Saturday, May 28, 2011

Driving in the rain

Charlie chaplin once famously uttered that i love walking in the rain, because they hide my tears, i loved driving in the rain that too pouring rain, in my old carb maruti 800.  Once i migrated to A Star with MPFI technology, and after joining Team Bhp i realised that it is no more a pleasure to drive in the rain.  As a travel enthusiast photography of nature is at its best during the rainy season since the greenary is abudant. So discretion is better than valour, it is better to be cautious rather than throwing caution to the wind and rain.

One of the tips in Team Bhp forum given to its members is that it is good to carry a hammer to break open the glass.  This tip is abundantly useful and should be followed in case the power windows and door is jammed due to flooding.  Remember the famous july 2004 floods in Mumbai, killed some youngsters because they were unable to get off their car in rising floodwaters and drowned inside their vehicle itself.

Some of the practical tips to avoid hard braking during rainfall while driving on the highway is extremely useful.  My experience during the recent trip to tirupati in my A Star was convincing and collaborating this fact.  Most of the fuel efficient cars have light body, and with tubeless tyres the grip on the roads can be tricky proposition, in the absence of  ABS ( anti locking braking system ) it is a definitely no no for hard braking.  I was travelling at around 90 kms per hour, and it started pouring, and i was in a mood to race with another car on the sidelines.  There was absolutely no traffic in front, and it was a divider road, so ideal situation to clip.  But who knew that road hump ahead would act as a spoiler.  I did not see the hump ahead till it was 100 meters ahead, i jammed my break 50 meters ahead, and my goodness the car went into a tail spin for around 25 meters.  The vehicle started veering towards the left because we were 3 inside the car.  If it had to veer to the right i would have rammed the divider.  Luckily for me i had maintained safe distance of nearly 4 lengths with the other car ( i 10 blood red ).  The momentum of my car took me very close to the other car on the left, it almost crashed into it.  Probably it was the other drivers judgement sensing trouble speeded up his car near the hump ignoring the standard procedure of slowing down, and blessings of  Lord Balaji himself that saved the night for us. 

When i checked with the GM of  Maruti showroom he showed me a demo video on ABS braking system, how a normal car skids veering towards the right in the absence of ABS.  When i narrated my experience he too was flummoxed.  But the logic is the centrifugal balance shifts where there is increased weight ratio, since we were three travelling in the car, my friend Dev and my wife behind were on my left.  That is the logical explanation for this gravity defying phenomenon.  So guys sometimes copy book style does not work, there are exceptions to the rule.

Now my mind is looking for solutions to safeguard the panels of my door getting wet, maintaining the tyre pressure, and ensuring optimum temperatures inside the vehicle.  Last but not the least ensuring that the glasses are cleaned time and again.  The old age drivers trick to rub tobacco to clean the glasses also seems to be useful in such situation. 

Some taxi driver taught me to keep newspaper below the mat to soak up the raindrops, i should implement the same too to safeguard my vehicle from giving out a stink in the carpets below the foot.  The latest gizmos in terms of fuse and chip technology is a boon but bane when it does not work.  Moisture can ring in disaster and we got to be prepared for the same.  So guys tissue paper, polethene covers, umbrella, hammer, tobacco, shampoo, first aid kit, etc definitely useful during the monsoon.

Driving under the trees too is a big danger in bangalore, branches of tree and uprooting of trees due to high wind velocity is common factor.  The nature itself is getting rid of old trees ( 20 year plus ), so the theory of protest against tree slaughter against road widening goes for a toss.  Apart from the digression, it is better to avoid driving under the trees during heavy wind driven rainfall condition.

So the classic advice for all drivers during heavy rainfall is to stop the car and enjoy the rainfall, because heavy rainfalls don t last more than 30 minutes.  Or apply shampoo above and ensure that it spreads evenly cleaning the car at slow speed.  The ideal advice is to sip a hot cup of coffee or tea inside a restaurant and wait for the rain to stop.  The earlier pleasure derieved from driving a manual maruti or ambassador in the rain is gone with generation gap.  Welcome the new era of  gizmos monitoring by chip technology, dont try to restart when your vehicle has ceased because of water entering into your exhaust or air vent states the advice.  Wait for it to drain or dry out otherwise engine can get hydrolocked, oops hope i don t goof up in case of such a situation.  On a humourous note i would prefer to wear a raincoat and wash my car with a good shampoo in heavy rain, thus conserving water and giving a sheen to my car and thus save on servicing bills.  Lolz.  Oh my goodness let me include hammer in shopping list before i forget.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Building your own Home

How many of us have had an experience of building their own home for living ?  Many of us would look for a hassle free solution in finalising a deal with already built apartment or independent bunglow, provided it suits our wallet.  The other solution is to buy a piece of land and build it through material contract.  The toughest one is to engage a labour contractor and get the things done.  Some of the perfectionist go and engage an engineer or architect and undertake the construction on their own.

One of the biggest incentive for those who undertake construction through a labour contractor or on their own, is that one ends up saving substantial sum of money in construction cost and ensure quality material being used.  In material contract lot of compromises are undertaken if the contractor is shrewd.  He would specify only generic product such as ISI wiring, Vitrified tiles, Standard batroom fittings, Emulsion paint, 53 GRADE cement, etc.  Thus at the end of the day quality of construction material can be compromised.  The ideal matrial contract should be given by specify each and every element of the material for example :

1.  Birla Super 53 grade cement
2.  Tata / Indus Tmt iron rods.
3.  Asian Emulsion paint
4.  Johnson Vitrified tiles 2x2 feet
5.  Jaguar tap fittings
6.  Hindware WC.

In case one goes for labour contract, than one contracts for the shell in terms of the structure only.  Rest of the finishing is undertaken vide, sub contracts for Tile fixing, Plumbing, Electrical, and Painting.  Even the interior in terms of carpentary is subcontracted. 

While construction is undertaken one has to undertake the following essentials in India :

A)  Vastu based construction to be embedden in the plan.  It will have better re sale value
B)  Pesticide treatment at the foundation stage to be undertaken
C)  Plan approval & regular inspection by engineer to issue directions in case of deviation.
D)  Curing of foundation, plinth or basement beams, slab curing and wall curing.
E)  Plumbing, Solar water heating pipeline to be incorporated.
F)  Ensure that concrete mixing is done in the right proportion particularly for the slab or cieling.
G)  Check out the leakage in underground sump tank.
H)  Provision for Sewage sump depending on approx waste generated.
I)   Rain water harvesting provision.

What are the problems one would likely to encounter while one has undertaken construction through labour contractor.  The problems faced by us were as follows :

1.  Heavy Rains may intervene construction speed, but at the same time pure water is an asset for curing.
2.  Security deployment and shed construction
3.  Robbery of material at site, water pump, pipes, cement, doors, latches,
4.  Death of a worker, natural death, unnatural or accident would invite problems.
5.  Price of raw material hiking or spurting up.  How to handle it is the key ?
6.  Electric lines or poles too close to one's construction site.  Needs shifting.
7.  Violating the road area, or neighbours plot.
8.  Handling objections from the neighbours.
9.  Demand for more wages or bonus from workers.
10.Anticipating problems from regulatory authorities for violation of rules.

But when you overcome all the hurdles and complete the house or sweet home, it is a feeling of elation, one has a sense of accomplishment.  The day for Gruhpravesh nears and you move in after the pooja or prayers.  The sense of achievement is immense.  The entire process of  handling all the problems gives one a sense of achievement.  I remember we used to build house as a child, with mud and twigs, but to construct a edifice for living drawn over a period of  8 to 12 months is really exciting and challenging.  Guys remember you build your once in a lifetime for living.  So don t compromise go for it.  Do all the homework before you commence your construction.  In case you require any practical tips, do get in touch with me  GOOD LUCK

Remember house is made of bricks and mortar, but home is built with passion and fashion suiting your wallet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

MLM Schemes are based on Ponzi or Pyramid factor

After reading Srinidhi Hande's post on MLM i am inspired to pen down my own thoughts on MLM.  After having experience of nearly 25 years of sales and marketing in different fields from confectionery to rubberised coir, pencils to sharpners, toughened glass to WC, Edible oil to instant foods, wall clock to handpainted dress material, ball pens to pp folders etc. 

It is imperitive to mention the disclaimer.  This article is not meant for defaming or casting aspersions on any business running in the country or abroad.  It is basically a musing or soliloquy to examine the pitfalls or credential claims of MLM activities. 

Once i was travelling to outstation on assignment, i noticed a guy listening to audio of a motivational speaker.  Suddenly he thought i was an ideal company and started canvassing about his company.  Just imagine paying up for attending a seminar or get together for promoting a company's product or business.  Secondly you are known as a distributor, wherein you are supposed to stock up certain samples, and in case you procure order you have to go and collect the goods from their warehouse, or get it through courier.  All the cds on motivational talk are full of sound and fury, egging you not to give up.

The most ridiculous part of the sales pitch dished out by one engineer who was my neighbour in Mumbai was a lesson how to use their foaming toothpaste.  It was costing Rs 80, when compared to Colgate Rs 20/- for the same grammage.  He asked me to squeeze the paste horizontally instead of vertically, that way you end up using less of toothpaste.  It would last 3 times longer, that was the USP of the toothpaste.  Even than i would have realised Rs 60 worth in terms of cost benefit analysis.  The balance Rs 20/- will be surplus to the company.  The best part of this entire deal is that distributor is supposed to get 20% commission which means he gets paid Rs 16/- per toothpaste.  If i were smart enough i would rather buy in bulk from wholesale Colgate and end up earning at least 15% being difference between wholesale and retail price, for which i need not canvass much, being a brand leader.

When any idea is embedded with a chain or residual income concept, than its flaw crop up.  Except the Insurance business which is based on a sound business model of delivering compensation in case of emergency or death.  Even in insurance business the sales pitch dished out may be too good to believe by some unethical salesmen, so CAVEAT EMPTOR applies.

Recently i was called for a seminar to invest in GOLD TRADING, the speaker eloquently addressed the gathering in a 3 star hotel.  He stated that except on SUNDAY  24x7 the promoter is involved in trading online and investing in Gold buying and selling across the globe.  The returns are 50% per month, which works out to phenomenal 600% per annum.  The office is based in Singapore, and certificate of incorporation is issued by Stan chart bank, virgin island.  This set off an alarm whether it was a genuine certificate of incorporation, secondly the Bangalore office was supposed to based behind the CBI office to ensure authencity.  One was supposed to invest in multiples of 15 k.  At the end of 10 months one would be receiving 30 k.  A phenomenal 100% return.  One need not invest, he or she can cavass for investment which would fetch a 10% commission.  WOW, what a Ponzi scheme, i just walked out despite the offer to share the lunch offered by the organiser in a 3 star hotel.

Another classic trap is laid by promoters of health products particularly herbal ones, the price of each of the formulation dished out is phenomenal.  Why should i go for such product when our own Dabur Chyawanprakash that too sugar free is available ?  I would rather trust this 100 year old company than to rely on new comer for enhancing my health.

One of the most humourous offer was of a mattress which costed 1 lakh plus.  It was supposed to be an imported stuff.  I have heard about water beds costing a fortune, now this contraption cost me a bomb.  After having worked in a mattress company i have realised, that if one needs to have a good sleep, it is the state of mind and fatigue factor that helps one to have a peaceful undisturbed sleep.  But to get conned stating that this particular expensive mattress will be pancea for sleeplessness is far fetched. 

Most of the MLM companies lure their customers because of  fast buck making psychology.  I have realised in my long career there are no short cuts for success.  One has to go through the grind.  The classical method of selling and marketing will never vanish.  If one is asked to invest for promoting others business, than one needs to be wary.  I personally would not like to end up as an unpaid employee of any company.  I would rather focus on my core strength and undertake voluntary activity by joining an NGO. 

Links :  Just check on the maths of  MLM scheme how much it is going to benefit a company if it winds up in the 10th month