Thursday, 10 July 2014

Indian Budget 2014- Interesting provisions

Sharing some of the interesting provisions of budget 2014 which might be of interest
  • Investment limit under 80 (C) increased to Rs. 1.5 lakh
  • The PPF cap has been raised to 1.5 lakh rupees from the current 1 lakh rupees.
  • IT exemption increased to Rs. 2.5 lakh; Rs 3 lakh for senior citizens
  • Housing loans exemption increased to Rs 2 lakh
  • Surcharge, Cess and tax rates remains the same.

(updating as the news comes in...)

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Dollar to Indian Rupee to hit 70

Deutsche Bank today said in a report that Indian Rupee could hit Rs 70 to a dollar in a month!
For all the effort in the past month by RBI and the finance minister, the Indian Rupee continues to lose ground almost daily to US Dollar.

Have a look at an informative article by Ajit Dayal on his blog " The Honest Truth"  where he discusses the fundamental problems behind this rot and some probable solutions !!!

Does raising duty on Gold import really address the real problem?

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Shirdi Sai Baba Temple Darshan

It was my first visit to Shirdi last week. I was excited to finally be there after some failed attempts in the last years. It was a long weekend so I was amongst the many devotees who had decided to seek blessings from Sai Baba during this time.
It wasn't a greatly planned trip but this is how I went about my journey

Bangalore to Shirdi 

I booked my to and fro journey from Bangalore from the Karnataka State Transport website. They offer Airavat Multi Axle volvo bus service which is reasonably priced and efficient. [For more on bus details click on the link ]


Shirdi Sai Sansthan provides good accommodation options which can be explored at this link


[Link to location of temple : Location of Temple]

I wanted to be part of the morning aarti and see baba in the morning itself. The queue for the darshan starts forming as early as 2 am or before. I joined the queue around 3:30am. The aarati starts at 4:30 am
(Daily Program guide )
but the actual darshan only begins around 0540 am. So starting 3:30 am till 6:30 am (when I did the darshan), the queue moved slowly from Hall 3 to Hall 2 to Hall 1. There are live displays everywhere so I could see whats going on.

[There are official lockers to keep your mobile phone and placeholders to keep your footwear just outside the temple so don't get fleeced by people asking you to 'deposit' your footwear and mobile phones with them. The official ones charge a small amount of Rs. 2 per item.]

Also, there is a designated place within the temple where you can view Baba from a distance. This place is termed as 'Mukh Darshan' and has fixed timings for darshan. You can sit there and see Baba clearly albeit from a distance.

Post the darshan, I visited the Dwarka Mai and other near by places. An auto to go around local places is ideal (if you are lucky you will find a local person who knows his places otherwise most auto drivers are outsiders and won't know more than the usual tourist hotspots.) I met a local person who took me around. He was a nice and honest person and had a lot to talk about ! [ Pramod : +91 9860431100, he earns his living driving people to Shani Shignapur and also near by places in Shirdi]

Shani Shignapur

[Location of Shani Shignapur]

This is some 70 km away from Shirdi, and shared mini taxis charge anywhere between 80-150 per person are the norm in peak season to take you to Shani Shignapur and back.
I didn't buy any offering as the customary oil which is offered to Shani Dev was not being allowed to be offered directly. Instead a pit had been created near the actual idol where all the oil was supposed to be 'dumped'. The idol was a huge black stone mounted on a big pedestal, oil was getting poured from a container which was refilled by a tap. The view was good but temple itself didn't leave me spell bound (the crowd clearly had a different opinion as everyone was engrossed praying, taking pictures or just simply jostling to have a good view).

Eating out

There are many eateries in Shirdi which serve strictly vegetarian food.

For more details see Shirdi Sai Sansthan website

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Chinese in Ladakh

20 days on. Chinese are officially inside India [Chinese troops are 20km inside Indian territory in Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector in eastern Ladakh] Indian government is mum. Army is holding flag meetings with the Chinese Army without any results and our foreign ministry's visit to China now looks dicey. Why is he going at all? Shouldn't we be putting this issue on the block as priority one?Where is it all headed ? Only God knows for sure because our government looks more clueless each passing day.

Beautiful Ladakh
Beautiful Ladakh

As an Indian, I don't wish for an all out war, teach the enemy a lesson kind of reaction, but I am not exactly feeling proud at the way things are being handled. Hardly missed is the fact that we are overly bending ourselves trying to please the Chinese. Why are we doing it? I am hoping our government knows what it is doing and doesn't end up ceding a big chunk of Indian Territory to the Chinese which ultimately becomes a 'disputed territory' as has happened numerous times with our neighbors.
As a lay person I have less understanding on diplomacy and foreign policy but as a citizen who is proud to be an Indian I do not wish to see my country meek and helpless in front of another country. This situation where a foreigner has intruded our motherland claiming it to be theirs, there must be a way where we can push the intruders back and at the same time affording to teach a lesson so that this situation is not repeated in future.
I am hoping the people we have entrusted the power to run our country find that way and also the courage to implement it !

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Savitri Seva Sadan (Guest House), Vrindavan

Just like any other tourist scouring the net for a nice place to stay in Vrindavan before a travel, I stumbled on to a list of numerous guest houses and hotels available. I had absolutely no idea on what might be a reasonable price for a decent staying place, but the hotel rooms on offer were definitely out of my budget.
So I called up quite a few guest houses and found almost similar pricing ( around 500-700 per night for a double bed , AC room). I ended up booking randomly, where the person on the phone sounded polite !!!
Savitri Seva Sadan is small guest house located on Sanrakh road in Madhuban Colony. [Click here for Google Map view and exact location]

Address: Madhuban Colony, Sunrakh Road, Vrindavan
Ph: 0565-254.0880 / Mob: 931.908.7338

Tariff : Rs 600 (AC room , 1 double bed) [ Rs. 100 for an extra bed]
Meal : Rs. 100 per head (need to inform the manager in advance) - only Vegetarian

The rooms offered were clean and decent and the guest house ambiance was also peaceful. There is power back up facility as well.
The Guest house staff were very polite and also guided us to local places of importance etc. Special mention for the meal. The meal offered is purely vegetarian and is prepared in house. It is simple but very filling ( 2 vegetables, daal, chapati, rice, curd etc) and the helper served us well. 

Some Pictures clicked on site:

Main Building
Rooms and Temple within the Guest  House

Radhe Radhe...

Just came back from Mathura - Vrindavan darshan. If I had to sum up my experience in two words, I would say heavenly as well as chaotic !
The very fact that you are entering a holy land, a place where Lord Krishna once lived, creates an unmatched aura about the whole setting. The local people, temples, the Yamuna river, the trees, Cows and even the sand start looking as if something is different about them. Any where you travel you hear chants of Radhe - Radhe, Krishna - Krishna all day long  (Even the rickshaw pullers say Radhe-Radhe in a pleasing way to request way)! The Lord is around you, somewhere!

Krishna - Balram with Yashoda
On the other side is the place itself, which is chaotic no doubt. Being a popular religious place, it is expected to be crowded and it is. By evenings, there are people all around and everybody wants to catch a glimpse of the Lord, be ready to be pushed and shoved around. But to me, even this chaos looked part of a divine design. To test the resolve to attain that spiritual high that I was so determined to experience when I started out.

But even if you are not the spiritual kind, experience the place as one of the flavors that India has to offer.
A great experience overall.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

A Nice Poem

Am Quoting an English translation of a Tamil poem composed some 2000 years ago by Avvaiyar

"It is rare to be born as a human being,
It is still rarer to be born without any deformity.
Even if you are born without any deformity,
It is rare to acquire knowledge and education.
Even if one could acquire knowledge and education,
It is still rare to offer service to the mankind and contemplate on the higher self.
If one leads such a selfless divine life,
The gates of heaven open to greet such an evolved soul."

I Read this poem in Dr. Abdul Kalam's book Ignited Minds. It took a while to absorb the import of this poem but later two thoughts built up inside me. I am sharing them below:

One that India had a thinker/poet of such high capacity as far back as 2000 years ago [Did some research on net to find about Avvaiyars (Tamil: ஔவையார்). It means "respectable women" and is a  title of more than one poet active during various times of Tamil literature].
Hasn't India been blessed always ? Throughout our history, there are countless stories of thinkers, philosophers, scientists and innovators. A well endowed and rich country in more ways than one.
But eventually the thoughts travel to the the present condition of our country which looks a bit less rosy. Is there hope? I believe there is. We, the youth would turn things around for our country.
As Mr. Kalam hopes in his book that the youth would wake up and rekindle the spirit of knowledge and victory.

Second thought was more on the poem itself. Resonating with the spiritual cord.
Drowned in the monotony of our daily routine, we get lost. Isn't it easy to forget who we are and what's our purpose here. Sometimes we don't even bother to find out.
I felt a strange sense of calmness reading the lines. Whatever the situation, there is a scope to be thankful for what we are, today. Aren't we made humans. That was a rare chance that materialized. Is that enough or should we be chasing something rarer. If we are capable enough to be at service to others, wouldn't that be wonderful. Not only we take care of our own lives but can also be a factor for happiness in somebody Else's. What a rarity !!!

Ignited Minds - By Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam