Magical Mauritius! Here Are Some Things That May Help You Plan Your Trip

Mauritius Roads - Biking Around

An island country that is probably as big as Mumbai + some surrounding areas, Mauritius is THE Honeymoon destination. So much so that every third couple there might be on Honeymoon. So as it happened, I made a ~10 day trip (Yes, Honeymoon) to Mauritius. Here are some notes & postcards from my travel that may help you.

The Curious Case of Many Temples

Mauritius has a ton of folks whose family shifted base there from India many generations back. So Indian tourists are liked & locals will resonate with you. Many folks in Mauritius make an India trip to shop for weddings and carry back a huge list of stuff ordered by their friends! [Yes I Smell Business Opportunity Too]

Hindu Temple In Mauritius

Indian Temple @ Mauritius

The density of Hindus in Mauritius (while people keep mentioning different figures ranging from 50% to 90%) can be gauged from the no. of temples you see across the country. I kid you not, one temple seen every 10 mins when zipping across the country on a bike. Read More

Jugaad & Growing Up With Constraints

Silicon Valley

One of the observations that I made during my stay in Silicon Valley was the absence of Jugaad. Jugaad is a relative term, fellow entrepreneurs in US work hard and do well with bootstrapping just like we do. But the reason I say absence of Jugaad is because the magnitude of Jugaad I have grown up with in India is far higher.

From what I saw people in US follow the protocol (be it business, a line at the bus stand or crossing the railway tracks), they pour a lot of effort in small things. This shows when they are designing a product, launching their ventures or even when setting up their homes. We like to push out things in a hurry, not listen to any wisdom that increases the workload and look for safety hooks. It seems as if we are hard wired differently.

The more I think about it, it is so much cultural. Me and a few more of my entrepreneur roommates (during incubation in Silicon Valley) grew up back in India with little or no luxury. Almost all of us started working In our teens and while today we choose to do a startup and talk of passion, let’s be honest – all of us started working for we needed to either support our families, education or at least not be a liability on them.

I remember a couple of us talking about how Friday evening brings such cheer on the streets of Mountain View. People out in big numbers, long lines outside Ice-cream shop on Castro Street (oh and you can’t imagine the clubs) and hardly anyone works over the weekend (even the startup junta). My roomie was mildly upset that he doesn’t think of his existence in India in the same way. Neither of us would really think of going to a club back in India and can hardly think of life from an angle which would say ‘how can this be more fun?’. That’s when it occurred to me that so many of us back in India have only worried about survival. Survival = Luxury here.

Even after being educated basic existence here is tough. Read More

Obamaland, again!

// random personal blog post starts

After the first and rather lonely visit to Ameericaaa in 2010, I didn’t think I would make it back to Obamaland so soon. By some accident I got pulled into a business accelerator in California and ended up spending close to four months there. This time around, I was largely on my own, with no family house to live in and no wonderful cooks to serve me Indian food. Survival was tough.

My age old wish to live on my own could have been a little less challenging though. Finding my way to cheap vegetarian food, looking up accommodation, making breakfast (if time permitted), washing the dishes, laundry and walking down a few kms daily to reach work did take up a good amount of time and energy. Having to spend in USD wasn’t all that easy either. But it wasn’t too bad, weekend getaways to cousins and some very friendly locals made moi life very easy at times.

There are lessons from this travel that I would remember for a lifetime. Some personal, some about the world we live in. Read More

Tower Of London, History, Guns, Knights, Canons and Kohinoor Diamond

You already know that I didn’t have much to do during my London stay, but hey, I did go around the museums in town including the Tower Of London. TOL is a historic castle that houses a good number of ancient artifacts, war time stuff and some weird stuff like the ‘accounts book’ pictured below.

I also went hands-on (well almost, just a glass separating us) with the Kohinoor Diamond. Given the hype that diamond is, I spent a few mins trying to get a good view of it, walking wrong way on the moving belt that gives you a glimpse and moves you out of sight. But looking back at the Tower of London visit, the Kohinoor Diamond is not the thing that runs on my mind, it is the Lance pictured below. May be I am not a jewelry person…

Its been a few months and I am almost losing track of what is what, so here is the Tower of London in pictures:

Tower OF London - Annkur UK 1

Remember seeing these in Age of empires series, only here in real life :)

Guard at Tower Of London

Real and Serious Guard At The Tower Of London

 One of the buildings at Tower of London

I don’t even remember which building this is, but there are many there. The hot chocolate coffee at the cafeteria inside the Tower Of London is Yummy! Read More

Startup Weekend: Cambridge To Hyderabad, The Experience

Startup Weekend Cambridge

Back in March (2011) I disappeared for a month to UK and while I spent a month there, there are only two significant things I did. The First being a visit to Stone Henge (picture below) and the other being ‘Startup Weekend Cambridge.’

Startup Weekend is this 54 hours madness that brings together business folks, developers, designers and jack of all trades like me to build a startup over a weekend. Ones with an idea pitch it, voting follows and teams are formed organically. These teams have to come back with a product / prototype / demo / whatever by Sunday evening and present to the judging panel. In march, Startup Weekend, which has as of today done over 100 cities and 250 action packed weekends, came to India.

My friend Pankaj Jain was (he still is) passionately spearheading the India leg of SW and I decided to jump in and help organize Delhi and Bangalore. Events were planned, dates final, lots of pre-event work done and then UK happened at the same time as SW Bangalore and Delhi. And right then, Pjain pointed me to Startup Weekend Cambridge and I signed up for it immediately. So as the folks in India were organizing Bangalore, I participated in Cambridge. Left home with a view of seeing startup action in UK, getting a feel of the event, floating around multiple teams and chilling over the weekend.

What happened was crazy. Read More

The Barrier That Commuting In Mumbai Is!

This strikes me when I meet a friend in Pune, whom I haven’t seen for a little over 6 months. While both of us are based in Mumbai, plans to meet or head out for a movie rarely works out. But fast forward to Pune, where I would spend a day or two in 3 months and she would spend 4 days a month visiting her home, its so much easier to catchup for us when these dates overlap and both of us are in Pune! Weird and we sure laughed at it.

<rant> But then we sure can’t ignore the fact that its the hour and half or two hours of travel to and fro that comes in our way here. And for me a little more than the time involved, its the poor conditioned auto-rickshaws (if you at all find one) or the super uncomfortable Fiat Taxis that kills the enthusiasm of going out of the suburbs.

Screenshot of a chat with a Mumbai Friend: Read More

Yes I Paid A Premium

Flights

I have taken roughly 12 flights in the last two years and the only, I repeat the only final criteria to pick a flight has been the price. Anything more than a Rs 100 above / less the mark, I would chose the other! So be it Go Air, Indigo or Kingfisher. If you are the cheapest, I fly you. However this changed and changed for good after my last flight with one of the low cost airlines. I tweeted when boarding that that flight that it would be my last flight with this airline, why? Well there was nothing particularly broken on their part, its just that by design their system doesn’t work for me anymore. Read More