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The T3 Terminal – New Delhi – A Review August 15, 2010

Posted by simarprit in Review, Uncategorized.
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1029455

  1. The roads are painted with vehicle lanes but proper light doesn’t fall on them.
  2. Entrance and Airlines Gates require some more order.
  3. Approach to the Departure terminal was obstruction free.
  4. Airline (BA) staff looked lost amidst challenge.
  5. Hand baggage tags can become a big issue if you miss at Airline counter.
  6. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Lounge has issues, needs to put its act together.
  7. Immigration was hassle free and smooth.
  8. There is still work going on.
  9. There is more English & only English usage at T3 than even at BA’s T5 in London.
  10. You don’t get a feeling of “‘too many of us” the terminal is BIG.
  11. As a first impression the terminal looks more like a big Shopping Mall & a 100 restaurant food court.
  12. Overall the experience was a pleasant change.

Zest Restaurant, Vasant Kunj – New Delhi. A Review January 2, 2010

Posted by simarprit in Delhi, Food, Review.
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Zest has been covered by most of the magazines and all newspapers since it opened its door to New Delhi’s creme de la creme on July 10, 2009. We decided Zest as the restaurant for our first family dine out of  the year 2010, yes, I did think twice about it, read few blogs and concluded that it is likely to be somewhere between OK and awesome. Mini and Mishti were as excited as me as it would be a change from our half-dozen faves.

So here we go:

Location: DLF Emporio, No 4 Vasant Kunj Malls, Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Kunj Phase –  II, New Delhi – 110 070, India – Tel (+ 91 11) 43119999  – Excellent 10/10 (Though approach roads currently are under re-routing, so be prepared to get lost and keep time to reach 15 minutes on the side of error of omission)

Interior: Bar format, wine cellar followed by semi formal sitting (formal = The Orient Express, casual = Coffee Shop at any decent hotel property). Decor is great, layout of the kitchens and food counters is a little more than a bit confusing – take time to understand before you get going   – 6/10

Reservations – Works, it is better to do a table booking well in advance maybe even a couple of days in advance. Give correct number, they would call back to confirm 10/10

Hostess: Busy, pretending to be busy, on the side of arrogant – all guests are never equal approach.  – 4/10

Staff: Senor staff fairly competent, on look out to identify regulars all others looked like on-the-job-trainees, evident lack of confidence and no long term goals. Restaurant manager couldn’t be identified, though one person looked and operated as one, but as he was sans “you may ask me smile” I concluded that he can’t be the one whose career depends on this restaurants success. Overall 6/10

Crockery: White, pure white. Fine bone china from Luxemburg – 8/10

Glasses: Wine glasses and other tumblers were all fine – 8/10

Cutlery: I was expecting much better cutlery – 6/10

Table and seating: Very cramped layout, no walkways (you have to move around all other dinners)  swill chair is an excellent idea. They couldn’t find us a table for three so they made us sit on a table for six. Overall table and seating rating 5/10.

Soups & Salads: Today they had only one soup in the buffet, an adaptation of  vegetarian Manchow Soup. I am calling it an adaptation as it was one, not authentic recipe, though it was excellent in taste . Soup -10/10.

Salads were few and Cheese Platter was missing. With Red & White wine on the house – Cheese platter missing is not a good thing., there was fresh mozzarella cheese in one of the salads. I liked Smoked Salmon and Potato salad, though potatoes far outnumbered pieces of salmon. I am sure the salmon was farm raised and not wild, but good nevertheless. Total about 10 – 12 different  salads were there. Salad – 8/10. Mini who is 100% vegetarian found the selection very limited.

Starters: No separate section for starters, you have to go from kitchen to kitchen to fill your platter. My suggestion skip this course and enjoy seven distinct cuisines however we did. I took grilled Sea Bass (it was Asian Sea Bass and not the Black Sea Bass which I die for in San Jose). It was very tasty, well marinated and nicely grilled, it was accompanied with White Wine Sauce which was just perfect. 9/10  – Mini took Hing Aloo 6/10  & Hara Bhara Kababs 7/10 (her ratings) – Mishti skipped

Main course: Portion management on the counters is an issue. You never have all to choose from.

The following is the mix-n-match as courses were not separated by them, we had it all together so covering them in the main course:

Mix Veg Pizza (Mini/Mishti) 9/10 – Thin Italian hand tossed

Shell Pasta with Arrabiata Sauce 7/10 – I would have preferred little more drained pastas and some more ginger flakes

Chicken  Indian/ Arabic Kitchen (Mishti) – 10/10 She had 4 pieces, it was spicy and very tasty as per her

Veg dumplings – 7/10 (Mishti) they were bland for her

Noodles (Chilli, Tomato, Garlic): 9/10 (Mishti)

Shrimp dumplings: 9/10 They were good – I enjoyed them

Veg Pulao 6/10 – The rice was not the ideal rice for pulao and the full aroma which Dum Pukht Pulao can get was not there

Fish Curry – Indian Arabic Kitchen – 9/10 – very tasty though they said it was fresh river sole, which I am again sure it was not, it was King Fish and tasted like one. I have no issues with King Fish

Salmon Sushi – 3/10 It was nicely made but somehow I didn’t like the bonded taste of rice and salmon

Deserts: Fresh fruits, Cakes, Custards, Mousse, Rasmalai, Gulab Jamun. I loved Blueberry Mousse and Chocolate cake with Gold flake – Over all Deserts 10/10

Date: Jan 2, 2010 – Time: 1:30 – 3:30

Over all experience – 7/10

Price Rs 5,000/- or $ 110 – They include service charge @10% before Taxes. Base price is Rs 1,250.00 per person or $27 per person. Taxes and service charges account for about 25% and you invariably land up giving an additional 10% tip.

Valet Parking: Costs Rs 140.00 or $3

I recommend one visit, repeat is purely your call.

“Zest is now called Setz”

 

Jinnah of Jaswant Singh October 11, 2009

Posted by simarprit in Books, Review.
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Question: Do I like Jinnah?

Answer: I didn’t like him before reading the book, I haven’t changed my mind after reading the book

Question: Why pay Rs 695/- for a subject you don’t like?

Answer: One should be open to reviewing stands long taken, which may or may nat have had a strong basis. Having said that I found all the reviews shallow and wanted to form my own opinion about Jaswant Singh and Jinnah through this book.

Question: Do you like the book?

Answer: No.

Question: Why don’t you like much acclaimed, and much talked about – Jinnah India-Partition-Independence

Answer: For one, Mr. Jaswant Singh had no patience to read the copy of his book before it finally went for printing. The book has typos and other mistakes which Mr. Singh could have easily spotted had he read “his life’s work” even once after compiling.  The book has been poorly researched. The author and publisher didn’t feel a need to have an editor as a result the book is loose collation of random articles which may or may not talk to each other. A good book is like a river without dams, it just flows its course, Jaswant’s Jinnah doesn’t flow – you need to turn pages to read on and do pick-and-drop till your wrist starts aching.

Question: What was that you were looking in the book and you didn’t find?

Answer: For starters, I was not looking for trash which is in abundance in this book.  What I was looking was for an insight of a scholar and a balanced book which was as detached as required to connect millions of people to an opinion other than the one they have been forced to believe. I was looking for statements, judgments and an insight which are just missing.  Loss of life & property in both Bengal and Punjab have been given at best passing references. The emphasis has been on what is written and re-written hundreds of time. I was looking for a new drink, which could have been hot or cold, any color, any density – what Mr Singh has served is a glass of polluted water from the beds of Yamuna pulled out from ITO bridge Delhi side.  Armchair rewriting at its best.

Restaurants Around San Pedro September 28, 2009

Posted by simarprit in Bay Area, Food, Review, USA.
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I am a foodie and would love remaining one for rest of my life. My work place is just across San Pedro Square in downtown San Jose, this post is aimed at putting on a piece of paper on what I like most at that specific restaurant. It is not a detailed review but more like – I have been there and I have liked this.

  1. The Old spaghetti Factory – Shrimp, Spinach and Artichoke Dip – Quality and quantity both are fine 7/10 & Lasagna Vegitariano – 9/10 This is yummy Marinara sauce makes huge difference (Both have artichoke’s)
  2. The Old Wagon – Popcorn Shrimp – Yummy 8/10 & Been Fishing, there take on Fish & Chips – Chips were out of the world, fish was fine too, decent portion 8/10
  3. 71 Saint Peter’s – Pan Seared Crab Cakes 5/10 Not to my taste & Bruschetta 9/10 – the way it should be. Main course Seafood linguine – Prawns, Scallops, Mussels, Lobster, Tomatoes – this is my favorite and I give it 10/10 – very tasty, very juicy and filling
  4. Sonoma Chicken Coop – Crispy calamari – Its is flash fried and tastes awesome, good helping 9/10 & Grilled Salmon Risotto 10/10 – The Wow dish of the downtown – I’ve had it over 20 times and every time the experience is just out of the world
  5. 19 Market – The Vietnamese fine dining – Crab and Avocado Spring Rolls – a bit dry but very tasty 7/10 & Grilled Salmon with Spicy Green Beans 8/10 (2 points go the portion is slightly less at this price point) & Brown Rice 8/10
  6. La Vic’s – Best Tacos and Burritos town – Super Veggie Burrito – 9/10 – awesome taste too filling and a meal for the day and Veggie Tacos – 9/10 Wow taste – in Orange Sauce takes you there 101/10
  7. Amici’s – Artichoke Panzanella Salad – All the veggies with bread cubes thrown in – 8/10 Tastes best with some Olive oil and vinegar & Veggie Pizza – Green Pepper, Mushrooms, Onions, Black Olives 10/10 – There just can’t be any better Pizza in this category
  8. Peggy Sue’s Diner – Clam chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl – 9/10 tastes good, filling & Fish n Chips – 7/10 Chips are great, fish can be less oily, helping is generous.

The above are my best 8 out of about 20 and I have had food at them several times. San Jose is a foodies delight and the San Pedro neighborhood is a jewel in the crown.

Cuil – Review July 30, 2008

Posted by simarprit in Blogging, Internet, News, News Reaction, portals, Review.
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Google – Cuil Comparison

Is it really Cool?

Yes, the interface is. It is too good.

I will work towards a detailed comparison of Google and Cuil, let us see what comes out.

As a starter, Cuil is to Search Engines what iPhone was to mobile devices (at least the interface). It is awesome. The interface and HCI angle is a killer. It can disrupt the party for Google. It has that in it. That’s the good news. On HCI they get 10/10, compared to Google’s 2/10. But on search terms, I am afraid the novelty doesn’t pay, they are just continents away, or shall I say halfway around the world.

I just did about 2300 searches. Random. Global. On any thing and everything. I am getting more focused as I move on with more parameters.

  1. As per Cuil there are no “Indian Restaurants in San Jose” though we have “Japanese Restaurants in San Jose”, “Mexican Restaurants in San Jose” and “Chinese Restaurants in San Jose”. LoL
  2. Search for Map and see the error
  3. Search for Sap and see the error
Parameter Google Cuil
Absolute Search 9 1
Addresses 8 3
Adjacency Checks 9 1
Adult Filter 6 2
Anti Domain Squatting 8 2
Blog Search 8 2
Brand 10 2
Bridge Page Filters 8 2
Bug Free 9 2
Buzz 7 7
City Names 8 6
Cloaking Check 8 4
Complex Search 7 3
Crawls 9 6
Customized Search 7 2
Database 9 7
Date and Time 7 1
Date Filter 8 4
Dead Link Checks 7 2
Deep Search 9 3
Default Weightage 7 1
Depth 9 7
Dictionary Results 9 3
Directory Structure 9 3
Domain Name 8 6
Dynamic Content Handling 8 6
Fake Listings 7 6
Four Words 10 1
Frame Based Content 8 4
Gateway Filters 7 3
Geo Filter 9 6
H Tagging Relevancy 6 3
Image Embedding 6 1
Image Mapping 7 2
Image Relevance 9 1
Incremental Updates 8 0
Industry Awareness 10 5
Keyword Stuffing 6 7
Keyword Weightage 8 5
Languages 9 1
Links 8 3
Long Tail Words 9 2
Look & Feel 1 10
Mathematical Modeling 9 6
Matrix Approach 9 9
Mature 10 1
Medical Terms 8 4
Meta Tags 7 5
Popularity Weightage 8 3
Proper Noun Search 8 2
Random Numbers 7 2
Reach 10 2
Read My Mind 9 0
Relational 9 4
Relevancy 7 2
Relevancy Correction 8 2
Safe Search 6 2
Search Assist 3 9
SEO Filters 7 2
Single Word 6 2
Site Map Relevancy 8 3
Smart 2 10
Social Networking Content 8 2
Speed 10 9
Spelling Correction 8 2
Stop Words 8 2
Subdomain Handling 8 6
Tags 8 7
Telephone Number Search 9 3
Three Words 9 2
Title 7 2
TLD Filter 7 1
Two Words 7 4
UGC Indexing 7 4
Video Embedding 5 1
Weighted Average 9 4
Wikipedia Results 9 3
Within top results 7 8
ZIP Code Search 9 4

 

Notes:

  1. I am still working on this post, this post is continuously changing.
  2. New Parameters are being added every day
  3. Scores are also changing – I plan to do a major update
  4. This is a self initiated review
  5. I make no claims to be an authority on this subject or methodology adopted. However I admit to be a part of the vision/ engineering/ architecture/ design and development team  of a Search Engine project which worked well as a beta product, but couldn’t find financial backing and died a natural death.

Airlines in the USA – My Rating July 12, 2008

Posted by simarprit in Aviation, Review, USA.
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American Airlines, Delta, Continental, Jet Blue, Southwest, Northwest, US Airways and Alaskan are the airlines I had a chance to fly with over the last year and half of active travelling within US. My experience iwth Delta has prompted me to write this post. Of course I would mention the details later, but Delta is the worst airline to travel with, as per my experience.  Here we go:

My reserach for this post led me to this news item http://www.forbes.com/2007/09/26/airlines-performance-faa-biz-logistics-cx_rm_tvr_0927worstairlines.html

Of course I can’t be as objective and elaborate as The Forbes researched document on The America’s Worst Airlines, so I would rather insert a disclaimer – Please see this post as a blog based on personal experience and nothing more.

Simar’s Hall of Fame – Overall Rank
Southwest 1
Jet Blue 2
American Airlines 3
Alaskan Airlines 4
Continental 5
Northwest 6
American Eagle 7
Delta 8

 More to come…

Amber India at Santana Row – A Review July 9, 2008

Posted by simarprit in Bay Area, Food, India, Review.
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I have mentioned Amber India several times in my reviews about Indian restaurants in Bay Area, however i never got to doing a detailed review of Amber. Amber is a brand name for Indian food on one side and to many Indians it is not an Indian food restaurant at all. Yours truly being one of the many who never choose Amber for Indian food. With my (negative) bias put aside, I initiate my full review of Amber:

Date: July 6, 2008

Time: 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Address:  377 Santana Row, Ste 1140

City: San Jose, CA 95128, USA 

Tel: # ( 408 ) 248 5400

Restaurant Name: Amber India (Everyone pronounces it as Amber (the color), but to an Indian it is Amber (pronounced as Um ber – meaning Sky). The roof decoration with a star lit night sky puts the intent of the owners clearly and literally.

Location & Address: On Santana Row, San Jose. My rating: 10/10. You just can’t beat it. Ample parking too.

Food/ Menu: Indian and/or Americanized Indian/ Multi cuisine. My rating 4/10 very confusing, unstructured and lacking character. If Pindi Channa and Karavali Shrimps are in the same menu something has to be horribly wrong. Pindi Channa is supposed to be a take off on White Garbanzo or Chick Peas which are native to RawalPindi region of Punjab (the part of Punjab in Pakistan). http://www.mapsofworld.com/pakistan/pakistan-political-map.html   In the state of Punjab/ Pakistan. Rawalpindi is popularly known as Pindi. My mother was born and brought up in Pindi, I know my Pindi Channa – Pindi choley – or Chitey Choley as it is called in pindieven today. So if you go to Rawalpindi ask for Chitey Choley and not Pindi Channa. Karavali Shrimps are a take off on the Canara region of the state of Karnataka in southern India. Canara region comprises of the three coastal districts of Karnataka (Between Goa and Kerala on the western coastline of India). http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/karnataka/karnataka.htm food from Uttar Kannad, Shimoga and Dakshin Kannad is commonly referred to as Coastal Kanada food or Coasatal Karantaka food, or Karavali or Canara food or Mangalorian cuisine. Karavali style of cuisine has influence of both Goan and Kerala style of cooking and has liberal coconut flavor to everything. I very strongly feel that putting these two distinct signature items from their respective regions on a single menu in the city of San Jose in California, is more of opportunism than culinary challenge.

Pindi Channas were not Pindi Channas because the Garbanzo beans are little different than Indian Chick Peas and they were not soaked overnight in milk and water or even only water, or kept under moist muslin cloth for two days. Pindi Channas need to be slightly white in color as a dish not jet black what we got on our table.

Karavali Shrimps were not Karavali Shrimps. Amber India’s website claims Karavli Shrimps to be “Our signature recipe of stir-fried shrimps flavored with curry leaves and black pepper”,  curry leaves fine, black pepper fine but what is paste made of onions, tomatoes, and practically every Indian masala doing out there. That’s not what the description reads. At least I couldn’t find the coastal kanadatouch in the paste or in the shrimps, it was spicy with little more than usual salt. I remember the flavor of paste but not that of the shrimps. Curry leaves and black pepper should have highlighted the flavor  of very fine quality of shrimps which were used, but it just didn’t. On our table was an (by heritage) Irish/American, a  Malayali, a Bengali and a Punjabi. The Irish/ American couldn’t finish even the one piece he had taken, the Bengali and the Malayali choose not to take second helping, the Punjabi on the table of course had the second helping (after scrubbing the paste).

Ambiance: Excellent. The best for any Indian restaurant in the bay area. My rating 10/10.

Format: A la carte, full service. my rating 10/10

Drinks:Mango Lassi, Lemonade, Heineken – No issues. My rating 8/10.

Appetizers: Karavali ShrimpsExplained in food 3/10, if your guest just leaves it after eating one morsel, it just can’t be more than that. My 2 cents, if you are by heritage Indian go infor it, otherwise best avoided. Goan Steamed Mussels: They were in Goan gravy, they were steamed and they were fine mussels. My rating 9/10. I just loved them. Tandoori Appetizer Platter: Shrimps were good, Chciken (I am told was) excellent, Lamb (I am told was) horrible. My rating 6/10

Main Course: Mint Salmon Tikka: From no angle an Indian dish, except for the tikka word in its name. OK taste 4/10.

 Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani – was good, but I am told Tandoori Oven in downtown San Jose makes it better 7/10.

Bombay Fish Masala – Sea Bass in tomato & onion thick Garvy, very tasty and well cooked, my rating if you don’t look at authenticity as an Indian cuisine 10/10. 

Pindi Channa – I didn’t like it at all. Was left on the table too. Rajjot on Wolfe Road is my best choice. My rating 1/10.

Breads: Lacha parantha, Garlic naan. My rating 6/10.

Dessert: Gulab Jamuns were very nice. As they were not stuffed, I would say my rating is 9/10.

Interior: Nice and functional – My rating 8/10.

Tables: Comfortable 8/10

Cooling: About 75 (F) could be lower. 8/10

Rates: At about 15% to 20% lower this place would have been a good value for money. My rating 6/10.

Why go:Ambiance; Location; Americanized Indian Food, Something for everyone

Why Think Twice: If you want to eat what you love and you know how it should be made and how it should taste. Names and preparations can be misleading and authentic Indian food lovers may just avoid.

M&M’s World – A Review of the Flagship Store June 8, 2008

Posted by simarprit in Marketing, Review, Uncategorized.
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At 11:30 PM walking on 7th Avenue my daughter Avval playfully asked me to take her to M&M, M&M to me was only those colored Dime size or smaller chocolates, what were clothes doing out there, a peep inside and we decided to make it one of our must see destinations for tomorrow.

There is a lot said about brand extensions, but this flavor of brand extension I had never seen and had no clue. When we landed up at M&M’s World – Flagship Store at 1600 Broadway New York, NY 10019 there, three of us had three distinct objectives, Avval to spend her pocket money, Mini to buy gifts, and self to understand the business logic behind all this. To me M&M had always been a Fun Chocolate Brand, essentially aimed at kids; it had effective last minute purchase strategyacrossthe world airports; it had a smiley with legs and boots as its brand ambassador; it was a company which had pursued its China manufacturing strategy aggressively to develop a range of packaging for its chocolates.

One visit to the M&M’s World store and I have started looking at the whole concept of chocolate retailing differently.

Some Observations:

  1. In New York; In Manhattan; On Broadway
  2. Three side open
  3. Three levels
  4. Decent size mouth but huge belly. The ground floor is the smallest, IInd Floor is the biggest, third floor is also decent in size.
  5. Washrooms are on third floor.
  6. Chocolate walls on IInd floor.
  7. Impulse buying; Impulse buying and Impulse buying.
  8. “We know how to loosen your purse strings.” Money upfront approach to business.
  9. It is a destination.
  10. No samples.
  11. No one checks you if you taste from the wall.
  12. We are a destination, 10 – 12 strategic placed photo opportunities.
  13. If Disney has, we have.
  14. Of course they know Hershey’s is next door, and they need to hold to parents.
  15. Deal corners for parents to “balance out”.
  16. No M&M employee should be without a product ever, displaying utility.
  17. Buy and close approach to selling, strategically located check outs.
  18. Ground floor has some of all.
  19. A child is encouraged to have “everything M” footwear, clothes, linen, cutlery, crockery.
  20. The huge Neon Poster wall outside ensures that everyone watches the commercial fully at least once.

 

 

Goodbye Christmas Carnivals Website! May 31, 2008

Posted by simarprit in Christmas, Internet, portals, Review, websites.
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Way back in 1999, I was not taken seriously on my attempts to develop a Christmas site. What does a “Sardar” (Sikh) know about Christmas, and what are his credentials. Of course I knew just a little better than nothing about Christmas and had never been to a Church except as a tourist, so I had no credentials, per se.  I knew something about sites, and that got me going. Nine years of profitable ownership later, http://www.christmascarnivals.com is sold. Sold to Side Show Ventures, I am sure Jimmy Sutton  would be a far better owner-manager to my absentee landlord approach. 

Jim, congratulations on your acquiring Christmas Carnivals, it is a good site which offers lot of information on Christmas. It has been very close to my heart , and I would add a lot about the site to this post in next few days.

Let us have a farewell Q & A.

Q: What was the need to design and develop  a website for Christmas? 

A: I don’t need to develop websites, and surely not for a living. To me developing a website is picking up a canvas and letting it known as a painting. On a more serious note, way back in 1999 there were many sites on Christmas, but there was a need for the site on Christmas. Christmas Carnivals was developed to cover that niche. Christmas Carnivals was also developed as a spoke, to the hub and spoke model of  http://www.dgreetings.com. DGreetings, at that time had no significant section on Christmas and Christmas Carnivals acted as a spoke. It was you scratch my back, I scratch yours.  Having said that, Christmas Carnivals is very close to my heart, and would remain so. Every year, the site had a new look and a new treatment, we kept on changing the site

 More to come…

 

Book Expo America 2008 L.A. – A Review May 30, 2008

Posted by simarprit in Books, Review, Uncategorized.
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There are authors, there are books, and then there is me. I must be the third most seen and noticed in this largely “white American” show.  So what is this turban doing amongst all this? MapXL Inc, the holding arm of Compare infobase for mapping business in the US decided to participate in this Book Expo; Mani felt that my being “Local” could be of “help.” I would wait for the verdict.

I drove south from San Jose on I-5 and covered the distance in 6 hours with three breaks. The journey was fine, and the Garmin Nuvi knew where I had to go, exactly.

  1. Pre arrangements and communications – 9/10
  2. Official hotel selection – 9/10
  3. Website: 9/10
  4. Shuttle service to the venue 10/10
  5. Information in rooms: 0/10
  6. Exhibition venue and guidance: 6/10 – technlogy is absent, signage is inadequate, the exhibition – it looks like hasn’t grown.
  7. Cooling: 8/10, Could have been a bit cooler
  8. Particpants :10/10 you name it and the publisher is there
  9. Authors: 9/10 Very Good book signing activity
  10. Walking area: 9/10 Plenty
  11. Food: 9/10 Plenty
  12. Restrooms: 4/10 -No good

After checking with a few regulars, I conclude there is a significant recession rub-off. High gas prices have also contributed in lesser footfalls.

I am glad we had prefixed appointments before coming here.