Saturday, December 22, 2012

Travelogue: Hadshi Temple (Sri Satya Sai Pandurang Kshetra Temple)


I was searching for a good place for a short weekend trip and found this reference to Hadshi temple. The pictures looked good and my mind was made up to visit this place on the weekend. With my birthday on 1st December, family had no objection to visiting a temple. In fact they were more than happy.
The place is about 45 km from my home, which is close to Hinjewadi. I took the Pune by pass till Chandni Chowk and then got onto the road going to Paud/Mulshi/Lavasa. The road till Paud bus stop is good. You will cross over many resorts on the way, will cross the Pirungut ghat, and continue straight past Pirungut on the way to Paud. Cross the Paud ghat as well and reach Paud ST bus stand on your right. Immediately after this take the right turn and drive about 15 km, crossing Girivan on the way, to reach the Arch on your left for the Pandurang temple. The arch is on bang on a right turn and very noticeable. You would need to be sleeping to miss it. Another landmark on the way that you can also find on google maps is Chinmaya Vibhooti.
Surprisingly there are only 1-2 signs on the road pointing to this temple. As Rajaram has also pointed out, this is not a very well-known spot and hence not too many people visit this place. The road from Paud to Hadshi is not good, is single lane and full of pot holes. Since there is less traffic, you need to mostly only avoid the pot holes and not worry about oncoming vehicles. As we approached the temple on this broken road, we were getting worried if we made the right choice. There is nothing visible of the temple from the road and as we drove into the Arch, I had my fingers crossed that the trip will be worth it.
After the arch, there is a short drive up the hill and you hit the parking lot of the temple. You get to the first temple which is next to the parking and as you cross it and go behind, the beauty of the place hits you. The temple is right in the middle of mountains and has huge very well maintained grounds on both sides. Kids will just love running around the place. There is ample sitting place and the main temple itself is beautiful. There is even a lift available to in case you have someone with you who is on wheel chair or cannot climb so many stairs. With hardly any crowd, there is no noise around and you could easily sit and meditate in the temple.

Arti happen early in the morning around 6.00 am and then in the evening around 5.30 pm. If you come in the evening, you would also get to see numerous fountains working. There is a canteen that serves freshly cooked poha, sabudana khichadi etc. and there is a bhojanalaya that serves meal. The food is spicy and you may want to be prepared for it. Quality is decent. We had minor issues in the vegetable being over as there was more than expected crowd for lunch that day. But they had an alternative available quickly. Nice friendly people and serve with a smile.
We spent few hours here, had lunch and then returned back home.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Travelogue: Visiting Aurangabad

I was searching for a good place for a short weekend trip and found this reference to Hadshi temple. The pictures looked good and my mind was made up to visit this place on the weekend. With my birthday on 1st December, family had no objection to visiting a temple. In fact they were more than happy.
The place is about 45 km from my home, which is close to Hinjewadi. I took the Pune by pass till Chandni Chowk and then got onto the road going to Paud/Mulshi/Lavasa. The road till Paud bus stop is good. You will cross over many resorts on the way, will cross the Pirungut ghat, and continue straight past Pirungut on the way to Paud. Cross the Paud ghat as well and reach Paud ST bus stand on your right. Immediately after this take the right turn and drive about 15 km, crossing Girivan on the way, to reach the Arch on your left for the Pandurang temple. The arch is on bang on a right turn and very noticeable. You would need to be sleeping to miss it. Another landmark on the way that you can also find on google maps is Chinmaya Vibhooti.
Surprisingly there are only 1-2 signs on the road pointing to this temple. As Rajaram has also pointed out, this is not a very well-known spot and hence not too many people visit this place. The road from Paud to Hadshi is not good, is single lane and full of pot holes. Since there is less traffic, you need to mostly only avoid the pot holes and not worry about oncoming vehicles. As we approached the temple on this broken road, we were getting worried if we made the right choice. There is nothing visible of the temple from the road and as we drove into the Arch, I had my fingers crossed that the trip will be worth it.
After the arch, there is a short drive up the hill and you hit the parking lot of the temple. You get to the first temple which is next to the parking and as you cross it and go behind, the beauty of the place hits you. The temple is right in the middle of mountains and has huge very well maintained grounds on both sides. Kids will just love running around the place. There is ample sitting place and the main temple itself is beautiful. There is even a lift available to in case you have someone with you who is on wheel chair or cannot climb so many stairs. With hardly any crowd, there is no noise around and you could easily sit and meditate in the temple.

Arti happen early in the morning around 6.00 am and then in the evening around 5.30 pm. If you come in the evening, you would also get to see numerous fountains working. There is a canteen that serves freshly cooked poha, sabudana khichadi etc. and there is a bhojanalaya that serves meal. The food is spicy and you may want to be prepared for it. Quality is decent. We had minor issues in the vegetable being over as there was more than expected crowd for lunch that day. But they had an alternative available quickly. Nice friendly people and serve with a smile.
We spent few hours here, had lunch and then returned back home.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Inorbit Mall Pune

With little else to do on a weekend, we decided to add another mall to our list of visited malls in Pune and so Inorbit it was. On Nagar road, cross the Pheonix Market City mall, cross the signal and then take a U turn to get to Inorbit mall. Like multiple other places, the Exit comes before Entry and hence you need to drive a bit ahead, and then get into the mall’s parking, which fortunately has ample parking space.
Our main attraction for the day was ice skating and we headed directly to 3rd floor for the Freeze Zone. It has the Arctic Zone where you get to ice skate and the North Pole zone where you get to play with snow. In case you go for ice skating, they will provide the skating gear and the guards, but no jacket etc. so you may want to be prepared with some jacket etc. For those who don’t know skating, they have a penguin like support available that you can use to help with your skating. The ticket allows 30 min time, but we came out in about 15 min, as the ring is small and we did start feeling the chill. If you go to the North Pole zone you are better covered with jacket, gloves etc. While the experience is good, but if you don’t want to skate and play in snow, don’t bother to go inside. The viewing only ticket is a waste of money unless there is some else in the group doing either skating or going to play in snow as if there is no one inside, the viewing is pretty useless.
Apart from few other play zones, 3rd floor has the food mall as well. We tried the China corner and the Indian Paratha and didn’t like either of them. The rice/noodles of China corner were cold and the quantity of gravy to go along was not much. We say many people leaving the parathas half-eaten and leaving from The Paratha place. We tried the pani puri and masala chaas and both lacked taste. The masala chaas seemed devoid of any curd but had ample amount of green chilli paste mixed in water. Eating in Mac or possibly the pasta/pizza corner would probably be safer. The donut shop is definitely highly recommended and they churn out freshly baked super soft good verity of donuts.

The rest of the mall is like other malls. Shops that glitter and attract. Good to look at, but little you can buy unless there is some sale in progress. I wonder how the shops in the mall survive, for I saw only a handful of people doing some shopping. Most others were windows shopping and then off to the food mall. If the shops bring down their prices, maybe more people will shop.
And what’s it with the slim fit these days? Most brands seem to have only such garments. Looks like I need to soon go back to getting my cloths tailor made.
 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Female Foeticide

The new program which started today, 6th May 2012 on Star Plus, anchored by Aamir Khan has touched many a minds, as is clearly evident by the large following on the Facebook site. The topic of female foeticide is not new and we have been plagued with this for many many years now, but the program did force us to think again with some fresh data in mind. Here are some of my thoughts on it

It was an eye opener to note that roots of this evil actually somehow reside in government’s own policies. Who could even think of controlling the increasing population by having families opt in-out of child birth based on gender? I always thought that hum do humare do was what government used as a way to get the masses to understand population issues and look at controlling it. However there also, some families seem to have taken it too literally and while not having either time or energy to spend on kids, they do want to have two of them.

Anyway, the question at hand is female foeticide. The very basic question that I have always wanted to ask those who indulge in these and more specifically to the mother-in-laws (or should we call them monster-in-laws) is: if their parents had taken the same decision at the time of their birth, they would not have been around today to question the birth of a girl child and demand a boy child. If for nothing else, but for their own living self, don’t they hesitate for a moment before taking such steps?

As per the Census 2011 data the female sex ratio is 940 per 1000 males. Looking at the young India population of upwards of 300 million, this is a very large gap. A common sensical point that Aamir highlighted is with lesser girls around, there will be very many boys left without a life partner. I wonder what those families think about this. How on earth will the boy, they brought in this world, thinking will take forward their family’s name, can do it all by himself?  Are we becoming asexual so that the boys can achieve this on their own?

The buying of girls as brides won’t be too different the buying and selling of slaves, another evil of our earlier societies that we managed to leave behind. But now it looks like we have found ways to get it back again. I guess it is time again for balika vadhu not for any other reason, but more for advance booking as a surety of ensuring bride for the growing boy in the family. Maybe we will once again see the hindi film era gone by with its dialogs like “aao, hum tum apni dosti rishtedari mein badal dein. Mein wachan deta hun ki mera beta bade hoke tumhari beti se hi shadi karega

Another issue the episode highlighted was the fight of the two reporters who did the sting operation and for the past 7 years are still running around to different courts. If for a minute we assume that the Medical council, which has been avoiding taking any action so far, suddenly wakes up and cancels the license of these doctors, is that sufficient? Is that going to cause any trouble to the doctor? How many of us before consulting a doctor check that he has proper license or not? We assume he/she does. So even if the medical council cancels the license, what’s stopping the doctor to continue to practice, if not at his/her own clinic, but somewhere else? One solution that I can think of is that the doctor should also be sent behind bars for at least 6 months. His absence for 6 months will at least become the talk of the town/village/neighbourhood and after coming out the doctor will hopefully not be able to practice in the same area. He can of-course shift to another city and start work there, but that’s better than no action against him today

The battle isn’t against only the Rajasthan doctors, but is India wide. The only way to win against this is to change ourselves. Fortunately no doctor today is acting like Kans and killing any girl child (in this case) on his/her own accord. It is we the people who go to the doctors and they just oblige. We just need to stop asking for it and the problem is solved. Alongside we need to change some of our religious beliefs. People strongly believe that if a son gives agni to the parents on their death, they go to heaven. I have so many cases around me where the daughters are caring for the parents in their old age and sons are happily living somewhere else ignoring the very same parents who did all this to get them in this world. The path to heaven, if there is, in my view, is more governed by our deeds while we lived and not by who gives agni at the time of death.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Should this not be fixed?

Election time in some parts of the country and this is the time for flurry of activity (election campaigns) and inactivity (due to code of conduct). Lot of public grievances which are long pending, are suddenly resolved with lightning speed. One wonders if it was possible now, why wasn’t it possible all along. But then it seems ministers cannot function if there is no absolute majority. I wonder why it needs absolute majority to do basic development. Is it that all the ministers will lineup and give "shram daan" and only then things will work?

The main promise one hears during elections is “vote us in and we will provide good roads and power and water”. However if I recall my Civics 101 correctly, government’s basic functions are building roads, providing power, providing drinking water, providing good infrastructure etc. and that’s what we pay taxes for every year. So shouldn’t at the time of elections we should ask the candidates of what else they will do which is really aligned to growth and prosperity of common man, of the city, of the state and of the country? There is so much that needs to be done and can be done, if our ministers have the will, and if we, the electorate demand for. A few thoughts:

Adarsh Scam, 2G, CWG, illegal land mining, we all know are tips of iceberg. Most of them just go un-noticed. In some cases where people are caught, nothing much happens. They seemingly get special treatment in jails and come out reasonable quickly. It takes a crusader like Anna Hazare to stand up and fight against the corruption in India and we rally around once, twice, but by the time it is third time, our support starts to dwindle. Reconciliation with fate sets in. It is possibly unintentional and accidental, but there is a seeming belief that the campaign is today no longer against corruption, but more against a political party. Should this not be fixed?

The not so well connected spend little more time in jail and the least fortunate, the common man ends up spending lot more time in jail than would have even if was convicted for said crimes. Overall there are seemingly upwards of 4 million cases pending in different courts across India. The terrorist act on 26/11/2008 and the sole terrorist caught is still living on hard earned tax payer’s money. To top it there are people who feel there was an unfair trial. About 18 clemency pleas are pending with President of India with no immediate final answer in site. Should this not be fixed?

Times office was vandalized recently where it was reported that only property was damaged. Home minister states that the case will be handled by a fast track case. Just 3 days back a bus driver went on rampage in the streets of Pune killing 8 people, injuring more than 30 with similar number of vehicles damaged. Some people even gave statement that they had seen the driver laughing while he was on his death run. Surprisingly there is no such statement about fast justice and the only thing we hear is about mental instability and the person is sent for checkup. Should this not be fixed?

We have all heard of news related to ministers and self-proclaimed moral brigade who become active during Valentine’s Day, who decide which film we should watch or which we should not, which book is good for us and which not, but they are ok to watch porn in assembly, i.e. akin to watching porn in your office. They say they did nothing wrong and the parent party isn’t going to expel them. In this internet and social age, does it makes sense for a ministry to have tight control on what’s telecast and a censor board to control what movies should people watch? Should this not be fixed?

There is so much vote politics that right things just don’t happen. The prices for all general commodities have gone up in recent past. We have also seen frequent increases in petrol prices so much that they have doubled in the last 3 years. However if you look at Railways, they haven’t increased ticket prices significantly in the last few years (I could not find specific trends data). However instead of doing this ministry has found another novel way to make more money: allow booking 4 months in advance. Isn’t this an easy way to make on the in
terest? It will only allow agents to hoard tickets for longer. In today’s fast paced world, how many of us are really able to plan trips 4 months in advance and really stick to it? The other day when trying to book a ticket, I checked different trains and different options like 1A, 2A and 3A and to my surprise most of them were showing WL1. How come every train was at WL1? Isn’t that fishy? Should this not be fixed?

On similar lines is the caste based politics. It is completely agreeable that those with not sufficient means should get additional support, but then are we really providing the right support? Is providing reservations the right answer? Shouldn’t we be looking at meritocracy and plan to provide right means for this section of people to make them compete at the right level? However if the current approach is the right one, can someone file an RTI and find out how many of our leaders got treated by a doctor from reserved category? How many of our leaders go to government hospitals themselves v/s how many go to private hospitals? Reservation is fine to boot strap and fill in immediate gaps, but after a while things need to go deeper and address the root cause and not provide superficial solutions. Should this not be fixed?

India is a dominant player in software exports with around 50% market share of global outsourcing market with revenue of about $60 billion. The market leadership may not always remain as China is fast catching up. If we look internally, even when having world’s top brands like TCS, Infosys and Cognizant based out of India, the indigenous usage of IT services still has lot to be desired. eGovernance is barely noticeable. The much talked about UID/Aadhar scheme is also plagued with issues. Should this not be fixed?

Every time I visit north India in summers, the only thing noticeable is lack of power supply. Power cuts extending up to 14-15 hr. is daily norm. and this is power crisis seen in many big cities, and if this is the state is so called metro cities, what would be the condition in tier 2-tier 3 cities? People manage to survive somehow by using inverters as well as generators. People are generating power at home with the subsidized diesel. Close to 300 million people don’t have access to power. Many years back there was news that government would help bring down the cost of CFLs, but till date nothing really has happened. There are options of renewable energy usage in terms of solar or wind energy. However the ROI on these still makes them difficult for common man to use them at home (except for solar water heater). If you watch National Geographic or Discovery channels, they have programs showing mega factories or extreme engineering and how people out there are breaking existing paradigms of construction and making new construction more green, more environment friendly at the same time breaking new records like that of tallest sky scrapers. I happened to visit a mega township project called Life republic near Hinjewadi, Pune and was surprised to find no plans of any green innovation in that project. Shouldn’t such mega projects be forced to invest in green innovation? Should this not be fixed?

Tourism helps boosts Country’s image and also helps bring in foreign exchange. In today’s world people have started to get past a country’s boundaries and started to travel abroad frequently. No wonder there are plethora of travel vendors all over India. But are we doing enough to attract tourists to India? A typical ‘family’ travel to European, American or Australian destinations costs around $ 4500 (give or take a few hundred dollars). Interestingly the Maharaja Express from India Railways costs upwards of $6500 "per person". If that's not exorbitant, then what is? One of the best books tourists use to get information for almost any place is the lonely planet series. Surprisingly I haven’t found a similar equivalent book of Indian origin for India. Should this not be fixed?

Lack of good roads and regular traffic jams, lack of power with no significant plans for the future, lack of proper education, lack of primary medical care, lack of appropriate police force… there is no end of what’s lacking. Are we spending in the right places? I had good fortune to talk to one of India’s top shooters and was surprised to know the almost negligible support the players get from the government. Most medal winners are like miracle stories and have won on their own sheer determination. Only aspect the committees and chairperson of such bodies are worried about is their own tenure and not about what they during this tenure. Should this not be fixed?

The big media houses also many times end up appearing more fighting to the first one to telecast some news rather than the fact that they just need to bring the news to common man. Lot of news today is driven by its newness. As time passes by, people tend to forget and media pushes such stories to some small paragraph to some internal page in the paper. Would it not make sense for media industry to collaborate and create a portal which captures most significant news items and court cases and provide regular updates?

As I keep digging into newspaper I am surprised with how little good is there to talk about. I am sure there are good things happening. In a country this big, there are tons of innovations happening. But they don’t seem to make headlines. Even if they do, the people behind them disappear quickly. We seem to be a funny country. Here soldiers sacrifice their lives for the freedom of the country and get country’s highest bravery awards but their windows have to run from pillar to post to get their due. Here people cannot tolerate Authors or Movie Makers or people slapping their leaders or even harmless couples celebrating Valentine’s day, but are OK when someone like Kasab kills many in cold blood waging war against country and then sits in special protection cell incurring expenses running into crores coming from tax payer’s hard earned money. It will probably take a country wide awakening and movement to put things right.

I could go on and on, but that’s not the point. The point simply is that “we deserve” more than good roads and continuous water and power and it is time “we fixed it”.

My 2 cents on Reserved Instance Billing and Savings

If you are using Azure Virtual Machines (VMs), you have an option of using Azure Reserved Instance (RI) VMs instead. Microsoft (MS) claims ...