Taxi For Sure, Easy Cabs, Meru Cabs - not enough taxi services in Bangalore!


As frequent traveler within the city who does like either driving or public transportation, I mostly rely on cabs for commute. Taxicabs arrived in 1911 to complement horse wagons. But many a time, I wished horse wagons continued their services. Infact, my folks used to tell me tales about how they used to travel in 'bullock carts'. With the current traffic situation in the Indian cities, that looks like a viable option.

I have a neutral opinion on most of the cab services in Bangalore. Taxicab service is a lucrative business. One can conveniently book a cab from the thousand companies listed on Google. What happens next? When the taxi should arrive at your doorstep, you get a call from a drunk driver that he has reached some place unknown to you, to pick you up. Most of the time, you have to wait outside, on the street waiting for the driver, while giving instructions over the phone (Sounds familiar? Remember the time in school/college when you would wait for your sweetheart.)

I am generally not a pessimist, nor do I whine that often. But after using the cab services Bangalore has to offer, I figured that sharing my experiences with the said subject, mostly bitter ones, may prove to be beneficial to other souls like me.
'Taxi For Sure' - the name does sound like a commitment from Salman Khan. And most of the time I fall for that. The service commenced in 2011 and never had to look back. With around 11 cities under their belt by 2014, the company had been assuring people of a 'taxi for sure'.

Are they able to deliver as many cabs required by the people of these cities? Ummmm No. Big NO. Here's how it usually goes - You are charmed by the name and expect to hire a 'Taxi for Sure'. You call the customer care no 60601010, they would make you 'wait for sure'. After about 5 to 10 minutes of listening to the 60601010 jingle, if you're lucky enough to get past all levels of Interactive Voice Response (IVR), be rest assured you'll hear, "Sorry, we don't have a taxi for sure!"Out of 10 calls that I make to Taxi For Sure, 3 are ignored; meaning, they 'don't have a taxi for sure' in my area.

I have to admit that compared to other taxi services in Bangalore, Taxi For Sure is leading in the area of reliability (you can imagine how the other cab services are). Still, I would suggest that you avoid it if you need a cab on an urgent basis (unless you don't want to be engulfed in a murderous rage).

My humble suggestion to Taxi For Sure management is - Increase the number of cars before increasing the number of cities!
There was a time when Meru Cabs were very reliable. They started their services in the city long before Bangalore airport was shifted to Hebbal. What went wrong? Meru Cabs diverted their attention towards the new Bengaluru International Airport. The longer the distance the more money they could make! So if you are looking for a pick-up and drop within the city of Bangalore, feel free to avoid Meru Cabs as well.

In last five years, I tried to book a Meru Cabs over a dozen times. If it's the airport, they readily agree to transport you. For any other location, their standard response is, "No cabs available in your area and you can 'Rely On Us' on that!"

There have been times when I had waited for hours, but the cab seemed to have pulled Houdini, despite receiving a confirmation on the previous day. It's been a while since I bade them goodbye.
Easy Cabs are easy to locate with their yellow sticker in the cars. In Bangalore you might miss spotting a celebrity, but never an Easy Cab. They claim that they are India's # 1 personal ground transportation service provider. But most of the time they are actually transporting the drivers alone - the backseat usually remains empty.

Easy Cabs customer care (43434343) respond faster compared to other taxi services. Although sometimes it is difficult to understand their English, they would assure you that you will get a 'Cab Easily' through them. They claim to have more than 6500 cabs. So what's there to worry?

And then the waiting begins. Forget about 'easy', you might not even see a 'difficult cab'. Here's a funny incident - I booked an Easy Cab on Oct 14, 2014 for the next day to take me from my premises in Koramangala to Mahadevapura in Bangalore. The booking was confirmed for 8:15 AM on Oct 15, 2014. I got a confirmation message with a booking ID. Next day I received the driver details about one hour before the pick-up time and happily waited for the driver to arrive. When the cab didn't show up by 8:15 AM, I called the driver. He said he was on the way and mumbled something in a language that I couldn't decipher. I called the Easy Cab customer care. I was put on hold for nearly 5 mins; then an executive said that the cab will arrive in another 10 mins. When that didn't happen, I called the driver again. This time he sounded drunk and muttered something again. I called the customer care again. This time the customer care person said that no cabs are available in my area.

Naturally irritated, I disconnected the call and traveled in an auto rickshaw. At 9:00 AM I received another message from Easy Cabs with updated driver details. I chose to ignore that, as I was already on my way. A little later, I got another call from Easy Cabs. The person on the other end said, "Please wait for half an hour, we are looking for another cab for you". By that time I had reached my destination.

My suggestion to Easy Cabs will be, "Change your name from Easy Cabs to Easy Calls!"
I am yet to try taxicab companies like Ola Cabs, Mega Cabs, Yellow Cabs etc. But first I have to get through their phone lines on a rainy day.

In Bangalore, it is sometimes easy to get a taxi on a weekday after 11 AM. It is also easy to get a cab to drop you at the airport. But be prepared to be ditched by cabs services if you are in some kind of emergency. Another heads up - never rely on a cab service if you are stuck somewhere and want to reach to your family at home on a rainy day.

Smaller cities like Shillong have shared taxi services which are cheap. Bangalore too can adopt the idea of having Yellow-colored cabs like Kolkata and Mumbai. Relying on a cab for sure will be easy for the commuters. On a different note, I am contemplating on investing in a bicycle. That should give me enough content for another blog post.

Clip arts from www.clipartlord.com

Tiger, tiger, none appear! | Mudumalai National Park experience

Road to Mudumalai National Park (photo - Jim Ankan Deka)

"If you want to see tiger, go to a zoo; not a tiger reserve!"
Says Nitesh, one of the officials of Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu.

It was a bright sunny day when we reached the entrance of Mudumalai National Park. We already had rooms booked at The Nest Inn, a small but clean resort in Masinagudi (one of the five ranges of the wildlife sanctuary). The 180° panoramic view from the resort was actually astounding. The cool green background reminded me of my hometown in Assam of North East India.

After checking in, we thought of going through the travel guidebook. First destination on the menu was the Moyar River, a tributary of Bhavani river which originates from a small town called Moyar along the Masinagudi. The moment we reached the river, which was actually very close to our resort, we got the stench of human excreta. What we thought to be a clean forest and animal destination, ended up becoming the lavatory for the hominidae.

Moyar River, Mudumalai National Park
(photo - Jim Ankan Deka)
Road through Mudumalai National Park
(photo - Jim Ankan Deka)
This was the moment I dreaded of throughout the 300 km journey. Humans are supposed to be characterized by superior intelligence. But facing a sight like this makes me wonder how long will it take for the so called member of the family Hominidae to reach the level of 'uncivilized' animals. Infact I saw bit of deforestation on the way and garbage dumping on the road sides inside the park.

We moved on and went for a bonfire in the jungle arranged by Nest Inn. It was thrilling as well as spine-tingling when we were told that people witnessed a leopard and couple of elephants roaming in that area the previous day. Although we did not have the necessary luck to witness the majestic presence of the kindred souls, it was still fun to taste the barbeque and the bananna-chocolate cooked in the fire under the open sky.

Next day we visited the Pykara falls which was just 19 km from Ooty in the Ooty-Gudalur road. The falls was about 35 kms from Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary. The curvy road through the Nilgiri Hills was nice and clean. The surrounding beauty reminded me of Shillong. It was indeed breathtaking. Most of the time I try to avoid the thronged tourist destinations. Pykara Falls was nothing different. A crowd had already transformed the pristine place to a carnival atmosphere. Shops and hawkers on the way to the falls made the place a business zone. The behavior of the management was equally worse. But the sound and the peaceful white color of the water fall was so perfectly overwhelming, that I stood transfixed.

The serene Pykara lake near the Pykara falls
(photo - Jim Ankan Deka)
First signboard near Pykara falls
(photo - Parmita Borah)
Last destination for us was the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. While I come from the North East India, which has more greenery than any other part of India, I was still exited to visit the reserve. It was not only because I was missing my hometown after being a resident of Bangalore close to a decade, but because of the wildlife as well as the thrill of witnessing the king of the forest.

We reached the government safari ticket counter. Had to wait for the tickets which cost around Rs 135 per head. There were camera charges too. After some time our conveyance arrived. The moment our eyes fell on the vehicle, all the excitement vanished. It was a 'bus'. We were expecting atleast a jeep if not a game viewing vehicle like the Land Rover Defender or a modified truck. As far my knowledge goes, an ideal vehicle for a game drive should carry maximum of 9 passengers besides the ranger, which allows interaction and personalized attention during the drive. But alas, it was a mini bus with a sitting capacity of around 28 people. We forgot the interaction part and concentrated on the drive through the forest. To our astonishment, there was no guide.

We went for a 40 min drive and saw few wolves and langoors (Old World monkeys). We waited for the forest king, the tiger to greet us on the way; but nope, it never came out. The driver never stopped the bus and I was almost praying for the bus to break down. Just before we reched the reception building, we saw an elephant. Everyone on the bus started clicking and after some time realised that there was a bell in it's neck. So it was not a wild elephant but a demo animal kept by the forest reserve for the people to feel happy if they don't encounter any wild animal in the forest.

Indian wolf at Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary
(photo - Jim Ankan Deka)
Peahen at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve
(photo - Jim Ankan Deka)
We were quite unhappy with the entire process. So we thought of leaving our suggestions in the reception. We were given a form to fill with the personal details and suggestions. After we handed over the form duly filled, Nitesh, the forest official asked us to wait and went through what we wrote. He said that bus is more secured compared to a jeep if elephants chase. I asked him about Kaziranga National Park or African wildlife safaris which are actuall done in jeeps or similar vehicles, he answered that Elephants are more ferocious at Mudumalai forest because of the climate. According to him, other forests are safer.

When asked about the bell on the elephant, Nitesh said that it is a tracking device if the elephant plans to run inside the jungle. Although they have camera traps, the bell is more trustworthy. I don't know what would have been the comment of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam or ISRO to that.

Nitesh next pointed to the sticker on the window of the ticket counter when we asked him about the tigers which we did not come across with in the 40 min bus drive. It was written 'Animal sighting is a matter of luck'. I asked him if he had been to Kaziranga National Park or Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary because that's where one can find the famous one horned rhinos. When he said 'No', I told him that 90% of the visitors witness atleast more than one rhino, that too in a jeep. Rhinos are known to be angry animals. These guys are so defensive that they've earned a reputation as indiscriminate attackers that will charge just about anything in sight or that looks unfamiliar. He had hardly any clue about that. At the end he asked us to visit a zoo if we wanted to see tigers and not a reserve forest.

The demo elephant with bell at Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary (photo - Jim Ankan Deka)
Animal sighting is a matter of luck! The sticker with the message at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve
I could understand that he was just a representative and did not have the authority or power to change anything. We bid him goodbye and left the building. Although the entire trip was not so fascinating for me, I can't say that I was unhappy. I had fun. I love nature and it was abundant at Mudumalai National Park. I felt helpless when I saw the trees being cut down and people making the place messy by strewing garbage around. Little ashamed to call myself a member of great India!
© All images appearing in the Withjim.com web site are the exclusive property of Jim Ankan Deka and are protected under the Indian and International Copyright laws. The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of Jim Ankan Deka.

Chaotic start to India's first Red Bull Flugtag

Red Bull Flugtag, Bangalore, India (photo - Jim Ankan Deka)
Red Bull Flugtag, Bangalore, India (photo - Jim Ankan Deka)

Not many in India have heard about Red Bull, let alone the famous Flugtag event. So, the event got king-size media attention when Red Bull first announced about it which was to be held in Bangalore.

I was invited to the event by one of the organizers of the India's First Red Bull Flugtag. It was held at Sankey Tank, Bangalore - one of the last surviving lakes of Bangalore. I was little surprised with the decision of the Bangalore govt for giving permission for such an event to be conducted at a place like this. Anyway, curiosity took over and I with two of my colleagues from Music Malt thought of visiting the place and covering the event for International Press Association.

It was total chaos! Although the crowd was doing fine, the chaos was seen among the crew members, bouncers and managers (seemed to be) mainly. As we went past the people and got near the entrance, there were few bouncers and guards who had little clue about media access and actual entrance. People were shouting, guards were shouting and no one was moving. Ultimately after about 10 mins after showing our IDs and invitations, we were allowed to enter.

We went to the media desk for registration. There were two people with blank expressions. But they were showing as if the world was at its end. They had no or very little clue about the event, media or registration. Wherever we went there were bouncers; as if it was a war zone. People were doing pretty fine according to me. They were calm. But the bouncers, crew members and people with Flugtag logo caps were running from one side to the other. Although it was a free event, we were stopped by every bouncer and crew member and checked our passes and IDs as if it was some FBI hosted event.

After pushing and forcing, we could reach the actual media platform. I started taking photos of the event as my colleagues started with taking notes and video capturing. Hardly ten minutes passed when a college going girl (volunteer) came near my colleagues and asked them to show IDs and invitation. We had already shown those to more than five people (guards, bouncers, crew members) in four gates. Didn't understand the concept.

All three of us were little agitated and decided to leave the venue. But could not find the exit. Ended up asking three different 'very busy' guards and at the end got near the exit gate. There were 6 people in the gate barricading the crowd from entering. We again had to push through them to go out. The smart alecs had kept the entry and exit at the same gate. As soon as we got close to the gate, bouncers and a 'busy person' claiming to be one of the organizers literally shoved us out while screaming 'Go Out'.By that time all three of us (including my female colleague who was shoved out) had it. We could not resist but stood our ground and shouted back.

Actually, all this time I could hardly see any actual management person from Red Bull. But the acts by these 'busy buddies' who thought they were actually guarding a queen's castle were quite amusing to see.

This is the first event of this kind by Red Bull in India. So I can assume that there will definitely be a state of confusion and disorder. But losing the respect for people - I can't agree with Red Bull. There was enough room inside. But more than 1000 people had to watch the event from the road because they were not allowed inside despite having invitations. Bangalore is known to be one of the most peaceful places in India with cultured people. Red Bull should have known that.

I believe that in the coming days, event organizers will actually first survey the place before making plans. Also, I would suggest BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) to avoid giving permissions for conducting events in places like Sankey Tank, which is in violation of the high court orders following the Justice Patil Report. It disturbs a lake's eco-system.


Nonetheless, apart from the chaotic experience, we enjoyed the little time we had spent at the venue where team of 4 or 5 attempted to fly home-made human-powered flying machines which were launched off a pier about 30 feet high into the lake. The flying machines hardly flew and crashed, but enthusiasm of the teams was contagious.

As for Red Bull Flugtag, my humble advice to them would be to hire a different event organizer in the 2nd edition, because the first edition has definitely crash landed.

Facebook Messenger - is the privacy compromised?


I remember a time when I used to go to my female friend's place and knock on her door. And if she or her father opened it, I would be real glad. But if it's her mom, I would generally flee before she could ask me questions. Then came the telephone era. It became pretty easy. But the phone is generally picked up by pa, ma or bro of my friend. I would cut the call immediately. At the end I guess God looked down on all the boys and threw the mobile phone from heaven. There's hardly any possibility left for any of the relatives to pick the call other than the owner of the phone.

It was not enough. Facebook joined the mobile phone market. And Whatsapp became a household name. In fact, couple of months back when I didn't have the Whatsapp installed on my phone, I was almost a laughing stock among my friends. Of course it made sense. I was spending money on calls and messages. Now I can atleast message for free.

Then came the Facebook Messenger.

What is Facebook Messenger?

Facebook Messenger is an application by Facebook that allows one to chat with her/his Facebook friends and send SMS and text messages to any contact on the phone. Briefly, it is a standalone version of the instant chat feature within the social network. The application also allows one to make free calls to other Facebook Messenger users.

Although Facebook Messenger has been available in the app stores since 2011, Facebook users were reluctant to downloaded the app.

The Switch from Facebook to Messenger

Initially Facebook allowed one to send or receive messages directly on her/his Android or iOS phone through the Facebook app. But Facebook sent an email to users on July 28, 2014, stating that messages will soon be disappearing from Facebook's iPhone and Android app and users will only be able to check messages via the web or Facebook Messenger app (users of the main app will still get message notifications, however).

Now, suddenly Facebook mobile users are forced to download the Messenger app and users aren't happy about it, which includes me. The changes took off on August 6, 2014 and started affecting users of the iPhone and Android app. According to Facebook - "switching to Messenger will benefit all users as messaging with Messenger is faster and more reliable." But keeping the benefits aside, who will be happy if s/he is forced to do something?

Messenger Privacy Issue

Intitially there was an uproar regarding personal data being shared for access to the Facebook Messenger app. The app requires one to allow access to a good amount of personal data from the mobile device and takes direct control over the cell phone. The permissions that may be governing the app's functionality on an Android device can be found on Settings → Apps or Application Manager → Messenger.

The Acceptance of the Permissions -
Now, some of the permissions asked by Facebook Messenger are pretty aggressive. Should we get alarmed? Apart from forcing people to download the app Facebook actually can't do any of the things above without the user initiating them. It needs the permission in advance. The app actually can't call your girlfriend in the middle of the night while you are asleep. That will be ridiculous.

Facebook says, "Much of the problem is due to Android's rigid policy on permissions. The language in the permissions does not necessarily reflect the way the Messenger app and other apps use them." Facebook doesn't get to write its own, and instead must use generic language provided to them by Android.

If you read thoroughly, the permission of the Messenger app are quite similar to the Facebook app. The bottom line is users are not giving up a significant amount of additional privacy in the process. Almost all apps need certain permissions to run on Android or iOS, and Facebook use these permissions to help enable features in the app. Like 'Take pictures and videos' permission actually allows one to take photos and videos within the Messenger app to easily send to her/his friends and other contacts. Similarly 'Read your contacts' permission allows one to add her/his phone contacts as Messenger contacts if s/he chooses to do so. One can always stop syncing her/his phone contacts by going to the Messenger settings.

So, once you download the Messenger app, is the privacy compromised? For now I would say no. But don't keep a blind faith. Read the 'Terms of Service' carefully before downloading any app.

India's 68th Independence Day - a tribute

Here's a tribute of mine to India; tribute to the national anthem of India - Jana Gana Mana.
Music - Jim Ankan Deka | Animation - Prashanth Kumar


About the National Anthem of India

National anthem of India"Jana Gana Mana" is the national anthem of India. It was first sung in Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress on 27 December 1911. Written in highly Sanskritised (Tatsama) Bengali, it is the first of five stanzas of a Brahmo hymn composed and scored by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The poem was translated into Hindi-Urdu by Abid Ali. Tagore wrote down the English translation of the song and along with Margaret Cousins (an expert in European music and wife of Irish poet James Cousins), set down the notation at Madanapalle in Andhra Pradesh, which is followed only when the song is sung in the original slow rendition style of singing. However, when the National Anthem version of the song is sung, it is often performed in the orchestral/choral adaptation made by the English composer Herbert Murrill at the behest of Nehru.

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Philips HTD5570/94 5.1 DVD Home Theatre System - a short review

4 / 5
Great product from Philips
25 July 2014
I had ordered the Philips Home Theatre HTD5570/94 after checking like 50 systems. I kept my fingers crossed - and Philips kept it's promise. This is the cheapest home theatre system with four Tallboy speakers in the market.
The sound system is great. Although the clarity can be less sometimes, but overall sound is good with it's pre-setups. It's easy to plug in with the TV. I have connected my LG 42" TV (42LS4600) through the 'optical digital out'. Philips doesn't provide the cable, so had to buy my own. I wonder why. Although the product comes with a HDMI cable.
Installation guy came the next day and he also gave me a bluetooth device for free which has to be connected to the USB port of the sound system. Now, one can connect his smart phone and listen to music from anywhere without the hassle of connecting wires. Philips should provide the bluetooth device in the package itself.
Lastly, although the sound system looks grand, the remote looks cheap compared to the system. It's just my observation. The system doesn't give all the custom equalizers, but pre-sets are good enough. Wires are long enough for a medium sized room.

I purchased the product from Snapdeal for Rs 13,700 in July, 2014.
great soundlong wiresbluetoothhdmi cableeasy setupgood looking, good price
cheap looking remoteno optical digital cablesometimes less clarity
Yes, I would recommend this product.
Performance 
4 / 5
Ease of use 
5 / 5
Design 
5 / 5


 PHILIPS HTD5570/94 5.1 DVD HOME THEATRE SYSTEM

Philips HTD5570/94 Home Theater
Philips HTD5570/94 Home Theater
Take your home entertainment to the next level with Philips HTD5570/94 Home Theater. The powerful speakers come with abass-reflex system and double bass pipes that improve the lower frequencies and deliver amazingly deep bass sounds. Enjoy excellent quality surround sound with realistic spatial cues, thanks to Dolby Digital audio. From DVDs, VCDs, CDs to USB devices, the home theater plays virtually any disc and any media device you want.
With HDMI, you can enjoy your favourite movies in true high definition resolution. Control multiple devices like DVD players, Blu-ray players, TV's etc. with a single remote. This is made possible because of EasyLink, which uses HDMI CEC industry-standard protocol to share functionality between devices through the HDMI cable.
With DivX support, you can enjoy DivX encoded videos and movies from the Internet. DivX Ultra combines DivX playback with amazing features like integrated subtitles, multiple audio languages, multiple tracks and menus into one convenient file format.Audio in lets you play your music directly from your iPod/iPhone/iPad, MP3 player, or laptop via an easy connection to your home cinema. All you need to do is connect your audio device to the Audio in jack to enjoy the music.
Furthermore, 1000W RMS power delivers great sound for movies and music. The Karaoke feature lets you enjoy endless singing session at the comfort of your home, and the exposed speaker drivers ensure powerful surround sound.
(From Snapdeal)

PRODUCT SUMMARY OF PHILIPS HTD5570/94 5.1 DVD HOME THEATRE SYSTEM

  • Type: Home Theatres
  • Sound Output: 1000 W
  • Channel: 5.1
  • Features: USB,Dolby Digital
  • Connectivity: USB,HDMI,AUX
  • SUPCSDL562803372

Bronze Medal for 'Aawaz' at Global Music Awards

Aawaz wins Bronze Medal at Global Music Awards

'Aawaz - speak up against sexual violence' - the music video, created with an aim to sensitize people of various social evils like sexual violence, child abuse and marital rape, wins the Bronze Medal at Global Music Awards. Among 54 winning songs, Aawaz is the only song from India which was nominated for the event and won a medal at GMA.

The single 'Aawaz - speak up against sexual violence' is composed by Jim Ankan Deka and the lyrics are penned together by Jim and singer Ritwika Bhattacharya. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs (2009) finalist Antara Nandy from Kolkata has rendered her vocals to this cause along with Ritwika and Queen Hazarika (a familiar face in the music scenario of Assam). The music video is directed and produced by Parmita Borah. This collaborative project involves noted artists from across India and was released on June 01, 2013.

More about Aawaz here.


Monkey Radio features fusion music track EastWards

Eastwards - Jim Ankan Deka - Monkey Radio

Royalty Free Music | Free music for YouTube Videos

Royalty free music by Jim Ankan Deka

I am sharing two of my tracks for download for free as well as using them commercially for any purpose; including YouTube videos, Dailymotion videos and projects. Both the tracks are available on SoundCloud for download for free.

The tracks are licensed under a  Creative Commons Licence.





Click Here to download "A Healing Touch" | Click Here to download "Mr Davidson's Ride"
Artist - Jim Ankan Deka
This license is acceptable for Free Cultural Works.

You are free to:

  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
  • The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

Under the following terms:

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