Category Archives for "Random"

To the Standard Chartered Bank…

Dear Standard Chartered Bank,

You offered me a shining Manhattan Credit Card almost 7 years ago when I was in Bangalore. I was a kid out of my college who was fascinated by plastic money and loved to get them swiped once in a while. Then came Citibank where I had my corporate salary account. I got a complimentary credit card which offered 5 times the limit you offered. But I was a kid. At that time having 2 credit cards in my wallet made me feel even better. Yours was a silver card. And Citibank gave a gold card. I loved both of them.

I stopped using your card after one year. I still use my Citibank credit card which has been upgraded 5 times since I got the first one.  There’s one very simple reason. Let me explain:

On a given month I have a Rs. 10,000 outstanding on both my credit cards. I only have Rs. 10,000 to spare so I make a partial payment of Rs. 5000 to both (though now I understand I should have actually cleared off one of the two to enjoy a month of revolving credit for free. But that is not the point here.). When I get the bill next month, the interest charged on your card is twice that of the interest charged on the Citibank card. No, your rate of interest is not twice that of Citibank. Your interest calculation policy is deceptive.

Your policy says unless I clear off each penny of my outstanding, you will charge an interest on the total outstanding as of the last bill. So even if I paid Rs. 9999.99 and have an outstanding of Rs. 0.01, you would have charged an interest on the total outstanding i.e. Rs. 10,000. Citibank doesn’t do so. They charged interest only on the partial balance.

I call up your customer care to explain. First the gentleman on the other side doesn’t understand a shit about the interest charging methodologies. And then he says he holds 7 credit cards and all of them charge interest on the entire outstanding even if a partial payment is done. To nail it down he says it is a regulatory norm. I ask him to cancel my card. He says request taken. I follow up a few more times. But I don’t get any confirmation. I cut the card in 4 pieces and throw it out of the window.

For two years, you keep sending me a printed bill with Rs. 13 Cr. in my account. I keep throwing it in the dustbin. You suddenly send me a new shining platinum card. But I am no longer that innocent kid. I cut the card into pieces and throw it out immediately.

From then until now, you keep sending me bills. Two bills. One has a credit of Rs.13 and the other says Rs. o.00. So for the last 3 years, you’ve sent both the bills to be without failing. I did some calculations. If it costs Rs. 2 for the bill and another Rs. 5 for the postage, you have spent Rs. 672 over the last five years. And I have not spent a single penny through your cards in that time. You have already spent more in the bills than the interest I ever paid.

It’s time to stop now. Use the money to buy some sense.

At least stop sending those paper bills and save some trees.

Never yours for life!

Amit Srivastava



“Simplicity is the best policy”. I had read it as a kid. Little did I know what does it exactly mean. As I grew up, I still didn’t appreciate this. However esp. in the last few years when technology has infested our lives, I am beginning to realize how cluttered and complicated everything is.

  • My average reading span for an article on the web had reduced to a few seconds. I had trouble reading beyond the article headline.
  • 3 years ago, I could watch a complete video on TED (which was usually less than 20 minutes. No more. I hardly have the patience to watch them now.
  • I often lost context due to the web sites trying to squeeze everything in the world on their pages.

Enters the Kindle which I won’t write about (for various reasons).

Enters Readability. It is a simple service which allows you to mark articles to be read later. Nothing great so far. But that is not just what it does. It has a cool reading mode, which just makes reading fun. Just install this extremely recommended Chrome readability extension and transform your reading experience on the web for ever. It not only simplifies everything, but also allows you with options to control the font sizes, width etc.

And there is more to it. It allows you to push those articles to Kindle so that you can read them at leisure. I just can’t explain what good this does to my reading experience. Even if Readability starts charging for this service, I would be happy to pay.

There are other services like Instapaper ,which is good as well. I prefer Readability over Instapaper simply because the former can handle images when converting the article for Kindle.

Don’t ask me about the digest feature not being there in Readability (for free). Read article by article. And delete article by article. We are talking about simplifying things. Digests do not really help.

Very few things in the world simplifies life, and Readability (and Kindle of course 😉 ) does.


Writer’s block!

I had heard about the writer’s block. Didn’t exactly know what it was. But once I started blogging I could make out. I thought that the block is due to shortage of ideas. One does not know what to write. May be doesn’t have enough in mind to express.

But it is exactly the opposite I guess. Everyday I can think of so many articles to write. But I am not able to do so. Getting time is of course an issue. But more than that it is the block. I just can’t start.

And now, this is seeping into my profession as well. Of late my job involves writing proposals, creating presentations etc. I am facing the same here as well. Someone has rightly said. Well begun is half done!

But there’s one area where this hasn’t impacted me so far. And that is email. I can respond to emails almost instantly, no matter how complicated the response might get. There’s a twist though. Starting an email is tougher than responding to email. Responding is easier as someone has already started.

Nevertheless, starting emails is a lot easier than documents or presentations. Now here’s the secret. I’ve started starting blog posts, proposals, presentations etc. as emails. It is helping me tremendously.

That doesn’t mean you would see lot many posts from me. But this is making my life a hell lot easier.

When I thought through it today, I realized that emails have become more natural to us. Probably this is why the block doesn’t exist there!

Why so stressed?

I am sitting at the Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivagi airport. Although still fresh in the morning, the air around the place I am sitting is filled with stress. Yes, stress.


Around me are half a dozen gentlemen, all wearing expensive suits and watches. All of them have a tablet (laptops are so old fashioned). Their luggage strolleys look brand new (as if they purchase one every time they travel).
I walked up to the newspaper stand nearby. There’s The Times of India, some local newspaper and one section which doesn’t have anything. I suppose it had The Economic Times, which all these gentlemen around me have taken up and swallowed. Yes, I can see two of them hiding behind The Economic Times. I think they are competing against each other to grasp everything so that they can stay ‘ahead of the curve’. The other gentlemen are doing something on their tablets, but I don’t think they are focusing enough. They seem to be switching between applications which one usually does. Two of them have also purchased ‘Business Books’. I can see some edition of the Harward Business Review with one of them. Can’t figure out the other one. But there’s an image of a man well dressed like them and pointing his finger somewhere. I think he must be some ‘Leadership Guru’. Ah another friend walks up and takes the last available seat around. And he is carrying the ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ book. But no one seems to be reading those books. Once in a while they flip some pages and move on to their tablets. Do they have scanners in their heads? I don’t know.

But they all look very stressed. Now you know whyI said the air is filled with stress. I don’t want to sit here. I decide to find another place. I can see two seats lying vacant. There are some kids sitting around. And they are reading some comics. One of them is playing a game on the PSP. Yes, I want to sit here. A 3-4 year old is reading an illustrated story book. These kids look so happy. I decide to sit down and write this post.


Let me stop here. I want take my Kindle out and continue on the Hardy Boys Mystery. Before I sign off, I just hope that 20 years down the line, these kids are not stressed like those gentlemen. I just hope so!

Finally I get to see a mummy!

A mummy at the British Museum, London

I wouldn’t call it a childhood dream, but it has been quite a while since I have been looking to see a mummy. I am sure a lot of us want to. The Egyptian history is probably one of the most fascinating ones. Mummies and Pyramids would be on the hit list of anyone who even has a little interest in history (or may be with no interest in history, these could still be something which one would like to witness!)

I just had a few hours to spare on an otherwise busy trip to London and had to pick on one thing to see. It was not at all difficult. I had read that the British Museum has a rich section dedicated to Egypt and that made it easy! I rushed to the museum and straightway headed for the Egyptian section. And I was not disappointed at all! Just at the entrance of the section, I witnessed a mummy (the one in the photograph above)! It was really a great feeling, I must say.  I always though about a planned trip to Egypt to witness the Pyramids as well as the Mummies. I never knew that I wound witness a mummy here, in London (well the English couldn’t get the Pyramids here 🙂 ) . But then, life does throw surprises.

I also attended a 30 minute guided tour on Egyptian history by one of the curators (and bugged him with a few questions towards the end!). I saw a lot of other things as well, but I don’t really remember what else I saw. Such was the thrill!

If you are in London, don’t miss it out…



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