Poochh-taachh (taach.com)

I had this idea of creating a wiki to collect data on how we do things with the Govt. and stuff. So finally, here it goes:


In case you have any experiences to share or write up stuff there (or even if someone has a writeup I can point to from there), I’d be more than welcoming that.

I plan to keep it a text-only site and have a mobile version up soon (that would only send the body – no frills). It is just MediaWiki running there for now with the plainest skin available.

We Were ULIPized

Last summer, HSBC Premier were chosen as portfolio managers in our family. After the initial round of their analysis, they took control and started out on the investments. Initially, things went great. They invested in multiple funds (alebit, most of them from the HSBC fund house). Here’s what struck us later.

Summer last year, they got the less informed members of the family to sign up for an expensive ULIP. As far as the policy goes, there’s nothing special about it. The ULIP, ahem, was a startup by Canara and HSBC. Does that ring a bell? They needed people to invest in the startup. The least informed and most trusting members of my family were easy targets. With me not being around there, and the trust levels being at their peak – the HSBC premier guys did just that; breach it.

I was devastated when I learnt about the policy and details this year. More so, when I learnt that it had a 25% allocation value that has gone down the drains. I have always been against any kind of ULIPs. My advice flows out to anyone who start their tax investments on that note. It happened with me, in my own home and I couldn’t do anything. The folly was, we trusted HSBC premier and their agents too much. I’ll update this post if there’s anything that HSBC premier does to reverse this.

Blogger friends have posted my story here (Deepak) and here (Manish).


भद्रम कर्नेभि: श्रिनुयाम देवा: |
भद्रम पश्येमा क्षभिर्यजत्रा: |
स्थिरैरन्गै स्तुस्तुवागम्सस्तनुभि: |
व्यशेम देवहितम यदायु: |

स्वस्ति न ईन्द्रो वरिद्धश्रवा: |
स्वस्ति न: पूशा विश्ववेदा: |
स्वस्ति न स्तार्क्षो अरिश्तनेमि: |
स्वस्ति न ब्रिहस्पतिर दधातु |

O Gods! May we worship the Lord and listen to auspicious words, see all that is only auspicious, praise thy Lord with a strong body and utilize this life to perform all deeds which are good and sublime and which are bestowed upon us by God.

May Indra, whose glory and greatness is known by all and everywhere, nurture and nourish us. May Pusha, who knows everything about the world, do good to us and nourish us. May Garuda, who is equal in strength to the wheel and is the destroyer of all enemies, nourish us. May the Lord of intellect Brihaspati do good to us and pave the way towards welfare. May all our Adhibhautik, Adhidaivik and Adhyatamik worries cease to exist.

Indian Super Railways – that's what we need

There’s a dire need to upgrade and increase the capacity of the Indian Railways. When you look at the 6-lane, 4-lane and sometimes 2-lane highways in the US, you feel how could India have had something similar. We don’t need anything of that sort.

India’s answer to the US and European highways would be the Indian Railways. We don’t need to replicate what everyone is doing, we just need to have a way of our own to do it. Every Indian would use the Railways as efficiently as people use the roads or air travel elsewhere in the world. Instead of bailing out Air India, bloody shut it down and use all that money to make a new track between Delhi and Mumbai and Delhi and Calcutta. Just kill the Maharaja.

We have an excellent mesh of Railway network that just needs to be upgraded. There are hundreds of stations in just about an area of thousand kilometre square, which makes it the best point-to-point network that has ever been. More so, the Railways are an automatic way to reach from point A to point B, with minimum risk and fatigue. The advantages are way beyond what anyone could imagine. My point is, India needs a major infrastucture investment in the Railways and not the highways.

Consider this article from SCIAM. The article points to the fact that selfish drivers would do better in an environment of less convenience rather than in an environment that was better suited to their needs. The very fact that they tore down a highway between two points in Seoul and increased the traffic efficiency, is indicator enough of how things can churn out.

Consider the fact that India invests another hundred thousand crores on the highways. It would only add more pressure on the cities and that now the infrastructure is available, fuel prices would go up for want of use of the highways. Instead, let’s build more railway tracks. Here’s what we could do:

  • Build more railway tracks – upgrade two lane tracks to four lanes between major junctions
  • Upgrade all single tracks to a minimum of two lane tracks
  • Re-enforce all bridges along major railway tracks or build alternate bridge routes with hard deadlines
  • Increase the number of central stations that exist in a city – upgrade normal stations to central (or junction) status to de-pressurize the number of passenger boardings on central or city or junction stations
  • Increase the number of general class coaches to a minimum of 10 coaches in short distance trains and a minimum of 5 coaches in long distance trains. Right now, there are at most 3 general coaches in both long and short distance trains.
  • Reduce the number of classes – abolish coupe class, abolish AC first class, abolish First Class (2 tier sleeper)
  • Do away with Pantry cars and catering services – focus on what we have to do – travel.
  • Make mandatory electrified routes between all major stations: Delhi – Lucknow, Bangalore – Chennai, Mumbai – Pune (which doesn’t even have a train route yet), Bangalore – Hyderabad, Bhopal – Raipur, etc.
  • Ensure that if there are more than 36 (half of the number of berths in a Sleeper Coach) waitlisted passengers, then all of them should be guaranteed a seat with extra coaches being added to the train.
  • Run emergency trains to cater to any extra capacity required and increase the number of coaches/engines.
  • Introduce Ultra-super-fast trains for long distances that would run on dedicated tracks and stop only at junctions
    • Target run-time of such trains should be less than 24 hours. It is doable:
    • From Jammu to Kanya-Kumari, the distance is approximately 3500 Kms
    • If a train runs at an average speed of 180 Kmph (which is a doable speed on a new dedicated track), it can do the distance in 19.5 hours.
    • Add to that any extra time taken for boarding/stopping/cleaning etc. and you have another 4.5 hours.
    • If the train stops at 12 points for an average of 15 minutes at every point (which is extremely sufficient), it would have used only 3 hours out of those 4.5 hours.

There are a million other things to do. If even half of my above wishes see light, we would see a much better India in future.

What? Where?

One day, at Carl’s Jr.:

Me: One Veggie burger.
CounterGuy: What? Veggie burger?
Me: Yeah, the one you have listed there – see there.
CounterGuy: Where? (Comes out from the counter to try and see what I am seeing.)
Me: See, the 6th thing in the last column?
CounterGuy: No. I can’t see it. What is the 6th thing in the last column?
Me: What? Really, you can’t see a Veggie Burger below the Potato Wedges?
CounterGuy: No. I can’t see where you’re seeing Potato Wedges either. Are you sure?
Me: Can you see the last column called “Extras” at all?
CounterGuy: Yes, it has got Apple Pie, Crumbles…
Me: What? Where?
CounterGuy: Let’s drop this. There are no Veggie Burgers here.
Me: Can you just make me a Veggie Burger? Just “no meat”.
CounterGuy: If I could do that, why would I deny seeing that Veggie Burger below the Potato Wedges and above the Mash Dip at all?
Me: (Zapped)

It’s extremely difficult to get a Veggie Burger (of my expectations) at any of the fast food joints in California. The best Mc. Donalds did was, gave me a bun with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes in it. Of course, it was a Veggie Burger – “no meat”.

Ok to be gay, but the church says…

Who cares what the church says? The state should not be interfered by any religion. India is a secular country and nobody cares what they think inside the church. They can keep it to those who do not have any choice.

As India matures to yet another line of thought: NDTV reports on the issue. Article 377 is the extreme, there in the constitution to appease religous sentiments. Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism – the religions followed by the majority, do not have any firm lines of thought on homosexuality. Extremists and fascists from these groups might have strong thoughts, but they are not based on any proofs of banishment of homosexuality in any of these religions. Though it is for sure that the BJP would disagree on this, I for one, do not care about them when it comes to this. Both Christianity and Islam have strict opposition to any kind of homosexuality. Nobody cares.

This is most unfortunate that the Indian constitution is being affected by hypocritic ideologies. Statements from Church officials say, “We know and understand the need of someone to be homosexual. What we do not accept is that they have sex.” Hey Mr. Smart A**, if you could write down the spelling of homosexuality, you would understand that it does have the letters “s”, “e” and “x” in it (in that particular order). So go and dig deep somewhere.

For the most part, the problem is not the church. The problem is the other half of our society that is still bothering with control on individual preferences and does not have any inclination to fix other extremely basic problems (related to the mother and child).

Scrapping Article 377 would be yet another police reform and rid the police of any extra annoyances they had to worry about.

Betrayers by Income Tax Evasion

You betray me, you betray my mother and you betray my country when you do not pay income tax. People like you should be used to fill up that hole in the road for evading tax. People like you should be the first ones to take the enemy’s bullet. People like you should be the first to die when a terrorist attacks. People like you should be the last in line when it comes to the freedom this country gives you. People like you is whom I hate.

You shall ever live in gluttony while the world is betrayed. People like you.

Do India a favour and download this form. Print it out (after deleting any unnecessary information) and post it to the Income Tax department in your city. Fill out the name and address of the betrayers of the Govt. of India – those who do not pay their taxes and are the reason of a broken country. Do yourself a favour, do your children a favour.

Fighting Kingfisher Airlines

Update (Jun 21, 2009): Not going to take this lying down, I registered a complaint with Kingfisher. They did not reply, so I have filed a complaint in the consumer forum furnishing them with all the details. I will supply them with all the receipts (along with the receipt and fee Delta charged me for the same kind of change on another ticket). The difference between the charged fees of Delta and KF is almost $200+. Let’s see.

Original Post (Jun 15, 2009)

While booking your air tickets – from any where to any where, never book through a search agent. Especially, when you’re flying between countries. Avoid Expedia at all costs – even if they give you a ticket for free.

Expedia makes Kingfisher book a Delta ticket on a Qantas-Air India quota.

If you can understand the statement above, then probably you should be awarded a doctorate in international Air ticketing. I spent a whole 8 hours (all night) calling up all of the airlines and Expedia to sort out a change. My blood pressure attained new highs that night and I invented 5 new ways to scold Airline ticketing agents.

My request was to change a Delta ticket from date X to date Y. It can never get any simpler than that. I had two tickets. For one of the tickets, Delta conveniently charged me an amount AA and changed the ticket. For the other ticket, they told me to call up Expedia. As I call up Expedia, they said they cannot change the ticket and I have to call up Kingfisher. On calling up KF, they said they can’t change the ticket and I have to call up Delta. I went into this circle over three times. Then I conferenced a call between KF and Expedia to sort out the matter. The Expedia agent conveniently pushed the ball into KF’s court, who in turn said that Delta has to change the ticket. Both the agents agreed and I was hung (because Delta was not in the conference call).

I called back Delta and told them. They were not very friendly this time and rudely told me to deal with the agents only. I tried one last time and conferenced a call between KF, Delta and Expedia. This time, Kingfisher agreed to change the ticket (they could have done this 6 hours earlier, right?). Both Expedia and Delta hung up from the conference. KF told me that the charges for changing the ticket would be twice AA (the Delta’s charges) plus some other fees. I had no recourse, so I went with it.

On the day of the flight, here’s what the Delta counter tells me at the Airport:

Sir, this ticket doesn’t look right. I think you have to pay another $$$ to actually generate the ticket. The reservation looks Ok, but the ticket ain’t there.

Kingfisher charged me more than double the amount to change a ticket and doesn’t pay Delta the change fee. Delta humiliates me and tells me that I have to re-pay an amount (albeit lower than what KF charged) that I have already paid – plus the premium charged by KF (for harassing me?). Delta finally told me that have my Credit Card information and in case KF doesn’t pay the money, they will directly charge me. At least they let me fly.

You decide if you want to fly Kingfisher or book through them next time. You also decide if you would do the same with Expedia. These guys have taken out the peace from me.