Posted in Humor - General, Miscellaneous

The Airfare Anagram

“A real life game in which players from different
US airlines publish randomly picked airfares for domestic routes”

This is in fact my definition of the thus newly coined phrase “Airfare Anagram”.

The US airlines domestic airfare publishing men have something in common – Eccentricity! Or they like gambling. To me buying a domestic air ticket is like going to a casino. You know you got to open your wallet and spend some money. You just don’t know how much. There are some places where you can name your price (as in bid for your airfare). If the eccentric men think that your bid is ok, then you win the game.

I am not sure if everyone has had some experience while you were flying to find out (and fidget) that the guy sitting next to you was the lame one who ended up paying twice as much as you did for the exact same trip or worse if you were the sucker who paid four times as much the snoring guy did. Either way it is better than finding out that the grim guy sitting in Row 1 had paid only half as much as you did for the same trip and still got to enjoy the exclusive airline meal which offered him some cheap Napa valley wine to wash down the brownies and hash browns, while you were sitting in Row 22 (couldn’t be 23 as there was none) trying hard to open the small pack of pretzels just to make sure your mouth didn’t become sugar dry with that single can of Pepsi you would end up drinking the entire trip.

The so called experts who claim to have knowledge on how the fare wars are waged, advice you to plan your travel at least 60 days in advance. To me the practical reality is that more than 75% of the time, I cannot plan my travel 60 days in advance. Lot of times, I don’t even know that I have to make a particular trip 60 days in advance.

Normally when we decide that a particular trip has to be made, we start our rather assiduous process of shopping for tickets in a very systematic way. The only way we can complete this process successfully (satisfaction is not a necessary outcome) is if “We Exhibit Crazy Petrol At Eviti Door”! If you are wondering what this means, you can wait till the end to find out how deranged one could become shopping for airline tickets. Nevertheless, we have always found out that a systematic approach to this unpredictable war doesn’t help.

“I asked you to book the tickets yesterday. Look at the fares now. They have gone up (again)”, my wife would scream at the other end of the phone, associating this with many other procrastinating efforts on my part in getting things done.

“If we arrive at 11:00 AM instead of 05:00 PM, would that make much of a difference?”

“Of course yes. I would have to take the day off. I can’t afford to do that (again)!”

“There is a difference of almost $145.00 in fares if we take the earlier flight out”

“Well. It was not the case when I asked you to book the tickets yesterday. You always postpone things..”


I always end up not having enough evidence to support my case (to my wife) of the airfare war and how you can be lucky at times to gain something out of it. In a capitalist economy, of which I comprehend none but I allege to disapprove the fundamentals, I guess the supply & demand equation is the main blood line. But when it comes to airlines, the traditional airlines, if I have to differentiate them from the discount airlines have a need to do justice to their crazy cost structure and hence they jumble around with airfares, thus making the “blood line” not so critical. Apparently, they realize that there are different types of air travelers and that they have different needs when it comes to air travel. So the constant change in fares in some way is driven by their cost structure, their competitors’ cost structures and most importantly the traveler types.

I didn’t know that the airlines revise their airfares three times a day. Mon-Fri 12:30 PM, 5 PM and 8 PM. On Saturdays at 5 PM and on Sundays at 3 PM. But as far as I know there is no way you can predict how the fares are going to change during these periodic revisions. That depends entirely on how eccentric these guys can get. Over the past few years, since internet booking became the norm, I have been trying hard to play this game. There has never been a method to the fare madness. There has never been a rhyme or a reason. There has never been any kind of predictability associated with these fares.

If I am a passenger who is desperate to get to my destination on a given date, then the airlines think I would be ready to pay a higher fare compared to a bargain traveler who is going to travel only if the fares are within his budget as he has all the time under the sun to choose his date of travel. Hence there are multiple factors that these eccentric men have to take into account to make their cost systems work.

Well, to me, an ordinary passenger trying to buy a ticket from Point A to Point B, it will never make sense why I have to shop for best airfares!

Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, Travelocity – The top four online gam(bl)ing sites where I place my bets. Go figure!

Posted in Humor - General, Movies - General, Music - General

From Dreams to Reality

For the past few days, I have been thinking of a variety of topics to write about. But nothing really pushed me to start typing. Not even when I thought of Greg Chappell and Indian Cricket or the Sushi & Fruit Muesli that I made over the weekend or for that matter music in general. So this may just end up being a collection of random anecdotes or an assortment of “I’d never know what!”

I had a dream the other night. It is often an arduous exercise to try to interpret, decode and analyze your dreams. The futility of such a journey, if I ever embark on it, is very lucent to me and hence I avoid such journeys, if I ever run into a needy situation just like the other night. This former colleague of mine is a college buddy of the current Mayor of Detroit. Needless to say, during the 10 months or so I worked with this friend, I had heard numerous stories about their college football days. With Kwame getting ready for his reelection now, my dream definitely had a mystic connection. Here goes the dream or the gist of it – There was a press conference organized by the Kwame clan to build or repair his image and to project the positive man, they all want us to know him as. So there were people talking one after the other about how they know the mayor (the relationship) and what kind of a great, simple and a devoted man he is. Mostly family and friends, this crowd was. I do not have the faintest clue why I was attending that press conference or if I was watching it on TV (remember the journey I would never take?). But I suddenly saw my friend taking a seat in front of the microphone with all cameras flashing. He went on and on for the next few minutes on the mayor. He elucidated the qualities that make Kwame the champion. I do not remember if I got to see the entire conference but there is a vague and a hazy remembrance of some commotion at the end of it all.

The next time I talk to my friend, I may have to ask him if he really believed in what he said. Well on the other hand, he may never know what he said.

Have you ever been Deep Forested? Eric Mouquet and Michel Sanchez, the sound duo from Northern France (don’t ask me where in France. I have not read their biographies yet), came together to create a unique collection of sounds from all around the world. Their music is not just the song music that most of us are used to. They have managed to create a new genre of music – if I can call it the “World Sound Music”. These are sounds of all forms of expression from corners of the world which we have just read about. Joy, Anger, Passion, Worship, Laughter, Cry, etc. – they all blend together with some marvelous melody and rhythm these guys create with some exotic (and sometimes eerie) sounds from native instruments. The result is always mesmerizing. I think I listened to them for the first time in 1998 (they have been around as Deep Forest since 1994) and the first album I listened to was “Comprasa”. That was the time I was dabbling with my rudimentary, 4 track cassette based studio set up. I was attracted to some sound samples they had used in “Forest Power” and needless to say I copied them for a rather ridiculous reggae number I had composed. When I listen to my grody number now, the Deep Forest chant that I copied is the only 10 seconds in the song that pop my ears open. I have been listening to their “Made in Japan” and “Boheme”, the last couple of days. The simple fact that I am writing about them should tell you how fascinated I am with their music. If you can, try listening to their samples in or some place.

One good movie that I need to write about is “Morning Raga”. Not sure how realistic of a story that is but a very well conceived and executed script was what made the movie enjoyable. I liked the movie for its attempt to fuse different societies that exist in India through music, thus creating a platform for delivering an honest story with fusion music as the backdrop. Shabana Azmi is brilliant and the rest of the cast may not score as high as far as its acting goes, but it deserves a pat on the back for giving some tenacious and uncompromising support to the script. If you have heard of Mahesh Dattani then you may agree with me that he is probably India’s answer to erudite playwriting. He has a good vision of his script and his execution matches his vision. I think this was his directorial debut and I should say he did alright. Mani Sharma, of whose music I have had an unfair presumption (obviously not a good one), scored high in my books with his radiant fusion music, although I must admit, many musicians have created many memorable tracks in the Carnatic-Western fusion format and what Mani has done is not necessarily pioneering. Nevertheless, the choice of singers and accompanying musicians has been excellent and thus the end product too.

I want to continue my movie rambling but too much of my memory dump may mean I would hit a slump again. I am going to hit “Save”.