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Agrawal Classes – End of an era

This morning, The Times of India carried an article on the decision of Agrawal Classes to shut shop. Agrawal Classes have been synonymous with science students and especially aspiring engineers during our times. I remember in 1983, I used to get there, dreary eyed at 7 am and God only knows what I would learn in the first lecture of Physics by Prof. Vale. Maths (Prof. Variyam Singh who incidentally was my Dad’s teacher too in Khalsa College) has always been my favourite and so used to enjoy that. Chemistry was OK OK for me. In the 12th (the most crucial year at that point in time) I joined the vacation batch and was slogging it out from April itself. I used to go to Prof. Karkhanis of Agrawal Classes for private tuitions too. Prof. Mohinder Singh used to be there for Physics and Prof. Dholakia for Chemistry. Fun times we had there (enjoying snacks at D Damodar) on the ground floor. Gone will be those days soon and only memories will remain.

Then they had the annual event at Churchgate in which toppers are felicitated. I had been there after the 12th results for 99 in Maths.

I remember a few years ago, they celebrated their Golden Jubilee at the Parsi Gymkhana at 5 gardens and they had given each of their students some 2 or 5 gms of Gold. I met so many people there and surprised to see some Uncles / Aunties who I never knew were from Agrawal Classes.

We can only remember the good times now as they close shop from the next academic year. As Institution called Agrawal Classes comes to an end…..

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Reckless Driving as well as lack of pedestrian senses on the rise

I still am proud of being a Mumbaikar and firmly believe that Mumbai has the best driving sense in India having frequented Delhi and Bangalore every month over the last 2 or 3 years. These days however, the younger breed is out to kill. Roads are clogged no doubt so when they get a chance to vrooooom they make the most of it. In the morning. it is impossible to cross the Ruia College signal in Matunga on the way to Five gardens as no one bothers to heed the signal. How does one cross? I have no choice but to cross and sometimes have to run to save my life too. No one bothers to stop at a red light.

If I now put myself behind the wheels, the pedestrians are no less of a nuisance. They would love to cross any and every where under the blue sky and this new trend of plugging in the headphones while walking is very dangerous. No one even listens to any other sound and they cross the road completely oblivious to the world around them. Another bane is the absence of footpaths as people walk on the road. But now a days even where footpaths are present, people have taken to walking on the roads as their birth right. People please give the devil his due. While we may have lived with uneven footpaths in the past, now a days, the footpaths are definitely very nice and even. Infact they are a pleasure to walk on. So please try and make the most of footpaths and try and cross at the relevant crossings. We Indians behave so idiotically at home and the same lot changes the attitude when we travel abroad. Why can’t we follow the same habits at home too? Think for once please.

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Visit to Shelter Don Bosco

As part of our birthdays in October and Kavya’s birthday in November, we had sponsored lunch at Don Bosco Shelter at Wadala or should I say Matunga. This is a place we would have passed by many times but today was the day we went in. Three of us viz., Kiran,  Kavya and me.

This is an all boys home and they are street children mainly from the railway stations. Troubled parenting or families is the root cause and they end up as addicts to tobacco or abuse some other such substance. The children are upto the age of 18 and they are first sent for a two month detox program in Lonavala. 50% of the children escape from there itself and maybe get back to their old ways but then those who come out of the detox program then are made to attend school. It is not just school, they also play games such as Hockey and we saw children playing volleyball and badminton too. Good to see the absence of cricket.

They first try to find out if the boys are from Mumbai and they try to find their parents. Through CWC (Child Welfare Committee of the Government), they send a policeman to threaten the parents to behave and then if they deem it fit, they send the boy home under police protection with the underlying threat that should the boy be found loafing again, the parents will be put behind bars.

The boys are allowed to be kept here till the age of 18 only. We met one of the boys who spoke fluent English but was convicted of murder. He has a massive temper and in a fit of rage, had broken a glass bottle and thrust it down someone’s guts!!!!  The boy looked so naive to us. Father Derick spoke to us at length and gave us a lot of information.

There is groupism within the children too and the kind of life they have led in the past has hardened them to a large extent so these boys were kind of rough and tough.

The lunch was an all vegetarian affair as that is what we had asked for. But Kavya was unimpressed as she wanted to see younger children and girls too whereas here was an all boys institution and they were elder contrary to her expectations. So now we will have to specifically sponsor a meal at an organisation with young girls and boys of the age group of upto 8 years. Do let me know if you have any suggestions.

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The bane of rising airfares

This is the peak season for airlines and honestly fares have hot the roof. While airlines see it as a good business opportunity for new year revelers and holiday makers, reality is bitter.

Yesterday, one of our team member, Sanal’s mother passed away in the evening suddenly due to a cardiac arrest. He is from Kerala and the closest airport is Trivandrum. Air fares? The cheapest we could find is sub 12000 that too for the next day ie today. This was a shock. Firstly the tragedy that has befallen the family and added to that, this shock.

We sure need some regulations to rein in such reckless profiteering. Yes to quote Dhirubhai Ambani, you don’t need an invitation to make profit but then this is outright fleecing. Not all are holiday makers…. Is someone listening?

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Insurance Term Cover

At the outset I want to make it abundantly clear that I am not an Insurance agent nor am I associated with anyone save and except for agents through whom my family and me have taken our policies.

I have become a staunch advocate of Term Insurance and mind you, I am not saying I am perfect. Like all of us, I too have multiple endowment plans, ULIPS etc. In short policies in which you get some money at the end of the term if you survive. So I too have been persuaded (avoiding any other word honestly) into buying these kind of policies.

This morning I was going through the new Wealth section of Economic Times and came across this article that is what has forced me to write this post.

Some 4 years back, I had written to a magazine called Moneylife which did publish my letter as under:

“I am a new subscriber to your magazine. I have insurance policies of multiple companies and, being the oldest (39!) in my office, I do help juniors with taxes and insurance. Insurance agents want to sell policies “with profit”, that is, endowment or Unit-linked Insurance Plan only. I have myself been conned often but now am clear that I will not allow others to suffer. The first year’s loading can be as high as 35%! Why should we be paying for the agent’s commission? I now advise youngsters to start off with term covers and invest in SIPs. I find them much cheaper; at least you know that you are getting a loading of 2%-2.5% in your investment, unlike the so-called ULIPs/with profit/whatever the name… I know that at the end of the term, I will get zilch, but fine. I have a huge cover with a very small premium and the rest of the amount can go for my SIP or whatever. Manish Kamdar, by email”

The next month there was a strong rebuttal from some one and I never bothered to read that till date as it must be some peeved agent I am sure whose bread and butter would be hurt. But the gist of my logic is given in the mail above and I now have Term covers as well as the older policies. Take my word, do not throw away your older policies or let them lapse. Once bought you better continue paying in the best interest of all concerned or you alone are the loser.

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Pigeon menace

The menace of pigeons has afflicted our house and honestly it is a terrible malaise. They may be poor cousins of the birds of peace (doves) but honestly they are lousy. It started off with laying an egg in the potted plant in the balcony and we put up with it as a one off. The little bird was born and it flew away after a few weeks. The next egg was around soon (Talk of procreation abilities!!) so we got rid of the egg itself and then also moved all plants away from the balcony. Thinking they would go but how wrong we were…. They shamelessly laid an egg on the bare floor of the balcony. We got rid of that too. For the next couple of days they kept off and I was thinking they had learnt their lesson but they got bolder and now have started coming into the living room and going under the sofa. The DVR of Tata Sky is a favourite spot for them as well. We are so fed up and now planning to imprison ourselves using a net or such. Better than keeping the door shut and avoiding fresh air coming in. They are a very dirty lot must admit, peace or no peace…..

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Classic Parody on Dard-e-disco

This one is awesome. Real spoof on Dard-e-disco in Gujju so it becomes Dukh na dandiya. Amazing. Must hear the lyrics too. Some guys really are very very creative.