Celebrating Ugadhi

Jhanvi and I visited India in April and were lucky to celebrate Ugadhi with our family back home. Ugadhi is the an important festival in South India and is essentially the celebration of the begenning of a new year (yep.. new year in April 🙂 ). One of the specialities of Ugadhi in Andhra Pradesh is something called “Ugadhi Pachadi”. It is a mixture of 6 ingredients (Neem Flower, Jaggery, Red Pepper, Green Mango, Salt and Tamarind) which designate the different “tastes” of life (bitter, sweet, hot, salty, tangy etc).

I haven’t been able to celebrate Ugadhi with my family for more than 10 years. So it was a special occasion. And mom went all the way to make it even more memorable. Here are some pictures.

Hanging Mango Leaves


Ugadhi Pachadi : Ingredients

Ugadhi Pachadi : Final

Thanking the divine ones

Marketing video from work..

One of our customers at work, the Hoxton Hotels, runs a promo every quarter during which they sell a room for £1 a night.. Imagine the load on our infrastructure :). Over the last two years, were able to partner with the customer and make the promos a “non-event”. We usually sell out the rooms in less than 10 minutes.. The customers gets great visibility and we get a free load test :).

TravelClick HOTEL CONVERSATIONS | The Hoxton from AboutFace Media on Vimeo.

Costa Rica & Towels..

Jhanvi and I went on a trip to Costa Rica recently and in addition to being amazed by the nature of the country, we were also charmed with the decorating skills of the maids in our hotels :).  Take a look at the pictures below to understand why..

PS : If you haven’t visited Costa Rica yet, put it on the list of places to visit in your lifetime 🙂

Places to visit : Letchworth State Park

If you are ever in the Rochester, NY area and have some time to kill, I highly recommend visiting the nearby Letchworth State Park. It is less than a hours drive from Rochester and is (as the brochure states) “the grand canyon of the east”. It covers an area of ~27K acres and has a varied landscape. You can enjoy a peaceful picnic in the lush green meadows, hike in the forest or get awed by a train running ~100 feet up in the air over a waterfall. The park was not crowded and is not as “commercialized” as the nearby world famous Niagara Falls. Here are some pictures from my recent trip to the park.

The falls with the train tracks

Second Waterfall

Train crossing the bridge

Drive into the park

Places to visit : Cruise on Michigan Lake

Some pseudocode first 🙂

  • If you live in Chicago
  • If you are looking for a place to have a small get together


  • Take your significant other on a special date
  • Just trying to impress a girl/guy 🙂


  • It is summer

Check out the private sail charters offered on Lake Michigan. Unlike the giant cruise boats that you can get onto, at the Navy Pier, these trips offer a more intimate and unique experience. The gaint cruise boats are for the tourists :).

I got to take a trip on one of the sail boats this weekend. The Red Witch, name of the boat we sailed on, is a topsail schooner. Unfortunately, we were not able to raise the sails, since the owners were waiting on an updated “certification” for a new engine they installed this year. But we still got spend a couple of hours on the lake. We brought our own food and drinks, so it was like a picnic on the lake. You can get information on booking tickets with them at

Here are some pictures from the trip

[The Boat]

[The Crew]

[The Moon]

[The City]

Places to eat : 90 Miles Cuban Cafe

If you are ever in Chicago and looking to get some great breakfast or good cuban sandwiches, try out the 90 Miles Cuban Cafe at 3101 North Clybourn, Chicago, IL 60618. I was looking for a place to get some brunch today and Rich recommended that we go to this cafe. I really liked the decor and the simple menu. The food was visually pleasing and tasty. Here are some pictures of the food (credited to Rich).

Rich’s Lechon (Roast pork, Romaine lettuce, grilled onions, sweet plantain, garlic sauce)

Janvi’s Cuban (Cuban ham, roast pork, swiss cheese, pickles, mustard) 

My Frita Cubana (Cuban hamburger, Romaine lettuce, tomato, shoestring potatoes)

And to top it all.. some Banana pudding

Places to Visit : Shri Swami Narayan Mandir : Bartlett, IL

I am going to start a new category of postings called “Places to Visit”.  I will be documenting various places that I visited and think that they would be of interest to other people.. 

The first one on the list is the Swami Narayan Mandir (temple) in Bartlett, IL. Although, this temple is dedicated to Swami Narayan (one of the Gods in the Hindu religion), it is open to anyone that wants to visit. The temple is built completely out of marble and was completed in a record 16 months. As it stands now, it is the largest Hindu temple in North America (Thx to Deepti for correcting me.. Looks like the newly built Swami Narayan temple in Atlanta, GA is the largest temple in North America now.. It was built in accordace to ancient architectural practises, which means that no steel or iron was used in building it. The temple is located at 

4N739 IL Route 59,
Bartlett , IL 60103 USA

An added bonus to visiting the temple, in addition to be able to view an amazing architectural wonder and (if you are inclined) a chance to sooth your spirit, you also get good vegetarian food :). It is cooked right in the temple.

Photography is not allowed inside the temple.. Here are some pictures I was able to take from outsite the temple

The Haveli

Intricate wood carving on the Haveli’s enterance

The temple, in snow..

Front view of the temple

The entrance of the temple

Why SouthWest gets it..

Another reason to fly SouthWest.. Look at the picture of the chairs they are providing their customers at the Midway airport in Chicago.

This is good marketing and customer care. Not only did Southwest take the time to put in comfortable seating at their gates, but also took the extra step to provide power outlets and listen to this.. USB charging outlets. How many of you have had to run around airports looking for a power socket to charge your dying battery? :-).. I am going to fly SouthWest moving forward.. whenever I can.

Yes.. that is my laptop getting charged :-).

Good/Bad Customer service and it's effect

Scenario 1 : I am waiting in line to check in my baggage for an international United airlines flight. A couple in front of me is trying to check-in their baggage. There is some conversation going on between the agent and the couple regd the weight of their baggage. While the conversation is going on, the agent decides to check in the couple baggage and puts it on the conveyor belt..And here is what happens next

Agent : Ma’am, one of your baggage weighed 69.5 lbs and the other 70 lbs, the extra charge is $150. We charge $50 for baggage exceeding 50lbs and up to 70 lbs, and $100 for baggage exceeding 70 lbs and up to 100lbs.

Couple : !!!%^%&&^.. Ma’am, the second baggage is only 70 lbs, why are you chraging $100.

Agent (in a nasal tone) : Ma’am, the rule says 70 lbs and above.

Couple (intimidated) : Yeah, but is it only 0.5 lbs more than the first one and up to 70 lbs is only $50 right?

Agent (in I make the rules tone) : Ma’am, I am not going to argue over this.. It  is $100 for 70 lbs and more.. period.

Couple (nearly in tears) : OK, can we at least take out the 0.5 lbs of weight form the baggage so that we don’t have to pay $100 for it?

Agent (in you dare to speak back to me tone) : Ma’am.. the baggage is already checked in, you cannot take the weight out, you have to pay $100

Couple end up paying $100 because one of their bags was 0.5 lbs extra!!!

Does anyone find this sad? I understand the need to put limits and charge for excess baggage. But shouldn’t the agent have used common sense and made the call not to charge the couple $100 for 0.5 lbs!!! This is a good case of where employee stick to rules and are not given the freedom to make meaningful judgments.. Read Joel Spolsky‘s article about his recent experience at Starbucks and his reaction to understand what I mean :). No wonder United is in a death spiral!! 🙂

Scenario 2 : My second leg of the international trip was on a Lufthansa flight. There was a strike by the ground crew in Frankfurt and Lufthansa couldn’t get the required food into the flight. And here is how the crew handled the issue

  1. Made multiple announcements prior to the boarding that only 1 meal would be served in the journey and that special meal requests cannot be fulfilled.
  2. Provided vouchers to customer to get food from the airport vendors if required.
  3. Make multiple announcements in the flight (pilot, head air hostess and individual air hostesses) and apologized for the inconvenience.
  4. Apologize while serving the first meal and again when we were getting off the flight..

I don’t remember a single passenger complaining about the lack of the “second” meal. And I will fly Lufthansa again, despite this issue. the lesson here is not to apologize multiple times, but how all the crew in the flight (ground crew, flying staff, serving staff) were informed of the issue and ensured that they provided the customers with an alternative and followed up on the issue..

Disclaimer : The united agent, might be an exception or might have been having a bad day..but somehow I sense the issue is bigger than that :)..