Pensioners' paradise and Visitors' nightmare

Despite being in Bangalore for a long time now, I haven’t been able to reconcile with the one ways especially in the business district, the area next to M G Road. I was trying to reach a place that would have taken me 20 minutes under normal traffic and if I knew the way, took me an hour to reach because I came within few hundred meters twice and took the wrong turn. Horrible traffic conditions and lag in GPS meant I was always one step behind and paid the price heavily. All this extra time I kept thinking and thinking. The only logical reason to create so many one ways is to optimize the traffic and one ways should somehow help it, though considering all the extra traffic I generated owing to my wrong turns, it would have more than compensated for the savings. Obviously I will think that way because due to all the one ways I suffered and will mark them as evil.

That got me thinking, who would design a city in this way where navigation is such a challenge. This arrange can be convenient if either or both of the following holds: its a really small city and/or the population here has been living there forever. Those will ensure that everyone knows the way like the back of their hands and will generate an overall optimized traffic. This theory aligns well with the reputation of the city as pensioner’s paradise. The problem with this is, it becomes rather un-welcoming for new and not so new people.

Don't Repeat Yourself

I posted about the benefits of having a vibrant second hand market and its handiness when it comes to folks who are looking to set up base in short amount of time without having to spend a bomb and a series of weekends exploring.

Quikr has already given an awesome market place for these transactions and is always looking to up the game and make it a better experience for the users. With quikr next, they are introducing quikr chat which is going to be a great thing on many counts. Here are the reasons I would prefer chatting over a phone call.

Reduce Interruptions
We live in a world of interruptions. While it is impossible to eliminate it, it is wise to reduce it as much as possible for preserving your own sanity. A phone call leaves little room for multi-tasking and snatches you away from whatever you are doing. Responding to chat, on other hand, can be dealt with an asynchronous manner. A significant improvement in our overly interruption ridden world.

Chat gives an option for you to speak to many people at once, often times re-using responses as opposed to a phone chat, where you can talk to only one person at a time and things get recorded only if someone is explicitly transferring the data from voice format to some other longer lasting format than your memory.

It is hard to take calls and talk in office at your desk unless you have a plush personal office to use which many of us are really not fortunate enough to have. For those of us, having an option to continue a quiet chat makes a lot of sense.

You are always worried about handing out your phone number with the large number of marketing calls you receive. Despite being extremely cautious about giving out my number, I get a lot more marketing calls than I would be comfortable with.

Record Keeping
You will be talking to a good number of people and both as a buyer and a seller you would want to keep track of what things were discussed, which would include some clarifications around nuances that matter to you but don’t always get captured in the fixed categorization and text put in the ad. You can keep track of all those with chat and will be super handy when closing in your option. With phone in one hand, it will be challenging for someone to really note down the information, simply too inconvenient when compared to the comfort of being able to chat and preserve the information forever.

Cheaper than phone call
You save money on phone calls! Data is much cheaper than voice, until now that is. Things may change in future but as it stands now, you do spend a lot more for the details you share using voice than when you send it as text/image over internet.

Like I said in previous blog, things are much sweeter for everyone these days and more in-line with the times. These simple but extremely effective features are going to be make a significant impact on the way people buy/sell things and set up their homes!

Spoilt for Choice

Asus has some great products to showcase in recent times. The two that came to my inbox for checking the features are Eeebook and the “All in one” PC. To begin with, the look and feel of both the products is top notch and you will be tempted to go for both. In our day to day life, the time spent on our devices (for good or bad) will definitely mean we need different screens for different settings. I already own quite a few of these “screens” and have designated use for all of them but then the moment you see something new, you got to check it out. So, let’s see what each of these got

ASUS EeeBook X205TA - A compact laptop, with a decent sized screen and under 1 kg, definitely something you can carry with ease. The features that matter to me are

-> Under 1 kg with a full function keyboard
-> 12 hours battery life
-> A decent sized screen for a portable device

ASUS All In One PC ET2040 – This one is a full-fledged desktop that doesn't really fill your desk unnecessarily despite such a healthy screen size. The features that matter to me are

-> Heavy duty power – 2.4 GHz
-> Screen size – I am a big fan of big screens especially when working and 19.5 inch, you won’t be left wanting for bigger screen be it work or pleasure
-> Hand Gestures – while this needs to be tested in person to see how effective they are, but if you are like me who watches a lot of stuff online, YouTube or otherwise, this may come in very handy
-> Power backup – need I explain this
-> LED Display – “seeing will be believing” but going by the experience of LED TVs, this may be a killer feature.

Looking at these two products, I think everybody would want to have one of those for different use cases. I, for one, am more impressed with the ALL in one PC as it gives me an elegant desktop for my home that I can use for my work as well as for multimedia entertainment. My work usually involves looking at a lot of data or looking at things in detail where a larger screen translates into higher productivity. In fact, if I had my way, I would love to mount an array of screens on a wall, but you don’t always have your way. A screen this size is definitely something you can’t complain too much about.

EEEBook is great when you work on the go and your work involves more than browsing internet or sending small messages/mails. Tablets are great for those browsing needs, but the moment you have to type something substantial you are left fighting with the device, instead of being able to focus on the task at hand. This looks like a great balance between usability and compactness.

For those who work on the go a lot more and need a sleek, long lasting, lightweight laptop, they will end up loving EEEbook, but for me, the pc takes the cake.

All in

I am not an expressive person and when it comes to talking about my personal life I get even shyer. However, the lure of a gift voucher and an opportunity to write about one of the rare things I have done in my life to express someone’s importance in my life, decided to go ahead with it.

Considering the picture I gave above regarding myself, it isn't hard to guess that I had an arranged marriage. There was no courtship, followed by realization leading up to proposal. Well, it was one of those new age arranged marriages where there is interaction before closing the deal, however, the intent from the start was to explore marriage and the only options were, get married or forget about the whole thing ever happened and move on to the next prospective match! Sounds clinical, but that’s how it is. Well, I am sure there are people who can turn this into a courtship and proposal routine, but none of that for me.

Given not much was done earlier, I tried few things later on to make it interesting. Small things like hiding gifts in unusual places, and … maybe that’s it :(. Amidst all these banal attempts, there was however, one that I would call a really successful one and if I have to think of a way for proposing someone, I will gladly convert the same idea into a proposal.

She was gone for a while to visit her parents, my parents, relatives, basically a fairly long visit to our “native” as we call it here in South India. I had time in my hand and got some ideas on creating albums for our family. They look like picture books, literally like books with your pictures in it. I created many of those, but the one in question was about how I met my then future wife for the first time after speaking to her on phone for a month or so and then all the meetings in between and so on.  Speaking to her on phone, I was impressed with a few things, not so impressed with others, but at the end few things were clear. We were completely different people, but if there was someone who could tolerate me and stick with me, it was her and if there was someone who I wish would do this for me, it was her. I guess, rest of the stuff, felt less important, though it manifests itself in our daily lives, in the form of constant disagreements but we never hit each other so I guess we are good :).

So, I was shameless enough to click pictures of our first meeting and she didn't mind either. We never proposed as such, but talked in general that day and absence of any no, meant yes from both the sides. Once official I had the pictures of all the other time we spent together leading up to the marriage and then our first anniversary. So, I collected all those and arranged them in a nice sequence and got that book done.

Now, she was back and this time also there were the usual hidden gifts, and I guess she was already bored with that. Over the weekend, we decide to go to a mall. The two of us were roaming around in the mall and reach to a studio with all sorts of fancy personalized things. I suggested we explore (or maybe she did as she likes all these things) and so we go. We checkout a lot of sample mugs, t-shirts and then reach the album sections. The moment we pick the album, she is frozen, sort of petrified, not knowing what happened, and whether it was real. It was “our” album with us on the cover page. Well, that was a “shock” very well received and I felt all the preparation that went in was worth it. With support from my brother who coordinated with the studio on that day to put our album out in the samples at the right time.

So, this would be my proposal, except that the last page instead of holding the picture of our first anniversary, there will be a question, the big question! It will be an all in proposal, completely documented, leaving no room for saving your face in case things don’t work out. It will be bold. So go forward, take the cupid challenge and make it bold if you are looking to do it. 

Rolling Stones need online Market Places

How many times you have heard your parents or grandparents wistfully talking about the furniture they bought, there first (and many times only) bike or car. How all those things were not just things for them as they lived with them for so many years that they became a part of their identity! Some of the folks we knew as our parents’ friends could actually be labeled with their vehicles or clothes, because they were just there, always, never changing. You would often witness them sweating over the quality of the stuff and be extremely particular about what they were buying because it always seemed like a life time decision and hence all the due diligence was worth it. I have a chair at my parents’ place that is 40+ years old and that’s just one among many other things and definitely not the oldest. But gone are those days, I believe, and for good (both in terms of never coming back as well as this being good as a trend).

The trend is changing and the mindset is changing too and I like it. The static nature of life is giving way to a more fungible and flexible mindset. The life of a job used to be 35-40 years because most of the older generation worked with government or government like private companies. People would often stick to their hometowns as much as it was possible. It wasn’t uncommon for people to pass up promotions just to be able to stay in the same place. Having this set up, it made some sense to invest a lot of time and attention in setting up your house as you were doing it once forever but not so any more. This generation isn’t sticking to jobs or cities or countries or marriages (not good!) for too long, so it is only natural to adjust the rest of our habits accordingly.

I am not one of those who fall in love with their stuff. I hold all the stuff of life at a distance and a strong believer of buy and sell approach. I think finally, the world is now coming to a place which I feel more comfortable with. There is a great second hand online market and you don’t have to spend a bomb or weeks finding the right stuff for you. You just have to log in, browse through the ads and voila, you are done.

Many years ago when I moved to Bangalore, even when I could have transported some stuff at my new employer’s cost, I decided to take only what I could with me on the flight. Coming here, a lot of weekends were spent in finding the right shops and then one by one I got things and buying after marriage is a totally different ballgame that I won’t even venture to discuss today. So, for my bachelor setup, I had to go for new stuff, because there was no reliable marketplace that I could use to buy decent goods at decent price. The world today is so much better though.

We are rolling stones and we are not looking to gain moss, we find our freedom and salvation in online marketplaces!