How over-regulations are killing Uber, Ola and stifling public convenience in India?

Shame, Sham and Shady 

I literally dread leaving office in the evening (not that I love being in the office late ;)) as I can’t push people around and beg / request / plead auto-wallas to ferry me home. Certainly, I do not seek a free ride but then there is desire of auto-walla to ferry passengers at least 10 kms to make a killing for the time they have spent idling outside offices for want of “long-distance” passenger. Yes, as per rule book auto-wallas can’t say no but I believe, I have only heard “No”.
Anyways, my hubby dear comes with a chest thumping idea of booking radio cabs in the morning itself for the day’s evening return from office. I told him it’s futile but knowing him he insisted and took upon himself to arrange for one. First day, Meru took the booking but in the evening declined that no cab is available – underlying reason being that no cab is willing to ferry for a distance of 3 kms. Anyways, the second day, he tried again and voila, Meru sent a cab. He was elated with joy and self-praise, insisting that I should be more planned etc..etc… etc to make life comfortable. Well, I board the Meru cab and at the end of the ride, I am asked to pay around Rs 220 (don’t remember exact no.) for 2.5 km ride. I was really sad and discussed the same with Meru’s customer care. I was informed that I have used service of Meru flexi and as per regulation minimum charge is Rs 200. I informed my hubby and he also raised this issue, went on social media, wrote an email to transport department, highlighting that we asked for a simple Meru and never for Meru Flexi (we were not even aware what is a Meru flexi service). Meru's call centre people reverted that flexi service is for short distance travel.

Well upon research, we realized that this “Meru Flexi” service is primarily designed for outside city travel; hence there is a minimum fare of Rs 200. Seems innocuous and logical but then how it is being misused to loot gullible passengers (recently my hubby was duped in Delhi by Meru Flexi – You can’t refuse taxi at last minute – always a trade-off miss the flight / train or take the flexi cab). Meru is smartly using this “Flexi” service for intra-city travel and more specifically for short hauls and making a killing. Which driver will not like to be paid Rs 200 for 2-3 kms ride? The language on Meru’s website reads as follows: “Cabs will get allocated for trips purely based on availability. Priority will be given to the Meru Cabs under Radio Taxi License”.

Questions that I am forced to think about:
  • Are regulators not aware of such pits-falls? If they can’t think then why do we go through such elaborate regulatory regime and spend tax-payers money?
  • Why can’t there be a simple directive that if taxi is used for intra-city travel, normal fleet cab charges will be made applicable?
  • Is there a bigger game at play?

Anyways, this is not the end of story. Rather, this is just the beginning.

What’s the Shame:
To upstage this collusion & super-normal profits made by fleet cabs (nearly Rs 27 per kms as against Rs 10-20 per kms charged by app-based cab services), market forces came to play in form of Uber, Ola etc. However, this is not acceptable to Maharashtra Government and they have now decided to “Regulate” such app-based cab services. Link to relevant news article is-

What’s the Sham:
What has government achieved by Regulating Auto, Kaali-peeli, Meru, Tab etc? All are making super-normal profit and a total chaos on the road. Ask a normal citizen and he/she will have their own daily agony of not being able to get an auto. I myself have waited for even an hour with more than 20-30 “empty” autos / taxis passing by but no one is willing to take the passenger for a short distance or over-charge for long distance.

Where is law enforcement, where are regulators and where are government agencies when the normal citizen is being “tortured” on a daily basis. However, now when Ola & Uber are growing on unprecedented pace – due to systematic failure – regulators are coming into the picture on one or other pretext.

Or, is there a bigger game? Who owns maximum autos, taxis and contracts with fleet cabs? Are these government officials, locals, friends etc or there are some other gains? If not, then why such forced regulation
What’s Shady:
Why are the market forces not allowed to play out? Ask any driver of these fleet cab and you will hear a sordid tale wherein they have to pay ~Rs 1,300 per day. Why are such hefty charges are allowed to be recovered from poor drivers? Why not regulate their working hours? Why not ensure their quality of life? Why these regulations were created which are actually hurting public then providing better services? No one is challenging measures related to public safety such as driver verification etc but such regulation as are being designed are killing market forces. Is it not against the ethos of procurement process adopted by GoI or as a matter of fact any state government? Then why public is not allowed to take the similar advantage of competition?

I would request you all to ponder on each of the questions and act upon the same to ensure that we get better and economical services. If Political parties think that we are voting-minority then let them think this way “only” till next elections. 

Film Preview- Talvar, another take on Ayushi Murder Case- Must Watch

Films are a quintessential part of our lives. We love, love and laugh with them. They not just entertain us but often help us see different perspectives. 

For often, what we see, may not be true. However, sometimes it is important to explore perspectives that are not visible yet exists, voices that are not heard but important to know and feel emotions that may not belong to us but touch our hearts.

One such perspective is promised to offered in the upcoming film- Talvar.

Talvar is a different take of perspective on the in-famous Ayushi Talvar Case. Ayushi, a young girl who was gone just too early. 

Ayushi murder/death case had rocked the media and people alike. It was a heartbreaking incident, surrounded with mystery, agony and numerous speculations. So much that critically acclaimed director- Bosky Gulzar, daughter of legendary film writer- Gulzar and yesteryear Actress Rakhi, and who is known for making strong, women oriented films took upon this subject and made- Talvar the Film. When we were invited to watch the exclusive preview of the soon to be released movie- Talvar, we couldn't resist to watch. Here's what our friend and film critic, B Ghosh has to tell about it. No spoilers alert ahead!

Talvar, the Film and a little insight
Talvar, is not yet another story regarding Arushi murder case. It is also India's one of the famous and unsolved murder mystery. The beginning of this year saw the release of 'Rahasya' directed and written Manish Gupta, again based on the same story. The film was though well-made, but it didn't work out at the box office, critics notwithstanding. While Rahasya was more of a claimed fiction and shown a different perspective, Talvar is altogether a different perspective and worth watching.

Talvar stars Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi and Sohum Saha in lead roles. Irrfan and Konkona as usual has done a fabulous work. Irrfan proves again that he is a class of an actor, an on screen delight and holds the movie till the end. The other actors including the supporting cast have done a fabulous job as well. The director Meghana Gulzar [Bosky] has done a wonderful job, showcasing a real plot with a different angle. For we knew about the different opinions and notions surrounding around this "famous unsolved case". When we entered the screening room, we went with a different perspective but post the film screening, we got to know something beyond the visible reality. It also explores little workings inside the Indian intelligence agencies and their investigations. The movie also touches matters of internal politics, success and fame, and much more that would appeal to your thinking hats.

You may find the first half of the movie too normal or little slow. However, the second half is quite gripping and nail biting. The most amazing part is that it will leave you thinking, even when you are leaving the theater - If that, what actually may have happened? Was it real and actually has happened? and much more. You will be shocked of our police and investigation system, what they have done in this case. 

Verdict- Talvar goes on to depict how office politics, professional rivalries and media coverage can influence the course of justice. Talvar is the movie to be watched by everyone [class and mass]. Especially those who have been following this case from years and have an eye for seeing things from a different angle. If you have skipped following this case or never heard of it, it offers as an interesting murder mystery. I am wishing all the very best for team Talvar. I hope public will do justice with this movie as well.

The movie releases on 2nd October. Do go ahead and book yourself a seat. 
You can watch the Trailer here-


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Gen Transferkers with Tata Sky

Life is a Television daily soap. Unfortunately you cannot change the channels or have a commercial break without not losing the plot.

Losing the plot? Well no one like to lose plot even if a family drama turns into suspense thriller or saga of " kaun banega 5th pati".

Nothing touches our lives more than television and we so much love its sense and nonsense-iblities that we are hooked to it.

And so is our family with their divergent taste and read carefully their diverse television viewing needs.


 So if your home,  looks like a warfront like mine, during prime time, read this on...

How television sets us together and set us apart

Every morning, my daddy wants to watch market news followed by his list of serials from Gotham to The Mentalist, till the noon when Tanhai telecast on Zindagi TV. His love for Jia in the series supercedes the one for daughter, who wants to watch Dr Adil, when her father is watching "Person of Interest". Another interesting person is her brother who can watched movies anytime.

Result? Entertainment War at home front.

Damn all Goosy serials have to come in same slot. Including taking commercial break at same time. Yes you can record but how long can you watch? You need something more than recorder and that is Tata Sky Transfer

To know more about Tata Sky Transfer, check their website.

Along the Cusp

Along the fence door,
at each side,
there was a road.

A hilly terrain
flushed and kissed
by rain

and the greens grown in all moss.
All most in the uniform semblance
the roads had a poetic resemblance

One lead to the sky,
through the meadows.
And other ending up to maybe
to the wooden window.

The window between the woods and stone
windows, which I call home

Would you stay back in the confines,
in the comfort of your place and dine?
Or take on a journey of unknown
a quixotic walk to auroral sky

Between your unborn dream and to definite
the boundary stood still
a wooden enclosure, a barn gate
doesn't matter who built it
what counts is if you can open the same.

explore the world and
return back to your den.

I wrote this poetry within 20 minutes basis the picture prompt from the Magpie Tales. The thoughts expressed here were the very first thing that came to my mind. In case, if something doesn't fit the bill or something that you liked, I would be happy to hear from you.

Of Creative Writing, Awards and Celebrating Blogging

I may not know from where to start, but I faintly remember when I started.

It all started when an uncle of mine gifted me a beautiful dictionary- Collin’s Co-build. He bought that for me along with many books from the legendary Higginbotham's stores in Chennai. He came to see the ailing daughter of his business partner who has just returned home after 10 months stay in Jaipur Hospital. At that time, he just came to offer condolence but he ended up making a friend in his friend’s daughter and on his next visit, gifted her some interesting books to read.

That dictionary remained the most cherished gift of my life. It helped that little girl, me to build her vocabulary, learn interesting words and soon she started playing with words, not as pun but poetry. Yes, it was summer of 95 when I chose to withdraw myself away from the friends who made a mockery of my leg or lack of it, until they drifted apart themselves over insecurity and inner competitions. I chose to make new friends; I chose to make friends with poetry and words.
Words never fail you. It is us, who fails the words, maybe

I was young and enthusiastic then, full of ideas, full of causes. I started learning 5-6 words a day from my Collins Co-build dictionary and a little encouragement from my renowned English Tuition teacher who said I do not need coaching in English but should not claim a seat that a weak student may require. I couldn’t tell her that I heard a lot about her and wanted to learn more her. I guess she understood my love for the language that was pushing me to spend more time with it. Mrs Papparao admitted me to her elite classes of English, where almost all top students of my batch attended. She divided all the students in to two batches- One slot of weaker students and other for not so weaker. Off course, she allotted me in latter batch. I was happy for her trust in my ability; it was indeed moré than what I had.

I started weaving poetries from my words. My words that I would learn from English dictionary and write all of them behind the used old computer paper prints that my dad would bring for me to write scrap. I would write my poems on them and treated them dear. They were indeed dear. They gave wings to my words and thus I started writing poetry.

Such was my love for English literature that my first lecture in college turned out to be of English Subject. The chapter was on Pele and I fell in love with My English teacher Mrs. Shyamla Nair.
Mrs Shyamala Nair met Mrs. Papparao and once again I started romancing my favorite subject- English language. Maybe it was my love for her that I would never want to miss her class. Or maybe it was my love for creative writing, for Yeats, Wordsworth and more.

As Asher Roth once sang- the world is never enough for us. [James Bond]

Writing and Awards

Somehow my love affair with poems stopped in between my graduation and post graduation years. It is only in MBA 1st year that on the insistence of my professor I sat for a “creative writing” contest and was amused to win 2nd prize. Yes, it was my first official prize. I have won few elocution awards in schools but again they were the contest I participated on spur of the movement when my school house leaders won’t find enough participation and urge me to speak, even though I would be the one who wouldn’t have prepared a word in the entire competition.  I spoke with heart and still do. And that is what drew me to Blogging after a long hiatus, in the year 2008 when I wrote my first post for this blog. Yes my lord, this blog.

Celebrate blogging with Creative Writing

Writing was a freedom that set me free from daily agonies. When I said I spoke with my heart and still do, I was not boasting about self but revealing what influences my style. I poured my heart when I learnt about Curry bashing, about on Gitanjali who committed suicide due to social ostracism on her disability and also gave my unique tribute to Legendary Singer Michael Jackson. 

Not just social, political, celeb issues, I poured my heart with humor when I wrote about the brides wanted and “ Chetan Bhagat, 3 idiots meets Farmville, twitter and Khanna Aunty”. I thought humor, they said sarcasm and we made satire with economics writing "changeOnomics". When I poured my heart over as many different subjects, why leave my first love poetry behind? Hence, I also wrote poems and Haikus. You thought creative writing is only about reviewing books? Then numerounity reviewed books, wrote on food, movies, Aam Animal party, Murders and took her creative writing to next step when with her zero cooking skills but creativity, she made a dish for Masterchef Vikas Khanna and won his heart too :)

And thank you all of you to also like my take on- celebrity Endorsements.

The beauty of the writing is that it doesn’t confine you in a boundary; it rather sets you free. That is the beauty of writing, blogging, inspiring and networking. Thus, I proudly #celebrate Blogging

Blogging, My best friend

Blogging never let me down, it never failed me. It understood me and stood by my side. Blogging is the honest companion, honest master and absolute honest employee that engaged me even when I was lost, alone and heartbroken.

WIN with Blogadda

Circa 2013, many things started changing in blogging. From the write and inspire, it started moving largely through networking. Yes, your voice needs to be heard, to prevent it from becoming noises. I cannot tell you the joy when a stranger tells you- I love your writings. It inspires me and motivates me to see life outside my comfort zone thinking.

Today I have another blog- haute kutir which is primarily a lifestyle blog. It is blogging that made me meet beautiful minds around the world, around the cities I traveled and lived in. From Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Nagpur, NCR, Mumbai and other cities, some of my fondest memories are purely surrounded with my blogs.

Blogging seen a few lows too. Work pressure, time constraints prevented me to write. And if it was not enough, pseudo-blogging took precedence. From productive networking, it started becoming – “scratch my back and I scratch yours”. I was demotivated and withdrawn.

And then in true Munnabhai MBBS style- Ek Din Blog mohalle mein Blogadda WIN aayi [One day Blogadda came]. It announced a one of its kind blog awards and I was smitten. My joy saw no bound when I saw my blog shortlisted for “Best Blogs in Creative Writing”. Alas, I could not win the award that time and was very bitter and heartbroken. When I gathered myself, I realized how the nomination and appreciation, per se were my best prize.

Circa 2015, Blogadda announced chapter two for WIN and much to my surprise my Blog is re-nominated in “best creative Writing award category”. Whether I win or not, I am not going to stop WIN [ning]-  i.e. Write – Inspire – Network.

Let’s #CelebrateBlogging , it is an everyday festival!

And I still think that I can save world with Rhythm and Rhyme.


5 people you would like to see in Big Boss Season 9

You may find it silly, over the top bitchy and a complete nonsense, but still you cannot ignore Big Boss, no matter how rigged you may found it.

After doing the Halla Bol in season 8, Big Boss is back with Season 9. Coming Back to TV screens soon, Big Boss Season 9 is generating all the necessary interests and eyeballs like never before. With speculations rife about Bollywood Actor Salman Khan hosting this season to guessing the new inmates, Big Boss is in news, [again] for all the right reason. And yes, if sources to be believed, our favorite host will be doing this season again.

While a lot of contestants like ex Housing CEO Rahul Yadav, Shweta Prasad and Rashmi Desai have confirmed their participation, there's lot of guesswork that is going around the "soon to be revealed" contestants, here's sharing a lost of Top 5 contestant that a lot of us would love to watch in Big Boss Season 9-

1) Arvind Kejriwal - This political motor mouth who loves to give Dharna at every given notion and loves to call all corrupt, will make a great contestant at BB house. Given his tongue in cheek replies, muffler man antics and calling everyone a culprit, he will make a great contestant who may give Big Boss some sleepless nights and surge in TRPs.

2) Indrani Mukherjea - Her name needs no introduction anymore. The newsmaker who grabbed all possible news line in last 2 weeks for allegedly murdering her daughter from first marriage, who was seeing the son of her 3rd husband from his first marriage, with help from her second husband, is stuff that high voltage, spicy, TRP attracting dramas are made of. I am sure Big Boss will spend the entire season about finding her relationship tree, while laughing away to the bank. She could probably become a source of inspiration for women who are unable to find a husband for self or learning the art of changing husbands, with better [read richer] at every change.

3) Hamza Abbasi- If you watch tv and do not know who Hamza Abbasi is, you must be kidding me. Hamza is the actor who played lead role in Zindagi superhit, recently concluded and highly popular drama- Pyare Afzal. It is not just Hamza but if you pick any character from that serial, they will sure to garner good eye-balls and entrust interest in the season 9. Oh he did a remarkable job and have become the national favorite over his Pakistani counterpart - Fawad khan, who incidentally was female heart-throb wherein Hamza had received huge appreciations from different TGs alike.

4) Radhe Ma- God woman or "Goud woman", Radhey Ma has become a popular household name post the recent controversy which started with her wearing Red skirt? Err no may be allegations from ex-devotees including Dolly Bindra or the dowry case filed by one of the disciples. The source is irrelevant, but the matter is important. If not for anything else, at least for spiritual well-being of the locked in-mates, Radhey ma would be one ideal contestant. With her Trident off course. 

5) Caitlyn Jenner- Or Bruce Jenner would make for an interesting contestant in the "firang mate" entry. Jenner who broke the Internet with her sex change act, may also fit the bill of trans-gender candidate in the show. As might well, a consolation for Kim Kardashian who could not make in last season?

Source: Vanity Fair

Geisha on the Wall

Peonies, William Merritt Chase, 1897

There was a painting on his wall
Of a woman in Red robe
sitting ahead a flower vase
a round brass vase with fresh peonies.

The bright white peonies
that bloomed outside the vase
ensconced in glory
and I guess they smelt well.

The painting was of a little geisha
a lovely, dainty little geisha
with an enchanting fan in her hand
that welcome all the visitors in the hallway

One day he came home before his usual time,
a little early than he always does
and was surprised to see the painting on the wall
he saw something that was unheard

the usual smiling geisha portrait
that looked at all visitors with her eyes enchanted

was sitting towards the beautiful peonies
bouncing, booming in its floral glories.
She stepped back to smell the flowers

Ah! such a sweet joy of life
when you take a moment in time
and step back to cherish the beautiful flowers
that are around you.

How I Survived my Food Fix with Ketchup, Bhujia and Maya Akka

When West met South
her heart came to her mouth
Food you never thought can cause you such ache
Wanna know my Food fix Experience at Southern Landscape?

Well, you would have heard many stories about the rift between north and south. Trust me if food sets you apart, it also brings you closer. I am a living example that multi-cuisine dreams are made of. 

A little about me before you laugh over my food fix
I am a Rajasthani born in Bihar, brought up in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Bengal and Chattisgarh. Did my graduation in Nagpur, post graduation in Chennai and have lived in cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Gurgaon, Mumbai to name a few. My upbringing was done in midst of fierce Punjabis , bengalis and Marwadis. Care you ask me about my food habit and I would say- ummm, ummm and even bigger..ummmmm. 

South India is not just Tamil Nadu and South Indian Food is not Just Masala Dosa or Idly
I was very fond of south Indian food. Every Sunday, my mom would either make hot piping idlis or Masala Dosa. The Foodie me was a meager eater until I started living in hostel. My first stay away from home was at Nagpur and I kinda survived the food served in my hostel with a bottle of pickles that will get over as soon I open them in hostel mess. Vada pav, Maggi and Samosa at College Canteen helped me survive my Nagpur sojourn. The real trouble began when I decided to stay in Chennai for my MBA

It was then I realized that South Indian food is not just about Masala Dosai and Idlis. There is- Tahir Sadam, Sambhar Sadam, Rasam Appalam, Appam, Pongal, Patachaddy, Dosai, Avial, Kesari bath and more. And if your college and Hostel is a home for students from Kerela, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry, expect to either transform or survive like I did.

Another feather in my cap- I was vegetarian who didn't like eating coconut oil. And I was in Chennai for 2 years of my MBA, on-campus, full-time, with people who called Parantha as either Parotha or barotha.

Food and Murphy's law
In our college, there was a fixed time for breakfast, lunch, evening tiffin and dinner.  If you are late, forget the food and sit through lectures where one of the guys who sits behind you and burps loudly. I was sharing my room with 4 other girls who, were though doing their MS but were fascinated with their beauty, make-up and a secret course in bath-room singing, delaying me every day for class.

My college building was the farthest in the campus and I wonder how the mom's of day scholars could send them so hungry that they will finish off all the breakfast available on campus minutes before the classes begin. 

To sum up my food woes-
1) Always late for hostel breakfast
2) Elaborate lunch thalis wherein I have to walk Kms to reach Lunch hall crossing the man made river and valley [yes you need to be at Jeppiar to see that] to eat a thali that would be full of food variety that you neither have heard of nor could comprehend the name ever.
3) Being forced to eat a food that neither suit my palate, nor had any taste and would have seem to come from Planet Pluto.
4) If by mistake some decent food dared to enter hostel canteen, it would be immediately pounced upon and devoured by over enthusiast foodies who couldn't envisage the existence of other students who too would have liked to have a bite
5) Vegetarians ate vegetarian food, but non-vegetarian ate both and larger in numbers.

In short- I was screwed by Food fix at Chennai hinterland.

How I overcome my foodfix
Necessity is the mother of all innovation. 
Movements outside college were restricted and even though I took special study permission to my cousin's house in IIT Madras for weekends, I still have to suffer my food fix for rest 6 days a week. 

Since I was the cousin of one of the well-known innovators in Indian telecom, innovation was my only armor to overcome my food fix and how. Away from prying eyes of my health conscious cousin, I picked up packets of haldiram bhujiya, Tomato ketchup, Monaco Biscuits and stocked them near my hostel bed.

I have begun to like Sambhar Rice but only with Appalam. It took me few minutes to convince few girl gangs to help me hoard "ever out of stock" appalams and I was sorted. With great help from my comrades AKA Ketchup, Appalam and Bhujiya, I started having my dinner and holiday lunch at hostel. Evenings would be taken cared with bhujiya and sauce spread on bread. The morning Dosais at hostel remained a challenge.

And that is when my Local rajnikanth Maya Akka Came in!

Maya Akka was one of the female staff of the college. Tall, dark, well built, she was apparently the much respected employee. There was another beautiful trait to her- she was quite kind.

Soon my stories of food adventure with ketchup, bhujiya went viral across the campus. No thanks to my room mates who wondered how can I eat everything with bhujiya and sauce, Also, my class fellow boys who would help me buy my stock from city. It was all discrete by the way, as our chairman firmly believed in-

Girl girl jingle- is okay
Boy boy mingle- is okay
But if a girl and boy jingle and mingle- not okay

No rule ever said that Maya Akka could not save food for me though. Knowing my food woes, she would always keep some food for me from breakfast stall and hand me over as soon I would step to my college building. She ensured that I do not go miss my breakfast on college days and would always be around the lunch hour to serve me more appalams with rice and Sambhar.

It was only because of a little help from Tomato sauce, bhujiya, appalam and gracious kindness from Maya Akka, did I survived my campus food fixed. My love for bhujiya went so viral that my room mate Darshana fondly named me - Hhaldiram Bhujiya, given my Bhujiya surviving skills, I appeared like a packet of Bhujiya to her who like others could not understand that how can I eat everything with ketchup and Bhujia. Hahaha

My food fix continued a little further when I started working for IIT Madras at their Adyar office wherein the lunch menu would be keerai rice, lemon rice, curd rice, tamarind rice and Masala Dosa. No point for guessing what a\few colleagues of mine named me at workplace basis my usual order of food ;)

By the way, today South Indian food is one of my favorite cuisines and I have finally fixed it :)

So if you come across a situation
Loaded with gourmet tribulation
do not cry foul,
instead get started with Tiny OWL


I have shared this memoir for "Food tales with Tiny owl" in association with Indiblogger

Do check out Tiny owl and who knows it may help you fight/overcome your food fix.

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