Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sign of the Day

While most large cities have their share of bad drivers, in London, drivers seem to have difficultiy in grasping even some of the more basic traffic rules, as can be seen from the following road sign:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

UN Secretary-General

Does anybody else think that the UN Secretary-General's name sounds like an insult in Hindi ?

UN Secretary-General: Iran must comply with IAEA regulations regarding fissile materials.
Ahmadinejad: Who are you to dictate to us, you Ban Ki Moon !

For interesting translations, click here .

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Parking: The Inspiration

"You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said 'Parking Fine.' So that was nice."

My series on parking, and humour, in general, has been significantly influenced by Tommy Cooper.

For more, click here .


Expensive Parking

Continuing the parking series.....

Parking is very expensive in Manhattan. Everybody knows that. It has reached such astronomical levels that even the authorities admit it - the other day I saw a board that said "Parking Lot".


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Live Earth Concert (NY)

I went to the Live Earth Concert. It was nice.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Quiet Board

The other day I was walking past a parking spot that was unusually silent. There was a board next to it that said, 'Reserved'.


Friday, April 13, 2007


Does any one else find it ironic that phonetic is spelled the way it is (and not with a 'f') ?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Meating Point

Smith was a vegetarian since birth. When he was at college, he had an argument with his room-mate about the merits of his dietary preferences. His room-mate suggested that unless he ate meat he would not be capable of making an informed decision. Although reluctant, Smith decided to go ahead with the suggestion. Both of them go the supermarket and are standing at the meat section. Smith looks around and his eyes settle on the beef on the top-shelf. He shakes his head and tells his room-mate, 'I can't do it - the steaks are too high.'

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Well bowled Warnie

Today was the last day we will see Shane Warne in a test match. Shane Warne was probably the biggest sporting influence in my life so far. Watching him bowl, inspired me to be a leg spinner. I never really played cricket at a reasonably competitive level, but I still think of myself as more than a half-decent leggie (ask any one who has faced me in my prime - guys, remember those games against Valley School and Rishi Valley in 1995 and 1997). For me, Warne had it all - the flight, the turn, the attitude. People keen on statistics will compare him with Muralitharan and Kumble, but for a conneiseur of spin bowling, that is like saying Royal Challenge and MaCallan are both whiskeys - factually true, but could not be more wrong. From the Gooch and Gatting deliveries in the 1993 ashes to the 1996 World Cup Semi's to the 1999 World Cup and several times, before and after, Warne has consistently delivered with great panache and charisma. Thank you Warnie ! You will be missed.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Madison Square Garden

Regular readers of this blog (yes, all three of you) have complained that I have not made any NY-related posts since I moved here in October 2006. Well, here we go.

I consider myself to be a sports enthusiast, which I define as someone with more than a general interest in most sports. (Note, this is not to be confused with my absolute passion for Football, or 'Soccer' as it is know this side on the pond). One dimension of my sports enthusiam is visiting famous sporting arenas. I am proud to have been at the following: The Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland (Golf); Celtic vs. Blackburn, UEFA Cup 2001-02, Glasgow, Scotland (Football); Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspurs, Premiership 2001-02, Highbury, London (Football); England vs. India, 2002 Test, Lord's, London (Cricket); India vs. Pakistan, 1999 Test, Chepauk, Chennai (Cricket); John Higgins vs. Ronnie O' Sullivan, Scottish Masters, 2002, Glasgow, Scotland (Snooker).

The latest addition to the list was a trip to Madison Square Garden on December 11 to watch the NY Knicks play Boston Celtics. I no longer have the same level of enthusiam for bastketball as I once used to. However, being at a NBA game at the Garden was some experience. MSG really has a fantastic atmosphere - the chants of 'defence, defence' sound much better than on TV. The game itself was unspectacular, Celtics winning easily. The highlight of the evening was the presence of Wayne Rooney. I'm not sure what he was doing at a Knicks' game, but for probably the only time in my whole life, me and the Roonster were spending the evening in the same way. That, along with some overpriced beer, made the evening even more special.

Saturday, December 09, 2006



Friday, October 20, 2006


A recent study by the Society of Invertebrate Zoology has concluded that horses (Equus caballus) are the most balanced and calm of all species in the animal kingdom. They have stable lives.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The truth about Pluto

The real reason why Pluto was removed as a planet - Space constraints

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Operational Reasons

This is a complaint letter I wrote to Air Deccan a few months ago. The response to my letter to Maruti has prompted me to post this one as well.


From: Vikram Vasu
Cc: ; ;
Sent: Sunday, April 02, 2006 3:40 PM

Subject: Customer (Dis)service at Air Deccan

Dear Captain Gopinath,
I have had an extremely traumatic experience with Air Deccan over the past week. I had booked a ticket on the Coimbatore - Chennai flight DN -116 on Sunday, 26th March 2006 (19:35 pm). I had also booked a ticket on the same sector for Monday, 27th March 2006 (19:35 pm). On 26th March I received an SMS informing me that the Coimbatore - Chennai flight DN -116 on Sunday, 26th March 2006 (19:35 pm) was cancelled due to 'operational reasons'. I am sure this is not exactly headline news at Air Deccan, given how regularly it happens. I called the customer care number to cancel my ticket. When I did this, I specifically asked what the reason for cancellation was, since I had a booked a ticket on the same sector for the following day. I was duly assured that the problem will not be repeated the next day, as this was only due to one-off 'operational reasons'. I cancelled the ticket for the Saturday flight (cancelled by Air Deccan).

On Sunday morning, I received the now all too familiar SMS that the Monday flight DN-116 on Monday, 27th March 2006 (19:35 pm) was cancelled for....surprise, surprise...'operational reasons'. While the first day seemed plausible, two days in a row is a farce. Since I was given a reasonable assurance that this won't happen, I think I am entitled to being a little suspicious. However, I initially gave your airline the benefit of doubt. I immediately called the call centre to cancel the ticket. I spoke to one Mr. Sarish and it turned out to be one the most ridiculous exchanges (even by Air Deccan's very low standards). I began by asking Mr. Sarish why the flight was cancelled for two days in a row. The insipid answer was that he did not know anything beyond 'operational reasons' and that it was not his responsibility to explain the reasons, as this was only a call centre. Excuse me, but is it not the responsibility of a customer care agent to explain why exactly the flight was cancelled ? I put this aside for the moment, as I still needed to cancel the ticket. Mr Sarish then duly informed that according to the system, the flight was not cancelled !! I asked him about the SMS that I received and he said that the flight is indeed cancelled but this has not yet been reflected in the system. The implication of this being I would not receive a full refund, as the flight has not yet been cancelled. I found the logic preposterous and requested that the agent calls me back when the system was updated. I was then informed that since it was only an inbound call centre, I would have to call back later. If your system is down, how in the world is that my problem, especially given the already farcical situation where I have to call to cancel a ticket on a flight that you cancelled. I realised that Mr. Sarish was probably not sufficiently equipped to handle the situation. I therefore asked to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor who came on line told me that the ticket will be cancelled shortly and that I am not required to call back. However, he still was unable to give me a convincing explanation for why the flight was cancelled. When I asked him why the same flight on the same sector was cancelled for two days in a row, your agent reassured me by saying that Air Deccan has cancelled many flights on other sectors too and therefore I should not feel that I am being targetted !

I thought the matter had ended there, but little did I realise that in the theatre of the absurd, there can be endless twists and turns. One week later, when I checked my credit card account, I was shocked to see that the refund for the Monday, 27th March flight had not yet been made. I immediately called up the call centre (with images of last week's episode still fresh in mind). I spoke to an agent and explained that I had not yet received my refund. The agent took down my details and then had the audacity to claim that I had not yet cancelled the ticket ! I gave her the date (Sunday, 26th March) and time (12:30 pm) when I called to cancel it. She was unable to explain why the refund was not made and asked me to speak to the Floor Supervisor (Ms.Rashmi R). After narrating the now long story to the Floor Supervisor, I indicated that for this extent of disservice, bordering on fraud, I deserve some sort of compensation. All I received was that it is beyond her authority to discuss compensation, and so I should speak to the Floor Manager (Ms. Sajita Nair). The Floor Manager also repeated the same thing, but promised to look into the issue of why the ticket was not cancelled. She later got back to me by saying that she heard the call I made the previous week and confirmed that I had been told the ticket would be cancelled. However, she still does not why the ticket was not yet cancelled, but promised to cancel it, which left me a feeling of deja vu, somewhat. She then suggested I speak to someone higher, but helpfully informed me that even that person will not be able to do anything about this.

I don't think it is unreasonable for me to demand some sort of compensation for this absurd treatment. I know you will immediately say that your official policy clearly states that customers will not be compensated (beyond refunds), under any circumstances. Given that I am yet to receive me refund, I think if the airline is serious about customers, situations like these ought to be treated with greater discretion. At no stage was anyone from Air Deccan even slightly apologetic about my situation. Are polite service and compensation when fraud has been committed, too much to ask for ?

I realise that you have your fair share of problems - high oil prices, pilots not showing up for work, El Nino effect, global warming, Avian bird flu, etc. etc., but canceling flights on such a regular basis destroys what little is left of the airline's fast diminishing credibility.

Having read so many similar stories about customers being disgusted with the service (or lack thereof), I realise that my complaint may be somewhat low down in the Air Deccan bungling hall of shame. I do not expect a reply, as this would be completely against the culture of Air Deccan.

Captain Gopinath, I think you must realise that there is a difference between being low-cost and cheap. Given that your competitors offer nearly the same prices, Air Deccan is quite clearly the latter.

I think some of the fault may lie with me for thinking that reasonable customer service can be expected from Air Deccan. As the old adage goes, 'if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys'.

Since I have been stubbornly and rudely told that I cannot expect to receive any compensation, you have left me with only way to record by disgust.

I have decided not fly on Air Deccan any more.*


Vikram Vasu

* Due to operational reasons

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Photographic Palindrome

At one level, this a special case of a palindrome.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Leadership crisis in Saudi Arabia

The shortage of talented people within the royal family in Saudi Arabia has led to a leadership crisis - no great sheikhs.

Monday, July 03, 2006


= 1000 words

As the old saying goes, a pitcher is worth a thousand words......

Friday, June 16, 2006

Water Advice

A man had built a new house. The house was perfect except for one aspect - the water supply had not been activated. After waiting for a week, there is still no sign of water. He calls his builder and asks him what the best course of action is. The builder scratches his head, thinks for a moment, and says, 'get well soon'.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Worse newspaper headlines

I previously posted what I believed to be a bad newpaper headline. But, you know what - you ain't seen nothing yet. Take a look at this. Isn't this a redundant noun ?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Man. United 2 - 0 Arsenal

What a win ! Arsenal looked jaded, but that's no fault of ours. Rooney was fast, powerful and effective - as he has been for most of the season. Can anyone remember when the last time Arsenal beat United in the Premier League ??!!!We probably still won't catch Chelsea, but this kind of football will make sure next season is a lot better than this year's.