Saturday, November 30, 2013

Indians abroad - Criticisms and probable solutions

A few weeks ago, a close friend posted a copy-paste of a status on Facebook from a popular page. You'll have to admit it can give you the giggles, at first. By then you are probably sniggering at yourself. The post went like so.
***Late morning crib: a humble message for our phoren-returned friends and other lessser citizens***
Yes, we know Finland and Sweden and Canada are awesome, thanks for sharing your skiing and snorkeling pictures ten thousand times on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and pinning them up on every vertical surface. But you know what? Most of that awesomeness comes from the citizens of the country. You never tire of telling us 'Dude! Random strangers wish each other on the streets! Shopkeepers SMILE at you! They don't ask you why you want to return an item! And the streets are so clean, you could eat ice-cream off them!'

Yeah, well, why not try doing some of that firangi stuff yourself? Say hi to a few people you meet on the road. Don't honk as if you expect your sonic blasts to carve a path for your car through the traffic. Be honest when you return that t-shirt or dress at Lifestyle. And for pity's sake, don't spit or pee on the roads even if you choke or burst.

Those countries didn't get where they are overnight. Can't our dear old Bharat Mata and her citizens do better than a bunch of freezing little islands? Let's try, at least, can we?


 While most of us would move on once we're done with our half-smile for the day, here's how I see it. Plus, little quick fixes we could certainly do with. 

  • I learned to smile at strangers long before I knew I would end up staying abroad. When I did, some responded warmly (and it's awesome when they do), and some didn't. They just stare back, astonished or make weird disapproving faces. And then it makes you wonder if it's just in our nature to have a stick up our you-know-what.
 Customer service in banks here in Dubai really are a pleasure. The genuine-looking smiles, the neat uniforms and adherence to standard procedures are always something to look forward to. 
To Fix This: We need better training facilities back home. They have standard training courses before you can work in anything customer related. They even send "mystery shoppers" to check performances. If you're not trained to smile genuinely all bloody day, you won't.
  • I've avoided littering ever since I leaned to read those little symbols that are on food packets that tell you not to. There are also fines here for littering that could make you poor. You cannot eat, drink or carry fish (thank goodness for this one) on trains here. Leaving behind a magazine on the metro alone would end up costing you 200 AED; that's a little more than 3,000 INR.Back in Bombay if you found plenty of dustbins to dump your dirt in, consider it luck. Local Goan beaches have started to get as flithy as the ones in Bombay. That just goes to show that we're a dirty lot, except in our own homes.
To Fix This: People need to read, understand and follow rules. Really, it's that simple. Unless you want to pay fines. 

  • As for honking, it's true Dubai is quiet even during traffic jams. Tire traction can remind you of the ocean. And that's because they're taught not to be a nuisance. If you don't adhere to simple rules like, avoid lane-cutting, crossing signals, etc. they actually won't give you a license to you learn to drive right. 
    Oh and the many fines. You can get too poor to own a car eventually. And if you commit a mistake thrice, you'rrrrrrre out! Bye, bye, license.
     To Fix This: Better training by standard training schools. We have too many fakes back home. Oh and a few more fines.

  • The peeing and spitting bit is just dumb!  
To Fix This: KILL the paan industry! Have more public toilets, especially at beaches and parks where people need to pee a lot. Fine those who feel the need to be generous with their saliva. Really, use a sink!
Now that you've gone through this lengthy vent, we can all get on with our day!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reading Collection - Selected titles by Paulo Coelho

I'm not sure why I hadn't read Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist for so long but I'm genuinely glad that I did. It was spiritually awakening and much more.

Since then I have acquired and added e-copies of 15 more by the famous Brazilian author to my reading list. Here's what's new on my trusty little e-reader.

1. Aleph
2. Brida
3. By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
4. Eleven Minutes
5. Maktub
6. Manual of the Warrior of Light
7. Manuscript Found in Accra
8. The Devil and Miss Prym
9. The Fifth Mountain
10. The Pilgrimage
11. The Valkyries
12. The Winner Stands Alone
13. The Zahir
14. Veronika Decides to Die
15. Witch of Portobello
16. The Alchemist

'Brida' I read during my years in catering college and found it to be not my cup of tea. Albeit, I've heard good things about 'Eleven Minutes' and 'Veronika Decides to Die', so perhaps I'll save those for last.

Read any of the above titles? Would love to read your reviews on them in comments section below.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Google's Greatest Doodle is an Epic 8-bit 'Doctor Who' Game

Choose your Doctor and go whoosh in your TARDIS
Barely a day before the much-awaited Doctor Who 50th anniversary, Google does something to please every single Doctor Who fan in the universe. What is it? A special Google "Whodle" (as it is known in the Googleplex in Mountain View) with an 8-bit platform game in which you play the Doctor through all his 11 incarnations. No, John Hurt's "War Doctor" isn't included since it was revealed after the Doodle's production began. Does this matter? Nope.
Daleks, Cybermen and a Weeping Angel
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Timelord, this epic multi-level Doodle has been in the works for four months. A, it became known as the "Whodle." The company says it's the largest interactive Doodle yet created.
The game was designed by Matt Cruickshank, a British Who fan who moved to the Googleplex last year. Cruickshank managed to get the BBC interested in the idea, so the Doodle uses authentic sound effects from the show — including the TARDIS' famous "whoosh" which you get to hear as you work your way through the 5 levels of the game.
You use the arrow keys or you mouse like any of the previous Google Doodle games. Your goal as the Doctor is to retrieve all of the letters in "Google" stolen by an undoubtedly sinister Dalek and return them to your TARDIS. And it gets tricky but is all too much fun avoiding the exterminating Daleks, deleting Cybermen, the Weeping Angel and terrible tiles that can zap you into regeneration on your way to completion.
You start with any of the eleven doctors, but fall afoul of the evil foes of the Doctor and you regenerate into the next one down the line. It's pretty quick and you can easily get through the levels in less than 10 minutes.
You don't have to be a Doctor Who fan to enjoy this doodle. In case you've not played it yet, play it here. Allons-y!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Go crazy at Valleydez!

Located snugly on the first floor of the Egyptian-themed, Wafi Mall, in Dubai, is ValleyDez, a boutique
concept like no other.

If you’re a first-timer to the store, be sure to be greeted by a delicate glass counter as you enter, that smartly displays the store’s latest fashion accessories.

Step into this little boutique and you would agree that it isn’t your regular apparel store. At Valleydez, you are certain to find fresh couture befitting a more sophisticated clientele. Neatly arranged are gorgeous, fiery dresses in global cuts and colors, chic day wear and accessories to mix and match with absolutely anything!

Stroll through the petite shop, take your time, and breathe into the elegant yet funky ambiance that takes you into a world of beaded, embroidered, classy outfits and evening wear.

Products showcased at Valleydez are handpicked selections of creations from leading and emerging international designers, directly off world-famous catwalks: Milan, New York, London, Paris and Tokyo. Though most of the brands at the store are of international fame like Sephora and Charlotte Sparre, there are also elegant and iconic local names like Meher & Riddhima and even oriental touches like those of Manish Malhotra.

A little memento that caught my eye was a dainty, glittery ‘Dubai Expo 2020’ bracelet. Who knew something so simple could come in such a pretty form. Other similarly sparkly and uniquely designed trinkets and accessories came in brightly colored plastic designs and even a display dedicated to metallic designs that sang to the tune of punk.

At the store, you are also likely to meet a cheery and helpful, Ms. Jenny. When not busy with other shoppers, she can promptly tell you almost anything you want to know about the kinds of fashion and sale items available at the store. Now that’s good service!

The appeal lies in the unique diversity of designs, aimed at every girl’s inner chic and adventurous fashionista. Their one-of-a-kind d├ęcor includes the logo silhouettes on wallpaper. The boutique seems subtle at first, with chalky pastels of lavenders and pinks; but the feel is a mixture of Marie Antoinette meets the Mad Hatter at Alice's Tea Party that suitably reflects their eclectic product range.

So if you are looking to make classy, contemporary statements and take fashion to a whole other level, go crazy at Valleydez!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Dubai Sightings - Partial Eclipse at Sundown

Nothing like spending an evening with a celestial view of wonder. Simply mesmerising!

The eclipse started around 5.20pm, November 3rd, just before sunset, giving residents and stargazers alike, a narrow window of opportunity to watch it as the sun set at 5.40pm. Depending on weather conditions, it was visible from most UAE emirates including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Ain, Sharjah, and Ajman.
Partial Eclipse, Dubai, UAE
The eclipse started as an annular eclipse, with the ring of fire around the sun disk. It later morphed into a total solar eclipse, but unfortunately wasn't visible anywhere in the Middle East at that time.

While it was total in some parts of the world, hybrid solar eclipses are described as rare. The last one was in 2005 and the next will occur some 10 years later on April 20, 2023. If you missed this one, hopefully you'll see the next.

According to the Nasa, the total solar eclipse would be seen in Gulu, a city in Northern Uganda, parts of Congo, Kenya, and Ethiopia. So if you're from there, hope you were lucky enough to get a glimpse of the 'ring of fire'.

PS: Got great pics of the eclipse? Tweet them to me at @fatterbrain on Twitter or email them over.