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If you really think about it, India is in a pretty mixed up place – economy wise …
We’re nowhere near a capitalist economy – nor are we entirely communist either …
We are somewhere in between …

I am talking about this because of late, there have been incidents in my life – caused by this aspect and I was wondering – whether a right balance could ever exist …

When I was returning from Proto a couple of weeks ago, I was to come to Mumbai by flight and then catch a bus from there to Pune. My flight was supposed to land at 10:40 PM – but it being Indian Airlines, it only landed sometime around 12:20 AM.
Luckily I had no checked in baggage and I was able to get out of the airport by 12:30.

I rushed to Dadar, and in my heart knew — that the last State transport bus would have long left and I would have to spend the night at the bus stop. I reached the bus stop at 1:00 AM.
Unbelievably – there was still a bus going to Pune (which I think would have probably been the last one).
It left with around 10 passengers (out of a capacity of 35 – 40) at 1:15 AM and albeit an extremely bumpy ride, I was home by 5:00 AM.
I secretly thanked the government for running such buses – even when there were hardly any passengers at such odd timings.

This is the other incident.

I live on the outskirts of Pune. As such, we have all the benefits which come with such a setting.
Clean, calm and pollution-free surroundings, lots of open spaces, etc. etc.

At around 10 kms – the main city isn’t too far either …

However, we also face the problems which come along with such a setting.
Namely, that of infrastructure — in this case, the internet.

The place where I live, there are no private players providing high speed internet services (or broadband).
This is primarily because not many people would go for it – so it does not make sense for these companies to lay fibre cabling all the way for a handful of subscribers.
The only one which does – is the government owned BSNL.

Until sometime ago – they had the monopoly in the telecommunication sector – and if you had a phone, it had to be from BSNL.
As a result, they have cables already setup – through which they provide the internet services.

The service though, leaves a lot to be desired – and the sorry fact is – being a government enterprise, no one gives a damn.
I’ve been having connection issues since eons (it works sporadically and mostly, only at nights) – but no one seems to be bothered. After about a hundred complaints, nothing comes of it.

I seriously have started believing that if anything needs to come of a government run agency, some palms eventually have to be greased. Haven’t tried that yet – but sadly, we’ll probably have to do it eventually.

So coming back to the issue.
Living in an entirely capitalist economy definitely has its merit. I honestly believe that the entire country progresses at a much, much faster rate as compared to living in a communist one.
People who are smart, talented or hard working get their just rewards – encouraging more people down that road, thus leading to faster growth of the entire nation.
(Monopolies are a negative – but then, thats just the way you look at them)

However, if we were actually in a completely capitalist economy, I would have spent the entire night at the bus stand and would still be on dial-up connection at home.
And if the government does step up and provide services like the state transport bus running at night or me getting my broadband at home (even though its on only half the time), am I right to demand good service — or should I just be grateful that I am getting such services in the first place and be happy with it?

The Indian consumer at large, I think, follows the latter ideology …
What do you people think?

(My connection went off and on 7 times while I wrote this post)

[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 79.]

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I uploaded some more photographs on flickr – have gotten into that spree of late :)
These will be the last batch I think – for quite sometime now … Have run out of good photographs to upload.

The complete set can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/saurabhj/

The ones which I really really like are:

[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 80.]

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I dunno why I did this, but I went to Flickr today and uploaded some of the interesting snaps that I have clicked so far in my life …

Check them out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/saurabhj/
Comments are available, so please do go ahead and comment.

A couple of ones that I really love are:

Larger sized images are at flickr.
I have tonnes more left to upload – will do as soon as I can extract some time for myself …

[ Min number of posts to go till Mar 17, 2008 : 81.]

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For all those who wanted to know, we didn’t make it to National Finals of the Imagine Cup this year.

Now, unfortunately (or fortunately) the BE Project that we guys were doing and our IC submission was one and the same thing (for the sake of our sanities) – so atleast we will be seeing this thing through (hopefully)

Our theme and ideas were kept somewhat hushed up (which feels kinda stupid now) but anyways, will be letting the cat out of the bag soon enough.

In other news, came back from an awesome two day picnic to Nagaon (which is about 8 odd kms from Alibaug) and it was awesome fun. Will be posting pictures of the trip soon.

Perhaps the last with the guys from college – everything went off nicely and everybody had loads of fun.

For starters, here are a couple of images that I took on the beach …

Low tide at the Alibaug beach at sunset – small kid with his dad

A family of four moving towards the Alibaug fort which is accessible by foot during low tides

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I think, and hope that this is the last blog of this trip from Japan …
We had an awesome time … and Japan is a great place …

I really liked the place, the people and the culture … and got to learn a lot from this place and this entire event …
Only the language and the food was kind of a problem … other than that, everything was perfect …

Today was a tiring day …
From morning, we were at the conference hall and after all the prize distribution ceremonies, had the flag exchanging stuff and all …
It was all fun …

It turns out, my predictions were almost right …
I got all the three teams right … but the order got mixed up …

In the software design, Russia came first … Followed by Greece and then China ..

In the short film category, our India team came second and the Mexico team won the event …
The Canadian “Thoughtpulse” team came third …

If you would like to know what each of these teams ( in the software design ) did in more detail, you can click here.

Night time, we had a fireworks display …
Today was Japan day ( I think .. ) and all the streets were and the entire harbour was filled with Japanese in Kimonos and traditional dresses …

All the roads were closed and all the people were on foot …
I have never seen so many Japanese at a time … the whole harbour side was jam packed like a rock concert …

We got a decent show from the convention center …

Anyways, tomorrow we have to catch a flight at 11:00 am and have to apparently leave the place by the 5:30 bus … as the ride to the Tokyo Airport is 2 hours long and we need to go and check there whether our flight will actually take off …

We are supposed to land in Mumbai … and all the news that we’re getting here is bad …
So, we’re trying to get to Delhi and then take a flight to Pune from there …

I hope everything works out well in the end …

As always … some more pictures of the trip …

Some shots from the fireworks show … Not at all good …

I got 2 mediocre shots after clicking about 40 odd or something …
Didnt have a tripod and impossible to do without one…

The big Japanese rush I was talking about … All the roads were just full … of people …

Anoter fireworks shot … More decent than the previous one though …

The entire Indian Contingent … with the two teams who actually won something …
The Short Film and the business plan team …
Seen on the rightmost corner in black … is Morris Sim … the guy who started the Imagine Cup.

Lots of other dignitaries and Japanese organisers also seen in the shot …

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Today was more of a chilled out day … with nothing much to do …
We went to the amusement park in the morning .. at about 12 and sat on the Ferris Wheel and the roller coaster … which I dont think I will be doing again for quite sometime now …

The Roller Coaster was uncomfortable and short and pretty scary … the Ferris wheel was more of a sight seeing thing than a joy ride …

Anyways … the rest of the day, went in watching all the short films which were submitted earlier by the participants and the 6 finalists of the Software Design Invitational … which were all pretty good …

The 6 finalists were : Slovenia, Brazil, Germany, Greece, China and Russia …

Russia had a really innovative app and China was scarily comprehensive …
Greece tackled a social issue of creating a speech to sign language and sign language to speech app for the hearing impaired …

The other team presentations were boring … and the Germany app was not that interesting …
Whatever they did, we could have implemented on our base system within a matter of a few hours … We had all the back end …

Only their presentation was slightly better …

My prediction is : Russia, China and Greece … lets see what happens tomorrow…

Note to myself : Next year, the presentation has to be awesome !!!

Anyways, we had this very sophisticated, formal, Japanese dinner in one of the poshest clubs in Japan …
Again, all of us could just not consume the food.
Whats with the food huh ?
I think rest all people from all over the world can still eat it … but we Indians just cannot …
We had an early Indian dinner before we went to the one at the club …

The dinner was supposed to be 5 course … and by the 2nd course … we had excused ourselves to go to the bathroom … and ditched the entire event … walking 25 mins to get back to the hotel …

Had two glasses of ( not so good ) starbuck’s cold coffee on the way back …
Anyways … next year’s Imagine Cup is going to be in India … so there is going to be a flag handing over ceremony and all of us are supposed to be on stage …
So, we have some sort of rehearsel at 10 am …

Thats all from me for now …

More pictures … :)

This was supposed to be our main course .. some boiled carrot and some seeweed look alike vegetable …
We had 9 types of cutlery out there !!! 9 types !!!

 

Yes … you can rub your eyes again … but this is Gaurang in formals !!!
Didn’t think that would happen before the world imploded in itself .. did ya ?

 

The Roller Coaster ride that we sat in … which solidifed my belief that these things are not for me …

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Okay …
First, the bad news …

We didn’t make it to the final 6 teams of the Software Design of the Imagine Cup …
It’s okay …

I think our presentation was the best we had given till now and the software was also working properly …
Only, the idea didnt click well with all the other international judges …

I’m happy for the fact that we atleast made it all the way here … and got to present our solution …
Would have been really depressed if we had got stuck up at Mumbai itself …

On the bright side, we still have one year to go … and besides, winning World two years in a row would be kinda hard anyways …
So, we’ll just win it next year … promise …

The other teams to make it were Japan, China, Greece, Slovenia, Russia and one another team which I don’t kinda remember now …

I seriously have no idea what the other solutions are … so, I have no basis for comparison … but we’ll come to know about it tomorrow …

Anyways, the entire ceremony was like an Academy Award dinner kinda thing …
We had round table reservations and all the short films were shown on the screen and we had a 9 course “Vegetarian” Japanese dinner … which honestly, I could not consume …
Nothing personal … but except the noodles, which I ate with a pair of chop sticks for the first time ( Yay !!! ), couldnt think of eating anything else …
Most of the veggie stuff … was … just bamboos … It tastest okay … no taste actually … something like boiled wood …

Anyways, as soon as the entire thing got over, we hit the Indian restaurant and packed some desi khana …

Thats all for tonight … just before I push off … picture of the day … clap, clap, clap !!!
We’ll hopefully be riding that thing tomorrow …

The giant ferris wheel … second in the world only to the one in London …
Comes with its own Roller Coaster …Me thinks, Microsoft India is going to pick up the tab on this ;)

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