Friday, December 26, 2008

Conservative Consumer?

Came across an interesting piece about the beleaguered American consumer today. The consumer was to be blamed partly for the worlds' ills because it was his propensity to consumer (over savings) that created the financial mess. Americans have negative savings rate and so on.

Joel Kurtzman in his post analysing home equity trends concludes that the American Consumer has been pretty sane in his decision making and payment of bills. Quite intriguing, if 48 million consumers contribute to $10 trillion in home equity and American GDP is $13 trillion how can the savings rate be described as it is?

Very very confusing. What exactly constitutes home equity?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Royal Enfield Thunderbird Twinspark

Ah now that I have gleefully completed 1000 Km just on the roads of Mumbai its time to write a review of the Thunderbird Twinspark. Review is quite an understatement, its more of a process description. More about the bike can be found here. I will put pictures of my bike later.

I ordered my Thunderbird to be delivered on 10 October 2008, originally. The Bandra showroom guy Nilesh kept asking me for the full amount (I guess a sign of the times) to start processing my order without letting me know that the delay would delay the bike. The bike costs a cool 1.07 lakh (on road) in Mumbai. This is without the the leg guards that you need to install on most bullet motorcycles. (I havent as yet tho').

Nilesh was very helpful otherwise, I do not have local proof of address in Mumbai and he helped me to get the bike registered (by providing a document from my office that attested that I work in Mumbai). Its quite interesting that in Mumbai you dont need to go the local RTO to get the bike registered. As in every other task, no one has the time. A passport copy (for age/permanent address et all) is all that I had to provide.

The Thunderbird is a unique bike in the sense that for first time in the bullet stable, they key product is a difference over their trademark gear shifts (the gear shift is the more traditional left leg) and the engine is the new twinspark engine (one goes atleast the other will work assures my mechanic).

For the first 500 km the only problems I faced was excessive vibrations of the handle and a hitch in the gear shift. Quite impressed. Maybe the Thunderbird is the bike after all. At the stroke of 500 km you are supposed to get your first servicing done. Before that my bike broke down, twice on the road. The one thing about the Thunderbird, its very difficult to push along (not minding the fact that you look like an idiot). I called in all the bullet experts I knew, no advice seemed to work.

The local mechanic Razzak came, stripped the bike naked (amazing simple to do it) and then gave up. (He left me wondering what to do, he wanted no money but for me to let him know what the problem was). Finally, I called up the bullet servicing guys, Chandrakant and Suryakant from Sharda motors. Chandrakant's mechanic stripped the bike again, couldnt figure out what was wrong and they towed the bike away. That felt bad somehow.

The spark had disappeared because of an internal circuit problem which Enfield replaced (these things are part of the 1 yr guarantee). I couldnt pick up the bike for a long time again because of my schedule, but when I finally did, I have clocked more than 500 km in city traffice. The Thunderbird is very smooth, very classy and easy on the body. A bit tricky to negotiate long traffic jams (you ride close to the footpath) but you get used to it. The real thing to get used to is the weight. Frigging heavy, given my weak upper body thats quite a balancing act. The mileage is about 38 kmph as of now. But then, the moment you release the throttle ( I am on speed restrictions you see), its exhilerating. You start gliding on the road......

Now to go out of Mumbai.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

25 th Anniversary of the Cell Phone

Caught an arbit piece of news while browsing CNET (yes, after a long time), it was the 25th anniversary of the cell phone. The steps that we have taken in this technology is mind boggling. From the clunky phone to the uber-cool iphone to possibly the ultimate touch screen net book you could ever possibly see.

I guess we in India would have to wait till we describe the 25 yr (1995 is the year that it made an appearance in India I think) happens, but where we were late we have caught up and possibly in some applications and the cost to the end user gone ahead of most of the other markets.

Should the advance in telecommunication be seen as purely economic ( critical mass production afford-ability end use) cycle or should it be seen as an advancement in science? As wireless usage through phones pick up, seamless connectivity across the world could be the key.

Security, global access should be the key drivers.

Unified telecom anyone?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Being An Indian - Pavan K Varma

Just finished reading the book, for once the content is refereshingly local, anecdotes are personal and the targetted audience is likely a mix of domestic/global. The book packs rare insight into some of the common traits that are found across this breathtaking (literally) country of ours. Pavan K Varma (an interesting essay here, a former diplomat eases through our apparent dichotomies very deftly, while still harping on the macro perspective: are we are reaching escape velocity or a precipice?

Varma's overarching themes in his book are power and stability. Power being the single most coveted possession of most Indians and the necessity of stability for establishment and maintenance of power heirarchies. Mind blowing stuff. We cannot but go revolutionary except in small pockets because we dislike disorder. Classify everything available so there is order in life while pursuing social mobility.

Karma helps us tide over the past and present with the eternal idea of hope. Our own mileau is more important than what is good collectively so as a soceity we will remain apathetic.

The idea of the books is to provide ideas that are common to India and it succeeds brilliantly in it. Possibly a lot of research has gone into some of the analysis, but I would like to have a bit of statistics (would have made it a tome but maybe online source to all reference material would have been helpful :D ).

Anyway, a heavy book I read it in bits and pieces in over 2 months. Yes, a bit loaded as of now.

New moozik - Arun Ghosh

Found a new kind of sound on the jet flight recently to hyderabad. Arun Ghosh, uses a clarinet

you can listen to some of his works here.

The piece aurora is the best piece I have heard in a long long time, awesome stuff.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wierd notes

Among all the 'bade bade shehro mein choti choti baatein'(straight SRK, straight delhi) stuff that has been flowing around, what has really been surprising is absolutely has been the 'calm' that has been exhibited by the MNS & their ilk. You an almost hear the lament that most policemen who died in the line of fire were marathi manoos. No call for ouster. No public outrage. Surprising to say the least.

Among other things, media reactions quickly covered the lucky escapes that people had. Those were the titbit stories, infact last heard Rajdeep Sardesai was taking a survivor to court for having provided first info to Arnab, that crusader in a suit.

Lot of movies & multiplexes went empty over the last weekend and India apparently is going to the International Court of Justice to claim compensation for loss of business revenue.

The reactions to the scores of candles are mixed, the hindi media channels which are now done with their exhaustive pigeons dead count are now counting no. of flies & other such benevolent insects which got killed because of the additional candles. India is apparently going to be pulled up at the next WTO meet because of not providing patent protection to global candle makers.

A lot of people wanted to say that "the larger public anger got drowned in the cacophony of brazen political games", the only outrage was actually from bit torrent inc & myspace because all bandwidth was taken up by outraged 'groups' on facebook & orkut - so those lot of people are definitely unhappy.

And Naqvi - ? Need I say more.

Yama & Chitragupta will have few more busy days.