Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Tuesdays with Morriee - Book review

The book I am going to talk about today is not some ordinary book for me. It is special because it was gifted to me by one of the compassionate friends and a beautiful human being - Riddhi Naik.

When I first saw the book, I could not make out what the book was about. Tuesdays with Morrie -  All I could make out was that, the book was about some person named Morrie. I felt it to be just another delightful book. But I was partially wrong. The book is not just another book.
If you go to some book shop, you may find this book in the "self help" section. But in my opinion this isn't a typical self help book which talks about getting rich and being successful. It is about living life.
This book is about the Tuesdays that Mitch Albom, the author of the book spent with an old man named Morrie, a patient of ALS and his teacher in college days. Morrie knew he was going to die and wanted to make best out of the time he has. One of the finest lines in the book is
Once you know how to die, you know how to live.
Mitch asks question to his beloved teacher about various aspects of life like money, family, relations etc. Morrie gives his answers. His answers count more than any of us because he knows he is to die. So his perspective of life is drastically different from what we see. 
Unique part of this book is the way it is presented. It is presented as a curriculum of life. And each aspect as a lesson. Mitch talks about class of life where there were no grades and only oral exams where one was expected to ask question to teacher.
This book is must read for those who feel that they have too many troubles in life. If you are one of those who gets affected emotionally every now and then, this book has something for you. In fact this book has message from everyone of us and everyone of us can relate themselves to this book.
But if you are one of those who just don't care about anything, who believe that life is a game and we should play it without bothering about relations and values, you may find this book "philosophical". It takes a thoughtful mind to really appreciate what the book is trying to convey. 

What not to do on social networks.

Social networks are ubiquitous. They have established its presence in every nook and corner of lives, including the time we spend in bathrooms (thanks to those small boxes called mobile/tablets). People have become comfortable sharing personal matters on social networks. While being extrovert helps in knowing more people, make contacts, earn reputation etc. there are things you need to look out at.

I personally use two social networks Facebook and Google+. I am planning to start using LinkedIn to make some professional contacts and twitter to find people who share similar hobbies as mine.

I use social networks not only to chat or know people but also to understand people.

Your social profile reflects you!  
Keep above line engraved in your brain. Here I will talk about few things that you should not do and why.

They are social networks, not your personal diary.  

Some guest has come to your home. Do you reveal all the personal matter about you to them? Will you tell them about your row with your spouse or show them your snaps that you took randomly and other trivial stuff? Sensible answer would be no.
You should not reveal anything more than you would when you see some guest at your home. Social Networks are for socializing. Not plastering everything you have on your mind.

Think before you act.

Liking, commenting and sharing can destroy your reputation before whole world including your employer, relatives and anyone who is a part of online world in general. Recently, I came across a profile of one of the "intelligent" students. By intelligent, I just mean he scores good marks and does nothing else other than studies. My intention here is not to criticize anyone. If you are scoring good and have a reputation of intelligent student, sensible posts are expected from you. If your entire page is full of links and makes no sense, it will surely tarnish your image. Even if those links are not obnoxious, it still tarnishes your image. Look at the screen shot and you will know what I mean to say.

Just imagine if the entire Facebook wall is filled with this  kind of random and promotional stuff, how would it look? Imagine that your prospective employer sees your wall, what will he think? To me, such behaviour is irritating and no matter what that person score I assume that he has low IQ.  Posting link on Facebook about "buy two get one free" for any random product which is not yours is insane.
While this is just an example, there can be many other ways in which people behave in more irritating way. For example, posting tangential remarks about something that had happened. Why do you want to put it there?

Likes can be problems

When you like a page or anything else, you vote for it. You say that you share the similar option as that of original post. Same is the case with sharing something on social network. I have seen people liking the pages like "Dost ko thanks bolta hai" which translates in English as "You say thanks to your friend even!". People (usually teenagers and youth) gets carried away by such lines and like them without looking at what those page are actually about. At times it turns out that these pages share certain things which might not be acceptable socially. This can hamper your image.
I know that one should take a chill pill and don't take social networks very seriously. But everyone won't except your flamboyant behaviour.
How do you use social networks? What is your opinion about it?

Monday, 15 July 2013

Cultivating habits - 30 Days challenge

We all know how fast our life has been. So fast that we can't take a break to ponder about developing a new habit. We are governed by so many external factors, reaching to office on time, coming back home in a gush because some unexpected guest has come up, again going to office if some emergency turns up. Even if we assume that we are not going to have any emergency and reflect over our typical routine that we follow, we may realize that we simply vegetate. We just pass out day without doing anything that is different and new. We find it frightening to learn new language or to develop new habit to go for a walk each morning. Similarly we find it impossible to give up old habits. Like habit of biting nails, it just happens.

There is a simple formula to change or create new habit. At same this this formula would add some spice to your monotonous life. Well this isn't a formula, its a concept - 30 Days challenge. I came across this wonderful thing when I was reading Matt Cutt's Blog. Matt works with the search quality team at Google.

Here is the Ted's Video that was recently done, where he talks about 30 days challenge.


When you will take up something new every 30 days you will get a chance to try your hands on things that interest you. It does not matter if you master it or not. Just do it. If you will enjoy it, you will make it a part of your "routine". Else you will abandon it after 30 days. But you will add new ideas to your mind.

Two challenges that I took:

  1. Read 10 new words for 30 days.
  2. Learn photography for 30 days.
I still add new words to my lexion each day. It has become a routine now. Photography is a new hobby. I don't do it everyday but yes I do it everynow and then. Note that I click things just because it pleases me and not because I want to master it. But if I continues to do it for long period, I may get a good grip.

You can find some ideas for challenge here.

Tell me which challenges you are going to take up.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Ultimate guide to be safe on internet.

Internet is no longer a luxury. It has become part of our day to day life. With advent of social networks, it has more or less become our basic need. We almost share everything on internet that we usually used to do verbally with the friends next door only when they meet. Communication has become easy. Staying in touch just demands one smart phone.

This new era of web has given many businesses an access to the target audience. Internet brings the relevant consumers at the doorstep of the business products. But among ethical online business and websites there are tons of touts and cheaters who want to scam you. Touts are there in offline world too. But in case of online sphere, one should be extra careful. It is because they are showing what they want to show. You don't know what is behind the curtains. All the information available is not always true. Some sites are misleading and some are created to make fool out of you. Thanks to social networks, such sites spread too fast. WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) does not apply to internet world. 

Recently I got my hands on bunch of resumes of few people whom I know. Under computer skills label, they had written "facebook". I too aback. I asked them how can they write that. I mean, Facebook is not some skill. They said that they know it and so they can write. Well no problem wit that concerning part is the way people think about internet. There are millions of people who use internet. But I think there are very less people who actually know what they are exactly doing on internet. Some people assume that everything on the internet is free. Some people believe that everything on internet is safe. They fundamentally and technically do not understand internet.

Why is it important to understand internet?

It is so just because you should know what that site is doing. I am not saying that you need to be a pro programmer and understand the code. But one should know certain basic things. For example, emails accounts usually gets compromised using phishing. But if one bother to see the url of the page each time they put in the password, this would not happen. Such small things can protect you from big attacks.

Here are the things that you should be aware about so that you can protect yourself from being fooled. 

What you see is NOT always what you get.

Be little more careful when you come across some new site or service. If they are asking for your email Id and other personal details stay away from it unless you are sure it is safe. Get the review from the people who have already used that service.


We all want to make money and get rich. We all want a cash cow or a duck that lays golden egg. Many are too desperate for this and touts know this pretty well. They know this weakness and they also know how to use it for their advantage. They would throw at you very "cool" offer that you would take up instantly without giving second thought about it being legit. This happens because the way they present their scam and you just start dreaming about being rich, just to get poor.

Identifying the scam

That is easy. If someone promises something that is too good - it is a scam. Further, accept the fact that there is no easy money. Not online at least.

Your reputation and social networks.

Always be careful before you share anything on such networks. Remember that it is going to be seen by all your relatives and friends. If you click something that you don't know and something "dirty" gets shared you will really damage your reputation. I remember, once it happened with one of the person I know,there was a video on Facebook which said  "dare to watch this". That person dared and many nasty stuff got shared in his name. So whenever someone encourages you to click on something, refrain from doing that.

Here is a short video I did few months back for my other blog which explains how spam gets spread in your name.

After seeing this video, you would know why you should not follow the instructions blindly without knowing what exactly is happening.

Downloads and related problems.

Almost every website is free to access. There are sites that provide quality information for free. But that does not mean that everything on the internet is free. There are many things that gets distributed for free on internet are actually being done illegally. If you are one of those who downloads movies, songs, games and software from internet for "free" you may find yourself in legal trouble. Because such things are not free, they are illegal distributed and you are part of that illegal and unethical acts.

Such downloads may also infect your computer and can lead to leakage of some personal information from your computer. So never do it.

Getting known to strangers

When you are online you may come across many people from around the globe. Most of them are good people and some are APPARENTLY good people. Be careful from latter ones. So before you share any personal detail with people online take sometime to know them. Who they are? What do they do? I do talk to many people whom I have never seen. But I am sure that they are not malicious. Never be friends to random people. Avoid using "chat with strangers" site. Even if you use it, never share any detail about yourself with them. Not even you name.

Mind your language

You do have a right to give voice to your thoughts. But some people may not like what you have say. They may sue you, harass you or sometimes even worse. Especially if you are hurting religious sentiments or doing any personal attack or if you are defaming some venerated personality, you can be in hot waters. If you are ready to face the consequences, move on. But know the depth of water first.

Recently two girls were arrested just because they updated their Facebook status which some people did not like. You may find the story here.

Health related sites can make you go to hospital

Always be careful with sites that give tips about your health. If you are not sure about the authority and qualification of the site owner, don't follow what it says. That advise can harm your health. There are so many weight loss site mushrooming out there. But all are not worth following. I personally believe that one should always consult doctor if needed rather than using internet.

Whenever you are using internet, don't be over casual. Be alert. You never know where the trap is and when you may fall in it.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Review: Ajay Modi Yatra (0 km)

Recently I had been on the tour to Kashmir. We were three families (11 members). We chose Ajay Modi's touring service so that life can be easy there. I stay at Ahmedabad, Gujarat,India. But officially our tour was supposed to start from Delhi. We reached to Delhi on 11th November 2012. Next day morning we were supposed to fly to Srinagar. 

Before I share details about the specific areas of tour I would give out the over all feeling of the tour. It was poor to moderate. Tour arrangement was far from what I had expected.

No matter where we plan to go, there are certain areas which one would expect to be satisfactory. Here I discuss my experience with Ajay Modi Yatra services.


Place where breakfast was being prepared.
Overall quality of food was not so good. There are reasons why I am saying this. I am Gujarati and I eat Gujarati food everyday. When I go for the tour to Kashmir I do expect to have the Kashmiri delicacies. I understand that most of the Kasmiri food is non veg but still they can serve us with some sensible variety. It can be okay if they serve Gujju stuff once in a while but all seven days is heights. I was shocked to see Fafda-Jalebi and Sev khamani there in Kashmir. Just to tell you that I had an ice cold fafda. 

It seems they are focusing on quantity rather than quality. There were always myriad of  items to eat, all being gujju. I would rather prefer to have 1 quality Aloo Paratha. I still remember the taste of those parathas that I had on the way to Srinagar Airport. That is what I call the quality food.

Only good item was Khakra with ghee and tea/coffee. They provided us with both the beverages. Further, we requested them to serve us with tea at 7 : 30 am when we get up. They said that we can have it at 9 am with breakfast and not before. So we had to shell around 1200/- just for tea. Usually people need tea when they get up.  

Food was flooded with oil. It was so oily that I felt little nauseated. Hygiene of food was also questionable  At Dal Lake house boat, when we entered the dining area, we were "welcomed" with garbage can full of used dishes and left over food. It was smelling. Dining area had no chairs. We had to stand and eat. Dishes were wet and unclean. Spoons dishes had traces of oil. I think they should have some proper dining hall where one can sit and eat. If you feel that my expectation were too much, I just need to remind you that we had paid for the service and they promised us that I will have excellent experience.

We had the food served by them for 2 days. Later, we shelled out money to get some good food. So we had to spent additional amount which we could have saved, had they provided quality food.

Hotels and related amenities

I would rate it as moderate. We stayed at house boat for 2 days. There was biting cold. Well this was expected. But we did expect them to serve us with heater. The house boat curator said flat no when we asked for it. Next one day we stayed at Hotel Zabarvan. It was an excellent one with good service. We purchased the food from there rather than going to Ajay Modi Rasoi. The service that Zabarvan people provided is the kind of service that I expect in the food area. Just to give you some idea about Zabarvan, service was similar to any quality restaurant like Havmor.

We also had stay at Phalgam at hotel Natraj. We had to stay in cottage there. Again a good place to stay . Experience was good. We were served with heater at Zarbarvan and Natraj. So stay at these places were comfortable and cozy. 


When we are on vacation we do expect to have some relaxation in timings. They were literally ordering us to reach at specific time. How could they?! 

Overall behavior and hospitality 

I would rate it below poor. They were pathetic in this area. People were rude. I will share one experience with you here. When I and my sister was having dinner on the first day, their manager asked me the name of my house boat. It was "Firdosh". I could not recall this name and took a moment to answer. Manager sarcastically commented "Some people even forget the name of their house boats!". 

Later the owner of house boat (who seem to have some arrangement with Ajay tours) requested us in ordering tone that we should chose to go on shikara ride with them rather than going with some other people.

I think they need to train their people to be polite and calm. They need to understand that "customer is king"


There was no guidance from their part. They gave the vehicle with driver. Driver was good nature person. But we can't use that vehicle all the time. We had to hire taxis from certain spots because of the union problems. I cannot blame tour service for this. But at least they could give proper instructions to us and driver. They should have given us a guide to assist us or a map with details about where to go.

When we  were about to leave for Gulmarg from Srinagar, their manager told us to go to Bakshistand. Obviously we expected the driver to know that place. But driver was not even aware about that place. He dropped us at some other taxi stand. The manager gave us directions to go further from Bakshistand. So we were helpless. Manager also told that he would not respond to us once we reach at Bakshistand as he would be in trouble because of horse service union. So we were literally harassed my horse union members. They misbehaved and misguided us.


There seems to be a nexus between people there. I do have my own doubts about the integrity of the people who work there for Ajay Modi's service. For example, arrangement between houseboat manager and owner. I do understand that such arrangement are necessary but it should be the advantage of tourist and not for the advantage of hotel owners.

Before you go for Ajay tours do consider my opinion seriously. I don't say its bad. I did have a good time but it did not meet my very basic expectations which any hospitality business should provide. In short, they will make all the booking and travel arrangement for you but if you are looking for quality, you may want to choose some other service.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Being good and innocent : practical perspective

Don't be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and honest people are victimized first.
- Chanakya niti 

We all know the "importance" of being good human being. In fact we all have our own opinions about it. There are people who simply want to be good just because they should. There are who are genuinely good (like my friend about who I may talk in few of the upcoming posts) and few are like me who really don't feel that it is a compulsion to be good and respond depending upon the situation.

If you belong to the last category, you probably won't find anything new in this article. But if you belong to first or second one, you ought to read it.

Being good is not a generalized idea.

At times whenever we discuss about someone (let us take me as an example), usually there are different opinions. While some may say that I am good, some may have the exact opposite opinion. This depends on their experience with me. Their experience again depends on their first impression and prejudices that I may have. So in general terms I am not so good. And am I bad? Nope!

Who that person is?

This again extends the above point. But at times there is really a deeper bias. There are people with whom you always be good no matter how much they hurt you. This relation is good. But can lead to frustration. So you may need to help your self with some bad moods gulping down the bitter things. But always keep some hope that you will always be valued. I can't ask you to change in this case because as far as I understand, it is really too difficult, if not impossible.

Taken for granted

If you feel that you are being taken for granted, it is an alarm that you need to talk. All it needs is just phone call to let them know how pathetic you are feeling. Don't expect sorry. It can create ego troubles. Remember you just need their little time. You are calling them to reach to them, not to go away from them.

Being good is not being foolish

Usually person will realize your worth at some or the other time. But there are people who are "Oh! So selfish" that they never really care about all this. They are self centered and egomaniacs. Trying to win them or be good to them is even worse than being foolish. Don't be so gullible. Think over this.

You are good then you deserve good.

I know that this is a mad and bad world but still if you are good you deserve some value. After all it is incredibly difficult to find genuinely good person.

Trust but not so much...

When you trust someone you are actually putting a rope round your neck and you believe that person will not pull the other end. But what if they pull it, even by mistake? Don't put around your neck tightly that you suffocate and quit.