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26 September 2011

FOCAL POINT : Lincoln Mayorga, “The Walk to Chatham Corners”

RASPUTIN MUSIC is one of the many delights that I discovered in San Francisco early this month. This five-storey, almost rundown store carries rare CDs, LPs, and DVDs at unbelievable prices--a source of joy for those still cringing at the extinction of the traditional record shop. I saw and immediately purchased a four-dollar, second-hand CD of West of Oz, Lincoln Mayorga's 1981 collaboration with Amanda McBroom (she wrote the Bette Midler classic "The Rose"). It's extremely rare to find a Mayorga or McBroom CD these days, so this one's a treasure.

Here's the full track of "The Walk to Chatham Corners", the album's highlight. It shows Mr. Mayorga's classical and jazz background in its usual sparkling quality.

23 September 2011

TRAVEL TALES : High school reunion in San Francisco

WHEN PHILIP Belarmino messaged me on Labor Day (5 September) about changing the evening’s dinner venue, I realized the adeptness of my high school batch mates in organizing such gatherings in the Bay Area. Bong (now Bhoc) Chavez and Mel Favila had advised Philip about the closure of Intramuros restaurant in San Francisco that night, so the venue shifted to Kuya’s in San Bruno.

18 September 2011

The hills are alive in San Francisco

THE MOST delightful surprise about San Francisco is how such a compact city (49 square miles) of hills and waterfronts can accommodate endless diversities in seamless manner.  For example, on the last day of my weeklong stay, I dined in a quaint neighborhood called Little Italy, at the open-air Pinocchio on Columbus Avenue.  Later, as I walked past cafés and gift shops with lovely little windows, I turned abruptly right on the corner and realized that I had just entered Chinatown.

09 September 2011

Airtel fails

AFTER A mortifying experience last week with one of India’s largest mobile telephone companies, I have decided that Airtel is no longer capable of commitment and transformation.

The most loyal customers demand—and deserve—a higher desire: commitment, which Airtel has shown me is unable to provide.

When I requested for international mobile roaming (IR) service on the eve of my departure for the United States last 31 August, Airtel’s 121 hotline advised me that it was impossible to do so as my new SIM card was barely three months old. (I had to acquire a new card when I returned to Mumbai in June.) It was inconceivable to travel without connectivity, so I pleaded for the roaming service on two counts: that the card was shy of one week to meet the qualifying grade, and that I had been a loyal user of their various products—from landline to data card—for the past five years. After 45 minutes of pleading and heated debate, the 121 agent finally gave me an option: pay an advance fee of Rs5,000 (USD100) for the roaming service. I managed to find an Airtel Relationship Centre on the way to the airport that night and proceeded with the payment. I also requested my former relationship manager in Kolkata, the ever-effective Suvojit Seal, to help facilitate the activation process.