Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pole capturing on OMR

We have a poll commission that takes care of booth-capturing in elections. I know of no pole commission to take care of pole capturing by advertisers.Small-time ad. agencies,like dogs, appear to have a weakness for roadside poles.

Sunrise at both ends in Mantri's

Took these shots this morning,to convey a Mantri magic. Where else can we get a glimpse of the sun rising from both ends of the complex ?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Birds over Mantri Synergy, OMR

Birds in formation flight over Mantri's make a pretty sight morning walkers get to see. They adopt a clockwork routine. I wish these birds would show up 15 minutes later, every morning, so that our children waiting for school bus at Mantri's driveway could say 'Hi' to them.
Follow the birds on Facebook

Monday, February 27, 2012

Childcare of another kind

Nicked from BlogAdda Wall Photos

What we can do about that memory loss

A TV commercial (an insurance company's,I guess) depicts a dining table set-up in which a middle-age man is shown looking all over the place for eye-glasses,while holding them over his forehead. Many of us, senior citizens, often forget where we leave our cell phone; and at times, can't recall even familiar names of places or people. Our tendency is to put it down to ageing, and carry on with our life, getting increasingly forgetful. But then I came across this article that says we can do something about it.
Try using your memory where you can,try memorising your shopping list instead of writing it down; learn the phone numbers or birthdays of friends and family.
I must learn to remember my own cell number. With help from our daughter-in-law and son I have overcome the tendency to forget own wedding anniversary.
Travel to new places and try to do something new every so often.
Computer games (as brain trainer)are a total waste of money,given that a walk in the park with a friend will benefit you more mentally,and is free.
Upgrading your mind is all about challenging yourself with new concepts and experiences... anything you can do with only minimal thought will fail to stretch you.
The best way to stop the brain rot is to challenge it more holistically – through mental, physical and social exercise. The brain is a machine that runs on blood, and so the most important thing you can do to have a healthy brain is to have a healthy blood supply.That means physical exercise, not mental exercise.

Excerpts are sourced from the article: Train your brain to delay dementia

Let's get on with it

Though the ad hoc managing committee,in their own wisdom, is not forthcoming in announcing it to the members of the association, the fact is that the association has been registered with the concerned government body and our gratitude to them.
Congratulations to Mr.Vasudevan for doing the dogs work to draft out the legal documents with the help of a lawyer and seeing it through.
The task of getting the registration is done with by this adhoc committee, and our thanks to them.
The members of the association have not mandated any other task to them, and they should not proceed with any other business concerning the association.
They should set a date for and call for a general body meeting of all the members, and offer theselves for a proper election for the office they wish to stand for. There may be other aspirants for their offices.
This should be done forthwith, failing which, we the members of the association should fix a date on our own.
Your views are solicited
Yours truly,
Arvind Rajgopaul,
(Reproduced from CommonFloor for for the benefit of those who don't access it)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The rough 'outside' or the cozy 'inside'?

The new apartment complexes that are coming up in Chennai have everything - Lush green gardens, fresh air, good amount of space, play areas, gymnasiums, beauty parlors, grocery stores, even car wash areas and in one particular complex, boating and horse riding facilities. Activities for which hitherto we needed to go to ten different places, are all grouped under one area, thereby making such places ideal growing up grounds. But the law of the world states that when you gain something, it is usually at the expense of something else.

The down side that I see to such a way of living is that our children would be brought up in cooped up areas and might not learn to be as street smart as our parents were (and to a lesser extent, as we grew up to be). For kilometers on either side of such complexes on the Old Mahabalipuram Road, there is nothing that would encourage a child to go out. Even schools reside inside our apartments. I thought only our parents and grand parents could say this statement, but even I can rightfully now tell my children when they grow up, 'I used to bicycle 10 kms everyday to school whereas you have the comfort of stepping out of your house and straight into your school.' I can't help but make a parallel between the lives our children are going to lead with those of animals that live in well maintained zoos - living with all the comforts in the world, but never venturing beyond their permitted circumference. I used to take in the sights around me when cycling to school - the street urchins, the traffic and the accidents, the roadside arguments, conversations with strangers while waiting at the bus stop (pre-cycle days) and so on. I learnt a lot from the roads. I learnt to be independent and gained confidence while facing the world outside. But now, with the definition of 'world' reducing to the 2 acres of land we live in, we would learn to be more 'apartment smart' rather than 'street smart.' Is that a good sign? 

But we have to face it. I.T jobs have forced us to move away from our old ways of life and we have to adjust accordingly. We need to ensure a our kids get a good experience of how life outside our apartments is. Morning walks with our children to the nearby villages, introducing them to the people there and their ways of life and earning all would give our chaps a good perspective of life. We could also identify some classes - be it music or sports or something on those lines - near to where we live (as opposed to having it inside our complex itself) and encourage them to cycle to these places (As long as it does not compromise on their safety). You might have some ideas too... please share so that all of us can read and learn!

At OMR Mantri's: After registration, what ?

It's a welcome development. And we owe it to Mr Vasudevan (B block), Mr A Chakraborti and Mr Krishna (both from F Block) for taking the trouble of making a trip to Chengalpet registrar's office on Feb.23 to complete the process of registration of Mantri apartment owners association. A letter specifying our registration number is expected (within 15 days) by March 7.
After registration I believe there is a statutory timeline within which a general body of apartment owners needs to be convened, to elect an 18-member management committee. March 18 is the date I heard being mentioned, though it has yet to be formally announced,by way of a circular from the ad hoc team.
It is to facilitate such communication, and to keep Mantri apartment owners (notably,those outside Chennai) informed of further development, a residents website is needed. A decision on this need not await the general body meet. I reckon we have already lost considerable time being indecisive. The professional portals can help us get a website up and running with a week.We have heard from two such portals, in response to our recent blog post. If we get a Mantri association website online by the first week of March, it will be immensely useful for residents to interact during the run-up to the March 18 general body meet.
March 18 would give us time enough to interact online, discuss, debate, and consider whether or not we want the current team to be elected to the association management committee. Incidentally, do we know who our ad hoc team members are ? All 18 of them ?
It would be helpful if a list of the team members, giving their names, Block/flat number, and phone/e-mail ID, is made available through a circular.It is something that should have been done earlier. As resident Madhumita Mohanty (C Block) wrote in this blog, in another context, 'committee members should let the residents know their contact details and how we may reach them. In case they are holding any meeting,the MoMs should be should be circulated'.
A circular with the list of ad hoc team members would enable residents to make informed choice between the current block reps. and the candidates, if any, who might wish to contest for association management committee. It is this newly elected committee that elects office-bearers - president, VP, general secretary and treasurer.
I believe Mantri's have a standard operating procedure that they follow in Bangalore, for facilitating the association's first election. They issue the election notice,act as returning officer verifying nominations submitted in a set format, and they also accept proxy forms from apartment owners deputing nominees to cast their votes.
We don't know what our core committee has in mind. It would be nice if those in charge on both sides - apartment owners and Mantri (PropCare) - set the election process in motion ASAP, so that we can meet to vote on March 18.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wanted: Flat on rent, near SIPCOT

I am trying to rent an apartment near SIPCOT and would like to move in with family (wife/child) from the 15th of March. Would you recommend Mantri? If yes, is there someone I should contact that would help me have a look at some of the units available there? - Varun, 98848 99771
Mr Varun could try Mantri's PropCare (Mr Balaji) - 044 29856000; 9841783022

Tapping solar power at Mantri's, OMR

RamKumar (H-Block) posted this photo in his Facebook page. It is about using the space on the Narmada Canal,Gujarat,for putting up solar panels.
Electing far-sighted apartment owners to helm Mantri Synergy association would help us explore possibilities for creating space to tap solar power within our complex.

Pause time at Navalur,OMR

How many of us passing through OMR on way home from work pause to observe a sunset or the lotus pond (needs upkeep) at Navalur ? But then who has time. A self-disclosure here would be in order - I am a retired person, a senior citizen.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Priority: A Mantri residents website

Now that the Mantri apartment owners association has been registered we can go in for Mantri residents website. There are two options:
1) Get a website, professionally managed, on monthly subscription (Rs.6,000-7000 a month for 700-unit complex). The sites that offer society management software features:
a)CommonFloor (in which Mantri Synergy already has a presence);
b)ApnaComplex (which first contacted us with an offer in September last);
d)Residents Inc (in which 80-unit Bella Tuscany is a member,and we can get input from their residents committee secretary Mr Narasimhan, with whom we are already in touch.)
2)The second option is to develop a website on our own,thus saving a monthly payment (Rs.8 per apartment) to the software developer. Snag is resident volunteers developing a in-house website would have to commit their services for maintenance and trouble-shooting on an ongoing basis. By developing a website on our own we may well be re-inventing the wheel for the n'th time (with the attendant teething trouble), while we have competing portals offering proven software.
The subscription sites have multiple management features such as accounts maintenance, bank account management, cash flow chart, inventory audit, metered billing of utilities, financial/admin reports of residents association.
The interactive features include discussion forum, notice board,apartment owners/residents directory, and other pages that facilitate online communication among the residential community.
As of now many apartment owners use CommonFloor for online interaction and discussion forum. These interactive features are offered free of charge by all society software portals, in the hope that residents associations would move to a subscription package when they have elected office-bearers in place.
CommonFloor, of which many of us are familiar, would have been be a natural candidate for us to migrate to a subscription package.But the snag is, the apartment owner administering the Mantri Synergy page on CommonFloor has decided to limit its access only to apartment owners. Mantri management or PropCare, whose (non)performance and lapses we talk about incessantly in CommonFloor, are blissfully unaware of what we are talking about, because they have no access to our site. This makes our interaction a futile exercise. Besides, many owners buy apartments for investment or renting them.
A Mantri residents website that excludes tenants, PropCare and other stakeholders from access, cannot serve the interest of the Mantri Synergy community. Besides, I reckon, our online interaction on issues of common concern, should be accessible to all, if only to enable the emerging apartment communities on OMR to learn from each others experiences and also to evolve a common approach to infrastructure issues such as water supply, transport, sewage and waste disposal.
While the interactive features of the proposed Mantri site would be open to all, the subscription segments - accounting, and related pages would be password-protected. What we need, I believe, is an official Mantri residents website with a two-step access, and with interactive sections (and only these sections) open to all, while the accounting related features accessible only to apartment owners/their nominees with a password to the site.
It is with this wider objective that we could consider a proposal ApnaComplex made in September/October last year. I have since forwarded e-mail interaction we had with ApnaComplex to relevant ad hoc committee members. Would like to mention that it was ApnaComplex that made contact with us, after seeing our community blog - OMR Resident.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sivarathri was a big deal at Padur,OMR

At Padur Mahasivarathri was a three-day festival(Feb.20-22). Public rituals, a religious procession, amateur play, and music concerts marked the celebrations, at which the entire Padur (a panchayat town) on OMR participated.
Spiritual music set to filmi tunes rented the air throughout Padur for much of the day and well into the night during the festival.The roadside music system placed near Anagalaparameswari temple speaks for the decibel level.
A roadside bazar that sprouted along the road to the temple had on offer the usual items such as toys, food stuff, pots and plates,and also things that you don't usually find in a regular market place.
I took this photo from an MTC bus - we were caught up in the festival rush on Tuesday evening. My wife and took the 570 Kelambakkam-bound AC bus from Navalur around 6.30 p m. It took us nearly an hour to reach Mantri's, a trip that is normally covered in 15 minutes. Not only did we inch our way through Padur on OMR, the crush of people on street was such that we gave up all thoughts of getting out of the bus at Padur to get a feel of the carnival atmosphere.
We made it there early next morning, but the scene, still colourful, wasn't quite the same as the previous evening. For many of us at Mantri's the Sivarathri festival at Padur meant little more than traffic delays on OMR, and the garbage that people left behind in public places.
Sight such as this, on the morning after a night of festivities, ought to set us thinking of options. We could complain to panchayat, curse those lacking civic sense, grumble and stay severely away in gated isolation,complaining about the filth outside.
But by ignoring the filth in our neighbourhood we end up outsourcing the breeding ground for mosquito, flies (that we try to keep off our turf with fumigation). My sense is, much of the mosquito menace residents of A, B and C blocks face could be sourced to the stagnant water patch at the farmhouse adjacent to Mantri Synergy.
An ostrich-like attitude can only alienate us from Padur residents. Which isn't a good idea. It is in our long-term interest, and also those of other emerging neighbourhood residential communities to reach out, and work with Padur people and panchayat in a cluster approach to resolving issues such as public cleanliness, sewage and waste disposal/recycling.
I wonder how many of us have heard of The Ugly Indian.I hadn't, till I heard from my social activist friend E R Ramachandran in Mysore. He sent me link to this 6.30 min.YouTube: Why this Kolaveri Dell? The Hope Song - by The Ugly Indian.
After watching/listening to them you would Google, as I did, to find out who, and what this Ugly Indian is all about.

SiliconIndia start-ups networking

SiliconIndia plans to hold, what they call the 'Startup City' event on Saturday, Feb.25. Founders of 20 startups make presentations on their products and services.They say, there are over 500 start-up companies in Chennai alone. Registration is free (click it).
Among the speakers are:
Sridhar Vembu, CEO, Zoho Corp
Murugavel Janakiraman,Founder & CEO , Consim Info(Bharath Matrimony)
Ravichandran L,CEO, Chennaionline
Adhil Shetty,Founder & CEO,
Gopal Srinivasan, Chairman & Managing Director, TVS Capital Funds
Venkatesh Peddi,Assistant Vice President, IDG Ventures India
Rama Bethmangalkar,Principal , Ventureast
Kannan Lakshminarayan,Founder & CTO , Vortex
Rahul Chowdhri,Director, Helion
Kalpathi S. Suresh,Chairman & CEO, Kalpathi Investments
Kailash Katkar,Founder, MD and CEO , Quick Heal Technologies
Amit Patni,Co-Founder & Chairman, Nirvana Venture Advisors
Venue: Green Park, N.S.K. Salai, Arcot Road, Vadapalani, Chennai
Time: 8.30 AM to 5:30 PM
Day: Saturday, Feb.25

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

If trees can speak...

If they had a voice, these coconut trees would sue Mantri's, for attempt on their life. For that is what the project developers are doing, as cement-flooring is in progress for converting this open space,close to the grocery stores,into a parking lot. Our plea for setting aside the space (between the row of coconut trees and wall) as 'Community Planting Area' has apparently fallen on deaf ears.Commercial compulsions score over environmental considerations, as they usually do.
Now that we are presented with a fait accompli, would it be too much to expect Mantri' project team to be generous enough to spare a of loose soil around the trees, as breathing space for the roots, and for watering them ? Cementing the space right up to the edge of tree-trunk can't be anyone's idea of tree-protection,if Mantri's do want to save those coconut trees.
It isn't the first time we have brought this to the notice of the Mantri's. In December last they cement-floored (see photo) a couple of trees - are they teak ? - close to sewage treatment plant behind H and I blocks. Some residents, notably, Mr Sriraj (D-1202),drew the attention of Mantri's on-site management, with zero reaction.

children's safety

Last evening, I was sitting in the central park with my wife. A number of children (aged between 2 and 6, were playing in the lawns. Their guardians, mostly mothers were chatting among themselves.
One of the parents decided to go home and took her children away.
Another child aged about 4 started following them without any one noticing him.
Now, this park is situated smack in the middle of two driveways, of Mantri Synergy. Water tankers, cars, and an assorted sorts of vehicles traverse these driveways, regularly during the eve ning hours.
There is only one entrance to this park, and the gate is always kept wide open.
This child was about to step out and dash across the drive way, in pursuit of his play mates, and a water tanker was approaching. Luckily, his mother spotted him and admonished him and he came back. Fortunately, nothing untoward happened.
A little later, another toddler tried to run out of the park. The mother came running and stopped it. I suggested that she closed the gate which she did, and latched it.
Within a minute, an elderly couple, enterd the park by opening the gate and left it wide opened.
and went on their merry way.
Now, this is a diaster waiting to happen some time. I am not being an alarmist. So let us see what we can do about it.
There are one or two security guards, hovering near the main entrance. One of them could be stationed at the gates of the park to regulate the movement of people in and out of the park.
Or, we could install a turnstile, which will deter a child from making a wild dash across the drive way.
Or, a maze installed to restrict rapid movement of children.
I have been noticing a gradual increase of the number of people using the park, this will only keep increasing.
Something has to be done, and done fast

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Qs from a new-comer at Mantri's

The Zachariahs who plan to move into Mantri's (F-804) posted on our Facebook page a set of questions. They relate to:
1.Shifting our BSNL line to our apartment.
2.Installing our Tata Sky dish, hours and times available for roof access?
3.Trash disposal daily; i.e, timings, location etc
4.Club House timings? pool, gym etc?
5.Approved areas for our pet to use the bathroom. Of course we are in the habit of picking up the waste and disposing it with our trash bags.But is there a specific area?
6.EB and Water usage readings, when does this happen and how do we pay our bills?
7.When we shift our items, are we allowed to use the lifts? If so which one and if not I assume the stairs?
I share Crystal Zachariah's post here, for the attention of those who might not be on Facebook.

Mist over OMR

For the second day visibility was close to zero, around 6.30 a m as we set out on our morning walk around Mantri Synergy today.
Even the unseemly sight of 'fly-ash mix silo' at Mantri's backyard (see post - Dust in your living room) looked an art work on camera. Mr Arvind Rajagopaul(H-1105) wrote, once again, recently about the dust menace in CommonFloor. Input from other neighbourhood residents such as Mr Narasimhan in Bella Tuscany( ) would help us evolve a common strategy.
(More photos of misty morning on OMR Resident Facebook page)

Monday, February 20, 2012

BSNL: 'The dialed number is busy'

This is recorded response you often get when you try PropCare landline -(2985) 6000.'The dialed number is busy', says a female voice. English isn't BSNL's strength, but this isn't their only weakness when it comes to customer service. BSNL subscribers at Mantri's, while reporting a complaint, go through a buck-passing procedure, involving PropCare, who refer you complaints regarding phone/broadband services to a private service provider, who, in turn, takes them up with BSNL Kelambakkam exchange. BSNL has outsourced equipment installation and upkeep, and the arrangement, it appears, absolves BSNL of its responsibility to ensure proper phone/Internet service to subscribers at Mantri Synergy.
The private service provider (read Aashik), who receives your fault reports and complaints, often pleads helplessness for he has no control on BSNL operating procedure. Customer complaints,routed through Aashik,(outsourced service provider), do not always get the attention or priority they deserve from BSNL employees.
If Mantri had a say in such BSNL franchise arrangement, they didn't have in mind the best interests of phone/Internet subscribers at Mantri Synergy. Incidentally, other developers such as L&T at Eden Park, and the Hiranandani's are reported to have gone in for BSNL service that provides for their franchisee setting up their own server for each residential complex.Under such arrangement customers can count on the private service provider to address customer complaints without having to rely on BSNL field staff.
The situation at Mantri Synergy is that Aashik is reduced to acting more as a post-office, than a trouble-shooter when it comes to customer service. And he is not always available on his cell. A neighbour in my block said she tried Aashik's number several times the other day, only to hear the response - 'this number doesn't exist'.

Pulse Polio Center at Kelambakkam

The parents who missed Pulse polio drops yesterday can visit the Kelambakkam Govt. Medical Center between 9 am to 4 pm 20th & 21st Feb for Oral Polio Drops for the Kids below 5 Yrs.

Direction to the Govt. Medical Center,
1) Go straight towards kelambakkam,
2) Take right turn fom the kelambakkam - vandallur junction,
3) Within 100 ft - 200 ft on the left side the Govt.Medical Center is located with Puls Polio Banner.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Of cars, trees and community-planting on OMR

That there is positive co-relation between cars and trees is a fact that is well-known, if widely ignored. The scanned text here (left) is taken from a newspaper advt. supplement sponsored by a real estate developer (not Mantri). Residents at a fledging Mantri Synergy have, for the last several months, been asking Mantri's landscape architect to allocate space for community tree-planting.
Former chief of PropCare, Mr Sivaram,(who left Mantri's early this year)was receptive to our plea, and arranged for planting as many as 16 saplings under our community-planting programme. But then Mr Sivaram had limitations. Which was why I addressed our case in an e-mail to Mantri's landscape architect Mr Sekar James. This was nearly three months back. The relevant bit in my mail,dated Oct.25, 2011, a copy of which was marked to PropCare, reads:
....A recent post in our blog - How about tulsi, Mr James ? - refers to issues relating to open space use in Mantri Synergy, Padur (OMR). Whenever we raise such issues with the Mantri management they say they need your clearance or they claim your approval was awaited.... But then we don't usually hear any further from Mantri's.
The issues raised in my mail pertained to:
1)Re-locating children's play area.
2)Allocation of tree-planting space for community planting programme. Besides, there is this question of having to neutralize carbon emission casued by about 1,500 AC units (for 700 plus apartments complex)
3)Finding space for vermicompost sheds.
4) Identification of OSR in Mantri Synergy, so that residents can be involved in its development.
We do understand, Mr James, that landscape architects have to make do with the open space made available by the the estate developer. And, I have no doubt that you would find ways to accommodate our plea, given that the built-up area in any residential complex shouldn't exceed 30 percent of the total area, and you have most of 70 percent space for landscaping.
Question is whether Mantri Synergy a) adheres to the 30/70 built-up/open space guideline;and b) whether the 70 percent open-space excludes open car-parking area.

My plea remains unanswered till date.
If anything, work is in progress on creating additional car parking, even on the space where Mantri's landscape architect had no objection to be used as 'Community Planting Area'.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A toy library

When we talk of library, we usually think books, or DVDs.In UK they have over 1000 libraries of toys, serving some 250,000 children. I happened by a web page in Grannynet , a website for grandparents, that said:
Toy libraries offer services to local children, families and carers based on regular toy loan for a nominal fee (and sometimes for free). They provide carefully selected toys to borrow, play sessions, and a friendly, informative meeting place for parents and carers.
Read more here

How do we get rid of the smell ?

We sensed this indefinably disagreeable smell at Mantri's grocery store yesterday.The shop assistant admitted that the smell wasn't going away,even after cleaning the area with disinfectant. He attributed the smell to a case of rotten eggs that had found its way into the store. I have no doubt those manning the shop would in future ensure closer quality check of things they stock.
My point is: would anyone know how to get rid of the smell, just in case any of us have rotten eggs lobbed at us?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rail trip to Shirdi

Rail tourism people offer package tour to Shirdi, leaving Chennai every Wednesday morning. The standard package,involving sleeper class travel and overnight stay at Shirdi, costs Rs.2300.Those opting for Comfort package - Rs.5550 - travel AC class (3-tier).
Indian Railway tour package promotional e-mail lists several other package tours. They do booking online via Rail Tourism website. Access code for booking Chennai-Shirdi package is SMR50.
The Rail Tours e-mail also gives these contact details:
Phone: 044-64594959/ 25330341, 9003140681/82

Singing lessons: poise matters

My wife and I invited ourselves to Kasi Viswanathan's music class for children (C-804), to get a feel of it. I have no credentials to rate him as music teacher, but we like his approach. Mr Viswanathan's class has students, 11 till now,in the 5-12 age-group, all girls. He is a stickler for form, pays attention to the way his girls sit, their poise, body language, and maintaining eye-contact with teacher.
Mr Viswanathan interrupted the class-singing, to correct the posture, limb movement, eye-contact of a student reflecting her lack of attention. We heard him telling his class lemon-on-the-head anecdote. Mr Viswanathan said he had heard this anecdote from his own guru,whose father was a Trivancore court vidhwan. At a concert in the presence of Maharaja the musician was challenged to give a two-hour concert, with a lemon balanced on his head.
I could appreciate Mr Viswanthan's focus on poise, right from the start,as I watched this lad's stage presence on TV the other day. Incidentally, a Carnatic music contest for juniors is telecast in Jaya TV daily, 5 p m nowadays. The poise and stage presence most of the child contestants display would put to shame some of our celebrity concert singers. I can't see the proverbial lemon staying on Aruna Sairam's head even for a moment (see this YouTube clip)
My Google search while working on this blog post led me to this write-up - 6 Tips for a better singing voice - in which Tip-2 suggests practice session in front of a mirror. Mr Viswanathan says his son, at his modeling school, uses the mirror technique in training models.
My suggestion :1)Teaching children class-room poise could be extended to their general conduct, such as the way they leave footwear at the front-door(in proper place and in a row), greet elders they meet, their guru, and take leave of them.A teacher is better placed than parents in initiating children in social skills.
2) I wish Mr Viswanathan would consider holding music class, once in alternate weeks (say, Friday) at a convenient corner at Mantri central park - on the tiled space near fountain,or the lawns in front of C Block. Seniors, and mothers out in the park in the evening would get a feel of how Mantri's children are doing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A child-rearing book

"A desperately needed corrective to received wisdom about child-rearing and what having children is supposed to do to a woman's sense of self", says a review of the book - French Children Don't Throw Food, by Pamela Druckerman,a New Yorker,who has brought up her three young children in Paris with her British husband.
In her reckoning, the French way of bringing up children appears to have excellent results: children who sleep through the night at eight weeks; who don't throw temper tantrums in the park; who eat a varied and balanced diet; and who don't require constant attention from their parents. "Quietly and en masse," says Druckerman, "French parents are achieving outcomes that create a whole different atmosphere for family life."
French parents are laissez faire when it comes to play. They don't shadow their children in their playground, says Druckerman. Instead, they often stand on the side chatting to their friends while their children get on with it.
Read more in The National and The Guardian.

Mantri's: When does the clock stop ticking ?

My reference is to the maintenance deposit we paid when we took possession of our Mantri apartment. We moved in (D-901) in mid-April; and the possession letter from Mantri's, dated March 30, said the maintenance clock for D Block starts from April 1,2011. Which means our maintenance meter on a deposit of Rs.44,250 (Rs.25 per sq.ft.) would stop ticking on March 31, 2012.
The maintenance clock for other blocks would have started from subsequent months. My question is whether the ticking clock for all 9 blocks would stop at the same time (March 31),before the start of 2012-13 fiscal. In other words, have we all been asked to pay maintenance deposit for a full year from the date of possession, or only for the remaining months, till March 2012 ?
Your response would throw much-needed light on an issue that generated some heat and sound in my informal meeting with some ad hoc committee members last evening. They asked how come,I set the mid-March deadline for registration of our apartment owners association.
My answer: considering that the Mantri project work is targeted for completion by March-end, and that PropCare wants revision of the maintenance charges (raised from the Rs.2 per sq.ft monthly), I would say the apartment owners association should be up and running, latest by mid-March. Frankly, I didn't feel comfortable with the questioning mode adopted by a member of the committee. I wasn't the one who sought this meeting. The idea was to strike a rapport for better appreciation, of the committee's limitations and our expectations from the committee as apartment owners.
I thought the ad hoc committee and I were on the same page in this regard - both wanting Mantri apartment owners association registered at the earliest. And here I was, being questioned, as if it were an inquisition, as to how I had arrived at the mid-March deadline, for the purpose of getting our acts together; and to have a registered association in place, well in time for negotiating terms with PropCare, come April,2012.
This apart, I would like to think last evening's interaction with ad hoc committee was mutually educative. I got a sense of the hassle the core committee faces in dealing with Mantri's local managers. The ad hoc committee, on its part, has agreed to be transparent in keeping association members informed of the proceedings of committee meetings. As for the status of registration process, committee has retained a lawyer, and is getting the documents ready for submission.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mantri residents running out of time

When we moved in, Apl.last year, Mantri's billed us Rs.44,250 (Rs.25 per sq.ft) as annual maintenance deposit. And said, our meter had started ticking on April 1,2011. Which means our maintenance deposit (for D-901) runs out on March 31. This,I presume,is the cut-off date for all residents, no matter when they moved in ?You don't have to be a pundit to predict that we are in for a hike in maintenance rate,after April this year. And we need a registered association to represent apartment owners in fixing mutually acceptable maintenance rate.
PropCare, Mantri's maintenance wing, may well continue to run our show after April, under contract with Mantri Apt.Owners Association. And I understand PropCare offers two payment options - 1) per sq.ft rate (which is likely to be significantly higher than the present Rs.25 per sq.ft.annually; and 2) a fixed management fee plus the actual expenses on upkeep, security, water, and diesel for back-up power etc. Most apartment owners associations don't opt for this because of book-keeping hassles. What we need right now is a registered association, hopefully, with duly elected office-bearers in place,latest by mid-March; to be able to take over charge from the Mantri project team; and talk terms with PropCare.
Question is: What are we doing about it ? We have in charge a core committee of apartment owners - comprising Mr T P R Nair, Mr Vasudevan, Mr A Chakraborti, and Mr R Gopal. This committee, we understand, has been at work on the registration process. We also understand that the fine print of our contract (correct me,if I am wrong) says, Mantri management would facilitate formation of the apartment owners association, and also conduct its first office-bearers election.
As residents, we have been pretty much in the dark as to what has been in the works since Dec.25. That was when we had an eventful, if futile, general body meeting, second within three weeks. Our first general body meet, Dec.11, didn't produce a quorum. The core committee doesn't seem to consider it necessary to keep association members informed about proceedings of their meetings. That they don't have e-mail ID of all apartment owners can be a convenient excuse, and even a valid reason,if we don't take into account other means of communication as the CommonFloor and OMR Resident, or computer print-outs pasted at the clubhouse notice board and grocery stores.
It is time we found answers to the following:
1)What is holding up the association registration ?
2)Do we have a problem with Mantri management in putting an association in place ?
3)If so,can we get it done without Mantri's guidance, and still retain PropCare as service provider?
4) It has been seven silent weeks since we heard from the core committee.Isn't it time they convened a clubhouse meeting of apartment owners ?

A general body meeting is the need of the hour, if only because we have today lot more apartment owners in residence than we did seven weeks back. Any move that the ad hoc committee might make on the strength its Dec.25 mandate may satisfy legal requirements. But it would be neither fair nor transparent.
Related reading : How to form an apartment owners association

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cryptic message

I wish those who send SMS would ensure their message covers the basics, such as the identity of the sender,and what it is he/she is talking about. Would anyone know what the following message(received earlier today),is about:
Please keep a copy of the sale deed when you enrolled as a member.This is required as proof for owning the flat

Friday, February 10, 2012

Case for chaat shop, permit-room @ OMR Mantri's

For those who don't know,'permit room' is euphemism for a pub or bar where the like-minded adults hang out over a glass of lemonade, lager, coke or soda with a dash of rum or whiskey. A clubhouse is where I would like to see this cozy corner set up. More on this,later
I don't know what Mantri's plans are for this space, next to the grocery stores.Wouldn't it be nice if we could have a chaat counter there ? A couple of park benches (like the ones we have on the front-lawns) set up near the chaat place would add to Mantri's evening chehal-pehal.
The grocery stores near the clubhouse is the best thing that has happened at Mantri's in recent weeks. It adds to our social life, in the sense that whenever we go shopping we usually run into new and familiar faces. A chaat-shop would provide a setting to further friendships that we strike on visits to the convenience store.
A flashback here would be in order. This was where the Mantri's had initially put up a children's play area. The space was cramped, and the play area, too close to the gas bank for comfort. We had the play area moved to its present location in October(see blog post - About Children's play area). I cite this to highlight the role networking through blog can play in community-building efforts. OMR Resident can do more, with more input and wider interaction among Mantri residents. Mantri's agreed to build a ramp at the store entrance after we raised the matter in this blog (see post - Still pending:shopfront ramp).
Clubhouse bar:I know some would have reservations,and many more would express concerns at the suggestion that we have an informal bar set up in the clubhouse. But I voice the unspoken wish of a significant section of Mantri residents when I say we should have space for a mini-bar at Mantri Synergy clubhouse. If we can have a spa, steam bath, beauty parlor, billiard hall and several other facilities for the niche user-groups, why can't we have a mini-bar on contributory membership basis.
Those of us given to social drinking can use the space, which would make the place a clubhouse in the real sense of the term.Many of our spouses who are tolerant of social drinking wouldn't feel comfortable having liquor served in their own homes. I am among those who respect such womanly sentiments. And I speak for many others who would welcome an opportunity for social drinking without upsetting domestic harmony.We have at Mantri's like-minded spirits clubbing-up at an obliging friend's apartment or on the terrace. A cozy corner at the clubhouse would answer their silent prayers.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Shivratri festival at OMR Padur

A three-day festival is being organised later this month by Padur residents and local fishermen's association at the Angalaparameshwari temple to celebrate Maha Shivrathri. Day-long programme of puja, processions, religious and cultural events is scheduled for three days, starting Monday,Feb.20.
Highlights of the festival includes light music concert on Feb 20, a festival procession the following afternoon (Feb.21), and staging of plays on Feb.21 and Feb 22, sponsored by the Kovalam Fishermen Panchayat,and K K Restaurant, Padur.
Interested Mantri residents may collect the brochure containing details of the festival programme from the security cabin at the Mantri Synergy main gate.

Ways to keep our food healthy

Dear all,

In today's life we come across various research articles published in papers about the crops [hybrid, pesticides, their medicinal effect], kalories consumed, etc. Some opt for organic food. But how much organic they are depends on the recommendation of the regulatory authorities and it varies. Awareness is always good but too much of contradictory articles will only leave us

Lack of time due to racing run, has made us just buy and consume whatever available. So let us discuss here and follow some simple rules with the crops available in the market to make it as much healthy as possible to eat. Many of the things, we know. Its just like brush up.

What we need to do to keep our food healthy:-

  1. Devotion
  2. Time
  3. Awareness
  4. Memory of what we leant
  5. Action
I divide the process of making our food healthy as follows :-

1. Selection
2. Storage
3. Washing & cutting
4. Cooking
5. Eating

     Let us see each of the above process in detail

    Whether it’s a fruit or vegetable, the selection process is very important. I have heard in medias during my childhood days that shapes of the vegetable we eat is good to the organs they resemble in our body, e.g., Bitter gourd for pancreas, Drumstick for nerves and so on.

    1. The skin should be smooth without any cuts.
    2. Should look fresh.
    3. If you find a hole made by an insect, that means it doesn’t have much of pesticides. If there would have been pesticide then there is no room for insects!
    4. Colour is an important factor. Many vendors add aritificial colouring agent to give the veggies a fresh look. Hence if you find them extremely colour, give the benefit of doubt. Immersing them in water will show whether the colour is natural or not. Added colours will come out and colour the water. This type of colouring is done mostly with veggies like Carrot, greenpeas, parwal
    5. If you find the country vegetables especially tomato, brinjal, potato, please go in for it as they are more healthy compared to the hybrid ones
    6. For root vegetables like carrot, raddish, beetroot, if you get them with leaves, the leaves will show you how fresh they are. The root as well as leaves can be used in your curry / subzi.

    Storing :-

    Irrespective the quantity you buy, storing is an important process to save your health as well as wastage     

    1. Always buy them as per the requirement and frequently. As the veggies or the fruits takes few days time to reach our hands from the production place. So they are not very fresh. Hence buy it every two to three days. If you cannot avoid bulk buying due to lack of time, take care in storing them atleast.
    2. After coming home, immediately segregate & clean them e.g. for cauliflower, you can cut the hard stems, remove roots of coriander leaves or any greens – this will save the space for you and help keeping the storage compartment clean.
    3. Washing, drying them completely and then storing in refrigerator is a good habit.
    4. Store them in separate cloth / netted bags (this will help in ventilation)
    5. Every day, take them out. Wipe them with a dry cloth (to remove the moisture content which leads to decaying) and putting them back in the bag. This is just a 10 minutes process.
    6. Curry leaves can be stores as sprigs in a steel container by putting a tissue at the bottom and this will keep them fresh for even 3 weeks.
    7. Green chillies : remove the stalk. Place a paper or tissue on the bottom of the container and store them. This will keep them fresh for 3 weeks.
    8. Coriander Leaves – clean them, remove the roots. Place them in a container with a tissue at the base and at the top. Excess moisture will be absorbed and will keep them fresh for a week. There are other methods too. Placing them in a jar of water.
    9. Do not store apple in refrigerator as the gas emits will spoil the other veggies / fruits too. Its always better to store fruits outside with a netted cover (preventing flies) and buy them evey 2 – 3 days time.
    10. Bananas can be stored for long time, if they are hung in a thread like they do here in shops.

    Washing & Chopping :-

    1. As much as possible, wash the vegetables thoroughly using your finger and palms and then cut them. (The water used for washing & the peels can be fed to the plants your grow). Even leafy ones, after removing the roots, wash them thoroughly and then cut them. Because if a cut vegetable is washed it loses some of its nutrients and then again in cooking process.
    2. Cut into medium sized pieces. This will help saving the nutrients for us in the cooking process.
    3. As much as possible, cut vegetable just before cooking. Storing of cut vegetables though may sound convenient but not a healthy habit.

    Eating :-

    1. Not just having raw vegetable / fruit salad is healthy.
    2. Take food when they are in warm temperature. Cold food is not an healthy option.
    3. ‘Eat to live ; don’t live to eat’ is a saying. This will keep one healthy. we have to devote some time in eating our food. Chewing them properly will ease the work of the stomach and helps the digestive process.
    4. Eat atleast two hours before you go to sleep. This will again help the digestion process. Prevents the workload to your digestive organs.Also help you give a sound sleep .
    5. Always Eat in moderate quantity. Fill half of your stomach with food, the next ¼ by water and the remaining ¼ is for air. This system will give you a good digestive power.
    6. Eating sathvik food helps you keep healthy and calm . Excessive oil or spice will make a treat to your tongue but not to your body / health.
    7. Eat when you feel hungry . Not out of temptation.

    Eat on time. Letting your stomach keep guessing the time of food flow is not good. It has become a trend of today to stay awake till late night and take food as per convenience. This is definitely not healthy. Once you regularize the eating habit, your stomach will automatically set its biological clock. I have observed in coporate world, where people don’t care for health but comfortably finish their conference / meetings and then give the least priority for food. This fuel to health is an important component which keeps you active to accomplish a task . Hence devote for a timely lunch and then continue with your work. ‘If there is a will, there is the way.

  1. Eating together is always good. If children are trained with this habit, it increases the family bonding at dinner table too. If you cannot afford it daily, atleast try practicing it during weekends. This save your valuable time too and let you enjoy your leisure time like others in the family. Ofcourse, the co-operation of family members is needed in this activity.

    1. You are all with your inputs to benefit others.

      Wish you a healthy & happy life
     Live your life to the fullest ensuring no regrets or no 'what ifs' to look back to. Because life is really very, very short.