Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel is amazing

February 4, 2010

I had gone to Udaipur to give a lecture to select CIO’s on “Converged Infrastructure”. The organizers – HP in this case –  had hosted me in Oberoi Udaivilas Hotel.

The property is amazing – sprawling green campus on the Pichola Lake (in fact you reach it thru a very nice ferry ride, an option that is indeed enjoyable), large extremely comfortable rooms with private “sit out” balcony, comfort conditioners (that do not over cool the rooms with a controller that has single point adjustment), Internet that is good enough to work and not too good that you get hooked, video screen that is “well placed”..; I can go on describing the “quality” of the hardware. But the “software” – the service is the one that “leverages” the hardware; a combination of “old” and “new” tools; a person greets you with a ful smile and a full “Namaskar” with folded hands and orally greeting you with your name (assisted by “walkie Talkie and mobile phones) so that you feel “secure” and “wanted”; in fact, at every step you are “taken good care of” including the many restaurants, spa, business center, meeting rooms, lounges..;  in fact, every inch of the Hotel.

No wonder Oberoi Udaivilas was rated No 1 in the world in 2007 by “Travel+Leisure” and consistently gets voted as one of the “Top 10 luxury hotels” every year. Every industry would have a lesson to learn from Oberoi Udaivilas.

Nice to be in Tirumala on Ugadi Day

March 27, 2009

Today (March 27, 2009) is Ugadi Day. This day marks the New Year for Chandramanas (those who follow Lunar calendar in India). The States of Karnataka, Andhra and parts of Maharashtra, Orissa follow this system; the remaning States (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Bengal, Assam, Punjab for example) folow the Suryamana system (those who follow Solar calendar in India) with New Year (Baisaki) falling generally on April 14 every year.

Since I had to attend a Technology Presentation meeting on Security solutions  at TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams) on March 26, 2009 at 5 PM, I stayed overnight and had Darsan in the morning.

The Deity had an unusual dress, of course, divinely. The couple of seconds one gets a chance to have a glimpse of the Lord is always electrifying.

The floral arrangements at Tirumala are just amazing. Due to security devotees are NOT allowed to carry photographs; otherwise it would have been photographers’ delight. I do hope the TTD Official Photographer sends at least some pictures to us. It is heartening to note that a silent devotee from Bangalore takes care of all such floral arrangement!

I also could get a Darsan of Padmavaty Ammavaru in Tiruchanoor. Being Friday it was very auspicious.

The road too was very kind; leaving Tiruchanoor at 1225 PM I reached our home(near IIMB) at 455 PM!

A great way to start the New Year which I am sure will be a great Year for me, IIIT-B and India

TTD is very tech-savvy

March 26, 2009

TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam) the organization that manages the temples in Tirumala, Tirupati ) is an amazing organization.

The temple in Tirumala is one of the busiest temples in the world (with an average 60,000+ devotees visiting the temple everyday).

Located on a beautiful hill top, Tirumala is undoubtedly one of the best hill station (definitely the best maintained among all hill stations).

It manages to provide most services – Darsan, Mundan, stay, reach and food – free of cost to nearly 80% of the devotees.

The temple also is one of the richest in the world with annual revenues of several hundreds of Crores of Rupees.

TTD is also very tech-savvy. Way back in 1999, TTD introduced “Sudarsan” – bar-code based tag to identify the queue position of devotees as they arrive and use the bar code technology to replace the long “physical queue” with a “logical queue”. Over the past ten years they have extended Sudarsan to Tirupati, many locations around Tirupati, all TTD Centers in India as well as over the Internet. They have replaced bar-code with biometrics. They have also introduced a Web-site, e-Hundi (payment gateway), Room reservation system, accounting..

It is nice to see a temple management looking at technology solutions on a continuous basis. They are looking at devotee-friendly security solutions to be deployed from July 2009

May such TTD-like organizations multiply in the country

Inspiring Benares and BHU

February 24, 2009

I stayed in Benares for 3 nights, considered very pious by many. Not by great design though; thanks to a request from my good friend and IITK colleague Prof Ashok Mittal to visit IITK and give three talks on ERP, SCM Tools and IT & Enterprise and the fact that IIIT-B Senate and Board meetings got over on 17th (and the Selection Committee meeting was only on March 6) and the pay day for February was only on 29th! These are my real constraints as Head of IIIT-B!

I stayed in LD Guest House in BHU. My stay coincided with Maha Shivaratri and Amavasya, considered holy by Hindus. So I was doubly happy.

In spite of extreme indifference shown by successive governments (who approve tens of thousands of crores of Rupees for all “phoney” projects) and the appalling civic conditions of Benares, one cannot but feel the spiritual vibrance of Benares.

  • The Kasi Vishwanath temple, Kasi Vishalakshi temple and Annapoorna temple are true abodes of the Gods.
  • Ganga Aarti on the river Ganga (in the evenings) is a time to see millions watching the Ganga Puja with riveted eyes (of course with camera-fitted mobile phones these days).
  • Tulsi temple where Sant Tulsidas composed his Tulsi Ramayan and the Sankat Mochan temple where the Hanuman Chalisa was offered to Lord Hanuman are other places that one cannot miss.

BHU campus is something that “touches” you; in spite of very little grants (compared to many new generation Institutes including IITs), the sprawling (the largest campus in the country) campus is spartan, but clean; it has a “personality” of its own, thanks to its Founder Mahamana Malaviyaji. It is green and clean by design!

BHU has every chance of becoming a true University that the coveted Institutes likle IITs, IISc, IISERs, IIITs and IIM’s can never match in terms of breadth, they being singular Institutes.

If well developed, BHU can match Oxford & Cambridge of UK or Harvard and UC Berkeley of USA

Unfortunately, the powers that be would like to see BHU decay and wither away, than develop.

It is a miracle that BHU still survives and there are enough scholars pursuing their individual scholarship even today!

Ayodhya visit

February 19, 2009

On February 19, 2009 I managed to visit Ayodhya from Lucknow.

It was a very time efficient visit; start from Tata Guest House at 7 AM and reach the Tata Motors plant at 230 PM for lunch! I had nearly 2 hours in Ayodhya. The roads were the same we saw four years ago; few kilometers of well-laid out road (completed prior to 2004) and several kilometers of heaps of dust (declared complete by NHAI if we have to believe 4 KM per day of road completion by UPA government)!

As the birth place of “maryada purushottam” Lord Rama, Ayodhya is a hallowed place. I felt spirituality in the holy place.

  • Kanak Bhavan
  • Janmasthan
  • Ram Darbar
  • Hanuman Hill

and

  • Sarayu River

were places that one associates with Lord Rama as well as  Sitaji and Hanumanji. Naturally it is very satisfying.

Once you come to the physical plane, you are in a very different world. The place is anything but beautiful (mostly filthy), the people there are anything but knowledgeable

Alas, if only the powers that be (either in UP or Delhi or in Chennai or in Bangalore) spend a millionth of what they spend on spreading the “achievements” through statues, full page advertisements or video propaganda, Ayodhya will be very different. The monuments kept clean and tidy, the streets swept of garbage, drinking water made available and  sewage disposed; some trained guides, inexpensive dharmashalas and eat-outs is all that one needs.

“Incredible India” can be incredibly stupid to spend so much on such advertisements and yet do so little in reality! That too in the name of “aam admi” by Congress and in the name of “Jai Sri Ram” by BJP!

Only Lord Rama can guide our politicians