Here ends 2018

2018 has been a very unique year.

Just to quote a few : Taking up a new job with its new challenges, unmasking manager sending anonymous mail, establishing trust and faith among team members, moving to Highlands and surviving our first winter months in the cold and rainy weather, travelling to Johanesburg twice. To make the list even longer, I can also add: office relocation, house renovations, selling the Kia and purchasing another car, two office annual / end of year parties. Lastly, I can’t forget to mention: my dad passing away. As you can imagine, it has been hectic all throughout the whole year. I never took so many critical decisions in a single year.

Unfortunately, the passion for blogging has also been neglected with barely a dozen of posts written during the year. I can blame so many things but at the end, I did not invest myself enough into this activity. Same for taking appropriate steps to maintain a healthy life.  I won’t lie to myself by promising to do better next year but I sincerely hope for a better 2019, not for just myself but for everyone around me.

Along with Dhaneesha and my two sons Dhanvin and Divyansh, I wish all of you a merry xmas and happy new year 2019.

Bless you and your family,

Long live Mauritius!

Cheers,

Yashvin

33 is a special number! Happy birthday to me!

I’m getting older. It is so weird to say that I’m 33 years old but that’s life, let’s face it. The remaining hair is getting white, skin rids are not here yet but the most important is having a good health. While I agree that my weighting scale will soon refuse giving me any readings, I promise that I will try to lose some extra kilos (if I have time). Just have a look at how young (& cute) ( & less chubby) ( & free ) we were years back! btw, the photo looks great in a key chain, isn’t it? lol

The photo selfie project

Without losing more time of my precious life, I’m again uploading my daily ageing project which started back in 2013 :

Yeps, pictures don’t lie, especially when you have hundreds of them!

Some additional numbers :

  • 5 years of daily selfies
  • Roughly 1,800 pictures
  • Face time-lapse using the retired Google Picasa
  • Speed of 1/24 seconds per picture

Happy birthday to me!

Cheers!

One week in Johannesburg

Sawubona everyone!

I’m back to our paradise island after spending a wonderful week in Johannesburg, one of the biggest cities of South Africa. Known as the “City of Gold” after the discovery of the precious metal in the 1880s, the city seems to be a great country to live in, with loads of places to discover and many things to learn about the history of its people.

In case you are wondering the language used to greet you, it is called Zulu, one of the 11 official languages of South Africa. And yes, it is important to mention that black & white people live altogether peacefully thanks to their hero, Nelson Mandela who fought against apartheid / racism. As far as I witnessed, your skin color does not matter. Also, worth mentioning : I noticed loads of people of Indian origin with huge resemblance to Mauritians.

A bit more about the travel & stay

After spending endless minutes (in fact, nearly 2 hours) in our airport and 4 hours flight time in Air Mauritius’ new A350, named Le Morne Brabant, I landed in Joburg which has a 2 hours’ time zone difference from Mauritius. Again spent another 2 hours in the OR Tambo International airport before riding to the my final destination.

My first impressions : Sometimes it is difficult to grasp what some people there say because I’m not used to the accent. However, most people are nice and welcoming. Travelling around the country is great during weekends but however, there are considerable traffic jams during working days. Unlike in Mauritius, you can have 5 lanes going in the same direction, without any emergency or crawler lane. Despite those 5 lanes, traffic jams are a normal thing. Also, maximum speed limits on some highways are 120km/hr and from what I understood, there’s a minimum speed limit of 60km/hr on some roads.

I can say that I’ve been pretty busy there with sightseeing during the weekend, work during office hours and wandering in the huge malls late every evening. With a booking of 7 nights in a guest house on a bed and breakfast package, I enjoyed my stay in the one of the wealthiest regions, known as Sandton. On top of being a secure area, most shopping malls are easily accessible within less than 30 minutes’ drive while the office was only 5 minutes’ drive.

Situated at around 1,700m above sea level, the temperature is quite good in this region of the world. For the month of February, it is roughly 26 degrees during the day and the temperature can drop down to around 16 degrees at night. Very comfortable climate in Johannesburg right now but however, important to mention that there’s a severe drought in Cape Town right now. So severe that people need to live with under 50L of water per day (for every possible usage – bathing, toilet, cooking, drinking etc) as the city is running out of water supplies.

Currency

The currency used is in the South African Rand, often abbreviated by ZAR or R.

For indicative purposes :

  • 1 rand is approximately 3 Mauritian rupees
  • 1 US dollar is approximately 11 rands

The open-top bus tour

Still remember the big bus tour I mentioned in my Dubai’s post? Well, the open-top bus tour has the same concept whereby you buy your ticket valid for the whole day and you can hop in and out of the red bus any number of times you want. However, if you really want to visit each place along the bus route, I will advise you to book for a 2-days ticket. It can also be a tiring journey, so be fully prepared and careful with small kids.

For less than R200 (roughly MUR600), you get to visit the best tourist attractions of Joburg in one day. You might also need to pay keep some additional cash to pay for entrances at some attractions along the bus routes.

A few places to visit absolutely

The open bus tour allowed me to get to several places along their route but I chose to get off at the few mentioned places only because of lack of time:

Johannesburg Zoo

The first time ever I saw an impressive real gorilla of 1m80 and an elephant.

Carlton Center

Being the tallest building in Africa, Carlton Center is a skyscraper of 50 storeys also known as “Top of Africa”. From the 50th floor, you can have a panoramic bird’s eye view of Johannesburg

Gold Reef City

If you follow me on Facebook, you probably saw the video of the “Tower of Terror” I uploaded a few days back. I still feel goose bumps when I think about the wagon plunging 90degrees downwards from a height of 50m! With several other rides in the park, you can easily spend the whole day there with you family and the prices are very affordable. So, to the left below is a photo of the entrance of Gold Reef City and to the right, a selfie in one of the glamorous toilet of the Gold Reef City 🙂

Additionally, you might want to visit an ancient gold mine and go to Level 2, found 75m deep into the earth. It was an enriching visit, especially when you think that people might not have the same opportunity as water is flooding the old gold mine.

Some years back, visitors were able to go even deeper, but they had to close the access because of natural water flooding. During the visit, you also get to hold a pure 12.5 kg gold bar! And to the right of the picture below, you can find an indication of the depth of the mine.

Downtown Joburg

A place to avoid as a tourist, especially if you are alone but however, you are quite safe if you are driving through the region in the bus tour. Here, you can find shops, small snacks and etc., just like you will find in Port Louis or other towns of Mauritius.

SAB World of Beer

It is some sort of museum for beer. Yeah, the first part of the visit consists of videos showing the history of beer, how it is made etc. You also get to taste “Sorghum”, the traditional beer made by women in the Zulu culture. As per their culture, the “Sorghum” is drank in a special vessel pictured below. Very different from the commercial beer we all know; beer lovers would probably have never be fans of beer if the taste was kept the same lol.

During the visit, you also get a can of chocolate flavored beer along with 2 vouchers for tap beer in their bar. So, at the end of the visit, you are nearly drunk! So, please make sure that this place is last in your list!

Monte Casino

I also loved my visit to Monte Casino. If I had to describe it : It is a large mall building in which there is practically a village built inside, with fake streets, fake rivers, fake sky ceiling and an enormous open-air casino in the center. Everything is so real inside that you might think that you are actually walking on real streets and entering real shops found outside on the streets :

My first experience with Uber

For those who don’t know, Uber is a service whereby you can request a car to travel to your destination using the Uber application on your smartphone. Available in over 600 countries around the world, Uber has a large network of vehicles whereby practically anyone can become an Uber driver and earn a living. Using the mobile application, you just choose your destination and request a ride to the first Uber driver responding to your request. The mobile app also shows the position of Uber drivers in real time, as pictured in the left picture below. On the right side, you can see the estimated fare for the chosen destination :

Here in Johannesburg (and in many other countries), you can add your credit card to your Uber account. From there, you don’t even need to bother about payments. The moment you get off the vehicle, your credit card is charged accordingly automatically! You also get to rate your driver from 1 to 5 stars.

Other means of transport in Johannesburg include

  • GauTrain
    It is a rapid rail service covering over 80km and stopping at around 10 main stations in the city.
  • Uber
    As explained above, Uber remains a very convenient method of travel at a fairly good rate
  • Taxi
    More expensive than Uber rides, taxis operate differently from Uber as they normally require special license etc. just like in any other country. Because of the competition with Uber, sometimes taxi drivers might not appreciate if Uber drivers pick passengers near their taxi stands etc.
  • Taxi vans/minibus
    Available throughout the country and easily recognizable by the thin yellow reflective bands around the vehicles, the 15-seater vans offer a very convenient and cheap way for locals to commute around the country or to their place of work. One interesting thing about these taxi vans; The drivers and passengers communicate through hand signs to indicate where they are going or need to go as the destination is not written on the van itself.

Security

 

Although the first concern of people at the mere mention of “Johannesburg” or “South Africa” is insecurity, I have not felt being in danger at any time, but you need to be careful, especially when you realize that every house or building in regions with the high-income population are protected by electric fences and armed security services ready to intervene anytime. When you drive in regions whereby you can’t find any of these fences or security signs, you know that you are in less wealthy regions inhabited by the middle-class and even low-class population. You can also find slums in regions far away from the main wealthy regions.

Some basic rules are

  • Avoid travelling alone in unknown regions or roads
  • Avoid wearing jewelries or walking around with big cameras
  • DO NOT VENTURE in markets you might find in some regions.

As you can notice, these rules are applicable to any other country (exceptions do exist) but the rate of criminality in Johannesburg (as well as other cities in South Africa) is very high, hence the need to be careful and avoid taking any risks.

To give you another example, it is not advisable for tourists to be on their own in downtown Johannesburg whereby you can find shops and probably very good deals. However, shopping malls are generally safe but as you can guess, prices are quite high because you will find mainly big brands out there.

Shopping

There are tons of shopping malls around Joburg, easily reachable by the vast road network. And in some of these malls, you can find craft markets where you can grab good deals while enjoying a safe and sound environment. For example, I’ve been to Rosebank’s Art & Craft market to buy souvenirs but remember, always bargain!

 

 

I have been constantly comparing prices in Mauritius / Johannesburg and I can say that there isn’t a huge difference whether you are buying food, drinks, clothes or even petrol.

Poverty

Like in any other country, the society is divided into different classes depending on your income and social status. Joburg has beggars too unfortunately. You can see them around shopping malls or near traffic lights. While some of them carry a garbage bag so that you can throw your rubbish into them when you are at traffic lights, others might do some show to entertain you. The reason behind is to get some money from you while they entertain you or help you to get rid of your unwanted stuffs.

Summing up

If I need to come to Joburg again, I will gladly do so. Additionally, I even feel ready to hire a car and drive around here as I have been able to look around and observe the behavior of people in general. Vehicles are right-hand driven, just like in Mauritius. Roads are also in very good conditions and drivers are courteous in general. People don’t drive aggressively or don’t horn unnecessarily. Affordable to live in as a tourist, Joburg seems to be a good place for sight-seeing with your family as long as you don’t take any risks. The only unpleasant surprise I got here is that I had to pay a 10% gratuity fee (tip) of my total bill to the waiter in one of the restaurants. Well, it seems that this is the normal percentage to pay here in the region. I need to read more about my destination before flying next time!

A last thing : Some extra kilos are expected to show up because for the past week, whatever I ate was very bad for health : Oily, fatty food. And beer practically every single day!

Ngiyabonga (Thank you in Zulu language) for keeping tuned to the blog!

Take care!

 

Dhanvin’s 3rd birthday – Theme : Masha et Michka (Masha and the bear)

3 birthday cakes for his 3rd birthday anniversary :

  • One for the birthday cake cutting in school,
  • another one for the whole family party and
  • a last one (which got damaged in the car) for another small party.

For info, I purchased the Masha & Michka theme sets from AliExpress.

Link to the first birthday anniversary celebrations here (Theme : Cars) and photos for the football theme 2nd birthday celebrations can be found here.

Enjoy!

Cheers!

 

Bye bye Port Louis

Ever since I started working, I have been greatly in love with Port Louis. For one minute, just forget the busy traffic and think about the number of shops, restaurants, hawkers playing hide and seek with authorities, great atmosphere (especially during the end of year festive period), the central market, China Town, the large variety of street foods and the ease with which you can carry out any transaction or administrative work. On top of being able to get the best shopping deals including unbeatable wholesale prices, everything is easily accessible within minutes by foot.

 

When DCDM Consulting’s management announced their decision to move to Ebene in 2011, it was clear that I was not among those who agreed to that. Consequently, I resigned from my job. Yes, you read it right.

Travelling to Ebene was going to take longer time too and I was not ready for that, especially if I could get a similar job in Port Louis or nearer to home. Soon after bidding my farewell, I was happily back in Port Louis 🙂

So, 6 years earlier, I had to move to Ebene on the 22nd August 2011, while I gave my employer a 3 months notice period. Coincidentally, I’ll be again moving to Ebene on the 21st August 2017. This is so freaking strange but this time, this office switch suits me for many reasons.

There are obviously disadvantages too, for example, excessively high price of parking and an over-rated cyber industrial zone with nothing else apart from buildings, buildings and buildings.

Officially on paternity leaves…

Today was my last day in the Port Louis office as I have applied for the paternity leaves during the next days. In case you missed the announcement for the birth of my second son, Divyansh, on the 25th July 2017, here’s the screenshot from Facebook :

Did you know that despite having 5 paternity leaves, you need to take them at a go, for the next 5 consecutive working days, irrespective whether there are non-working days (week-ends or public holidays). For instance, counting 5 days as from tomorrow ( Tuesday), I will be unfortunately losing a paternity leave on Saturday but I have got no other option due to some unforeseen situation. I find this unfair but anyway, it seems that the Employment Rights Act has always been like that!

With a new office location and even more responsibilities as a dad, I look forward for a brighter future and more fun in life. So, keep tuned for more updates on the blog!

Cheers!

10 years since I started working…

This day is somewhat special.

It marks my 10th working anniversary as exactly a decade back, I stepped into the world which everyone looks forward to during their studies but yet, many regularly complain once you are in it! Yes, sometimes, I do too, impatiently waiting for weekends or holidays, just like school kids! Well, I really would not have paid attention to this day if Facebook would not have reminded me early this morning. Once again, thanks Mark!

Unlike most events, I strangely still remember my first day in DCDM Consulting, now known as Agileum and I even wrote a blog post on that day! For those who don’t know, I usually use to say that I don’t even remember what I ate 2 days back and I really mean it! The stay at DCDMC was truly unique whereby I got the opportunity to do so many things and get along with so many people, and with even, my wife-to-be, at that point of time. Just imagine : any search engine results on the company brought my blog posts on the first page displayed, and most of the time, in the first position lol.

After spending four and a half extraordinary years spent in DCDMC, I bid my farewell in end 2011 and briefly stayed in another company for less than 2 weeks. I then took one month break during which I flew to China and Dubai before taking a new job at my current employer Canal + Contact (previously known as Mediacall) for the past five and a half years. I have been working in Port Louis for 99.9% of the last decade but this is going to change very soon with the relocation of my current office to Ebene. The scenery below going definitely to change this time!

From an associate software engineer to currently a Team Lead position, the journey has been long and enriching but worth every single day. With new technologies and methodologies constantly coming out, it is practically impossible to know them all but I truly know that there’s so more to learn, especially if you want to step out of your comfort zone someday.

Before ending this post, I heartily thank each one who has been part of this journey. And in a more serious note : those very few who have been hurt in any possible way, you probably needed it because I ALWAYS think twice before saying or taking any step 🙂

Cheers!

32 years old…

Welcome back to the blog for this special post 🙂

Unlike previous years, the birthday celebrations started on the eve with a great beer party with colleagues in Trou Aux Biches. When I woke up early in the morning, I was pleasantly surprised to find these sticky notes on my garage door :

Another creative idea of my cousins. For those who probably don’t know the meaning, “Bhai” is the hindi equivalent for brother. Coming to today now, since we were on leave, we had lunch at Cascavelle food court before driving to Wolmar for a swim. The kid was the happiest of all because he loves swimming (just like his dad) while the mum sat down in the shade of trees. And the celebrations ended with a home made chicken briani and a birthday cake.

Selfie video project

Coming now to the annual share of my updated ageing project, there are now nearly 1500 selfies, shot daily for the past four years. This year, I uploaded the video to both my Youtube channel and my Facebook account :

For those who know about my ongoing diet (-16kgs since December 2016), you might be interested to watch (again) the pictures as from 4th December 2016 (1min40 marking). As from this particular point in the video, I have intentionally reduced the speed of the video.

Special thanks to J Kalachand for their annual birthday phone call and Nandos for their Rs250 gift voucher (through sms) :

As usual, no need to say that meanwhile Facebook was doing a great job to remind everyone that they need to wish me. Notifications, text messages ( including iMessages) and phone calls continued throughout the day.

Big thanks to family members, friends and everyone else for making this day special !

Please note down my new age : 31

happy birthday

How many times have you seen someone being photographed with a birthday cake along with two candles showing the number 31? Well, I wasn’t photographed neither but I did photoshop the picture of Dhanvin’s cake for the sake of this post.

Coming to my daily ageing project, I’m glad ( and proud) that I have now over 1000 selfies, shot practically everyday during the past 3 years. The daily “selfie shooting” moment has become part of my life now and everyone at home got used to this scene every morning. As usual, I uploaded the complete video to Youtube :

I grab this opportunity to thank

  • Facebook for reminding my friends about my (real) birthday.
    Read about the birthday prank here.
  • Colleagues, friends and family members
  • Last but not the least : J. Kalachand
    This company doesn’t miss any of my birthdays since they phone me every year to wish me! Friends or family members can forget you, but not Kalachand! This said, I don’t even remember what I purchased from them!

Happy birthday to the most extraordinary person I know !

Take care everyone!

 

 

Bye bye HTC One M7… Welcome HTC Desire 820

HTC Desire 820

A quick post!

I have just received a new HTC Desire 820, with a glorious 5.5 inch display. I’m quite impressed right now but also, confused about whether I should carry a small bag just to put the phone (or rather phablet?). But before going home, I need to change my micro-sim to a nano-sim.

In fact, MauriSystem, HTC’s official distributor has swapped my HTC One (M7 – Read my review) for this HTC Desire 820 because of a factory defect on the first batch of the production. In low light, the camera shot pictures with a pink-tint colored and it was quite disappointing. I will come back on this later on when I write my full review of my new device. Update ( 17 May 2015) : I have written the review of the new device after using it for approximately one week. Click here read it.

Bon weekend!