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The Rain

Nothing makes me feel as. ……………alive as the rain. It is quite incomparable as far as I am concerned. Rains have a way of making everything look so beautiful so fresh (except for the roads in Chennai which nothing can make beautiful and the rains just make worse L).

There is nothing like walking in the rain with your face up literally receiving the showers of blessings from above. But unfortunately not everyone agrees with me. There are quite a few unromantic people around me, who just can’t appreciate the beauty of the rain. Oh I don’t mean to say that they dislike the rain per se, but they are too busy thinking about the negatives of the rain to appreciate the beauty of the rain. But that’s ok I am a great believer of personal right to opinion and to each his/her own. But when they try to pass their morose sentiments on to me its not much fun.

What’s worse is there is a conspiracy. Really a conspiracy to keep me away from the rains. When I was younger every time it rained my dad would call me, to check on me. Why, you ask. Well I had/ have a habit of going to the terrace and enjoying the rain. So every time it rained he would call me and warn me about going out in the rain. Paint an awful picture of cold and sore throat of sneezing till my nose resembles a clowns painted red nose…it just takes the joy from going out in the rain.

But that’s not all everyone from my sister, to my friends, to my colleagues at work and believe it or not even my students try and keep me out of the rain. There is nothing sadder my friend.

But anyways I guess that is enough sad thoughts for 1 rainy morning. So am closing it with a pleasant thought. Today it’s raining and Madras University in all its kindness has declared it a holiday today. So I am gonna just sit back and enjoy the rain. Alstala vista people.

P.S: A friend of mine suggested I try my hand at writing poems so I am gonna be trying to do that as well. If its worth publishing it will be seen on my blog till then………..

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 6 Comments

Of Pencils and erasers

My sister is no philosopher but she took up the role yesterday. People she said make mistakes. They make mistakes and learn from them and they go on. It is important that we must learn to go and let go. If man (or a woman in this case) were perfect he would never make mistakes and if that’s the case why do pencils need erasers? Wow pretty heavy for one so young.

The point she was trying to make is because a friend pissed me off and it annoyed me to no extent. Why you ask simple, I am a person with certain beliefs, certain idea of what is right and what is wrong and while maybe it is not always right it is mine. Which is why I do not appreciate when others feel they must foist their opinion on others. An opinion is by definition – a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

So people must learn to respect opinions theirs and mine. Because once you cross a certain line there is just no erasing allowed.

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Coffee and snobbery

Probably the costliest coffee in India is Kopi Luwak. Which retails at Hotel Shangri-La hotel, New Delhi 2 a very nominal cost it is only – Rs. 850 / cup. As texans are so fond of saying if that don’t beat all. Well apparently that just does not beat all the beauty of the coffee it is told is its unique strong, nutty, chocolatey flavour (outlook magazine Nov 17 issue). And why wont it be unique for the coffee beans are processed by the Asian Palm Civet (a kind of cat). What am I talking about you ask, how can a cat Asian or otherwise process coffee. Kopi Luwak or Civet coffee is coffee made from coffee berries, which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet.

The civets eat the berries, but the beans inside pass through their system undigested. The inner bean of the berry is not digested, but it has been proposed that enzymes in the stomach of the civet add to the coffee’s flavor by breaking down the proteins that give coffee its bitter taste. The beans are defecated still covered in some inner layers of the berry. The beans are washed, and given only a light roast so as to not destroy the complex flavors that develop through the process. Some sources claim that the beans may be regurgitated instead of defecated.

In early days, the beans would be collected in the wild from a ‘latrine’, or a specific place where the civet would defecate as a means to mark its territory, and these latrines would be a predictable place for local gatherers to find the beans. More commonly today, captured civets are fed raw berries, the feces produced are then processed and the coffee beans offered for sale.

So essentially we are drinking coffee made from the remains of cat shit and for that we are paying a premium. It begs consideration where we are going with our petty snobberies. Jaago India wake up and look where we are going and what we are eating.

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

An inspiration to follow

Banking for the common man

By Liffy Thomas

anish

The branchless banking initiative of countries like Brazil and Philippines inspired these social entrepreneurs to start a financial service outside conventional banks using information and communication technologies. Cashnxt Technologies is the latest entrepreneurial venture of Anish Achuthan (26) and Rameena Rabeedin (28). Both have either worked or founded a couple of start-ups based in Kerala, making their entrepreneurial journey more interesting.

Ridiculed by classmates and finding no support and encouragement from parents, the friends are out to prove that dreams can be fulfilled even in the least conducive of environments.

Learning from failures

The seeds for the venture (Mobeo Technologies) were sown in 2007, where they christened their low-cost banking terminal as ‘Personal Banking Machines’. These machines enabled customers access ATM and banking services using their finger print and a mobile pin. But after a year of operation they were forced to close down due to unfavourable market conditions, including RBI regulations, viability of PBM hardware distribution, etc.

“We realised our mistakes and took the failure of Mobeo as a learning experience,” says Anish, president and CEO of Cashnxt Technologies, which they re-launched in 2008. “We decided to partner with companies that had already launched similar low-cost banking devices for the rural poor.”

Branching out

Their new kiosk is a plug ‘n’ play branchless banking network that enables customers in semi-urban and rural markets to undertake most financial transactions. It uses a network of low-cost ATMs (manufactured by Vortex Engineering, Chennai), Smart Teller Machines (developed jointly by interns of IIT-Varanasi and SKIT, Jaipur, which enables a customer perform all transactions done in a regular bank by interacting with a real teller from the bank using two-way audio and video), E-POS terminals, and a mobile and branchless banking gateway to offer services like cash withdrawal, depositing cash, printing cheque books, etc.

“Huge operational cost and poor connectivity are main reasons why banks do not set up ATMs in villages. As service providers our network can be used by any bank or MFIs on a pay-per-use basis without any capital investment or additional infrastructure,” explains Anish, who also founded companies like Ifuturz Wireless and TNGiCube.

Cashnxt has partnered with four banks in Kannur for their pilot project, which will commence from December, and has deployed 10 such kiosks. They are currently looking for funding and partners to take them places. The company is also moving its base to Gurgaon where it hopes will give them more access to Venture Capitalists and like-minded banks.

Funding dreams

Anish’s exposure with various companies, which he was associated since his engineering days, helped him pool the initial resource for Cashnxt. “We started in Kochi with a 15-member team, with investments from a group of friends and alumina of our college,” they recall.

Thanks to Venturewoods, where Anish blogs, and LinkedIn he found more like-minded people who were ready to share their expertise with him. Kishore Bobba (former VP of First Bank of Delaware, USA), Pradeep Bhutani (former VP technology of Knowcross Solutions) and Shivani Vig (financial consultant with IBM Global Services) are other core members in his team, which he connected through online platforms.

Their road ahead is challenging, but they agree if they cross these obstacles it will bring smiles to rural bankers.

Company: Cashnxt Technologies

Started: 2008

Founders: Anish Achuthan and Rameena Rabeedin

Team: 25

Funding: self

Focus areas: Offering banking service to the banked and unbanked customers in rural and semi-urban markets using low-cost ATMs and STMs

Website: http://www.cashnxt.net

Email: achuthan.anish@cashnxt.net

This is another inspirational story I found at http://www.goergo.in/?p=2936 made all the more special by the fact that the person interviewed is a good friend. Lesson to be taken Anish is someone who has faced a lot of failures and disappointments in life but still like a phoenix he keeps rising from the ashes. Well here is hoping he has got truly lucky this time 🙂

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

An evening in Chennai

It was a fine Friday a cool evening with a little rain and a lot of pleasant breeze. I was looking forward to a comfortable drive home in the college bus and we started. This might be a good time to mention that I work at Hindustan College of Arts & Science, Padur. And so we got started @ 4:30 p.m from Padur and in about half an hour we reached Madhya Kailash (Adyar) where we got stuck in traffic and so we waited and waited and waited and kept waiting for not 1 or 2 hours a whole 3 hours, and did I hear a why well elementary Watson, it was the day that thousands of people from Tamil Nadu got together to express their solidarity for the Sri Lankan Tamils. http://www.hindu.com/2008/10/25/stories/2008102556090800.htm

Now expressing solidarity is a rather fine idea and if it is your brother across the sea all the more better but that does not mean you have to be a ………….. public nuisance. A journey that normally takes me one and a half hours at the most (from padur to Ambattur) took 7 hours what the human chain started was continued by the rain.

To say the road was flooded is an understatement. As the bus inched by millimeter by millimeter I got to know Chennai… intimately. The roads were full of floating debris and cars that had stalled mid way. Men and women waded in water that was often waist deep. And after all this came CMBT. Now what is so great about the moffusil bus stop, ill tell you it was traffic more and more traffic. With the busses that came in a succession one after the other it was another one hour before I moved again.

Now what is the point of this blog well simple it is just a common man’s (or woman’s) gripe against the pathetic excuse that is traffic management in Chennai. The blame for the 7 hours that I spent stuck in the traffic I lay solely at the doorstep of Chennai cops. This is plain ridiculous even worse than the proverbial Himalayan blunder. Being the diwali weekend a lot of colleagues who were trying to get home missed their busses and trains. All along the way home I saw many anxious parents waiting for their wards to come home. The Chennai corporation better wake up to the fact that there is more to traffic management than building flyovers all over the place.

November 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 11 Comments