claims its quality and focus on yielding best results for students will not go down, only time can tell whether this would actually be true.

In my opinion ‚Äď this is not an example that other colleges might follow, as Sewanee’s needs to stay competitive in a heated market where costs of tuition is not only depended on professors – as their salary is definitely not the reason for the steep rise but other economic and social factors like better infrastructure, better athletic facilities, higher spending on marketing and advertising.

Thus, rising tuition cost is a reality of life, where borrowing/debt is not only justified but a real need.

Shanghai Salon Experience

20 Feb

I’ve been in Shanghai for almost two months now and I finally had to get a haircut, i was a little scared initially as I’ve seen chinese teenagers sporting extremely different or and shall I say in vogue hair styles which is very¬†different¬†from my simple and clean style. over the last couple of days i scanned around my locality for different salon’s and to my amazement. there were plenty of salon’s around ; almost one to two at each street. though I¬†had been¬†warned by my friends that some salon’s act as a front for the infamous massage industry, I managed to narrow down my search to one salon which was big, on the main road, brightly lit and played english music.

As i entered i was first greeted by two women who simply said Welcome –¬†ś¨ĘŤŅé in a very high-pitched and excited tone. Instantly I was received by a very beautiful and elegant girl who asked me what I would like? I asked my chinese friend to tell her that I am here for a simple haircut or rather trim and shave; she scribbled on a page and took me to the reception where they printed out a work order and gave me one copy. then I¬†was asked to remove my clothes, I was a little surprised as I¬†dint understand why i needed to undress to get a haircut, quickly my chinese friend corrected the girl and told me she asked to take off my jacket so that I could be comfortable; Hearing this I realized it was going to be a wonderful experience as never before I had seen so much of professionalism and politeness at a salon.

Then I was given a hair wash by the same girl; it took ten minutes and then she escorted to a chair. My barber Jule arrived, dressed up in a crisp suit and though he was very young had his hair¬†colored¬†white ūüôā ¬†I¬†asked him to give me a simple trim and soon he started working on my hair, he constantly kept asking me if everything was fine and whether I¬†wanted something changed, I told him he was doing good and asked him to continue. I felt very good realizing how careful he was. After five minutes¬†I¬†was served orange juice by the same girl who initially took my work order. Jule and me started talking and I¬†asked him if this place was very busy and if he had a lot of customer to attend- he informed that he has to work till 10pm everyday as customers keep coming after office hours and on weekends chinese women love getting their hair treated, he also added that chinese girls spent a lot of money on hair styling,¬†color¬†etc. Soon my hair cut¬†was complete¬†and was asked if I¬†needed another hair wash, I¬†refused as my hair was very dry from the first hair wash. I went to the reception to pay and to my¬†amazement¬†it turned out to be only 30 Yuan. I was very happy at the end of it all, as what I¬†had thought was going to be a dreadful experience turned out to be a very pleasant and peaceful one. Kudos to the Shanghai salon industry!!

Can internet be free?

12 Feb

The recent news of Huffington Post selling off to AOL has been a surprise for many bloggers around the world, there is stiff resistance to this news by many bloggers who contribute for free to Huffington post.

let’s have a look at what and how Huffington post became famous. the company was run as a not for profit organization by socialite Arianna Huffington, who made a stong blog empire by content published by thousands of citizen journalists. Bloggers and journalist¬†were instantly¬†drawn to Huffington as it appeared as a new, clean and non-profit system built for sharing and viewing news as and when it happens.¬†It was run for over six years¬†as non-profit and by its sheer quality and volume of content, many bloggers continued to contribute.

Now with the sell-off news, many are turning to boycott and protests.The magazine AdBusters has called for a boycott of the Huffington Post:

‚ÄúSocialite Arianna Huffington built a blog-empire on the backs of thousands of citizen journalists. She exploited our idealism and let us labor under the illusion that the Huffington Post was different, independent and leftist. Now she‚Äôs cashed in and three thousand indie bloggers find themselves working for a¬†megacorp.‚ÄĚ

Some agencies and bloggers have called it the problem of free internet, when a start-up builds enough hype around it and manages to scare the corporate giants; it is inevitable that the corporate giant thinks of wiping out the competition by integrating it with itself and controlling the outcome. Although this strategy has seldom worked as there will always be a new threat looming and building up to attract the lost followers.

From Al Giordano of the Field (who removed all of his content from the Huffington Post):

‚ÄúThis saga is, sadly, not the first or last case of a blogger or online renegade that ended up becoming swallowed by the very same inhuman mass media conglomeration that it claimed it had set out to oppose. Good luck to Huffington and company, but they‚Äôll have to cross back to the other side of the bridge without me.‚ÄĚ

 Lets wait and watch how this story unfolds, as it keeps asking the same question again РCan internet be free?

When in China do like the Chinese

11 Feb

The first thing that affects most expats new to chinese culture is using chopsticks. Some get scared at the thought of not being able to use spoons/forks or their hands to eat. I too faced this issue when i first arrived in Shanghai, initially I thought it would be ok if i eat with a spoon but soon realized that to really blend in with the chinese culture and enjoy the chinese food, knowledge of using chopsticks is a must.

I spent my initial¬†days trying to figure out how to hold the chopsticks and slowly managed to pick up big met pieces or veggies; i¬†did falter initially with a few pieces dropped onto¬†the table and some¬†on my shirt and a few¬†on my friends too¬†ūüôā¬†¬†But, soon I realized it’s not rocket science to eat with chopsticks and now i¬†can easily manage almost everything. Plus it feels great when your eating at a chinese restaurant and manage to appreciated by the waiters/others. Sure I still¬†can’t eat fish or other items which require¬†extreme precision but¬†I leave those to the experts¬†for now.

Next step for me is to learn how to finish the last few grains of rice on my dish, some chinese bring their mouth close to the plate and others just make it look soo easy. Hoping to master either one technique soon.

My suggestion-¬†if you’re in China is to start to learn using chopsticks and for others it’s a fun activity to try with friends- start a competition;see who wins.

who is your worst teacher?

10 Feb

How do you reach to a conclusion about your worst teacher, does it depend on whether you¬†were beaten¬†up in school for not doing your home work/mis-behaving in class/ not tucking your shirt in ūüôā ; or does it depend on how poorly you scored in your exam; whethe

is this how you imagine your worst teacher?

r your teacher screamed out loud in class; or how your teacher always favoured the person you hated the most V/s you.

There are many reasons for hating your teacher but for me it was always my 3rd standard school teacher who used to ask us all silly questions; like were you making fun of me, did you repeat what I said, why are you yawning in class. The worst one- why are you staring at me. Then she would call the student to her desk and ask for an answer in yes or no, if the answer was yes Рwe would get beaten up and if the answer was no- the questions continued. Considering I was only in the third grade and this horror continued for one entire year; she definitely ranks no. 1 on my list of worst teachers. She had completely lost her mind and I think become paranoid.

Note : For privacy sake I am not naming/uploading photo of my teacher as I believe those were hard times for her and by now I have already forgiven her

corruption and inflation – is there a link?

9 Feb

Indian PM – Dr.¬†Manmohan Singh recently announced that corruption and inflation are two of the biggest roadblocks to india’s growth; I wonder if there is any link between the two.

Stop Corruption

Lets take an example. suppose a person receives a big bribe and wishes to spend the money, the first things that would come to his mind would be luxury items like electronics, mobile phones,  etc., may be gold or a designer watch. now since his income is not accounted for he has to pay for his spends through direct cash, which in turn may result in him trying to avoid any suspicion by not taking an original bill/memo. Now the place where he spent

his cash has to pay for salary/commission to their staff which again is generally in India is cash; with this extra income his staff members may decide to buy some items for themselves – which may be a special meal/extra groceries/travel by taxi/new shoes etc. Since in the entire cycle there is no official bill or memo we can assume there is no accounting for these expenses from the government’s perspective and hence all these expenses can easily drive up inflationary pressure.

Over the last ten years, most lucrative governmental business contracts have been given to the inner circle/power brokers of the ruling government. When I say the inner circle, I don’t directly mean the ruling government, but rather them, along with those who work under their umbrella.Believing that building the inner circle is more important than building the country has resolved into being the biggest crises the country has faced in decades.

Consider this as an endemic problem which india is facing; where corruption and bribery are a way of life, don’t you think corruption and inflation have a link ¬†and one is feeding the other?