Map trace by mobile

I have been thinking about this for a while. And yes, this is one of my dream product posts – there might be hints of technology possibility inside, but no means an algorithm. I will spell out a couple of use cases first.

Use case1: I hail an uber from home. The pickup location is picked up either through physical GPS on the device or by wifi triangulation. Now that is passed to Uber for pickup. Now, let us say, I take my phone, and walk to the end of my road, to the main road. I want to be picked up from there, because there is too much traffic inside my side road. Uber cannot be notified of that. Can uber triangulate to my phone and locate me?

Use case2: I call customer support for fixing my washing machine. Ideally, there should be one final question from the customer support representative – “Can I send the technician to the place where this phone is?” The system should figure out the address and send the technician.

There are several more use cases where this could help. There are obviously privacy concerns here, but there must be someway to fix that problem. I have been facing this issue so many times in recent times, giving directions to people, when they should just be able to locate me.

Ooty Road-trip Oct 2 weekend 2015

General trip notes:
  • Mostly the roads were good – except for a short stretch from Mysore to Nanjangud – where there is road widening that is happening. Once this is finished, the road should be fully done.
  • I took the Masinagudi route to/from Ooty – this is the 36 hairpin bend short route. The road in this stretch is also awesome.
  • The road inside the Bandipur sanctuary has been freshly laid and is really good.
  • On our way to Ooty, we passed by the Bandipur area around 6PM. Looks like this is a great time to spot animals. Spotted hordes of bison, deer, and peacock.
  • On our way back, the traffic was horrendous. All of Bangalore was returning from the long weekend.
  • Do not miss the wood fired pizza at Nahar Side walk cafe. Their multi-cuisine restaurant – Chandan – is also pretty good. Both are pure vegetarian.
  • The Sterling Elk Hill property has undergone massive renovation and looks super posh inside. They are adding more rooms as well.
  • On the way back, if you want to fill gas, there is a bunk, right at the beginning of the Mysore road (from Ooty).
  • If you want to avoid the maddening crowds of Ooty, and want a relaxing drive, drive down the road towards Kundha/Upper Bhavani. The Emerald lake is just an awesome vista point.
  • If you want to have lunch in Mysore, but do not want to go into the city, there is a Kamat Madhuvan, just near the Mysore bypass.


Sita, Hanuman, Hulk, Spiderman …


I usually do not forward or propagate ‘forward-emails’ – emails which say that, this happened to my friends brothers sister-in-law. But this one brought with it major entertainment. This is about a little girl who went for a UKG interview in one of the premeire schools in Chennai. The Principal asks the girl to tell a story, to which the kid asks if she can narrate a story that she has written, or a story that she has just read. The surprised Principal asks her to read the story that she had written. If this is really true, God bless the kid – she is going to go places.

Ok, tell me story which you have written.

Sarithra said “Ravanan kidnapped Sita to Srilanka”

Opening scene failed to impress the Principal but still she encouraged the child to continue.

“Rama asked Hanuman’s help to rescue Sita. Hanuman too agreed to help Rama ”


“Now, Hanuman called his friend Spider man.” No one expected this twist in the story


“Because there are lot of mountains between India and Srilanka..if we have Spiderman we can go easily with his rope.”

“But Hanuman can fly isn’t it??”

“Yes. But he is having Sanjeevi Mountain on one hand, so he cannot fly very fast. “
“Hanuman and Spiderman flew to Srilanka and rescued Sita. Sita said Thanks to both”


“When you are helped you should say Thanks”

“Hanuman now called Hulk.”

All were surprised. She realized our curiosity and said ” Now Sita is there, so to take her safely back to Rama..he called Hulk”

“What logic???” the Principal asked.

“Hanuman can carry Sita right?”

“Yes. But he has Sanjeevi Mountain in one hand and has to hold spider man on the other”

The Principal could not control her smiles. ” So when they all started to India they met my friend Akshay”

“How come Akshay there now?”

“Because it is my story and I can bring any one there”

Now the Principal didn’t get angry but waited for the next twist

Then all started to India and landed at Chennai’s Velechery bus stop

Now I asked,”Why they have landed In Velechery bus stop? ”

“Because they forgot the way..& Hulk got an idea and called Dora”

“Dora came and she took Sita to Velechery Venus Colony…that’s all.”

Finished the story with a smile

Now the Principal asked “Why Venus Colony?”

“Because sita is there & I am Sita!!!”

The Supermarket experience

(pic courtesy:
(pic courtesy:

Ever since the online grocery guys came into the picture (read as bigbasket in our home), one recurrent topic at my place has been – “would we miss the supermarket experience?” Some common points that would typically come up were:

  • It was a nice once a month outing that we may probably miss out on.
  • We would miss the new product introductions
  • The supermarket experience was always a mind-hack, where you usually went to shop with a 5 item shopping list (which would have totalled to about Rs500), but invariable came out with a cart full of groceries (which would have totalled to Rs1500). This part would not be missed – especially by my wallet.

Yesterday, I went to Nilgiris and Reliance fresh (for two different items that could be got only in these two places), and I realized that, perhaps, I may not even miss the shopping experience. The experience was far from optimal. I noticed that there were more grofers (and other hyperlocal delivery guys) grabbing stuff from the shelves than regular shoppers.

Instead of seeing new products, I saw new hyperlocal delivery company names – I saw a company named Ninjacart. These guys were in a mad rush to get stuff, billed and run out, so that their SLAs with their demanding home delivery customers could be met.

My dad tells me that this is often the story in retail supermarket chains in Chennai too. I do not yet think, this has caught on with larger chains such as SPAR. But it will not be too long, I think. Are we becoming lazier? Are we going to lose out on that one enjoyable outing? I do not know. But time will tell – since we will only know the true picture after the VC funding dries out.

Shaun the Sheep – The Movie


In recent times, as most of my readers know, the only movies that we have been going to, are cartoon movies. Two reasons behind this are – this way the kid and we can enjoy together (RoI is very important – since we are spending a sh** load of money on movie tickets) and secondly, the wife and me have started becoming impatient with respect to movies (partly due to watching recorded movies on Tata Sky Plus at home – where we can forward all the unwanted junk!).

Anyways, the cartoon movie scene in Bangalore does not help too much. Except big scale movies from big movie houses (read: Disney), all other cartoon movies barely cross a week in theatres. Same was the case with “Shaun the Sheep”. It release the weekend of the Independence Day (Aug 14 weekend) and by Aug 21 weekend, it was running one show in one theatre (and irony – the theatre farthest from where we live). But no, that did not deter us. We hauled it from Koramangala to the Orion Mall Rajaji Nagar for the 4PM show.

The wife and me (and the kid, incidentally) have been big fans of Shaun the Sheep cartoons on tv. If you have not, go to youtube and search. They are fun, clean, and smallish cartoon strips about a bunch of sheep, one of them being Shaun. Ofcourse Shaun, being the pratagonist, is smarter and more quick witted than the rest.

We went to this movie with a single thought – how could you make a cartoon strip which typically runs as a filler in the cartoon channels (most of the strips are 5-7 minutes long) as a whole movie. But the director has done a commendable job. The movie does not leave you fidgetting your thumbs. It is a fast paced movie.

The jokes are clean, which will leave young and old chuckling – very typical of the usual Shaun the sheep strips. None of the jokes leave you cracking up, but keeps you chuckling through the movie. Very nice animation. And hey, get this, there is not a single dialog in the movie – just like in the strip. The only person capable of speaking, the farmer, also just makes unintelligible noises, but that is it.

Very well done movie. One hour and 15 minutes of pure fun.

Nandi Hills

Last weekend, my sister, brother-in-law and their kid visited Bangalore, and we used this as an excuse to visit Nandi Hills (which we had never visited so far in the seven years we have lived in Bangalore!).

We started early – around 7:00Am from Koramangala. We took the usual route to the airport that most cabbies take: Viveknagar -> Mother Theresa Road -> Residency Road -> MG Road -> Golf course -> Mekhri circle.

As per plan, we took a slight detour off at RT Nagar and had breakfast at the Vasudev Adigas – at 730AM.

Left Adigas around 830AM and took to Bellary Road. Road is just awesome. Beautifully paved 6 lane road. Pleasure to drive. But do beware of cops who stand with radar speed detectors and can book you (apparently happens very regularly).

After a while, you will see a board to Nandi hills heading left. You will also see a restaurant complex of sorts in that junction. Do take that road even if your GPS does not say so. My MapMyIndia GPS asked me to go straight on and take the next left. The road quality is super bad in the second route.

The Ghat section is a pretty intensive ghat section – not too long, but quite a few hair pin bends. Honk at every turn – because it looks like this ghat section is a favourite for bikers to show off their speed biking skills (especially given that, it is a favourite romantic spot for couples).

Once you reach the top of the hill, there are parking areas. The one at the very top apparently gets filled up very quickly and overflows to the lower level, which is where we parked. This is an area under a larger number of trees and some weird tree house type structures with little or no flooring.

Interesting observation: 5 of the 10 cars that were parked there were zoomcars.

This parking area is just super windy and chill. Do make sure you take a jacket.

You climb up to the actual Nandi hills area via a little walkway and a few steps.

You have a large Shiva temple which looks pretty old. And a Kalyani (temple tank) inside it. This tank is fed by fresh water springs all year long. It is believed that this tank (and its springs) is where three rivers originate – Palaar, Pennaar, and Arkavathi.

There are some neatly maintained gardens and pathways nearby, where you can take a stroll. The two 5 year olds played a bit of football for a while.

There is a Nandini ice cream parlour, where we all had ice creams. There is also a small cafe (small eats like idli, dosa, tea, and coffee are available), where all had tea/coffee.

Warning: There are a large number of monkeys. Even if they see you having something resembling food, they will come and grab from your hand. In fact, if you do even so much as to sit on some of the park benches, they think, you are going to eat, and approach you.

The monkeys scared the living daylights out of us, and we left in about an hour. Over the course of the half hour, we saw monkeys snatching chips packets from small kids, snatching ice-cream bars from older people’s hands, and such.

We left from there around 11am and back in the city by around 1:15pm.

Overall observations:

  • Nice views from the top
  • It is a good picnic spot – but without food.
  • Beware of monkeys
  • We missed an old temple at the base of the hills – with two 5 year olds, this is how much we could cover.
  • It is a place that you can visit once – nothing more to do multiple visits – would be boring.


Nandi - @ Nandi Hills
Vista from Nandi Hills
Temple/fort on top of Nandi Hills
Steps - Nandi Hills

Padhinettaam Peru


(image courtesy – subbu’s kitchen – where you can find some yummy recipes as well for this festival)

Today is Padhinettaam Peru, or as some people call it Aadi perukku – the 18th day of the Tamizh month of Aadi (mid july – mid aug in the Julian Calendar). On the average year, this is a typical spring day. This is celebrated as a Spring Harvest Holiday. This is not a typical harvest festival to thank the Gods – that is Pongal (Sankranthi). The ritual in this festival is to make simple mixed rice dishes (such as lemon rice, tamarind rice, etc), take it to a river bank or beach, and have a picnic. I kid you not, that is the ritual, and people did it a thousand years ago, and still do it. What a beautiful culture that we have.

If you want a detailed description, read the first chapter of Ponniyin Selvan by Kalki Krishnamurthy. The first scene is when the protagonist, Vandhiyathevan rides into the sunset, along the banks of the Veeranarayana Lake, fed by the Ponni river.

If you just want to read an abridged version, here is my PS-Chapter-1.

Read the rest of the abridged volumes here.

Railfanning – 18th July 2015 – Byappanahalli

The son and I headed off to Byappanahalli (took scooter to Trinity and then metro to Byapannahalli) at around 11 and had a good 2 hours rail fanning :)


IoT in the Kitchen?

This idea just struck me today evening. This is in close heels to the IoT usage with the gas cylinder post that I had done a few weeks ago.

Problem to be solved: Get an accurate state of groceries that is stocked in the kitchen and potentially order them (online?). This is a very common task that is done on a fairly regular basis in most households (typically on the day when ‘monthly shopping’ is done,

Initial setup/infrastructure:

  • All grocery items to be stocked in identical pre-calibrated clear jars.
  • Item stored in the jar is bar-coded.
  • Threshold for ordering is to be set initially – by a sticker or using marker pens.



  • User invokes a smart phone app.
  • Snaps a picture of the shelf with the stacked clear containers.
  • App automatically figures out the jars with groceries lesser than the threshold set by the user.
  • The details of what is stored in the jar is obtained from the bar code.
  • User either adds the list of items to buy to his to-do list (Google keep? Wunderlist?) – or – directly adds it to his grocery list on the Bigbasket app.

Bigbasket? Zopnow? Anybody listening?