Friday, December 22, 2006

Further examples...

...of why India has a long way to go in overcoming its status as a developing country:

Why the f&*k can't I have my ticket!?
The ever so lovely Chris and Dave are sponsoring a ticket for me to join them in Capetown for Chris' birthday in March. Chris buys a ticket online on South African Airways, they don't do e-tickets but they have the option to allow someone to sponsor a ticket for another and the recipient to pick-up from wherever they are. Simple really, just submit some paperwork they send and you are on your merry way.

Unless that is you happen to live in India.

The SAA office in India does not follow the corporate rules of the company. "What do I need to get my ticket?" Let me call my accounts person...sorry he's at lunch. "All of SAA in India only has one person working in the accounting department?" No, but he is the only one that can answer the question. "Can I speak to your supervisor?" He's at lunch. "Of course he is!" Well sir, it's lunch time. "It's 2:30 in the afternoon, and don't you think that your customers are most likely to access your services during THEIR lunch time, so your staff should be available!?" If you would like to wait for some time, they will be back later.

While the paperwork they gave us is valid for EVERY other country SAA operates in it is not good enough for SAA (their words not mine). "But what if the sponsor lives in another country?" Well then you can just pay for the ticket yourself (their words not mine).

Urgh!! Countless calls to India, Washington, Johana-fuckings-burg later we discover that the system shows that the ticket had been awarded even though they wouldn't give it to me so they wont release it to Chris either. Bloody Hell!!

So, some screaming, some yelling, and some threats later the previous ticket is cancelled, a new one issued in the US and C&D have to FedEx it to me. All because India has created EXTRA bureaucratic steps without rhyme or reason. Sigh.

What am I willing to put up with for a better exchange rate?
Tonight I leave for Spain (on Austrian Air btw-I've never flown them before let's see how it goes) I always like to land in a new country with some of the local currency in hand. Exchanging outside of India is out (Rupees are a restricted currency and its almost impossible to exchange them outside of India - and I have run out of US dollars). I know I can withdraw from ATMs once I reach, but still its a security thing "better safe than sorry" you know.

My Bank, which I hate, is India's largest private bank with outlets all over the country, and now the UK and Canada. One of the main reasons I hate them is because they make every little step a pain in the ass (someday I should tell you about the drama I went through when I lost my ATM card and needed a new one). For example, "Why am I getting charged for making a deposit?" because you made the deposit in Mumbai and your account is from Kolkata. "But it's the same bank, own by one person, its not individual franchises" yes but you opened the account in Kolkata so all transactions have to occur from there. "So transfer my account to Mumbai" We can't do that you would have to close that account and open a new one. Sigh.

One of the services this bank offers is foreign exchange and slightly better rates than other forex. "I would like 100 euros please" you need to fill out this form, and submit a copy of your passport, and your plane ticket. "I just want to exchange some money is all" yes you have to submit an application, it will take a day or two. "But I leave tomorrow" let me call to see if we can get it by tomorrow. "What do you mean get it by tomorrow, you don't have the money here?" No we are not allowed. "Then why say you offer forex if you don't have the money here!?"Because we do, it just takes some time. "And why do you need my passport and ticket?" Because we are not allow to exchange for people who are not travelling. "Why not?" that is the rule, besides what would an India do with the money if they are not travelling (their words not mine). Sigh.


I'm just tired. Spain here I come!!

Happy holidays to all.

Very Merry New YEAR!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Comic Strips

For those of you who knew me as an adolescent, first of all I would like to apologize for that. My pupa phase was not the prettiest of things, but at least it resulted in the beautiful, flighty, fickle, unstable, charming butterfly I am today.

Secondly, you may recall what a ginormous comic book geek I was/am. Thanks to technological advances I can still keep track of my favorite mutants without having the embarrassment of being a 30 year buying comics (though sometimes I say their are for my nephew "He likes these things you know and I like to encourage reading"). But my comic habits manifest in starting each day with reading a select list of comic strips (online of course) once in while there comes one that really strikes me, calls out to me.

These are three that I had saved but couldn't be bothered to post until now.

I love people trying to surprise me, but can't stand the waiting for the surprise. From a kid to adulthood, I would always try to figure out what presents or whatever we were doing. One Christmas I even ruined a great gift from Ricky who tried ever so hard to keep it a secret. But in the end I think I learned to try to act surprise (I was still curious and would figure out what was going on - I just would try not to let the concerned party I knew :-) Surprise-on-demand). But this one really called out to me, because I think people expect me to be more conceited than I really am. And though I have my moments of W.H.A. when someones says I'm cute or something, for the most part my blushes are genuine :-)

I'm not entirely convinced society has progressed for the better. All The toys and entertainment mediums kids have take out all the fun, creativity, joy, and physical exertion of playing. What's the fucking point of that. Now we can't live without our iPods and Cell phones and our children are fat mindless drones. Yip

This one just made me laugh out loud :-D

Monday, December 18, 2006


In order to not go over the edge and keep the tenuous grasp on my sanity I currently have, I decided that I needed a holiday during the holidays.

Luckily I'm joining two dear friends who have had an equally rough year. So, it's going to be more like group therapy than anything else.

Thanks to the marvel of frequent flyer miles and the miracle of credit cards, I will be able to spend twelve days in Spain (Christmas in Sevilla and New Years in Barcelona). I hear that sangria, flamenco, and paella do wonders for the soul.

We shall see.

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day

UNAIDS Global summary of the AIDS epidemic (December 2006)

Number of people living with HIV in 2006

Total: 39.5 million (34.1–47.1 million)

Adults: 37.2 million (32.1–44.5 million)

Women: 17.7 million (15.1–20.9 million)

Children under 15 years: 2.3 million (1.7–3.5 million)

People newly infected with HIV in 2006

Total 4.3 million (3.6–6.6 million)

Adults 3.8 million (3.2–5.7 million)

Children under 15 years 530 000 (410 000–660 000)

AIDS deaths in 2006 Total 2.9 million (2.5–3.5 million)

Adults 2.6 million (2.2–3.0 million)

Children under 15 years 380 000 (290 000–500 000)

The ranges around the estimates define the boundaries within which the actual numbers lie, based on the best available information.