Friday, July 17, 2009

Guest Review: RE ThunderBird - It flies

2002: A Legend is born. A Legend with pride & power.
India's first cruiser - The THUNDERBIRD is launched & BBC Wheels awards it 'The Best Cruiser' 2002 title. Check out the interesting journey of Royal Enfield at

The Thunderbird is built for those who choose to cruise, but believe me it flies. It has a smooth lean burn 350cc engine making it one of its kind in this category. It has a constant vacuum (CV) carburetor for easy starts. Although self-start partially nullifies the charisma of a powerful bike, it helps one to cruise through the city traffic with ease. The ergonomic seat design helps in maintaining erect body posture and thereby avoid strain but at the same time the narrow backseat gives aching backs to the pillions.

Multi focal head lamp
5-Speed constant mesh Gearbox with left foot gear shift
All aluminium lean burn engine
CV carburetor
Gas filled shocks
2 tone colors and graphics

0-60 kmph: 7.7 sec (Robbery made easy)
Max speed: 107.6 kmph (Speedo has read 110 kmph for me)
Engine Type: 4-stroke, air cooled single cylinder
Max Power: 18bhp@5500rpm
Ignition: Electronic CDI
Air Filteration: Paper Oil Filteration
Engine Oil Capacity: 2.25 litre (Adds to high maintenance)
Bike (Kerb) Weight: 175 kg (Dare you stuck up in mud or sand)
Max payload: 175 kg (Long way to go)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.45 litres (Reserve: 1.25 litres)
Fuel Economy : 35-43 kmpl
(Drinks a lot of Gas)

> Comfortable on long rides (Restless Ramblers' countless adventures have been in its company).
> Very powerful on high & rough terrain (Ideal for Leh-Ladakh drive)
> Rock steady at both high and low speeds because of heavy weight (Aptly termed as Cruiser)
> Does not lose power if being driven for long hours continuously
> Safe to ride, Safer to be with
> The only bike in its category (No Competition)
> Large diameter of tyres result into smooth ride on slightly rough roads
> Traffic Police doesn't tow these bikes (Compensates for high maintenance)
> Neutral between each gear
> Royal Pride that is Inherited from it

> Low on mileage
> High level of vibration
> High maintanence cost
(Minimum one time service costs Rs.600/-)
> Availability of good mechanical experts
> Pushing this heavyweight, if stuck
> Expensive Accessories (To procure accessories, Sandhya Motors off. JC Road is a good option)

Rating: 4/5 kmph
Ride: 4/5
Handling: 3.5/5
Brake Rating: 4/5
Maintenance: 3/5
Disclaimer: The content mentioned has been contributed by Sumit Banka. For any assistance or performance related queries, kindly write it to
The Guest Reviewer - Sumit Banka is a Business Development Consultant with Oracle (Sales) and a Tour Strategist with Restless Ramblers (

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sodexo Meal Pass - Class for the Mass

The Company:
Sodexo (earlier Sodex ho) is a French food services & facilities management corporation. Founded by Pierre Bellon in 1966, this $21 billion company has presence in over 30,000 sites across 80 countries. Sodexo's business entails catering food, offering services like maintenance repairs, secretarial & reception, housekeeping, health & wellness and many more. Sodexo is more familiar to Indian consumers as the Service Vouchers and Cards company or rather commonly for its Meal Pass & Cards.
Sodexo India provides Food Services to Manufacturing unit of Hyundai India, Chennai
Sodexo India provides Facility Management Services to Wipro (since 2004)
The Product: Meal Pass
Meal Pass is a prepaid voucher to be utilized for a preferred meal. This meal voucher system allows an employer to extend the meal benefits (pre-decided mutually by the employee & the employer) to its associates. The business model is a kind of barter system wherein each entity exchanges the meal pass with the subsequent entity in return for the payment, goodwill or services rendered. The brief pictorial depiction of the model is as shown below:

The Attributes:
#1. The Meal Vouchers are exempted from Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT).
#2. Sodexo Meal Vouchers (issued monthly or annualy) carry a validitity of one calendar year (till 31st Dec) and the vouchers issued after 1st September is valid till the end of subsequent year.
#3. Sodexo Meal Vouchers are available under convenient denominations of Rs. 10, 20, 35, 50 and 75.
#4. These vouchers come with value added offers like 'scratch & win', 'value pass - discounts', etc. which adds to the tax benefits availed.

The Benefits:

  • To Sodexo: Nominal commission (app. 1.3%) in return for the delivery of meal-vouchers
  • To Employers: Employee goodwill & motivation
  • To Employees: Tax exemption, attractive offers and hassle-free transactions
  • To Affiliates: Assured customer base & loyalty redemption. Also publicity through ads

The Drawbacks:

  1. The Meal-Pass is non-transferrable i.e. It can only be used by the person in whose name it is availed. As per my experience, it can be used by anyone from friends & relatives to beggars & anyone who steals it
  2. Sodexo Meal-Pass is valid only for ready to eat items, food & beverages in the affiliated network. Although, I have exchanged the Sodexo meal pass for groceries, chocolates and even a shaving razor.
  3. It serves as a high-exhaustive income and with a mindset to dispose the voucher booklet in a stipulated time one tends to spend more.
  4. Sodexo meal voucher may not be useful for the singles who pay up for the meal goods/services rather than buying on own.
  5. Despite the wide network of affiliates, one might have to be forced under compulsion to avail the benefits.

Ratings: 4/5 coupons
Sodexo ranked amongst top three Global Outsourcing 100 companies.
Disclaimer: The Sodexo Meal pass is reviewed solely based upon my personal experience and facts cited on official Sodexo portal. The write-up/material used on this blog is free for use with due acknowledgments to

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Grappo FIZZzzz-A Grappy GReview!

Grappo Fizz aka G. Fizz
After paying tribute to Apples, Parle Agro has launched yet another niche drink 'Grappo Fizz' to honour Black Grapes in Indian market. Although creative, it is a bold move to launch a flavor which hasn't been completely tested with the Indian consumer market. Being an ardent Appy fan, I picked up Grappo to Greview it.

The First Look
With its hip name and irresistible bottle design, it scores over other regular colas and oranges in the regrigerator. The product is targeted at the youth and is quite evident from the bottle that read jargons like "say mah name" & "Grape4Life" and an astoundingly creative curriculum-wittae that speaks of Grappo as a laid-off Call Center employee with its loves, hates, origin and much more. Grappo is placed at a slighly higher entry-level price of Rs. 27/500ml.

The First Sip
The imagination of pulpy grape droplets and preserved fruit juices are subdued at the very first sip of Grapo. Neither it leaves you satisfied nor tempting for more. It's more of a Fizz and less of a grape. Moreover, it tastes on similar lines to Appy, leaving up to the 'cousin-relationship'. In my view, this sparkling Grape drink fails to create a separate identity and in-turn may cause dilution of the Fizz Brand.

#1. Grappo debut mania: I checked out the latest 'Grappo-Fizz'. Did you?
#2. The 'totally bottlelicious' bottles as a part of kitchen inventory and picnic cavalry.
#3. The real-life Fizz character as an advertising masterpiece.
#4. Hope of an all-new Guava-Fizz or a Melon-Fizz from the Parle stable.
#5. The Appy vs. Grappo battle (Survival of the Fizziest) at

#1. Failure of a much-hyped flavor to sustain as a stand-alone drink.
#2. Instead of a Fanta challenging Mirinda, it's a case of Fanta challenging its own bro Coca-Cola
diluting each other's share

#3. Definitely not a first choice drink to hang-out with.

Rating: 3/5 sips

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are my personal and not part of a campaign. Other views that may agree of differ are invited for discussion.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guest Review: GoAir - Go Get Pretty!

'GoAir' is an aviation venture of the Wadia group. The airline, launched in Nov-2005, operates across 11 destinations (mostly North and West India) with 474 weekly flights.
The airline operates with Airbus A320 and has the below mentioned specifications:
  • Crew: 2 pilots, 4 flight attendants
  • Capacity: 180 passengers
  • Freight : 16 300 kg (35 900 lb)
With a spate of LCCs (low cost carriers) thronging the Indian Aviation scenario, a lot of competition is being seen. Since the era of pre Air Deccan when only 1 percent of Indian population air travelled in India, plenty of LCCs are now flying the Indian air taking the figure to 5 Percent. Indigo, Go Air, Kingfisher Red, Jet lite, Spice Jet constitute around 50% of the air traffic and they have only one USP – Cheap affordable air travel.
Weighing my options for travelling from Bangalore to Ahmedabad, I chose to travel by air rather than by trains. The reason being, a 3 Tier AC ticket in train was costing me 1800 INR and taking up my 36 hrs in the process while Go Air was offering me a ticket for 3000 INR. Being my first journey in Go Air, I decided to closely observe the airline in all quarters. This review is based on my experience of the flight taken from Bangalore to Ahmedabad on 9th May 2009.

I booked my ticket from the Go Air official website My usual experience with other airlines is that whenever I book the tickets and give my cell number, I get a message with the flight details and flight confirmation number. Go Air chooses to send only an email, not that I am complaining but communicating to the customer through cell phone serves two purpose, one, you don’t have to take the print out of the ticket or remember the confirmation number before travelling and second, in case of rescheduling of the flight, the customers can be conveniently notified.

Upon reaching the Bangalore International Airport, I went straight to the Go Air counter to get the print of my ticket. The assistants at the Go Air Counters were not exactly suave and gorgeous (and I don’t believe they necessarily should be). The only thing that matters is prompt service and a smiling face and that was something that was not missing. After she reconfirmed my ticket number as "Yen pee ye five B yes" I finally went to check in my baggage. The attendants at the boarding counters were quite hospitable but inexperienced and badly dressed. There was no uniformity in the dresses of the attendants which looked a little less professional against the bright yellow uniforms of the Jet Airways employees. Even the ticket that I got had my name and seat numbers handwritten (All the airlines I have travelled have fully printed tickets). The one thing that I liked the most was the baggage limit. They allow 25 Kgs in the cargo and 7 Kgs infight. The flight was half an hour late but that could be because of the rainy weather. The plane was a standard Airbus 320 painted blue and white. The seats were nothing to boast about (Kingfisher employs leather covers) and the legspace was just like most of the LCCs (Indigo has few inches of extra legspace). There were two female airhostesses and a male host dressed in formals with a navy blue blazer. I strongly felt that they needed a uniform makeover to really stand out from the crowd. Water was not free on the flight and my request for a juice pack was turned down with an apology. But apart from that I was able to thoroughly enjoy my flight.

My verdict, not a bad flight to travel if it offers you the lowest fare but that would be the only advantage it enjoys. I would rather go to another LCC like Spicejet or Indigo if the fares do not differ by a large margin. I also felt that it had a relatively inexperienced crew as the attendants were quite jumpy. Go Air urgently requires a new USP to survive in this tough airline industry. Small changes like providing water (not necessarily bottled), bright uniforms, better tickets (they could employ advertisement on the back to cover the costs) and attractive airhostesses. A little difference can go a long way in retaining customer loyalty. Maybe the airline is learning the nuances of service the hard way and I would definitely like to try the airline again in near future to see the improvement if any.

Relyonreviews Rating: 3/5 miles (based soley on the above review and not on personal experience)

About the Reviewer: The blogger, Gaurang Ganatra, is a present Satyam employee and a prospective Nirma B-school grad. His interests include everything from cuddling a street dog to carrying out in-depth financial analysis of someone in Georgia.

Check out his 'jaw-breaking' humor at

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Adaaran Club Rannalhi, Maldives - Nature's best kept secret

Maldives: Adaaran Club-Rannalhi, Southern Male Atoll, Male
Date: 15-Dec-2008
Trip Motive: Honeymoon

Blue skies, White sand, Clear Water, Red wine & Green attire sum up a perfect recipe for a Honeymoon. Located at a 45 minute topsy-turvy speed boat drive from Male airport is Adaaran Club Rannalhi, a fantasy book freshwater island. It is one of the places where you go with eyes closed and for the rest of trip, you have your jaws wide open.

Accomodation: Adaaran Club Rannalhi provides some scenic landscape combined with unparallel luxury through couple of options
1. A 2-storeyed beach bungalow with a terrace or a balcony
2. A water bungalow in the middle of Indian ocean with a glass flooring and private sun deck.

Both of these options are accompanied by basic amenities and a mini bar.

Activities: Although one would love to indulge in the scenic leisure and , there are some larger than life options to laze out,
1. Theme nights (we had a Karaoke night and an Taste-the-Alcohol night) at the restaurant
2. Spa & Boutique (Although we didn't have the Ayurvedic massage, check out some really good souvenirs & essentials out there)
3. Water Excursions like Fishing, Snorkeling, Canoeing, Catamaran ride, Wind surfing and the best of all Scuba diving.

My Experience:
We were welcomed with aromatic napkins that allayed us amidst the scorching humidity. Tranquil location, marvelous water bungalows and amazing hospitality accompanied by comfort seemed to be the trademark of this location. We were overjoyed with the strategic location of the enchanting waterbungalows providing a clear view of the horizon in the Indian Ocean, private shacks at the back, glass flooring with a clear view of the colorful fishes beneath it and ambience that provided enough relaxation for the 3 nights we stayed over there. The sunrise view was the highlight of our honeymoon. A walk by the beach side at night or frolic in water in the bright sunshine is simply romantic. The tourists here were Europeans, in particular and so was the food. We managed to get the taste of Indian dishes (courtesy: Indian chef, Murthy) and cherished the wide variety of salads and deserts. The day time can be dedicated to water excursions like snorkelling, scuba diving (We saw colorful fishes, corals, rays, etc.), cataraman ride, canoeing or fishing(also offered at night) or auditorium programs, spas, etc. while the night life included beach disco, light music, karaoke night, drinks promotion or preferring to sit at the shore amidst the bewitching sound made by water waves. Although all the facilities are provided here, they are heavily priced e.g. Internet (1$/5min), ISD call (4$/1min), Drinking Water(5$/1.5lit).

Overall, our honeymoon was simply fabulous - the trip we'll cherish for the rest of our life. The stay expense is a bit on higher side (can be provided on request) but can be compensated with the hospitality and location view it provides. I thank our partners in good times - Cox & Kings for planning the trip, SriLankan Airlines for suiting our budgetary needs, Murthy for serving us Indian cuisine & Gihan Liyanage (DJ & a good friend at Maldives).

1. Carry Enough Dollars as they are accepted throughout the country.
2. Try & avoid shopping basic necessities at the souvenirs shop.
3. It is hard to obtain Indian food unless you know an Indian in the chef's team.
4. Specialized candle-lit dinner with wine can be arranged in the evening by the waters.
5. Maldives is at a height of 2.2 ft from sea level and with green-house effect it might not survive much. Try and preserve its beauty in its heavenly form.
6. Take precautions against the highly concentrated salt-water and absorbing humidity.
7. Do not miss the sunset.
Rating: 5/5 lives for Maldives

Friday, April 24, 2009

GEO-Mere Laal...A review on GEO magazine

GEO is a premium Science & Geography magazine from the European printing stable of Gruner+Jahr, owned by German media major Bertelsmann. It was launched & marketed in India by Outlook Group India. Ever since then, the Globe seems closer to me.

Articles: A good article is not the one that bores you with excessive information but the one that leaves you wanting for more. GEO offers a blend of research-based articles from the History, Contemporary section from the nook of the world, Futuristic Technological write-up & much more.

Photographs: A picture speaks a thousand words & probably a million when enriched by colors and quality.GEO publishes the photographs that leaves you stunned and yearning simultaneously. Photographs are the USP of GEO, may it be a Brazilian family cladded in a simple attire or endangered species camouflaged in the woods.
Knowledge: A direction for the explorer, a memoir for the collector and a toy for the toddler...GEO serves it all.

While I subscribed GEO solely out of anxiety and an attractive rucksack, I attribute my obsession for GEO to its German edition found in Goa. I've never seen detailed coverage given to the Cover-story of a magazine and although less articles are published, they're precisely covered. I am particularly fond of the theme-based photographs in the GeoScope section.

What enhanced my obsession with GEO were the research articles on Hilary-Tensing & Charles Darwin and later the amazing art of Origamy. The insights on Leptis Magna, Crystal Caves of Mexico tickled my anxiety cells. A date with Kakapo and the honeymoon with Caribou sealed any skepticism I had about GEO.
Above all, GEO is aptly priced at Rs. 100/copy. Although it seems higher for per copy price, it is quite cheaper as compared to other magazines in the same league (National Geographic comes at Rs. 225).

Although touch to perfection, few of the drawbacks it enforces are:
#1. Temptation for uninterrupted reading, causing hindrance in other tasks
#2. A high-voltage rivalry with your room-mates/family in being first to corner GEO.
#3. An argument with the publisher in case of rare lapse in paper/photo quality or binding.


Rating: 5/5 pages

Disclaimer: The above review is based on my own senses linked with GEO since June, 2008 and the opinions/views provided by other subscribers. Write to for more details.
I dedicate this blog to the GEO-Photographers and Research-Writers who work in hostile conditions to serve us the very best.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reviewing 'Firstphera...The first Wedding Gift'

What is it?
Firstphera quotes: "A personal wedding website is a unique form of wedding invitation through which you can share all your wedding details, photos, videos, maps, local city information and more". But I would go a step further and say it's a lifetime memoir which enlivens the past happenings and enlightens the future-to-be.

What if offers?

A Personalized Wedsite - Share all your historical details as well as wedding plans with a prefed or personally tailored content. Add your favorite music and template to make it personalized. As the latest feature describes, the music is played withing the browser instead of through an embedded flash player.
Wedding Invites - Let the world know about your D-Day and invite all the near and dear ones as well as the distant ones virtually.
Details - Cover the slightest of information and the latest of happenings through a detailed write-up. Create your own pages to add stitched information.
Photographs - The Flashback, You together, Magic Moments, Spontaneous Captures, Card designs, etc. - Share it all.

Wedding Shop - Expect gifts from your relatives, Buy something for the Spouse-to-be or Order your Wedding necessities through the Wedding Shop.
To-Do List - It's a personalized diary with all the imbibed tasks that you tend to forget amidst the Wedding Stress
Security - The best thing about this site it is secure and can be viewed on invitation.
Interactive Medium - Once you're done with your part, invite your friends & relatives for discussions, views and wishes. Pay a tribute through a WedBlog.
Free - All this features are Absolutely Free for a limited period of time with an option of further Upgradation.

New features:
Gift Registry - It serves as a virtual Santa Clause which captures your wishes (read gifts), pass it to your friends and in turn get you the desired gifts.
EasyWeddings - It is a book which provides in-depth details about various wedding vendors, shops and related necessities in your area. I would say it serves as a passive Wedding Manager.
My Experience:
I was planning to launch our own Wedding Portal but considering the time & cost involved in it, I was in search of ready-to-share Wedsite. That's when I came across the Firstphera concept on Facebook. With the little know-how I toyed with it and got started as I had all the content in the world to share it. It offered us the platform to reach out with the people and our inquisitiveness made sure that it serves as a lifetime memoir. We shared our Stories which helped our friends enact a skit during Sangeet, we started forums and had opinions about the dress code and best-man at the wedding, took suggestions on the preferred honeymoon destinations.

We shared the Wedding Calender with everybody pretty early so that they can plan their trip well in advance and for those who couldn't make it, we posted them the latest updates. The amalgamation of photos on Firstphera helped us get a wonderful Video-Collage through a friend who created it with the help of our photo collection. Our personal wedblogs proved to be the trademark of our site. The site was a success with 1300+ visitors visiting it in 3 months with access limited to invites. Overall, Firstphera facilitated a well-marketed Wedding and produced a life-long memorabilia.


A Coffee Table Book - A physical version of the Wedsite. It is a compilation of 10-15 pages of your WedSite in the form of a Coffee Table Book.
Wedding CD - All your wedpages together with content and photographs can be preserved through a CD.
Printed Mug/Tshirts - Get your photographs printed on a Coffee Mug or a T-shirt as done in the neighborhood studio.
Other Souvenirs
Lifetime Memories - Get your WedSite upgraded through the renewal of subscription or a cheaper way is download softwares to copy the webpages and convert it in to pdf's.


Technical glitches - An amateur blogging tool, an outdated photo uploading/viewing screen and abrupt technical interventions and scripting errors.
Inefficient Marketing - I must say it is under marketed as all the 1300+ visitors on our Wedsite heard the name FirstPhera through us. We proved better marketeers than Firstphera.
Too Slow - The worst of all drawbacks. From Start-up screen to clicks on other links, the application is slow-paced.
Weak Order Management Process - will provide better insights on the drawbacks through direct comparison.

Rating: 4/5 garlands

Disclaimer: The above review is based upon my personal experience and is not linked commerically with any incentive-based marketing. The review covers the Firstphera usage between October to February and is irrespective of any changes made thereafter. Few of the new features have been covered in the review on the basis of general surfing. Visit for more details.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

CountryClub or CountrySide - A review on CountryClub - Bannerghatta

Country Club - Bannergatta Road (28th-Mar-2009)

Country Club - Bannerghatta is an usual case of strategic expansion --- taking over the old and forgotten clubs, renovating it and transforming it in to a luxurious property. However, it disappoints one since it's yet to undergo any changes from its existing ramshackle condition.
Precaution: Don't go over by the information (pertaining to this location) provided on the official site of Country Club (

Location: Absence of sign-posts or proper directions will force you to opt for other 'well-marketed resorts' on the same road.
The Country Club
95, Basavannapura Bannerghatta Road,
Nr. Bannerghatta National Park,
Bangalore:-560 083, Karnataka
Ph: 080-28429698

Swimming Pool
• Snooker & Billiards
• Table Tennis
• Lawn Tennis
• Bar & Restaurant
• Cottages
• Children’s play area
• Conference Hall
• Board Room
Precaution: Although all the above facilities lure you for an exciting getaway, be aware that all of them belong to pre-primitive era.
A/c Rooms - Rs. 1000/- + taxes per night
A/c Cottages (Room+Hall) - Rs. 1500/- + taxes per night
Precaution: The official site mentions "Four Cottages are available @Rs.770/- (incl. taxes) per cottage", which conflicts with the actual tariff charged over there.

My Experience: The location being near to wildlife vicinity and close to the city limits lured me but the resort is dull and dead. The rooms are very conjusted with a bad bathroom design (few feet above room level) that almost caused a fatal accident. The bathrooms are almost equivalent to rooms but rusted showers, immovable comode flush and slippery floors devaluate the returns on Country Club membership. The sound-intensive A/c didn't provide any cooling and on the contrary made life difficult creating high humidity and suffocative atmosphere. There is a scope of development but the existing site is poorly maintained with dining area full of mosquitos, reception area laiden with red-stingy Ants and toilets as stinky as skunks.

Takeaway: The only takeaway during our stay at Country Club - Bannerghatta was the food & service. Try out the Masala Omelette, Aloo chat and Lemon soda for sure.This being my first visit to any of the Country Club's, I fear regretting the amount paid for buying luxury.

Rating: 1/5 (Though I'm optimistic about the other locations)

Photos: I've avoided uploading any photos as none of them are scenic or soothing.

In case of any correspondence, do write me at