Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A trip to Amsterdam - Part I

A dream comes true. I visited Amsterdam over the Christmas holidays for 4 days with my friend.

Having got a good deal on the hotel for staying at Amsterdam, we looked forward to the trip very much, as every person we spoke to had only praise for it. Of course, when I was in India, it was one of the great European cities, bordering almost on legendary.

We reached Amsterdam around 3:30 pm and took a tram (the service is quite good, although i have my doubts on its capacity to handle a very large population!). After about an hour of searching, we finally located the hotel. Addresses in the city can be quite confusing, since main roads do not have the house numbers sequentially!

The hotel - The Sphinx - was decent, although there might be a law suit waiting to happen because of the narrow, spiralling stairs.

We spent the next few hours roaming around the Dam Square (see image above), which is the city center and very close to the Central Station.

After a few hours visiting the, umm, tourist attraction..., we had dinner at an Indian restaurant. One difference in this Indian restaurant was that the indians serving inside the restaurant were polite to us. It has been a source of perennial irritation to me (in Germany, especially) that Indian restaurants don't seem very welcoming of Indians, especially guys-only groups. One reason I can think for not getting a lot of attention is that tourists from other countries will need explanation of the menu. That is OK. What is NOT OK is the almost rude nature of service.

The next day was spent in visiting the two famous museums, Rijks and Van Gogh. It was a time well-spent, although for some of the paintings, we pretended to be art connoiseurs, looking at the paintings from different angles and trying to talk knowledgeably :) [We even had a tourist eagerly listening to us!]

The two museums are close to each other and you can buy reproductions from them of the masters.

We bought a few paintings and some postcards that we think we can use as smaller paintings. I know now what makes something world-class. Basic facts about the paintings is only one part. History, situational commentary and above all, the overall presentation. I was very impressed by the background, the lighting and even the fonts used in the museum. I will post more of these pictures in my Flickr account, as Blogger is not allowing more pics in this post.

We finished the two museums late in the evening and the rest of the night was spent in going around the Flower market and the canals. Look out for "Amsterdam Part II."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Top 10 Reasons: A Case for restoring Monarchy in India

I was watching some old films recently and I couldn't help wondering about the systems of Government in the old times and now.

Most kings and queens, at least in India, held their royalty as a kind of service to the people, although there have been monarchs on the other side too. We have come to view concentration of power in a single person as the most dangerous thing that can happen to a group of people.
I agree. Examples abound in history and present of bloodthirsty kings. But then, is our current system any better?

Maybe yes, because of the fact that we can choose whom we want, but I feel we have degenerated as a society to the point where honest people do not look upon politics as a profession or a way of service.

Lets assume for a moment that we revert to being a Kingdom (apologies to the feminist crowd here) AND we get a line of rulers who are benevolent monarchs. What would happen?

Top 10 lists are the fad now among blogs, so I will list my reasons in the same format:

1. We can be sure that the country will not split into chaotic city states.No more Chhatisgarhs, Telenganas, Nagas...
2. Delegation of power will mean just that - it will not become "Lets divide the land. You rule there, I will rule here".
3. We can easily counter corruption, although we may not be able to completely remove it.
4. Justice for the wronged can be immediate, instead of waiting for eternity. Escalations paths clearly defined.
5. No incentive for rowdy-sheeters and hiding behind under corrupt politicians.
6. The police can do their jobs, without fear of transfers and suspensions. They will not have to stand guard for people who have to make a visit to the bathroom.
7. No more elections and the associated rigging, demands for contributions for "Election funds" and more importantly, the cost of conducting elections.
8. No Unions who will strike and march on the slightest pretext.
9. No votebank politics, so no communal clashes.
10. A single military policy that doesn't change with Governments.

[You may think up more, but since this is a Top 10 list, I will stop here]

I know, there is no guarantee of "benevolent" monarchs, true, but do we really have good
politicians in democracies? We have to choose between two or more evils, none of whom really
care about the country.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Shruthi gives a warning

I recently discovered Motionbox, an excellent site and probably up there with You Tube. So, I uploaded a video and sharing it with you.

For those of you not in the know, Shruthi is my li'l daughter who is the source of joy to us.

Added: Video Editing by Ravi

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Bored Blogger

What does a blogger with no readers for his blog and with no work do? You could tell him that he ought to stop blogging and do something worthwhile, like reading other blogs.

But hey, I am a compulsive and mostly impulsive blogger!

With no respectable hobby to speak of (such as painting!), I turned to an activity that is despicable even by my standards - sprucing up my blog. Oh, not the background color or the designer font variety, but the new online buzz - "Widgets".

Yes, the small itsy bitsy things that sit on your blog and show content from somewhere else. You will notice a few of them right now, let me see, Flickr Badges, Weather and temperature, receiving posts through emails (as if anybody is reading them!) - sorry I got carried away.

I am now searching for "cool" widgets to just occupy myself. YouTube widgets, Countdown timers, News widgets etc.

Thats the danger sign, I recognize it, but the lure is too strong. With no comments for any of the last few posts, I think the next thing I will do is to put in the comments myself [Thats when you can have me committed for "Compulsive Adolescent Blogoticitis"!]

Last I knew, there are more than 150,000 blogs in India alone , out of which about probably 1000 have good traffic. Others like mine are ramblings of a bored blogger.

Since this post also may not see a reader, I will post a message to myself:

"Hi Sridhar. Welcome to the blog."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ordering Pizza? Read the rants of a Pizza Delivery guy

While browsing through some interesting questions on Yahoo Answers, I came across a question on "tipping".

The answers were intesresting and as i started exploring the links stumbled upon this interesting page -

Read this to understand the "other" side of the story - the complaints the delivery guys have against the customers.

To avoid any grumbling, tip them more!!!

In a restaurant, I generally tip only if the waiter/waitress has been polite and patient while we decide whether to order "Malai Kofta" or "Panner Butter Masala" with my "naan"! Of course, if we are to serve ourselves the "Biryani" with one hand, I never, ever tip.

For a delivery, I generally do tip, but again, it depends on the guy. If he does it as if its a job, then he is getting paid for it anyway!

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