Saturday, August 8, 2015

Turkish Traffic Delight

Turkey is the country known for its Ottoman empire and Turkish delight sweets. I was recently posted in Istanbul and got an opportunity to see the history of ottoman empire very closely. This blog is not about the Ottoman empire and other great places of Istanbul though. This blog is about the traffic woes in Istanbul, one of the most developed cities of Turkey and has the presence in both Europe and Asia. Unique city to have European side as well as Asian side and the Bosporus in between. Culture wise one of the best cities I've ever visited in recent times.Istanbul has a population of 14.5 million and is spread across 5400 square KM.

Coming to traffic woes which is the focus of this blog, Istanbul has nearly almost all the type of transit system within the city. Some of them are provided below as I plan to take you through each one of it detail.
  1. Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS)
  2. Metro Rail
  3. Metro Bus
  4. Metro Tram
  5. Metro Funicular
  6. Ferries to cross from European side to Asian side (vice versa)
  7. Private transport
  8. Taxis (Yellow Taxis) 
  9. Marmaray Tube
  10. Walkways,Pathways,Cycle paths etc 
Before I start with the details let me tell you that even though Istanbul has almost all type of transport systems in place, the private transport still takes anyone about an hour to reach 20 km during peak hours. This may vary depending on traffic and may sometime take you 2 hours as well. 

The roads in Istanbul are wide and have at least 3 lanes each side in many part of the city except the old city of course, where the population is quite high and place for expansion is very low.

Overall the above transport systems are developed to help people to travel long distances in a very short time but again when it comes to taxis, private transport or metro bus the time taken does not seem to reduce during peak hours.

           BRTS is developed with a very good plan and really reduces the lot of time when you are using this transport. This is developed with proper fly overs for the people to exit safely and securely. The ticketing system is same across all the public mode transports. You can buy prepaid card and use in any of the public transport systems. Refer to wiki link below for more information on BRTS

Dedicated BRTS lanes

Traffic jam of private vehicles

BRTS Station and staircase for entry and exit
Ticketing entry

Over bridge for safe entry and exit to BRTS 

As I'm currently located in Pune, when I compare the BRTS in Istanbul, the one in Pune is really pathetic and was designed in hurry without any design or plan. Even today the BRTS which is being implemented in Pune does not have any safe exit for people using it.It has become a death trap in Pune.   
        Metro rail is totally underground with a exceptions of few stations. I would guess it to be at least 8-10 floors (average) under the city. Very nicely developed and very safe to travel with metro rail. I've used this system on regular basis for my office travel during my stay in Istanbul. The access to stations and exits are very well designed with proper escalators, lifts etc so people can use it with ease. During the peak hours you can comfortably stand and travel.
       Metro Tram is another good transport in Istanbul within the congested areas of the city. Tram provides a very good connectivity for most of the tourist attractions within the city.
       Metro buses are also available for transport but they use the regular lanes so most of the time due to traffic congestion they run late during the peak hours.

Metro Funicular
         This is another way of transport which is through the Tunnel.One of the Funiculars is 139 years old at the time of this blog.

Funicular Track


Metro Rail Inside View


Metro Rail Station at Yenikapi


Metro Rail Walkways

Tram route

Metron Rail Entry and Exit Escalators

Metro Bus

139 year old Funicular

139 year old Tunnel

Bus Stop

Public Transport Map
      Ferries are used to travel from European side to Asian side as well as to some of the small islands around Istanbul. These give a very beautiful view of the Istanbul and are available from multiple stations.

Ferry from Asian Side to European side

Ferry from European side to Asian side.
 Marmaray Tube is under sea transit system which also can be used if you want to go to European or Asian side.

The walkways at some of the places in Istanbul are really nice and give a good walking experience.

Yellow Taxis are famous in Istanbul and provide one more good way of transport but you have to be careful during peak hours.

Overall Istanbul has many different ways but still has lot of traffic problems when in comes to private transport to be used. Istanbul is the 13th place in the most congested cities for traffic.

I'm surprised to find Istanbul in the list as it has a very good public transport but still it takes the same time as that in Pune for travelling 20 KM if you use private transport (more than 1 hour).
If we have to reduce the traffic woes, I think it is better to have policy to reduce the use of private transport so more and more people shift to public transport systems.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Guruvandana - 1984-85 SSLC Batch

Recently I'd an opportunity to meet my school friends of 1984-85 batch SSLC as we arranged a Guruvandana for our teachers.I really had a very good time during this event and would like to share some of thoughts through this blog.

It all started when Vithal Sarnobat met Narayan Deshpande on March 7th and they were having a chat at second railway gate in Belgaum. One more school mate Ravi Inchal joined them and they were talking about arranging an alumni meet at the school so that we can give back to the great school in which our foundation was built. Chidamber Kulkarni also joined the group as they were at the second railway gate and the urge for alumni meet increased. Vithal,Narayan and Ravi (I'll call them NRV from now) took the initiative of contacting the school authorities and getting the list of students from our batch. School authorities were also excited to hear about such a meet and they shared all the information. The search for finding the classmates started.
With the list provided by school, NRV started contacting people to get the contact numbers, emails etc from the people they could contact. As there were lot of people who still live in Belgaum from our batch, localites met to discuss this idea of alumni meet. At the first meet most of the time was lost in remembering the good old school days, cricket, teachers, other classmates etc and laughing about it. Slowly and surely the vision of bringing the classmates together was taking shape. One more week gone and NRV could contact more people who had left Belgaum and most of them were happy to hear about such a meet.
To proceed further there was a meeting scheduled on March 16th in Belgaum and again as more people joined the group there was more fun and laughing all the way. The decision was to contribute Rs5000 at least. Some real good minds of our batch came out with the idea of not forcing people to contribute but whoever can afford could contribute and others can join if they can. There was no compulsion for the contribution but we as a team wanted to make this happen. We got an opportunity to meet Charantimath sir on this day and we discussed different options for the donation to school.
Some pictures from March 16th  meet below
Th Gang

In the classroom


Mr Charantimath Sir providing guidance

One more meeting was planned on April 20th. That was the day of Vithal Sarnobat's marriage anniversary and we celebrated this in Paratha corner.This again was lot of fun and laughing all the way. Following decisions were made during the meeting
1. Donating 25 benches to school
2. Felicitating all the teachers and non teaching staff
Everybody agreed to this and the final date for the meet was decided as May 25th. NRV and other localites started the work on planning for the D day. Pictures from second meeting.
Vithal Sarnobat cutting the cake

I traveled to Belgaum on 24th May for the Guruvandana. Narayan (Narya),Ravi(Ravya),Vithal(Vithalya), Chidamber(Chidya) and Punajigouda were getting ready to receive the benches to be delivered. The benches were manufactured at Punajigouda's workshop. We, along with the SVM school staff placed the benches in a classroom. We planned to meet at 8.30 am on D day.

On the D day there was lot of preparations for welcoming our teachers and friends from different cities with their families. Mustaq Bhavikatti and Sharayu Potnis (now Dumbal) were the anchors of the day along with Amar Sadarjoshi. Everything was planned from breakfast,photo session,welcoming teachers,ribbon cutting etc to lunch..Hats off to NRV for the great plan.
Some pictures from the preparation and arriving guests

SVM School

The ladies gang: Sharayu,Rani,Surekha and Veena

Mrs. Dharmatti teacher enters and see the smiles all around

Chidamber and Sridhar

Madhwesh Kulkarni

B S Shahapeti was the pleasant surprise of this event as he traveled all the way from US
Group photo
SSLC Gang with teachers

Family members (photo courtesy Madhwesh)
Bhavikatti and Sharayu started the proceedings to welcome the teachers and all the family members. At the beginning there was lightening of the lamp by the teachers followed by the welcome song. Ribbon cutting of the classroom in which new benches were placed was done by Mrs Dharmatti teacher. All the guests occupied the seats in the classroom along with the teachers. 

Felicitation of the teachers as well as the non teaching staff was done and the floor was open to students of 1984-85 batch to share their experiences. Deepak Dhadothi,Madhwesh Kulkarni,Irshad Shaikh,Bhimsingh Olekar, B.S.Shahapeti and Mahesh Kulkarni shared their experiences. 

With a heavy heart we remembered the teachers and students who had left us for heavenly abode. May their soul rest in peace. 
The floor was open to teachers to provide the guidance. Mr Charantimath sir,Mr VG sir,Mr Punajigoud sir,Mrs Dharmatti teacher and Mr Ambedkar sir remebered the good old days and provided a great guidance through their speeches. 

At the end there was vote of thanks by Vithal Sarnobath and it was really entertaining way to thank all the people involved in this meet. Vithal was awarded PhD for the vote of thanks speech by Mr VG sir. What a great honor for Vithal. 

Lunch was served and the menu was too good. I thank all the family members for all the patience and interest shown in this event.

Then the time came for us to depart and no one in the group was ready to leave. With a heavy heart one by one left, hoping to meet again in the near future. 

I really have very fond memories of this meet and I thank once again to all the people involved to make this event a successful event.  




Friday, April 11, 2014

India Political Ecosystem - Thodasa Humour Ho Jaye

India Political Ecosystem

I thought of putting together an India political ecosystem which is making so much noise in election time. This is all imaginary work. Any relevance to living or dead person is strictly coincidence.   

Pongress is like a Lion where most of the hunting is done by females and males just watch :-).
Lions take rest for 20 hours per day which is so true for Pongress..resting most of the time out of 60 years they ruled :-).
Lions often steal kills from hyenas, wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards...different parties supporting UPA.

PJP is like Tiger which has an average hunt-to-kill ratio is 5-30%. This is proved by the fact they have hardly any time (about 5 years out of 67 years) ruled India.
Probably only one in about 15-20 attacks are successful. Hopefully this time it is successful J
Tigers are usually solitary in nature which is proved by the fact that many of the PJP leaders who are bachelors. :-). Also lot of parties do not want to join BJP in the name of secularism...:-)

RAP and BNS are like a Monkey which is always jumping from one branch to other without any goal in mind.
This is so true for the fact that they keep on bringing corruption/other issues to media but never know the end result...Bobert Badra is still roaming free...Many toll nakas are still operating....
Everybody is aware of the cap seller and monkeys story...Monkeys do not have any mind of their own... just imitate what others do.... :-)..Pejri imitating Tanna.... :-)...Taaj imitating Kaal...:-)

ThivTena is like a bear...which communicate with each other by establishing a hierarchy in situations where they encounter each other.One person ruled this party for so long.... :-)
Bears produce a variety of vocalizations such as
·         Moaning, produced mostly as mild warnings to potential threats or in fear,
·         Barking, produced during times of alarm, excitement or to give away the animal's position.
·         Huffing, made during courtship or between mother and cubs to warn of danger.
·         Growling, produced as strong warnings to potential threats or in anger.
·         Roaring, used much for the same reasons as growls and also to proclaim territory and for intimidation.
·         Humming, a loud monotonous buzzing sound, primarily employed by cubs.
So true for ThivTena always making some or the other sound.

Other Regional Parties
Capa is like a Fox always cunning, whose leader is supporting rapists.

BaCapa is like a Wolf, announcing taking out support but never take out support.
BMK and BIBMK are like a Hen always pecking for new alliance. One time Pongress one time PJP… J

BMC is like a…Jackal..always defending their territory. We will not leave Bangal….

BPI and BPIM are like .. Donkey..whichever party comes to power they will oppose…

Overall as we are living in the great democracy and all the animals are required to keep the political ecosystem at bay.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

iOS - Exchange Contacts – Moving them to iCloud or Gmail Contacts for Free

iOS - Exchange Contacts – Moving them to iCloud or Gmail Contacts for Free
Recently I decided to move from iOS to Android and the search for moving the contacts from iOS to Android started.

First Challenge

I found my contacts in iPod were stored in 2 different groups.
1. My Exchange account (Company email account with 197 contacts)
2. iCloud account (73 contacts)
Most of my contacts were stored in exchange account and I do not know how to get them to iCloud. For moving contacts from iCloud which is easier of the 2 above, you can refer to the blog below. I used the option 2 in the link below to import my iCloud contacts (73 contacts) without any issues.


I wanted to understand why my contacts were saved to Exchange account instead of iCloud account and I came to know about the following setting in iOS enables that.
Go to Setting>Mail,Contacts,Calendars> Scroll down to Contacts > You will see Default Account.
This was setup as exchange server in my case. So all the contacts were being saved to exchange server group. I changed it to iCloud as soon as I found the issue. Hopefully all the contacts saved in future will be stored to iCloud.

Second Challenge

There is no easy way to transfer Exchange contacts to iCloud :-( . I found the easier way and ton of thanks to Google search engine. Please refer to the steps below
1. Download free version of Easy Backup App from Appstore. Please do not go for any paid apps.
2. From within the Easy Backup App click on Backup button.
3. The system will ask for Full backup of all the contacts with options for Preview, Email and Save in.
4.  Select Email, system will open the email with backed up copy of all the contacts. Great thing about this app is, it actually creates the back up as per the mail groups’ setup.
In my case it created 2 backups, one for Exchange group and one for iCloud group.
5. I sent the email to my Gmail account.
6. I received the email with following files

7. I clicked on Import to Contacts link to import it to Gmail contacts. I did not import the iCloud contacts as they were already imported.
8. All the contacts were imported successfully to Gmail contacts.
9. Once I’ve all the contacts in Gmail I just followed the instructions to import them to Android as per the link provided above (Step 3 of the above link).

Third Challenge (Easy one)

Moving Gmail contacts to iCloud is very easy and you can find the steps in the link below.

Gmail Contacts to iCloud

This way I used a free app to import all the contacts to Android and back to iCloud. You do not need any paid apps to do this task.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tech For Seva - My Experience

Recently I volunteered for Tech for Seva conference. I would like to share my experinces through this blog.

Tech for Seva is the initiative to bring Volunteer Organizations (VO/NGOs), CSR (Corporates) and Scientific/Technical Community on one platform.This conference was held on Sept 28th and 29th 2013. This conference was inaugurated by Dr. Anil Kakodkar and we had the privilege to hear from highly acclaimed speakers during this conference.

Following were the themes of the conference.

1. Livelihood

2. Health

3. Environment

4. Education

There were nearly 100 speakers for different themes as noted above.As I was part of the Livelihood theme I could not attend presntations in other themes. I would like to give more details about the livelihood theme below.

Livelihood covered following themes

1. Agricultural mechanization

2. Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP)

3. Seed conservation

1. Agricultural Mechanization:- Some of the topics covered under this theme are women drudgery,mechanization of different day to day work of farmers,safety equipments for farmers etc.The audience could see from the presentations there is lot of research being done to reduce women drudgery, increase productivity of farmers, safety of farming, improve health etc. Some of the session were supported by pictures and videos. The speakers in this theme were from various background from research organization/researchers to actual innovators for mechanization. It was really sad to see the drudgery and hardship of women who work on farms along with living conditions.At the same time it is great to see dedicated organizations/researchers working on reducing the drudgery by coming up with safety equipements (coats, glouses,equipements). Some of the equipements which were showcaused would help women to improve the posture, reduce hardship, help improve health conditions etc. Some of the speakers I would call them real engineers/innovators as they have developed mechanized equipement to reduce hardship and improve productivity.

2. Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP):- This theme covered various topics from necessacity of NTFP for increasing the income,health etc of tribal area population to different means of increasing the productivity of NTFP. In this theme one could learn the potential of different NTFP like leaves,medicinal plants,oilseeds,bamboo,honey,silk etc for increasing the income for better livelihood. This session also covered the next steps like industry investment,training,etc which could be taken up for improvement of tribal areas. The tribal communinity in many parts of India is dependent on NTFP and there is immediate need to provide good support to this community so that the income of the population can be increased.

3. Seeds :- This theme covered topics like seed conservation, local seeds, commercial seeds,seed banks etc. The speakers in this theme presented the necessity of conservation of local seeds, importance of seed banks, Ex-situ, in-situ etc. There were speakers who actually are conserving 50 to 200 different seeds. They provided good insight into how the conservation can be improved through seed banks, community initiative, Govt intervention. This theme also covered topics by farmers who have developed different seeds. We were fortunate to see Red ladyfinger as one of the products developed by a farmer.

Since I grew up in urban area and never had a chance to closely look into the farming side, the above topics really enlighetened me with different prospects of life and I remembered former prime minister Shri.Lal Bahadur Shastri slogan "Jai Jawan Jai Kisan". It is the army which protects us from the enemy and it is the farmers who protect us within our country with good vegetables,grains,etc. The daily food we take is all coming from farmers. We should be thankful to the farmer community for the food we eat everyday.

I think there is lot of potential in betterment of life of farmers through some of the initiative recommended during the coference. Some of them are list below for readers reference.

1. Using mechanized equipments/tools to reduce hardship and improve productivity

2. Improving the health of farmers by providing safety equipements

3. Improving the NTFP through industry investments,export tie-ups,training programs etc

4. Improving the seed conservation through seed banks, community initiatives, Govt inetrvention, Industry investment.

Youtube video links are provided below....

Day 1 sessions

Day 1 Session 1

Day 1 Session 2

Day 2 Session

Day 2 Session 1

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ICICI Bank –Customer Service at its Worst

Recently I experienced one of the worst customer services with ICICI bank. I wanted to install iMobile application on my mobile to make my life simpler. But with the customer service of ICICI it has become a huge task.

I downloaded and installed iMobile application on my mobile. For making it work we need to request for activation code by sending a SMS as given below

“imobile iphone” to 5676766 . This SMS costs Rs 3/SMS.

I sent a SMS as directed. I received an error message “Requested Information could not be retrieved. Please try later”. As the message was not giving me exact issue I sent many messages without knowing it costs Rs 3 per SMS

Finally I called up the 24 hours customer service numbers as given below.
Pune: 9890478000 / 9021667777
I called up 9021667777 first and after authentication I was directed to a customer service agent. Agent was not able to hear anything from my side. This happened for 4-5 times. Every time I had to hang up and call back. Then I tried 9890478000. The authentication did not work for 2-3 times due to system not available. After few tries I was finally able to connect to Customer Service Agent. The agent then directed me to the imobile agent. The lady on the call asked me few questions which I was able to address. She asked me to send SMS to 56767661 instead of the number provided on the application. She informed me that the message costs Rs 3 per SMS. I’d already sent more than 50 SMSs without knowing there is cost associated with it. They should mention this in the application so that user can restrict themselves from sending multiple messages for unknown errors. The lady then tried few things at her end but there was no fruitful outcome. She said customer service agent will connect you to resolve the problem and hung up.

After few days I received the call from ICICI bank asking me if my problem is resolved. I said it is not yet resolved. So the agent asked me to provide local landline number so that he call up on that number. I realized that as he’s calling on mobile, the cost would go up if he’s calling from landline number. So he was saving cost for ICICI. But for customers ICICI has mobile number which actually costs more when calling from landline number. I’m not sure why they do not create a toll free number. I told him I’ve sent enough SMSs already and I’m not going to send any more SMSs. He was not sure what was the problem and informed me he would call back after 30 minutes to give the activation code. I’m still waiting for that call from the agent.

Major issues I see with the process

1. Mobile numbers being used instead of toll free numbers for customer care. It is the cost to the customers.
2. Sending SMS costs Rs 3 per SMS. This information should be provided in the application
3. The error messages do not provide any clarification on the issue. Customers keep on sending messages.
4. What is the reason for activation process? I use HDFC bank application through Wifi without any issues. The process to install and get it working was very simple with HDFC.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My IT Refund

I wanted to share the information I found while working on my IT return refund.
I filed online IT return on 22/7/2012 for the year 2011-2012. I sent the ITR V form through Indian postal service.
After waiting for some days I got to know that my IT return is transferred to local office in Pune as they needed few clarifications. And my journey to find new things started with goal to get the refund.
First of all I’d to find the ward office belonging to my PAN
Jurisdiction column gives you the WARD number.
I visited the WARD office 7(4) after finding the location of the office using the link below.
I saw multiple locations and I called the numbers provided to find WARD 7(4) location. Luckily my ward office was very near to my location.
My First Visit
Documents carried
1.       ITR V form
2.       Form 16
I reached office by 10.00 am and found that the officers come in at 11.30 am. J
I enquired about the refund. The person at the desk was able to find the details using my PAN. He found that there is demand of 35K + from me to IT dept. As per my ITR V, I was supposed to receive refund of 10K +. So the IT dept person informed me to submit a rectification request. I wrote and submitted the rectification application along with Form 16 and ITR V form. When you submit a letter to IT dept they provide acknowledgement on the Xerox of the application. Please keep the acknowledgement for further communication with IT Dept.
My Second Visit
I visited the IT office to check the status of my refund. This time I reached office at 11.30 am and still the responsible person was not in the office. J I waited till 12.15 pm and the lady informed me that my company has not posted the TDS and I need to enquire within my company.
I contacted the payroll dept in my company and enquired about the TDS. The payroll person informed me to pull the Form 26AS as it has all the information of the TDS posted to IT department.
Form 26AS
This form can be available at three places.
1. : This is the best place to pull the Form 26AS   
2.       Internet banking – view Tax Credit link from your Internet banking.
3. : once you logon you have link to view Form 26AS
Registering to : You have to fill in the following details to register for this site as the tax payer.
                PAN Number, date of birth,Last name
There are 2 options to validate the details. Option 1 is to be used. Please refer your Form 16 for the details on this section.
TAN number of the deductor : Refer to Form 16 for this number
Type of deduction: TDS Salary option has to be selected if your salaried employee
Month and Year: The details are to be filled using Annexure B (details of TDS and deposited  with central government account through challan) . Select any one line item to fill the details. For selecting the month please select End of Quarter. If the amount is posted for October select September as the month.
TDS/TCS Amount: The details are to be filled using Annexure B (details of TDS and deposited  with central government account through challan). Select same line item as above to fill the details.
Registration process is very simple once you are done with step 1.
If you run into any issues please call toll free 1800 103 0344.
Once you registered, you will receive an email and also a SMS. There are 2 activation codes (Email and SMS) which need to be used for activation.
You can download the form once you have activated your account.
My Third and Final Visit
Document carried
1.       Form 26AS
I visited the office and reached at around 12.15 pm but still the responsible person was not at office. J. Once the lady was in the office she informed me that I’d to visit NSDL to get the TDS posted to my account. I got the NSDL office address from the lady and visited the office. They informed that the NSDL is no more responsible for TDS postings and it is been transferred to TDSCPC (TRACES). The toll free number is provided above.
I called up TDSCPC and they informed me to contact Central CPC Bangalore. I contacted the Bangalore office and they informed me to connect with local office. I was back to square one.
I visited the local IT Office and informed the lady at the desk that I’ve the 26AS and it should be the proof that the TDS is posted to Govt account. The lady talked to her manager and he informed to rectify the account if 26AS is available. The lady rectified the account and input my bank details for refund and informed me that the refund should be available in 8-10 working days.
At the end all is well that ends well.