A vegetarian goes to Burger King, Korea

Humour, Travel

Based on a real storie story. (Blame that typo on Aap Ka Kaa Suroor Surroor! And this one too!)

It’s all about loving your vegetables. (Blame that on Karan Johar!)

To all the vegetarians out there…

In a land where people are said to eat dogs, never walk into a fast-food joint and ask for a ‘hot dog’ — they might take it literally! (Ok, that was joke to kick start the post!) And offer you Tommy HighFiber! (Joke again)

To play it safe, walk into an American fast-food place. (Thought being: You have eaten at American fast-food places in India, so this would be a ‘little’ different at best!)


Then order something that meets your high vegetarian standards — a cheeseburger. (Thought being: A cheeseburger is a cheeseburger is a cheeseburger!) Then you see the line ‘…sometimes we wish we were you…’ Touché!

All you now need to do is turn the burger over. (Thought being: Maybe they have another sweet message for you over there!)imga0175.jpg

Of course font-sizes DO NOT make a difference here. The message that has to catch your eye — catches your eye! (Thought being: It’s not just beef. It’s 100% beef! ) Holy cows! (pun intended)

And then something like this…imga0177.jpg

Becomes something like this…imga0178.jpg

Out you go!

Now you understand why they say: “Have it your way!”imga0180.jpg

All this happened to a hungry young man recently!


Travelling to China – (2): Chinese pandas in Hong Kong

Humour, Travel

Last month when I was in Shenzhen China I happened to pick up the South China Morning Post (published out of Hong Kong). This was part of my efforts at being a conscientious visitor who tries to get a feel of the country to reel-off authentic first-hand gyaan about an alien place/culture/ to people back home!

Guess what caught my eye…


…This ‘moving’ story, literally…


…About these two pandas, that China gifted to Hong Kong!


And the names of these dramatis personae?


…No. 606 and No. 610!


So what happens in a society where almost all of people’s needs as per Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are already met?

They call for a public consultation to name these pandas!


And since this seems the most pressing issue, topical humour around this is only to be expected… (click picture to enlarge)





If you have read GreatBong’s recent post, you would have an entirely different impression of the phrase auto-manipulation! But if you have also read Kiruba’s recent post, that is the kind of auto-manipulation I am referring to here!

Though having stayed in Chennai for around two years, I don’t think the Chennai autos are as bad as they are made out be. See the way it works is like this:

Chennai. Saturday morning, 11:00am. You wish to go from Thiruvanmiyur to Spencer Plaza, Anna Salai.  You approach the nearest parked auto(s)…

You: Anna Salai, Spencer Plaza
Auto-driver:  Anna Salai? Spencer Plaza?
You: Yes
Auto-driver: (Nod of head, indicating his willingness to go)
You: How much?
Auto-driver: One twenty Rupees
You: No, that’s too much (Accompanied by a disagreeing nod of the head)
Auto-driver: Ok, how much?
You: I pay sixty Rupees everyday
Auto-driver: (Why-are-you-kidding-with-me kind of a smile and head-nod)
You: (Keeping a straight I-am-in-control kind of face)
Auto-driver: Ok, hundred
You: No, sixty
Auto-driver: (with his eyes he has conceded that you are not a total knock-over) Ok, eighty. (And as if to show he means business, he bends over to pull-start the auto — since the Bajaj autorickshaw models have an oxymoronish hand-kick)
You: Ok, seventy final (and now you bend to get into the auto and convey that you mean business too!)

I templated this kind of exchange, and it worked 9 out of 10 of times.  And each such exchange, would set the benchmark for the price — to be bettered the next time, or at worst, held on to! For example, in the above scene I would have actually paid 75 rupees the day before! Soon you would come to a point where 9 out of 10 auto-drivers would not accept your intended price — now that is the free-market price!

This contrasts with Bangalore (2001) where, at 8:30pm my hosts requested me to finish dinner quickly otherwise we would not get autos to get back home. The auto-driver is told of the destination. Agrees to it, and then says it is already time for the night-charges. We agree. We get in. He starts the auto. And after about 2-3 minutes of driving stops to inquire if we meant point A or point B. And whatever be our preference, he had misunderstood it as point B or A, respectively! And obviously it was going to cost us more. Now that there is already an escalation of commitment, we have no option but to agree!

Obviously this contrasts with Mumbai where (in a majority of places) you get into an auto and just state where you have to go. And if you get into an auto/taxi at 11:30pm for a journey that is likely to take 1 hour — at 12 midnight, the driver makes a note of the meter reading, and then at the end of the journey — charges you regular fare for the first 30 minutes and the night-fare only for the last 30 minutes of your ride. (Yes this has actually happened to me!)

And of course this contrasts totally with Delhi where you get into an auto/taxi at 10:15pm for a journey likely to take 40 minutes. Somehow, you get delayed and the journey ends at 11:05pm. The driver would insist that you pay night-charges on the entire journey! And some people would pay up out of gratitude that he didn’t  rape or loot them!

Delhi auto-drivers actually give you justifications for the way they are. Consider this banner I saw on the back of an autorickshaw sometime back.

What it roughly says is:

Vidhayakon ka vetan bada x%
CNG ki keemat badi y%
Auto ka kiraya bada 0%
Dilli mein (auto) kiraya 3.5Rs.
Chennai, Bangalore, Pune mein 6.0Rs.

Imaandaar rahein to kaise?


Sadly the photo is bad, but you get the picture, right?

Legislators salaries went up by x%.
CNG prices went up by y%.
Auto fares went up by 0%.
Auto-fares in Delhi Rs.3.5 (per km)
In Chennai, Bangalore and Pune Rs.6.0

(Even if we want to) How can we remain honest?


Travelling to China (1): Mobile Roaming with Airtel


Two weeks back I had to travel to Shenzhen in China on a business trip.  While there are several insights, anecdotes and images I will be sharing in the posts and times to come, the first post was the easiest to compose.

As an Airtel mobile subscriber, I had seamless roaming coverage between networks as we travelled from Delhi to Bangkok (airport transit) to Hong Kong to Shenzhen and the same route back. This even included GPRS access, at speeds I felt were better than in India. (Haven’t received my bill yet, so don’t know how would the GPRS access be charged, since in India I have a flat monthly fee / unlimited access subscription to GPRS)

Here are all the SMS messages one received on changing/entering networks:

From: Airtel
Date: 18.3.07 9:37 am
Airtel wishes you a pleasant stay in Hong Kong. You have logged onto China Resources Peoples Telephone Co Ltd

From: 8525059
Date: 18.3.07 9:37 am
Welcome to PEOPLES Hong Kong! Calling home / other countries? Dial <001> <country code and area code> <phone no>.

From: Airtel
Date: 18.3.07 9:39 am
Airtel presents Roam-Saver! Dial *108 # and press the calling button to know how to send a free Call-Back SMS to any mobile while u are roaming Internationally.

From: 8525059
Date: 18.3.07 9:53 am
At PEOPLES, besides voice calls, you can use GPRS Roaming to continue accessing WAP, internet and other data services provided by your operator back home.

From: SMC-Vod
Date: 18.3.07 11:54 am
Welcome to HK! Enjoy SmarTone-Vodafone quality GSM DualBand network-make local call:dial HK Tel No directly; IDD call: dial ?<+?>?<Country code?>?<Area code?>?<Tel No?>

From: SMC-Vod
Date: 18.3.07 11:57 am
Welcome to Hong Kong! Use SmarTone-Vodafone & dial *368 to enjoy dining/shopping tips and roaming assistance.

From: Airtel
Date: 18.3.07 5:53 pm
Airtel wishes you a pleasant stay in China. You have logged onto China Unicom.

From: Airtel
Date: 18.3.07 5:55 pm
Airtel presents Roam-Saver! Dial *108 # and press the calling button to know how to send a free Call-Back SMS to any mobile while u are roaming Internationally

From: +10010
Date: 19.3.07 10:13 am

From: Airtel
Date: 19.3.07 11:46 am
Airtel wishes you a pleasant stay in China. You have logged onto China Mobile.

From: Airtel
Date: 19.3.07 11:48 am
Airtel presents Roam-Saver! Dial *108 # and press the calling button to know how to send a free Call-Back SMS to any mobile while u are roaming Internationally.

Date: 21.3.07 7:02 pm
Welcome to CSL! You can now enjoy FREE WiFi service in Hong Kong till 30April07, compliments of CSL & BRIDGE. Dial *199#SEND for USER NAME & PASSWORD.

Date: 21.3.07 7:02 pm
CSL FREE WiFi -To check details & hot spot locations, visit “Local Promotion” of http://conciergego.mobi/go.jsp?c=HKG from your phone or call our hotline *275.

What do you say, aren’t Airtel messages the smartest of the lot above? (If you ignore the fact that you received their messages every time there was a change of network)  The most cryptic seem to be the ones from SMC-Vodafone. And the ALL CAPS message is from China Unicom!

I recall a post I had written earlier Smart SMS from Airtel Mumbai where I had pointed out the difference between the messages that network providers send you when you enter their networks on roaming.

Yunhi Challan Chal Raahi…


I got a traffic challan last month. Awrite, technically it was my mistake. But actually I had been led up the wrong ‘path’, literally.

Imagine you are taking some friends from ‘vilayat’ out for dinner. You zero in on an ostensible parking lot by the road. The ‘parking lot attendant’ directs you to a comfortable slot. You have a wonderful evening out and when you get back into your car you see this on your windscreen.

Wrong Parking Challan

At first I thought it was some pamphlet, the kind that lazy direct-marketers leave on the wind screens of cars in parking lots. So I tried to brush it off, but it was stuck to the windscreen. So I came out of the car, and this is how the ‘pamphlet’ looked like from the outside.

Wrong Parking Challan

Grrrrr! Insult to injury…

Of course the ‘parking lot attendant’ was nowhere to be seen.

After I had mentally resigned myself to paying up the fine I thought about the various ways in which people get penalized for wrong parking.

1. On the spot challan
The easiest and smoothest. You come back from whatever errand you’d set out for, and a traffic cop awaits you by your car. You pay him Rs.100. He issues you a receipt. End of matter. No corruption, instant gratification!

2. Wheel clamp
You come back from whatever errand you’d set out for, and discover a metal clamp jutting out of your front wheel, immobilizing your car. Since the clamp is an asset for the cop — he can’t be far away, and would surface soon. However, this is a ‘long-term remedy’ method that penalizes the driver (in the hope that s/he won’t repeat the same mistake) but does not remove the wrongly parked vehicle from the spot of potential chaos!

3. Postal challan
You come back from whatever errand you’d set out for, and drive-on in life. A few days later you receive a challan by post. Most of the times you don’t agree that you have been deservingly penalized. You then have two options — to either contest your case to prove that you are innocent, or pay up Rs.100. Not surprisingly, most people prefer the second option!

4. Sticker challan
The above-discussed scenario. But what if someone were to rip off the sticker from the car parked next. The driver/owner of the car parked next would never know s/he had been challaned and would end up getting court summons!

5. Tow-away
You come back from whatever errand you’d set out for, and your car is nowhere to be found. With mounting palpitation you wonder if your car has been stolen. Sometimes, little mercies occur in the form of eye-witnesses who tell you your car has been towed away. The mercies end when you need to first find out the police station where such cars are taken and then gauging the physical damage to your car!

Oh, by the way, I paid up my fine at the required police-station where the queue for my-kind-of-challan was the shortest! Some mercy!