India Trip – Don’t Lose that Boarding Pass!

I took a few weeks off from my India trip blog, but before I forget.. this one is good and I’ll remember this for a long time!

When we were returning from Goa to Mumbai by Air.. this is an amusing (it wasn’t funny when it happened – trust me)…

I passed through security final security check point and my carry on bag was pulled aside for “questionable content”.. I had some small scissors in a case as part of my overnight stuff. Remember this is has been in my bag since we came to India and it was not flagged in ANY security check points neither in US nor on the flight TO Goa..

So I said to the security guy.. go ahead and take the scissors.. as I had forgotten that I even had them. They removed the offending item and I was on my way.. with my carry on bag.. Of course this is where the fun begins.

I met my daughter and we were getting some snacks pre-flight and I ask her whether she has my boarding pass and she of course says “NO dad.. you have your own pass!”. Of course I did not have it! I had left it behind at the security check point.. and in being flustered at the bag check.. I had left for the gate w/o the boarding pass.

We went to the gate and asked for a duplicate pass and of course.. the gate agent said “We cannot print  you a new pass, you will have to go BACK and get a new pass at the checkin gates”.. Panic sets in.. Keep in mind this airport is ultra modern with all the amenities you want except #IndigoAir cannot print boarding passes at their gates!

The agent tells me to go back to security check point and see if the boarding pass was pulled aside.. I race back to security and of course it’s not there.. The security officials send me to the customer security desk.. monitored by the military.. I go over to the security desk and explain to them my situation (and the officer was very very patient and helpful I must say)… he was aghast that the gate agent asked me to go back through security to get another duplicate from the check in gate agent at the front of the airport!

After I tell him my sad stupid mistake.. he asks me to go back to the gate and get the gate agent.. so I race back to the gate and ask the gate agent to come to the security desk.. so now we both go back to the security desk and she says again.. “Customer must get new boarding pass from check in desk at front of the airport”.. The army officer goes ballistic and says.. “No.. he is the customer.. you go to the front and get him a duplicate”.. After a few minutes of back and forth… the gate agent finally agrees to have a duplicate boarding pass sent back through security  gate.. so I can board my flight!

This wait was about 15 minutes.. whereas the gate agent said they would print the duplicate and be here in 2 to 5 minutes.. Well of course this was not the case.. So here I am sweating profusely at my stupidity for losing my boarding pass after security check.. as well a quite bit embarrassed. By this time my daughter is texting me as our boarding time is approaching for our flight to Mumbai is approaching…

Finally the Indigo Air customer service agent comes and gives me my duplicate boarding pass.. I snatch it and make a beeline to the gate. Can you guess what happens next???

My daughter and I are boarding at the gate and the gate agent (a new gate agent).. says “Sir you cannot board.. Your boarding pass is not security stamped!”.. So the gate agent tells me to “run back to security and get the boarding pass security stamped.. Let me lay out this scenario.. the distance from the gate to the security check point is at least 1/10 of a mile..

So now my daughter boards and I sprint back to the security check.. I ask the military official to stamp the boarding pass.. and he just looks at me in disbelief and and refuses to stamp my pass.. By this time.. I’m sweating profusely and my NY attitude is surfacing with multiple choice words about to be expounded by my vocabulary..

Luckily the security desk guy (again.. I must say this officer was totally amazing!).. sees my distress and comes over and tells the other guy to stamp the pass.. I guess he had rank.. so the security reluctantly stamps the boarding pass.. and I race back to the gate to board the flight finally!

Now lessons to be learned here:

  • Never ever assume that security in Indian Airports is consistent
  • Never ever let go of your boarding pass when you pass through security check in India.. Of course.. there is NO cellphone boarding passes.. so you are always dealing with paper!
  • Remain calm.. always say to yourself —> “This is India and you are wrong.. as they are just following their directions”.. this will absolutely nullify any anger and panic you are feeling
  • Security at Airports is very very tight… If you don’t pass through multiple security check points with the same information.. something is very very wrong.. The terrorism threat in India is taken very very seriously!
  • Stay Calm! After all you are the one at fault. even if what is the norm in America.. you cannot expect this level of normalcy in India.. even if technologically India has really surpassed America (i.e. Dual Sims Phone are the norm in India.. we don’t have ANY Dual sims phone in US!)
  • Remember that even though technology is superior in India.. they are still living in the paper world with process!
  • Always, Always, Always.. make sure your carry on bags don’t contain anything that may cause you grief.. Well how would  I know that my cuticle scissors that I’ve been taking everywhere would be flagged at this airport??

After I got on the plane.. I did a silent prayer and told my daughter of the whole episode.. She of course was laughing so hard that tears were coming out.. Well what more can you expect??

So my next post will talk about what happened with Air India on the way back to India. Again.. totally my fault.. but who knows what is can happen when in India..

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New Year Musings

If you can’t achieve your new year’s resolutions, are you destined to repeat them? Perhaps..

Every year, I think to myself, what can be some of my New Year’s resolutions that I know that I will (not) keep? So this year, I decided to write some resolutions that I will not be able to attain in 2012, but will try to..

  • Lose weight. The more the better. Every year I say, I’m going to lose 10 to 15 pounds and this year I went the reverse direction and gained.  Not Good.  I guess the “See Food” diet just doesn’t work. Either, I change this pattern in 2012, or, I’ll be facing more medical bills and ailments than I did this year..
  • Be Debt Free: This year, financially was better than 2010, but I’m no closer to being debt free than I was last year.. It’s not like I spend more recklessley this year on credit cards, but chasing the moving target gets harder and harder. I’ve tried different stragegies to reduce debt, but it’s like I keep floating in the same pool of debt..  In 2012, I gotta think of a strategy that will really make a dent in my credit card balances, or I’ll be writing about it AGAIN next year at this time. Gotta figure out how to use less plastic and/or pay off what you buy… Both are good ideas in theory..

 

  • Have 6 month cushion of Money – Yeah right.. Refer to “Be Debt Free”. Only difference now is that my household income has gotten a spike upwards, but that doesn’t mean, my savings to debt ratio has gotten better.. Sad but true. I guess the motto “the more you make, the more you spend” applies here”.
  • Reduce my Medical Bills by taking care of my health.. Refer to bullet 1.. “Lose Weight”. It seems if I can’t do this, my medical bills will continue to go up every year..
  • Make my other passion BharatBeat successful: In 2011, my partner and I made some progress by setting up a dedicated page on Facebook .. but getting people “LIKE” us continues to be a challenge. In 2012, our goal is to finally step out of our comfort zone and go all out… maybe people will “LIKE” us then?? We shall see
  • Make strides in my Day Job – Actually 2011 was pretty good here for me… Enjoy my job, have a challenging position.. yet the rise to a higher pay scale continues to elude.. Yes, I know.. “Work hard and you shall succeed”..

Even with my cynical outlook, I do realize that what I have far exceeds my expectations of where I thought I would be as I hit the half century mark as well as well as 2011 draws to a close.. Now the question is what 2012 resolutions should I write that are actually attainable goals?

 

Terrorism in India – The common man

Indian’s government’s inability to protect the common man in India is shown by the terrorist attack in Mumbai.

This past Wednesday, as I was a conference call with my off-shore team in Mumbai, one of them told me that there were additonal attacks in Mumbai, India. At first I was shocked, then I was deeply saddened.

This past week Mumbai experienced another cowardly attack by terrorists. This attack hit home for me even more as one of the sites was where I roam when I’m visiting and it’s only a mile or so from where I live when I’m in Mumbai!

My best friend AK from Bharatbeat wrote and  an absolutely wonderful article about this attack  on our blog. The post describes how the common man’s interests are NOT the priority of the Indian government, and how the government does not seem to protect the the population. Each terrorist attack is a photo opportunity and an opportunity for the corrupt politicians in India to get face time in front of the cameras.

I could go on and on, but I won’t, as none of my rants will change anything in India. Sad but true..

Do you think that anything will change after the latest attacks? You can provide your opions at the BharatBeat FaceBook page or here..

Below are some articles related to the attack from a few days ago.

Google Plus – Invites available via BharatBeat!

Do you want an absolutely FRE invite to Google Plus?

As many of Dad’s readers know, Dad’s Taxi and BharatBeat.com continue to be partners and we are working to establish a global community for our friends.

Today, we are introducing for a limited time FREE INVITES to Google Plus.

  • We are not selling anything nor is there any obligation for you purchase anything. We are just trying to give back to our community!
  • You don’t have to buy anything, and your information will always be kept private.
  • Follow the directions below or go to the facebook page for and  BharatBeat as we introduce to our friends the new world of Google Plus!
After a very long time, Google has created a big buzz by releasing its own version of Social media called Google Plus or Google+. As of now it is in test phase and access is limited only to invites by members (like they did when Gmail came in).
After Facebook shot down Google’s Orkut, Google has come out with a bang with Google+. It has some really neat features. We will be soon creating a new section for Google Plus discussions.To get an invite for join Google Plus – here are the easy steps you should follow:

  • Once you complete the steps above, the BharatBeat Team will send you the invite to Google Plus ASAP.
  • In the email that you send us, make sure that you include the screen name which you used to post a message in this thread. If we cant match or find the screen name to the registered email, then we wont be able to send an invite.
  • If you are not a registered member of BharatBeat forums  click on Register button on the top of the forums page.
For example – if you sign in to this forum using a name called “email” then include that name in the email so that we can verify that you posted a message.It might take couple of days to get the invite because we have to send bulk invites. So please be patient.

Thank you and we hope you enjoy Google Plus

Jeopardy and Watson Computer

IBM Watson computer takes away jobs, or does it?

I’m sure you have heard by now the Jeopardy competition between the IBM supercomputer Watson and the two Jeopardy champions which the IBM supercomputer won handily.  The IBM super computer handily beat Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter (certified Jeopardy Champions) by over $50K in prize money.

My questions for you is this: Can this supercomputer take jobs away from humans? Can this computer supplant or replace the humans that helped to load it with information and answers? Will the scientists and programmers that built this computer be replaced in the future by computers like “Watson”?

This article seems to think that this is going to happen. I just don’t buy it.

Human know how and ability will surely outlast a computer..

What do you think?

Tri-Valley University Scam in California

Massive Immigration fraud perpetrated in California by University!

I was just reading the local publication of News India-Times when  I came across a scam that I wanted to talk about.

Tri-Valley University based in Pleasanton, California, had committed immigration fraud with over $4M in illegal tuitions over the past 2 years. With over 95% of their students coming for higher education from India!  Homeland Secuirity approved Tri-Valley University”  in 2009 and over 2 years had over 1,5000 registered “students”.

In reality, Tri-Valley University was just a pyramid scheme to bring in a majority of their students from Andra Pradesh, India with referral fees and discounts to provide educational visas for students. Of coursed these visas were nothing but  scam to bring students from India via immigration fraud.  Now of course many of the students were not aware of this massive immigration fraud, but wouldn’t you be suspicious if you came to the US for learning and all you saw was a building with minimal educational surroundings and were asked to stay in an apartment with other students?

These students that caem here took their TOEFL and passed their interviews at the US consulate after providing the necessary documents! This is based on an anonymous student who went to Tri-Valley. Now these students will rely on the empathy of the US government, pro-bono cases taken on by large law companies and representation by the various Indian associations in the US to represent the students facing deportation.

This kind of scam really is terrible, because now these students are being deported when they were just part of the scam  that Tri-Valley University concocted to make over $4M dollars over 2 years!

Now that the “University” is shut down, these students  who are either being detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have had their passports taken away or are under monitoring via ankle bracelet.

Let me ask you this question. What should be done with these students? Should they be sent back to India or should they be given the opportunity to find legitimate institutions to pursue their education? Keep in mind, a majority of these students come from poor villages in India.

What do you think? Should these students be allowed to stay in the US or should they be deported?

Updated on 2/22:

There’s a movement in California to get support to these students of the now shuttered Tri-Valley University to get admissions in real universities so they don’t get sent back. What do you think of this?

I of course have my opinion. How can these students be considered “pawns” of this scam? Didn’t they realize that they were being scammed when they came to the US and saw this “college” which was just sham?

Many kids from India and their parents struggle to send their kids to America to study, these kids just because they were defrauded do they deserve to be allowed to stay? What do you think?

Black Friday 2010 – R U Ready?

Black Friday sites all in one place.. Choose one that you like!

As many of my readers know,  I moderate multiple forums on Bharatbeat.com.  Many of my links for deals and steals can be found on the forums site.  I’ve posted multiple notes on Black Friday related information on the forums site.  I gathered this information via emails that I get from readers, and from newsletters I read.

I’m doing this as a public service.. I’m not getting any financial gains from posting this information. I started gathering this information, because I wanted to outdo my buddy AK, who has been a guest blogger here. Now I an certain that he will post his witty response to this, but hey.. what’s wrong with a little competition between friends?

Here’s where you come in. Go to the Forum Site and browse around and post a comment. Doesn’t cost anything, and you actually might find something that you may have an opinion on.

Dad

The Social Netwoork – Facebook Movie

My interpretation of The Social Network Movie. Best Movie of 2010!

Thus past weekend, I had the opportunity to see a movie that I actually and really enjoyed from start to finish. For the past few years (and many parents will attest to this),  I only go to movies that my kids take me to. So most of the movies I see are animated or made for kids. Worse than that is when I end up going to movies selected for me by my kids!

I’ve become notorious for falling asleep in the movies and getting poked in the ribs to wake up.

I actually enjoyed The Social Network from the opening frame to the end.  When I left the movie on Sunday, I honestly felt that the $24 that I spent was worth every penny of it!

What I liked about this movie was the pace at which the movie progressed in showing the character development. Each of the principals involved with what Facebook were shown as down to earth humans that happened to be in the right place at the right time.

As my friends know, my friend and I are working on a social portal for the Indian Community.  I could identify with the characters in The Social Network. I found myself  imagining myself as if BharatBeat was as successful as Facebook, where would I be in 10 years?

Before I went to the movie, I had not even seen a preview of the move, nor had I read any reviews related to the movie.  I’m glad the title of the movie doesn’t have “Facebook” in it. That would have alienated me from even going to see the movie.  The move traces from birth of an idea to the implementation of a unique idea to the conflicts success brings to ever random person associated with making “Facebook” the multi-billion venture that it currently is!

The film retraces the steps  of the  people it took to invent, expand, sustain, and make a confirmed success out of the concept of Facebook. What I learned that it takes if you have an idea, in order to succeed, the idea has to have some kind of uniqueness that people will comeback asking for more. This is the formula for success that BharatBeat needs to cultivate.

Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg played by Jesse Eisenberg, Facebook creator Zuckerberg comes across as an obsessed college student , so consumed with his website idea that despite making Facebook about socializing with people, that his last concern in the world is actually having real friends. He really didn’t care to have friends. He just was driven to succeed at his dream of creating a social Network. What started out as revenge at being spurned by his girl-friend, turned into a multi-billion dollar goliath.

I was fascinated  to see how the  Zuckerberg  character maintains his focus through the entire movie, constantly finding creative ways to improve Facebook, making and losing friends along the way. The way he absorbed ideas from his friends and added these ideas to his quickly popular website was masterful.  Honestly, until I saw the movie, I did not know much of Zuckerberg, nor did I have an inkling that Napster creator Sean Parker (convincingly played by Justin Timberlake), was behind the concept of changing the name from “The Facebook” to just “Facebook”.  Sean Parker’s brilliance and dogged influence on Zuckerberg is what put Facebook over the top both financially and globally.

The Social Network struggles to maintain its PG-13 rating, it could have easily been an R-rated Movie. The movie’s theme is without a doubt not meant for kids under 13-year-old, even thought many teenager’s live on Facebook starting at ages much younger than thirteen years old.

The Social Network is simply an addictive  drama,  once it catches you, it does not let go.   I was hooked from beginning to end. I will not be surprised, if this movie sweeps the Oscars.

There was no real  beginning, middle and End, … very similar to Facebook.  Rashida Jones’s sympathetic role portrayal was really a scene stealer. In my opinion she stole the scenes she was in.   The Social Network, from begin to end, is a constantly evolving product.  For me, the whole movie was a continual plot line and climax. The  unusual  formula of The Social Network is in itself the reason that the Facebook site is so successful..

For me to say that The Social Network is the movie of the year and a “must see” is quite unusual. I’m very critical of every movie I see.  The  perfectly executed acting, timing and fast  pace of The Social Network kept my mind and eyes riveted to the screen (as opposed to dozing off!).  Any movie that can keep my attention for a solid two hours plus deserves an award.

When I came out of the theatre, I was enthused that in order for me to succeed with BharatBeat, I need to focus and determine what is my end game? You tell me something, when was the last time you came out of a movie theater with jolt of energy to go out and make something of yourself?

I will give this movie 4 of 4 stars without any reservations!

Bharatbeat Relaunched

Dad’s Taxi and BharatBeat is proud to announce the re-launch of BharatBeat which is your first stop on the web for the Global South Asian!

And

Dad’s Taxi and BharatBeat is proud to announce the re-launch of Bharatbeat, your first stop on the web for the Global South Asian.

Bharatbeat is your first stop for the Global Indian.  Regardless of where you are, we try to provide you with a one stop source for all things related India (Forums, Movie Reviews, Gossip, Indo-Links, Travel).

Our newest venue is a Forums site which is  a chai-time based site where our members post  questions on a variety of topics, read interesting articles and find answers to anything and everything. We are looking for volunteers to take an active role in monitoring and responding to issues/questions to enable a global discussion that impact the South-Asian community

In the  BharatBeat Genie Forums, you can post feedback  related to:

  • Community Cafe  – Debate, ReelTalk, NewsRoom, Cooking Recipes, and Tips and tricks for life!
  • Moni Cafe – Savings and Deals Galore. Who doesn’t want a bargain?
  • Tech Cafe – Brilliant solutions to your technology questions and of course Tips and techniques, Free Software and tools, Smartphone Lounge and Ringtones for your smartphone.

The forums site is your site to provide your feedback and start an active conversation with each other on a global scale!

With this relaunch we celebrate the one year anniversary of BharatBeat in which we have seen over 10,000 unique visitors!

BharatBeat is designed to showcase the  diversity that defines today’s Global Beat of  India and the South-Asian community!

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FYI: I’ve had a new directory category on my side bar for sites where you can see various directory related information.

BharatBeat’s goal is be a community site where you the visitor can leave your input and be a contributor to our site. Email your suggestions on content and we will respond to you!

Bollywood Concert – AR Rahman Review

The A R Rahman show at the Prudential Center on September 23rd was outstanding.

Last night I went to an A R Rahman Bollywood concert at the Prudential Center in Newark New Jersey.  The words Bollywood and concert are oxymorons, because most of the “shows/concerts” that Bollywood puts on through the year in my native NJ are just that shows. The typical bollywood extravaganzas are cannot be described as concerts,  as the stars that just come to the US come for the mega bucks they get for their 2 to 3 hours of shaking and grinding to songs that the playback singers have sang for them for movies they have been in.

NOw back to my A R Rahman concert: This was the first live Bollywood style concert I’ve been too in years and let  me tell you I was blown away! The composer, producer can really put on a show! He is dimunitive in size but what a wallop his show packs! The live songs (note that there was no playback singing here, it was Live!) and instrumental compositions showcased were amazing. I didn’t see any major Bollywood star (i.e. Shah Rukh Khan) or any glitz that bollywood shows are notorious for.

Also the typical Bollywood style event doesn’t have much live singing. The stars come out and gyrate for 2 to 3 hours  dance and gyrate to music from movies. The typica extravaganza’s with bolly-stars are not real concerts,  because these shows are just publicity tours. These stars go on national tour in the U.S  and get mega moola and make millions (yes Millions!) of dollars at these venues!

Consider that the tickets to a typical Bollywood event can  can run up to $200 for the “VIP” seats, you are really not getting value for your money. At this show, the maximium price was like $75. If I wanted to see a star dancing to songs sung by others, I’ll watch them on DVD.

The A R Rahman concerts started one hour late, yet without a doubt it was worth the delay! The late start is normal (Indian Standard Time (IST)). So what if the stadium was only about 1/2 full on a week night (Thursday)? The show was just mind blowing. Every single dancer (majority of them appeared to be American Dancers!), and singer (majority of which I did not recognize), gave everyone their money’s worth for 2 solid hours. You can equate the quality of this performance to a Rafael Nadal tennis match at the US Open. Just overwhelming!

Rahman’s and his touring team’s  performance was amazing and will leave you with just one word —> WOW!.  The compositions and pieces showcases the true outstanding musician that Rahman truly is. In the recent past many Tamil and Hindi movies with his musical influence are classics and are blockbusters because of his musical genius! I found my self in awe of the production and presentation value. For many that know me, I’m cynical by nature and for me to give this kind of praise for any presentation, the show had to be damn good!

If there is one show you see this year, when this show comes to your town, you must see it! You will bypass all the other “Bollywood Extravaganza’s” that make the US tours every year. This show is the real deal.  No stars singing to songs sung by talented singers fro m India,  what I saw was LIVE  orchestral music, music and of course dance which was choreographed to perfection! With the inclusion of  the acrobatics by the dancers and the combination of up and coming vocal stars from India (Excluding Hari Haran), this show exemplified the unique talent that Rahman possesses.

As is in most Indian concerts, the audience was very tepid. They just sat in their seats, tap their feet and take videos with their respective iPhones and camera. Not until the final “Jai Ho” song did the audience come to their feet to give any resemblence of  a standing ovation for this magnificent performance. I guess this is part of the culture of going to Indian concerts.

When I left the venue, I felt that I had truly experienced music euphoria and bliss. Entertainment, music, dance, presentation, it was all there in a tightly wrapped package! No interval,  just well paced  songs with well spaced diversity between slow songs and foot stomping beat showcasing the Dhol, acrobatics, dances will keep you entranced for the duration!

The other bonus to this event was that it was my wife’s birthday and I had received complimentary tickets from my “Vijaya D”  from work to see this show! Don’t miss this show when it comes to your town. You will remember and talk about this type of show for a long long time!