Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together – Vincent Van Gogh

Let the Party Begin!

Everybody wants the best for their child, and if it’s a birthday party you are organizing it has to be awesome. But once the excitement settles down and you actually get down to the task of planning. You will be surprised to note how organizing a simple child’s birthday party can actually be a daunting task. Locating venues and comparing a few, picking the menu, choosing a party theme, ensuring your menu is in line with the theme, booking the cake, sending out the invites, shopping for stuff like party hats and return gifts, planning the game, and the list goes on….. Don’t forget, this is a team effort. Your child, husband and in-laws will give you some fantastic ideas… but you have to do all the running around and implementation. Makes you want to pull your hair out, right?

Birthday planning made easy

But wait, organizing a child’s birthday party does not have to be this stressful. You can actually do some, if not most, of the things online. Oh yes, thanks to the internet and all those intelligent businessmen who envisaged the hardships a mother could face when organizing her child’s birthday bash. They actually put together a cool portal that could help you plan!

Venue Plan is one of these. It is an interactive real-time directory on event venues and birthdays. The site currently has information on Bangalore, but they are growing rapidly into other cities.

Venue Plan lets you locate hotels in your vicinity and in keeping with your budget. It helps connect moms planning their child’s birthday with hotels, check out the facilities being offered, pick the food, plan the theme, locate magicians, tattoo artists, photographers, handcrafted return gift providers, folks who can bake personalized cakes and more…. All over the phone! Yes, hard to believe, but true.

Now, let all the fantastic ideas from your child, husband and in-laws flow in, does anyone need to know you have a fairy godmother in Venue Plan:)

Should you desire to contact Venue Plan

Website: http://birthday.venueplan.com/

Phone: (91) 9886022277

Email: plan@venuesavvy.com

Goa is one of the smallest states in India, and little more than a dot on the country’s map. Yet did you know the coastal state played host to over three million visitors last year? The internationally renowned holiday hotspot attracts guests both from abroad and the expanding Indian middle-class, and the 101 kilometers of Goa’s coast has an impressive density of 3000 hotels!

ImageWith guests flooding in, the state has all types of hotels – from luxury to lodges. The high frequency of visitors and high occupancy rates means few hospitality properties can manage without software. Yes, behind your wonderful hotel stay, there is software and technology that notes your bill at the bar, food ordered up to your room, services availed of at the spa, and clothes you sent for laundering.

When your stay at the hotel ends, the software will send out a ‘Thank you’ SMS. The hotel will continue to stay in touch with you and wish you on your birthday and other special occasions. Expect to receive emails or SMS’s on special offers and discounts at the hotel, and when you come back next year with your wife or friends, the hotel staff will greet you by name.

Thanks to the hotels guest history feature. Hotel staff will already know the newspaper you like to read, the type of pillow you requested during your last visit, and even the drinks and food you enjoyed at their restaurant. At last, you are not just another revenue figure; you have found a little comfort zone away from home.

Hotel staff come and go, shifts change, but your favourite hotel knows your needs.

All this is made possible by a large hotel property management system that works ceaselessly – day and night. Did you know, a hotel property management system can be fairly complex, and includes software modules like Front Office Management which you can encounter at the lobby, Point of Sale in the restaurant, Accounts Receivables to manage payments, Finance Management, Housekeeping, Inventory Management, Telephone Management, HR and Payroll, Food and Beverage Costing, Quality Management, Banquets and Conferences, Sales and Marketing and more.

Yes, almost every department of your hotel is managed by its comprehensive property management system. This may seems strange, for all you see are smiling hotel staff at your beck and call. But it is precisely this software, which manages the large number of hotel operations and enables its staff to serve you well.

Added to this massive software that runs the hotel almost seamlessly, are a host of other applications too. From key cards, to fancy tablet based e-menu applications to wow you with sumptuous foods, mobile check-in so you walk straight to your room, to customized in-room entertainment. The list can go on.

The Indian Middle Class is traveling

As the Indian middle class expands, it is expected to exceed 600 million in India. This is a spurring growth in the travel and hospitality industry. The recent economic downturn may have curbed the construction of five-star hotels, but the mid-market segment of four and three star hotels is booming. Research[1] shows the millennials – those born between 1980 -2000 are expected to be avid travelers, love urban locales, travel in organized groups and use mobile phones and social media to post travel reviews.

You may expect to see more technology making its way rapidly into hotels with wi-fi and mobility apps. From the hoteliers perspective software as a service (SaaS) is the next big thing.

How safe are the details you give your hotel?

However, everything is not hunky dory with the hospitality industry. More recently, hotel software has come under the scanner for being vulnerable to hacking. Yes you read right. Hotels see hundreds of guests each year. Larger the hotel, bigger the size of their database. Cards – debit and credit- are the easiest and arguably the safest mode of payment, yet it is exactly this information that attracts hackers. Trolling the web for systems they can break into, and data they can easily steal and sell, hackers find hospitality property management systems easy to breach.

1Doug Meal, partner at Ropes & Gray, says “data breaches at hospitality-related businesses account for as much as 40% of all data security breaches.”  Thankfully there is a way around it. Some countries require hotel software to be PCI DSS compliant. This means payment card details are stored in an encrypted format and are thus hacker proof. India has not enacted this legislation which requires hotel software to be PCI or PA DSS compliant. However IDS NEXT, a hotel software provider with over 26 years of experience providing hospitality technology that has a large presence in the Goa hospitality industry is PA DSS compliant. This obviously is not only a huge benefit for the hotel industry, but for guests visiting these hotels too.

In This Together

I was looking forward to feeding the city pigeons with you.

 

To sitting in the park opposite our home,

gossiping about our days of yore.

 

To attend weddings, and stand like cloth dolls

While the bride and groom bent at our feet.

 

I planned to take in our days at leisure,

Frying eggs, toasting bread and cooking your favourite curry.

 

I wanted to help you find your glasses,

Hand you your towel at the bathroom.

 

We so hoped we could go sightseeing,

And watch the whales in Africa.

 

I looked forward to admonishing our grandchildren,

While you pampered them with your love.

 

I wanted to snuggle against you

When it got cold and the socks did not help.

 

So why did you suddenly take a decision one day

to just lay down and die?

Something In Her

There was something in her, and it sometimes kicked.
It made her tummy rounder and bigger.
The doctor said she was too small to bear this something,
but her mother in a drunken stupor could not care less.

 

She yearned for love in the signs that she made,
in the words that could not escape her mouth.
But the man who threw her on the floor,
overpowered her, left her bleeding
went beyond what she could put sound to.

 

So she hid her shame till she could no more.
And when the something inside her grew too large,
it kicked at her tender, innocent heart.

 

The words again fled her mind as she lay writhing on the floor.
Oh what pain she bore.

 

(This is a poem to someone I knew. She died a few months back in premature child birth)

The child in Her

She lay curled on her bed,

Wrapped in her teddy bear blanket, now threadbare.

Tears streaming down her cheeks, choking.

Her fist a ball in her mouth.

 

Tormented by the prospects of her future.

She did not want to marry a doctor,

She wanted to study, to be a fighter pilot,

To fly the sky in search of her soul.

 

She did not want the burden of docility,

The demur demeanor were her loathing,

The nosepin, red dot, thick kajal around her eyes,

She did not want to be her mother.

 

She dreamed of a wearing a pant, with its perfectly ironed crease,

A shirt tight against her breast,

Stripes on her shoulders,

She was meant to ravage the man’s world.

This statement was released by the Aam Aadmi Party Goa <aapgoa@gmail.com> just prior to Sunday’s BJP meeting. addressed by its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, in Goa:

Press Release
Margao Goa

In view of the upcoming “Vijay Sankalp” rally to be held in Goa by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Shri Narendra-ji Modi, the Aam Aadmi Party would like to pose the following questions for the BJP and its Government in Goa.

1) Why has the BJP Govt. delayed in finalizing the Regional Plan for Goa?

2) When the Goa Govt proposes to prohibit entry for Goans into casinos on the grounds that gambling is a vice, is it not anti-national for the BJP to encourage the rest of Indians to be addicted to casinos? The BJP should clarify whether they consider casinos to be “bharatiya sanskriti” or drop the word “bharatiya” from its name.

3) Why does the BJP as a political party oppose the CIC order to bring it under the purview of RTI? What does it have to hide?

4) Why was not a single case filed with the Lokayukta against illegal miners identified in the Shah Commission Report and the PAC report?

5) Why haven’t any proceedings been started to recover the Rs. 35,000 crores looted from Goa as per the Shah Commission Report?

6) Why did the Goa Govt betray the BJP’s written promise to amend the Goa Lokayukta Act on the lines of the Uttarakhand Act, even after an AAP delegation handed over a ready draft of the amendments to the Hon. Chief Minister as requested by him. Are the promises of the BJP not even worth the paper they are printed on? (see attachment)

7) Why has the implementation of the Right to Services Act been postponed numerous times?

8) Despite expensive foreign “study tours” and numerous assurances on the issue, why does piled up garbage continue to be the biggest tourist attraction of Goa?

9) Why has the written promise by the BJP to strengthen the Gram Sabhas and enact appropriate amendments in tune with the 73rd amendment not even taken up by the Goa Govt so far? (see attachment)

10) Why is the Goa Govt still dilly-dallying on settling the Mayem Evacuee Property issue?

The people of Goa have long been concerned about the construction boom in the state. Wealthy folks from all over India, particularly the big metros of Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Bangalore, with huge incomes have bought into the ‘tourist paradise’ glitz and glamour and have been over the last decade or so been mopping up apartment block after block. These flats remain closed all year except for a few days in the summer or during Christmas.

ImageWith row upon row of locked residential apartments, the government has escaped with no planning on infrastructure. Tiny pipes still bring water inadequate if the entire block had actually been occupied. Poor power supply continues to persist, the telephone lines are bad, and so is the mobile phone signal. Garbage collection and disposal is pathetic.  And yet, if you wish to buy a flat in Goa, expect to pay fairly inflated rates.

The collapse of the building under construction in Canacona in early January 2014 is symptomatic of this rot that has been plaguing the construction industry in the state for years. Feeding on the crazy demand for holiday homes, builders like vultures have come in from neighboring states. Their marketing infrastructure is easily able to pull the wool over the eyes of potential buyers with money to dispose but ill-informed about the quality of the construction being undertaken. These builders in turn know that they are not there to stay but rake in the profits. The result, 25 dead, a number of injured and people still trapped and unaccounted for as a five story building caves in like a pack of cards. The adjoining building has also developed huge cracks and the government plans to immediately demolish it.

The construction workers killed on the project are mostly poor migrant daily wage workers. Insurance would be unheard off; they had come to Goa with the hope of a better life. Now they have lost their lives. The construction industry in Goa has long functioned not without political patronage. Every builder pays lakhs to convert the land, get permissions from the electricity and water department; they pay more money to get occupancy certificates. So while builders fill their coffers by cutting corners on construction material, politicians fill their coffers with bribes. The consumers are fooled into parting with their hard earned money, and the poor construction workers pay with their lives.

It is a sad path we in Goa have chosen to walk down. A path where our villages have turned into concrete piles, where people with no commitment and love for the village flood in like rampaging locust, where suddenly there is a water and power shortage, and garbage everywhere.

The reality of this disastrous situation hit me a couple of years back when I tried to buy a small flat in Goa. Better known builders had flat starting from 60 lakhs and above and when I told their sales people my budget was half of that, they slammed the phone on me. I then turned to a couple of brokers. The brochures they sent out offered rates even more fabulous than the builders. “But I work in India I protested, I earn in rupees, every one of which is taxed, isn’t there any place for me in my own state?” the brokers immediately removed me from their mailing lists. When I asked the sales folks of these builders’ questions that any buyer should ask, I was told, “There are customers who send over the down payment without seeing the site”. “Oh really,” I had to remind the marketing folks, “I am handing over to you the last few years of my earning, and committing to you the next few years of it as well, why then should I not quiz you to my heart content.” I was deeply frustrated and disappointed with the response.

Later, I did manage to buy a flat at a reasonable rate, the only reason I can pay the EMI on the loan is because I work outside Goa. I still feel purchasing housing in Goa is beyond the reach of most peoples income in Goa. Why? Because some druggie believes Goa is ‘happening’, some party animal believes Goa is ‘Yo’, because someone with unaccounted money believes he can account for it if it becomes brick and mortar in Goa. In the process, housing construction comes to a halt and fancy holiday homes with swimming pools and gyms, gated condominiums are all you can buy. And what about the Goans, trying to find a home in his state?

I find the ‘hype’ around Goa honestly absurd. It’s a hot, humid coastal state. There are better beaches in other parts of India and I have seen them in Kerala and Karnataka as well. The weather is unpleasant expect from October to Mid-Jan, I hate coming down to the state in summer. So cut through the crass marketing hype, and the Goa sold in the expensive brochures is the proverbial Shangri-La – keep searching. The only reason I continue to love Goa is mind sizzling heat & humidity and its dank, moldy rains is because there is nowhere else I feel like I belong.

It’s about time the world got to know this puffed up, fluffed out state they see in tourist brochures. Learn that this beautiful state has been barbarically pillaged for its sun, surf and sand and the greed that hides behind it all. This greed has been the bane of peace loving, caring, cultured Goans.

More Reading

Man behind Goa collapse finished 5-flr Ulwe tower in 6 months flat (Mid-Day.com)

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/mumbai/cover-story/Man-behind-goa-collapse-finished-5-flr-ulwe-tower-in-6-months-flat/articleshow/28462479.cms

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