RENT UR DUNIYA – A quick 5-minute survey

Folks RENT UR DUNIYA (www.RentUrDuniya.com) is growing by the day. As we are trying to grow, we would like to hear from you what is it that you would like to rent. Please take this 5-minute survey. Your opinion matters to us a lot.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/F7PN33Z

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November 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

Return to INDIA (R2I as they say) !! – Part 8

The Great Indian Stare

You must have heard about the The Great Indian Rope Trick, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, The Great Indian Novel (Shashi Tharoor’s satire).  But have you heard about The Great Indian Stare? Probably not. But I am sure you must have experienced it. 🙂

Now let me warn you that this is not about India, but rather about Indians. So I am sure you can associate with this in the good ol backyard of Jersey as well.

Have you ever felt this? You walk into a cosy Udipi restaurant (ah! the thought of having a nice Masala dosa with a piping hot Madras coffee!!)  and everyone around you looks up and checks you out. Hey ! whatever happened to that animated discussion about your company not doing your GC  just before you went in? Thanks for making us feel important, but please get back to your discussion !!

Or what about this – you walk into a packed auditorium in Regal for the latest Shahrukh flick and as you walk up the steps to see if you can get anything at the back (good luck with that in Jersey if you show up late), you notice that every person from rows Z to A is ogling at you.  Haven’t you guys experienced it? Trust me in the same theater, walk into an English movie and see the difference. Not a single soul cares about your presence.

So is India any different? What do you think? Please ! We are the same everywhere. Folks just love staring at others. I think there is some kind of voyeuristic pleasure that we derive out of this. Walk into a mall, people stare at you…walk into the doctor’s office, people stare at you….walk into grocery store, you not only get stared, but you are also asked whether you need any help for every item that you touch. 🙂 No yaar, I don’t need your help, please let me shop in peace !!

There are different kinds of stares –

The I-will-look-away-when-you-notice-that-I-was-staring-at-you stare – This is when you catch someone ogling at you and the person instantly looks away.

The I-don’t-care-even-if-I-you-catch-me-staring stare – These are people whom you catch them staring, but they still stare back at you. Embarrassed that you are, you turn the other way since you probably fall into the earlier category.

The I-will-stare-at-regular-interval stare – As if your face changes every other minute, these people stare at you at regular intervals. You know just in case they miss the next biggest moment in your life. 🙂

Finally, the Hey-I-think-I-know-you-from-somewhere stare – Come on guys, we ought to give this to the person. This should be OK right? After all you can’t recollect every person’s name that you have met in your life, can you?

I don’t know this – who knows maybe some of you just like the extra attention. If so, here’s yet another reason for you to come back to India. If nothing else pleases you here, this should give you the ultimate pleasure. 🙂

At the end of this, I think I have kind of started believing that this is another thing that makes up a typical Desi. And guess what, for having observed all of this, I must be doing the same right? 🙂 So there you go guys. Hence proved. I am your stereotypical Desi !! 🙂

January 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm 14 comments

Return to INDIA (R2I as they say) !! – Part 7

What exactly do you get for INR 20K/month rental in Bangalore?

When I tried asking this question before coming here, the standard answer was …”well it depends you see“.  I don’t blame them. It actually really depends. It depends on the city, location, amenities et al. But I don’t think it yet depends on the schools (like in the US). I was told that you should look at anywhere from INR 15K/month – INR 20K/month + monthly maintenance.

But then sitting there, you would still like to get an idea. My friend who is coming down here certainly likes to know. So here it is my friend and for all those of you who want to know, the details of a INR 20K house.

Disclaimer: This post is permanent, but not the rates. The below is valid only as of late 2009 and probably not valid for all areas of Bangalore. Certainly, you can get bigger houses for lesser here in Bangalore as of today. But then they would either be far away from your office or do not have the amenities which is the key here.

So here goes – 20K/month gets us ->

– a 3 BHK (Bed, Hall, Kitchen)  apartment

–  ~1300 Sq Ft

– Full power backup

– Gymnasium

– Billiards Room

– Creche

– Swimming Pool

– Tennis Court

– Badminton Court

– Basketball Court

– Squash Court

– 24-hour multi-level (At the gate and below each building) security

– 24-hour Electrician & Plumber attached to the building

– Amphitheater

– Easy availability of maids and drivers

– Laundry Facilities (Includes washing, dry-cleaning, ironing)

– Basement Parking

BangaloreRental

December 26, 2009 at 2:10 am 5 comments

Return to INDIA (R2I as they say) !! – Part 6

It’s been a month since we landed here in Bangalore.  If you ask me was it tough to settle down? I would say….nah not that much.

Yes things are not as straightforward as it was (or is) in the States, but you know what… you get used to it. So folks if you guys think India is crowded, frustrating and not-so-processed oriented, not professional etc,  I have news for you guys – You guys are right. But sorry guys I also think that it is as easily adjustable. It’s just that you need to have the right mindset. I think of it as this way – yes it is crowded but so is New York, traffic is bad but so is it in Manhattan, slightly not-so process oriented and at places not professional, but you will get along alright. “Sab chalta hai yaar” !! In fact, after staying here for a month, I strongly think that quality of life is way much better here. I can’t exactly touch upon what it is, but I have just started liking it here.

So what exactly do I miss of the US – I am tempted to say roads, lane discipline….football….office…?? But nah… not really. I just can’t think of anything materialistic which I miss. Having spent close to 1/4th of my life in the US, you would think that there has to be something that you would dearly miss. But the fact is that I also spent 3/4th of my life here in India. So I guess I am a plain old desi happy to be back in my desh. It’s in the genes guys.

The only one thing that I miss is my friend circle. We had built a great community of friends around us and it is going to be tough to build it all over again at this stage. Luckily some of my friends are jumping onto the R2I bandwagon. That would be perfect – R2I along with the friends you made all these years. 🙂

So there you go guys….don’t think too much. Just take the plunge. Come over. I am sure you will be very soon saying “chalta hai yaar” !!

December 18, 2009 at 11:24 am 5 comments

Return to INDIA (R2I as they say) !! – Part 5

The expensive new world and the inexpensive old world

Most folks coming back to India or rather to be more specific Bangalore, would say that it has become outrageously expensive to live here. There is definitely a lot of truth in that statement.

Daily lunch in a decent restaurant such as Shanti Sagar/Sukh Sagar costs around 200-250 bucks for the two of us. A cab trip from one part of the town to another costs you close to 300-400 bucks. I have heard that a movie outing would loosen your wallet by at least 500-1000 bucks (though we haven’t had a chance to go out..too busy settling in). Baristas and Coffee day would easily throw you back by 100-200 bucks for the bare minimum. When it comes to big-ticket items, a 42+inch LCD TV costs 60K-1 lakh for good brands; LED’s cross the lakh mark. (but still if you are coming back, don’t buy a TV there, buy it here. You will help the economy here + the customs guy will slap a 15% duty anyways + LCD Tv’s are the most stolen item during shipping)

Our good old desi cars in the US – the Honda civics, city et al are the top-notch cars an urban middle-class double income family can think of buying at this time. They range from 6-7 lakhs for the Jazz model to 10-15 lakhs for the city/civic models. House prices are the killers. A good three bedroom in a good locality with good amenities would cost you at the very minimum 70 lakhs !!  It’s very common to see crore plus advertisements for apartments. Here’s the icing on the cake. The supposed good pre-schools and kindergartens cost upwards of 70K/annum. My whole of engineering including tuition, mess bill, hostel fees and miscellaneous items did not cost my dad more than 2 lakhs and here they are talking about first grade for a lakh/annum !!

Now I am sure you would have heard these numbers before from people here. I had heard it too. But sitting in the US you can’t help but actually feel a little bit proud that India is growing (inflation most of the times is seen as a sign of growth). Also with the USD salaries there all of these would seem reachable, but trust me once you land here and put all of these things together you would see the plush INR salary that you negotiated and which you thought should hold good would no longer seem enough.The problem is that these prices are comparable with the US prices and in many cases equal in terms of absolute conversion. But in terms of cost of living index, the prices kill you.

A good mattress in the US costs $600 which for a $80K plus income turns out to be 1/8th of the monthly take home. Here the same thing costs Rs 20K which is 1/3rd of a comparable salary. These are the numbers that I am staring at in the next few months –

Rent-20000
Electricity-500
Gas-650
Maid-2000
Driver-6000
Petrol-4000
Cell Phone Bill=1500
Landline-500
Internet-850
Cable-500
Groceries-5000
Entertainment-5000
Miscellaneous-5000
Total Rs 51,500 (God help me !!)

If you buy a house and take a loan you can change the rent above to 1/100th of the loan you take. So say you take loan of 50 lakhs, then your mortgage would be around 50K which brings your expenses close to 1 lac/month which in turn requires a salary of at least 22-25 lakhs/annum. Remember this means no saving except for your house.  Did I just prove that a 22-lakh/annum salary means no saving? Welcome to the new INDIA. I hope these numbers help people in their salary negotiations depending upon their lifestyles.

Now of course, this is the expensive side of Bangalore and the lifestyle that we chose to live. Coming back from the US, you are in the NRI mode and you tend to close the gap between what you chose to leave back in the US with what you get here. In trying to close the gap you tend to lean towards the premium aspects of the Indian society and therein lies the quandary.  But there is also the inexpensive side or the old Bangalore. You could very well live in Bangalore by spending half the amount mentioned above. You could rent a house for 5k, 10K, 15K or even for 50K. You could chose not to have maids or drivers. In fact, maids and drivers are a luxury in the US. You could avoid going to the malls and shop in the local market. You can avoid the cabs and take the volvo buses (fantastic buses they are by the way). You could buy your groceries from the local bania instead of going to MORE or Big Bazaar.

But I can bet you that you wouldn’t do that when you are here. We (speaking for the new generation) have moved on from the lifestyle lived by our parents most of their lives (In fact our parents have moved on too). We are no longer the penny-pinching kind. We have started living tomorrow’s life today.

I am not sure if this is good or bad. But this is what I see here. Hopefully we have a better end than what US has/is going through. 🙂

PS: Debit cards and not credit cards are the norm here. That is in a way good right? You wouldn’t rack up huge credit card bills.

November 29, 2009 at 12:53 pm 14 comments

Return to INDIA (R2I as they say) !! – Part 4

State Bank Of India Zindabad !!

Today I got a pleasant surprise from none other than the behemoth State Bank Of India. In this day and age of privatized banks, with their doorstep service and “customer is king” motto, I had expected smooth sailing with the likes of ICICI and HDFC banks. I was proven wrong. It’s been close to 10 days since we have arrived here, but I still haven’t been able to see the light of ICICI or HDFC accounts. All the while I was staying away (actually dreading) from the shanty SBI branch close to my home.

Let me first go over the hassles I faced with ICICI. First thing, these guys coaxed me into the 3-in-1 account (Demat, trading, savings account). I thought why not. If these guys can take care of all the hassles behind the scene, then I might as well get all of them. But the point that these guys didn’t tell me and which was the most important thing for me was that a 3-in-1 account takes 15 day to process. If they had told me that I would have certainly asked them to prioritize the savings account and later thought about a 3-in-1. I do agree that they did make my life easier for me for something that I would have required a month later. But they certainly missed the point of what the customer came to them in the first place.

With HDFC, the problem was with the NRE account check that I gave them to open the account. Apparently their back operations came back with a query as to why an NRI is opening a savings account in India. Well it is a genuine question, but then what would you expect an NRI to do if he doesn’t have a bank account (and an address proof, a PAN card, a voter’s ID card, a telephone bill, a credit card statement, a bank statement !!).  Anyway the guy helping me said that a letter to that effect from me should suffice. I said  **** it….just take cash and get me the account! So I guess I should get the account early next week.

Now listen to this. It’s been 10 days and my dad must have told me at least 10 times to go to SBI and open an account. He said they will do it in a day. I said if ICICI and HDFC can’t give me an account in 10 days, SBI can never do it. Lo behold…I was in a for a big surprise. I went to the SBI branch. (It’s still looking a bit like the old SBI, but I don’t care). The inquiry guy gave me a form to fill up. The only hassle there was an introductory form (as part of their Know Your Customer policy, they need a referral). I came back home, got a signature from my mom, went back, submitted the form. They immediately processed it and gave me an account number. I deposited Rs 1000/- (no Rs 10K, 5K minimum requirements like HDFC, ICICI) and that was it. The entire thing took me 1 hour elapsed. Of course, you can still see the inquiry guy disappearing for lunch and the guy whom you need next is not sitting at his desk when you go to him. But all that was momentary. I had an open account into which I could deposit money in one hour period. Something that ICICI and HDFC could not do. Period.

So for all NRI’s out there planning to settle back – Please go to the nearest SBI branch the second day you land and get an account opened. You should have your ATM card and cheque book in 4 days from the day of opening.

Another thing – Please be consistent with your signatures. Indian banks are very very very particular about signatures unlike the US ones. Because people forge signatures more often, banks take extra precautions to protect the interests of the customers. Unfortunately, customers like me, who have bad handwriting added with signature consciousness (I get conscious when I sign a document which makes my signature inconsistent each time), have a hard time because of this. They even refuse to give you money unless you can prove that you are really you. 🙂

November 26, 2009 at 6:09 am 2 comments

Return to INDIA (R2I as they say) !! – Part 3

Indian Standard Time

“I will be there in 5 minutes sir” – The guy turns up 45 minutes later.

“Your PAN card will be delivered first thing tomorrow morning sir” – My PAN card came after 3 days.

Hmm… some things have not changed folks.  The good old “Indian Standard Time” of delivering has not changed. People still don’t value time as much as you would like them to.

Maids come to work anywhere from 5 minutes to 60 minutes late. I see my mom scrambling in the morning to adjust around the maid’s arrival time.

Realty brokers think that their time is more valuable than yours. At least the ones we have interacted with seem to think so. “Madam, turn left at ABC, then take a right at XYZ and stand in front of the XYZ temple and give me a call“. Arre…if you know we are going to be there in 5 minutes, why can’t you leave in advance and reach there at the same time as we? Why would you want us to give you a call and then have us wait for you? Are you trying to second-guess the traffic? Maybe you think these guys are going to be stuck in traffic for 10 minutes, so why waste my time? But the truth is that we (the ones who get the service) end up waiting more often than not. 😦

The bank guy who had come to my house the first couple of days took my PAN card to have it photo-copied. Just photo-copy right? Should have taken 5 minutes, 30 minutes.. or 1 day at the max? !! How much time does that take? Every time I called him asking about the whereabouts of my PAN card, I was pacified with promises of doorstep delivery on the same day evening or the next day morning. I still can’t understand why it took them 3 full days to get me the PAN card. I was not happy would be an understatement.

Another time, I booked an Easy Cab for us to go to Koramangala (the other side of Bangalore). The guys comes 15 minutes late and he informs me that only when I tried calling him. What if I had to catch a flight? Why wouldn’t they call me and update me that they are running late?

It is ironical that in a country which believes in service at doorstep, you also get to see people following it up with hollow promises. That is the state of affairs here.

But this also gives me hope. All these guys need to do is be on time and deliver what they promise. It also gives me some perspective about what a customer expects in India and what you need to do wow him. Hoping to capitalize on it some day.


November 23, 2009 at 8:51 am 1 comment

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