Friday, February 25, 2005

United States to Ahmedabad

I want to go to Ahmedabad from Washington DC and currently evaluating various options available to me. My home is very close to all three airports in the Washington DC area and I can fly from any one of them. These airports are: Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Reagan National Airport (DCA), and Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI). Let me point out that there are no direct flights to Ahmedabad (the seventh largest city in India with population of about 5 million) from any of these airports, which is very bad because many Indians living in USA come from or around the city of Ahmedabad.

The best option available to me is flying Air India from Newark. There is a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Ahmedabad every day. Well, this flight does not go directly to Ahmedabad. It actually goes to Paris (Charles De Gaulle Airport - CDG) first, then Bombay (BOM) and finally lands at Ahmedabad (AMD). I first have to go to Newark from Washington DC, which I can do by flying Continental Airlines from DC area. I like this option because it is the most convenient one. The convenience comes in the form of less hassle with the luggage. My luggage gets checked in at the DC area airport and I collect my luggage back at Ahmedabad airport. I don't touch my luggage before Ahmedabad. There is no terminal change at Paris. The plane lands at Paris for refueling and cleaning. The total stay at Paris is about 2 hours. There is change of aircraft at Bombay in this option, but it also takes about 2 hours. All in all, it takes about 18 hours to go from Newark to Ahmedabad, which is great. The plane used in this journey is Boeing 747-400 ER, which I like because it is a big plane and it makes me feel safe.

The second option is to fly from any of the DC airports to Mumbai and use any domestic Indian carrier to go to Ahmedabad. There are flights from British Airways, Air France, NorthWest, KLM, Lufthansa, and Delta which take you from DC area airports to Mumbai. The plus for these flights is that I do not have to go to Newark to catch the India bound flight. The minus of these option is that almost all of these carriers reach Mumbai late at night. At that time I must switch airport in Mumbai, that is, go from international airport to domestic airport to go to Ahmedabad. I have to carry my luggage by myself. I have heard horror stories from some people about switching airports in Mumbai at night. One person said to me that his taxi cab driver at Mumbai was drunk at night and was driving the taxi erratically. This is scary stuff. If I have a relative’s help in switching the airport then I would consider this second option, otherwise the first option looks good to me.

The third option is to go from DC area airports to New Delhi and then get Ahmedabad bound flight from Delhi. This options is not any better than the second option and does not provide any extra comfort in the process.

After evaluating all the options, I have concluded that the first option is the best option as of now. Some might argue that the service provided by Air India is not good and the staff in Air India is not courteous. I would have to disagree with this assertion. Many people are giving good reviews to Air India now. Air India has finally realized the value of good service and they are improving passenger experience in their flights.

Finally, a wish. There needs to be a Air India flight from New York to Ahmedabad. I would love that. If Air India doesn’t want to terminate a flight at Ahmedabad then it is fine, but Air India should at least have one flight every day that goes to Ahmedabad first and then to Mumbai, not vice versa. All Mumbai bound flights fly over Ahmedabad en route to Mumbai. Why not land at Ahmedabad first and unload all Gujarat bound passengers and then go to Mumbai.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Reliance IndiaCall

The calling procedure for dialing a call through reliance india call is a mystery to me. I live in US and dial 1-866-373-5426. After that a voice tells me the following: "Welcome to reliance. Please dial the number you wish to dial with the conuntry code 91. It is not required to dial the international access number."

How is this possible? Isn’t is true that when someone in US wants to dial an international number, 001 must be dialed first. How does reliance gets away without dialing 001 before 91. Do they have a direct physical line to India? When I dial the above 866 number, does my call go through some private reliance-owned network to Ahmedabad?

I have tried many calling cards so far, and never had the call quality as good as reliance’s. They are doing something right. The prices are not the lowest, but their calling plan does not have any gimmicks and fees.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Ahmedabad Airport

I don’t have any source for this, but I read somewhere that there are about 2.5 Million people living in USA of Indian origin. That is, 2.5 Million people who were born in India or are children or grandchildren of the people who were born in India.

A lot these 2.5 Million people visit India each year. Plus, India is a booming economy now. Many many foreigners visit India for business reasons.

Today, it is very inconvenient to fly to India, especially for the people who live in United States. It takes 2 days to get there. If I start my travel on a typical Air-India flight from New York to Mumbai on Monday, I will get to Mumbai on Wednesday. The airline options available to fly there is feeble. The restriction put upon foreign and domestic airlines by Indian government is choking off a potentially healthy tourism business for many Indian cities.

Many many people of Indian origin in USA come from the state of Gujarat in India. The city of Ahmedabad is the biggest city in Gujarat and many of these Indians in USA call Ahmedabad home. Still, to this day, there is no direct flight to Ahmedabad from United States. It is not that the airport at Ahmedabad is inadequate. That airport is good enough for a Boeing 747-400 to land and take off. I believe, only Air-India is allowed to go there, no foreign airliner has ever gone to Ahmedabad. All foreign flights; british airways, air france, KLM, Lufthansa; must go to Mumbai and unload all the Ahmedabad bound passenger to domestic Indian carriers.

This creates unnecessary hassles for the passengers, who fly over Ahmedabad en route to Mumbai and then come back to Ahmedabad on a domestic Indian carrier. Whenever the Ahmedabad airport opens up to foreign carriers, a flood of Indians will fly to India, more and often.

I am looking forward to that day, eagerly.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Reliance India Call

I consider Reliance India Call the best thing happened to me last year. I use this calling card service from Reliance to call India almost everyday. The connection I get is very clear and I never had any problems with it so far. They don't charge any connection charges or fees. I use the prepaid option and usually buy $25 worth of calling card each time.

They started out with this service some time in August 2004. At that time they charged 10.9 cents per minute for calls to India. They later raised this fee to 12.9 center per minute. Although there are some other calling cards available with lower fees, their service is not as superior as reliance's.

I have experimented calling cards from bigzoo, which went out of business;, and I would rank reliance first, then enjoy prepaid and then

It is very good to see that a company which started out in oil refining business is now carrying telecom traffic from US to India on its state of the art global network. I believe Reliance is like GE of United States.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dell Inspiron 8600

I just got my new dell inspriron 8600 laptop last week. I like it a lot so far. It took some time to set it up. I had to remove all the junk installed on it. I uninstalled AOL and some other software. Also, installed new versions of Acrobat Reader and Real Player.

I had some issues with the screen initially. I bought WSXGA+ with this laptop. It initially came with 1680x1050 native resolution, which made web-pages unreadable. After changing the DPI settings to 120, I was able to work for few hours. It still felt odd. I played around with the resolution and finally settled on 1280x800 with 96 DPI. This resolution is perfect.

Everything else works fine and looks good. It has Pentium M processor with 512 MB or RAM. It came with 60 GB hard drive and CD-RW/DVD combo drive. The DVD drive is good and wide screen makes DVD watching fun.

The casing could be improved though. I hear a few squeaks and rattles here and there. I guess, this is common on all the laptops these days.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Early Closing of Department Stores on Sunday

Why the stores close early on sundays? I just went to well known national department store to buy some clothes and had to leave because they were closing the store on 5 pm sunday evening. They are going to open on Monday at 9 am. What is wrong with this picture? They should keep the store open on sundays until 10 pm and open it late on Mondays if they want to. They are losing customers by closing way too early on sundays.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Detroit Tigers Signing Magglio Ordonez

Magglio Ordonez signed with Detroit Tigers for $75 millions for 5 years. I think Detroit might have overpaid to get him. The contracts have gone out of control this baseball offseason.

Just to keep things in perpective, last year, a former MVP; Miguel Tejada signed with Baltimore Orioles for 6 years $72 million. Miguel Tejada was 28 when he signed last year. Magglio Ordonex is 31 this year. Not only that, but he only played in 52 games in 2004.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Politics and Car Choice

I have been thinking about this for a long time now. Is there any relationship between the political believes of a person and the car that person buys?

We all know from various nationwide polls that the republicans are a religious, church going crowd by a wide margin when we compare them to the democrats. I am not aware of any polls out there where the choice of a car (domestic or foreign) is compared with the political affiliation. My guess is that if someone would conduct such a poll then the results would indicate that the domestic manufacturers have more republican customers than democrats. The opposite would be true for the foreign car manufacturers; they would have more democratic customers than republicans. Whenever I drive by rural areas, which tend to be more red than blue, I see more Fords, and Chevrolets than Hondas and Toyotas.

This is an intriguing idea for a poll question. At least the car manufacturers should conduct such a poll. The results would help them to better target their customers with advertisements. What do you think? Do agree with the proposition?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Widescreen Or No Widescreen

I want to buy a laptop in the near future. Maybe in next 3 or 4 weeks. By window shopping in best buy and circuit city, I found out that there are more wide screen laptops on display than the regular ones. I am not sure I like these widescreens.

First of all I, like most of us, am used to the regular "square" screens for too many years. I use 17 inch CRT monitor at home and at work, and like the 1024x768 native resolution. The widescreen laptop at the stores had 1280x800 native resolution, which looked kind of odd to me. It made the text look smaller on the screen and my guess is that my eyes would hurt a little bit if I were to use the widescreen.

Not sure I would buy the widescreen laptop yet.


I was chugging along the interstate last week and a stone came flying from a truck's tires and hit the windshield. Initially, a small crevice opended up in the dead center. Gradually, it expanded to reach both ends of the windshield. It was getting too dangerous to drive the car, so I decided to replace it. The whole thing cost me $246. What a bummer.

I could have bought a brand new ipod with that kind of money. Alas........