Tuesday, 22nd January, 2019

How to go to Okada, Manila from SM Mall of Asia

Free bus to Okada from Mall of AsiaThere are free shuttle buses running every 30 minutes that pick you up from SM Mall of Asia [MOA] to Okada casino & resort and drop back at MOA. The drive is approximately 10 minutes.

The bus stop is right in front of Pet Express in Mall of Asia. Look for the purple signboard which also has the timing schedule of the bus both ways.

Even if you don’t want to go into the casino, the visit to Okada is still worth it for the amazing, free 5 minute water + light + sound show that starts at 6 PM every day & runs every hour until 10 PM in the weekdays & until 11 PM in the weekends.

Timing of free bus service from SM Mall of Asia to Okada, Manila

Click to enlarge

Monday, 21st January, 2019

Life lesson 1

Drawstring bags are terrible. The strings go out of balance often & it is frustrating to adjust them. Never buying one again.

Sunday, 13th January, 2019

Metro Manila

Visiting Manila, Philippines for 2 weeks.

Thursday, 27th December, 2018

HDFC Bank debit card international ATM withdrawal charges

So exactly how much charges you will have to bear if you withdraw cash in a foreign country ATM using your HDFC bank debit card? I will give you the straight forward answer with exact calculation.

Let’s assume you drew some foreign currency from the ATM which was worth 1000 in Indian rupees as per that day’s currency conversion rate.

There will be following 2 fees:

Fee 1:

ATM use fee by HDFC bank: You will pay a fixed charge of Rs 110 to HDFC every time you use an ATM outside India to draw foreign currency.

18% tax on the above by Indian govt: There will be 18% GST on the above Rs 110 which HDFC bank will deduct & give to the Indian government. So 18% of Rs 110 is Rs 19.8

Combined: Rs 110 + Rs 19.8 = Rs 129.8 . This amount will appear as a single line item in your bank statement.

Fee 2:

Cross currency mark-up fee by HDFC bank: Your bank account has money in Indian rupees but you are withdrawing money in a foreign currency, so you will pay HDFC bank a fee to convert the currency, which is 3.5% of the amount you drew in Indian rupees.

So for 1000 rupees this fee is 35 rupees.

18% tax on the above by Indian govt: There will be 18% GST on the above currency conversion fee of Rs 35 which HDFC bank will deduct & give to the Indian government. So 18% of Rs 35 is Rs 6.3

Combined: Rs 35 + Rs 6.3 = Rs 41.3 .This amount will appear as a single line item in your bank statement.


So for Rs 1000 worth of foreign currency you withdraw abroad, the total charge is Rs 129.8 + Rs 41.3 = Rs 171.1


Withdraw Singapore Dollar 1500 = 76813.21 Indian Rupees

Fee 1: 129.8 fixed fee
Fee 2: 3.5% of 76813.21 = 2688.46
       18% of 2688.46 = 483.92
       2688.46 + 483.92 = 3172.38
Total: 129.8 + 3172.38 = Rs 3302.18

Withdraw Malaysia Ringgit 1000 = 16843.50 Indian Rupees

Fee 1: 129.8 fixed fee
Fee 2: 3.5% of 16843.50 = 589.52
       18% of 589.52 = 106.11
       589.52 + 106.11 = 695.63
Total: 129.8 + 695.63 = Rs 825.43

The above 2 charges will apply every time you use a foreign ATM to withdraw cash in their currency. From my experience I believe this will be same for all countries.

I only have HDFC bank debit cards so I can speak only for HDFC. Debit cards from other Indian banks might have different charges.

Important note: In addition to these above 2 charges by HDFC + tax by Indian govt, some foreign bank ATMs in some countries might charge you an extra fee for using their ATM because your bank is outside their country/banking network. Depending upon how transparent that bank is, their ATM screen might or might not show a notice about this charge before you proceed to do the withdrawal & give you an option to proceed/cancel the withdrawal. It could be a fixed amount or a percentage fee. This will be added to your total withdrawal amount in Indian rupees & will not show as a separate item in the bank statement.

For example I have never paid any such additional fees by any ATM in Malaysia, but I have paid 60000 VND [Vietnamese Dong] for one transaction at a Citi bank ATM in Ho Chi Minh City airport, Vietnam, and 250 Peso for one transaction at a PSBank ATM in Manila airport, Philippines.

And if you’re wondering about charges incurred while swiping your debit card at international stores/merchants/POS machines then read this post.

Tuesday, 18th December, 2018


Staying in Saigon [also known as Ho Chi Minh City], Vietnam for 4 weeks. Lots of two wheelers.

Cầu Ánh Sao

Cầu Ánh Sao / Starlight bridge near Crescent mall.

The Vietnamese people love coffee & tea. Small tea stalls every 5 meters. Sit down, sip coffee, talk or bury your head into the phone.

People here are so slim, because their food is healthy & low on carbs, oil etc.

They also love their national flag, its everywhere, outside homes, stores, private businesses, public establishments, on vehicles.

Monday, 10th December, 2018

AirAsia check-in baggage fees

After initial booking (such as when paid during self web check-in):

Manila > Kuala Lumpur = 1080 Philippines Peso

Kuala Lumpur > Bhubaneswar = 1250 Indian Rupees [approximately]

Monday, 19th November, 2018

mysql_upgrade: Got error: 2002

mysql_upgrade: Got error: 2002: Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/Applications/MAMP/tmp/mysql/mysql.sock' (61) while connecting to the MySQL server
Upgrade process encountered error and will not continue.

If you’re getting this error in MAMP while trying to upgrade the database, then a possible solution is to restart the computer & open MAMP before running any other applications. It should work.

Thursday, 1st November, 2018

Odisha has started ban on use of polythenes

Nine cities in my state Odisha which includes my city Bhubaneswar have started a ban on use of polythene bags for anything. It was implemented since past few days & from today onwards there will be heavy monetary penalty for using polythene on both vendors & consumers. I appreciate & support this excellent initiative.

Now is the perfect time to buy some cloth bags & I am well prepared in advance for this. I have ordered some cloth bags from SmallSteps.in few weeks ago. They are an organization at Auroville, Pondicherry who produce these beautiful bags. Their bags can be ordered online & they also ship internationally.

In fact the first SmallSteps bag I got was in 2013. I noticed this foldable cloth backpack [green bag in the photo] at a bookstore in Mumbai International Airport & had bought it for Rs 100. The bag is still in use, a testament to how strong they are.

We got 2 small ones, 2 big ones, two foldable backpacks & one foldable side bag. We use them for carrying vegetables, groceries & everything else.

These bags are lightweight, washable, affordable & durable. The foldable ones come with a small pouch in which they fold into when not in use and a carabiner to hang it to a purse or anything else.

They are more stylish than a plastic bag. Go for it!

Small Steps Bags

Tuesday, 23rd October, 2018

Full size Terminal in MacOS

If you’re one of those people who like their Terminal app to cover the entire available width & height of their computer screen, but are tired of it showing up in a random size when you open it, then see this video to set the correct size for once & all.

Step 1: Open terminal & drag it by corners to make it full size.

Step 2: Enable the option to show current window dimensions on the titlebar of the app so that you can see it.

Step 3: Set the window width/height size to the dimensions you see on the titlebar for future.