Moving your bike between states in India

I got my bike (a Suzuki Fiero) to Bangalore some 2 months back. My dad sent it via train and sent the receipts here by courier. I expected the bike to arrive in Bangalore some 5 days after it was sent; so me and Lokesh, my colleague, went to the railway station to get it. It helped immensely that Lokesh knew exactly where cargo is unloaded and where we will find the bike. However, it wasn’t to be found in the rooms at the rail station, so we set out on all the platforms (around 8 of them) to check if it was just unloaded off a train. No luck there either. Around 30 mins of roaming across the entire Bangalore station in the hot sun isn’t what we were expecting when we started, but at least we didn’t have to deal with unhelpful officers anywhere. We asked a porter to inform us when the bike was unloaded and we then set off.

The next day I received a call from the porter saying the bike had arrived. Being a Saturday, I was in no mood to go and collect it before the offices closed (which was half to one hour later), inspite of being in office. (This was the first and last time I was at office on a Saturday).

The following Monday, Lokesh and I again went to the office and found the bike there. I had to pay some money to get it off, which was strange. However, I at least got a bill for that. Paid some money to the porter, got it cleaned, found out they had damaged the fuel pipe, some petrol was wasted before I switched off the cork again. A long trudge again to find some garage, and dragging the bike in the hot sun isn’t fun.

Garage found, new pipe installed, we set out happily back to the office. Great, no further incidences.

However, the road tax has to be paid for the state of Karnataka if you’re going to be riding the bike for > 1 month. So I went to the Indiranagar RTO, where I collected a couple of forms (printed in Kannada), which were to be filled. The officers weren’t particularly unhelpful, so that helped not lower my spirits.

The officer to whom I was supposed to submit this form directed me to a copy stuck on a cupboard facing him where the English translation of the form. After quickly filling it and shelling out Rs. 1500 (approx), I got my tax receipt. I don’t know what happens to the similar amount of money I spent for the Road tax in Maharashtra; I don’t know if I’ll get that back.

The registration number has to be changed, it seems, if you’re going to be riding in Karnataka beyond a year. That, however, needs an NOC from the Maharashtra RTO, which takes a lot of time and money. I’ve not got that done yet.

If you’re planning to get your bike to a different state from where it’s registered, get the road tax filed at least. Especially in Bangalore, since there are traffic policemen at every corner, and they spring up when you least expect them. They also check for your breath late nights (especially on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) to make sure there aren’t drunk people driving out there.

And with around 5 robberies reported every week on the streets of Bangalore, the policemen have set up barricades all across the town and checking for all sorts of papers related to the bikes and cars. Non-Karnataka registered vehicles of course are a prime target. Good to spend some money in paying the taxes rather than wasting time and money later on.

Raikkonen, finally!

Kimi Raikkonen finally won it for team McLaren Mercedes at Barcelona yesterday. He beat Alonso in number 2 by a whopping 25s. Says a lot about the package Kimi got. Was very good to see such a convincing victory for McLaren after a long time. Was at the Forum mall with Vikram to catch the action live. (Surprising the forum guys don’t have a website.) Renault’s doing well, but the Toyotas and the Williams also came good yesterday. Ferrari were out of points, with Schumacher rolling out on a flat tyre… Bridgestones not up to the mark this season, adding to their start-of-season woes.

There was a hint of McLaren coming back with a bang at Imola, but for the driveshaft problem, Kimi had to retire. He led the Spanish track yesterday right from the start and didn’t look in trouble for a minute. Reminded me of some of Mika Hakkinen’s drives. Classic stuff!

Deception Point, Digital Fortress

It’s been almost a month that I’ve read Deception Point by Dan Brown. This one is his 2nd novel. A very fast-paced gripping adventure + thriller. Nicely woven story around NASA and the White House. However, I could guess every twist and turn in the book (against a couple in the DVC), but in the usual Dan Brown style, it has a lot of information about other stuff, like the way NASA works, sealife, asteroids, etc, that you don’t just get to read a thriller; you also get to know about things related to the plot. This is what I’ve started liking about DB’s novels.

Most of my book-reading happens on weekends, and I usually end up finishing one novel / book the same weekend. However, I couldn’t get enough time to read this book on a weekend, so it actually took a lot of sessions across a week to finish this book. I actually looked forward to finishing it, a very good read.

Digital Fortress is DB’s first novel. It mostly deals with cryptography and breaking codes. Since most of the material was already known to me, this one wasn’t as entertaining as the other novels. Also, I could guess all of the twists / turns the book has to offer, so it was like just reading through a very predictive novel that didn’t also add to my knowledge. Skip it if you already know about ciphers and cryptography. The fun part about this novel was probably the code given at the end of the book to be cracked. Which I did after spending some time on it. Clues below.

!Spoiler Warning: The series of numbers initally looked like page numbers, so I was trying out arranging the first words on those page numbers mentioned, but no luck with that. Then I tried by using the first letter on the page; again it was meaningless. I then thought that those pages could have some “theme”, which could be used and break the code. However, on relooking at the numbers, they seemed to be confined between a certain min and max… which looked a lot like chapter numbers. Rest was easy to put in place.

The Da Vinci Code and the Kashmir Code

Read “The Da Vinci Code” last Saturday while lazing over a long weekend. Friday was non-working day because of Good Friday and Holi, the festival of colors. On a typical Holi day, I would be playing with some color and water in my building with neighbors. This time, away from home, I had nothing much to do, except read.

Dan Brown‘s latest novel, The Da Vinci Code is absolutely unputdownable as one of the reviewers says. The most often repeated praise for this book is “how magically he mixes fact and fiction and creates a world where the basic grounds of Christianity are to be blown up”. Of course, all that is true. But what appeals to me the most is, I haven’t read such a mystery since Sherlock Holmes. And I’ve not read such a piece of fiction, such imagination, since The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

This one novel has exceptional research gone behind it, long hours of thinking and finding patterns and interpretations to simple things that others wouldn’t bide their time doing. Dan Brown finds relations between Da Vinci arts, the way they are painted, the secret societies he indulged in, the genius that he was, his other inventions, and so on. Of course, this book has enough of fact to it, that I got to learn a lot about Christianity and Da Vinci. Catch is, there’s such a thin line between fact and fiction, that once immersed into the plot, you hardly can make out what’s fact and what’s not.

Atul‘s already written lots about Angels and Demons, the prequel to The Da Vinci Code, and how great that book is, I’ve nevertheless picked up Deception Point, also by Dan Brown, after TDVC. I had bought all these books in Pune, but hadn’t had the time to read them till now. Now that I had choice, knowing Angels and Demons was good, I picked up DP, so that even if it wasn’t that good, I’d have something good to read sometime soon.

So then how about cracking the Kashmir code by applying the same principles as in TDVC? The Times of India, the leading daily here, has an article today that talks about Kashmir actually belonging to the US, and not India. A very nicely written article.

Dearth of Linux developers?

People are using the Linux kernel everywhere now; so there have to be lots of Linux (kernel) developers around. So finding one should be easy, right? My team (at Juniper Networks, India) has openings for Linux kernel guys and networking guys. If someone stumbles through this post and is interested, or has friends who may be interested, please get in touch with me.

Oh, BTW, I have joined Juniper Networks India Pvt. Ltd. in Bangalore from the 1st of Feb. Basically going to be working on the Netscreen line of security products, mainly on Intrusion Detection and Prevention. Sounds good and work seems to be good. We have an excellent team here, am pally with each of the four people here right now right from day one like we have been buddies for the past five years… half of the team is in the US office, they’re coming back this weekend. And we all from here are going to the Sunnyvale, California office sometime in April.

Lots of work and fun lined up ahead, hope to keep the blog updated.

Moving on…

Having worked in a startup for ~ 3+ years, and still enjoying the work I’m doing, there seems to be no reason for me to switch jobs. However, there still is some need for that. I’ve never stayed away from my family. So this is probably the best time for an experience of staying alone. There’s no real dependency on me from the family, so I can move around freely. Also, I have no experience of how big companies work. Plus, no idea how a products-based company works.

So, I’ve decided to move on and experiment. I’m shifting base to Bangalore. The company? Well, I’ll disclose the name in a few days; but it should suffice to say that it’s a big player in the routers business.

Bangalore’s a great city; much, much bigger than Pune is, much cleaner and much greener. However, the traffic is bad. On some occasions, you could be at the same place, without even moving an inch, for 30 minutes. Mornings 9-10 and evenings 5-7 is the time-frame you don’t want to commit anyone any time. You’re bound to be late, unless you’re on foot or a two-wheeler, by which you could just arrive on time.

And the city’s dull. Shops close at 8 in the evening, it keeps pouring once it starts raining, the movie theatre owners are having some problems with airing Hindi and English movies because of a state law, so all these limit the entertainment choices. So my time will either be passed by reading or on the computer. Not too bad, but it’s good to roam about sometimes.

Feel free to comment / mail with advice on absolutely anything: the staying alone experience, working in a big company experience, living in a dull city experience, anything.

Bangalore, here I come…