Saturday, 20th July, 2019

I am done with Amazon

I ordered 2 memory cards but the seller sent only 1. After 5 days of “investigations” Amazon didn’t do anything. I lost 899 rupees & have to buy another memory card.

I will never buy anything from Amazon ever again. I think I’ll survive without it.

Monday, 1st July, 2019

How to apply Singapore tourist visa from Bhubaneswar

Odisha comes under the jurisdiction of Singapore Consulate General in Mumbai. Their web page has a list of authorised visa agents that are allowed to apply for a tourist visa on your behalf.

Blue Star is one of those agents based in Mumbai. I have used their services to get my visa and I absolutely recommend them.

Monday, 24th June, 2019

Tata Ariana Review

Tata Housing Ariana LogoI am one of the flat owners at Tata Ariana apartment complex. We have been residing here since taking possession in September 2017. We invested in the project way back in 2014, were one of the very first owners to move in here & 2nd occupant in our tower.

Following is my heartfelt, unbiased review of the project.

Build Quality

The towers are built strong. Tata Housing, unlike many other builders does not compromise on quality, willingly. And if any aspect of the flat is found to be faulty such as tiles, glasses, wall plaster cracks, sanitary & electrical fittings they correct or replace them.

Amenities

Apart from the cosmetic things which are visible right away above the surface such as club house, swimming pool, children’s play area, leisure & green areas, there are several technical strong points to this apartment which are under the ground or hidden inside the buildings.

There is a functional water treatment plant, well built basement parking which has ample space for cars to go around, high ceiling and well lit, well ventilated with huge exhaust machines to draw out toxic air of vehicles. Covered drains in the basement for extra underground water surfacing during rainy season to channel them towards a deep soak pit.

Water pipes, electrical, telephone, tv cables are cleverly hidden from sight, well built electricity rooms under each tower, good amount of lifts, 2 fire exit staircases in each tower, solid metal water pipes that won’t burn down in case of a fire.

Lots of water sprinklers in basement, every floor corridor, inside every room of every flat, fire fighting alarm, pipes & systems in every floor.

Direct power connection from 33 KV Chandaka grid due to which power cuts are very rare, with solid power backup which was evident in the recent cyclone Fani.

And many more such features which I am forgetting.

Location

Unlike many large housing projects in Bhubaneswar, Ariana is very well connected. It has 2 approach roads (with road dividers) in opposite directions, so much less possibility of traffic jams stopping you from getting in or out. From here one can easily reach old prime areas as well as new growing, happening areas of the city. Local farmer’s market, shopping mall, hospital, fuel station & other market areas nearby mean you’re never far from getting the goods & services you need.

Maintenance

Now this is one aspect which I am sorry to say is not upto the mark. The reason being local maintenance staff are highly incompetent. They don’t do half of the tasks assigned to them, and when they do, they do a very poor job.

But I realize this is not a stain on Tata Housing’s reputation as an apartment builder, but rather a sad reality that every other apartment has to face in my city. And I have come to accept this fact that my apartment, however well built, will never be as clean or well maintained as well as we the apartments we see in metro cities.

So is it worth the price?

Absolutely. Many local builders skimp down on important aspects which are absolutely required in a large scale housing complex, thus being able to offer flats at a much cheaper rate. But Tata Housing has followed all govt. rules & regulations, done due diligence in constructing a solid, secure project, hence the high cost.

This is not a flat which will fetch you good returns upon reselling, not atleast in a recent few years, as the prices are already very high as per the local real estate market, but this flat gives excellent value for money if you want to make it your primary residence.

Considering various aspects such as build quality, amenities, safety features, location this is a unique apartment in the city likes of which don’t come by very often and a must buy.

Conclusion

I am lucky to call Ariana my home & if you’re considering buying a flat here you should go ahead!

Saturday, 22nd June, 2019

What are the charges on HDFC bank debit card if I swipe it abroad?

If you are wondering about the fees incurred when you do shopping by swiping your HDFC bank debit card at some merchant location / point of sale (POS) machine during your travel abroad then it will be:

3.5% (cross currency mark-up charges by HDFC) of the amount you spend in Indian rupees + 18% (goods & services tax by Indian government) on that 3.5%

Example:

You spend 1000 rupees:

Fee 1: 3.5% of 1000 = 35
Fee 2: 18% GST on 35 = 6.3
Total = 35 + 6.3 = Rs 41.3

So if you spend 1 lakh rupees either in a single transaction or spread across multiple transactions outside India, the bank will charge you 4130 rupees in total.

Each time you buy something using your debit card, there will be 3 lines for that purchase inside your netbanking account, you just need to be able to clearly identify them.

1. The amount you paid to buy something, converted from the foreign currency into Indian rupees as per that day’s exchange rate

2. FCY CONVERSION MARKUP FEE = Fee 1 mentioned above, which is 3.5% foreign currency conversion markup fee on the amount you paid

3. IGST-VPS………….-RATE 18.0 -21040 = Fee 2 mentioned above, which is 18% Indian GST on the 3.5% foreign currency conversion markup fee

And in this post I have explained the charges HDFC bank will take from you when you withdraw cash in foreign currency using HDFC ATM/debit card in a foreign ATM outside India.

Wednesday, 19th June, 2019

Why I don’t share my future plans

At any given point of time I usually have one or more future plans under the pipeline, something to look forward to, something to work on & achieve. But I don’t really share them with others until those dreams have actually materialized.

I harness the power that comes with keeping it to myself, it gives me the energy & focus required to properly plan & execute the goal, big or small. The struggle to get there, the stories along the path, all that is mine to remember.

I am not competing with anyone, not trying to one up anyone, I certainly don’t want to make anyone jealous. I just want to get my thing done the way I want it. But I don’t like to talk about it until it is done.

And when it is complete, I feel proud of myself. And often I keep the happiness of success to myself too. It keeps the joy of achievement pristine.

Sunday, 5th May, 2019

Guiding principles of my blog

This blog is the one special place online which I have designed for myself first, a site which I will love to look at everytime. Every other conventional rule of making a website comes second.

I write several posts in the WordPress backend, only some of which are published. I delete some of them, I keep some of them in draft mode. I use this space as a training ground for my writing, to bring clarity to my thoughts, for practicing to express myself better.

You won’t find any of the following annoying stuff here:

  • Visitor tracking codes
  • Social media sharing buttons
  • Notification bars on top/bottom
  • Subtle text and buttons asking for donations
  • Fixed headers taking away screen real estate
  • Giveaways, offers, discounts, coupons, free ebooks
  • Popup asking permission to know your geo location
  • Links to my social media profiles asking you to follow me
  • Popup asking permission to send you browser notifications
  • The new European Union privacy policy/cookie acceptance notices
  • Meaningless images because I am unable to express my thoughts via text
  • Subscription forms and popup windows asking you to subscribe to my content

On this website I provide information, solutions to problems, answers to questions, which I have come to know from my own experience and which I think others might be searching for.

I want this site to be easily discoverable via search engines by those who are seeking help, I want most of its content to be useful to others, while a small percentage of it will be about myself, my achievements and progress. A little ego boost.

This website is and will remain the only place online to hear from me. I don’t have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media account.

So if you like my blog then you’ll have to come visit from time to time to look at new posts. None of them are urgent or important, they can wait until your next visit. Once in a month is fine, I don’t write that frequently.

I appreciate your reading my posts. I wish you great success in your life.

Sunday, 21st April, 2019

Shoe Dog

Shoe DogRead this autobiography of Nike’s creator Phil Knight.

It was a rather big read at 386 pages so took me a good amount of time to finish.

Gives you an interesting and inspiring look into his life & work.

Thursday, 11th April, 2019

WordPress HTTP ERROR 500

WordPress Admin did not load after logging in, instead you got that error page? There are several reasons for getting this error, the following could be one of the possible solutions.

Step 1:

Make sure you have WordPress debugging & error logging enabled in your wp-config.php file. Don’t know how to do that? Look for a line WP_DEBUG inside the wp-config.php file and change the false to true. Also add this line define( 'WP_DEBUG_LOG', true ); below it. So they need to look like this:

Step 2:

Now check whether the debug.log file inside your wp-content folder contains a php notice about sidebar similar to below.

[11-Apr-2019 06:19:00 UTC] PHP Notice: register_sidebar was called incorrectly. No id was set in the arguments array for the "Social Profiles" sidebar. Defaulting to "sidebar-1". Manually set the id to "sidebar-1" to silence this notice and keep existing sidebar content. Please see Debugging in WordPress for more information. (This message was added in version 4.2.0.) in /wp-includes/functions.php on line 4667

If it does then you need to have the line 'id' => 'something' inside your register_sidebar() function right after the 'name' => line in your theme’s functions.php file where you have registered your widgetized areas.

Woah what?

This id is kinda required now, been that way since WP 4.2 I believe. This is not a CSS id, you just use this id [or the name] in the dynamic_sidebar() function to specify which widgetized area you want to display in your theme. So this id can be a number or a word, doesn’t matter, just make sure to have it in your functions.php, the above php notice won’t appear again and you won’t get the 500 error after logging into WP Admin.

Example:

So if this was your theme’s register_sidebar() function BEFORE:

This will be the AFTER: