Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Captain cool checks out Melbourne!!

This post is a part of Indiblogger's Melbourne contest

He had just finished the gruelling press conference. Why can't a man just do what he wants? Captain Cool had taken his team to #1 a few years ago and yet the pesky reporters had so many questions regarding his retirement. He had wanted to shout at them, "There is nothing higher than #1 folks and I am renting Liverpool's trophy cabinet space to keep my trophies." But true to his name he kept his cool and some how got away from the press conference. The wonderful display of the paintings and photographs of the cricketing greats at the world famous MCG - Melbourne Cricket Ground automatically put him in a good mood by the time he came out and hailed a cab for Westin Melbourne, the grand and beautiful hotel overlooking the vibrant City Square. Tomorrow he would tour the city, for now he just wanted to sleep after a long and tiring last day of test cricket of his life.

Bright and early next morning, Captain Cool hopped on to the City Circle Tram and the small town boy inside him was pleased to note that he could hop on and hop off at will without paying a cent for a ride on this wonderful tram which took him around the entire city!

The tram ride was amazing but he wanted to see more of Melbourne and even beyond if possible. So Captain Cool decided to go for one of the most unique experiences of Melbourne.

He headed out to the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere at Melbourne's Eureka Skydeck 88. He was amazed at how the lift propelled him to level 88 in under 40 seconds and silently prayed for pace bowlers who would bowl this fast for his one day team of which he was still the captain. Since Eureka 88 is an experience that can't properly be told in words, you shall have to watch Captain Cool's friends Rohan and Tanmay in action at the Eureka Sky deck!

Captain Cool was fascinated by the beautiful views of Melbourne from high up at Eureka 88 but again he wanted something more. Since he was missing soaring through the air to take impossible catches as a wicketkeeper, he decided to soar through air again but this time on a Hot-Air Balloon! But on his way to the Hot Air Balooning Site, Captain Cool also made it a point to drop by the Gem Pier to check out the HMAS Castlemaine Museum Ship, the last of the sixty Australian-built Bathurst Class corvettes to be still afloat. He enjoyed exploring the ship and checking out the life style that the Australian sailors had when the ship served the Navy during the Second World War.

He thought he may get hungry during the Hot Air Balloon Ride and made it a point to pluck some strawberries at the Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, delighted that he could pluck them right off the plant by hand rather than having to buy in a market.

Finally Captain Cool boarded his Hot Air Balloon and drank in the sights of the beautiful city of Melbourne to his heart's content! He was also pleased to know that the balloon ride included complimentary breakfast at the Sofitel Hotel!

Captain Cool's body had soared as high as possible but his mind still had some way to go. Captain Cool headed to the Scienceworks where a Melbourne Planetarium show took his mind to the stars and beyond all the while sitting on a luxurious chair!

The evening had been set aside for the Sovereign Hill visit where Captain Cool tried his hand at finding gold and became a part of history by joining in Australia's famous gold rush! Again his friends can explain it best!

After spending time in history a call from his wife brought Captain Cool back to reality and he rushed to the Queen Victoria Market so that he could buy some lovely gifts for his wife. Regardless of how many T-20 teams you maybe captain of , at home the wife is the boss and you can get retired hurt if you come home without the most fascinating gifts.

I would love to tell you more about Captain Cool but I have to rush because I have to catch the evening show with him at Melbourne's Comedy Theatre!

Why don't you read up more on your own here? Answer my simple question below by leaving a comment and I promise some EXCITING prizes for you! Contest closes on 4th Jan 2015! Comment fast!

"Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?". 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

igenius Young Singing stars Grand Finale

MaxLife Insurance is a company that seems to have a special relationship with the children of India. Over the past few years it has endeavoured to provide some or the other opportunities to children each year as a part of its igenius programmes. There have been scholarships awarded as well as young authors hunt conducted under the igenius banner.

However, this year they did something different. In collaboration with Universal music, they came up with a singing event for children to identify the best talent in India. This is what gave birth to the "Young Singing Stars" competition which saw the participation of more than 1,30,000 participants from across the nation. By the 17th of December, after a rigorous elimination process, the top ten participants (five from the senior category and five from the junior category) were remaining for the grand finale in Mumbai which I had the opportunity to attend because of Blogadda.

Mansi Scott was the host for the evening who brought the event to life by singing one of her unreleased songs. Soon thereafter, the Grand Finale,-- taking place just one day after the horrific events which on 16th Dec unfolded in Peshawar -- struck the right chord as the participants along with the audience were asked to observe 2 mins silence for the victims.

After speeches by senior executives MaxLife, Mr. Devraj Sanyal, MD, Universal Music Group who also has a band of his own spoke about how excited he was to be associated with Young Singing Stars and identifying new talent. He was also a part of the jury for the finale.

Shraddha Sharma, the next member of the jury then took the stage and mesmerised the audience with her melodious voice which has enthralled millions on YouTube, and made her a shoo in for singing stardom.

Salim Ali, the man whom the crowd was dying to see was the next. He also expressed his anguish regarding the attack on the Army School in Peshawar and dedicated his rendition of Ali Maula as a prayer to the victims.

With all the preliminaries done, the youngsters finally took stage for round one of their performances. It seemed like they were managing to outperform each other constantly because each song seemed like the best one.

With the first round of finalists' performances over, acapella band RaagaTrippin took the stage and out in an absolutely mind blowing performance! Simply the range of sounds that they manage to produce using merely their vocal cords let me speechless!

Their performance was followed by another round of finalists' performances which were again superb. I think a large amount of credit is also due to igenius, who I heard provided mentoring opportunity the finalists before the grand finale. I am sure that the kiddos got to learn a great deal from the mentors.

Kavita Seth then took stage to while the scores were being tallied. 

And then last, as the participants and their parents waited with bated breath, the event concluded with Shivam Ahuja of the junior category and Shraddha Shree of the senior category being declared the Winners!!!

However, that did not mean that the others went home empty handed. What I loved about the Young Singing Stars was that while the winners got an album contract each with Universal, the four other finalists also got a single song contract each! Thus Universal and MaxLife Insurance are providing all ten of them an opportunity to kick start their singing careers!

Can't wait to hear those voices again! I hope they get to release their singles/albums soon!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Let Bigger Dreams Take Flight! - A short story!

"Running around in circles on the lawn in Vihar Park, wearing her bright yellow teeshirt and shorts along with a black cap makes Mahesh look like a cute honey bee buzzing in the air," thought Seema as she sat on the wrought iron bench watching her eight year old play lost in his own imaginary world. In Mahesh’s mind as well he was soaring through air but not quite as simply as a bee.

The previous day, Seema’s sister had handed over to her a bag of old toys which the sister’s son had lost interest in. Mahesh showed no interest in the old toys until amongst that batch of toys he found the 7 inch long clay model of an airplane which even had tiny plastic propellers attached to its engines. Mahesh was amazed by the model though a significant portion of its tail had chipped off and one of the four propellers was missing, thanks to his cousin’s mishandling no doubt. Seema wouldn’t even have been able to identify it as the popular passenger airliner of the 1950s if not for the words DC-6 printed on it as a part of its livery. Previous night, she had read up on the internet regarding various aircrafts, for the barrage of questions she knew would soon come from her inquisitive child.

“Brrrr Brrrrr Brrrrrrrrrrrr” Mahesh was growling trying to imitate the sound of the engines of airplane model that he held in his hand as he ran at top speed imagining himself soaring through the air on the aircraft. He swooshed and whisked it around avoiding imaginary obstacles and banked it left and right doing tricks. All of a sudden, Mahesh fell backwards, hitting the ground with an audible thump which made Seema’s heart skip a beat. As she rushed towards him, she realised that he wasn’t crying or trying to move at all because he wasn’t really hurt.

He had fallen down on purpose. His eyes were transfixed on a real aircraft in the sky as it glided low, about to make its landing approach. He held up his free hand and pawed the air as if to reach the aircraft with the innocence that only a child can have. 

"Mumma why cant we see the engines of that plane like this?" he asked, toying with the three remaining propellers on his DC-6 model.

"Because it is a new aeroplane, it has much faster engines than this one. They are called jet engines." Seema replied, glad that she had read up the previous night.

"Mumma but why, why new engines?"

"So that it can be big. That plane can actually carry more than 200 people!"

Tiny Mahesh's eyes shone with astonishment as he contemplated the big number. "But Mumma, it looks small from here."

"It looks small in the sky, but is really big and even with so many people it can go really really fasttt!" Seema continued as she picked him up and twirled him around while he laughed with glee. With the sun about to set, they started heading back home.

"Mumma I have decided. When I grow up, I shall drive an aeroplane. I shall drive the biggest aeroplane in the world.” He spoke with determination in his voice. “Which is the biggest aeroplane in the world, Mumma?"

"It is the A-380." Seema replied as they reached the lift of their apartment complex. "Do you know it even has two floors!  You have to use an elevator inside the A-380!" She told him as he looked on in amazement.

Upon reaching home, Seema ushered him to clean up and he then went off to watch TV while she got busy as well and both forgot about their conversation. Only to be reminded again, at bed time.

Just as she was tucking him in for the night, he stopped her and with a forlorn expression said "But Mumma, I cannot be a big A-380 driver."
"But why?"

"Because I can’t stay away from my Mumma." he said almost teary eyed. "I shall miss you."

She smiled as she kissed his cheeks. "Don't worry son, A-380 now flies from and to Delhi. You don't have to go far at all... "

Lufthansa now flies A-380 non stop from Delhi to Frankfurt! Check it out here

This post is a part of the “Lufthansa A380 – Bigger is Better” contest on Indiblogger.in sponsored by Lufthansa.

Lufthansa A280

Get more details regarding Lufthansa's A-380 non stop service from Delhi to Frankfurt here

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Review : Tough Customer by Vandana Vasudevan

​Are you entitled for compensation for delayed flights? Can stickers be placed on the printed MRP? ​Can we hold a fairness cream to the promises made in its advertisement?

Photo of the book
Tough Customer - Vandana Vasudevan
 328 pages | MRP - ₹ 395
Publisher - Westland Ltd.
These are just some of the common questions that any ordinary person is curious about. Consumer law is a field of law that touches the life of the aam admi in innumerable ways on any ordinary day. However, till date all the literature that I had read about 'Consumer Law' was in the form of textbooks discussing each section of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and explaining the judicial interpretations of the same. It was all Consumer Law for the lawyers.

There was no book explaining consumer law for the consumer and this is the void that 'Tough Customer' by Vandana Vasudevan fills perfectly.

The book is divided into four parts, the first one covering the six rights of the consumer, a section on consumer service, another regarding the failure of certain consumer welfare legislation and the last being a must have 'Toolkit for consumers''.

Right from the first two chapters on safety and information, it is apparent how well researched the book is. The section on safety not only covers the obvious concerns that would come to one's mind such as issues relating to food adulteration and protection of financial data but it even goes on to give comprehensive information regarding India's mixed record with respect to railway safety and dubious record with respect to safety measures on roller coasters. The second section regarding the right to information is a delight to read it manage the laws relating to mandatory information disclosures on packaging in simple and succinct terms. Furthermore, we are treated to some fascinating case studies which expose how instant-noodles and cosmetics brands in India flout information disclosure and advertising norms with impunity.

The book's chapter on Right to Redressal shall be of particular interest to any reader as it describes the entire scheme of filing a consumer complaint in detail but at the same time in simple and clear language. Author employs bulletted lists under headings to explain various aspects of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 and within those handful of pages an aam aadmi can find answers to all his questions such as "What is unfair trade practice?" "Who can complain?" "When and Whom to complain?" "What relief can the forum give?" etc. The author also goes beyond the Consumer Protection Act and has also included details of other redressal mechanisms such as the Banking Ombudsman, Insurance Ombudsman etc.

The book doesn't stop at just telling the reader how to file a complaint but also tries to inspire the reader by presenting the stories of several consumers who filed consumer complaints and got generous relief from the Consumer forums.  It is often said that the Indian judicial system is stacked against the ordinary man and that large corporations get away with anything. However, in this book we find tales of consumers who took on and won against mammoths like the Railways, DLF and Idea mobile. These real life stories written in a fine narrative style are not just heartening but also at times funny and unfailingly enjoyable to read. If I had to pick a fault with this book (apart from the fact that it has scared me regarding several things by exposing the lax safety standards in India), it would be that the author hasn't included any cautionary tales regarding when consumers failed to prove their case before the forums. Such counter-anecdotes could have provided some advice for the readers regarding the pitfalls to avoid while filing consumer complaints.

The section of the book on consumer service is also replete with anecdotes, most from author's own life regarding how the standard of consumer service in India is a major cause for concern while the following section is a detailed analysis of four consumer welfare laws and the author's views on possible reform. Here again what sets this book apart from most other law books is that even an analysis of the law never feels like burdensome reading. While getting the point across, it remains simple enough to be understood by the ordinary man.

The last section "Toolkit for consumers" is a real gem. It includes the contact details of various consumer welfare organisations and also contact information of consumer forums and other grievance redressal mechanisms. The toolkit also includes model form of a consumer complaint which can be adopted an used for his/her own purpose by the reader. This is followed by a checklist of precautions that an informed consumer must adopt in everyday scenarios such as while buying electric appliances or while buying jewellery. It might possibly be worth buying the book for this section alone! However do note that the tips and tricks aren't restricted to this section alone. The entire book is replete with small tips and information that shall come of use to every single person. (Eg - Tips to differentiate between genuine or fake maid agencies, entitlement to compensation in cases of delayed flights, identifying puffery in advertisements etc.)

When I was reading this book, it did not feel like drudgery for a single moment. Every single chapter is relevant and includes references to situations that we face day in and day out.

This book would be of some utility to each and every person who purchases or has ever purchased any goods or services in India!

Disclosure : I was supplied with a review copy by Wesland Ltd.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More Passengers on the Clapham Omnibus! Reasonable man gets company!

"Public opinion, nowadays, is the opinion of the bald-headed man at the back of the omnibus. It is NOT the opinion of the aristocratical classes as such; or of the most educated or refined classes as such; it is simply the opinion of the ordinary mass of educated, but still commonplace mankind."

When Walter Bagehot included this line in his famous treatise The English Constitution published in 1867, little did he know that it shall lead to the creation of a of a legal phrase denoting the standard of reasonable care, which shall last more than a hundred years.

It was in 1903 that the “man on the Clapham omnibus” made his debut in judicial decisions when his mention appeared at page 109 in the judgement, McQuire v Western Morning News Company Limited.[1] ‘The man on the omnibus’ became ‘the man on the Clapham Omnibus’ with a typical working class London neighbourhood selected as his destination lest anyone mistake him to be from the upper class elite.

However, his moment of glory definitely came in the 1933 case of Hall v. Brooklands Auto Racing[2] when Greer L.J. of the Court of Appeal held "…the man in the Clapham omnibus taking a ticket to see a cricket match at Lord's would know quite well that he was not going to be encased in a steel frame which would protect him from the one in a million chance of a cricket ball dropping on his head.[3] …In my opinion, in the same way such a man taking a ticket to see motor races would know quite well that no barrier would be provided which would be sufficient to protect him in the possible but highly improbable event of a car charging the barrier and getting through to the spectators. The risk of such an event would be so remote that he would quite understand that no provision would be made to prevent it happening, and that he would take the risk of any such accident.”  Poor, Mr. Hall who had obtained damages of 998 shillings from the lower court had the judgement in his favour set aside due to the implied terms in the contract for purchase of the ticket which ‘the man on the Clapham omnibus’ would have known. More than 110 years after its first use, the ‘Man on the Clapham Omnibus’ is still often invoked by the judges across common law jurisdictions.

However, what is uncommon is judges accepting the test for what it really is – judges dictating what ought to be. When the reasonable man test or any tests of like nature are applied, the court judges the situation not by considering what the persons involved in the case thought or not by taking evidence as to what the average view in the country is but by actually subjectively making a decision on the basis of what the judges think the reasonable man’s perspective is or ought to be. Thus the persons on the Clapham omnibus are actually none other than the judges themselves!

Recently, the United Kingdom Supreme Court[4] speaking through Reed L.J.[5] in Healthcare at Home Ltd. v. Common Services Agency[6] has elaborated eloquently about the various new legal fictions similar to the man on the Clapham Omnibus that the courts have come up with in recent times. I am reproducing the first four paragraphs from that wonderful judgement here -

1. The Clapham omnibus has many passengers. The most venerable is the reasonable man, who was born during the reign of Victoria but remains in vigorous health. Amongst the other passengers are the right-thinking member of society, familiar from the law of defamation, the officious bystander, the reasonable parent, the reasonable landlord, and the fair-minded and informed observer, all of whom have had season tickets for many years.

2. The horse-drawn bus between Knightsbridge and Clapham, which Lord Bowen is thought to have had in mind, was real enough. But its most famous passenger, and the others I have mentioned, are legal fictions. They belong to an intellectual tradition of defining a legal standard by reference to a hypothetical person, which stretches back to the creation by Roman jurists of the figure of the bonus paterfamilias. As Lord Radcliffe observed in Davis Contractors Ltd v Fareham Urban District Council[7]

“The spokesman of the fair and reasonable man, who represents after all no more than the anthropomorphic conception of justice, is and must be the court itself.”

 3. It follows from the nature of the reasonable man, as a means of describing a standard applied by the court, that it would misconceived for a party to seek to lead evidence from actual passengers on the Clapham omnibus as to how they would have acted in a given situation or what they would have foreseen, in order to establish how the reasonable man would have acted or what he would have foreseen. Even if the party offered to prove that his witnesses were reasonable men, the evidence would be beside the point. The behaviour of the reasonable man is not established by the evidence of witnesses, but by the application of a legal standard by the court. The court may require to be informed by evidence of circumstances which bear on its application of the standard of the reasonable man in any particular case; but it is then for the court to determine the outcome, in those circumstances, of applying that impersonal standard.

4.In recent times, some additional passengers from the European Union have boarded the Clapham omnibus. This appeal is concerned with one of them: the reasonably well-informed and normally diligent tenderer


[1] [1903] 2 KB 100

[2] [1933] 1 KB 205

[3] I do wonder if he had been ruling in the present era, Greer L.J. would indulge in this cricket analogy, seeing how often the likes of Gayle dispatch the ball into the crowd.

[4] This is so weird. Since I never have had to cite a post-2009 UK Apex Court case in any of my writings till date, this is the first time I am citing the UK Supreme Court as opposed to the House of Lords. I know and appreciate the arguments regarding strict separation of power but it still feels weird to cite the UKSC.

[5] He shall be one of the last few Lord Justices (L.J.). New UKSC judges appointed herewith shall not be elevated to the House of Lords.

[6] [2014] UKSC 49

[7] [1956] AC 696, 728: