Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category
A lot’s happened since I last posted here. Job switches, travel, treks, books, cycle rides, engagement, accidents, and so on. I’ve been uploading quite a few photographs in my Flickr account and keep my Goodreads profile more or less up-to-date.
It must’ve been an exasperating (disenchanted rather) experience with banks that prompts me to post something about them today.
I’ve held more than two savings accounts across banks and thought this must a good time (IT-R season) to cut down on some of the least recently used bank accounts. I started with YES bank: emailed them a couple of days ago asking for a quick outline of the procedure, they responded within 24 hours in email (rather than calling me up out of the blue — which is a good thing) and all they wanted from me was to fill up a closure request form at any branch and destroy the ATM card and cheques.
Visited the branch at JP Nagar (6th phase?) and saw a small branch with four people in there. There were no queues (small banks and branches are neat aren’t they?) and I was quickly and courteously attended to. They were satisfied with my reason for closure (too many accounts) and didn’t bother me anymore about it. Overall quite good experience. The only negative points were the account closure charges: nearly 112 rupees. And they took a few minutes to print out the closure form which they didn’t have handy. I guess they’re entitled to that for the low operations in their personal banking branches and for offering a fabulous interest rate of at least 6% (depending on the type) in their savings accounts. The remaining balance would be NEFT’ed to my HDFC account whose details were filled along while submitting the closure request.
Next up was ICICI bank. This is an account I’ve been holding since 2011 starting off at the Malad branch in Mumbai which I later transferred to the Koramangala branch a year later. I’ve also held credit cards with them and I kind of still have a soft spot for this bank (their phone customer service is usually excellent, even late at night). I’ve raised a closure request for the credit cards which I haven’t been using for a while now over phone banking and it seems to be progressing at its own pace (about a day old). What surprised me was, I think, the home branch portability of this bank. I don’t recall setting the JP Nagar 6th phase branch as my home branch and it appears that they’ve done this by themselves based on proximity to my residential address at JP Nagar 7th phase. That was pretty cool I thought. Onto the actual branch visit, the customer relations lady seemed a little irritable and was mostly on the phone while I sat there patiently waiting for her attention. Their closure request form had options to en-cash the balance out through NEFT, DD or cash withdrawal from the teller. The relations lady flat out refused to do the NEFT stating no reason. She kept pushing me to use the ATM or take a DD. I didn’t have my latest ATM card with me (old account, don’t know where it is) and I don’t like the idea of running around to banks with a DD in hand. Finally she budged and let me withdraw cash from a manned teller. It’s a little disappointing given the “privileged” banking customer status and all. NEFT would’ve been ideal. Now I have quarter’s supply of cash in my wallet.
HDFC bank: I’m not closing any account right now; to the contrary, I purchased a FOREX card through the netbanking which got delivered to me today. The person (3rd party agent on behalf of HDFC) who delivered the card asked me to activate the card through phone banking. I called up the number listed in the kit and IVR’d my way through to an intermediary who was going to forward me to the correct department. This intermediary, like so many intermediaries in the past at various occasions in my HDFC phone banking experience, had some “phone-only” offer to sell me. It was some kind of “savings plan” whose details I can’t remember or lookup, because, as usual, they wouldn’t send me a PDF brochure or a link to my registered email address when I ask them. They’d offer to send me some product manager to discuss the product and its terms, but all I want is a brochure to read at my own leisure and decide whether I want to pursue this or not. It has happened in the past with other products I was being sold such as insurance.
I’ve been using a DBS account since mid Feb this year and I quite like the interface and OTP format it uses. The debit card has offers relevant to me. A good selling point was its ability to allow me to add an external NEFT beneficiary and transfer money without having to wait. (HDFC and SBI has minimum wait times of 12 hours if I recall correctly). It’s been a good experience so far. I wish it had more options in its netbanking such as the ability to download historical statements in PDF (not just a bare-bones CSV that it currently provides). And perhaps more services such as prepaid cards and so on.
The quest for a good savings bank account with secure but not-irritating netbanking, reasonable service charges (100 rupees to close an account (YES) or drop a cheque at a non-home branch (HDFC)? Silliness) is still open. And I wish more workplaces offered a choice with salary deposits like my current company does (that is how I ended up with DBS – my own experimental choice).
It’s been a really long time since I last blogged. My attempts at living a moderately disciplined and occupied life has been quite a success. That would mean a major change in lifestyle from my college days.
Recent updates include:
a. moving to a newer apartment near Powai lake in Mumbai.
Moved in with my former (first one at college) roomie – Koushik Mandal(!) and his department-mate (and my batch-mate from Hall3), Sidhant Dash. They’re cool folks (barring Mandal’s mandalism at times). Each of us were living with other non-IITK, non-Y4 batch folks earlier – this was the primary criterion that prompted the move for each of us.
b. managing to read fiction.
I read ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’ – a collection of short stories and ‘Hard-boiled Wonderland and The End of The World’ (novel) by Haruki Murakami. He’s a Japanese author and I read the English translations of these. The last fiction I read before these was Agatha Christie’s “The Murder of Dr. Roger Ackroyd” four years ago! I’ve been a passive consumer all along – anime, movies, TV dramas, you know, the kind that don’t require the mental weightlifting as in the case of active media – books.
In a recent Wired article, two abilities were distinguished – “The ability to scan and browse is as important as the ability to read deeply and think attentively.” Being the kind of person who’d been chasing after Google search results until recently, I might’ve adopted the former as my dominant mode of thought and maybe reading “larger” material might improve the situation. Not that this is primary motivation to read- just that it’s a welcome throw-in that comes with it, I guess. Looking forward to another Murakami piece – ‘Kafka on the shore’.
c. weekly anime-sessions.
Vishnu, Karan and I meet up on weekends trying to catch up with anime. I haven’t been able to watch anime like I used to in the past year. But these weekly sessions are fun.
We’ve been watching ‘Aura Battler: Dunbine’, an 80’s show, it’s about 49 episodes long and I think we’ve reached 38 episodes through!
The past 3 weekends I’ve been introduced to the new ‘Dr. Who’ show and I’ve found it a really good British sci-fi show so far. I’m usually wary of insanely long shows – long as in several seasons over the years. For one, I fear getting really sucked into it and wanting to watch it all or read it all. The same reason that keeps one away from, say, ‘One Piece’. Maybe I should stop being such a “perfectionist”.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted an “updates” post so it looks like I’m going to have to recap quite a bit.
First off, today marks two months of my stay at Mumbai. It’s been an interesting experience in as far as the passage of time is concerned. I feel a lot busier than I used to and I think that’s a good thing. I’m beginning to make fuller use of the day unlike my (extremely) lazy days at college a year ago. Interestingly, today also marks the Hindu new year in the Western and Southern parts of the country (unsure about the rest).
And more interestingly, yesterday the GATE results were announced. Although I had registered for it, I didn’t appear for the exam. I was convinced I was way under-prepared and I took off to Mumbai. My juniors at IITK got their scores: Shashank did surprisingly well (99+ percentile), then it was Praneeth followed by Surya. Going by the numbers they’ve scored and the first-hand report on the sort of importance Theory of Computation holds in this paper, I’m slightly better informed now (would’ve been more better informed if I actually wrote the exam!) and this gives me more direction towards what to prepare for by next year’s GATE.
Rachit, a former wingmate of mine, flew from his Uni in Paris to Mumbai on 1st of March for a short detour homeward and then onto his new job at Paris. We had a reunion of sorts: Mandal (puts up at Kandivali), Kanodia (somewhere in Navi Mumbai, Ghansoli IIRC), Saurabh(!), Rachit and I. We had a good time and went down to Churchgate for what would be my first encounter with “Bademiya” – a smallish outdoor eatery specialising in primarily non-vegetarian food. It was busy. Really busy. But good too.
And last weekend was a weekend out with Mitesh (who so gracefully came all the way from Pune), Rachit (who had just returned from visiting his home), Saurabh, Mandal and I. We met on Friday, had a good night and the morning Rachit left to fly back to Paris. We had a good time on Saturday – watched “Alice in Wonderland” in IMAX! – Followed by another visit to Bademiya (Mitesh’s first visit).
I quite liked the movie. Before the actual movie started, a bunch of trailers (2D and 3D) were shown and boy is the IMAX 3D experience going to get big or what. Must thank Avatar to kick things off in India. Really. I liked the white queen in the movie. The movie was so sparkly and all, could be thought of as a *cough*acid trip*cough* (not that I know). It’s a must watch, really. It’s amazing how novel experiences can really brighten up our minds, raising our bars of satisfaction every time we confront something new.
I don’t know if it’s just me but there are these days in an week where I tend to worry so much that my productivity drops to near-stagnation. Just nothing seems to happen other than a tense me appearing tense. Anyway, I’m just recovering from a somewhat unhappy experience with my Karmic Beta installation on my laptop. Yes, it’s another ooh-nareshov-does-another-distro-shift post. And here’s what happened.
First, I get a call from Vadiraj on a Wednesday morning, out of the blue, from Goa. Apparently, his friend and he planned a noon-trip to this place just to score something that’s allegedly only available there (in India, i.e.). He wanted me to do a quick Google to give him some pointers. Unsuspend my laptop, I did. To connect to the internet through my USB modem, it failed. No matter what I tried – wvdial, pppd, NetworkManager – I couldn’t connect. And I went on a reboot-and-try spree. No luck. All that happened was me end up with a laptop that’d get stuck at boot trying to fsck my filesystem. Enraged, I was.
I reach office and start moving my stuff off of my laptop preparing for a fresh-install. Of, *shudder*, Arch Linux. Installation was pretty straight forward. But I didn’t really enjoy it as much I did Gentoo or FreeBSD. Not to mention all that sorcery trying to get my USB modem to work being unsuccessful. (At some point I had udev identifying my device as a CDMA modem and hal identify it as a GSM modem).
That night, no internet. The next day, installed Debian testing. But I had the same darned problem of being unable to tap my touchpad to click on, you know, things. The GNOME which Debian-testing featured didn’t have that tab under System > Preferences > Mouse where I could enable “Tap to click”. A quick Google suggested the use of GSynaptics – which had a “Tapping” tab where I promptly enabled “Enable Tapping” and had my Aha-moment.
Oh, and, today I get a pay-your-internet-bill reminder. And I did it within minutes of seeing this. And here I am, about seven hours after I did that and back from a pretty decent string chamber orchestra organised by the Bangalore School of Music for raising funds for the Karnataka-floods relief, blogging about why my USB modem wasn’t working and the things I did in the past few days.
And regarding my worries. Wanda the Fish, the fortune teller had this to say:
P.S.: That was my first click on the Wanda-the-Fish GNOME applet after installing fortune-mod earlier today.
P.P.S.: On the upside, I got a chance to do a fresh ext4 install after all this.
On Independence Day
Time. Remember not to complain about it.
On August 15th, Terence drew something really interesting during the painting competition that was organised at our office. It was a view of our hands: the left one holding a dice and the right one holding an hourglass. I don’t quite remember the complete explanation he gave about his poster, but part of it went like this: The dice represents randomness in life and the hourglass, time. And taking chances at the right time is what we have in our hands. A simple, yet powerful message. Additional points for being wise enough to be able to distinguish between what you can do and what you can’t.
Let’s not talk about my poster.
I’m not sure how this is other dog loving countries across the world, but certain observations which I’ve made in the past few months are:
1. Most rich dog owners do not own Indian breeds – but mostly non-native breeds.
2. Far too many stray dogs.
1. Do the other dog loving countries tend to not own their own native breeds and, say, prefer Indian breeds?
2. Are there just as many stray dogs in such countries?
Other, possibly related questions:
1. What’s with the recent trend of blonde dancers in Bollywood *cough* dance sequences?
2. What’s with the sudden influx of all the fugly Indian counterparts of North American style reality shows on TV?
3. Why am I even writing about such things on my blog?
Bought a bunch of popular science books (Richard Dawkins and Roger Penrose). Yes, I’m not really a reader but I’d love to pick up the habbit. On a related note: due to poor internets at home and office, I’m hereby bankrupt in the Anime department. There are shows I’d love to watch. I guess I’ll have to wait for better times.
My kittie was killed by three dogs on 14th night – the night before the Independence day. It had hardly lived for twenty days in our house. My mom, sis and I are dearly missing him. Oh, and, those three dogs were stray dogs. They’re currently employed as watch dogs by immigrant masons who’re illegally staying in the same locality where we are.
It’s been a long time since my long post and unsurpisingly, I’ve hardly had anyone enquire about my blogging status – barring a workmate who told me I should continue blogging. I was going to anyway. It’s just that the sweet pleasures of having a 1Gbps internet connection isn’t available anymore.
I landed in Bengaluru on 2nd June. For about a two weeks there was no internet. I looked into the various options that were available – the usual ADSL connections from BSNL, Airtel, TATA or the CDMA datacards from TATA, Reliance. I signed up for TATA’s ADSL and after getting a demo on TATA’s Photon+ (CDMA datacard), I decided to cancel the ADSL connection and go with Photon+. Pros: Good speeds for the price, cons: no scheme with unlimited downloads available.
Anyway. On 18th Jun Tirupam and I left Bengaluru for Thrissur. The occasion being Vishnu’s marriage! It was good to see familiar faces in a setting such as this. Lalit, Mitesh, Ankit: it was good to see you all again. Thrissur, as a place, wasn’t half as bad. Kerala as a state seems to be gifted with plenty of natural resources – the greenery, water, weather. Given such naturally endowed excesses, it probably makes the society somewhat mature and financially pretty well off compared to the neighbouring state – Tamil Nadu – which continues to be a large exporter of ground-level labourers (I realise that it’s not that simple, but, yes, Keralites are lucky).
Moving back to Bengaluru now, I’m still identity-less. My College’s I-card has expired, and more importantly is of no use here. I have no driving license yet. No PAN card or any of those fancy things yet. Recently, Nilekani has taken up a role in the Indian government to work on an nationwide ID card for all. I wish him all the luck and I hope I get one soon. I’ve even postponed buying that TATA DoCoMo SIM for that!
Oh, and, I’ve started working in a Free Software company now. I’ve still got a long way to go before I shed my lazy lifestyle that I had so gotten used to in college. Work needs to be done.
Lately, my blog posts have become less technical. Those Howtos and whinefests have seen a decline. I’m hoping to fix that soon as I can. I’ve been looking at how Kerberos, LDAP and ejabberd are expected to work together and since it’s taken me more than a week I think it deserves a blog post. Well, Kerberos is optional at the moment, but it’s something I’m hoping to understand why and where it’d be useful. Makes me miss Gentoo now – where I’d know exactly what’s changing. dpkg-reconfigure, although friendly, does things and assumes certain defaults which I have no idea if they’re sane or not. More on that later.
Work place is a really cool place. I had an image of cubicles and serious faces but this is kind of homely and somewhat relaxed. We even play some football on the rooftop once in a while. I miss some good folks whom I spent a lot of time with during the last few months at college – Settem, Basit, and co. and Shanks.
Last Saturday, I caught up with Tirupam and we went to visit UB City. It’s a fabulous, albeit affluent, supermall. We looked around, window shopping mostly and settled with having a close-to-authentic pizza at an Italian restaurant up there. As it turned dark, some live music lightened up the place. It’s good to see Bengaluru getting more and more musical.
A couple of days before that meet, I was looking for a music store that dealt with double bass. Lucky me. There was a place right behind my work place. Unlucky me. It costs quite a bit (he quoted 16K – which by international standards is very cheap and probably not even worth it; but I’m just a beginner – and I told him that I’d be back when I had the money). I’m having trouble deciding if I should go with a modern bass guitar or with a somewhat large and bulky double bass. Bengaluru is kind of crowded too, moving around with such a thing, in a bus, would be interesting, if not dangerous. Oh, and boo at all the affluent folk who travel alone in their cars on every-busy streets of the city.
Must get back to work.