gurgaon


Evanescence – my fine art photography show 27

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After publicising my first solo fine art photography show, Evanescence [pronounciation], all over my online “properties”, I realised I hadn’t blogged about it at all! (Though I did microblog it on twitter if that counts). The main reason why I didn’t, was because I think no one reads my blog anyway 😛 since I am more active on twitter, so if you are reading this pliss let me know. Another reason was that I hadn’t officially blogged about the very important, life altering, transition from my IT industry job as a Project Manager to a totally new avatar – A photographer and a Social media consultant (More on that later).  This is also a feeble attempt to add ‘normal’ content to my blog and not just use it for digital activism.

So here goes! It gives me great pleasure to invite you to my first solo photography show!

About the exhibition

Evanescence - my fine art photography show

Evanescence denotes things which are transient. They could be events, people, objects, thoughts, feelings, glances or moments which are ephemeral in nature. But they certainly do exist and that presence has been captured by me in this series. Through “Evanescence”, I string together various slices of life with shots snatched from the streets, fleeting moments seized just before they disappeared or almost imperceptible moments of history grabbed from eras gone by.

Opening : 6pm till 9pm on May 28, 2010 (there were some rather exotic snacks and drinks)
Venue : Bagel’s Café, D-140, The Shopping Mall, Arjun Marg, DLF City I, Gurgaon
Exhibition Dates : May 28, 2010 till July 8, July 22, 2010 (Update: date extended by 2 weeks!)
Opening Times : Daily 8am to 10pm

The showcased photographs are available as Limited Edition prints.

The map of the location is here and a rather cool embedded thingy here.

View “Evanescence” at Bagel’s Cafe, Gurgaon in a larger map


RSVP – twilightfairy at gmail.com, # nine eight one one five one one seven one nine

It’s on for 1.5 months, so see you there!


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Considering an HP laptop? Think again 82

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Once upon a time, I purchased a fancy laptop from HP. And my life was never the same again in a rather unpleasant way, starting, the moment I parted with 65K of my hard earned money. This is the sordid saga of my tryst with HP. Read on, especially if you have ever so much as even dreamt of starting a consumer relationship with HP. My problems with HP started when I purchased a laptop from them 3+ years back in July 2006. It has been only a nightmare which refuses to get over. I would appreciate all the help I can get, in sharing this sorry tale with ppl who matter, in HP or out of it and planning to “purchase” HP.

Right from that time in July 2006, when I was given a different config than what was paid for (I was told by the person – Mr. Chandan – who took my order on the net/phone, that I would get a headset with mike along with the laptop, but got “earbuds” instead), TO the time I had to run after HP for first taking payment from me for extended warranty and then for more weeks for sharing with me my care pack warranty details (even though the money had been withdrawn from my bank account for weeks & no one reverted to my correspondence!), TO the time when I had to get my notebook’s problems actually rectified (which has been the worst experience which has still not gotten over) — it has just been a nightmare I would rather wake up from than have to deal with HP ever again.

Over time, my HP laptop predictably developed a lot of problems. The DVD drive would not read any media in spite of cleaning several times (forget burning any media), the card reader did not work, the fan had just stopped working, the laptop would get so heated up that one could fry an egg on it. And the worst was that it would just shut down without me powering it off! I was still trying to make do when one fine day, the display on the LCD just blanked out and I had to eventually get over the rightly founded apprehension of interacting with HP customer care and approach them once more. For getting repairs done, (this started in Jan 2009), I first had a brush with MM9’s service centre’s bad customer service to whom I had submitted my laptop for all the above mentioned problems. MM9 first returned the laptop saying that they had cleaned & dusted up everything and that now it was all ok. When I verified it, it was certainly not so! I have no idea how they could even try passing something off as OK when it was clearly NOT. Then they admitted that some parts were indeed not functioning and ordered those parts and told me to wait. I waited for a whole of 3 months and nothing happened at all. Then I wrote to Customer care and I was told by a Ms. Shivani Gogna, to go through the entire process once AGAIN with RT outsourcing since MM9’s contract for servicing personal laptops had expired by Mar’09! The lack of transition processes within HP itself, is not even something I would dwell upon compared to the problems they introduced in my life later.

As told to me, I submitted my laptop at the RT outsourcing service centre for fixing of the problems.  Ms. Gogna assigned someone called Mr. Harjinder Singh, for handling the tech related issues. In spite of there being people assigned for a simple job, the incompetent staff at RT outsourcing went ahead and formatted my laptop HDD without even informing me, leave alone doing it WITH MY PERMISSION! I am appalled at the way HP treats its customers. I was told to take a backup and submit the laptop. I took a backup of my “personal data”. However no one told me that my HDD wd be formatted and no one even asked me once whether they shd indeed proceed. This is not only standard protocol but basic common sense! Before submitting my laptop when I had shown reluctance in giving my HDD along with it, I was told by Mr. Gopal Singh, who heads RT outsourcing, that any installation or removal of software will happen only with my permission. The same protocol had been confirmed later by a Mr Jitender Das, who is Mr. Harjinder’s boss. However as can be seen no one bothered to contact the customer in this case at all! All the software, the settings, the tweaking, and a lot of licensed software for which I do not have installers anymore since they were taken from the internet via “free for a day” kind of schemes – are all gone. Such softwares are free only for a limited time and are paid softwares after that. If I add up the actual costs of these softwares that I got for free in such schemes, they would come close to the cost of the laptop itself!
To add insult to the injury, the staff at RT outsourcing, specifically a Mr. Deepak Jain (In charge – Bench operation) had the audacity to misbehave with me! Not only did he behave rudely on phone when I tried finding the status of my submitted laptop, he totally insulted me personally later when I went to the service centre to collect the laptop. After my HDD got unceremoniously formatted and I complained about it, amongst other misbehaviour, he had the audacity to say “tum ro kyon rahe ho!!” (“why are you crying” – a very crude way of describing “complaining”). I am shocked at their way to talk to a customer who’s rightfully complaining of what stupidity has been done at the hands of the incompetent staff. Is complaining equivalent to crying? He also made exasperated faces at me all this while! I can not even describe how stunned I am to see this kind of customer service. Not only this, he tried imposing his imagination (lies) on me by saying that I had “been told” that the HDD would be formatted. Later he had to eat his own words when he checked the mail that was sent to me by RT outsourcing which did not even use the word “format” anywhere in the content and which certainly did not indicate that my machine would be formatted, let alone my approval on it. Even after this he kept arguing with me that “taking backup” means “formatting of hdd”. It definitely seems HP has employed illiterate idiotic ppl as customer care front desk staff who care 2 hoots about customers & a decent service they are supposed to offer.
I am an engineer myself and I KNOW that formatting of the HDD was not even required to begin with considering the components that were changed. The change of card reader meant changing the motherboard. HOWEVER that does NOT require a formatting of the Hard disk. Verbally their engineer  Neeraj, who formatted the disk told me that he did it because he was unable to install the device drivers of the card reader! He then “supposed” that this was due to presence of a virus. In order to remove the virus from my HDD, he formatted it. Clearly HP’s incompetent staff has never heard of anti virus software. Nor do they know the words “processes”, “permissions”, “customer”.
When I followed it up in mails, Mr. Gopal singh had the audacity to send me a scanned copy of the “service call report” which stated that in case of HDD failure, the HDD “may require” a format. However he forgot that not only was there NO HDD failure and instead it was his staffs incompetency which led to the format, but most importantly, there were no signatures of mine on that scrap that he scanned!
Apart from all the extreme harassment at RT outsourcing, & the formatting of my HDD for no technical reason & without permission, they not only had never bothered to fix all the technical faults, they even introduced new ones of their own. The DVD burner which was replaced made so much noise that it was impossible not to notice it before saying that it works fine. Even the replaced parts are not tested & verified for their smooth functioning. Somebody in fact damaged my Altec Lansing Speakers which were possibly the best attribute of this model of the laptop. It’s amazing to note that they do not bother to run a check to see if everything is functioning fine before they handover the laptop!
I had to continuously follow this up, and get the speakers changed. After this ordeal I installed some of the software on to the now formatted drive. Somehow the drivers of my camera did not work at all on this disk anymore. HP took my laptop again and tried to rectify this by running some registry cleaners. However they were not successful in doing that. Ultimately they resorted to the only thing that they are capable of doing – formatting the hard disk. So another formatted HDD was fitted into my laptop on which once more I had to toil to install everything.
After this got done, I realised that some incompetent person at HP had damaged my laptop panel and then tried to do a botched job of hiding it by sticking the broken piece with feviquick! (I’ll upload pictures of this later, I have them with me). Once I got this panel changed their staff just vanished from my life as if the problems had finished!
During this entire ordeal, I followed up this matter with HP (Mr Harjinder Singh & Ms. Shivani Gogna to begin with) and asked them to communicate the following in written:
1. The technical reason behind the formatting of my laptop HDD (in written) stating why was it even required.
2. The action that has been taken against the person who authorised formatting of my HDD.
3. The action that has been taken against Mr. Deepak who misbehaved with me.
4. A response to how they are going to procure the software that I do not have installers for. The list had already been shared with them in writing.
5. The reason why no one even BOTHERED to test the DVD drive given to me. Surely with so much noise that it made, no one in his/her right mind would call it new. Action against the person who verified its OK status.
6. Action/compensation that HP is going to take/give resp. about all the inconvenience I have suffered so far at the hands of its staff, including loss of data, harassment and unavailability of my laptop causing me further professional loss.
Till date I have not received any response from them in writing. What I have got over the phone after my follow up ONLY, is that they will get back to me & that the person who misbehaved would be given a notice. They have expressed their inability to do anything about the other points. I have still not been told the technical reason for the formatting of my Hard disk in writing. I would like to know what HP can do for my loss and I would like HP to take the strictest action possible against not only the person who did not have the insight to inform me or ASK me first but also Mr. Deepak Jain, whose idea of customer service means first causing damage to customer’s equipment & then insulting the customer! Mr. Harjinder & Ms. Shivani Gogna do not believe in the written word. They in fact had conf calls with me and even went to the extent of talking about me as if I wasnt there “If she wants it in written, give it in written Harjinder” is what Ms. Shivani Gogna told Mr. Harjinder, a style I find quite offending & unprofessional. However in spite of this I have never received any correspondence about above mentioned matters.
After raising a lot of hell with these incompetent and unprofessional people, Mr. Jitender Das was roped in. He took care of the hardware aspect and then disappeared. I called him multiple times and EACH time I was told by him that he’ll get back to me, that he was in a meeting, that he would call me that very evening. I had even told him that I am already facing another problem in my machine! Yet it has been 2 months to those reminders of mine as well. In the interim I had also happened to talk to a Customer care representative called Mr. Shekhar, when my technical problems had not been rectified & the laptop had been returned full of problems. I had then narrated the whole saga to him (arnd May’09) and he told me that I would be given extended warranty free of cost. After this he completely disappeared. When I followed up again and again and managed to get in touch with him again after 4 months, he said that the matter had already been closed because his staff said all problems are ok!! I had to remind him that he is the customer care in charge, not the staff care in charge and it is highly unprofessional of him to let his “staff” decide whether my problem has been solved or not! Clearly HP hasn’t taught even their customer care ppl that one needs to ask the CUSTOMER whether the problem is ok and NOT the staff! All this in spite of the fact that he said he’ll get back to me with extended warranty! This time also I clearly told him that my machine has developed further problems. At times it doesnt start up at all. The light just goes on and off. If it does start its CMOS settings get reset each time. Obviously even technical faults in the machine are of no concern to HP. Both Mr Jitender Das & Mr. Shekhar from Customer Care, have not bothered to get back to me about anything. During this process I had even written to Ms. Neelam Dhawan, MD, HP India, and as expected I never received any response.
The last I heard from Ms. Shivani Gogna was in April while the last I heard from Mr. Harjinder singh was on 5th May. After that Mr. Jitender was the sole contact who vanished after early August and never got back in touch. The last I spoke to Mr. Shekar was 2.5 weeks back when he told me that he’ll get back to me in a week. Clearly the extra weeks has been no use to him except for perhaps formulating what seems to be clearly HP’s strategy to avoid the customer till their warranty runs out – in my case it finishes on 28th September’09.
Forget basic etiquette from HP customer care, if you buy a laptop from them, beware – you would be running after them for the rest of your life, till your warranty runs out. I will never EVER buy an HP product ever again and advise you to do the same if you want some sanity left in your life.
UPDATE:
I have just been told by some internal sources at HP that my case has been marked “closed” in June and that my response has been written as “completely satisfied”. It’s appalling to see that HP is indulging in not only unethical but ILLEGAL activities by fabricating customer responses and closing issues of their own will! Least surprisingly, I am unable to log in another complaint from their site as I am getting an error in their scripts (tho I tried different browsers)


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Gurgaon-Jaipur Women’s car rally on 21st! 12

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Someone put a pamphlet about a Women’s car rally under the wiper of my car. I was quite amused since I did not see it on any of the other cars parked near by! 🙂 It sounds like quite a fun opportunity. Since this event has practically no web presence, I thought I would promote it on my own blog. So here goes!

“Any vehicle which has 4 wheels, an engine, a steering wheel and a lady behind it, can participate in the rally”

This event is being organised by an NGO called Uthaan in partnership with Ibis, Power Grid, Indian Oil, Radio Mirchi, Desert trails, Avenues travel services etc. The flag off is from Ibis Hotel, Gurgaon.

III GURGAON-JAIPUR WOMEN CAR RALLY
DATE of Event : 21st March 2009

Uthaan is conducting the IIIrd Women’s Car rally which is an annual National Event hosted in Gurgaon 3rd year in succession. They hold this event each year with a Social Theme to create awareness in Social segments through participation & involvement . They have got support of Bharat Petroleum Corporation, Indian Oil , Rajasthan Tourism, India Today group, NDTV, Radio Mirchi, Dainik Jagran, Times Of India & Hindustan Times & Limca Book of Records.

Why not join a NATIONAL RECORD CREATING EVENT !!

They have earlier created a record by Holding the women Car rally. It is listed in the LIMCA BOOK OF RECORDS as

LONGEST INTERSTATE WOMEN CAR RALLY OF INDIA.
( Page 476 Limca Book Of Records 2007 )

This year this event is being organized in a much bigger way from Gurgaon to Jaipur ( To create another NATIONAL RECORD ). Another FIRST in this Rally is that they’re encouraging participants to bring their Pets too.

In case you are interested you can register as an individual for 4000/- (all inclusive) [and for 6K as a corporate] for this rally. It is a fun rally, not meant to be a race. The Boarding, lodging & food for all participants will be arranged by the Organizers. The List of Number of Prizes will be given at the time of Registration. It will be a Time, Speed & Distance rally with point deduction on OVER SPEEDING. The maximum speed allowed is 75Kmph. Violation of Traffic Rules will be penalized by point deduction. A separate navigation chart with full rules will be given to participants after registration. Different events during the rally will be held & informed about beforehand to all participants. There will be a prize distribution event on 21st evening at Desert trails, Jaipur. Participants will be given lodging & breakfast at either Desert Trails or Hotel Amer View. You can get your family also along with you. They can pay directly to the hotels. You can register a navigator along with you. The navigator can be a man or a woman. However in case of a tie, the preference would be given to an all women team.

The proceeds from this event will go to an Animal rescue centre on NH-8. All interested people may contact the following:

Sanjay Kaushik
President
Uthaan
102, Sector 46
GURGAON
9811175332


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Beware of Airtel’s lifetime free IPTV scheme for existing subscribers – all hogwash 13

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Airtel has been tomtoming their supposedly lifetime free IPTV scheme to existing subscribers of broadband, showing no extra cost except for installation charges of 3999/-. Even after asking several times from their executives selling this scheme to people, they insisted that there’s no monthly rental, this is indeed lifetime free at no extra cost, except that of installation. I also doubly confirmed that my existing connection of 999/- would not have any disruption or hampering in service & no extra cost and was confirmed the same. However since nothing of this sort is on airtel’s site as of now, I was still sceptical.
Finally after much interrogation, I agreed to fill up the application provided they show me this scheme on paper and not expect me to fall for it over what they claimed on phone. I speak from experience. right from the time I wasnt even an Airtel customer but they damaged my property to install someone elses connection TO my own broadband connection. As expected, considering how botched up Airtel’s services are, their representative who was given some other address instead of mine to go to & some other timing as well, arrived 5hrs late at my place without any scheme in written. This after having given them my address at least 4 times. When the rep finally procured their brochure & showed it to me, I realised that my existing speed of 384 Kbps will be downgraded to 256Kpbs if I were to avail of this scheme. I talked to their customer care again. I was told there is not much difference between 384Kbps and 256 Kbps speeds anyway. When I asked them why they are charging me more in that case, for the higher speed, he had no answer. He also told me that to retain my existing speed of 384 Kbps, I would have to buy a top up plan of 400/- every month. So here it is – their hidden monthly rental! All this after having confirmed on phone that my existing broadband services will not suffer or be hampered!
The customer care guy started by saying that I must be paying this to my cable guy. That’s not even logical. I pay much lesser to the cable guy and might as well retain my existing broadband speed, without shelling out 4K for some installation! Nice way of taking services back from the customer and then charging them again calling it lifetime free!
Beware of schemes that insult the intelligence of the customer. Jaago Grahak Jaago. Do not fall for Airtel’s hogwash


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Social Media & Blog camp! – a description 8

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I have been organising Delhi Blogger Meets and events around Delhi Bloggers, since many years now. Recently we did something quite differently. On 7th June’08, we managed to present a Social Media & blog camp for Delhi Bloggers Bloc – an online community of Delhi Bloggers. Blogging has come a long way and is one of the most powerful tools that are a part of “Social Media”. This post has been long pending since I was in the process of changing jobs during that time, and was also waiting for some of the speakers to provide me with their presentations. I still haven’t received all, but well, better late than never!

The DBB – social media and blog camp was held at Indiatimes, Gurgaon office on 7th June’08. The event venue, meal and snacks were sponsored by Indiatimes. We also had IBM & WordPress as promoters for this event. Tyroo ads was the online partner as well. There was another corporate – a leading telecom giant – who was going to be one of the sponsors but backed out at the last moment. All part of the game I guess! The event tags and pens were sponsored by Puneet of Superblogsecrets.com. Getting sponsorship was a learning experience in designing pitches and preparing concept notes. The giveaways were uber cool and perhaps one of the most pleasant surprises of the day. Indiatimes provided t-shirts and stationery. IBM provided sippers. WordPress provided some rather cute badges (which got lapped up very very quickly & I kept getting requests for them much later as well) and stickers. Indiatimes also had a lucky draw and provided all speakers as well as the lucky winners – a USB watch! How cool is that? A watch which also doubles up as a USB device.

We had released only 100 passes for this event and later had to extend them because of the high demand! I had to refuse some ppl who wanted to attend since we were already overflowing capacity. I had also been getting a lot of calls from people who wanted to speak at this event on a lot of interesting topics. However, we had to limit that too, much as we didnt like it! We had planned several talks by eminent personalities on relevant topics. The topics touched on web2.0 aspects in a lot of spheres.

The camp kicked off with N Madhavan’s talk on taxonomy of blogs – a way for newbies to identify where they are in this blogosphere. Madhavan is a senior journalist with HT with an active interest in New Media.

This was followed by a web 2.0 – travel industry perspective. Digital Marketing for the Travel Industry in the Web 2.0. Scenario was presented by Nirat Bhatnagar, co-founder of chahiye.info.

Rajesh Lalwani of blogworks.in presented two back to back sessions. Both were very well received. The first was Where are you going in your social media car? This session presented a perspective on social media – we talk so much about it but are we getting there yet? This was followed by an excellent case study Impact of social media on purchase – derived from personal expriences on purchase.

The next session was by Shyam Somanadh, Principal Architect, Network18 (Web18) who presented Participatory Media: The view from inside. He talked about some of the things that the Web18 team had done wrt social media on their own website. This was the time I learnt that “participatory” media is yet another term for social media.

This was followed by a quick talk on Twitter by Sanjukta Basu where she discussed twitter and also used it for a live demo.

We had to omit a rather interesting session on Social media – Socio cultural implications and trends – by Manav Deep Mianwal, Head Brand & Media, Airtel enterprise services since he couldnt be there due to personal reasons. We were running short of time, so this provided some getting back on track.

We quickly jumped to the session on Social media in the corporate context – presented by Natraj Akella, Brand strategy & marketing, IBM.
After this we had worked up quite an appetite and moved on to a great sumptuous lunch. The whole place was jampacked and people could be seen enjoying and of course networking.
After lunch we started with Bringing “Social” to software presented by Manish Dhingra, founder Tekriti software. This session talked about how to incoporate that social context in software.

This was followed by a “light” session – Exploiting the Internet – Riding somebody else’s Success by Jamshed V Rajan, Director products, Ibibo web pvt limited. Jammy is known for his humour blog – ouchmytoe.com and also showed us a rather interesting video on Social Media.

Then came a very debated session Protecting “New” in New Media by Prashant Singh. It presented various insights into our psyche about social media. Nikhil of Medianama.com, actually willingly gave up his session so that discussion around this topic could go on. He later presented his own take on the same topic.

A much needed session on Law & Technology was well presented by Gurpreet Singh, Internet Attorney. He discussed copyrights and trademarks.

This was followed by an interactive session on What makes mobile social networks successful? This was presented by Ekta Rohra Jafri.

The last session of the day was one that a lot of people had been waiting for. The monetary aspect of blogging (how could we not include that? 🙂 ).
Blogging Superstars : How to monetize a blog effectively? was conducted by Mohit Maheshewari, Co-founder Tonic Tag Media Pvt Ltd.

This event was quite well received by both the audience as well as those who wanted to present something. It is amazing to see how social media creeps into everything – be it the corporate world, purchase, travel, traditional media etc. There were a lot of other interesting topics that I wanted to have during our session. However due to limited time we could not. I would have also personally liked to do an elaborate session on photography and how it is benefitting due to social media. Due to lack of time with me as well as a well known photographer I had approached, we could not conduct this one. Next time surely!

The participants were a very intresting mix with people from internet companies, startups, national TV channels, IT personnel, civil society, lawyers, brand managers, social workers, mainstream newspapers etc. The news about this event had reached a lot of people. A surprise entrant was Pavan Duggal, the well known lawyer who also attended this event, having heard of it from a friend.

The day ended with a closing thanks by me, followed by lucky draw and surveys/feedbacks.
It was a fruitful day full of compliments for the enormous effort behind it. All this would not have been possible without Garima and Sanjay – my co-organisers for the event. Garima worked from the Indiatimes end. Sanjay and I, designed pitches, made powerplay presentations, posters, tags, schedules, invites, concept notes etc.

Here’s a mini glimpse of how Amit Ranjan of slideshare.net, saw it and enjoyed it :).  Here’s what Sanjukta, an oldie in our DBB group, had to say :). “social media and blog camp by Delhi Bloggers Bloc ws a total hit..v v engaging, interesting sessions. m proud to b an oldie in this grp “, says Sanjukta on twitter! Thanks Sanjukta :). Here’s what Shyam Somnadh says about the day. Here’s what Kreeti tweeted about the day – here and here.

Here are some of the pictures we clicked that day. It was a day very well spent after which we proceeded to sleep off the sleepless nights spent behind the organising of this mega event.

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