Wednesday, 23rd October, 2019

Tourist visa to Qatar for Indians

Me & my wife have visited Qatar in October 2019. Indian tourists don’t need to apply for a visa to visit Qatar, we get Visa on Arrival stamp free of cost at the airport.

Documents Required

They will only ask for your return flight & accommodation details. Their official website says each traveller should have a debit or credit card in their name but they didn’t ask us any of our card details even though we had them ready.

Sometimes they might casually ask you your return date or how many days you’re going to stay just to double check.

MIA Park, Qatar

MIA park with beautiful views & spots for photos, just behind Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. A must visit in the evening.

Tuesday, 22nd October, 2019

How To See

How To See by Thich Nhat Hanh

Read this tiny book by Vietnamese buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Each page has just one or two paragraphs, but they are powerful stuff.

I can’t say I understood it completely. It needs to be read several times to fully comprehend & a lifetime to implement all the teachings.

Monday, 21st October, 2019

How to raise a chargeback dispute on a HDFC Bank Credit Card transaction and get your money back

So I had heard many horror stories in the past and it finally happened to me. After all these years of using a credit card I had finally been a victim of an online payment fraud using my HDFC Bank Business Regalia Credit Card. And I have been able to get my money back by following the official protocol & with the help of fine customer support team at HDFC Credit Card division. Below is the series of events that happened:

26th August 2019: I booked a hotel room in Doha, Qatar using the card from an online hotel booking agent Amoma.com

14th September 2019: Amoma.com emailed me, they said they are shutting down their business & my hotel booking might be cancelled by the hotel. They emailed me from a no-reply email address, and their website was shut down without any phone numbers or email address, so I did not have any method to contact them for any further questions.

16th September 2019: I emailed the hotel where I had booked the room. They replied same day that my booking was still valid. That assured me 100% & I didn’t have to worry about it any further.

5th October 2019: We landed in Qatar in a late night flight & reached the hotel in Doha with full confidence. They told me on the spot that my room booking was cancelled on 18th September 2019 because the agent Amoma.com did not pay them. Imagine my plight, in a foreign land, late at night, with my wife by the side, no room to stay!

I had to pay the hotel again a for the same room for the same number of days at a higher price. This was a clear case of fraud by Amoma.com, they took money from me but did not pay the hotel. Neither me nor the hotel was at fault.

6th October 2019: I emailed HDFC Bank’s credit card customer care at customerservices.cards@hdfcbank.com, with clearly describing all the events that happened, how I was victim of a fraud, and I asked for a charge back. They replied same day that my request has been forwarded to the concerned department & they will respond to me within 7 business days.

8th October 2019: I got email from their Credit Card Disputes division. They assured me that they have immediately initiated the necessary steps for investigation towards the disputed transaction intimated by me. And they asked me to provide 2 things urgently which will help hasten the investigation:

  • Copy of the order confirmation / agreement provided by the merchant confirming the date within which the goods / services were to be delivered.
  • Details of any written communication / documentary evidences which you had with the merchant in resolving the dispute.

So I replied to their email the same day within 3.5 hours. I provided them with specific facts & figures:

  • The date of transaction
  • The exact amount paid
  • Email from Amoma.com confirming the hotel booking
  • Email from Amoma.com mentioning the shutting down of their business
  • My inability to contact the merchant as there was no method of communication present & their website was closed
  • Email confirmation from the hotel itself of my booking still valid
  • Another email from the hotel to me confirming that I had to pay again to book the room because the agent had not paid them, so the booking was cancelled the first time. I had acquired this email by making a special request to the hotel management while I was staying there & explaining my problem.

I provided all these proof by converting the emails to PDFs, with proper naming & numbering the files in the order which I received them, so that it will be easier for them to understand.

11th October 2019: They replied saying a full fledged investigation was underway & they will reply to me within 7 working days.

21st October 2019: I waited for 7 working days, but did not receive any email. So I emailed them in the morning of 8th day. Upon not receiving any email reply till the evening I called credit card customer care phone number in the evening, and they informed me that the amount has already been refunded to me!

I logged into NetBanking account, checked the credit card charges & the disputed amount was indeed returned back to me on 15th October 2019. So they just did it silently. It was amazing! If you’re curious my amount was 27139 rupees.

So now you know how to raise a dispute on a payment done via credit card & initiate a charge back process. But fair warning: it will only work if it is a genuine case of non delivery of goods or services by a merchant despite your payment. Don’t try to game the bank, because you simply can not, you will fail.

Also the onus is on you to present your case to the customer care in a very clear & orderly manner which will make sense to them. So always save all kinds of proof of your online payments. Emails, physical bills, invoices, phone call recordings, everything helps. Scan them, make PDFs, attach them to the email.

Despite the payment being done more than a month ago they were still able to help me. So I learned banks can move mountains for their loyal customers who abide by their rules & pay their credit card dues in time. Protection from such fraudulent transactions is definitely one of the biggest reasons to use a credit card apart from other benefits such as cash backs.

Also note, during this period of investigation, I discovered that third party funds transfer facility was disabled on my bank account as an extra layer of security. So while I was able to receive money I was not able to send anyone any money. That was taken care of by one visit to my home branch & signing a fresh application form to re-enable third party fund transfer on my account. It only took 1 business day.

This entire experience has further increased my trust on HDFC bank, and their wonderful customer care team. I thank them & will continue to recommend their services to everyone.

Wednesday, 16th October, 2019

Qatar free tourist SIM card from India

Qatar sim card free

On our way to visit Doha, Qatar from Kochi International Airport we found 2 outlets providing Ooredoo 4G SIM cards absolutely free of cost. Ooredoo is one of the best mobile network providers of Qatar.

These outlets are near Gate 1 in the international departure area right after the Duty Free shopping section after you clear immigration & security.

Cost of SIM card Qatar

You just need to provide your passport & they will scan it & give you the SIM cards. There will not be much data or talk time balance on it. You will need to recharge it upon arriving at Hamad International Airport. There is a Ooredoo counter on the extreme right corner of the airport near bus stops. Its in the external areas of the airport which you reach only after getting your visa on arrival at the immigration counters and clearing security.

Free Ooredoo sim card from India

I recharged 30 Qatari Riyals on each SIM card. It came with 2 GB of data & 3 months validity which was perfect for our week long trip.

I am really thankful for this step by Qatar government or tourism department or any Indian authority whoever is responsible for providing this facility because I had read it was 30 Riyals just to buy one prepaid SIM card at Doha, not including any topups. So it saved me 60 Riyals for 2 cards which was awesome for a budget tourist like myself!

Tuesday, 15th October, 2019

Reloading HDFC Forex card using another person’s credit card

It will not work. You can reload your HDFC bank forex card online using a debit or credit card which is only in your name.

I tried loading 500 Qatari Riyal to a VISA Platinum ForexPlus Multi Currency Corporate Debit Card which is in my name by using my wife’s HDFC Regalia credit card. The amount was immediately taken away from wife’s credit card & was shown as a transaction item in the credit card account, but it did not show up in my forex card account.

Then on the 6th day the amount was reversed back to the credit card as the card holders were different, and we got SMS messages regarding the transaction failure.

Monday, 14th October, 2019

What is my skin type?

Are you wondering how to know what type of skin you have? Dry, oily or something else? Ask your wife, girlfriend or sister, they will tell you.

Friday, 11th October, 2019

Where to buy cheap lemongrass oil in bulk?

Cheap lemongrass oilI don’t know about other places but you can buy lemongrass essential oil at affordable prices in Bhubaneswar, Odisha from a government run shop. The name of the place is Tribal World which is in Rupali Square, Sahid Nagar, Bhubaneswar. Here is the Google Maps link to the store.

It is run by an government organization called Tribal Development Co-operative Corporation of Odisha Ltd. Their websites are tdccodisha.org and adisha.in

They have 100 ml & 200 ml bottles, with & without spray pumps. A 100 ml bottle without pump costs 180 rupees while sprayer bottles are costlier.

You can use this oil in your manual reed defusers, electronic aroma defusers, as a manual spray, or as floor cleaning liquid to give your home a nice aroma. It is very concentrated so you should dilute it with water before using.

Saturday, 5th October, 2019

How to clean glass kitchen chimney

What is the best material to clean oil & grease from glass panel of a kitchen chimney?

We have a modular kitchen & chimney setup from Sleek. I have tried to clean the chimney, its exterior glass surface, its filter & other inside, outside areas using various types of liquids to such as tarpin (similar to kerosene), thinner (similar to spirit, used to wash paint off brushes) & detergent mixed water.

But from my trials I have found the window glass cleaner Colin does the best job of removing the oily, sticky substances with least amount of scrubbing efforts. I absolutely recommend it.

I also use Colin to clean the modular kitchen’s panels. Any other brand glass cleaner liquid should work as well.

Friday, 4th October, 2019

How much time it takes to reload HDFC MultiCurrency Forex card?

I have the VISA Platinum ForexPlus Multi Currency Corporate Debit Card.

Today, on a Friday, I reloaded it with Qatari Riyals at 12:35 PM in the afternoon online using my debit card.

I received SMS & email notification of the amount being loaded at 6:13 PM in the evening.

So it took 5 hours 38 minutes.

Note: On our last trip to Switzerland, I had loaded Swiss Francs on the card only 1 day before my travel date & it was confirmed the same day via email, but I still could not withdraw Swiss Francs at any of the ATMs in Geneva airport when we landed there. Then after one more day I was able to withdraw my cash.

So to be on the safe side, my advice is to load foreign currency on the card atleast 3 or 4 working days prior to your travel date to be 100% sure that the card will be ready for use when you reach there.

Wednesday, 2nd October, 2019

How to smell nice all day long

Nivea liquid roll on deoThis is my advice for all kinds of human beings, ladies, gentlemen & others. You don’t have to smell like a flower all the time but please for the love of god, at the very least, don’t smell bad.

I speak from personal experience. I have been there. Despite bathing daily, we start to smell like garbage after a few hours.

The primary reason for that is the sweat that generates in our armpits, and then it catches onto the armpit hair. Within a few hours bacteria is formed on that hair & we start to smell like pigs.

The secondary reason is not taking a shower in the end of the day.

So here are 4 steps how to fix that terrible body odour of yours that you can’t notice but others can.

1. Must do: Shave off your armpit hair completely. No cutting with scissors. It is 2020 already, whether you’re an alpha male or a lovely lass, armpit hair is just not sexy anymore. Buy a Philips hair trimmer or a manual triple blade razor & clean shave it regularly.

2. Most important: Apply a Roll On Deodorant on your armpit right after coming from shower. I recommend any of the roll on deos from Nivea which are great. It creates a very thin layer in your under arms which reduces sweat generation itself & also prevents bacteria creation from sweat. It works for a really long time, like 10 hours or so!

3. Optional: Wear a nice perfume or gas deo spray, whatever floats your boat. But just don’t over do it. Very strong aroma is also kinda repulsive.

4. Further hygiene: Take a shower in the evening when you return from work, or before bed when you’re ready to call it a day. You don’t need to apply the roll on deo after this last shower to leave the skin some breathing room in the night, also its unlikely that you’ll sweat much in your sleep.