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27 January 2014

Delhi's delirious house-hunting

“In New Delhi, I can't get a flat to rent because everyone wants more money from a single foreigner!”

THE TOTTERING economy has so afflicted Delhi's realty business that house properties remain either unfinished or unoccupied. In my hunt for a flat, I've already visited at least 80 vacant locations across South Delhi in three weeks. Most of them, however, are unpalatable as residences. In this part of the city, there's a gigantic lack of open space and parking. Closer to where I work (Chhattarpur), there's the specter of properties being illegally built and therefore lacking the assurance of continuous water and power supply from the city government.

But what has been most delirious is the attitude of landlords. I had expected, and prepared myself for, unscrupulous realty agents; au contraire, they're nothing compared to a lot of owners I've met. During initial meetings with landlords and property developers, rental rates suddenly get hiked in ridiculous ways. One landlord literally shooed me away when he learned I wasn't employed by a multinational company. In Mumbai, I couldn't get a flat to rent because nobody wants to lease out to a single foreigner. In New Delhi, I can't get a flat to rent because everyone wants more money from a single foreigner!

26 January 2014

A day of sovereignty

SIXTY-FOUR YEARS years ago today, India wrote its constitution as a free republic. Since then, the festivities in New Delhi to mark that day have always been full of pomp and majesty. It reflects the essence of sovereignty that the nation had long dreamed of attaining.

Today, the dignity of such festivities seem ironic in the face of a frightening rate of crimes against women in the city. As I view captivating images of armed forces marching with stateliness, I hope for a day when women will not require such armed force to secure their basic humanity in Delhi. A day celebrating a country's sovereignty must also commemorate the powers invested in protecting its women.

20 January 2014

End-of-job sale signs

DURING END-OF-SEASON sales, create a sign like this and get even with cranky and spiteful store managers. But make sure you have a new job tomorrow.

18 January 2014

ICICI Bank's customer disservice

ICICI Bank's Phone Service

WITH TODAY'S relentless corporate cost-cutting and disenchanted generation of younger employees, customer service is bound to take a horrible hit. ICICI Bank never seems to learn from this.

I spent a historic record of over 180 minutes, non-stop, on two mobile phones last night with a couple of ICICI Bank Wealth Management officers and with a 23-year-old technician named Julius from their iMobile phone banking application team. We had been trying to figure out what to do with an iMobile application that did not recognize my phone number and failed to download my accounts onto my gadget.

Unforgivably, for all the time and effort spent on those monstrously extended phone conversations, my issues ended unresolved. I was subjected to dropped phone calls from the iMobile team. The last conversation was disastrous, done over a phone call to a certain Azeen of the Wealth Management desk: he refused to let me talk, testing the limit of my patience, and when I volcanically exploded with an adroitly delivered “F" word, he blatantly instructed me to use professional language. As you can see, my service request over iMobile ended immobile. It was farcical misery fed by their outrageous apathy.

By then, I had already assumed that the Wealth Management hotline and the iMobile technical support were operating from call centers. I was wrong. I learned later that evening that these desks are, in fact, full-time employees of ICICI Bank. If the Wealth Management team treated me with such level of amateurism, how are non-Wealth Management customers handled on the phone?

This three-hour saga has left me with total disgust at ICICI Bank's telephonic service and utter disbelief over the bank’s amateurish tactical processes. More precariously, it left me with a gnawing mistrust of the bank's ability to handle personal banking information on phone applications. Most of all, it made me rethink ICICI Bank's commitment to trust, confidence, and service.

It's time to open an account with Axis Bank, ranked by the Business Today as the most consistent bank performer in 2013. I am confident I will be treated with an excellence that I used to enjoy from ICICI Bank during its glory days.

14 January 2014

Bikers and boxers

Footpath in Chittaranjan

WHILE INSPECTING for a new house to live in, I passed by this pedestrian footpath and bike lane along the very busy Ambetkar Road in South Delhi. This is exactly what is needed for a city (in)famous for its impatient ways. The wide, well-cemented avenues get choked with Delhi's proudly big, arrogantly bigger, and insanely biggest cars, so having footpaths and bike lanes give the less-affluent public a chance to traverse the streets and stay alive safe.

And to point out the madness of New Delhi's roads, I saw a man alight from his bike on Ambetkar Road, approach the biker in front of him, and suddenly punch him massively in the face.

Delhi's roads also needs a separate lane for street boxing.

11 January 2014

Hello, Delhi!

New Delhi

AFTER FOUR years in Mumbai and another four in Kolkata, I have moved to New Delhi for a new role with Biba Apparels. India's most happening city is also the center of Indian governance, Mughlai food, builder-floor apartments, car-park madness, flyovers, imperial buildings, and world-class museums. And did I say that the Bahá'í House of Worship for Asia is minutes away from work?

As Barbra Streisand would have sung, "Well, well, hello, Delhi! Well, hello, Delhi! It's so nice to be in your cold and crazy arms!"

10 January 2014

As 2014 rolls in

Happy New Year!

WELCOME, 2014! The passing year wasn't too friendly: it was fraught with challenges and unexpected difficulties from the workplace and from living in Mumbai. My work contract had ended, and I faced twists and turns that required long trains of thought and quick judgement calls. The year ended with another twist, albeit on a positive note: a new job that I liked, in a new city that would bring me to the heart of the Bahá'í Faith in India.

This year, we'll see a wave of international legislations and regulations that will change the way we live, work, and connect with each other across borders. There will be tons of opportunities to think bigger this year. I look forward to the eternal sources of inspiration in 2014—which, by the way, is not just the Year of the Horse; it's also the International Year of Family Farming, International Year of Crystallography, and International Year of Small Island Developing States. Even with semantics, we never run out of inspiration!

For all of you, may the 365 days ahead be productive and meaningful!