Monday, December 31, 2007

December 22 - 25, 2007

4 days. 1400 kms. 2 bikes. 2 riders. And lots of places. Description of the saga follows.

December 22.

5:30 am
- I manage to meet Randhir, half an hour late from the earlier designated time.
- Early morning mist on the highway. Loads of traffic. Riding under the lights. Covered barely 30 kms in one hour.
- Stop at the sign a bit out of the city saying 495 kms to Pune. Sunlight begins to show us the path more clearly. Its nearly 6:45 am

7:30 am
- Cruising at 90 kmph, when suddenly a cruiser with two people overtake us driving at 100kmph and we give chase.
- next 30-40 kms was spent in hot pursuit with bikes running at 100 kmph +, maxing out at a little over 115 kmph.

8:30 am
- Stop for breakfast. A quaint little dhaba. Puri and subjee. Just 2 more truckers besides us.

10:45 am

- Covered 250 kms when this scenery hit us.
- Not a single soul around for miles.

- Naidurg. 100 kms from Sholapur. Was sorry that we did not have time to visit.

11:00 am
- Indapur Co-operative sugar factory. Uses sugarcane from the plantations around.
- The transportation medium
- Our bike speed a measly 20kmph for 15 mins

12:15 pm

- Lunch at Kamat Hotel (not part of the chain of Kamat hotels I think)
- Fill up bike tank. Check air pressure in tyres. Zoom. Time 1:00pm

1:30 pm

- eeks! We have been dozing on the bike for the last half hour. Bike speed 60 kmph.
- realized our folly and raised speed.

6:00 pm
- Sholapur road outside Pune. 4 lane. Metalled. Divider in between. Drove at 115-120kmph for what seemed like 10 kms. Fulfilled the heart's content.

7:00 pm
- At friends place. Tired. Bums itching. Paining. etc, etc but the heart glad.

December 23

1:30 pm

- Jump into the water. But had nothing to change into.

2:30 pm
-Lions Point. Lonavala. 60 kms from Pune. 625 meters from sea level.

- Butta. Juice. Cold drinks. Against this background.

4:30 pm
- Fighting steep climbs. Non-existent roads. Not a single soul in sight.
- Mulsi Dam lake. Calendar moments.

December 24 & 25

- Random shots

These signs were visible on the part of the highway NH9 when it was part of Maharashtra state.

- Grape vines. (Probable next destination - Nashik. The wine valley of India)

- Awesome pic against the sun. Photographer - Me.

- 7:30 am on Christmas Day. Morning mist. (not fog or smoke!)

- Probably forgot to add. 100kms of the highway went through Karnataka also.

3:00 pm on December 25, 2007.

I barely managed to shrug off the shoulder pack, before collapsing on the bed. Having traveled 1400 kilometers, I realized driving in city traffic is much more taxing on your energies than the highway. The last 30 kms just outside and in the city totally wore me out. But yes! The elation remains to this day. Long standing desire done. Next target - Himalayas.

There are some pretty high resolution pics in this post. Click on them to get a larger image.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My credit score is being tracked !!!

I always knew that there exist credit bureaus in the developed countries which track the credit score of an individual or corporation. For example I once read some where that on the Amercian credit rating scale, a rating of less than 600 is sub-prime. I had this thing at the back of my mind since a long time, and today I just happened to come across the equivalent credit site for India.

Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited aims to (in their own words) "fulfill the need of credit granting institutions for comprehensive credit information by collecting, collating and disseminating credit information pertaining to both commercial and consumer borrowers, to a closed user group of Members." The Members are institutions like banks, non-banking finance companies, Credit Card companies, Housing Finance companies amongst others. It started with the joint efforts of State Bank of India (SBI) and Housing Finance Development Corporation (HDFC), Dun and Bradstreet Information Services India and Trans Union International with a shareholding pattern of 40:40:10:10, although it now diversified amongst many more entities.

The interesting thing to note is that the bureau gives out information on the basis of reciprocity. Which essentially means that institutions which have made their complete data available to CIBIL are only eligible to receive the Credit Information Report (CIR). Additionally, if your lending institution gets a credit report on you, you can obtain a copy of the report for yourself.

So the very pertinent question that remains in this day and age of identity theft and no sanctity of private personal information is one of what is the nature of information that they collect and store about us. From the website,

The CIR includes the following information:

  • Basic borrower information like:
    1. Name
    2. Address

      In case of individuals:
    3. Identification numbers
    4. Passport ID
    5. Voters ID
    6. Date of birth

      In case of non-individuals
    7. D-U-N-S® Number
    8. Registration Number
    9. Legal Constitution
  • Records of all the credit facilities availed by the borrower
  • Past payment history
  • Amount overdue
  • Number of inquiries made on that borrower, by different Members
  • Suit-filed status.
Doesn't leave much to the imagination of the creditor, right?? Well there is an indicative list of what it does not hold also. Again, from their website:

The CIR does not contain:

  • Income / Revenue details
  • Amount(s) deposited with the bank
  • Details of borrowers' assets
  • Value of asset(s) mortgaged
  • Details of investment(s)
Some relief there! And the best point there is the amount(s) deposited with bank. It would take a finance whiz to figure out all the transactions that go on amongst us bachelors/bachelorette staying with flatmates and working with colleagues.

The question that still remains whether it is good to have an entity like this. I think it is very necessary for me. I am young and earning but at the same time I am responsible. Which means my past bank balance does not determine my credit quality. When I take a loan I am confident that I will be able to repay it. With an agency like this, it does not require lengthy explanations. The finance company would ask just to make sure I still maintain the same habits.

So when are you tracked into this database. Do you use a credit card?? Did you ever take a loan from a recognized financial institution, however itsy-bitsy it was?? Did you ever overdraw your bank account?? Well if you did do any of those things, you are already in this database. You can't go off this database. Which means you need to learn to live with this. Which leaves with the one choice that one faces with every new entity. Do you want to learn more about its functioning and make it your friend for an easier financial life or would you rather suspect its intentions at the very start and keep agonizing over it and blame it for your poor credit quality.

I think I will make it my associate for a lifetime. What do you think??

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Johnny Gaddar : Movie Review

If you have read my other posts you would have hardly found any mention of cinema, let alone a full blown movie review. Which is where this becomes more special. This movie is enthralling to the say the least, and by far one of the best things doing the rounds of bollywood in recent times.

Johnny Gaddar starts with the story of a motley of five out to make quick money getting involved in a shady deal. In a span of four days they need to gather Rs. 2.5 crore and earn a 100% profit on that, with every putting up the same amount and thereby entitled to equal profits. The elder in the group is Seshadri (Dharmendra) who is the glue for the group. Due to him the club owner-cum-compulsive gambler Prakash (Vinay Pathak) tolerates Shardul (Zakir Hussain), a fellow crony and a snob. Then there is Shiva (Daya Shetty), the strongman in the group. And the new discovery - Vikram (Neil Nitin Mukesh, grandson of the singing maestro Mukesh of yesteryears), who is the youngest in the group there to earn the fast buck.

All goes fine till the money is gathered and given a send off to purchase the loot. And then all goes spine tingling. Each frame keeps you guessing, wanting you to make a prediction for the next twist. And when the actual plot unfolds you are left wondering why you missed that angle and you curse yourself. In end you just begin to accept the brilliance of direction in the movie. And no less should be expected when a movie derives its inspiration from James Hadley Chase and Amitabh Bachhan's relatively unknown "Parwana". One request: don't fall off your seats as you go wow with every murder that takes unfolds in the movie.

The plot holds on very nicely and the performances are really good. Just that amount of shock and incredulity on every one's faces to convince the characters in the movie as well as keep the audience in the loop. Besides the main cast, Rimi Sen delivers the role of Mrs. Shardul a.k.a. Twinkle very well. This lassy gal is learning it seems. And Ashwini Kalsekar is all powerful performance for the small part she has. In fact all the supporting cast has done their roles optimally.

The director Sriram Raghavan has done a very good job of the movie. And I loved the camera angles and the edits (I think it is called cinematography in the broader sense). And the background score beautifully matches the sequences (yes, that is all the music that is there, except for the ending score).

Perhaps this review is a tad too late in coming but I recommend you to definitely find time for it. One of the best in recent times that I seen to come out of bollywood. The money and time spent is worth every penny.