Resolved Bhoot Mystery

I know I’ve used ‘booth’ in my previous post but realised later that ‘bhoot’ is better. Just the spelling -adapting to the correct one in this post.

So, you know what happened at the airport that night. If you need a quick recall of events, read the previous post first.

Up to date? Let’s continue.

We lost three documents: parking ticket, car registration (RC) and my driver’s license; in that order.

Let me tell you what happened to those docs in the reverse order. First, my license.

A week or two before that day, a policeman stopped me for verification over a weekend ride to the supermarket. I was on bike with Bharani. They check every Saturday or Sunday in our regular Miyapur-Bachupally route. I had the bike’s RC and driver’s license in my wallet. When the policeman reluctantly asked for ‘papers’, I patiently got down the bike, opened the seat section to access the documents compartment and handed over the ‘papers’. Those were NOT the papers he was looking for. They were bike papers of course but the ones that I need to get the RC at RTA. RC was already made so they were practically useless. I seriously don’t know what he checked but after flipping through them for a while, demanded for license. I had to open my wallet and show him the card. When trying to put it back, the card slipped out of my hands and fell in one of those gaps under the seat as it was still open.

After trying to reach for it a minute, thought I’ll look into it after getting home and we moved on. The driver’s license remained in the bike and I never got to it. I even completely forgot about it and was roaming around confidently in the city even without carrying a license! And, that day, I drove to airport too, not knowing that my driver’s licence was no longer in my wallet. 🙂 So, that’s about the license. I hope it’s still there in the bike somewhere!

Next is what? Oh, RC.

This cannot be a forgotten or ‘missed it elsewhere’ case as I held the card in my own hands to verify the registration number and stuff while heading to the parking office in the airport. But then, it was missing in less than a minute.

Few days after that incident, while on our way home from office (we carpool), Venkat was waiting in the car while I got down to get some milk/ groceries/ something. Venkat is the one who was with me in airport when I parked the car, lost the ticket and when all the bhoot drama happened. It was his license we used to get out of the situation.

While waiting, he bent down a little to take a look at that coffee cup storage area one more time. There was a small gap into which he slid a finger and fiddled a little. He apparently felt something like a card and pulled it out. Viola! RC!! 🙂

One of my habits while driving is: I don’t hold anything in hands. I wear a seat belt and use hands just for steering or the gear shaft and that’s it. If I have to handle any toll tickets, money, phones, I do that real quick and pass them on to the navigator. If not, my next preference is to dump them in the front seat or the cup holder area and address it later. I think I left it in the cup holder area that night too. But I still don’t understand how it got stuck in a small gap, deep inside under the dashboard, huh! I tell you it’s the airport bhoot!

First one with driver’s license was completely my forgetfulness, I agree. Even later, Bharani reminded me of the bike incident and I did not recollect it on my own.

The second one was ok-ok. If the document was technically existing in the car, it’s our ineffective search. However, there is no way it can be hidden so discretely in that small gap under the dashboard. This hiding part, I blame on, the airport bhoot. So, RC fiasco was in partnership.

The last document we still are yet to talk about – parking ticket? There is nothing to talk about it. The bhoot took it and it was never found. 🙁

End of story.

The Airport Booth

It’s not the English booth, like the telephone booth.

It’s the Hindi booth, like the Ram Gopal Varma’s movie. Telugu lo – deyyam!

We’ve seen it live in Hyderabad International Airport. Well, not literally seeing with our eyes per se, but experienced it. I couldn’t stop laughing all night in spite of being in trouble.

It was about 10 days ago, a Saturday night. One of our friends was leaving to US and we went to drop him off at the airport.

We started at home around midnight. We did have good time in reserve for the flight. We headed directly to the terminal first. After a couple of them got down with luggage at the ‘departures’ terminal, we looked for parking. We were two in the car.

We entered the parking area, took the parking ticket and parked the car. We then discussed whether to carry the parking ticket with us or leave it in the car.

We decided to leave it in the car. If neither of us two come for the car again, there would be a confusion. So, we were sure to leave the ticket with the car. We placed it on the storage area near the gear knob (near the cup holder and stuff) and locked the car.

We went up to the terminal, had something to eat at Mc Donald’s, said goodbye to our friend, clicked a few pictures around and also looked at some movie shooting going on for a few minutes. It was good time all the while, but also early hours of Sunday; we wanted to head home.

We came to pick up the car from parking.

Surprise! Parking ticket is missing!!

Normally, we would wonder whether we left it in the car or took it with us. But, as we explicitly discussed it, we were damn sure it should be in the car. Except the fact that, it was not there!

I have an iPhone and my friend has a HTC Desire. We both switched on the LED lights on mobiles and searched the car. Completely. We moved the seats around too, but couldn’t find the damn ticket!

To look into some hard-to-reach places, we even switched on the phones’ video camera with LED light ON and checked. No trace of the ticket.

Again, we know it’s not in our wallet or pockets because we both explicitly discussed and left it in the car. Even then – we emptied our pockets and scanned through our wallets. You never know!

But the ticket was not to be found. 🙁

I personally thought someone got into our car.

Two reasons for my doubt: One, the glove box was open when we got to the car. We wouldn’t normally keep the glove bog open because it’s tough to even get down that way. So, it was my suspicion that somebody broke into the car and looked around for any valuables. Two, there was a sweater we left in the front seat. Normally kept just in one seat when we got down. It was ‘thrown’ over the two seats when we came later.  That still strengthened my doubt that they were ‘looking around’.

However, am not sure now. Why would a thief leave a wonderful sweater but take the parking ticket? 😀

But again, we thought, he/ she took nothing but the ticket was blown away when the doors were open. Fair enough. So, the thief was a good one; we lost nothing we noticed. Or, may be there was no thief.

That doesn’t change the fact though. The parking ticket was not to be found.

We repeated the process. Searched the car. Complete car. Again. And then pockets, wallets and surroundings. No ticket.

The laughs had already started. Hysterical laughs. We know we are not stupid but the ticket was not there. No reasoning seemed right.

We finally took the car out of the parking area and headed to the parking exit. Told the attendant that the ticket was lost.

He explained the process: We have to show them the car registration certificate, driver’s licence and pay Rs 350. That formality should be completed at the Parking Office on the other end.

I always carry Driver’s License in my wallet. So, if I have the Registration ID in the car, I can pay them the fine and get the hell out of there.

Looked at few documents in the car and found the RC. I was holding it in my hand to make sure that’s the right ID. It was the right card I needed. I confirmed the registration number twice to be very sure. Kool. We headed to the Parking Office.

It was less than a minute. We got down and one officer came around to inquire what the problem was. Explained that the parking ticket was lost and we were there to pay the fine.

He asked for the RC and the license.

Surprise! RC is missing!!

😀

I couldn’t just believe it! I had held it in my hand a minute ago. It’s not an exaggeration, I am talking about 60 secs here! But, the fact  is – it’s gone.

We did the drill again. Car search, pocket search, LED light camera search. Even the parking officer couldn’t believe it. He too assisted in moving the seats around and searching the complete car, one more time. But no luck. No parking ticket, no RC.

Howzzat?? 😀

I asked the officer if there was a ‘booth’ around. He laughed too and suggested we search one more time. Another round of drill, in vain.

He probably felt bad for our luck that night. He approached me and told that just License would do for the moment. He said he can let me go without the RC because he was witnessing the situation and he didn’t think it was fake. Good that he actually believed us! Nice fella!

So, while still wondering where the parking ticket had gone and thinking about even more surprising vanish act of the RC, I walked right behind the parking officer. And at the same time, I was also taking out my wallet for Driver’s License.

Ready for another surprise? Bam! There’s no license in my wallet! 😀

I was no longer sure what was going on. Parking ticket fiasco- fine, it’s weird but I give it to you. But then, RC and License is too much. Too-bloody-much I say!

We used friend’s driver’s licence (his was still available in the wallet :P) and got the hell out of there as quickly as we could.

We were puzzled, we were laughing, joking around and all that on the way home, at 3 am. But we did not know where the booth came from and why it took our documents!

A few days after that, the mystery was resolved. Not completely, but a good start. Will continue the resolved mystery in the next post.

Close call with phishing on facebook

It was 11:30 pm and having just completed my mango picture and dinner last night, I was relaxing on the couch, watching ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ on my desktop. Few minutes into the sitcom, my iPhone beeped and showed an alert about some comment on one of my facebook Notes.

Laptop wasn’t very far – so while still following Ray’s comedy on big screen, opened facebook on laptop to review the comment. I then moved on to email in another tab and was browsing through without any particular intent.

Then I saw one of my old colleagues initiate a chat conversation on facebook. It’s been a long time I spoke with her and was a little surprised to receive a message at that hour. She started with regular pleasantries like ‘how u doing?’ and ‘what u upto?’ stuff. Everything was fine with me, and I told her so.

When I asked her the same questions back, response wasn’t as expected. She said things were not good at her end. I thought it’s the regular “missing-India” kinda complaints I receive from many people I know who live outside India.

This situation was different.

She told me they had a worst vacation ever. I assumed something did not go as planned and so she was still feeling bad about it. May be it was a couple of weeks ago or so, I thought.

As our conversation progressed further, she explained that she got stranded in Scotland at the moment. Based on the fine language she was using and calm composure she maintained, it did not appear right. But if she is on facebook, catching up with a long lost colleague, she’s possibly held up at an airport, bored, with an Internet kiosk or something. Why not?

I inquired if it was a flight delay. She said they were mugged at gun point and were stolen of cash, credit cards and phones. A story like this, fiction or real is in general associated with phishing. So, I paused the show I was watching, and started thinking about the live situation. I sat upright and took a moment to scroll up and read the complete conversation again, just to make sure I got it right.

Few questions ran through my mind, some sensible and some cautious.

Is this a real person talking to me? I mean, I know her as a colleague so I know she is a real person. But, is she the one who is actually chatting with me at the moment? Is she in a situation where she could use some help? If yes, I ought to help in any way I could. May be I can buy her flight tickets so she could reach home! But, wait. What if her account is hacked and if this is a phishing attempt?

There is one more clue left to judge if this is an authentic trouble situation or phishing – asking for sensitive information like bank or credit card details. That will help me decide to some extent. Asking for help is understood; asking for credit card number and related details is suspicious!

This friend of mine is a Telugu girl, currently staying in US with her husband. Just a habit I guess, chatting was in English all the while. I continued the chat after the mugging story, but in Telugu. If she is who I think she is, I know she speaks good Telugu and should not be any problem in discussing the situation further. I got prepared to help her (of course) but only after at least one confirmation of her authenticity. However, what if she is hesitating to ask for help because we haven’t spoken in years? I myself asked her if she needs any help, in Telugu. As soon as I sent a few sentences in Telugu, she went offline.

I was a little worried and confused at the same time. What if she was my colleague, really in trouble and lost connection due to some technical problem. I was waiting for her to come online again so that I can try to get her out of there. My idea probably was to book flight tickets online, Scotland to US, using my credit card and let them print/ access it there.

I was reminding myself to NOT disclose the card details. Getting flight tickets for someone who lost everything in a foreign land is a good help. As the card is physically with me, even if I share the card number and other details, they have to book online too. So, why not I book online from here and let them access the tickets from there?

If it’s a phishing attempt, they wouldn’t benefit much from a ‘Scotland to US’ airplane ticket, do they? They would need my card details so that they can buy something else. Yes, that was my move. If this is a genuine situation, once she comes online, I would confirm the necessary details and book her tickets online.

But there was a second thread that started in my head when she went offline. May be that’s someone who hacked her account and was phishing! He/ she logged off because they couldn’t continue the conversation in a foreign language!

Anyway, she was offline. I did not know which way to go – shall I wait for her to come online and help her get home? Or, go to bed considering that as a close call to phishing on facebook? I resumed Ray’s comedy and was glancing at facebook page once in a while to see if she shows online. Another 10 mins or so for the episode to come to an end. If I don’t see her online by then, I would go to sleep. Fixed.

10 mins passed and Ray’s sitcom show was over. Have to hit bed. But the first thread didn’t allow me to sleep. I wrote a big note on her wall before I logged off. It was a request to all her friends to help her if they see her online on facebook or get in touch by any other means elsewhere. I also sent her a message with my mobile number if she needs to wake me up.

After a little tossing and turning in bed, sat up again and logged into all messengers on iPhone. Unless something’s final on this drama, how can I go to normal sleep?

Luckily, she was online on Yahoo!

I sent her a “hi” and “u ther?” real quick.

She responded ok but was asking my whereabouts. May be she forgot my Yahoo ID. I login to yahoo only once every season.

Reminded about our encounter a moment ago on facebook and asked if she really needs help.

She was stunned too. A little more conversation helped us realize that her facebook was hacked. And the worst, part – she was not aware of it!

I was online until she reset her password for facebook, showed her the initial phishing chat conversation, deleted the help request on her wall and logged off.

All has ended well. It was a close call but no information was disclosed to the phisherman. Moreover, there isn’t an old friend stranded in Scotland, mugged at gunpoint, looking for help. What a relief!

Anyway, that was my personal story. But, here are a few more threats with facebook in general, FYI.

I am not sure but I think this is the code used by hackers to chat as the account holder. I like the comment number 0 on that page:

“This one should be so simple to prevent – it relies on a user actually copy and pasting in a command they don’t understand.

The downside is – “enough people are stupid enough” so it spreads.”

Take care fellas!

4 TV shows I like

About a month ago, I requested your favorite Telugu TV shows. The idea was to understand the tastes a little, compare the entertainment/ information patterns and conduct a poll to get the creme of the lot.

Well, as there are no responses to help me out, here are the top TV shows I watch and why (not just Telugu). I picked a couple of them and the others just fall into my recently developed TV watching schedule/ time slot.

CNN IBN 8 PM PRIME (English): I actually got Tata Sky for this channel and this news hour. I felt I needed more current affairs and therefore developed the TV watching habit recently. It gives a quick and good round up of events all over India and I like the role it plays in the media unlike the worst-ever news channels AAJ TAK and STAR News.

Andhravani (Telugu): No nonsense, crisp, quick (30 mins), early morning tea-time dose; Telugu round up of local news from Andhra Pradesh. 7.30 am on E TV.

Nat Geo 9 PM (English): I am still not sure of the pattern for 9 PM shows as it appears to address one theme/ kind of programmes every week. Either way, if time permits after my IBN Live 8 PM PRIME, this is what I would like to watch for an hour. The series BIG, Mega Constructions, shows about the mega factories etc are all awesomely good and informative.

Paadutha Teeyaga (Telugu): 9.30 PM on Mondays on E TV,  it’s an hour with Telugu reality show for singers. Again, I like this because of S.P. Balu’s presence of course, but also because it’s unlike many other reality shows, is simple and straightforward. No staged dramas in attempt to tweak the TRP curves.

Sitcoms (English): I watch a good deal of sitcoms, but am not sure if I can add it to the ‘TV Shows’ list. I usually watch the complete season back-to-back and not when it’s telecast on TV. Major shows include: The Big Bang Theory, Two and half men, FRIENDS, 3rd rock from the Sun, That 70’s Show and few adventure series from Discovery Channel.

If you have any recommendations, please add in the comments.

YES!YAMAHA

I saw an ad on TV couple of weeks ago. That was the first I saw for that bike. While I didn’t concentrate much on the ad, the idea of a new vehicle from YAMAHA made me open the website and take a look at the available products. I was not happy with the already existing products like FZ and Fazer etc, for various reasons. The new one however, looks kool. Read through the specs real quick, checked if it’s available in black (I mean- compleeete black) and made up my mind.

Two or three days later, left office an hour early, Bharani and I went to the dealer, swiped a Credit Card and bought the new companion home. Dot.

Yes! I got another YAMAHA.  It’s YAMAHA SZ. This is my second (The two other vehicles I used between two YAMAHAs are an Activa, which, my dad is using now and a SANTRO, which I disposed after using for 2.5 years). Though it wasn’t as dramatic as I got the first, I do have the same thrill of owning one. Of course it was a quick decision!

I understand you don’t see a lot of SZs on the road; and that happened with my first one too, YAMAHA Crux. For most of my contacts, my bike was the only means they knew the product Crux existed. Looks like it happens this time too, and here is why:

  • This one has a 153 cc engine but has no disc brakes: While most of the riders prefer a disc brake for any bike, it is a common feature expected for the ones with 150 cc and above. However, I feel comfortable with the old fashioned drum brakes and SZ just got that. Both the wheels. Not that I tried tricks back then but it’s been a lot of time I got out of college and I have no feats to perform on road.
  • Of the two variations in SZ, mine is the low end one: No electric start, no RPM meter. The high end is named SZ-X, has an electric start, an RPM meter and a little extra plastic designer attachments to the fuel tank. While I like the SZ-X so far, the problem is it has no kick start. That, to me, is a bad configuration. Especially, if the lights are directly connected to the battery and can be turned on even without starting the engine, like car! If the battery dies one fine day, I should be doing experiments with wheel rotation or the typical push-n-start stuff. No no.
  • No digital meters. While I prefer old fashioned manual needle pointers, I see a lot of them prefer digital indicators. I think more than the question of reliability of the digital stuff in rain etc, what turns me off is the ugly orange backlit displays. Yack!!

When I used Crux, I used to ponder over a few things. I wanted a little more powerful engine to rip once in a while as necessary (I think Crux had a 98 cc engine, or 106 cc am not sure now), one additional “speed gear” to cover highway distances without putting a lot of stress on the engine for longer durations, probably a fuel indicator and an rpm meter. I think SZ has them covered except the rpm as I got the low end model. But that’s ok, I’m content with the existing features.

My first YAMAHA purchase experience is posted here.

YAMAHA SZ specifications can be found here.