Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Life in Apr 1 - May 20, 2014

To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven.
A time to plant, A time to reap….

And the song goes on. Last 50 days, has been a lot of turns for me. There were times of joy, work, sorrow and many other emotions.  Here is what i recall -

~ Aarti's wedding ceremony: What an awesome time it was. Got to spend so much time with family, relatives, good conversations, good food, dance, drama, functions and everything. Loved every moment of it. Glad that all functions went well. My favorite function was the wedding ceremony itself. Simple, almost on time and it was heartening to see so many people who stayed till the end - a rarity in Indian weddings. Also, very happy that people came from all over, Kolkata, US, southern India, Indore.   Lot of work, lot of driving, shopping and random stuff in between.  Got stuck in lift for the first time in life :)   One regret that i have, which actually came later, was to not have played Queen songs in the background. I had not seen Queen by then, but Queen songs in the background would have been awesome.

~ Parul's wedding Jaipur. Got the opportunity to visit Jaipur one more time and did shopping (yeah, i bought Jaipuri table cloths). Very well organized and my fav part was meeting Shampa mam after such a long time. It was a great feeling. The Tara Nivas acco is very good, elegance in simplicity.

~Movies -
Queen (4/5) Review here
Dallas Buyers club (4/5). Loved the acting and  the script. Very highly recommended.

~Books -
When A Tree shook Delhi by Manoj Mitta . Review to be written
The fiction of fact finding : Modi and Godhra. Review to be written.

~ In between the two weddings, i was polling booth agent for AAP South Blr candidate - Nina Nayak. My experience is documented here

~ Took the day off to watch election results on 16th May. Got disappointed by 11 am and have not dived in since. There are many thoughts on election but i guess there will be another time to vent them out. But overall, I will be toning down my political intake. Time to take a backseat.

~ Time to move on from labs. Papers submitted. Time to brace for the next journey. There is no why behind this. Feeling happy, little sad and little scared. But excited nonetheless.

~ Big effort to get Khata transfer and Bescom meter name transfer in my name. Again, i am not paying bribe here and it is quite time consuming to get all details and work with govt office.  But persist we shall. It is an eye opening experience. Understanding for the first time - dar dar bhatakna.

~Ghar setting. Bought 2 ACs, 1 washing machine, 1 3-seater sofa. Got them installed. Fixed inverter and other numerous small small tasks that need to be done for one to live peacefully. I am tired of it now.

~The weekend morning brunch at Maduvaram, HSR is quite good.

Friday, May 2, 2014

My Apartments

I shifted to my new place in the last week of March. Ever since graduating from undergrad, life had been nomadic. This is my 10th place in last 8 years. Shifting apartments always fills me up with some nostalgia. Over the last 8 years, there were some places where i knew that it was a temp setup and there were ones where i genuinely felt like home. Here is a lookback

  1. July 2006 - July 2007 : Working for Trilogy in Bangalore. Jayanagar 6th block. A 3BHK shared with Amit Rana and CM Shivkumar. 
  2. July 2007 - May 2008 : Doing Masters at Georgia Tech, Atlanta. Centennial park. A 2BHK shared with Ameya and two other folks.
  3. May 2008 - July 2008 : Interning at Kosmix. Living at Mountain view in a 2BHK with Pratik Ashre and Nikunj Nemani. 
  4. July 2008 - Dec 2008. Back to Atlanta. Now living in a 4BHk shared by 4 people including Aninda Ray and Jatin
  5. Jan 2009 - Mar 2009. Working for Kosmix and now living in Palo Alto. Renting one bedroom in a big house from an Indian family. Forgot their name. 
  6. Mar 2009 - Apr 2010. Living on Rengstroff street Mountain view. Its is a 3BHK duplex shared between three people. One of them is David and the other one is a Mongolian, i have forgotten her name.
  7. Apr 2010 - Jan 2012. Still with Kosmix but now i move to 210 Easy street, Mountain view. It is a 1BHK and i live alone this time.  This place was really wonderful! 
  8. Feb 2012 - Feb 2013. Moved to India and now i am living at Charles Court, Rest house road, right in the middle of Bangalore. It is a fully furnished spacious 2BHK and i am living alone. 
  9. Feb 2013 - Mar 2014. Moved to Koramangala. Still a 2BHK, much smaller size but still living alone.
  10. Mar 2014 - present. Now at HSR layout, sector 5. This time it is a 3BHK. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Bangalore Property Registration: The No Bribe way

I was recently involved in registering two properties (both apartments) in Bangalore. I am proud to write that both the registrations were done without paying any bribe.  All transactions were done in white. Both the registrations where of type resale - that is from an owner not via builder. The idea behind this post is to share the process of property registration in Bangalore - what all documents are required and what happens at the Sub Registrar's office.

What do you need before the day of registration - 

The Intangibles -

  • A seller who is also willing to go through the process without paying any bribe. 
  • A will that you will not give bribe come what may.
  • Patience.

Documents et al -

  1. Sale Deed - Between the seller and yourself.  It should be printed on a 2 Rupee stamp paper. There are several shops near the Sub Registrar office which will print this for you. They charge INR 10 for each print out and INR 2 for every page used.  Alternately, you can even buy the paper separately and print at home as well. 
  2. Form 1 and Affidavit : You can buy it at  XEROX shop in the BDA complex. Just ask around.  The affidavit is only in Kannada, so if you do not know Kannada, you may want to get some some help here. 
  3. Khata certificate/extract.
  4. Property tax paid receipt
  5. Previous sale deed. 
  6. DDs  favoring The Sub Registrar, , Bangalore.  Area is the place under which the Sub registrar office falls. For example, if you are doing it in IndiraNagar, Area name will be Shivajinagar.  There will be one DD for 5.6% and another one for 1% of the registration value. 
  7. Two witnesses. The witness should be present on the day of registration and you should make sure that they know that the process is a bribe-free process and hence it could take a good amount of time. (My suggestion - pick two of your good friends so that it also becomes a hangout with them) 

You will need two copies of 3,4,5.  But carry copies of everything. Carry originals as well in case they ask for it.

Some notes - 
  • Property tax can be paid online here - https://onlineservices.tin.egov-nsdl.com/etaxnew/tdsnontds.jsp In Bangalore, if the value of property is more than 50 Lakhs, it is mandatory that the tax has to be paid before you go for registration. (I have heard that in other cities, it can be paid later as well but i have not verified it) This tax is actually credited as a tax credit to the seller (You will need the seller's Pan card details for this). You should discuss this with the seller in case he is not aware of this, it is a new rule that came into action only in 2013. So, you need to pay the seller 1% less as this last 1% will come to him as a tax credit. So, if you are buying a property, say worth 1 Cr, from a seller, then you will pay him 99 Lakhs and the last one lakh will be paid to him via this tax. (Apparently the govt. wants to be in the loop.)
  • The sale deed should mention information about the above tax. Upon paying the tax, you will get an acknowledgement number which should be mentioned in the sale deed. 
  • In both the cases, i visited the Sub-registrar's office before the day of registration to ensure that the checklist is correct, in case there are some local variations. 
  • The witness should write their full names and addresses along with their signatures. I asked mine to even write their contact numbers :) 
  • You should also write the Bescom meter number in the sale deed saying that the seller has no objection in transferring so in the buyer's name. I did not had it in my clause and had to take an extra NOC from the seller.  There will be separate posts on my Khata transfer and meter transfer experience, both of them are underway. 

What happens inside the office - 

While there was some documentation on web on pre-requisites, I could not find any source that explains the process inside a sub registrar's office. My lack of process knowledge coupled with my lack of Kannada understanding made the officials little angry at one point. Normally, there are touts who understand these processes well and hence it makes the work easier for officers, for example how the documents are to be ordered.  But be polite and request them to explain. They will do it themselves, although with little frown, but a smiling thank you takes care of it in the end. 

  1. The first thing that happens is that a man takes all the documents and checks if all the necessary documents are present. He is the one who will check that the sale deed is correct, the sum of installments equals to the sum of transaction, the DDs are of the correct amount. Next, he would arrange the documents in right order and add a small post it note writing some code that i could not decipher. He will redirect you to the next table.
  2. At Koramangala BDA, i was redirected to the Sub Registrar himself who checked these docs himself. He asked me who prepared the Sale Deed. I answered that i did it myself and then he asked me write that - PREPARED BY SELF, at the last page. At Indiranagar, the guy who was checking the documents asked me to do the same. 
  3. Next comes the most important step. You are redirected to a table which has a computer. Here is where the actual registration happens. At this table, both the buyer and seller have to give their thumb print and photographs. This identity data is printed at the back of the first few pages of your sale deed. The operator will also enter details of the property into the computer which will be later uploaded to the server. Before uploading, they will give a print out which you will have to verify is correct. Be careful of spelling mistakes/omissions as the operators do it very fast and are bound to make mistakes. At both the BDA, operator was handling multiple(2-3) applicants in parallel and hence be vigilant at this step. The operator will also enter the details of witnesses but it is not required to record their photograph or thumbprint.
  4. You will have to sign this print out after you have ensured that all the information is accurate. If not, tell the mistake to operator and she will print the document again. This print out will also be signed by the operator. It has to be signed by another authority figure, most likely the operator's superior officer. The operator will redirect you to a table where the superior officer sits. Get a sign from him.
  5. After the signature from superior officer, the operator will print the thumbprint and photograph of buyers and seller at the back of the sale deed. The same operator will also keep the DDs. This sale deed with all the information is now uploaded to the central server now. This requires a scan of the sale deed which the operator will do. 
  6. The next step is stamping of the Sale Deed. All the pages of the sale deed has to be stamped. The stamping officer will also take the signature of buyer, seller next to their photographs. The witnesses also have to sign on this document. Normally, the stamping officer will verify that the signatures should match but since they always do, they are little lax about it. The witnesses have to wait till this step. Once they have signed, they are free to leave. 
  7. Next, the stamped sale deed will go to the Sub Registrar for his signature. At Koramangala BDA, i took the sale deed myself to the Sub Registrar. At Indiranagar BDA, the stamping officer took it himself for the signature. 
  8. Once the Sub Registrar signs the sale deed, it has to be uploaded again to the server, this time with all the stamps and the Sub Registrar's signature. The scanning officer in this step is different than the operator in step 5, unless the scan machine has broken down which happened at the Indiranagar BDA. 
  9. After the scanning, your registration is complete. You can collect the document by paying a small fee for the process of registration. It is around INR 500. You can pay by cash. They will give you a receipt for the same. Upon this, they will enter the registrar details in a register which you will have to sign. It mostly means that you are signing that you have received the signed sale deed. 
  10. That's it. You are done. Say Thank you to the officers, and give a treat to yourself!!

Some Notes/Observations - 
  • The process at Koramangala BDA took 2 hrs end to end. The one at Indiranagar took about 5 hrs. But we were the first ones at Koramangala (right at 10:30 am) while at Indiranagar, we went at 11:30am and most of the delay was because there were 4-5 applications before us. So, go early. Also, you can not go after 3 pm. That is step 1 should be done by 3 pm. Then only then can get the process done before 5:30 pm.  Also, at the Indiranagar office, one scanner was not working which made the process slower. 
  • It is not that they don't ask for the money. At the Koramangala BDA, the stamping officer signaled me but i told him that i will see once the registration completes.  Once all steps were done, i said thank you to him and came out. At Indiranagar BDA, the guy sitting next to the stamping officer asked for 5K. I said i am not paying it. At this point, he kept my sale deed in a drawer refusing to send it to the Sub Registrar. I waited patiently and after 5 mins, I  went to the stamping officer asking him what is the next step. He asked me to wait. After about 15-20 mins, his deputy, who had gone for lunch earlier, returned and took my sale deed to sub registrar. The guy who had asked for money was sitting with an angry look and for the most part would not look at me. I also ignored him for most of my part. 
  • Throughout the 10 step process above, once inside the office, you see openly bribe being given. Money is given in front of everyone. It is no longer an under the table step. So much so, that the operator who keys in the sale deed details on his/her computer keeps the 100 INR notes tucked under her keyboard so that they are not misplaced.
  • I did feel sorry for the operator as they work in such a bad office space working under so much pressure.  At both the offices, the ceiling fan was rotating very slowly and it was quite hot inside. The operators are always surrounded by people constantly watching each of his/her keystroke. Since almost all of them are giving money to the operator, they expect their work to be done with priority. There is no notion of privacy here. I found the operators to be nice people with exceptional crowd management skills and super work efficiency. I sincerely believe that they deserve better than what they get, atleast in terms of office space. 
  • Almost all other applicants who had come there, had come with an agent/tout. The tout was handling everything on their behalf. Once you know the process above, it is not all that difficult. 
  • It was good to see that most of the officers had their name either pinned on their shirts or places on their tables. They also had information on property tax of 1% posted on the office walls. Perhaps, if they can broadcast the list of required documents along with the actual process, it will be a big step. 
  • I was also thankful that even with all the blatant bribe giving, every table followed the first come first serve policy. So, my application was not thrown at the bottom of the stack. Perhaps, it may be because they had an expectation that i will pay later, but i do not think so. I choose to believe that most of the officials are actually good honest people who really are doing their best given the circumstances. 

If you have any questions in any of the steps above, you can mail me at arvindbatra@gmail.com.  

Beyond this, i will only say that buying home, perhaps is one of the most significant purchase of your life. For people like me, it will happen only once during my lifetime. Do spend a little time in understanding the process rather than treating it like a black box and outsourcing it.  When you are buying a home whose value goes in lakhs and crores, paying 5K or 10K is nothing to get a job done. It is clearly not a question of money. But to be able to claim that you did it without paying any bribe - thats truly priceless. 

Queen: Celebrating Silliness

Queen's trailer already reveals that it is a film about a girl going alone on a honeymoon. Implying behind this line is that a marriage has been called off at the last moment - that is beyond acceptable in any society. The trailer promises a journey of liberation and self discovery. Queen delivers more with its awesome dialogues, brilliant performances, Amit Trivedi's catchy music and lots of comic touches.

Queen opens itself on the night of Ladies Sangeet with the catchy song London Thumakda playing on background. The very next day, our couple meets at CCD where the groom (Vijay) tells the bride (Rani) that he is calling off the marriage. To mellow down this horrible tragic incident, Vikas Bahl, Queen's director, shares the present with flashbacks of how Vijay, played by Rajkumar Rao, had wooed Rani, our Queen Kangana Ranaut, during college time. When did they first meet, how he flirted, how they began to like to each other and how there were differences. There are bollywood movies which spend the entire first half in this, not to mention adding a couple of unnecessary songs. Not Queen. It has more ground to cover.

The next day, Kangana Ranaut announces that she wants to go on her honeymoon alone and hence begins the celebration of silliness.  I write silliness not with contempt but as a best response to tragedy.  Silliness is a virtue of being our true self, of living with our mistakes, of being human.  We are forgetting to enjoy silliness, ignoring the charm of being a fool and are loosing ourselves in the process. We remember childhood with a romantic nostalgia because those were the days when we could be silly and yet it was ok to be so. We miss it so dearly now.Queen in its process of self liberation is a story of discovery of joy of silliness.

There are many other reasons why Queen stands out. For one, a substantial plot development happens when the protagonist is drunk in a pub and she is dancing mindlessly against an awesome remix of 'Hungama ho gaya'.  Even after couple of days of listening to this song in a loop, i still have craving for more. After the pub scene, we have both Kangana Ranaut and her friend dancing outside, in front of a middle aged man who appears busy by playing with his phone. Vikas Bahl, does not let go of this scene quickly, the scene plays on to ensure that we notice the contrast.

Then there is a scene where the Dutchmen are given a taste of Gol Gappe. (Reviewer's bias - any movies that promotes Gol Gappe has to be excellent!)  I think as a country, we may be failing to protect our natural resources and our heritage sites, but in terms of food tourism, we are doing exceptionally well. It is interesting to note that movies with woman protagonists always have some connection with food. English-Vinglish is the other one that shared the same connection. May be it is stereotyping it but it has to be commended that atleast we are breaking one stereotype with the help of another. There are several other similarities between English Vinglish and Queen, Amit Trivedi being one of them.

Queen takes a poke at many stereotypes and comes on top for most of them. The subject of sex is discussed in many forms and for the most part it works well but couple of instances it goes overboard. I was in particular annoyed with the scene in sex store where in Rani pretends to be buying sex toys as gifts for relatives thinking them to be something else. The annoyance was not that it was a sex store but it assumes Rani to be so naive; the comedy hurts the sensibilities of a viewer as well in my opinion. Perhaps, here is an instance where they went overboard with multiple sex references.  Then there is also the stereotyping of the father. In the recent neo-modern films, the Nani or Dadi are always the cool characters who just get the new age, but its the parents and in that especially the father is still shown as somebody who has not grown.  Queen shows the same orthodoxy in couple of instances, something which i was hoping that they would tackle more admirably.

At 146 minutes and that too without frivolous songs, Queen is a long film but it does not feel so. As we come close to the end, a question that comes is can Queen end while maintaing the same high bar of cinema that we have seen so far or will it just give in to the traditional way. Will it be a yet another melodramatic ending high on emotional drama.  The answer is a big no. Queen's ending is handled deftly with calm, poise and maturity as it should be. It is a kind of ending that makes the movie a namesake of its title. Queen is another leap in Bollywood movie making genre. Go watch it!