Friday, August 21, 2015

Airtel 4G – A revolution in speedy internet

Internet is an integral part of our lives. In fact, I really find it hard to believe that there was a time when we didn’t have internet. Now, we have smartphones that make us access information anytime anywhere. For people like me who work online, it is imperative that I have a good network connection with high speeds. This is to enable me to download large files, browse through videos and other information and transmit data speedily. Often, that does not happen as smoothly. Even the networks that promise very high speeds often end up being erratic.

There are times when it is difficult to even get 3G speeds while traveling. On my recent trip to Rajasthan, I was completely frustrated when I got 2G speeds most of the time. You can imagine how exasperating it is to wait forever for pages to load. Even answering a simple email and sending it across was an ordeal. Also, I needed to urgently modify a ticket online but could not do so because of such poor speeds on my mobile. Hence I had to call a relative and ask for help.

This is where Airtel’s promise of 4G seems wildly exciting. Imagine the possibilities with lightning-fast internet network.

Here are some of the things that I would do:
1. Movie downloads: Yes, at the current speeds, it is a pain to download a movie and then wait for hours while it gets downloaded. Now, I can have the movie downloaded in no time. Just the thought of it makes me so happy.
2. Music: I love music. I love to hear music when I work. Hence I either play playlists or Youtube videos while I work. Now the videos will not keep buffering and spoiling my listening pleasure if the speeds are this good.
3. Browsing: I read a lot of articles, blog posts, e-books online. I am also a person who often does online courses. You know the courses that include lots of videos and graphics. Generally, these videos take quite some time to load and play and often I have to use a high-speed network to access them. Thus, I lose out on utilizing the time I waste sometimes in commute or while waiting for ages outside a doctor's office. Now, I can plug in my headphones and instantly access these videos even on my smartphone. How lovely is that!
4. Videos: I love watching trailers and song videos regularly on my phone. I also love watching videos of my children that have been uploaded online. These ought to be a breeze with a faster network.
5. Video calls: These will become significantly better improving communication with my clients as we can see and hear each other better in real time.

So, there you see how excited I am to do all my favorite things once I get Airtel 4G SIM for my phone.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fun with Colgate Magical Castle

I have never seen so much excitement around a toothpaste purchase. Seriously, Colgate has introduced this fun Magical Castle and characters inside their toothpaste carton. Cut and prop and you have a Castle appearing right  before your eyes. See how my son had fun with it. Brushing your teeth was never this much fun!

Do also check out Colgate's fun advertisement:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Surf it fast with UC Browser

I was a huge cricket fan when I was younger. In my teen years, the cricket played was much less just the Tests and the One dayers. And the coverage was pretty basic. None of your slow motion replays and glitzy commentators. Just a pretty basic cricket coverage on the National DD channel. Of course, the internet was not there. Hence we really missed out on watching cricket coverage so many times.

These days, I get to watch high quality HD action on my satellite television package. Really, it is a delight to watch. But, you know I also regularly surf and watch cricket on the mobile through Apps. In fact, this World Cup, I was away on a trip to an old relative’s place. They have a pretty basic television in their house which luckily had the channel that I was interested in watching. But, guess what, their cable network went down on a crucial juncture in the second innings. It was so frustrating. Despite multiple calls to the cable operator, it seemed highly unlikely that the problem was going to be rectified any time soon. That was when internet cricket coverage came to my rescue. I searched online and started watching the match ball by ball. But, you know what was the dampener? The buffering took an awful lot of time. I was stuck on deliveries forever, waiting for the video to stream properly. It was such a nuisance. So, you know what I did. Fed up I switched to audio commentary. I know, pathetic right! But what choice did I have? And I watched rather heard the rest of the match because at least that way I could get to understand the scores ‘live.’

I recently came across UCBrowser.  You can easily download the browser. On the UC Browser, find the blue icon of UC Cricket. Open it and browse lightning fast through to the cricket match that you wish to watch. No problems or rebooting or frozen feeds. No issues of googling to check the score.  You save all the time on repeated searches.

To tell you the truth, since my last bad experience I had hardly ever seen cricket coverage on my phone. But with UC browser, it was surprisingly good. There was no phase lag and all the relevant information was available right there. Subsequently, I find myself utilizing internet more often to watch cricket on the go. It works well, is fast and efficient and does not let you waste time waiting for buffering.

So, if you  are an avid cricket fan and who is not in India, then you must try this browser out. Just download it on your phone and you are good to go. Get all the cricket news at your fingertips.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Airtel App and its features

I have been an Airtel subscriber for many years now. As a matter of fact, I have Airtel subscription for my landline and broadband. I also have an Airtel plan for my mobile phone. Since my smartphone accompanies me everywhere and I do a lot of browsing, answering emails and shopping on my phone, it was sort of obvious that I would love to have more control of my Airtel accounts on my fingertips. Hence as soon as I heard of the Airtel Money App, I immediately downloaded it.

The bright red icon is now synonymous with Airtel. There was a very short registration process which verifies your mobile number and after inputting certain details you get access to all the services on the App.

The 3 best features that I liked about Airtel App are:
Screenshot of Airtel App
Access your Airtel bill and pay it online:

Whether you are a post paid or pre-paid Airtel customer, you can access your bill, get regular updates about balance remaining and pay your bill on time. You can also pay many other bills right from your phone including for other service providers and utilities. You can also access the bill of your landline and Broadband. You can get notifications about the amount due through Airtel Money App.

Recharge your mobile:

I have a pre-paid Airtel mobile account hence I manually recharge both my mobile data and mobile pack regularly. With Airtel Money, it is a breeze to recharge the same without accessing any other details. It really is simple and very useful. 
Certainly, it is one of the most useful features for me.

Another screenshot of Airtel App
Get some great offers:

Yes, you get discounts for shopping on your favorite portals. There is this cute feature on Airtel App that asks you to shake the phone for offers. And then the offers just tumble out. There are also discounts on your airtel accounts as well. So, yes, shake that phone, use the App and get some nifty discount coupons.

Apart from these, you can recharge your Airtel DTH account using the App, know the account details and get notifications about dues etc.

Smartphone Apps have made our lives so easy these days. With easy access to wi-fi, one is always having the Apps at our fingertips to access information, pay bills and shop. It really has become an Appy world.

As an Airtel consumer, the Airtel money App is a huge timesaver and lifesaver for me. I don’t have to wait to get on my laptop to watch my multiple accounts. Especially with my pre-paid connection, one never knows when one may need to recharge, and that is where Airtel App comes in handy.

If you are an Airtel subscriber, do download the App today and use it. It is really simple and user friendly.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

#EkNayiLeague Yeh hai kya?

It has been very interesting to watch Kapil Dev talk about #EkNayiLeague. Kapil is the endearing cricketer I grew up watching. He bought the first World Cup home. It is nice to see him talk directly to our sporting heroes like Sania Mirza or Yuvraj Singh in the short Youtube snippets that I've seen aired. Frankly, it has piqued my curiosity.

What is this Ek Nayi League? I don't think it is a cricketing league on the lines of IPL. The reason being that Kapil was already involved in the ICL, which later became defunct. Also, since he is addressing a broad range of sportspeople, it is clear that the league involves playing of some sort but not necessarily cricket.

Since, he also throws clues at us by saying that the players will all lose if they play with their hearts while they need to use their (then points to his head) mind, it is clear that it a game of wits. This game does not require physical strength or else our sporting heroes will not fail. This game is definitely one that requires careful planning, strategy and perhaps knowledge. Is it some sort of a quiz like the Kaun Banega Crorepati that Mr. Bachchan hosted so well. Of course, considering that Kapil Dev is the force behind it, it could be a sports quiz that wins you prizes.

It could also be some other game show where wits are pitted against each other to win. That is the reason why he insists that you need your head more than heart or passion. Could it be a game show that somehow involves sports and mind. Now, that would be a lot of fun, don’t you think? For one, I would love to know the format of this. I do hope that they involve common people instead of only celebrities.

Another thought that courses through my mind is whether it is an online game show. I will tell you why I think this. There is a website for #EkNayiLeague and Kapil has taken to twitter to unveil the idea of this league. He is also asking us to follow him on twitter so that we will know about this unique League. Hence, definitely his target audience is an online audience. It could be a TV game show for which he is doing online marketing too, but I have a feel that it must an online game show of wits. Could it be about stock market. Play, invest and win? That requires both risk taking as well as intelligence.

I am eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the idea behind #EkNayiLeague. I am sure there are many others just like me waiting to check if what they have guessed is indeed what this new league is.

Do stay tuned to their website at Ek Nayi League to know more and to stay updated about this exciting new fixture. You may also submit your idea on their website to win an exciting prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Holidays with kids

The vacation is over and done with. Now the actual challenge is in keeping the children busy. I don't want them to be stuck to the telly all day long. But, it is a tough balancing act. The younger one often sneaks in some extra time. He is very persistent, and he knows that when mommy is working, it is the best time to get things done his way.

Anyway, they are also playing cricket, TT and swimming. Talking about swimming, the younger one picked up a nasty ear infection while on vacation. It was swimmer's ear that he picked up as contaminated water got into his ear from a swimming pool. Luckily, he is well now but will have to wear ear plugs before swimming and even taking a shower.

I hope that they do more reading. The elder one is already doing some online courses. Mostly I want them to enjoy the time while still letting me work and do other chores.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The 'endearing' guides

When one goes on vacation as tourists, one really annoying part is the fake hospitality of many people. Right from the taxi driver who helpfully suggests a particular eatery for a cut most likely to a guide who is more interested in selling you a handicraft, an astrologer or a stone rather than really telling you the history of the place, it gets mighty annoying.

Why do people hound tourists in this manner? Seriously, they do not take no for an answer. If you have to learn about perseverance these people make the best teachers. They are enough to spoil your experience of visiting a heritage monument. I had a tough time on my recent visit to Rajasthan with them.

But, what I was even more shocked about is how they harass the foreigners. Right from quoting astronomical prices to them to literally hounding them, I wonder what they think of the image that they are promoting about our country. Food for thought, right?

Monday, April 6, 2015

The spitters

As I go through the small town of Bikaner, one thing that really hits me is the filth. Compared to the other cities in Rajasthan, this one looks quite filthy. There is garbage on the streets and the spitters abound. For some reason, we hate keeping our saliva in our mouths. Whether it is phlegm, paan or gutkha, spitting seems to be the finest way in which towns are painted red. Considering that this city draws a number of tourists it is quite tragic to see that no one seems to care about keeping the city presentable.

To my bad luck, I had my stay in the old city of Bikaner. Now I have seen many old cities in many cities across India. Typically, they have narrow lanes and old-style architecture but Bikaner's old city is comparatively even narrower and dirtier. Open sewers, a smell of feces hanging in the air and streets where one can barely walk as cattle, autos and humans jostle for space.

Luckily I had only a one day stopover here. Did not find much of virtue. The only redeeming feature was the Junagadh Fort.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A scare

Last evening, we were heading to the Railway Station in Hyderabad to catch a train back to Bangalore. It was a routine trip to the station. The taxi had been booked through one of the well-known taxi operators. The elder son was dozing off, and I was wondering if the excessive traffic will give us enough time to board the train. Just then, we smelled some smoke kind of smell. While I was just sniffing, the husband who was in the front deducted that it was coming from the airconditioning vents.

He immediately told the driver who switched off the a/c and we all rolled down our windows. It was a hatchback. Relieved that the problem was solved, the husband saw some smoke outside the car though I did not see any fumes. He was horrified to note that the fumes were coming out from our car's bonnet. I guess the visuals of all the horrifying tales that we read in the newspapers of the car suddenly burning went through his mind. Alert, he asked the driver to stop the car.

And, as soon as it came to a stop, all of us just rushed out, kids included. Within seconds we were out. We saw quite a bit of smoke billowing from under the bonnet. We don't know what exactly the problem was but we asked the driver to not drive the car before getting it checked by a mechanic. We also gave him his money and frantically looked for an autorickshaw to cover our remaining journey.

Bidding him goodbye we proceeded to the station. I hope he gets his car fixed soon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Baap of all battles

Today is the semi final of the Cricket World Cup 2015. To tell you the truth, I really wasn't looking forward to the World Cup. I have hardly been watching any cricket of late. But the World Cup action completely sucked me into it. The India - Pakistan game set the tone of it. And, since then Team India has been making us proud with their excellent show as a team. Nothing warms the heart more when the team works as a unit. Bowling, batting and fielding -- everyone has been putting in their best.

It is heartening to watch. Today is a pressure semi final. Two extremely well-matched teams are facing off right now. There is very little to choose between the two. I just hope that it is an entertaining encounter and of course that Indian wins it today.

Currently, Australia is batting and they have already lost a wicket. So fingers crossed that the match goes India's way.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Vacation in Hyderabad

The kiddos finished their exams, and we took off to Hyderabad on the very next day. My in-laws' house is here. Hyderabad gets stiflingly hot in summer especially late April and May. So this year we decided to come a bit early. The weather is heating up, but it is not yet unbearable till now. The kids are gripped with the cricket fever. Their favorite pastime these days is playing cricket outdoors. Works for me, I tell you. I can work at home in peace. :)

I was surprised to see a few Tabebuia in bloom here. I haven't seen Tabebuia blooms in all the time that I have visited Hyderabad. The roads are looking better as they recently got a fresh coat of tar. Hence, at least till now, we have been spared the potholes. But, of course, we have to travel to more areas to see if the change is all over the city.

It has been many months since the state of Telangana has been formed yet most vehicles I noticed still have the AP number plates. I guess it will be a massive exercise to get all of them changed and will take some more time yet. I also heard that the courts were not functioning since the past 1.5 months as people were demanding separate courts for the residents of Telangana excluding the other residents of this state. I wonder if this is even possible constitutionally. But then it is enough to paralyze the legal setup in the state.

It is a good break for me as I get to work in peace as mum-in-law pampers me and gives me a break from daily routine.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A shocking incident about gas delivery

Of late, gas delivery has become a huge nuisance. First we struggled through January as our gas agency guys made us run around in circles while canceling our refill delivery. Pleas that Aadhar connection was not reason for them to stop delivery of this essential service fell on deaf ears. After running around 4 times, finally Aadhar was linked to our bank account and gas agency connection and we got our precious cylinder.

Here I want to question the implementation of government's Pahal scheme. It was seriously botched, the frontend taking time to update even after submission of relevant forms. The Customer service helpline was useless and the consumer was left on their own to stew in the misery.

You can read our harrowing experience in detail as documented by my husband. After this incident we thought our troubles were behind us. But, no Sir. How wrong we were?

After booking our next refill on 17th Feb, we found that well into March the refill was not yet delivered. Concerned, we checked the status on the IVR and found that even though bookings till 20th Feb were delivered ours was not. We went online to the Indane portal and lodged a complaint. The reply came that we needed to connect our bank account. What rubbish, we thought! I guess the gas agency just gave ad hoc replies. After letting them know that we had already given our bank account details, we got a reply that the cylinder will be delivered in a couple of days.

So, today afternoon, it was a happy time to see the van with refill cylinders come to our home. He gave us the receipt and checked our book. When paying him the money, he demanded Rs. 15 over and above the bill. We have already told him many times that we will not pay him extra money and especially not when he demands it. Guess what, he took the cylinder back and put it in his van. Imagine our shock. I said how can he deny us a cylinder and brazenly push us to pay money. Apparently this guy who behaves like a goon torments many residents. Most people just pay up. I would have too if the husband wasn't home. Who would want to have a tiff with a menacing guy?

Anyway, we put our foot down and told him we will complain. My husband recorded him on his cellphone asking him how he can demand money blatantly. He kept mum seeing the camera. Perhaps good sense dawned or he knew we would take this matter further, he gave us the cylinder before going.

I am now wondering how it will be from the next time on. This really is terrible when your delivery people threaten you and refuse to deliver what is rightfully yours.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Exams begin

Oh gosh, the exams have begun for the kids. At least they have started so they will get over soon. While the elder son studies on his own, the younger one needs me to sit with him and teach him. When he actually sits down to study, he can finish off quickly. But, he is wanderer. Getting him to sit in one place requires loads of efforts. I guess that is how children are. Their attention flits from one spot to another.

Luckily this time, I had ensured that we study most of the syllabus in advance even though with the younger one's injury, we had not done any studying for a week. Anyhow, it is good that each exam has one holiday subsequently so it gives some breathing space to the children.

Let us see how everything goes. Holi has come and gone by. Didn't do much. Just made some yummy goodies. Holi always come so close to exams which acts as a dampener. This year there was a swine flu scare to contend with too. Besides, the school was working on that day so the kids missed playing Holi.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Litter here litter there

Littering seems to be in our genes, literally. Open a packet of chips and just let the packet drop down. It does not matter if you are in the middle of a street. It does not matter if the street is otherwise spick and span. Who cares! When a person has to throw, a person has to throw. While we all like to keep our homes clean with the use of disinfectants, cleaners and what have you, just look at the condition of our roads and just about any open spaces.

Plastic bags, paper, plastic covers etc. are everywhere. Children are not immune to this contagious disease either. No matter how many "Swachh Bharat" campaigns keep happening in our country, it seems that I will only do what is convenient for me. Tell a child that he must pick the wrapper he threw and chances are that they would either roll their eyes or give you a dirty look as if you asked for their family's wealth. Yes, these are the affluent kids who go to the most expensive schools who do that. Perhaps, it is the fault of their parents who do not reinforce good behavior outside their homes. Or, maybe their peers who don't care.

Whatever it is, it seems that the littering habit of people in our country is here to stay. What can awareness campaigns do when the mindsets are just not amenable to behaviour decent and proper?

Monday, February 16, 2015

India vs Pak World Cup match

You know, I am a person who has almost stopped watching cricket. Blame it on the absolute excess of it or the IPLs, I don't know. Hence, I was studiously avoiding any cricketing debates on TV. I also was not really aware of the Indian 11 in the World Cup. Yep, that bad! I have never really caught on the India vs. Pak rivalry in cricket. It makes for colourful viewing, agreed, but it certainly is not war or something more serious for me.

Thus, last Sunday, I was almost casual about the WC match. After a heavy breakfast, I was reading the Sunday newspapers. The son and the husband were excitedly discussing the match. And then the National Anthem was on. That always catches my attention. After that the match commenced. I had no choice but to watch since the sonny and the husband were so excited.

In no time, I was caught in the frenzy as India was batting first. Slowly, I was cheering and jeering and completely in the mood. And for the first time, I was also tracking the match on twitter. Some of the tweets were hilarious. It made the match viewing pleasure even better. We were flipping between the English and the Hindi commentary so that Mr. Amitabh Bachchan who was making his commentary debut in Hindi could not be missed.

Overall, the match was really good. It was even better that India won maintaining their record of beating Pakistan in every World Cup outing so far. Yes, it was a Sunday well spent. I had watched the match from start to finish. And, the only concern was who was going to cook the lunch. :)

Now, I am awaiting the match between the Proteas and India the coming Sunday. Looks like the World Cup will be fun after all. :)