Monday, 29th July, 2019

How Airtel is lying to us

You’re cruising over the information super highway, consuming mobile data like there is no tomorrow, gotta watch them videos all! All of a sudden you’re hit with this SMS from Airtel:

Alert-50%-: of your daily data limit is used. You wonder, 50% data gone already? So fast! And you start thinking of conserving data to get through the rest of the day, you become selective in what you click from now onwards. Sorry funny cat video, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow. Sorry political propaganda, no can do, gotta save bandwidth for Whatsapp, Zomato & Paytm.

But no! AirTel is trying to fool us. If you have the Airtel mobile app, go to the “Data Balance” section & check how much data you’ve actually consumed. It will be nowhere close to the 50% of your plan, it will be much much less! For me the 50% message comes when I still have 2.9GB data left out of 3.4GB! Clearly someone at Airtel office skipped primary maths class.

Chal jhootha!

And then soon after you’re hit with a second SMS, 90% of your data is gone into thin air, your online life is now officially over for the day, until 12 O’ clock mid-night when next day’s data balance reloads. But no, its just Airtel messing with you like a good homie. Again if you check in the mobile app, you’ve not even used half the data, and they’re warning you of 90% data exhaustion. For me, I get that SMS when I have 2.5GB remaining out of 3.4GB!

I have been monitoring this for several days now. Why Airtel why? Stunts like this is what forced many of your customers to switch to Jio in the first place.

Friday, 26th July, 2019

Can I wash Apple EarPods?

Yes you can! I am talking about the WIRED earphones from Apple, which used to come bundled with older iPhones before they stopped doing that.

I have 2 such EarPods, one from iPhone 3gs [yes that old!] and one from iPhone 5s, both of whose phones are long gone but the earpods continue to work perfectly.

Apple EarPods

After so many years they are still white because I clean them regularly.

I directly wash them with regular water & liquid soap, clean the wire, take a small brush & clean earwax, dirt etc off the part which go into the ear. Must let it dry before using again. These are my favourite earphones & I will continue to purchase them as long as Apple will sell a 3.5mm headphone plug.

If you’re still not convinced, use surgical spirit instead of water. Take a cotton pad, wet it fully with surgical spirit and use it to clean the entire thing.

Thursday, 25th July, 2019

Roomba 606 review

Does Roomba work for Indian homes? Yes it does!

I have been using the Roomba 606 since September 2018, which is the cheapest model from iRobot on Amazon.in selling at around 19000 rupees.

It works perfectly. Roomba cleans the floor better than a human can, it picks up such fine dust which can never be picked up with a broom, ONLY IF you let it clean. Any by “letting it clean” I mean keep as much floor space available for Roomba. Move away small objects like toys, utensils, house slippers, clothes that are lying on the floor and any other obstacles that might get in its way.

We let Roomba clean our 2 bedrooms, 1 living + dining room, 1 kitchen & 1 utility space of our flat, which is of approximately 900 sqft of tiled floor. It takes approximately 1 hour to clean this much space. We run Roomba & do a wet mopping of the floor every alternate day, so if wet mop is done today then Roomba runs the next day. We don’t let it clean the balconies, we just wet mop there.

And if I got busy in some work or just being lazy & have not done wet mopping of the floor on the day which I should have, then I just run the Roomba.

After every 3 to 5 runs I open the dust box & remove the dust it collected, take out its front wheel, side brush, 2 main brushes, clean dust & hair from them & put them back, wipe everywhere I can with a microfibre cloth. That makes sure it does its top performance. I have not had to replace any parts so far. I do this once a week.

It works great, floor is so clean that sometimes you can make that screeching noise with your feet if you rub hard on the floor. Never have to pick up the broom & bend down to do sweeping anymore, that activity has become a thing of the past for us. Haven’t needed a maid either.

One thing to note: Roomba runs in a very crazy pattern which is beyond any human logic. For example it will be running against the wall in a straight line, then it will move to the middle of the room in a random pattern, going back n forth, and while half of the room is still not cleaned all of a sudden it will move towards another room. This can make you frustrated & loose trust on the device. But if you notice closely for a few days, it eventually returns back to those “missed” spaces later to complete the job. And IF by chance it misses a spot today, it works more on that spot in the next cleaning, which has been my experience. Even though I had read about this behaviour before, it still took us several weeks to process that Roomba is not a person, its a machine, it detects spots with its sensors & signals and has its own unique way of cleaning.

So just let it do whatever it does, let it clean & it will. Now one step from the list of home cleaning chore feels to be automated.

This is solid company of 30+ years, sold millions of devices across the globe. If it worked for so many people’s homes it will work for you too. We are 100% satisfied with this robot & recommend it. Go for it!

Tuesday, 23rd July, 2019

Calvin Klein One EDT review

Calvin Klein One Eau De Toilette 100 ML

I got this Eau de Toilette in 100ml size by redeeming my HDFC bank Regalia credit card’s rewards points. Looks like it sells online for around 3000 rupees.

I did a test of one spray on each side of my t-shirt’s shoulders in the day, and a very light smell is still there on my t-shirt till mid-night when I am typing this, after around 10/11 hours.

I feel the point of using a perfume is for either of the following two reasons:

1. You have had a long, sweaty day, you’re going to be out there in the public such as in a market or public transport, people will be going to get closer to you, and you need all the help you can get from a fragrance to suppress any bad odour your body might be starting to generate, and make other people comfortable around you, until you get a chance to clean yourself up.

2. You just want to smell nice, fresh & interesting for yourself & other people around you.

Looks like this EDT is good for both of these cases. I recommend it.

PS: The bottle comes with the cap on top & the sprayer is kept in the packet. You have to take out the cap & put the sprayer on top in order to use it.

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.