Dating and work

Pre-script: Don’t judge. At least, not until you’ve read the whole post!

There are some stark similarities between the two areas of life that take up a large part of our lives: Work and Marriage. Preposterous, some might say, as I compare a holy institution with a platonic one. While some others ponder which one is which. Allow me to explain!

Living in India and seeing the generation before ours, the similarities are sure there. In the olden days:

  • Marriages were arranged by parents, jobs were arranged by placement departments in college
  • It wasn’t rare to see one marriage and one job see you through the entire life.
  • To consider another partner/job made the society look at you strangely
  • Both alliances were holy and YOU were the one who had to make adjustments and adapt.

Fast forward a few years, aspirations have grown, and so has restlessness. And where does the comparison stand:

  • The arrangements are starting to be made consciously by people, after they finish their engineering and are figuring out what profession to choose 😛 (Sarcasm Detected!)
  • The mortality rate of jobs has fallen steeply. The number of unsuccessful marriages has increased too but not as steeply.
  • There is realization that people make an organisation, and not the other way round. Both companies & marriages are not holier than thou anymore, and people are truly trying to find their match in both.
  • When marriages and work relationships hit turbulent times, you still try to adapt but it’s now a two-way street. Employers are more flexible and provide options like lateral movements, sabbaticals etc. And if it still doesn’t work out, you part ways.

Funnel1

In case of a relationship, you would typically go through phases as you get to know the other person better. Initial phases of filtering might be against some set criteria. If things progress well, the dating phase would allow you to know each other better and evaluate compatibility. Some might go into the living in phase. And eventually, if there are more things looking good than not, then you would commit and get into marriage.

Visualise these stages like a funnel with validation and filtering happening at each stage. And this is for a decision which is more heart-driven than mind-driven. Agreed, Indian society is still largely far from the validation funnel, but I see things moving more and more in that direction.

In contrast, think of choosing a company/employee, which is supposed to be driven more by the mind that the heart. There is a filtering stage where companies and people eliminate. Subsequently, there is an interview stage where you talk, discuss and get to know each more (A lot of companies still don’t see interviewing as a dialogue but that’s a complete topic in itself). Some companies like to do a 360 degrees interviewing, which lets you meet the people you’ll be working with.

Funnel2

But then, if you make it through, you’re suddenly faced with the marriage question and you have to decide based on the information you have. At this stage, the information you have is either from your interviewing phase, where the company is often putting it’s best foot forward. Or it’s based on what people on the internet say (Glassdoor), which could be stage managed to protect a brand. There are answers around, but they might not be for the questions that YOU have.

And that’s where the biggest disconnect lies. There is no Dating or Live-in phase in Work.

The side effect? You might start working somewhere, not like it and decide to quit after a short duration. But it’ll show on your record, like a failed marriage. Too many of these and it might become difficult to explain.

These failed alliances are expensive for companies too. There’s a huge cost associated with hiring, training and if an employee churns before they’ve contributed enough to break-even, then you lose what you’ve invested and are forced to incur that cost again.

Sure, there are some forms of dating equivalents in the work industry, but this is why they don’t work.

  1. Internship: could be seen as a way of trying out a job, but it’s only there for fresh graduates, and not experienced people.
  2. Sub-contracting: you could be employed or for an intermediary company but working for their client. And if it works well, you could convert to a full time employee for the client, and the client needs to pay the intermediary some compensation. There’s often a clause in employee agreement which forbids them from quitting the intermediary and joining the client company. This form of arrangement is often tilted in favour of the intermediary company since that’s what their business and margins are. And most employees would find themselves in this arrangement by chance, not by choice.
  3. Probation periods: Again, they are part of the employment contract and insures the company against severance cost in case of a bad hire. Probation period is actual employment, so looks like a shirt stint for an employee.
  4. Hiring from Hackathons: companies conduct Hackathon which are open to the developer community. Gives companies a chance to see the engineers at work, and the companies can contact them to explore hiring them. Again, a good option for companies which limits the risk of a bad hire. But for an individual, hackathons don’t really give the feel of how it would be to really work for the company.
  5. Contract to hire: people could be employed as contractors, and if things go well, they could join as permanent employees.This option provide a trial to employees, but it exists to protect the company against bad hires, severance cost, and liability. It’s often seen as an inferior choice by employees since the durations are long and it’s seen as actual employment. This is the closest option we have right now to trial employment but sadly, it doesn’t have equal rights for employees and employers.

I wonder wouldn’t it be great if you could truly ask out and date companies? Where you could choose to go work for a company for some time, maybe part-time, and then decide whether you want to join them. Of course, there are thorny unknowns like employee contracts forbidding double employment, and non-disclosure agreements which would need to be addressed. But if something like this existed, wouldn’t it help you find your true work match rather than jumping from prospect to prospect, relying on luck, and be tagged as a job hopper?

If you’re here reading this, do comment and share what you think!

babyoye.com: Banking on just a Karishma

Here’s a 1 sentence review of babyoye.com for the Busy reader: AVOID them for now, they’re learning at the customer’s expense & don’t seem to be ready for PrimeTime!

A Short review of babyoye.com, for those who like Bulleted lists:

  • Pricing: There are discounts but the items I needed had none 
  • Shipping charges: Free
  • COD available: Yes, but orders below INR 500 are charged INR50 extra for COD
  • Courier services used: Relatively unknown (Quantium Solutions, Delhivery), Delhivery delivered on time but Tracking didn’t work [Updated 25-Apr]
  • Timely delivery: No Sometimes [Updated 25-Apr]
  • The Good
    • Good variety in catalog
    • COD option
  • The Bad
    • Delivery times inaccurate
    • Not too many attractive discounts on items I was considering ordering, but YMMV
    • Not transparent: they don’t inform you when they ship the order & don’t update the tracking number on their website
    • They use relatively unknown courier services
    • No item-wise expected delivery time shown before ordering. So, they can decide to source the item from anywhere in the world & you’ll just have to wait
    • Generally not proactive in reaching out to customers
    • Services don’t seem professional
    • Extra charges for COD under INR500
    • First two Credit Card payment attempts failed (Master Card), went through the 3rd time.
  • Summary: A Big [Updated 25-Apr] Thumbs Down! I’ve had some bad experiences with them twice, and will not give them any further business. I hope people looking for reviews online find this write-up and make an informed choice. Hopefully, these guys are either forced to get their act in order, or go do something else. For, consumers do have other choices and sometimes, there’s more a business needs to do, than just bank on (a) Karis(h)ma (Translation: Miracle)!

Here’s the long review, for those interested in Details.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my sister in Delhi and she mentioned she’s trying to source a baby product (Farlin baby clothing detergent) but was not able to find it in any of the shops around her home in Delhi. With many online stores selling baby products these days, I thought of ordering online. She’s not too net savvy so I decided to order it for her. 

Had been hearing about this website called babyoye.com via their online & TV ads, with Karisma Kapoor as their brand ambassador & investor. I decided to give it a try.

The first try:

April 5, 2012 (Calendar Days elapsed: 0, Business Days elapsed: 0):

I searched the website and was able to find the Product I was looking for. There were no discounts on the MRP. Since it was a daily use item, I decided to order 2 1litre bottles.

Shipping was Free, and their Shipping policy & charges stated that for Metros, “We are committed to delivering consumables like Diapers, baby feed and other daily need consumables within 2 to 3 business days of the order being confirmed.“. It also mentioned “To ensure that your order reaches you in the fastest time and in good condition, we only ship through reputed courier agencies.

Their contact address on their website mentioned an address in Delhi, so I was hoping deliveries within Delhi will be pretty fast.
They also had Cash on Delivery option but since I was sending it for my sister, I decided to pay upfront via Credit Card.
After two failed attempts at making a Credit Card payment, the payment went through the 3rd time. I placed the order on Thursday, 5th April 2012 (Order #100098379). 

Friday was a holiday, and I was hoping they’ll Ship on Saturday, 7th April, and it’ll surely reach by Monday, 9th April. I communicated to my sister that the item is on it’s way.

After placing an order, I received a confirmation email with the Order number. 
Saturday, 7th April (Calendar Days elapsed: 2, Business Days elapsed: 1):

I didn’t hear from them for 2 days and on Saturday, I decided to call their 24×7 Customer Care number. After getting connected to an Agent and inquiring the status, I was told that the items have already been dispatched from Mumbai via Quantium Courier, and I was provided a Tracking number on the phone. Never heard on this courier company, but hey, there’s so many things in the world I haven’t heard of. 
Sunday, 8th April (Calendar Days elapsed: 3, Business Days elapsed: 1)
I tracked the courier again and the message I see on the website says:
Status: Offload/Bag missing by Airlines
Remarks: Contains liquid
Location: Bombay
On seeing this, I called babyoye.com Customer Care and was told that since the courier contained liquid, it was not accepted on the flight and they’ll now be sending the courier via Surface mode. I’m quite surprised and am imagining someone carrying my courier along with their cabin baggage & getting stopped before boarding :P, “Sorry Sir, aap yeh Sabun nahi le jaa saktey, anumati nahi hai!” (Translation: Sorry Sir, you can’t carry this liquid soap, not allowed)

I asked them when I can expect the item and I was told that it’ll still reach within the time promised.

Tuesday, 11th April (Calendar Days elapsed: 5, Business Days elapsed: 3)
I checked the tracking status again and it was updated on Tuesday to say the following:
Status: onforward to branch
Remarks: Forward to surface mode
Location: Bombay
I called them to ask the following questions, and they didn’t have satisfactory answers:
a. Why was the item shipped from Mumbai? If a daily consumable is not available locally, shouldn’t they inform me it’ll get delayed?
b. What’s the definition of a reputed courier service, as claimed in their T&Cs?
c. Is it the first time they’re shipping a product with liquids?
d. Why did someone not inform me proactively when they got to know the package will get delayed? I would have appreciated an option to cancel my order.
I then asked them when I can expect to receive the item and was given the same answer “within the time promised”. I ask them when that is, and the Agent says within “3-4 working days” (notice a day added ChupkeSe), I asked by what date is that, and he says he can’t give me an ETA. When I ask him why can’t he calculate 3-4 working days from the date I ordered and tell me I’ll receive the item by Wednesday, he has the audacity to bang the phone on me. Really angry, Hope that call was recorded and someone listens to the recording, and the guy has to explain!
Thursday, 13th Apr (Calendar Days elapsed: 7, Business Days elapsed: 5)
The item has still not been delivered and the courier tracking has the following update:
Status: Physical item received
Location: Delhi
Friday, 14th April (Calendar Days elapsed: 8, Business Days elapsed: 6)
The item has still not been delivered and the courier tracking update now says:
Status: Onforward to branch
Remarks: Kotla
Location: Delhi
Sunday, 15th April (Calendar Days elapsed: 10, Business Days elapsed: 7)
Saturday has passed and the item has still not been delivered. I call their customer care number and it’s their usual Laachaari (Translation: helplessness), and the cosmetic “regretting the inconvenience caused”.  

I then ask to be connected to a supervisor and am put through to Arif. I simply ask him why I should order from them again, for that matter why anyone should order from them. Apologies as usual and a promise me that the item will be delivered on Monday, 16th April. I say I know it will get delivered on Monday, considered it’s now sitting 2 Kms away from destination address since the last 2 days, but what about the delay? I ask to be compensated for the delay and he promises to speak to higher-ups and call me back. I promise him that if I don’t hear from him, not only will I never order from their site again, but I will also take extra effort to write a review and spread the word

Monday, 16th April (Calendar Days elapsed: 11, Business Days elapsed: 7)
The item is finally delivered. Around afternoon, I get a call from Arif and he communicates that after consulting with his higher-ups, he can offer me a INR 300 coupon for the inconvenience caused. I accept and he sends me the coupon code by email. 

The second chance

Now I have a 300 bucks coupon that I need to use which brings me back to babyoye.com.
Not able to decide whether to order something strictly within 300 bucks, or to buy something that we need & pay the difference amount. I decide the latter and to use their Cash on Delivery option to avoid paying upfront, in case they decide to source the item from Africa this time & ship via a Boat.
Sunday, 22nd April (Calendar Days elapsed: 0, Business Days elapsed: 0)


I choose a travel doodler worth 600 bucks and apply the coupon. It works but I see the charge as 350, whereas I was expecting it to be 300 bucks. I then notice their Terms & Conditions on COD which state that if the order value is below 500 bucks, there will be extra charge of 50 bucks for COD. Very conveniently, they decide to use the after-discount value of 300 instead of the original value of 600. They also mention someone will call to confirm the order in case of COD.
I need to use this coupon so I place the order (Order #100105035). I notice a coloring book included in the order which initially confuses me, but then I check the order details and realize it’s Free (Hurray!). An order confirmation email arrives as usual.
Monday, 23rd April (Calendar Days elapsed: 1, Business Days elapsed: 1)
A very detailed email invoice arrives. Its followed by an email that has the subject “Babyoye.com: Shipment # 1000xxxxx for Invoice #203130000xxxx & Order # 100xxxxxx” and says “Please find your shipment confirmation and tracking number below”. Strangely, the email doesn’t mention the name of the courier, nor does it have any tracking number. How & where am I supposed to track my courier? Via Telepathy? 

No-one calls me to confirm the order, as was claimed on their website

Tuesday, 24th Aprtil (Calendar Days elapsed: 2, Business Days elapsed: 2)
I call Customer Care and ask for Courier name, tracking number & ETA. I’m told that the item has been shipped by a courier called Delhivery (for some reason, I hear Delhi Belly the first time 😛), and am given a Tracking number. Again, I haven’t heard of this courier name so am surprised, half-expecting the same story to repeat again. [Update 25-Apr:] Delhivery delivered within 3 days, but their tracking is either broken, or babyoye provided me the wrong TrackingID! I also find it a bit discomforting that I’m in Bangalore, and the courier has been sent via Delhivery, I quickly confirm that my Shipping Address is correct. 

I try the tracking number on the Delhivery website and it’s not recognized. I try the Shipment number and it’s not recognized too. I ask the Agent Why and she has no clue, she tries and it doesn’t work for her too. Maybe it’s Rahukalam, or the Website has had a short-term memory loss! She promises to follow-up with Logistics team and get back to me. 

I wait for 8 hours and call them again. Am offered the same tracking number which still doesn’t work. The Agent promises again to check with the Logistics team and get back soon. I ask for the Supervisor Arif, who helped me the last time, but he’s already left for the day. So, I decide to call it a day too, hoping someone will call me tomorrow and just say “Mai Delhivery se bol raha hun Sir, aur aapke darwaaze ke ikdum saamne khadaa hun 😛” (Translation: Sir, I’m from Delhivery and here outside your door/apartment to deliver the courier)

Tuesday, 25th Aprtil (Calendar Days elapsed: 3, Business Days elapsed: 3)


I track the shipment on Delhivery at 1pm, it’s still going Ghajini on me. So, I get back to work. I try again at 6pm, and the Tracking number is still not recognized. The shipment number is not recognized too. I browse through About Us and get some comfort seeing IIT & IIM multiple times on the page. Mann mein hai vishwaas, Courier pakka pahunchegaa, ek din (Translation: I have faith that the courier will reach me, One day)

No-one from babyoye.com Logistics team has cared to call me yet, so I call their customer care number again. The agent as usual puts me on hold, and after a few minutes, the only update he has is that they had sent an email to the Courier company but haven’t heard back. Now, they will escalate! Kursi ki peti baandh leejiye, mahaashaiy … (Translation: Fasten your seat belt…)

I ask to speak to Arif, the supervisor and after a short wait, I get through to him. He assures me that they’ve shipped the order and there seems to be some problem with the Delhivery website. It’s still expected to reach within the time promised, which BTW, is 3-7 working days. Apparently, this time the item has been shipped from their warehouse in Bhiwandi and is on it’s way to my home in Bangalore.

I ask Arif why they use these little-known courier services when they have options like DTDC and others. I’m told it’s owned by the same group. Sounds like a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours, and meanwhile the customer can just scratch their head wondering when they’ll get their shipment. Besides, they’s no other company covering Bhiwandi. Trivia: The main mode of transport within Bhiwandi Nizampur is the auto rickshaw. There are no intra-city buses as of now running within the city, but the Bhiwandi-Nizampur city Municipal Corporation is planning a bus system soon. Those Auto wallahs must be making a killing there, One and a half meter Sir, Khaali aana waapis! 

So, I was promised by Arif that he’ll reach out to me by tomorrow and provide an update. I promised him that I will overcome my laziness and write down my experience with their website, and share it with him & all my friends. And I’ll just hope it causes someone at babyoye.com sit up & take notice, and things change for the better. So here it is, I’ve kept my promise! 

Meanwhile, the wait continues…
[Update 25-Apr] I reached home after publishing this review and found that the item got delivered around 7:30pm today. So, the wait has ended & the 2nd experience was not as bad as the first one. However, most issues raised in this review still hold true, and I hope they improve on those. In my 2 experiences with babyoye.com, the only positive impression was the customer fixation of Arif, I hope they recognize his good work & hire more people like him.

The office door that splits us

There’s a fine gentleman I know at work, he’s soft spoken, well mannered & very courteous. He acknowledges people around him, never cuts them short & seems to give everyone their space. I saw him at the supermarket the other day, and though he looked the same, he seemed quite different. He was pushing his shopping cart through a crowd of people, was rude & I saw him shouting at the Billing clerk. I think he might have a Split | Personality!

Sounds familiar? Ever observed someone you know at work, outside of the work environment, and felt they’re different, more like the rest of the people. I have, many a times.

In India, there are two cultures at play in our daily lives.

One is the real culture that’s out there on the street. The culture that’s come about living with inadequacies for the population. Not enough space on the road. Not enough seats in School. Not enough space on the Bus. In a culture like that, it’s Survival of the Fittest, with no regard to fellow men & women, They’re simply Competition. In a culture like that, a human is simply Demand, and there’s enough of it. In a country of over 1 billion, there’s definitely no scarcity of people, and what’s not scarce is often taken for granted.

The other culture is what the companies are importing from foreign shores, and individuals are adopting as they travel more & more. In that culture, people are well behaved, courteous, polite, acknowledge people, hold the door for them. Acts that exhibit selfishness are looked down upon. A kind of culture that comes out from abundance. There’s enough for everyone, so there’s no real reason to not treat fellows humans well.

Not to say that there’s anything Right & Wrong about these, both are appropriate for their individual situations & settings. In the first culture, Push & Shove doesn’t mean you bear ill intent for those on the receiving end, they are merely casualties of your selfishness, which is the popular way of life. On the other end, in the other culture, if someone holds open a door for me, it doesn’t mean it’s a heartfelt gesture. The gestures itself have become a norm in the society and a lot of times, are just followed for the sake of conformance.

The interesting thing is how living in india, we casually switch between these two cultures as we step in and out of our offices (and some other controlled environments). I might cut into someone’s lane, honking, on the road, but hold the door for the same person as he walks into the office*. This creates a weird duality of behavior, where it becomes difficult to gauge intent from action.

* But not do that for an access controlled door to avoid unauthorized tailgating 😛

Let’s look at four (theoretical) behavior sets someone could exhibit outside & inside controlled environments.

# At Work Outside Analysis
D-D Discourteous Discourteous Probably someone who doesn’t believe in courtesy, or maybe in acts of courtesy that are done without meaning them. Someone very practical. Might get strange looks at work. 
C-D Courteous Discourteous While in Rome, Do the romans … Err, I mean Do as the romans do. Most commonly observed behavior amongst the 4 buckets. On the side of practicality & conformance. 
C-C Courteous Courteous The idealist. A lot of people moving to India from West fall in this category. Gets strange looks outside work, and often people think he/she is going to pull some prank & might search for a hidden camera. Or, people might think it’s someone gone Bonkers, or visiting from SatYug. Once the initial apprehension fades, the courtesy shown by these individuals is misused, abused & taken advantage of, in full measure. People in this category often decide to convert to C-D. Some get really pissed off and convert to D-D.
D-C Discourteous Courteous Is a strange combination. Someone who loves fellow humans, but hates his Job & cowerkers. Individuals sometimes move into this bucket just before they are about to quit, or while serving their Notice period. Defiance!

Ok, so which bucket do I fall in? I’m not sharing that, you’ll have to stalk me to figure that out.
This post just ends here. If you’re looking for a logical conclusion or recommendation, I’m Sorry I have None. This is just about some things I’ve observed, and tried to analyze. No right & wrong, black & white here. Just shades of Grey that we can reflect on individually, so we understand ourselves better.

Why Positive Visualization doesn’t work for me

My friend Vinay Vyasarao, on a hammock somewhere near Gurgaon

The Voice (thereafter referred to as V): Relaaaaaaaxxx!!! Imagine yourself in a hammock, in a forest, bird sounds, you’re relaxed, reading a book. Let it be vivid, detailed, feel it, live it. Your favorite song is playing …
Me (thereafter referred to as … Me): Hey hey, wait a Min! What’s it playing on? Do you have a Sound system?

V: It’s playing on your ipod, you’re listening through the headphones.
Me: It gets sweaty. Can’t we get a portable CD player or something? Would be interesting to hear music in a Jungle ambience.
V: Ok, we have music playing on a portable CD player.
Me: Does it have batteries, or do we have a power extension cable running through the forest?
V: Battery powered, Don’t worry, Relax! Let’s continue, your favorite song is playing…
Me: Hold on, I hope this CD player of your has a remote, getting off this hammock is not easy, you know.
V: Yes, it does, Don’t worry!
Me: Does it have a USB slot?
V: What does THAT have to do with anything?
Me: Well, if it doesn’t, I’ll have to get off this hammock when the CD ends. How much can you cram into that Audio CD? 70-80mins tops?
V: Don’t worry, we’ll have someone change the CD when you ask
Me: Hey, I thought I was alone here, is there someone else too?
V: Yes, imagine there’s someone with you.
Me: Hmmm, can I imagine anyone?
V: Yeah!
Me: Anyone!!??? You’re sure?
V: Yes.
Me: Can it be a different person everytime I do this?
V: This is not about fantasizing, it’s about Positive visualization, Dammit!!!
Me: Well, Take it easy Dude, isn’t this supposed to be my Visualization? So I can visualize anything that motivates or relaxes me, right?
V: Ok, don’t worry, Go on, Imagine anyone you want?
Me: Ok, Done (hmmm…Nice!!!)!
V: Just curious, who did you imagine?
Me: It’s my vivid visual dude, and it has privacy features, so don’t even try to peep!
V: Ok, Let’s continue, your favorite song is playing…
Me: Right!
V: … and you’re totally at ease, Relaxed, no worries, none at all, totally in the present, no desires, none at all…
Me: Hey hey, hold on!!! Talking of desires, how about a chilled beer?
V: What?
Me: I’ll feel more fulfilled if there’s some beer too
V: Ok, you got it!
Me: Which one?
V: Which one do you want??
Me: Can you get me a chilled Kingfisher Ultra?
V: Sure, you got that!
Me: Where do I place the bottle between sips?
V: !!???
Me: I mean the chilled beer bottle is sweating condensed water and making everything wet, the book too, this is a library book BTW, and it’s overdue. Now, it’ll be overdue & Wet!
V: Ok, we’ll get a small bench next to the hammock, you can place the bottle on it
Me: Cool, Thanks! Is there a chance I could get some Chips & fries with that?
V: Hmmm…Sure!
Me: Wait a minute, you said it’s the jungle, How’ll you get me fries?
V: Ok, IMAGINE this is a jungle area next to a resort, and that Resort has a kitchen
Me: Damn, why didn’t you tell me first, we could order some chicken from the kitchen!
V: Ok, sure!
Me: And in that case, it might be better to get an amplifier, this portable CDP just doesn’t cut it for this Jungle feel.
V: !!???
Me: We could place the speakers such that we have a wide sound stage. We’ll stick to 2 speakers though.
V: Yeah.
Me: Let’s play a CD and see how it sounds
V: Let’s play Dire Straits, Yeah let’s Rock it!
Me: Relax, take it easy 😉
V: :)?!
Me: Looks like the soundstage is not right, we need to toe in these speakers. Hey Voice & Deeps, could you give me a hand?
V: Deeps? Who’s that?
Me: Deeps, Deepika, the person I imagined, she’s a Bollywood actress, let’s just say her degree of temperature is much higher than room temperature, and can scald!
V: Oooooh … your visualization is turning out to be more interesting than I expected, I’m feeling it, living it…
Me: Hey hey, hold on, I got an Interrupt, it’s from the Real world!!!
V: From who? What does it say?
Me: It’s from my Boss, and it says “INTERRUPT_DREAM: Friday is a weekday, Why are you staring into space, STOP day dreaming during Meetings!!!

I have a tab in my browser

Tabs on browsers seem to be the norm these days. Looks to be a very useful feature, till you look closely. I think tabs have caused a major change in how we do things, and not all these changes are positive.

Very very long ago, there were browsers that allowed you to view just a single page. If you wanted to view a different page, you navigated away from the current page. Things had a logical start and end, you finished what you were doing and then moved on to something else. There was a lot of patience involved due to Dial-up modem speeds too.

Then, not so long ago, there came a feature for launching multiple browser windows to do concurrent things. That allowed you to do more, but subconsciously, you were wary of launching too many windows. Websites that launched popup windows were seen with contempt. It cluttered your desktop, slowed things down & you were still constrained by the bandwidth available. You could start a couple of things together and get them done, but the number of things/windows were still manageable to keep track of.

Then came Tabs. Like one of the English meaning of the word Tab (a running account for items or services rendered), it allows you to open multiple working windows within a window and continue a “flow of actions” on each. With more bandwidth and less desktop clutter, it provided an easy way of doing concurrent things. You could even have multiple windows and multiple tabs on each. Browsers got the capability to “remember” the windows & tabs if was terminated abnormally, and Operating Systems already had a Standby feature where you didn’t have to close application and shutdown the computer. With this convenience, it became effortless to start new things, so one didn’t have to give it much thought. But the time taken to complete those series of steps became longer. A lot of times, tabs remained open for days & weeks on end, waiting for a reading or action … some sort of logical end. The user, on the other hand, got a sense of progress, when they opened a tab for something, thinking they will get to it. With no limit of the number of tabs and windows, the user is limited by the multi-tasking capability of his/her mind. Realistically, tabs cause a 100 open things, with no pressure to get them to logical closure. It’s the perfect tool to fuel procrastination. Unless Tabs are used with self-discipline, I think they hamper productivity, not aid it. Just some Food for Thought!

Would love to hear other people’s thoughts on Tabs, please do comment if you’re reading this. How’s your experience been? Do you often have 100 open tabs? How do you deal with it?

[Tip:] I find it useful to go over my open Windows & Tabs at the end of the week, if not daily (ideal). The act of clearing your tabs, closing the browser, and shutting down the machine helps close the loop on things, and keep a check on the low-effort tasks that you might be carrying for no reason.

Buying an apartment in Bangalore

Have been thinking of writing this up for some time now, as a logical companion to my “Renting a house in Bangalore” post. These are some questions I had, when I decided to explore buying an apartment. I hope these would be useful for someone in a similar situation. An entire book can be written on this topic, I don’t intend to be that comprehensive. So, I’ll just model this post as an FAQ, to keep it crisp.

Disclaimer (upfront): This is based on my experience, and at the end of the day, it’s just my opinion. I’m not a lawyer & I don’t claim it’s 100% legally accurate, so please do your due diligence. It’s not going to cover all possible cases, because I don’t have experience of all possible cases. Caveat Emptor!

Q. What is the scenario you have experience on?
A. Buying an apartment, not a house. From a seller (resale), not from Builder. Ready to move in, not under-construction. Some processes/documents could be common though. This is for Bangalore (India), I’m not sure of processes in other cities.

Q. What’s the high-level process of buying a home?
A. Here’s a 30,000 ft view of the typical process:
  • Choose a property
  • Indication of interest: Pay a token amount
  • Get copy of property papers from Seller
  • Get property papers verified by a lawyer
  • Negotiate price, Sign a Sale agreement, Pay an advance
  • Approach bank for Loan, pay fee, get approval
  • Sign Sale Deed, Register it, Pay seller (with Bank’s help), take possession of house
  • Bank takes Sale Deed, provides you a copy
Q. What’s the high-level cost breakup?
A. Here are some heads to consider:
  • Base price
  • Stamp duty
  • Registration charges
  • Brokerage, if an Agent is involved
  • Bank legal & processing charges, including Stamp duty for agreement
  • Khatha transfer fees
  • Residents Association membership transfer fees, if applicable
  • Renovation costs, if applicable
  • Monthly maintenance charges (recurring monthly/quarterly)
  • Property Tax (recurring annually)
  • Loan EMI (recurring monthly)
Q. Do I need to get papers verified from a lawyer? Wouldn’t the bank do it before approving the loan?
A. You don’t have to, but it’s strongly recommended. Reason: you’re buying the home, you should be aware of risks, if any. Bank does run some checks before lending money, but the liability is yours. You can ask your lawyer to provide a written report that lists all documents, with key dates, and calls out what’s missing. This report is quite useful as a lot of property papers are in local language (Kannada). A written report does cost more than a verbal report.

Q. How much do lawyers charge for verifying papers?
A. It varies, depending on whether its a house or an apartment or a land, new or resale. Also varies from lawyer to lawyer.
TIP: For new apartments, most (if not all) set of papers are common for all units in the complex. So, you could get in touch with other interested buyers, and share the lawyer fees.

Q. Is there a standard list of documents required for an apartment?
A. The most frequent question amongst the FAQs! No, I found many different checklists on the internet, for lands, apartments & houses. Finally went with the checklist provided by the lawyer I consulted. It was quite comprehensive, and practically, not all of the papers in the list were available. Not all of the papers were applicable too. But, it was a good list to start with.
A lawyer would know best, which documents are important. And lawyers would be aware of the applicable rules/laws. So, it’s recommended that you consult a lawyer & ask for a checklist. Depending on how important a document is, your lawyer might indicate whether it’s required before signing sale agreement, before Registration or just a Nice to Have. If he/she doesn’t mention it, do ask. It’s confusing just picking up a checklist from someplace and going with it, as not all documents are equally important. There’s a chance you might ignore an important document, or let a deal fall through for lack of a less important document.
So, I won’t mention the list here, but here’s a categorization of the nature of documents you can expect in the checklist.
  1. Documents related to agreement/arrangement between the land owner & builder (examples: Construction Agreement, General power of attorney, Joint development agreement etc.)
  2. Document relating to sanctions by Governments bodies (examples: sanctioned plan, layout map, approvals from NHAI/AAI, BESCOM, BWSSB, work commencement certificate, completion certificate, occupancy certificate etc.)
  3. Ownership documents: indicating chain of owners & current owner for apartment (example: Khatha, Encumbrance certificate, BESCOM bill, Sale Deed, tax receipts, any backing documents for Parking etc.)
  4. NOCs for Sale (examples; NOC from Residents welfare association mentioning No Dues & any fees you’ll be expected to pay, NOC from Seller to Bank incase of mortgage)
  5. Documents related to Land (examples: Mother deed, Survey documents, conversion documents incase of agricultural land)
  6. Ownership documents for land (examples: Sale deeds, Khatha, encumbrance certificate, tax receipts)
  7. Documents relating to Builder’s company
  8. Documents supporting any special cases (example: any minor claims, pending cases, ownership change by gift/partition/will/death certificates etc.)
For the documents relating to land, it’s good to go back 30 years. It’s important to keep in mind though, that these checklists are non-standard, & seller might not have all documents ready. For some, he/she might have to go back to builder, so be patient & considerate to see the deal through.
Also, for documents where a seller has physical possession of original documents, it’s a good idea to have your lawyer accompany you to seller/builder & inspect the originals.

Q. Why is a Sale Agreement needed? Is there a standard format for it?
A. A Sale agreement is a formal agreement between the buyer and seller on the terms and conditions they agree upon for selling/buying a property. There are standard formats available online, but I recommend using them only as a starting template. It’s good to document everything that you’ve agreed upon. Ideally, there should be no verbal clauses that are not contained in this document. A bank typically asks for the copy of the Sale agreement when you approach it for a loan, and the original before disbursement. Here are some things that this agreement typically contain:
  1. Names and addresses of buyer & sellers
  2. Address of Property
  3. Details of property, like Khatha numbers, super built-up area, built-up area, common area, parking spaces included, undivided share of land
  4. Mention any change in ownership between original owners and current owners
  5. Price agreed upon (Base), not including Registration and stamp duty
  6. Assumptions of sale: state things like all taxes are paid, the seller is legal owner, there are no legal cases pending, seller hasn’t entered into agreement with any other buyer etc.
  7. Advance paid, along with mode of payment (Cheque/DD details)
  8. List of documents that the seller needs to provide to the buyer, with due date
  9. Maximum time by which sale must be completed, failing which the agreement would become null and void and seller would have to return the advance paid by buyer. Factor in the time it’ll take for seller to provide all documents and time it’ll take for buyer to get the loan approved.
  10. Any other Exit clauses
Q. Do I have to take loan from the same bank that the seller has a loan with?
A. No, but if your loan is with a different bank, it often leads to the following Catch-22 situation: Seller’s bank won’t part with the original papers/sale deed till the seller’s loan is Paid. The process could take a day or two. Buyer’s bank will ask for papers at the time of disbursement. In this situation, either buyer has to come up with the funds to payback loan & get Sale Deed released, or one of the banks has to agree to break the deadlock.
This situation gets eased if you go to the same bank that the seller has a loan with. In that case, seller provides NOC to the bank to process your loan on the same property, clear his loan using part of your disbursement, and transfer papers from his account to buyer’s account

Q. In case of loan with the same bank, how do I make sure that the original sale deed is indeed transferred under my account?
A. After a month of disbursement, you can request the bank to provide a signed & stamped copy of the original Sale deed. Banks provide such copies on request. If you get the copy, the bank was able to retrieve the original for your loan account. Hope there’s no else here.

Q. After registering the property, what other papers would I need to get in order?
A. Apply for Khatha transfer, BESCOM meter transfer in your name. Get Apartment association membership transferred in your name.

Q. Compared to renting, what are the factors to check while buying?
A. A lot of things are common. The key difference being: there are some things that can be changed easily, and some can’t be. Things that can be easily changed can be ignored when you’re buying. Anyways, here are some important things I recommend checking:
  • Woodwork present? Is it good enough to retain, or will you have to re-do? Factor in costs.
  • Availability of water supply
  • Power backup, check if it’s minimal or partial or full
  • Reserved parking. Open or closed?
  • Association membership transfer charges, factor in costs
  • Monthly maintenance charges, factor in costs
  • Condition of doors
  • Check if there’s any seepage present, this could be a deal breaker
  • Check for any major structural deviations from apartment plan
  • Natural lighting in apartment
  • Vastu compliance, if applicable
  • Check for recent sales in the apartment complex to get an idea of baseline rates. Mark up/down based on condition of apartment.
  • Security in area
  • Factor in all renovation costs into the price and evaluate if the price is still good.
  • Check water pressure.
  • Check condition of bathroom and kitchen fitments
  • Check for any termites around woodwork & kitchen sink
  • Get an feel of the kind of crowd in apartment complex
  • Visit the apartment at least twice, once during day time and other in the evening, take notes (unless you have a photographic memory)
  • Ask yourself: Does it feel good? Do you see yourself happily living there? There are some intangible things that the mind cannot measure but the heart can feel. Listen to the voice inside!
Q. Any other tips before moving-in
A. It’s easier to get renovation and painting completed before you move in. Keep some spare paint and brushes to touch-up, in case shifting causes some marks on walls.
Also good to get pesticide/insecticide treatment done before your stuff moves in.

Hope this is helpful … All the Best!

[Trivia: This post comes 953 days after my last post, I thought of waiting till 1000 days but couldn’t]

Best wishes for 2009

As we start this new year, if there’s one word that comes to my mind, its “Hope”.

Hope that the world would come out of the chaos into greens of harmony …
Hope that we’ll, once again, feel safe when we step out of our homes …
Hope that the world would learn its lessons & realize the perils of short-term artificial Boom …
Hope that people will embrace contentment and resist greed …
Hope that these times will leave us wiser & tougher, wiser to know better & tougher to withstand what couldn’t have been avoided anyways …
Hope that we’ll value good health & the love of friends & family …
Hope that we’ll be able to give back to the society, to those who aren’t as fortunate as us …
Hope that when we see injustice done, we’ll have courage to stand up to it at the opportune moment …
Hope that we’ll be less gullible but still hopeful …
Hope that we’ll uphold our morals & will be able to look ourselves in the eyes …
Hope we’ll able to live by our own morals, and not by those thrust upon us …
Hope we won’t do to others what we don’t want to be done to us …
Hope we’ll be able to give a benefit of doubt to others, like we give to ourselves …
Hope we’ll be able to forgive and move on, with lesser weight …
Hope that we’ll be able to handle the money or lack of it, & still be at peace …
Hope we have the appetite when we sit down to eat …
Hope for a peaceful sleep …
… and Hope that we’ll look forward to the day when we wake up each day!

I actually Hope for a perfect world, but if that’s going to take too long in the making …
… For the meantime, I hope for the Ability to handle the ups and down of an imperfect world!

Best wishes for 2009!

Cheers
Manik

Zindagi, phir bhi, khoobsurat hai …

Sickness, says arvgrins, makes you nobler. It’s the first time I’ve heard that, and don’t know how true it is, but there sure seems to be some truth to it. He added that it makes you grateful for the little “big” things that you often take for granted. Have been going through patches of sickness last few days and I do agree that it brings along a wave of emotions, gratitude being one of them. If you look at the flip side of it, it also means that during the regular “non-sick” days, you take a lot of things & people for granted. We (the regular lot, not counting the enlightened within Our category) need a wave of lows to appreciate the highs that life has given us, which isn’t a good scenario. So, before I emerge out of this wave of lows, I wanted to capture some thoughts that I can get revisit and correct my course next time I start taking life’s gifts for granted. This post isn’t about the lows, it’s about some sensory flashbacks that give me a high, and some which take me lower.

Images: Ever think about something and have the images of some place run through your head? Let the thought pass. On another day, think of the thought again, and hey the same place coming into your head? I’ve realized that the subconscious ties together thought and visuals, sometimes with reason, sometimes without. And everytime you have these thoughts, you have an urge to visit these strange places from the past. These “strange” places include the kitchen of my school canteen, a chauraha (crossroad) somewhere, a railway crossing somewhere else, a few spots in my college, sleeper coach of trains, a temple on a mountain, a narrow alley somewhere else. Following the mental signals takes you back to these places after so many years, and when the urge has taken you there, it’s without a purpose. But it does bring along a satisfaction, as though you’re paying tribute to some moment of your past, a milestone revisited, mentally tick-off the urge.

Taste: Quite similar to the above, it’s the taste of something you used to like in the past, the food getting tied to that period of your life. You have an urge sometime to go back & eat the stuff again. A few interesting examples: yellow cylindrical rice crispies (trying hard to get an image), Indian style chowmein, bread with yellow toppings at small bakeries (Masala toast), pineapple-cheese-cherry sticks on crushed ice, salted bread crumb preparation (used to call it Chunmun), Bread with Bhujia

Smell: This is clearly the most mesmerizing. I have these really good & bad moments associated with smells, all wired so perfectly in my head. Smell of a certain incense stick & wet ash brings back the worst moment in my life. A certain deodorant reminds me of a very cold and lonely period, my first visit to the US actually. The smell of certain perfumes brings back memories of college days, my first kiss, getting wet in the rain together, a mix of the perfumes we were wearing that evening. I’ve still retained 1-2 empty bottles of those perfumes from years ago, some fragrance still remains. I’ve hunted for and bought new bottles of some which still sell in the market. The fragrance still brings a mutual smile to our (my GF & mine) lips.

Music: Some of the most cheesy (they now sound cheesy) bollywood numbers, some western romantic & some rock numbers still take me back in time.

Audio visuals: There are some movie scenes that give me goosebumps or a tear trigger (you get the feeling that comes just before the first tear appears, but tears don’t really appear, just moist eyes) each time, and every time you see it. I would imagine that for an artist, such a scene would seem like a masterpiece, it successfully has a viewer relate to it and empathize too. Mission accomplished! Some scenes from movies old and new, have this affect; most recently I experienced this for the movies The Namesake, Ijaazat and a recent release, Dasvidaniya.

Yesterday, my GF sent me some official papers by courier. Looking at her handwriting reminded me of the cards (Thanks Archies & Hallmark for creating those lovely cards) she used to give me. And it also made me realize how little we get to write these days, we exchange thousands of emails with people but don’t know what their handwriting looks like. It was so different earlier, but it was taken for granted then, and now it’s pure nostalgia.

To sum it up, an empty mind has a positive side too, and going off the road to recover does give your mind some time to smell the proverbial flowers, some of which were planted long ago, but still haven’t withered. Life is beautiful!

Renting a house in Bangalore

I know this is going to be a marathon post, the experience was no less, believe me. My intent of writing this is to share my experience of renting an apartment in Bangalore, might come in handy for someone going through a similar search. The facts stated are true for Bangalore only, and not necessarily for other Indian cities.

Disclaimer: I’m not against landlords and agents, but my experience is from the POV of a tenant 😉

Some key points (as of today):

  • Both individual houses (or floor/units in them) and apartments are available.
  • Unlike many other cities, houses are available cheaper than apartments.
  • A deposit equivalent to 10 months rental has to be paid to the landlord which is refunded post-deductions, when you vacate the premises.
  • Deductions could include last month’s rent (if not paid) and painting charges (tenants are often asked to bear annual painting charges)
  • In case of apartments, society maintenance is payable by the tenant and includes water charges.
  • In case of houses, there’s no maintenance but water charges are shared by all units on the site.
  • Electricity charges are borne by the tenant
  • In most cases, one month notice is required from either party for vacating the house
  • Rental agreement is signed for a period of 11 months
  • Houses can be found via agents (property dealers) or directly.
  • Agents charge a maximum of one month’s rental (negotiable) as their brokerage

Some best practices & ground realities:

Finding a house:

  • Find a broker, he shows you houses, but it costs you brokerage: this is a no brainer so I won’t elaborate much on this
  • Lookup owner postings on sites like 99acres.com, MagicBricks.com, IndiaProperty.com & CraigsList and contact them directly. Most of these websites have been cluttered up by agents/brokers posting as owners (I wish these sites would do something about this menace) but it’s easy to filter out the noise by using this thumb rule: if you see the same name and contact info on multiple ads, its a broker. Also, owners generally post precise information on location of property, sometimes even the address, whereas broker ads are generally vague. From my own experience, I’ve also found that agents post ads for fictitious properties available for lower rents on these websites. When you call them up, they’ll simply say that property is no longer available but they’ll be happy to show you other properties in the area.
  • In you’re interested in a particular area, pick up a two-wheeler and venture out around the streets looking out for To-Let signs. Most have direct contact numbers of owners. This works mostly for areas having more houses though (not apartments; for apartments, read next bullet). It isn’t as silly as it sounds and you do get quite a few leads. But this approach doesn’t work for areas where demand is high.
  • If you’re interested in apartments around a particular area, visit those apartments and ask the apartment security desk if any apartments are available for rent there. The guards can pass you owners’ contact information if any are available. Beware though, of guards who direct you to the builders’ marketing office or an agent, both will charge brokerage.
  • Subscribe to your company’s informal distribution lists.
  • Ask your friends in other IT companies to let you know if they hear about some property available for rent. Companies like Infosys and TCS have very active email lists where property rental emails are circulated. Due to the large strength of these companies and long-term travels, there are always people moving & houses being put up for rent.

Inspecting the house:
If you don’t care much for Vastu compliance, this should be a pretty straightforward checklist, but a very important one. I’ll be skipping the Vastu thing here since that’s very comprehensive, I’m a novice and so won’t be able to do justice to it in this post.

  • Does the apartment get Cauvery (municipal supply) water? Try to get a house that does. Houses that don’t get Cauvery water have to rely on secondary sources like tankers & so have higher maintenance charges.
  • Does the house have a bore-well for secondary water supply? This is also very important as Cauvery water supply is time-bound and you would need either a large enough storage or a secondary source of water to get by.
  • How big is the water storage? Is it dedicated for your unit or shared with other units? In apartments, shared is better as if the tank empties out, someone will get water pumped up. In houses, individual is better as you’ll be pumping water yourself and when there’s no water, you’ll want to conserve.
  • Generator backup? An important nice to have, though it would raise the maintenance charges. Let’s just say that if you don’t want to invest in an inverter, this is important.
  • Individual electricity meter: Does the unit have have a dedicated electricity meter? This sounds obvious but it isn’t. It’s a given in an apartment though. However, in some houses, there is only one official meter for the site and multiple unofficial meters for each of the units. So, every month, all residents have to get together, calculate and split the bill. Such arrangements cause confusion and I would suggest you to avoid a house that has something like this.
  • Sunlight: Does the house get adequate natural light & sunlight? Which direction does the balcony face in? Do the rooms get natural light?
  • Parking: does the house have a reserved parking
  • Balcony: not all houses and apartments in Bangalore have them but it’s important if you want to sit out sometimes, or hang out clothes for drying.
  • General condition of the house: fixtures, paint. Is the color of the walls and fllor pleasing to the eye? Confirm whether the flat will be painted before its rented out. Note any other thinsg that need repairs.
  • Lighting: Note whether the house has enough lighting (florescent tubes, bulbs etc.)
  • Mesh on windows: this is actually quite important to keep out mosquitoes and still have a flow of air, though it isn’t a deal breaker
  • Curtain rods: Yes, curtains are needed 🙂
  • For apartments, security is a given. However, for houses, evaluate whether all direct or indirect openings into the house are secured by grills. Does the front door allow you to look outside (Magic eye or window overlooking entrance) before you open the door?
  • Wardrobes and storage: Does the house have enough storage space built-in? Check the kitchen too.

Reviewing the locality/area
Ideally:

  • Distance from your workspace
  • Distance from nearest shop/market
  • Not too crowded
  • Not too noisy
  • No slums in the vicinity
  • Clean approach road
  • Close to public transport and auto stand
  • Not in the middle of nowhere

Pre-token:

  • Deposit amount can be negotiated on. Most landlords (if asked) would agree for 6 months rent instead of 10, or a round figure.
  • Some landlords state a combination of rent & deposit, rent can be increased if you want to pay lesser deposit and vice-versa. There’s no set formula for this.
  • Most people would ask up-front if tenants are a family or a group of bachelors. Some people want to let out their property only to families. Reasons stated mostly include a) more damage to property by bachelors & b) bachelors could cause disturbance to families living around
  • You may be asked if you’re a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian. Some people want to let out only to vegetarians.
  • Most landlords would be willing to negotiate on rent. Around 10%.
  • Some landlords “prefer” to let out to vegetarian families,but are open to group of bachelors & non-vegetarians. If they get their preferred tenant, the appetite for negotiation may become 15-20% too.
  • Finalize the rent and deposit before giving a token.
  • Visit the house with owner & list any repairs that you would like to be done before you move in. Check all elctrical switches, fans, lights & geysers.
  • If you went through a broker, this is the time to negotiate on brokerage with him.

Token:

  • If you like the house and would like the owner to hold it for you, give the owner some token advance. It’s important to give this to the owner and not the broker. Ideally, it’s a token amount so doesn’t have to be a big amount, but it’s good give between INR 3000-5000 so that the owner is sure of your interest and can stop showing the property to other potential tenants. If you change your mind, the token amount may not be returned so give a token when you’re really interested and honour your word.
  • Pass on your details to the owner (or agent) for the rental agreement.
  • Insist that you read the agreement draft before it’s typed on stamp paper.

Paperwork:

  • The first page of the rental agreement should be typed n a stamp paper. The rest of the pages can be on plain A4 Bond paper. Stamp papers are available from banks and intermediaries on payment of stamp duty. For rental agreement, make sure that the duty paid is INR 100 or more. Agreements made out on stamp papers less than INR 100 are not valid as address proof. This is important as you could need to use the rental agreement as residence proof while taking a mobile connection etc.
  • Rental agreement should mention all clauses clearly. Read the draft and ask for changes if you don’t agree with a clause. You may be told that its a standard format and just a formality. Remember that its a legal document and you should agree with what you’re signing up for.
  • The deductions from deposit should also be mentioned, preferably in absolute figures. example: painting charges
  • Pay the deposit by one or more cheques, and mention the cheque numbers and amounts on the rental agreement. Don’t pay in cash.
  • It’s advisable (though not necessary) that rent should also be paid by cheque or bank transfer.
  • There is an original copy of the rental agreement which stays with the tenant and a copy of the agreement that stays with the landlord. It’s standard practice to sign both original and copy in ink. Some landlords would insist that they should retain the original, and give you the copy. This is debatable and I’m not sure on what the law says.
  • The rental agreement is signed in presence of two witnesses and you hand over the deposit cheques to the owner.
  • If you went through a broker, this is the time to pay him too.

Taking possession:

  • Take possession no later than the date mentioned in the rental agreement. This is the date from which you’ll need to pay rent (pro-rated)
  • Note the electricity and water meter readings in presence of the owner. You’ll be paying for units consumed thereafter. Any unpaid usages will have to be cleared by the owner. (or cleared by you and adjusted in rent payout to owner)
  • Ensure all repairs requestsed have been completed.
  • Put your own lock on the house. Since the house was available to-let, its possible that one or more keys of original/owner’s might still be there will some agents in the area to show to prospective tenants, this is just to prevent people entering.

Living:

  • Pay rent by the due date mentioned in the agreement.
  • Pay electricity bill by due-date.
  • Pay maintenance/water charges to residents association by due date.

And then …. some day …

Leaving a house:

  • Give verbal notice to the owner a month before vacating, mention the date of which you’ll be vacating the house
  • During the notice period, the owner would want to show the place to other prospective tenants. The owner could choose to let out directly or through an agent. You may be asked to provide a duplicate key for this; its OK to provide this to the owner. However, giving a duplicate key to agent could mean that he could enter your house at any time using that key. Try not to provide the key. Be supportive though, by showing the place when you’re present in the house. You could also pass the word around on the distribution list in your office, so that if someone else is interested in renting out the place, they can contact the owner directly.
  • A couple of days before you vacate, the owner might want to inspect the house to make sure any breakage/damages can be accounted for. Confirm the deposit amount that you’ll be expecting back so that both parties are in-sync
  • On the day you’re vacating the house, collect the deposit amount after deductions from the owner. On receipt of the amount, hand over the keys and the original rental agreement. You might have to attest the agreement saying you’ve received the refund of the deposit amount.
  • A lot of times, owners insist that they’ll return the amount after the next tenant moves in and pays the deposit. Sadly, this is a situation that people encounter a lot of times. Hand over the key and agreement only once you’ve gotten your advance back. This may result in a deadlock, but the owner would need to refund your money and resolve the deadlock. It’s the owner’s responsibility to refund your deposit money in time, and there’s no reason why you should wait till the next tenant moves in. Depending on the situation, and how soon the owner decides to resolve the deadlock, you’ll get your money back. The key is persistence.

Terminology:

  • BHK: Short for Bedroom, Hall & Kitchen. A 2BHK would mean: 2 bredrooms, a hall & kitchen.
  • Individual house: a house or a floor/unit in it
  • Cots: Doesn’t mean charpoy, it means the usual wooden beds
  • Semi-furnished: could simply mean that the house has wardrobes and storage space. If additional furnishings and items are present, they’ll be specifically mentioned
  • Open parking: designated parking space at the ground level, with no shade on top
  • Covered parking: designated parking space either on ground level or in basement. If on ground, it would have shade on top.

I have an itch … and a confession

I’m back & for a change, I’m going to talk about the changes I’ve been going through while I was away. Life, in the last few months has been full of this crazy lil’ thing called change. A change of job (I joined Yahoo!), moving to a new city (Bangalore is lovely, a little too rainy but still lovely), setting up home (I think I might do a dedicated post for that)… it’s been hectic but enjoyable too in a different way.

Not too long ago, I was settled and comfortable, but had an itch of trying something new. To let you know this “itch” isn’t new to me, I have this quite often. Most of the time, it concerns something minor: setting of a room, an Operating system, a new genre of music, a new brainwave, some new gadget/application, a new fancy (can’t call it a hobby as it rarely lasts a long time). And sometimes, it’s a little more than minor: move houses, try out a different role at work, kick a habit. And every couple of years, there’s this “super itch”, that’s the kind I’ve just gone through. It shakes up your world, your routine and also your finances…and it almost seems stupid, at least to observers. But no matter what the size of itch is, one thing it guarantees you is first-hand experience. I know many people who won’t attend to an itch so strong but Me, I’m not like that. The excitement of the unknown excites me. And so does the opportunity to start afresh. My itch provides me ample projects: big & small and I accept them with glee. Sometimes, I feel that I live from project to project.

And then there are days like these, when I look back and realize the unsettling feeling I give people while I attend to my itch. Be it my close ones: family & friends, who’ve always been shocked at the decisions I’ve taken, but still understood & supported me. All my past managers, who’ve been shocked at my crazy ideas and the umpteen times I’ve wanted to try out something else. Not all my coworkers have been so shocked though. Maybe they were itchy like me too, you scratch my back & I’ll scratch yours 🙂 (If you’re my ex-coworker and you don’t like what you’re reading, don’t feel bad, I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about “them”, you know;), of course you’re not itchy). And not to forget, my wife, who’s always been a friend first. I feel gratitude for everyone who’s tolerated me, and still been supportive. Thank you very much.

And now for the confession:
a) I have an itch (covered above).
b) I don’t have a roadmap, but I’m loving the journey
c) That’s it, what else were you expecting, the above is enough confession if you think about it 🙂

P.S: When you haven’t updated your blog for long ‘cos life has kept you busy, and you want to break that gap and post again, lame posts like these just “happen”.