Sunday, October 07, 2007

Travel to Tirupati from Chennai

Going for Lord Balaji Darshan always gives me a lot of strength, inspiration and peace of mind. The whole experience is very rejuvenating and grand.
I have earlier written on travel to Tirupati from Bangalore and I get quite a no. of response for that travelogue. I feel privileged to write on Tirupati travel and my post is on travel guidelines for Tirupati from Chennai.
There are ITDC, Tamilnadu Tourism, AP tourism and many private operator buses operating from Chennai. I have recently not traveled from private operators buses, but have heard from people that the ITDC, Tamilnadu Tourism, AP tourism are the best tour operators.
I collected info. on ITDC and APTDC and found their package as very good. To book an ITDC ticket, you need to book it at least 1-2 weeks in advance, as there is huge rush in ITDC. The ticket cost is Rs 950 and it starts at 5 am in the morning and returns to Chennai by 9.30 pm the same day.
I was not able to get the ITDC package and hence tried for AP tourism package. AP tourism package can be get in 2-3 days advance, if there is not any special occasion like Braham Mahotsav in month of September or any other special occasion.
There are 2 packages in APTDC: Rs. 850 package which starts in the morning 5 am and returns Chennai the same day by 9.30 pm. This package includes the breakfast and lunch in AP tourism restaurant.
The other package is Rs 1100, which starts at 6.45 pm in the evening and returns to Chennai the next day by 5 pm. The highlight of this package is that you can get Lord Balaji Darshan in morning hours (between 5-6 am) during the aarti. I has taken the Rs 1100 package and felt really good on having the Darshan during the aarti with lots of bells ringing, the priest chanting the holy mantra and the joy of having the Darshan as the first activity in the morning.
I traveled on 3rd of October 2007. My bus started from AP tourism office, T.Nagar , Chennai at 6.45 pm. The bus reached an AP tourism place by around 10 pm in the night. It stops at this place for the devotees to take their dinner. After around half an hour, the bus will start again and reach the AP tourism guest house by around 11.30 pm. This particular package includes accommodation in the guest house from 11.30 pm to 3.30 am.
The guest house is decent in terms of facilities and comfort. The accommodation is provided on a group basis, like if 2-3 people are traveling together, then they will get one room.
I was traveling alone, so I was sharing the room with another person, Rahul from Mumbai. But, with a single objective in mind of having the Darshan, a stranger doesn’t feel like strangers and devotees feel comfortable in sharing the room. The room is only for 4 hours, so its basically for taking some rest and getting fresh before the Darshan.
By 4.00 am we started again by a local AP tourism state bus, as the Volvos are not allowed on the hills. It takes around 1 hr to reach the temple. The tour guide, Mr. Reddy was very helpful and he explained us about having the Darshan. They have a fix place where you can keep all your belongings like cell phone, slippers etc and its very safe.
We started in the queue by around 5.15 am and it took around 1.30 hours to have the Darshan. After having, the Darshan, we came back the place where we kept our belongings. Then the laddus are distributed to the devotees. The package includes 2 laddus for each devotee; however one can take extra laddu by paying additional money which is around 55 Rs per laddu.
After the Darshan , is done the same bus returns back to the Guest house for having the breakfast. We had our breakfast and then started again by Volvo by around 9 am for visit to Padmavati temple and Kalahasti temple. The visit to this temple was completed by around 12 noon , and after that the bus started its journey back to Chennai. By around 1 pm , we reached the same place where last night he has stopped for the dinner. The passenger can take their lunch at this place. The bus finally reached Chennai by 5 pm in the evening.
The contact no. for AP tourism is 044-65439987 and the office is in Burkit Road, T.Nagar near Canara Bank. I don’t have the ITDC no. now, but you can get it by calling Chennai info at 044-24444444.
The whole journey is comfortable with good roads and nice facilities. And , whatever liitle pain is there , it gets over and transformed into joy after having the Darshan of Lord Balaji.
Please, feel free for any other info. on it and your valuable comments are always welcome.
I would also like to Thank Aditi, whom I have never met, but she was the one who asked me about info. on traveling from Chennai to Tirupati and is one of the motivating force behind writing this article.
Happy Darshan to everyone and may Lord Balaji bless all of us.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Tribute to my Class teacher - Sister Mary Deepa

I feel lucky enough to study from one of the best convent school in Bihar, Notre Dame Academy.I remember my school days, when I was a real naughty boy who loved playing pranks,making noises in the class and bursting crackers in the school bathrooms.
The sisters used to make me understand , gave punishments also a few times, but my immatured soul full of pure fun was unable to realize these learnings and take their words.
Sister Mary Deepa, was my class teacher in ninth std, who was very strict and always trying to make us undersatnd the disciplined way of living.
She always used to say " Once you go out of this school, no one will stop you doing wrongs in life and then you will miss us". I soon realized it after passing from my school and still these words always linger in my mind.
She was a strict disciplinarian with a pure soul, very hard from outside but totally soft from her heart.
She died in 2003 fighting with cancer. I write this post as a tribute from my side and Notre Dame Academy students.
Following is the excerpts on her life, taken from the website

Born: Sept. 1, 1946

Died: July 12, 2003

Sister Deepa, nee Claramma Cherian Kadaprayil, was born on September 1, 1946, in the village of Peringulam in Kerala and was baptised on September 7th, receiving the beautiful name of Clare. She soon adjusted to a large family, being the ninth child of fourteen.

She was quite a tomboy in her childhood, running around and climbing anything she could. Claramma received her education under the tutelage of the Clarist Sisters whose tender care she always felt. She was brought up in a very spiritual environment. Morning and evening prayers were a must, and Our Lady bore a central role in the family. The family members all took a turn in attending daily mass. Since the church was a distance of two miles from the home and there were duties to be taken care of, not everyone could attend on a regular basis.

During her high school years, Claramma became a member of the Mission League and of the Sodality. For some time she had her eye on the missions in the North, and despite protests to the contrary from her relatives, she wrote to Rev. Joseph Maliparampil for information about the missions. He told her about different convents, and she chose to apply to Notre Dame. On July 8th, 1963, in the company of 21 companions, she ventured north with Sisters Anima and Pratima and joined the candidacy on July 13th, 1963. She entered the postulancy on June 17th, 1965, in Jamalpur and was invested on Jan. 6th, 1966, receiving the name of Sister Mary Deepa. She made her temporary profession of vows on Jan. 6th, 1968. Later, on June 21st, 1974, she made her perpetual vows in Patna.

Sister Deepa was privileged to have a younger sister, Sister Mary Shobha, who also entered the Sisters of Notre Dame. Sister is at present on mission in Shinyanga, Tanzania, East Africa. Sister also has a Salesian priest-brother, Father Jose Kadaprayil. Both arrived in time for the burial service at which Father Jose officiated. Sister Tanuja, her niece, who is also a Notre Dame Sister, made it in time to spend the last moments with her aunt. During Sister Deepa's long period of illness, Sister Tanuja periodically visited her and was a source of consolation to her.

Sr. Deepa had been a dedicated teacher in many schools: Hartman School, Patna; Notre Dame Academy, Jamalpur; Campus School, Pantnagar; Sophia High School, Bangalore; Notre Dame Academy, Patna; Loyola School, Gomia; and again a long period of teaching from 1993 - 2001 at Notre Dame Academy, Jamalpur.

Certain features stand out when we look at Sister Deepa:

* Her prayerfulness. She was seen reflectively reading the Bible many times a day. She was known to say three rosaries daily and to have a great devotion to Our Lady.

* Her general knowledge about things. She was a well-read person and was always abreast on current developments, especially in science.

* Her conscientiousness as a teacher. She loved the high school students, especially the boys, and they in turn admired and loved her. She found teaching in an all-girls school a bit boring. "Boys are fun to teach. They don't hold grudges," she said.

* Her love of fun time. She enjoyed a double pinochle game with anyone, especially with those who enjoyed a good laugh and an argument about the score,

* Her giftedness as a cook. Her mushroom soup and her various types of pickles and preserves gave much joy to her Sisters.

* Her loyalty as a community member and as a friend. She stood by her friends come what may.

* Her ability to challenge anyone on any topic. In fact, we could always expect Sister Deepa to refute whatever we said with a "No, that's not right!" Of course, she often recapitulated and came over to our point of view when she knew that what she was saying could be argued with.

* Her love of all created things, especially of plants. As a teacher of biology, she inculcated this love of God's creation in all her students.

Having fallen victim to cancer towards the end of 2001, it remained a mystery to her as to why she had been chosen to suffer this particular cross. It was a cross she courageously accepted, and she endured all the pain, discomfort, and distress unflinchingly. In fact, not one of us could really make out the depths of her suffering.

At the offertory of a mass celebrated by her brother Jose, Sister Deepa prayed: "Lord, I am not asking why or how. I ask for the grace that each one who is praying for me will grow in faith and trust. I am overwhelmed by the love and concern which I am receiving."

Her last days of illness were filled with suffering and uncontrollable moanings of pain, expressions which she had been able to keep well under control when she was better. She surrendered her soul quietly to the Lord at 12:35 on the morning of July 12th, the feast of Saint Julie, our spiritual Mother. It was also a Saturday, a day in honour of Our Blessed Mother whom she loved so well.

Sister Deepa cherished community life. Even in her illness, she participated in the daily eucharistic celebration and community prayers and gatherings. She was ever grateful for all the services rendered to her by the Sisters. Sister Deepa's presence will be missed by the entire province. May her memory live on and inspire her sisters, collaborators, and students.

And so we all say: May your soul attain that eternal happiness, Deepa, that we are all striving for.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Blue Ocean Strategy - how long it can work ?

W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne argue in their book “Blue Ocean Strategy” that tomorrow’s leading companies will succeed not by battling competitors, but by creating “blue oceans” of uncontested market space ripe for growth.
There are lot of reviews written on it by different Management Gurus, highlighting the pros and cons of the strategy. I have tried to analyze some of the questions which came to my mind on reading about the “Blue Ocean Strategy”.
First point, that comes to my mind that how to find an uncontested market, especially in the information rich globalised world where the information and competition is spreading very fast.
True, there are many uncontested market; let’s take an example of the Indian IT companies.
I was reading few months back in Economic Times, that the total IT market size of Europe is around 800 Billion $ , and most of the market is unconquered in terms of IT implementation. All, the Indian IT companies have majority of pie coming from US (more than 50 % for all the Indian IT companies) , and I was also reading that almost all the big IT companies are looking for Europe as their next destination with growing Rupee Appreciation against Dollar and the recent sub-prime crisis and fear of a slowdown in US economy.
Well, how does a company find an uncontested market is the biggest concern, because an uncontested market will always be attractive and this will make it competitive?
A positive point which comes in my mind regarding going for an uncontested market is the first mover advantage. A company for example, Satyam finds an opportunity in an East African country and is the first one to set up its shop there. The country’s economic landscape is low on the Business Confidence Index, and most of the capitalists don’t find it an attractive destination.
Satyam develops the infrastructure there, and starts getting return on its investment. The other companies will soon to be following in, and the advantage of “Blue Ocean Strategy” will fade away.
But, definitely Satyam can have a “first mover advantage” in terms of market penetration. But, with the innovation being copied easily, the lifecycle of first mover advantage has reduced in recent times.
So, I feel that there can be many issues for having a successful “Blue Ocean Strategy” in implementation, but theoretically its one of the best strategy which has come up in recent times. Not completely rejecting the theory, I also feel that it can be used as an advantage by the company with proper planning and execution by creating a high degree of “Brand Value” in the “Blue Ocean” to retain its first mover advantage.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Romance, Inheritance and Adventure

Hi Frens,

I am writing on
Word of the Worlds
after a long time. Life becomes challenging managing so many things, especially after one starts working. But, I always agree, that people can take out time for their interests and passion. I have also been taking out time for my interest i.e. writing, but for long time it has been offline then online.
A kind of trying to convert some dreams into realities, but anyways I am not going to bore you with stuff about me and come straight to the topic.
In this phase of introspection and silence from blogging, I watched many movies and read many books apart from usual work routine. I want to share about a movie, and two books (I am still reading one), which I really liked.
I watched a Hindi Movie called
Cheeni Kum
few days back. The movie is a romantic special as it shows romance between a 64 year old man and a 34 year old woman. The romance between them is simple, just like any other romantic pair of permissible age difference by the society.
They are together because they like each other. Its not infatuation, neither compromise and nor erotic. I felt while watching the movie, as if they are one of the best couple, I have seen in both reel and real life.
Tabu and Amitabh, both have acted very well, and I would recommend this movie to all those, who wants to see the simplicity of love between a couple minus the age difference.
I really liked the movie, may be I like more than many people, because I never felt age difference while making frens in life and some day I may fall in love with an older woman. Anyways, try out this movie, chances are most of you will like it.
One of the recent book, I really liked is by Anita Desai, an Author with an impeccable command over English. This Booker prize winner penned
The inheritance of Loss
. I would term it as a social fiction, which travels miles between America, England and remote parts of India, with such an ease.
The novel revolves around some 10-12 characters who are struggling to settle in a place, where they dont belong to (immigrants). A very surprising thing was the kind of detail, Anita knows about life in a small town or village in India. The psychology of people, the behavior, and the description of the physical features of a land, all seems perfect.
A very good read for all the book lovers!
The latest book, that I am reading (it’s a 950 page fiction) is
by Gregory David Roberts.
The book is a fiction, some sort of Autobiography as well, mixed with lots of his personal experiences. This is a book depicting the black and white shades of Mumbai through the experiences of the Author, who was a Drug dealer and also an absconding criminal lands in Mumbai, and makes Mumbai his first home. He stays in a slum in Mumbai, and narrates his day to day experiences from selling drugs, running a health clinic, working with Mafia, acting in Bollywood to falling in love. The majority of story revolves around Colaba in Mumbai, especially Café Leopold, where he meets many people, observes lots of things and discuses on philosophies of life.
This book is an internationally acclaimed one, and very famous among all the Mumbai lovers. I also heard from one of my friend, that a movie is going to be based on this book and is going to star Johnny Depp, as the Author. I recommend this book, not because of my love towards Mumbai, but the love towards adventures in life.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Ta ra rum pum !!! A simple and beautiful family

My last and current weekend has been really good after a really hectic week and weekend of work . I saw a good family movie and to some extent inspiring as well after a long time. Ta ra rum pum ..Ta ra rum pum..
The movie revolves around a family which faces the joys and sorrows together and always give each other the required support , the family members need at the time of the crisis.
Saif Ali Khan is a flashy car racer , who loves spending money and beleives in today and Rani, a rich girl with a typical middle class values , who wants to save moeny for the future.
They fall in love , get married ,live happily with kids in the posh Manhatten area in New York City . But , the cirumstances change and they have to move to a cab driver locality.They become poor , but they still have the love of esch other which keeps their wheels of optmism rolling and being each other support.
The love between the family has been so fantastically directed , that it never seems unreal or unpractical.
At , the end of the movie the good happens and they get back to their prosperity and sucess, but Saif becoming more responsible and starts beleiving in saving for the future.
The movie story is simple , but the direction is good . The film never seems to be going heavy , no crying fundas even while the family is in crisis.
I surely recommend everyone to watch this movie , to be reminded of the inspiration and support a family provides...
tumhein pata to hoga ...shona ...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Can U make it BIG! Guru

Heard so many success stories, watched people making fortunes out of penny, have you ever thought that can you make it big?
I am sure; you must have thought may be just for moments, but that moment remained as beautiful history, right! The one thing which can give me maximum high making it big, and not the beautiful and famous ladies of the world sitting legs apart for me, or the choicest wines of the world or exotic food, and seriously nothing except the divine power and family in which I truly believe.
It’s another thing, I dont have access to any of these yet, and I acknowledge it without any fear, but certainly I am free to express what I feel. It may be liked by most, hated by few.
The dream of making it big, vision had caught me from childhood itself, but it was lost in the fun of teenage and then struggle with life in making a stand in the 350 million middle class Indian household. I know people rate success based on their own parameter, but that’s not logically correct. It’s a myopic view, and I too was suffering with, till I met some of the people who are making good money in the corporate world. When, I completed my MBA, I wanted a good paying corporate job in hand. I got a decent one, and my family and friends think that I will definitely make good money in life. But hey, is earning 30-35 lakhs or may be 50 lakhs per annum for at age of 40 in corporate world, is really enough.
I am not being greedy, but what if you earn 50 lakhs, who knows you, who identifies you, may be some here and there a picture once in business column. No doubt, people like CEOs or very senior corporate czars as successful, because they influence life. But speaking generally, the world is very big and only few people leave their footprint behind, when they go. I have great respect and admiration for people who have earn millions in corporate world, because it’s a big achievement, no doubt. Please, be clear that I am not talking about achievements in general, but achievement which can influence lives, the world, that is what success is for me. I don’t differentiate between a Honda city and Mercedes; they can afford same comfort, though the latter may be marginally better. Also, this post is not all about money, as well. For me and many of people whom I asked, Ira Bhatt of Sewa (a famous NGO in India) is more successful than any other person who is earning 50 lakhs, but is lost in this big crowd. So guys, money is not the only parameter. But influencing life is making it big. Some do it as Ira, some as DhiruBhai, some as BigB, and some as Naina Kidwai. I am writing this post today, may be I will be lost in the crowd like most of them, but will definitely try once, what I always wanted to do in my life.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Journey on the Nostalgia track

This weekend has been special for me, as I celebrated my new year on this Friday with a friend, from IIFT. Though, we were just Hi hello frens in college, but lately I have known him a lot and also started respecting more than what I used to. He is known as Bali, more by his Nickname than Abhishek.
Well, I am here to discuss what binds between me and Bali. Its the memories... we share which transcends further to the reality today. Though, we didnt used to roam together in IIFT, but we still love discussing the gossips and the debate goes on.
The train of memory started on Friday night and its still moving into flashback with random selection of scenes. It started from my MBA College, moved to my undergraduate college and now I am in my high school surfing through the profiles of lost friends in high school on Orkut and remembering them. I suddenly remember, the naughty activities, the pranks I used to play with my classmates, numerous experimentation with the smoke and Whiskey...watching movies, bursting crackers in classroom and bathroom.
And suddenly, a scene flashes in my mind, and I have deepest regret for that. I had a fight with a girl(Miss M.) during my school days and I had spoken with her badly, which was totally immature on my part. I don’t know why, it seems a small thing in such a long life, but it still haunts and hurt me and hope to come over it someday in my life.
May be, this incident has helped me in respecting women more than what I used to do initially.
I remember , my MBA preparation days, when I literally transformed myself into a studious person, going home at the earliest from the college , increased intake of tea, quitting my favorite old monk and dreaming about my life and goals. And, the day I started getting calls from good colleges, I felt so elated like a winner. Its the passion which drive me towards success and which keeps me kicking.
How, can I forget my most recent beautiful memories which are fresh and live in Hyderabad, where I made a completely different set of friends and had a total different and great form of joyful experience with some of the best people, I have met in my whole life. Those countless games of carom, midnight walks, cribbing about the training schedules still and always linger in my brain and heart.
There are memories which make me embarrassed, but there are memories which also keep my head high. Setting up of the first CSR club Koshish in IIFT is one such achievement. I thank to the strong team of Koshish, which contributed so much for the cause and without them, it would have been impossible.
Let me halt my travel in the memories for some time........and join you in your travel.

Monday, January 01, 2007

31st Dec... The most hyped day of a year!

There are Xmas Parties, Diwali and so on ….but it seems that 31st Dec. is the most hyped day in any year. People rush to parties like anything, all the hotels, guest houses, resorts are packed especially in coastal areas, and there is a huge rush for getting the spirits high on whiskey, Rum, Beer, Wine and Champagne...
Everyone will ask each other that what you are doing on New Year Eve, where are you going, etc. It’s like People want an excuse to just run away from all the past year troubles for that one day, when they can let loose themselves without any tension and just plain chill out.
I shifted recently to Chennai and doesn’t have much of a circle here, so on a contradictory note; I celebrated it with bit sober attitude, but couldn’t stop myself having one bottle of beer. But, there are people I know who have celebrated New Year day in a much more sober and spiritual way. I met two persons working in my company, while traveling in the bus one day. Pasha, is a 24 year old guy from Russia and Eva is a 23 year old girl from Macedonia, I hope I have spelled her country properly. Sorry, if I haven’t. They all celebrated New Year in an Ashram without a single drop of alcohol. Its, so tough if you drink generally and you are not drinking on the most hyped day of the year.
I went to but Beer, and I was amazed to see the huge rush in the liquor shop. People were getting over each other to buy spirit like they are hungry from ages. It seemed, so irritating, but can’t blame as I was also part of the mad rush, though surely was not that desperate to buy the Beer like them.
I wanted to visit Pondicherry, with my friends but all the places were booked 1- 15 days in advance. Forget, about Goa, where the places are booked 1 month in Advance. I just want to go into the deeper sense, of 31st Dec. night. Why people flock away from their existing home to celebrate outside, is it the advent of a coming year, a high degree of optimism, or to burn out the bad events of going year or to celebrate the good events of the going year. People may say, Oh... we just want to chill out because everyone is doing so, but there must be some underlying psychology which can be explored. May be, the answer lies in growing consumerism, with all those appealing offers from the Marketers.
But, there is something other than the chill out factor which keeps it the most hyped day.
Can it be explained logically, with something like game theory, or in the marketing sense or may be in the human behavior patterns. Just keeping the decision open....
Hey a last question?
So, how did you celebrate your New Year Eve??????

And Have a great 2007......