Saturday, December 15, 2012

Riding Life, Mile by Mile

Hello World,

I have been planning quite a few things to share with you recently but before I could get a clear scope of those, I got an amazing opportunity to venture into a new-found hobby which I would like to share with you...

I recently bought a Royal Enfield Thunderbird and have been planning long rides since I got my ride. Leisure Riding is something I always prefer but Long Rides were not exactly on my mind when I decided to buy my ride but as I started using it, I got addicted to the comfort and feel it offered me every time I rode it. This led to me wanting to stay on my ride as long as possible at every given opportunity.

Having decided to venture into this hobby, I started reading about riding, over the internet and came across tons of information from different corners of the world. Riders have dedicated time out of their life to share their piece of knowledge and wisdom about riding with their fellow riders and newbies like me. I would like to thank all the riders who have documented their riding experiences on the internet. I learned a lot and am sure my learning will never cease. 

Apparently all the articles I read pointed to riding safety and responsible motorcycle operation. I am new to motorcycle riding itself and so it was an enriching experience learning the different aspects of riding motorcycles, especially because, I come from a culture where carefree riding and little traffic violation is considered sane and safe. The safety tips advocated appropriate riding gear and I started looking for my riding gear. 

I bought a Nolan N-90S modular helmet, Tork X-Pro Helmet Speakers and Ipod Shuffle-4th Gen for my head gear. I installed the helmet speakers inside my helmet which was a simple task as Nolan helmets came with the provision for N-Com System that  included slots for speakers and related wiring. I had the chin-guard of my helmet and Ipod  Shuffle layered with standard hook and loop fastener (velcro stickers). So my helmet became my head's protection with built-in entertainment system!!!! 

I bought a leather riding vest from I wanted to have a customized vest and so I went ahead and bought patches of my choice from I traveled to Periyamedu, leather-hub of my city, where most businesses revolve around leather products, and had the patches sewn by an amazing leather technician who is famously known as Mary Amma among the Periyamedu leather-stitching fraternity. She was very kind and agreed to finish my vest-customization even after her usual hours of operation and invited me to her home to pick it up. When I went to her humble residence, she invited me in and offered me coffee which  made me feel I will never understand "Customer-Service" as Mary Amma had installed in her professional practice. That experience just made my leather riding vest all the more special. 

The next was the guards and gloves. My college buddy helped me get my first pair of fingerless riding gloves for which I am very thankful. I wanted fingerless gloves as I foresaw a lot of button-pressing (ipod volume/song change) and scratching during my rides. For the guards, I was quite confused as to what kind to go for as I already had a rather uncomfortable and cracking experience of using elbow and knee guards during the very short stint of skateboarding I got to do a few years back. It was an empty parking lot and i could hardly do an Ollie with my board but when I fell, my guards cracked and I was not entirely comfortable wearing them either. Then came the ebay listing that said US-Army issue knee and elbow guards are on sale. What more do I need? I ordered a pair of elbow and knee guards from a retired military guy who now specializes in procuring army-surplus items and selling them on ebay. With very little use, those guards are a perfect fit for me and needless to say incredibly comfortable. American soldiers would rather be troubled with bad intel than with bad gear. Everyone who remembers Vietnam knows that for sure.

For my boots, I chose the13-inch Xelement Harness Riding Boots as they are not very pricey and had received some good reviews with mentions of good comfortable fit and durability. I did have to read a bunch of reviews to filter out all the fake reviews written by internet marketing professionals in the name of SEO/Custom Review Writing Service. The boots turned out to be more comfy than what I expected. The breaking period was less than a week or so and I had them on for a few times during that period. The boots did leave some black dye smudges but I guess products like these always come with a dirt-property that we just have to deal with. The riding comfort is jsut beyond imagination for these though. i dont have to feel a strained shin/ankle while operating my Thunderbird and that's exactly what I intended to have for my Long Rides.

Having done quite an effort to accessorize myself for my new-found hobby, I made my first trial Long Ride from Chennai to Pondicherry and met my college buddy Pondy Balaji. I had told him a few months back that I would meet him, when I come riding my Thunderbird. The ride was a 350 kilometers (roundtrip) expedition that formally inducted me into the world of Leisure Long Riding, teaching me the essentials of Highway Riding. 

Now I was all the more enthusiastic about venturing into actual Long Rides that was longer than my trial ride to Pondicherry. I scheduled a meet with my roomie at Pondicherry and I had to attend another roomie's wedding at Trichy, a city that is approximately 320 kilometers from Chennai. So my first official long Ride Itinerary became Chennai-Pondicherry-Trichy-Chennai. The map below shows it all.

The ride to Pondicherry was quite tiresome as it was a night ride and I wasn't used to Highways with heavy traffic (not on a motorcycle). But I did enjoy every bit of it. I had an awesome time hanging out with my friends at Pondy. The pic below of me was taken by my buddy. 

At Pondy, a friendly ATM Security Officer suggested me an alternate route to Trichy, touching villages Panruti and Ulunthoorpettai before catching up with the target NH 45S. A million thanks to the friendly Security Officer. I got an awesome opportunity of riding through a long stretch of paddy fields, glowing green on either side of the road, the view of which reminded me of movie scenes I grew up watching. 

At Trichy, I stayed at my relatives home, enjoyed their awesome hospitality, and attended my roomie's wedding. I also met some of my best friends I met at Mississippi State University. So after catching up with my buddies, I set off for the ultimate leg of my expedition, the return. It was a straight road zip all the way on NH 45N, which by the way offers some awesome scenery. I loved the stretch until Ulunthoorpettai, which offers a few ups and downs, small hilltops on either side and some of the warmest Tender-Coconut Vendors of Tamilnadu. They took special care to ensure I got the right hydration and served me with a smile. I had a little chat with them regarding other look-able/ride-able areas in and around that stretch and they suggested more than I could remember. I felt humbled. I made another stop a little later and had tender coconuts of three different colors, each one having a distinct flavor (based on their ageing).

Just before reaching Dindivanam, I took another break where a local resident walked up to me and started a conversation on Highway Riding risks and how long rides should be planned. It was an interesting conversation, the highlight of which is the way the guy cursed heavy bikes for bad fuel economy. The kind lady at the shop advised me to be extra-cautious on the highway. 

The finishing stretch had considerable traffic as I moved towards the city. When I reached home, I felt a sense of satisfaction, gratitude and excitement. I had a sense of fulfillment and was all pumped up for the next few hours. I was recalling my experience, the people I met, the conversations I had, the riding nuances I learned, the warnings and advises I got from total strangers and more than anything, the memory of the long roads I cruised. Overall my expedition was 699 kilometers long, filled with experiences, accompanied by Indie Rock/Folk Songs and the long roads. 

I have picked up a new hobby, a passion that calls for raising the dust, praising the dirt and falling in love with the road, all with the company of my choice of iron, Royal Enfield Thunderbird. I am happy I bought this ride and I am happy that it dragged me into such an amazing hobby that will give me a truckload of memories to recall and recount to myself, until the end of my life. So summing up, Live Free, Ride Safe, Ride Long, for it is the road that can teach the untold lessons of Riding Life, Mile by Mile.

On a very different note [a shameless plug], if you are interested in unique tamil short films, feel free to visit couldn't tolerate the mass masala entertainers anymore and decided I will do my best to produce content with substance. I have a long a way to go as a producer and a start-up founder, but I am glad our journey has begun. I look forward to your support. Each film on our site costs INR 15. Thanks!!!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sultan's Palace Survived!!!!

Hello World,

No..I haven’t forgotten you!!!! My laziness just kept me busy all these days….

So here I am …… back in the blogwoods…..

I have been longing to share my bizarre experience I had during my trip to Mysore with my parents….A trip that will stay with me forever….No I am not talking about beautiful sunsets….(though I did find some from Chamundi Hills….)…..

And cutting to the chase…..Our taxi driver-guide took us to the palaces in and around Mysore…it was an interesting ride for me…We were visiting homes of people who lived a long time back…and all of them had something to do with the lives of my forefathers…..

Our first stop was at Srirangapatinam, where we saw Tipu Sultan’s palace….the palace he is claimed to have lived in….Well, old palaces don’t usually look aesthetically pleasing….and no surprise..this one was a dilapidated “ruins-alone-left” half-building with everything except the basement gone….The palace was guarded by gated fence and a government appointed security woman….

Seeing no point in gazing through the “long-lost-yet-fenced”  monarchial debris-leftover….we got back in the car…drove through the rest of Srirangapatinam and started for our next attraction for the day…which what do we know...? was another palace supposedly more famous and tourist-entertaining…..

Just like any other tourist from the southern Indian territories….hearing the terms “Mysore Palace,” and “Mysore Maharaja,” I was diving into the ideas of getting familiarized with lavish monarchial lifestyles that ruled the societies back in the day……

And I was right…The Main Palace…as it is claimed was a treat to the eyes…even from the road…The campus was big…filled with tourists….exploring the beauty of a home that can house a farmer’s market, a carnival, a volley ball court with bleachers on all sides and a mid-size rock concert….all at the same time…all indoors…..  

We had to scramble through the crowd to get our tickets to enter the Main Palace....

The palace was guarded…guards at every 100 ft…footwear not allowed inside the building…it was quite a “decorum-demanding” atmosphere there……I walked along the decorated hallways admiring the architecture that I don’t know jack about…I grew curious when I saw pics (or do I say Hon’ble Paintings?) of the royal family on the walls of the hallways….especially towards those featured british men dressed as the members of the Imperial british govt. that ruled India for over 2 centuries….. ???!!!????

I was like…. “This is an Indian King’s palace…What the hell are british soldiers doing in the paintings with the Indian king’s family?”

I have to say..I have met people from England and they are interesting people (let’s spare their accent please…)…I don’t hate the brits for the 2-century vandalism their old-time monarchial govt. executed on my homeland….I do hate the british government that destroyed India…but the English people of this generation need not bear the backsplash anger…..Just my thought…

Getting back to business…I was surprised to see that the King who enjoyed the awesome palace was friends with the british govt. !!!!!!  They have had friendly meets, “High Tea” I suppose…Social gatherings with display of local culture, processions in honor of the king and the british buffoons who had enslaved the spineless Indian king….. and many more I guess…

I started reading every detail I could find to see how far the brits went to keep their friends happy so they can eat the fresh livers of the rest of India that deserved the nation for itself…..

The tiles came from Glasgow, the chandeliers and every other piece of decoration installed were custom made and imported...What a life!!!! Something struck me real hard….I just visited Tipu Sultan’s palace and as far as I remembered (I still do) it was rubble in destitute at best…..

I asked our taxi-Driver/Guide to take us back to the Tipu Sultan’s palace for I really needed to compare details….he agreed…he was surprised as to why I wanted to see the ugly-looking ruin for a second time in a day when other attractions were still out there for us to visit….

During the drive back to Tipu Sultan’s palace, I kept pondering as to why would we decorate, maintain and charge Indians to check out the home of a holy-blood traitor that sold India to the then british imperial euphemism-loving monarchial maniac govt.?????????


So this is how my country wishes to teach me patriotism….a fine blend of satire, surreal and off-color humor flavored with the realities of the “Yes-Boss” history that violated India from all sides….

I do agree I was not capable enough to realize this until this incident….may be my brains failed to identify these bizarre yet real things….may be this incident merely made me realize my intellectual handicap that had been preventing me from understanding things the way they are supposed to be….understood….

For some reason that I am yet to understand, the concept of patriotism which often times is loosely based on man-made fences on planet earth, is entertaining as well as confusing. I am just happy to call myself something and feel possessive about the same thing, in this case they are geo-social parameters, using terms that someone coined a long time ago. But on the flip side, is it not fair to stand by the ideals of individuals who stood for the benefit of their fellow citizens? Is it wrong to mildly appreciate the sacrifices made by individuals from the past who successfully laid out the possibility of my existence and freedom in a future that they knew for sure they wouldn't see?.....Honestly, I sense microwaves dancing through my cerebral I would stop this side of the discussion right here and leave the rest for your intellectual experiments....

Here are some pictures of Tipu Sultan’s Palace, the home of the man who successfully implemented one of the earliest rocket artillery in modern warfare, in an attempt to free India from the clutches of the east-whatever company…

 And here’s the palace of the “Mighty-Hon’ble-My Rat’s Ass-Privileged” king who was brethren with “Feudal Bred-Queen Coached-Barely Missed Guillotine” brits who believed in civilizing the colored Third-World with imperialistic resource-greediness……

To all the current generation of English/British people, none of the hate-remarks I mentioned are targeted towards you or anyone who was not directly involved in the imperial rule from the past. I like Beatles, I ride a Royal Enfield and I sure have a lot of my fellow citizens living in England right now… Cheers!!! 

To my fellow citizens, it is time we start preserving all elements of our history alike, ……traitors and patriots are part of any political trash bin of every era and ours need more fair treatment….if we can protect the traitors well, we can protect the patriots too…since the very definition of patriot and traitor is subjective and relative, how about preserving every piece of our history with same respect and effort, so we can spend the rest of our generations laughing at the idiosyncrasies our forefathers mastered and marauded….. No offence intended towards anyone who were not directly related to selling India’s freedom for brit-alms… Cheers!!!!

I am already feeling a lot better....means...this post is coming to an end...  ;)
Finishing up, I have to say, that trip to Mysore was entertaining and surprising, with another “Wake-Up” call that reminded me that there is so much I need to know and there is so much out there that has not caught my attention yet, in spite of being in plain sight…….who knew Sultan’s Palace Survived!!!!

On a very different note [a shameless plug], if you are interested in unique tamil short films, feel free to visit couldn't tolerate the mass masala entertainers anymore and decided I will do my best to produce content with substance. I have a long a way to go as a producer and a start-up founder, but I am glad our journey has begun. I look forward to your support. Each film on our site costs INR 15. Thanks!!!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses

Hello World,

A really long time and no see at all....well, I am Back!!!   ;)    

I have recently gained interest in social media marketing. Having run facebook campaigns myself, I thought it's time I share with you my experience. Nothing special but this is just my perspective of Social Media Marketing. If you have a business, or looking to start a new business, or you just like to spend a lot of time on facebook, then I guess you would get a new perspective on the topic. 

Marketing is a key component for any business and for small businesses, it is the main component. The main reason being that large businesses are more visible and cover a large region of the land whereas small businesses, often times, have to start with their local region and a limited market. Reaching out to the customers is always the priority and not all small businesses have the financial freedom to use the conventional high-priced media. The advent of social media has transformed the world for good and this means a lot to small businesses. Now small businesses can reach out to a large audience of their choice and don’t have to spend a lot in the process.

Social media have their ways and therefore it is important for small businesses to understand their properties before using them for their marketing efforts.

Ministry without Minister
Social media have connected a large number of people and are connecting more and more as time passes by. The users of social media are not connected to a single source. This is the specialty of social media. This means that information can be produced at multiple points and gets distributed through multiple networks of users. A cool YouTube video can be shared through facebook, twitter and google+ at the same time and each media can have the users share that video with their friends and so on. So it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a YouTube account. You still get to see YouTube videos on your facebook newsfeed. With advancement in mobile phone technology, users are now always in touch with social media. Small businesses can now leverage this property of social media and reach out to a large audience without having to spend on the heavily centralized industrial media.

Everyone’s Invited
You don’t have to get 15 approvals and 25 certifications for starting a facebook page for your business. The industrial media has tools that are not accessible to everyone. That’s the key strength of social media. Small businesses can now make creative “Cover Photos” for their facebook page and send their message loud and clear to all of their fans. A still camera for pictures, a handycam for videos and your creative studio is all set to roll out creative content for your social media marketing campaign!!! A lot of small businesses hire professionals for the purpose which is also an option dependent on the marketing budget.

Say No to Godfather
Industrial media requires technical expertise to operate but social media does not demand that expertise. Any additional graphic design support can add value to the marketing campaign but there is always an easy workaround for that. Anyone with a good command of Adobe Suite and social media can perform social media marketing. There is free software for almost everything from sound recording to video production.  The key is not technology but “Application” of the same. If you can figure out creative ways to blend your facebook profile picture with your cover picture, you are eligible for induction into the creative brotherhood of graphic design!!!  There are online tools like hootsuite, crowdbooster etc. available for social media marketing. Schedule your posts and keep track of how far you are reaching your audience.

“Now” Marketing
With social media, whatever happens, happens at that moment unlike a newspaper print that may take one night before reaching the audience. So instantaneous reach out is possible with social media. Small businesses can send information with a simple twitter update or a pinterest pin-up. The key is to stay current and varied. Variety is always welcomed and if it is related to current events, the fire stays long. Mention your business’s support to local community development events to show people that your business actually cares about the local community. Corporate Social Responsibility is the key to entrepreneurial growth in the coming generation and all Small Businesses are looking to incorporate that into their core business model. Look for events that might interest your audience and have status updates reminding them of the event or your organization’s appreciation for it. If your audience can relate to the event, then your message has been successfully delivered.

Short Lived “Forever”
With social media, nothing is forever until mentioned so over and over again. If something comes out in print, it stays and the impact of the first print takes a long time to wear out but with social media, you are just a status update far from a change of news. It has to be noted that anything done online stays online and can cause troubles later. An honest approach to social media marketing would avoid this scenario altogether. Mistakes happen all the time. If we take responsibility and rectify it, it gets back to normal very soon. So small businesses need to be aware that with social media, any marketing disaster is possible but the recuperation is also equally quick. The key is to have a good, comprehensive social media marketing strategy for your small business which clearly mentions the Do’s and Don’ts that keeps the marketing efforts from getting carried away.

Tao of Social Media Marketing
Connecting with your customers is just the first step of social media marketing. How they are engaged and entertained is the real game. Therefore, packaging the information to be conveyed is the key. The social media audience has very small attention span and a craving for attractive yet simple content.
Instead of an old-school print ad that says “Discover the best,” a simple youtube video of you explaining your product/service would give your small business, a personal touch. It can be flashy if you decide to make a flashy video but it is ok if it is not flashy. By publishing a YouTube video, you have given a personal image to your business which adds credibility to your message. Your audience would know they are going to work with “You.” Remember taxi driver Devesh Mishra? He is a taxi driver from Banaras who shot to fame with his YouTube video. His video has over 42000 hits so far and that video is not a HD musical extravaganza. A simple speech by him done outdoors is all it is. A lot of his international clients get to know him through his social media presence. 

If you are a small business with experts in your team, have them speak about their work and publish those videos. Your customers would get a clear image of what they might get when they see the responsible one speaking about it.

If you have a small business and like to go big in reaching out to your customers, embrace social media for affordable and unconventional marketing. Prepare your social media marketing strategy and follow it for effective marketing. At all times, you need to know where you are, where you wish to be and where you are headed right now. Don’t restrict yourself to one medium. The idea always is to have your message available through multiple channels and in diverse formats. Take it step by step, one step at a time. The greatest investment in any marketing campaign would be patience and open-mindedness. Let your creativity rule your marketing campaign and have fun connecting with your customers. Wish you all the best.

On a very different note [a shameless plug], if you are interested in unique tamil short films, feel free to visit couldn't tolerate the mass masala entertainers anymore and decided I will do my best to produce content with substance. I have a long a way to go as a producer and a start-up founder, but I am glad our journey has begun. I look forward to your support. Each film on our site costs INR 15. Thanks!!!