Sunday, July 14, 2013

How I got an driving license in India and in Canada...

To share how I got an valid driving license in India:

I always had a fancy liking for driving cars. So when I reached the age of 18, I rushed to take the learners exam for my Indian driving license. I did manage to clear the learners and also be successful in my first attempt on the road test and hence was issued a valid Indian driving license.

The Indian vehicles are of Right Hand Drive and follows a Left Hand Traffic method. (something that Indian picked up from the British). There are plenty to symbols that one learns during the learners examination, but that's it. He/She stops using it the minute he gets an valid license.

During these 11 years that I had driven in India, I have hardly seen anyone following these symbols and rules. And the funny part is that people are so used to that they manages it so well and hardly would have met with an accident.

Sharing few videos on You Tube to show you what I mean. You will be scared and at the same time be amazed.
1. Crazy Road Traffic Mumbai

2. Crazy drivers - traffic - intersection - in India

Anyways coming to what I was writing:
I used to drive my "Hindustan Ambassador", Maruti 800, Maruti Wagon R in Kerala and occasionally my best friend Arjun's Skoda Octavia in Mumbai.

Overall I always have been more than a alright and average driver in India and have been fortunate not to have car accident till date.

To share how I got an valid driving license in Canada:
After arriving here in Regina, I was about to give an advice to my wife about her driving technique in general as she asked how her driving skills were. I noticed that she used to constantly turn her head back and see if there was a car on the side while changing lanes, taking an exit, merging on the highway etc.

Fortunately for me, I kept quiet and told her she was excellent. (Went by the saying then and turned out to be master stroke: A women may be misinformed, mislead, unclear, misguided, and even downright stupid..but she is never ever wrong.)

I was learning about Left Hand Drive & the Right Hand Traffic followed in Canada. I was seeing that people putting on a signal if they wanted to make a turn, lane change, being courteous to pedestrians and letting them pass, (wow - plenty of learning), learned one or two things more about defensive driving.

I learned about Blind Spots, downloaded the SGI - Saskatchewan Driver's Handbook and learned plenty of rules, symbols required for driving; something which I didn't really know.

We went to the local SGI location where I took up the test for my Class 7 - Learners License.
  1. Few paper work, show identity proof and 2 address proof.
  2. Log on the computer with the ID number provided by SGI and answer the objective type questions.
  3. Answer the questions and pass with the required number of correct answers. 
  4. Done.
  5. Tell the person at the counter and then leave.
FYI, You can get Saskatchewan Photo ID for $10 from SGI (even if you don't pass the learners exam).

Some links for Class 7 - Leaners in Saskatchwan, Canada:

Html Link:
PDF download:

Some links and sample questions for passing of this learners test:
Sample of Saskatchewan Drivers License
Since, I had a valid Indian License, it was not required for me to wait for a 9 months to take up a road test.

I am also allowed to drive in Canada for the first 90 days of arrival.

I went  for the road test on July 24th, 2013 and I did not pass. I lost the test by 4 points. I scored 14 demerit points.

I was keen to get the license whatsoever. I followed the drivers who was taking the test to get a hang of the route that they take before couple of days of my next test.

I practiced to keep it under the posted speed limit. Extra attention needs to be be given in a School Zone or playground zone. The speed limit needs to be below 40 km/hr.

Finally, I managed to get the Class 5 license on September 12th, 2013 after having only 2 demerit points. 

Hope my experience is useful to drivers...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A new life, a new beginning... Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada...

A new life is what you would call it if you move to a new country without any background to the country, the people, the culture.

When my parents moved back to India from Abu-Dhabi when I was 12 years of age, there was plenty of background for me in India. I never felt that I was moving to some place new.

When I moved to Regina to be a part of North America, I have absolutely no clue what happening in this country. I left all the good things that I built in Mumbai  and in India where I had my family and friends. I left the job which I enjoyed the most. I left the place where I loved the most in Mumbai i.e. Powai and roommates. I sold off my first bike (my Hero Honda Passion Pro). It was terrible and depressing sight to watch when the new owner rode off with it before I migrated to Canada.

Now that I am here, after almost 2 months, I am taking a liking to this city; Regina - the land of Infinite Horizons. Small & peaceful place.

Regina in City Hall Exterior
City of Regina - I love Regina - City hall exterior in winter
I am in the process of learning the roads and the shortcuts. I have plenty of time to think, to write, to do things which gives me plenty of happiness.

I am meeting new people. Canadians in general are very polite and very helpful. Biggest sports team is Saskatchewan Roughriders of Canadian Football League (CFL). Hopefully, I will get to see a game soon and also become a great fan and follower for the game.

Hopefully, this new life is the beginning to the best part of my life.


Monday, September 24, 2012

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it"

Let me start with one of favorite quote ever!

"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it"- Mahatma Gandhi.

When I look back to the days after I have passed out from college, it's has been a pretty good run. I had my share of ups and downs. I would be really depressed if things didn't turn out the way I expected it to be. I had taken up few challenges which I thought would be very good for me and it had turned to be just an experience for me. And yet, there are certain assignments which I have taken up because I was just desperate. And it has worked out alright for me. I am pretty sure that I have lived to the expectations set my mentors.

There was a time when I would wonder to myself where I have landed and where I could have reached if not for few of the decisions that I made. But I had to do it what so ever to reach where i am now. I am now in place where there is lots of happiness, lots of friendship with good people around. I can feel the positive energy flowing and I look forward everyday to get back.

I made some really good friends who cares about me. And I am surely going to miss them whenever we part our ways.

Thank you all of you...

So whatever I did was insignificant, but it was very important that I do it.
Marketing Team - Talwalkars Better Value Fitness Ltd. (left to right- Nitin  Shakdher, Rohit Lakhera, Deepika Rasal, Nimesh Shah, Ajith Mathew

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Who is your catalyst?

Sometime back, someone told us a story of Hanuman and how he was reminded by Jambavant that he could fly.

Hanuman is the son of  Anjani, (who had been cursed  into a female  monkey) and Vayu – the wind god, his father from who he received the ability to fly.

He was a naughty monkey god, in his childhood. He used his powers to pester the saints, create whirlwinds, pulling a supporting stick with his tail, pulling a beard and messing with sacred fire. All the gods prayed to Brahma to find a solution. To protect the world, he was cursed & that’s how his knowledge of powers was removed. But at the right time, he was reminded of his powers by Jambavant who acts as a Catalyst and how he does extraordinary things for Lord Ram.

The whole point of explaining all these is to stamp on the fact that the power lies within us. All of us are good at something or other. We need to figure the right thing for us. There might be a catalyst in our life. But just by waiting for that person to come along and make us realize us that we are good enough will not help our cause.

So be the catalyst for yourself and and act upon it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Bombay to Mumbai, or else...

This is an article that I read on Hindustan Times on 11th October 2009. I would say a really good counterpoint view......

Bombay to Mumbai, or else...
Vir Sanghvi,Hindustan Times

Now that the Bombay/ Mumbai controversy has returned to the headlines, thanks to the Maharashtra elections, this may be a good time to examine the whole issue of the naming and renaming of places.

But first, let’s get the Mumbai/ Bombay row out of the way. The argument for the use of Mumbai over Bombay is usually phrased in the following terms. First, Mumbai is the city’s original name; Bombay is a Raj-era corruption. Second, Mumbai/ Bombay was created by Maharashtrians. And third, that therefore we should use their name for their city.

All three claims are controversial. “Mumbai” may well come from the name used by the Koli fishermen who worshipped the goddess Mumbadevi in a village on the site of today’s Bombay. But another theory is that the name comes from the Portuguese “Bom Bahia” or beautiful bay and has as much claim to historical accuracy. Secondly, even if the Kolis did call their village Mumbai, this village was demonstrably not the city of Bombay, which was established by the British.

Second, while Maharashtrians played an important role in the creation of what was then called Bombay, they were not the only ones. The city was built by Parsis and Gujaratis, both Hindu and Muslim. Till 1960, Bombay was the capital of Bombay state and Maharashtra did not even exist. So it ignores history to pretend that Maharashtrians were the only ones who created Bombay/Mumbai and that everyone else is an outsider.

Third, guess what Gujaratis call Bombay? They call it Mumbai too. So it is not as though Maharashtrians have any monopoly on the name or that by refusing to use the term Mumbai, Gujaratis such as myself are rejecting the city’s Maharashtrian identity.

Frankly, we don’t see ‘Mumbai’ as being only a Marathi name; we see it as a Gujarati name too. So if I call Mumbai Bombay, I am not disrespecting Maharashtrians any more than I am disrespecting my own community — to the extent that the use of Bombay is an act of disrespect at all.

Which brings us to the larger issue. Do we need to change the names of places? Of cities? Of countries, even?

The broad answer to that is: yes. Whatever our individual views on the subject, there’s no doubt that place names change all the time. New York was New Amsterdam when the Dutch ran it. Singapore was originally called Temasek. Russian cities keep changing names. The old Leningrads and Stalingrads have now been abolished in favour of the traditional names.
Usually, the new names stick after a while. Who still calls Sri Lanka Ceylon? Unless there is a change of regime, Burma will end up being known as Myanmar forever. Nobody refers to Thailand as Siam any longer.

Much the same is true of Indian names. Forget about the more recent change in the name of Madras city (to Chennai). Let’s not forget that the whole state used to be called Madras before it was renamed Tamil Nadu. Karnataka used to be called Mysore. Arunachal Pradesh was known as NEFA. And so on.

So, the desire to change the names of places is not new. And usually, people who use the old names soon seem silly or out of touch. The Iranians used to be annoyed when Winston Churchill insisted on referring to their country as Persia. Now, as the expatriate Iranian comedian Omid Djalili has noted, anybody who talks about Persia might as well also refer to Mesopotamia and Assyria.

And often, the enthusiasm for changing names stems from valid impulses. We may laugh at the more recent attempts to change street names in India (does anybody call Connaught Place Rajiv Chowk?) but, equally, few of us would like to live in cities where every street was named after some colonial oppressor. For instance, nobody in Delhi refers to Cornwallis Road or Curzon Road any longer. The new names have become so firmly established that the old ones have been forgotten.

Why, then, does the change in Bombay’s name to Mumbai provoke so much controversy? After all, Madras became Chennai with a minimum of fuss. Calcutta is now officially Kolkata. Bangalore is Bengaluru. And so on.

The short answer is that in no other Indian city are those who use the old name terrorised as completely as they are in Bombay/Mumbai. Elsewhere, the change is cultural. In Bombay/Mumbai it is violently political.

I still remember when the idea was first floated by Bal Thackeray in 1979. I was editor of Bombay magazine at the time and Thackeray told me that he wanted the name to be changed on cultural grounds. (“It reflects our culture better than the British name”). We argued about names and culture (why didn’t he call himself Thakre then, rather than borrowing the spelling of his name from William Makepeace Thackeray?) but the discussion was good-natured. “You don’t have to change the name of your magazine!” he laughed.

Since then, however, the issue has become overtly political. The Shiv Sena and its breakaway faction, the MNS, now regard the use of the name ‘Mumbai’ as proof of their own virility. Anybody who prefers Bombay is seen as demeaning their manhood and is dealt with through the use of force and intimidation.

This is what makes the Bombay/Mumbai issue different. The CPI(M) and the DMK have cadres that are much larger than the MNS’s. But they don’t threaten to beat up people who refuse to say Kolkata or Chennai.

Mature parties know that history and time are on their side. They recognise that eventually — after a generation perhaps — the old name will be largely forgotten and the new name will take hold.

But the MNS is a party in a hurry. It needs to find issues with which it can a) hit the headlines b) claim to be speaking up for Maharashtrians and c) flex its muscles to remind everyone that it is capable of violence and disruption.

What better way to do that than to make a fetish out of the use of ‘Mumbai’ and to target somebody as high profile as Karan Johar who is especially vulnerable when he has a movie on release?

It is sad because the intimidation takes a process that would have happened naturally — the shift from Bombay to Mumbai — and turns it into a symbol of intolerance, division and sectarian hatred.

If Raj Thackeray — or Thakre, if he prefers — loves Mumbai as much as he claims to, then this is one issue he should abandon.

Time will achieve what his goons will not.

* The views expressed by the author are personal

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Am I an actual Sagittarian?

Every sun sign has their own characteristics; both in a good way and a bad way. But I think it is solely the decision one takes at the right moment along with some luck makes them successful and a better person. I am not telling how I am. But I will explain how a true Sagittarian would be and their way of life.

Characteristics/ Features of Sagittarius:
Sagittarius tends to aim their arrows of thought upward, being the incurable optimists of the zodiac. Sagittarius often looks at the sunny side of life and the silver lining to any dark cloud. The Sagittarius is part horse, there is a connection between Sagittarius and horses, be it a love of riding or an emphasis on the most powerful part of a horse: its legs and thighs. In fact, many of Sagittarians love outdoor hiking and long distance running. Consider the symbol for Sagittarius - a centaur; the rear half is horse, the upper half is a man. The horse symbolizes animal instinct - it isn't the rear half for nothing! The human symbolizes the search for that which lies beyond animal instinct. The two are always together - meaning, philosophy, religion, are divorced from instinct at their peril.

The Sagittarian motto is "It is better to know how to learn than to know." We seek knowledge and wisdom, never tiring of the quest for what is yet to come. Others enjoy being with us when we are in our outgoing and joyful mood, but we can become more sullen if we feel our wings have been clipped. Even in a restrictive situation, however, we will not lose hope--and it is this inspirational perspective that leads us to our greatest success. Sagittarius characteristics are witness to the importance of deriving meaning from experience. From experience, that is, not from books, though reading the thoughts and searches for meaning of others can help in the quest.

Ninth House: Travel
If the Third House is the House of Quick Trips, then the opposite Ninth House could be called the House of Long Distance Journeys. It's about foreign travel, higher education -- for that's travel in the mind and the potential adventure that the future holds.

Key Planet: Jupiter
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system and as such symbolizes an expansive action. He is the king of bigger, better and more. But, of course, too much of a good thing isn't necessarily good, and Jupiter can encourage us to overspend or overindulge. Jupiter acts like a magnifying lens and can make a little opportunity look larger than life. As the key planet of Sagittarius, Jupiter encourages us to take those opportunities, to live life as an adventure and to believe in something greater than ourselves.

All pure Sagittarian have enormous potential, but by no means have all of them fulfilled the promise they display in early life. This is because one of the characteristics of the sign is a happy-go-lucky attitude, a carelessness about the consequences of actions, which sometimes results in the pure Sagittarian throwing away success when it is in his grasp. If, for example, you meet a brilliant young student who suddenly stops doing any work a few months before finals, there is a strong probability that he/she is a pure Sagittarian. The sudden and unexpected failure of a Sagittarian in some enterprise or activity in which he/she seemed destined to succeed is not always conclusive. Sagittarius is a lucky sign and destiny usually seems to afford pure Sagittarian more than one opportunity of achieving success; for them the old saying about 'as one door closes another opens' usually proves to be true.

With the Sagittarian carelessness goes a freedom-loving personality and an open and generous-hearted attitude towards life. Curiously enough, this seems to repel some people; even the most agreeable Sagittarian finds that some people try to pick quarrels with him or her. The natural talents of the Sagittarian combined with their tendency to throw chances away, result in pure Sagittarian usually achieving both great success and popularity or ending their lives as rather pathetic 'might-have-beens.

Sagittarian are always versatile and it is quite common for them to change from one career to another that, on the face of it, calls for quite different qualities. But both careers will have in common freedom from dull routine work and will give the Sagittarian a chance to use his/ her versatility and intelligence. Challenge is important to the Sagittarian, and a job which does not offer problems will never be totally satisfactory to him/her, however well paid it may be.

Element: Fire
Fire is the element of the Sagittarius. Fire signs are naturally warm and gives light and heat, but it doesn't get depleted as others feed on its warmth. One candle can bring light to a room and it won't burn any faster if ten people read from its light than if there was only one. Fire doesn't plan its next move; it isn't logical. It simply is in the moment and will burn what fuel is available without judgment or forethought. For this reason fire signs can successfully rely on their intuition and survival instincts.

The fire of Sagittarius is warming, not hot -- but that's because it's far away. It's like a light in the distance that reminds us why we are heading in that direction or the stars that have been used for navigation. This is the fire of inspiration whose heat can motivate the mind to reach out into the wilderness.

I am sure many of you would not really bother to read what have been exactly written. But I would request all of you to comment on the part and bits you have read from my blog. I am also sure that you will find many similarities with the characteristics I have mentioned above to my nature. Please Comment...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Destiny- A great Role-player to "My trip to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland"

A few months back, I went on a grand trip to the land of the people who ruled us for more 100 years- Great Britain on an official duty. I am not going to tell what work I did over there. But will certainly tell you how much fun* an Indian can have if you are in England (you must be lucky and destined to meet the right people).

Now stop wondering why I wrote "My trip to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland" in the title. This is my blog and I get to write whatever I feel so.

Sorry about the above paragraph. I know I can be pretty lame and arrogant at times.

So, I was sent to England on an official trip from my company. I travelled from Mumbai to Bristol via Amsterdam. The flight was good. I had the experience of travelling on a plane after 13 years. From the Bristol airport, I was driven to Exeter (South West of the England) by my contact person.

My contact person was a nice lady who was very polite and who actually broke all my misconceptions about English people. I made friends with some of the coolest English people including some from my office. They were warm and genuinely interested in knowing about our country.

I was made a part of the group with whom I regularly used to hang out with. We used to do binge drinking on a regular basis and have terrible a hangovers and headaches in the mornings. We used to go the night clubs and have a hell good time. To be precise, I visited almost 95 percent of the pubs and bars in Exeter (I decided not to visit some of the Gay Bars over there. Gays, No Offense).

I used to go out playing SQUASH in the University campus in Exeter and squash is one game which if thought I would never play in my life. I thoroughly used to enjoy each and every moment when I was in the court even though i was absolutely trashed by my friend in all the games we played. I also did play some game of crazy Golf.

I went out with some of my colleagues to do some Bowling and turned out to be a Natural in it. I scored a 149 in my first Bowling stint which made the English think i was gifted. The actual reason being they were drunk and i was not (Thanks to my Dad who gave me perfect genes to go a drinking spree and not actually get drunk).

I tried Abseiling (Rappelling in India), which was entirely a new experience in my life. It is not every day that a person tries to walk down a cliff. The feeling and nervousness and the butterflies in your stomach makes you feels so lively.

I also saw a football match in a pub i.e. England VS Ukraine Match which England won 2-1. I saw how deeply the English loves their sport. It was a great feeling to hug each other when England scored and it was amusing the way the English cursed when Ukraine scored even it was only once.

I tried all sort of fast food joints; KFC's, Mcdonald's, Subway’s, Pizza Hut,... etc... All great, even though eventually I was pretty much bored of the fast food. I used to eat the favourite food of the UK people very regularly- Fish and Fries. It was yummy. I used to try all sort of food from a Turkish restaurant- Shish Kebabs, Doner's, Hummus with Pita Bread, and so on.....

I used to walk around the town, see places; roam around on the the High Streets; check out how the shoppers were doing, check out the window shoppers (especially the cute female window shoppers)

Overall, I had a vacation** in UK when the people of the world had a tough time because of the turbulent conditions prevailing. I guess "Destiny" has a big role on every one's life. There are many other people who would have wanted to visit England and do all the things i did over there. But they weren't sent, I was. I was destined to meet all those good people and have all the fun and learn and realise a couple of things i never thought i would. So, thank you Almighty God for giving a good destiny.

* Conditions Apply

** Hope my employers never see this blog