How are you?

Assuming that you are perfectly well and not in any grumpy mood, what do you normally say if someone asks you the above question? While in India, a simple ‘Fine’ would be fine. Over here in UK, most likely you would get “not too bad” as an answer. In fact, the question itself would be different – “you awright mate” (you all right mate?). Recently I threw this customary question to someone in US and got “staying out of trouble” as reply. I heard the same from 2 more people from Milwaukee (USA). Wonder how many different ways are there to answer people. Nevertheless, they are interesting indeed. But nothing to beat a “sooobera keeren mamu”.

Doctorate

Something wrong somewhere.. err.. something right somewhere. I am getting mails addressing me as “Dr Chakkarapani”. Someone somewhere has realised my potential and have decided to award a doctorate. Wish they send me some legal documents conferring me of the same, rather than using the coveted title in the junk mails.

Watchful eating?

I have heard of people making note of things they eat for consulting with the dietician to make adjustments to their eating habit. But, ever heard of anyone who photographs every single thing he eats and even post them on his blog? Check out this blog and see for yourself. What a way to keep tab of the calories you take in.

Watch before you talk

Only on reading today’s news, I came to know about this law that has been in existence since 2003 in Britain. Seems that one could be fined for swearing in public. A police officer has overheard a private conversation among two friends and handed over a penalty notice of £80 to one of them for using that four lettered F word. This law is part of Tony Blair’s campaign to bring in the ‘respect’ culture among the country’s youth. I don’t have any problems with objective of the law, but in a country where they make all the fuss about privacy/data protection etc, I wonder how they let police levy penalty for using certain words in a private conversation. I would rather update my dictionary with equivalent Tamil words in the hope that there wouldn’t be any interpreters snooping around in public.

Long Life

If you put chick peas (கொணà¯?டகà¯?கடலை) in salted water, how long do you expect it to be good enough for eating? Few days or may be few weeks, perhaps? I found that the expiry date for the above stuff bought at Sainsbury’s is December 2010. That is nearly 5 years from now. Isn’t that a bit too long?

Roy, Rushdie & Brown

I never had any good opinion on Arundhati Roy due to many reasons. Very often I have felt that she is misusing her ‘Booker’ fame by poking her nose into everything. Only over the weekend, flipped through few pages of her Booker winning ‘The God of Small Things‘ and I couldn’t proceed beyond few pages. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t captivating as I thought a Booker winning book would be. It certainly wasn’t her fault if my expectations are tad different. As I was searching for a website on her, learnt that the book ran into many controversies and there was even a law suit to ban the last chapter. If I had known this before starting, I would have reserved my verdict at least until I have completed the book.

Another one book that I find it difficult to keep going is Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Since this book was (is?) banned in India, I bought it in UK as soon as I saw it. Even on this one, I couldn’t proceed beyond few pages.

Same with Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code. It sure was a page turner. I finished the book very quickly, but felt it a bit more hyped. On the other hand, I found Brown’s Digital Fortress and Angels & Demons a much better read.

Perhaps, I don’t find it easy with the famous & controversial books.

Spammers Galore

I had to apply for a Tax Credit with Inland Revenue. When I rang them up to find out about the online facility, the link for which I couldn’t find in their website, they told me that they have got rid of that part of the website as they are receiving so many spam registrations every day. They have reverted back to paper based system now and would remain so until the time they equip their online facility with better ways to deal with spammer morons.

I don’t see the point these spammers are trying to drive. Whether it is right or wrong, it is understandable to fill one’s guest book & comments with junk as they get linked back. But to fill up a complicated questionnaire with trash is simply beyond any logic. Crazy guys.

Changing Suppliers

Six years on in UK, I haven’t figured out how the Gas & Electricity companies operate here, especially w.r.t change of suppliers.

Few years ago, I was coming out of a supermarket when a guy near the check-out whom I thought is a staff asked me whether I would like to have any discount in the Gas bill as I happen to have the loyalty card of that particular store. I was pulled into the conversation during which I divulged my name, home address etc and he explained something and gave me lot of brochures. A week later, I got 2 letters – one from my current supplier ‘A’ saying that they are terminating my gas supply from a particular date and another from a new company ‘B’ saying that they would be supplying gas from a certain date.

It was then I realised that the guy in the supermarket had tricked me in to an agreement and got me under their fold. I called up my supplier ‘A’ and told the whole story. Aghast at ‘B’, who were using ‘dirty tricks’ to lure away their customers, ‘A’ refused to terminate the gas supply. But ‘B’ argued that ‘A’ doesn’t have any rights to stop a consumer from switching suppliers and resumed the gas supply on the said date. As a result, both of them claimed that they were supplying gas to that property and started sending bills. This was more annoying than before and we decided to get rid of ‘A’ as they were not helping us in anyway. It took several phone calls & head ache over a period of three months to sort out the mess.

There have been instances when some of my friends have got bills from different suppliers with completely irrelevant set of readings. Their mistake would have been that either they would have given their details to the supplier’s salesmen who are waiting for the catch at shopping malls or they would have let their salesman to check their meter reading thinking that they are from the meter reading contractors. Worst part is that, you can’t ignore this. If you don’t call the respective suppliers to sort this out, they’d continue to send reminders to pay the bill and your credit history would be at stake.

Last night, there were two guys at my door offering gas at ‘incredibly low prices’ and I politely showed them out. It looks like, if they manage to get hold of your name & address, they would easily switch the suppliers. If you are cross with someone in UK, just call up few gas suppliers and give the victim’s details. If you want to make it more complex, give some imaginary readings as well. The suppliers will ensure that the person concerned is condemned for life.

Life in UK

I put up this survival guide sometime last year to help newbies coming to UK with some essential info. Interestingly, these days I get lot of queries ranging from – ‘do you have such a site for Finland’ to ‘where should i look for a child minder’. So, I am planning to expand the scope of this site by including some more information. As a visitor, what sort of information do you think can be added here. Your thoughts would be much appreciated.