Archive for ◊ January, 2007 ◊

• Monday, January 22nd, 2007
Approximately 4 years ago, I was on top of my happy moments enjoying my bachelorhood in Boston with lots of fun activities like learning swing dancing, going out for dancing and making friends, Running Marathons, participating in all type of volunteering activities and having blast and never felt I was away from home. It was really unforgettable days of my life. Then there comes the pressure from my parents to get married and unexpected legal bottleneck in my green card processing.

For those who are not aware of GC processing facts, if you want your spouse to be added to the GC processing. You should have got married and add her in the I485 application(3rd stage). If you get married after applying, you won’t be able to add her and she can’t come in and stay with you after you received your GC. Because you become a permanent resident and her dependent visa validation becomes void.

So I was in deadlock situation to make a decision whether to go ahead with my GC processing without getting married and adding the spouse or get married quickly and add her in for a smooth GC processing. First of all, I was not in ready mental state to get married. If I do, I always want to get married loving the person first. But I was successfully talked out all of it when I visited my parents in India to get arrange married. And the current GC situation, pushed me hard to make a decision. If I opt for the first one, you would have to wait for 7-10years until you receive your Citizenship. Then only you can sponsor anybody to bring into US. I don’t think my parents will ever want to wait so long since I am the only Son for them. I ended up getting married in 6months time like any other Desi guy.

But my friends who were in the same boat, didn’t want to take that chance. They went ahead without getting married and got their GC approved. They are still not married at this point of time. Whenever I call them, they either sitting with their gal friends and putting kadalai(chit chatting) or touring somewhere in the world. As I said before, my PARENTS play a important role. My parents either they just want to finish their responsibilities or want to see get settled down, they pushed me hard enough to get married. Because of that, they did all the hard work finding a bride suitable for me. I just need to filter out from their list. That’s not the case for my friends. Their parents didn’t actually get more concerned except talking about it.

After my marriage, I used to ask them when are you guys getting married. They either say “We are not ready yet” or “We are not finding a suitable person” or “My parents are finding any suitable person”. But the fact is, they can’t get married now easily because they are permanent resident and they need to wait at least 3-5 years to become citizens and then try to get married. “WILL THEY BE AT LEAST READY BY THAT TIME OR THEY WILL BE NEVER READY”. Who knows ? But it will be too late to realise at that time and they will try to find some other excuse to bully themselves.

I did wonder sometimes, Did I make a mistake of getting married and spoiled my life without much fun getting stuck with all the responsibilities or Did they make the mistake of not getting married and missing the joy and afraid of the commitments ?!! Is it all happened for good or bad ?!

After thinking thru lots of things happened before and after marriage and especially after seeing them having trouble find a good companion, I convinced myself that its all happened for best and its all part of GODS PLAN. I did regret on missing out some fun but my wife always try to fill me in and give me company whenever needed like going out with for dancing and other activities.

I learnt a very valuable lesson. I did lose my fun life but I gained lot more than that. No gain without pain right !! And its well worth when you see the smile on your baby. Yeap, I been blessed to see the smile from my 7month old son. I totally felt that my NRI(Never Ready Indian) friends will never realize until they experience it. They are missing out the great fun of all !!!!
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• Friday, January 12th, 2007

Fly Cheap to anywhere around the world !! That’s the airline mantra you hear it all over recent days. You might think that you would find a good cheap price whenever you want to go, but that’s not case. There is always a hook to all the cheap and free stuff. Nothing comes cheap !?!

Let me take you back to the year 1998, when I first boarded my first flight ever to fly out of India. I took the Lufthansa flight from Chennai to Boston via Frankfurt. I still can remember the way I felt uneasy and don’t know exactly how to handle the travel. I was sitting way back in a big flight with 250 passengers. I never couldn’t imagine that that flight can carry these may people. Nobody can tell from looking it outside.

I was travelling to Boston as a Business trip. All expenses paid by the company. I didn’t even bothered to find out how much was the flight ticket. I was just happy and lucky to go to US beating others in the list. I travelled again in 1999 for the long term assignment, in the same airline. This time too, I didn’t know the price of the air ticket. But I guessed it might be around $1500 for a round trip. I really got to know the price, when I had to come back for a visit in 2001. I paid around $2000 for a round trip during the Christmas time. I book it almost 3 months ahead and still got this heavy rate. So I ended up doing a research on my next trip on how to get cheaper tickets and I would like to share it.

Flying Cheaper not always depends on just selecting a right airline offering a cheaper fare. Its way beyond that. There are a few ingredients that can help you get the fare or atleast understand why your fare ends up being slightly higher. Its better to take a right decision before booking the tickets by considering these lists of important ingredients:

1. Season – Low & High Season or Peak & Off-Peak Season
2. Visiting Place
3. Different Routes
4. Understanding Seat Structure of the Plane
5. Booking Tickets

In a year, we have 2 seasons which can be either called as high and low season or Peak or Off-peak season. The high and low season mainly vary depending on the destination location and number of flights available to reach the location. For example, from USA to Chennai Feb, Mar, Apr,Sept,Oct months are low season. May, Jun, July, Aug, Nov, Dec & Jan months are Peak/High season.

Visiting Place

Destination place also decides how big the air fare you need to pay. If you are travelling to Chennai from NY, NJ, Chicago & SF which has only few flights flying in and out by different airlines, you can expect a high air fare in the high season too. But if you travel to Delhi from these places, you have lots of flights flying in and out and can the fare is really reasonable.

Different Routes
En-Routing of the airlines also makes difference in the airfare. If you are ok having 2 or more stopping, you can expect a cheaper fare. But if you want to have only one stop during the high season, better ready to pay a high fare. For example, if you want to fly to Chennai from Houston during July / Aug high season times, you might end up paying $1700 per person thru Lufthansa one stop in Frankfurt. But if you decide to fly via Delta or Air India, stopping Chicago, London, Mumbai & finally to chennai, the air fare might come out cheaper.

Understanding Seat Structure

For instance, if a plane has 300 coach seats the seats are divided as so. This is an approximation. 150 seats sell for full fare
100 seats sell for a lower fare
50 seats sell for the absolute lowest fare

Booking Tickets

Once you are ready with your dates, you have to find a good agent to book your tickets. There are 2 sources as per my knowledge from whom you can buy tickets other than the airline.
1. Consolidators & 2. Agents

Consolidators are like a big agency which sells tickets in bulk from the lot alloted to them by the airlines for a wholesale price without any added commisions. Agents are sub agencies which sell tickets or try to get tickets from the alloted tickets by the consolidators adding commisions. If you can find a consolidator near you, buy tickets from them not from the agent. You will save quite a lot of money.

How to get the absolute lowest fares
In conclusion,
Try to go on dates which doesn’t fall under too high season
Plan in advance **2-3 months for low season. **4-5 months for high season
Avoid flying on weekends (for some airlines)
Be flexible about dates of travel. Some dates get filled up but the next day may be available.
Check different options of flying out like flight options, enrouting options
Call different agency and consolidators to get price for the same dates and compare them
None of the above guarantees the lowest fare but this will improve your chances immensely.

• Friday, January 05th, 2007

was browsing the latest news today while I was eating my lunch. Its my daily habit to spend atleast 15mins reading to catch up some India news. I know that within 15mins I wouldn’t be able to cover all of it but atleast the main new topics which makes me feel atleast a not far away from home.

The News topic which pondered my attention today was our honorable President Dr.Kalam’s visit to Science conference in Chidambaram. He gave medals/Awards for best young scientist which is really a very good thing. I thought, If we have good young and experienced scientist, why can we just create our own products and leverage them.

For example, China is a big source and back bone to US economy. Without China, US can’t survive. Most the products from US comes from China. But China brought up new reforms in his economy, to avoid using foreign inventions and patents and encourage people to invent and use them. They have less tax for the products invented, patented and made by China then comparing to products patended by other countries. They have to pay huge tax for the foreign orginated products. This way, they pushing the big companies to invent new things on their own in China and make mass production for their own people. Once this comes to effect,other big companies outside of china will start buying Chinese invented products and use them..

Why can’t india do that too ? We use Dell & HP machines created in India using Intel and Microsoft technology. Why can’t we invent new processors and new OS and implement our own PC just as a sample..

Its Dr.Kalam’s dreams for all of us to dream and invent a well developed country.. Why can’t this be a start ?!

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