Photobucket had recently changed their policy and now all the images from my 650+ blog posts are disabled. I am slowly editing them by moving my images to my own server at AWS, but it will take time. In case there is a particular old post you want to see the images of, kindly drop me a mail at and I'll keep that at a high priority. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Chp 626. My First 10 Perfect Games

So yesterday, I reached a milestone on my Steam account. I now have 10 Perfect Games! Woohooo!

A "Perfect Game" is when you complete an entire game, while unlocking every single achievement badge within that game. Once you have unlocked all achievements, then you get a "Perfect game" status.

Perfect Games are usually hard to achieve, depending on the mechanics of the game you're playing. In some games, you must play over and over again to unlock certain achievements, while in others you have to do a very difficult combo move and stuff to unlock an achievement. I have played more than 500 hours in "Team Fortress 2" and a few other games, but I am nowhere near a perfect game. And for games like Age of Empires II (on steam), one game analyst even did an extensive research and concluded that you must grind and play every civilization for at least 7000 hours if you want to get a perfect game! That is almost an entire year of continuous gameplay! Whoah.

And of course, there are games where it is impossible to get a perfect game, not because there is one last remaining achievement that is extremely difficult to unlock. In such games, you get an achievement simply for "pre-ordering" the game. Pre-ordering is when you buy a game before it has been launched. And so when you buy the game after it has been released and you play for weeks and unlock all the achievements, there will still be one last remaining achievement you cannot unlock, just because you didn't pre-purchase it. And so, no "Perfect Game". Sucks huh?

Anyway, I hope you get the gist of what a "Perfect game" means now…

Of course there are games where you can easily get all achievements, usually the cheaper ones, but I am not going to include those here. In this post, I want to talk about the 10 games where I unlocked all achievements but at the same time got an immense gameplay experience from. Also, I have included the time it took me to get a "Perfect Game" status, but if you're an "achievement hunter", then don't go by that number because you'll be able to do it much faster, I was just playing it at my own casual free leisure time (and in some cases, I have left the game on pause while attending a meeting).


Total achievements unlocked: 33/33
Total time played: 19 hours
Game link: Lyne
Cost of game: INR 169

I'm a huge fan of puzzle games, and LYNE hit the sweet spot for me because it was a very interesting game with a minimalistic design. It is a mobile game ported to PC. I had to rack my brains for a long time trying to figure out the solutions. In this game, there are different colored shapes that you must all connect within a given grid, while making sure they don't intersect and at the same time, all paths are utilized. Tough AF.

And the best part is, every achievement is a letter, so once you get them all, you can spell out a name using it :D And since I wanted to use "MIZORAM" in my "achievement showcase" (as you can see in the pic above), I had to freaking play till the last level to unlock "Z",and that was how I got a perfect game from playing this game. Almost 20 hours! Totally worth the money spent.

2. Hexcells

Total achievements unlocked: 6/6
Total time played: 2 hours
Game link: Hexcells
Cost of game: INR 169

Next up is Hexcells. Any Minesweeper fans out there? This is one game you're really gonna love. It is much better than Minesweeper, and you have to think real hard in many scenarios. In this minimalistic puzzle game, there are a couple of hex tiles and you must figure out whether a tile must be highlighted or not based on the clues given. I unlocked all achievements in just 2 hours, and it was a very pleasant experience, especially because of the soothing ambient soundtrack.

3. Hexcells Plus

Total achievements unlocked: 6/6
Total time played: 3 hours
Game link: Hexcells Plus
Cost of game: INR 169

This is the second installment of the above game, and it is as wonderful as the first, though, maybe it's just me, but I felt this version had a lot more of "chance" situations, where the clues given were not enough to determine whether the hex tile should be highlighted or not. But then again, that's a subjective opinion. Completed the game in 3 hours.

4. Hexcells Infinite

What sets this third batch of the Hexcells series a bit different from the earlier two is that it has an infinite mode! And the last achievement to unlock in order to get a perfect game status is to win at least 60 of the 1,000,000,000 randomly generated levels, so yeah, it took me much longer to unlock all achievements, as you can see from my stats below.

Total achievements unlocked: 6/6
Total time played: 5 hours
Game link: Hexcells Infinite
Cost of game: INR 169

5. Hook

Total achievements unlocked: 1/1
Total time played: 2 hours
Game link: Hook
Cost of game: INR 58

Another mobile game ported to PC, this puzzle game entertained me for a good 2 hours. In this game, you must carefully select which line or section goes in first. It is quite simple, but not like "lame" simple. I found it very relaxing and it was worth the $1 I paid for this game. Once you complete the game in about an hour, you will unlock the one single achievement to get a "Perfect Game".

6. Gunpoint

Total achievements unlocked: 42/42
Total time played: 10 hours
Game link: Gunpoint
Cost of game: INR 369

Spent 10 hours on this game, and I just love it! It took me a while to understand the basic gameplay (lack of tutorial), but once I understood how things work, it was amazing playing this game. Gunpoint is a stealth puzzle game where you must steal items and stuff, based on the storyline, without being detected by the cops. And the next mission or story actually changes based on your reply to the conversation (decision-based game). That is why I replayed many missions to get different outcomes. And some of the achievements are really really funny as well. :)

Also, I received a free hat for "Team Fortress 2" because of this game :D

7. Thomas Was Alone

Total achievements unlocked: 35/35
Total time played: 4 hours
Game link: Thomas Was Alone
Cost of game: INR 369

What a beautiful, awesome and relaxing game!!! The story narration is well executed too, and taking that into account along with the ambient music and minimalistic design, I must say this is definitely on the Top 5 of my favorite games. If you really think about it, it is just a simple platformer puzzle game, with basic controls and gameplay. But the sound, design, character and narration turned it into a totally mind-blowing game.

Trust me, I never thought I could get so emotional about geometric shapes before I played this game! :)

8. To The Moon

Total achievements unlocked: 1/1
Total time played: 4 hours
Game link: To The Moon
Cost of game: INR 369

Speaking of being emotional, here is my favorite game this year. I'm not going to talk much about it here as I had already written an entire blog post about this tear-jerking super amazing game - Mizohican: To The Moon. All I'm saying is, if you haven't played this game yet, your loss.

You'll get a "Perfect Game" by completing the game as this game has only one achievement, but trust me, this is not about getting a perfect game status. Just play it and get onboard the Feels train, you won't regret it. 

9. The Purring Quest

Total achievements unlocked: 23/23
Total time played: 13 hours
Game link: The Purring Quest
Cost of game: INR 369

Another very cute and casual platformer game. My only criticism about this game is, the controls are a bit hard using a keyboard. But the story line and ambient soundtrack (which has a very similar "To The Moon" vibe) make up for the hard control system. You play the role of Kimchi the cat, and if you are a cat lover, this is one game you're definitely going to love! As you can see from my stats, it took me quite some time to unlock all achievements. Some of the hidden rooms were really interesting as well.

10. A Bird Story

Total achievements unlocked: 1/1
Total time played: 5 hours
Game link: A Bird Story
Cost of game: INR 299

This is the second game from the people who made "To The Moon" above. Perhaps because the previous game was so great that I wasn't actually impressed with this one. It is the story-based game about a boy who befriended an injured bird. The soundtrack is nice (but not as great as TTM) and there are some funny and emotional parts in the story (again, not as deep as TTM), but it’s a cute game, and I completed the game in less than 2 hours (don't be fooled by the 5 hours given above, this is one of the many games where I left the game on pause while attending a meeting or call conference).

And with that, I now have 10 perfect games. I do recommend all the 10 games above, not just for the achievement part but they really entertained me well.

Until the next update, cheers.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Chp 625. Reliance Broadband - terrible ordeal

From the headline, you can make out this is going to be a rant post. Now I usually don't write such posts on my blog, but the treatment Reliance has been giving me is way past the border of tolerance and understanding.

Yes, there were times I received bad services, be it from a restaurant or an ecom delivery service. But you know, as most Indians, I just shrugged it off. Chalta hai. I'm too busy with other things to waste my time giving a bad review or writing a blog post about it. Plus, it's not like we always get a bad service, so we just sweep such incidents under the carpet.

But what Reliance is doing to me is torture. I'm not talking about a few days or a week or a month of no internet connectivity. It has been THREE months since they stopped giving me net, and the worst part was, they sent their goons, the so called "collection agents", telling me to make payments for the months I didn't have any internet! But I'll come to that later. Here's how my ordeal with Reliance started…

First of all, it took around FIVE months for Reliance to finally give me a connection, after I had already registered and paid the advance and registration fees! You can read more about the pain and trouble I went through trying to get a broadband connection in Pune here - Home is where the Wi-Fi is. Yeah those could be the early warning signs, but if you're suggesting I change my ISP, please read the above link first.

Even after I finally got the connection, there were times I didn't have internet for 3-4 days a month, but hey I'm not complaining about those. I was happy with the 4 mbps connection, it was pretty fast and smooth. And the fact that I took an unlimited plan was perfect for my browsing behavior. For that, I am actually very impressed with Reliance.

The nightmare started in June.

I didn't have internet from 7th June, and like other times, I complained the next day. Complaint number - 246682613. Oh by the way, I have taken down every single complaint number because I like to keep track of things. Before this incident, there's a list of more than 20 complaint numbers.

Finally I had internet back on 13th June.

And then on 17th June my connection was stopped and I complained again.

Complaint number - 246998577

And like before, they quickly solved it and by June 19th, I had internet again.

But that was just one day of bliss. On 20th June, my connection stopped once more, and I complained the next day.

Complaint number - 247111968

And from that day onwards, till today, I don't have any internet!

I complained almost every single day, and I was always told the same thing - "Sir, it is a work in progress".

And if you're a Reliance customer, you'll know the frustrating experience of trying to call up their help-line.

I dial 180030007777.

It will ask for language selection, I type "2" to select English.

It will then ask for what type of service and I type "1" to say it is regarding internet service.

It will then ask for what type of customer I am and I type "1" to say I am an existing postpaid customer.

After that it asks me to enter my customer id, but THAT is always wrong somehow, and so at this section, I just enter 9# (any number followed by the # key) and it will say it is an invalid number (even if I enter my actual customer id followed by # key, it will say incorrect, so it is much faster typing just 9#), and at the second attempt I enter 9# again, and again it tells me it is wrong and finally at the third attempt I enter 9# again. After that it tells me that I have exceeded the maximum number of tries, and then finally forwards me to a call executive.

And that's not the end of it. Once my call is forwarded to a call exec, I'm usually made to wait for around 5 minutes, sometimes even 10-15 minutes, as I am on queue because "all our customer service executives are busy at the moment", while listening to that very irritating and ear-piercing Reliance theme music.

And when a call executive finally does pick up my call, 80% of the time it is somebody who speaks only Hindi, in spite of me selecting "2" (English) in the language option.

Yeah I had to do that almost every night, speaking in broken Hindi about my issue. So you can imagine how frustrated I am with this now.

And I always got the same reply, "Sir, it is a work in progress". And every time I called, I would request a call-back from their engineer to explain to me what exactly was wrong with my connection, and yet I never received a call from their office.

And to rub salt into my wounds, Reliance started spamming me (SMS and inbox) at the end of June asking me to pay my June bill, even though I had connectivity for around 10 days only. I called up the help-line and asked them if I was to pay my bills, would I start having service again, but they said no need to pay because it was still a "work in progress".

And then came the month of July, and the entire month I was calling up the help-line almost every day again, to know the status of my internet connection.

Towards the end of July, I received not just June bill but July bill payment notification as well, even though the connection was still not restored!!!

And then on 30th July, Saturday, somebody rang my doorbell. When I opened it, there were these two huge mean looking guys at my door, asking me why I haven't paid my Reliance bills of two months!! They didn't directly threaten me, but they spoke in a very passive-aggressive tone, like as if I was some wanted criminal. I explained to them that I didn't have internet connection since June, and they abruptly told me that it was because I hadn't paid my bills, and the moment I paid my bills, my connection would be restored.

In my case, this was a chicken-egg conundrum. I need internet to make my payment, but I will get internet only after I make my payment. But I didn't want to argue with those two thugs. I didn't even raise the fact that they told me to pay for the month of July too. I didn't want to be roughened up as I am living alone, so I told them I will then go to office right away to pay my bill online. And then they said I better do that, or they will come back the next day (Sunday) to check up on me again.

Scary unbelievable shit indeed!

This is what I hate about Pune. I don't know any important people here. Back in Bangalore, we used to have Pu HT. Sangliana, who was the Commissioner of Police back then, so he was always there to protect us from such harassments or exploitations. And in Mumbai, I was an executive member of NEHM (North East Helpline Mumbai) with a direct line to many senior police officers, so I had people I could run to for help. But here in Pune, there's nobody I know who can help me out.

And so, on that same Saturday afternoon after the two guys left, I rushed to office even though it was a holiday, logged in to my employee account and paid my two months Reliance bill through online transaction.

I slept a bit peacefully that night.

The next day, Sunday, thank God those two guys didn't turn up again. Just to be on the safer side, I placed a couple of my kitchen knives on my bookshelf, my dining table, behind my TV, etc in case they turned up again and things became unruly. Like I mentioned earlier, those two guys didn't threaten me or abuse me, but I have heard many stories of such "collection agents" from friends, about how they broke a person's leg and stuff, and I promised not to go down without a fight even if I was outnumbered.

Luckily, they didn't come. But unfortunately, neither did the internet. Since it was a Sunday, I assumed I would get back my connection on a working day.

And then Monday came and went. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, all came and went, and still no internet. Whatever happened to that, "your connection will be restored the moment you pay your bills"?

Finally I called up the help-line again, only to be told that my issue was still a "work in progress"!!!

You can imagine how angry I must be right then.

I asked them why they sent those two guys then, and why made me pay for the months I didn't even have internet. The call executive guy nonchalantly replied, "Saar, the amount will be readjusted on your next bill"! Wow, what audacity.

He assured me that my issue was almost fixed (same old excuse), and that my next bill would be calculated and adjusted based on the months I didn't have internet.

Well, August month is now almost about to end, I still don't have internet, and just yesterday, I received the freaking bill for August, asking me to pay for this month as well!!!

This is too much. And I'm sure if I don't pay the above bill, certain collection agents will pay me a visit again? Maybe I'll even end up in a hospital if I refuse to pay this time? Or prison, depending on the outcome of our conflict? How do I get out of this mess? Is it even legal to do this, first of all - not providing service that you subscribed to for 3 straight months, and then forcing people to pay for the service that was not rendered?

In the 1.5 years that I've lived here, I really got to love Pune a lot, but this is one part of my journey I definitely want to erase from memory. It is unpleasant, obnoxious and at best, threatening. Horrible experience indeed. And all my online premium subscriptions to Hotstar, Netflix etc are being wasted every month because of this, not to mention missing the last two episodes of GoT, the entire Olympics, and football matches that I paid extra to watch via online subscriptions :(

I have experienced many bad services across different sectors, but nothing beats this current hell I am in.

And the fact that I am not staying at some isolated locality or upcoming neighborhood but right in the heart of Koregaon Park, a supposedly prime and upmarket area of Pune, and still having to face all these problems truly sucks…

UPDATE 24th Aug: Less than 2 days after I published this post, Reliance called me up, and today their technician came and solved my issue. I now have broadband again after 3 long months, thanks to this post and all your shares. Cheers :)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Chp 624. Reunion Videos

And so that was it. Our batch reunion concluded, and it wasn't easy writing about them! Here are the links and the number of word count for each reunion post I have updated the past 3 weeks -

Chp 619. The Reunion: 1273 words, 19 photos.

Chp 620. Reunion Day 1 + 2: 3529 words, 142 photos.

Chp 621. Reunion Day 3: 2055 words, 175 photos.

Chp 622. Reunion Day 4: 2465 words, 152 photos.

Chp 623. Reunion Day 5 + 6: 1949 words, 50 photos.

That's a total of 11,271 words and 538 photos uploaded!

Dayyymm I should have submitted my thesis or something for that :P

Anyway, enough words have already been said and more than enough photos have been uploaded, so in this post I will just put up two videos, taken and edited by the awesome Stapp, who also played a huge role in organizing our reunion and pumping up different people and finally convincing many of them to turn up for the reunion.

Just enjoy. And cheers :)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Chp 623. Reunion - Day 5 + 6

This was the moment everybody knew was going to happen eventually, but dreaded. The time to say goodbye to our batchmates, once again. "Talofa" to all.

After four days of amazing and nostalgic moments catching up with our batchmates, some of whom we hadn't seen in more than 17 years and walking down memory lane with them, it was finally time to get back to our jobs, our wives, our lives.

There was this somber atmosphere as we all walked in to have our last breakfast at the resort. On the bright side, the food was excellent as usual, offering a vast variety of options.

Above, you can see the "chicken curry" that I was talking about in my Reunion - Day 3 post. :D

Decided to have South Indian for the last breakfast.

And then we all headed back to our cottages to pack. The resort bellboys turned up to carry our luggage up to the reception, which was quite a relief because the entire resort was on a steep incline, and our particular cottage was way at the bottom.

I bid farewell to the little fishes as well :)

I have already shared many photos of our resort in my earlier posts, but I will say it here again - If ever you go to Yercaud for a weekend break and especially if you are in a large group, do give "Living Art Resort – La' Four Seasons" a try. Here are their TripAdvisor and MMT pages.

Though I must admit, the name is grammatically wrong :P It cannot be "La' Four Seasons" because a hotel is masculine in French, so it should be "Le", and even if it's taking the English name of the hotel literally, it should still be "Le". Secondly, the apostrophe should not be used because "F" is not a vowel, and neither is "Seasons". And thirdly, even if it is a vowel and the apostrophe is used (for example, the "h" in hotel is treated as a vowel), then the correct usage is L' and not Le' or La'. Ahhh…  FINALLY, I have put to good use the French I studied in Montfort for 6 damn years. I was wondering when I would do that :D :P

All silliness aside, the place was a wonderful paradise - secluded and quiet. The only negative point about it was that there were no cell-phone receptions except BSNL (which could actually be a good thing if what you're looking for is a peaceful weekend away from the nagging missus :P )

And special thanks to Kamalesh, Kicha and the others once again for arranging this resort. We booked well in advance, and the cottage costs around 6000 per night but we got it at a good discount because of our advance booking and the fact that we had taken the entire place. Later, many batches offered the management more money, but we had already sealed the deal by then.

Soon, everybody started leaving one by one…

We were the last batch to leave and we took one last selfie together…

After that, we were on our way back to Bangalore. Travelling down the winding Yercaud road was definitely something we were all going to miss so badly… The road to our school that had crafted us and molded us, it was a journey we intended to take over and over again in the next few years.

Once we were back at the Salem-Bangalore Expressway, things started becoming a bit normal…

We stopped on the way to have some fresh coconut water, mainly to detox from the four nights of wild party and binge drinking :D

We saw a horrible road accident on the way, which I don't want to talk about here… All traffic was diverted to the same lane for some time…

We didn't stop on the way for lunch because our dear friend Ujjal was adamant on eating at "Empire", his favorite joint when he was in Bangalore 10+ years ago…

Finally we reached Empire @ Bangalore around 4PM to have a very late lunch :D But of course, the food wasn't disappointing.

We headed to our OYO room after we bid farewell to Nikhil, Vinay and Sriram. Vinay's driver was waiting for us at Bangalore the entire time we were in Yercaud, as he had to drive him back to Coorg. So much thanks to Vinay for the wonderful road-trip. We could have booked a cab or something, but travelling together, just us, made it even more memorable. And bastard refused to accept any payment for fuel for the entire back-and-forth trip. I promised to give him a royal treatment if he ever landed up in Pune. He saw us off till our OYO room.

Great place indeed, and very economical at around 1k per head (though one must book in advance to avail of the good discounts and offers. I booked this room around 2 days earlier through their mobile app).

After that, it was just Ujjal and me. Ujjal's bro Lakhana who was supposed to join us, was with his own batchmates and so we went to meet my dear friend Cherrie who had invited us over for dinner.

Though Cherrie and I had been friends for a long time, I never got an opportunity to meet her husband or her new daughter, and I was really looking forward to meeting them both. Turned out, the hubby was a Coimbatore Engineer graduate just like me, and we hit off so well the moment we met.

And of course it was wonderful meeting the ever lovely Faith. Last year, she had beaten all contestants, including my niece, at a local TV channel competition and I was floored by her awesome talent.

I sent our pics to our Mizo Bloggers whatsapp group, and in a way this was also like another reunion because it had been a really long time since we last met. Cherrie blogs at Daydreambeliever, so do give her blog some love.

We spoke about various topics ranging from our experience during the reunion to cultural identities and traditional clashes, you know, typical stuff bloggers talk about when they meet :D

The dinner was awesome, and Ujjal really enjoyed the authentic Mizo dish as well.

It was a little bit difficult finding a cab at 1:30 in the morning… 1:30 might seem late, but thankfully, Cherrie and her hubby were going through the pangs of having a new born baby, the incessant late night wake up calls and stuff :D

Anyway, we managed to reach our OYO room, and Lakhana was already there, sleeping.

The next morning, we had the complimentary breakfast provided by OYO, and then packed and left for the airport. I had booked a flight to Pune around the same time Ujjal and Lakhana's flight was to depart from Bangalore, so that we could all travel to the airport together.

Once we were through security check-in, we decided to have lunch at "Alta Vita", a renowned Italian restaurant. The food was great, though quite expensive.

Once we were done with our lunch, it was time for Ujjal and Lakhana to head back to Arunachal Pradesh. We bid each other farewell, and then I proceeded towards my Pune flight terminal.

During my flight back to Pune, I read Lovekush's novel that I bought at the Centenary Sports Day. Lovekush Singhania is an alumnus of Montfort from the 2004 batch, and he had recently published a novel based on his life in Montfort, entitled "From Nobody To Best Buddy".

He even personally signed the copy I bought, as he recognized me immediately :)

Well… to be frank… urrrmmmm… I read half the novel during my short flight back to Pune, and I must confess… it was a good and entertaining read, but I'm not sure how well it would do…  I mean if you like Chetan Bhagat's novels, then yeah, this will be a book you'll enjoy reading. But to me, personally, I think it lacked a certain depth. By that, I don't mean I was expecting a Leo Tolstoy or a Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie book. As a Monfortian, I really liked the colloquial expressions used, like for example, "what man, waste fellow. We are seniors da." as it brought back a lot of memories, but I'm not sure how others who have never used such lingo may feel about it.

And I liked the way some names were changed (maybe because of copyright issues), like Montfort school became Beaumont school, Yercaud became Ooty, and the three houses - Montfort, Partrick and Garbriel became Beaumont, Parker and Gregory. But in the first few chapters, I felt too many characters were being introduced simultaneously all at once. It was a bit hard trying to keep up with all the different characters. And we weren't given much background information and build-up to some characters, especially the important ones like Ram (suddenly, out of nowhere, they became close friends). Small things like that.

I know, in a residential boarding school, it's going to be hard to write only about a few characters, because in reality we all mixed with everybody. But take for example books like the Malory Towers series. Very simple and clear, and we all loved such novels back when we were kids. (In Lovekush's defense, it would be fair to note that each Malory Towers book was one term only, whereas in his book, Lovekush covered all terms from class 5 to 12, hence the reason why some might find the book moving a bit too fast).

Haha, ok I think I am nitpicking here. All in all, "From Nobody To Best Buddy" is a great novel, and you'll love it, especially if you were brought up in a residential boarding school. Here are the links on Amazon and Flipkart, do give it a try. My best wishes to Lovekush and congratulating him once more for publishing a novel, something that most of us are unable to do. Hoping to read such novels from him in the future.

Soon, I was back in Pune… *sigh*

Another book I bought during our Reunion slash Centenary Sports Day was this awesome research publication entitled "The Magnificent Shevaroys". It is compiled and written by Kamalesh's uncle, and it contains extremely rare old photos of the Shevaroy Hills and history of the first European settlers and how they started setting up schools like SHY and Montfort etc.

Cost a cool 1500 bucks, but it is definitely worth it.

And with that, my entire Reunion saga ended. Six days of extreme fun and emotional joyrides.

Though I had been thanking a lot of my batchmates for the wonderful experience, I would also like to thank my organization for this. Nobody knows this, but when I left for the reunion, we were RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of a game launch! We were just about to release Salman Khan's official game "Being SalMan" (which has just been launched now) and nobody was allowed to take a leave the past 1 month, and many of us worked overnight as well. And being the Game Designer, it looked like it would be impossible for me to attend the reunion. But my Product Manager and the higher authorities knew how much I had been planning and looking forward to the reunion, and so that was how I could make it for the reunion.

So, big hugs and thanx to them.

Will post more about our game in the next blog post. Until then, cheers everyone, and Happy Independence Day!  :)