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An Annoying Trend in Restaurants

The other night we were eating at a restaurant and enjoying it. We were out for a family dinner. The restaurant is highly regarded. Life was good. And the food was great. But then it happened again. “Are you done with that?” the server asked. “Can I get it out of your way?” “No,” I said. “We’re not done eating.” I had to repeat “Please do not take an empty plate from one person while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.” Restaurants seem to have abandoned, or simply overlooked, a classic tenet of service etiquette. Rather than clear plates once everyone at the table has finished the meal, which has long been the custom, servers instead hover over diners, until the very instant someone puts down a spoon. If you’re lucky, they might ask permission before stealing your plate. When a server clears a plate before everyone is finished, he or she leaves the table with a mess of subtle but important signals. Those who are still eating are made to feel as though they are holding others up; those who are not are made to feel as though they have rushed the meal. Why that subtlety seems to evade so many restaurants these days is unclear. Publicly, restaurants might argue that they are trying to avoid clutter; privately, they might encourage waiters to speed tables along; but what it amounts to is an uncomfortable dining […]

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Happy Birthday Mr. Subba

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We were staying in the Royal Plaza hotel in Gangtok. On July 20 morning, when we went for breakfast, we saw a separate stage for rock band. I asked the restaurant personnel whether they had started live performances in the evenings. They told me that the stage was being set for the birthday celebration of the Managing Director of the […]

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Huge Landslide on Our Way to Gangtok

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Jaya, her father and I were coming to Gangtok yesterday to see my son, Babai. He’s studying MBBS at SMIMS in Gangtok. The flight reached Bagdogra airport on time. The cab was already booked and we proceeded for Gangtok, which is around 125 km. It’s a mountainous road with beautiful natural surroundings. Teesta river flowing by the road adds to  […]

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Dubai Mall — It’s Not Just a Mall!

Today I got some time in the evening and I went to the Dubai Mall. The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall. As per Wikipedia, in 2012, Dubai Mall continued to hold title of world’s most-visited shopping and leisure destination, and attracted more than 65 million visitors, an increase of more than 20 percent compared to the 54 million recorded in 2011. It attracted more visitors than New York City with over 52 million tourists in 2012, and Los Angeles with 41 million. There is a nice waterfall in the mall. In the souk, there is a fossil of a dinosaur — DubaiDino. It’s 24-metre long and 7.6-metre high. I first thought it was fake because how would you have dinosaur fossils in a mall? But, it’s indeed a real fossil. The long-necked, whip-tailed dinosaur (Diplodocus longus) is more than 155 million years old. The remains of DubaiDino were discovered in 2008 at the Dana Quarry in Wyoming, US and it was flown to Dubai. About 90 percent of this fossil’s bones are original and were found intact at the excavation site, making it one of the rarest discoveries in paleontology history. There is Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo inside the mall. It’s just not a mall! Bought a ticket for AED 120 ($33.33) and walked in. It’s really quite a big aquarium with great collection of fish. Then went up to the second floor for the underwater zoo. […]

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Mall to Celebrate Travels of Ibn Battuta

In the evening after the meeting was over, I went to the Ibn Battuta Mall. It’s the world’s largest themed shopping mall. This mall is uniquely designed to celebrate the travels of the famous Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta. Ibn Battuta visited India during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq. Each region Ibn Battuta explored – Andalusia, Tunisia, Egypt, Persia, India and China – is reflected in the architecture and theme of the mall’s six courts. These courts strongly project the historical and cultural richness of this Arabian icon’s life, serving as inspiration to all those who visit. Ibn Battuta (1304 – 1368) was a Moroccan explorer of Berber descent. He is known for his extensive travels. Over a period of thirty years, Ibn Battuta visited most of the known Islamic world as well as many non-Muslim lands. His journeys included trips to North Africa, the Horn of Africa, West Africa and Eastern Europe, and to the Middle East, India, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and China. Ibn Battuta is generally considered one of the greatest travellers of all time. The mall houses a 21-screen multiplex. I returned to hotel after having fried cod with a can of coke from London Fish N Chips at the Tunisia Court. It’s a nice evening today.

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Mall of the Emirates

I reached Dubai today for meetings with our software vendors. They’re located in Media City. We went and checked in at Hotel Radisson Blu at Media City. It’s also pretty hot in Dubai. I went down to Icon Bar for some beer. But the bar wasn’t serving alcohol as it’s Ramadan time. They said that alcohol is served during Ramadan after 8.00 pm. Anyway, I sat down there and had a cup of black coffee. To pass the evening time, I took a cab and went to Mall of the Emirates. The mall was opened in 2005. On November 2005, it was named the World’s Leading New Shopping Mall at the World Travel Awards in London. The mall also hosts Ski Dubai — the Middle East’s first indoor ski resort and snow park. I was just enjoying window shopping and walking with people around. Then went to an Italian restaurant — Emporio Armani Caffe and ordered for fried shrimps with calamari along with cappuccino. Fried shrimps and calamari were very delicious. I returned hotel after having an ice-cream from Baskin-Robbins.

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Time Will Stop for a Second

Time will stop in the night of June 30 and July 1, but don’t worry: It will only be for a second. Researchers will add a sliver of time—a leap second—to the world’s clocks. Just as leap years keep our calendars lined up with Earth’s revolution around the sun, leap seconds adjust for Earth’s rotation. This kind of fine-tuning wasn’t much of an issue before the invention of atomic clocks, whose ticks are defined by the cycling of atoms. Cesium-based clocks, one kind of atomic clock, measure the passage of time much more precisely than those based on the rotation of our planet, so adding a leap second allows astronomical time to catch up to atomic time. With the leap second on June 30, coordinated universal time (UTC) will move from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60, and then to 00:00:00 on July 1. Most of us won’t notice the addition unless we deal in timescales shorter than a second, or if we use a computer program that crashes because it can’t handle the leap second. The last leap second was added at 23:59:60 UTC on June 30, 2012. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service continuously monitors our planet and will recommend adding leap seconds to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The ITU makes the ultimate decision on whether to add a leap second or not. The last leap second was added in 2012, but in the early 1980s, time scientists […]

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Iraq Is Planning for a $5 Billion Bond Issue

Iraq is planning for a $5 billion sovereign bond issue. The government has hired JPMorgan, Citibank and Deutsche Bank to arrange its first debt sale in nine years, to cover a budget deficit caused by low oil prices and its conflict with Islamic militants. Iraq plans to obtain a sovereign credit rating and is approaching rating agencies as it prepares for a $5 billion bond issue. Iraqi officials recently met with the three banks and credit rating agencies — Fitch Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service. In early June, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached a staff level agreement to provide a $833 million loan under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). Subject to IMF management approval, the agreement is expected to be submitted to the IMF Executive Board for consideration in July. Iraq has an outstanding U.S. dollar bond maturing in 2028; panic selling late last year as oil prices plunged pushed its yield to a record high of 10.49 percent from around 7.2 percent in September, but it has since dropped back to around 8 percent. The economy contracted by 2.1 percent in 2014, primarily due to the conflict with ISIS, and is expected to achieve only a modest recovery of 0.5 percent in 2015. With low oil prices, export revenues have contracted, pushing the current account into a deficit expected to reach 8 percent of GDP in 2015. The country’s need for cash is acute; the government has projected […]

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Kurdistan Eyes International Debt Financing

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is moving forward with a plan to raise money for stalled infrastructure projects by issuing bonds. Bloomberg reported that the KRG has picked Goldman Sachs International and Deutsche Bank AG for a potential bond sale. Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq, needs money to meet a growing security bill, to pay public-sector employees and to fund much-needed infrastructure development. In purely economic terms, Kurdistan could be an attractive investment. It sits on a quarter of Iraq’s total oil reserves. The Kurdish region holds 45 billion barrels of oil reserves, while the rest of Iraq has 150 billion barrels, the world’s fifth-largest known deposits. The KRG started crude exports by pipeline through Turkey in 2014. The efforts to sell crude separately from the central government has provoked legal action by authorities in Baghdad. There are some other key outstanding issues that needs to be clarified for attracting investments. The KRG wants the region to become an independent state. Its neighbours — Iran, Turkey and most importantly the government in Baghdad — are opposed to the region’s secession. Its tense relations with the Iraq central government mean there are several grey areas about how exactly Kurdistan would raise any funds — or even if it can do so without Baghdad’s authorisation. This uncertainty also extends to the servicing of any debt and whether or not the regional government will need either explicit or implicit approval from the […]

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International Day of Yoga in Baghdad

Yoga is an Indian physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline. There is a broad variety of schools, practices and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The origins of Yoga have been speculated to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, but most likely developed around the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, in ancient India’s ascetic circles, which are also credited with the early sramana movements. The chronology of earliest texts describing yoga-practices is unclear, varyingly credited to Hindu Upanishads and Buddhist Pāli Canon, probably of 3rd century BCE or later. Maharshi Patanjali compiled Yoga sutras, which forms the basis of yoga circa 400 CE. Derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, Yoga means union of the individual consciousness or soul with the Universal Consciousness or Spirit. Yoga is over 6000 year old Indian body of knowledge. Though many think of yoga only as a physical exercise where people twist, turn, stretch, and breathe, these are only superficial aspects of a profound science of unfolding the infinite potentials of the human mind and soul. Yoga gurus from India later introduced yoga to the west, following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1980s, yoga became popular as a system of physical exercise across the Western world. June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on December 11, 2014. The declaration of this day came after the call […]

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