Monday, November 07, 2011

COL comparions SIN vs BLR

I am going to be posting about Cost of Living (COL) comparisons between Singapore & Bangalore on various things. The background is that I am hearing a lot of mixed reports about Bangalore's cost of living. Some saying it is becoming very costly. Others believe it is still cheap. The idea is to get some numbers.

Day 1:

Ride from Airport to Home: 
In Bangalore: Rs. 726.
Direct Conversion: SGD: 28
PPP Conversion: SGD 72.6 (assuming PPP exchange rate of 10)
In S'pore, ride from Airport to Jurong: SGD 29.00+ (as per gothere.sg)
(reasonable comparison since my house in Blore is at other end of the town) 
Analysis: With a direct conversion itself, it is just about matching, with PPP, Bangalore is quite costly.
Verdict: Bangalore is costly.

Commute from BG Road to Tin Factory By Volvo:
In Bangalore: Rs. 65+  (two legs of Rs. 10 each and one leg of Rs. 45)
Direct Conversion: SGD 1.60
PPP Conversion: SGD 6.5
In S'pore, ride from Sengkang to Jurong: SGD 1.69 (by bus. By Train is 2.02)
(Reasonable Comparison distance wise)
Analysis: With a direct conversion itself, it is just about matching, with PPP, Bangalore is quite costly.
Verdict: Bangalore is costly.

Meetha Pan:
In Bangalore: Rs. 7
Direct Conversion: SGD 0.20
PPP Conversion: SGD 0.70
In Singapore: SGD 1 (There is a guy selling Paans in Little India)
Analysis: Bangalore is cheaper by both PPP & Direct Comparison
Verdict: Bangalore is cheaper.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A reasonably scary evening

Right then, having had a comfortable sleep, now is the time to write about the 2 hours last evening that had me pretty worried..

First, the background was that I was to catch a flight last night to come to Bangalore a spend a few days with my parents. As always, I packed up in time and headed out to the Airport with my wife in tow to see me off. We took the bus to the airport, and in the middle of the journey, when bus 27 exited from the expressway and still some way to go to airport (I didn't realize that it doesn't use the expressway all the way to Changi), I decided to switch to a taxi to save valuable time (I wanted to be in time to get my standard emergency exit seat) and we alighted at next stop, shifted to a taxi.

Mid way into it, a car in front off us decided to sway into our lane with little notice, and on express way, at 90 kmph speeds, and had it not been our alert cab driver, we would have rear ended the car in front and I should have been a grievously injured man, if not dead. That was averted.

We reached Changi, alight and when it came to paying up, I realized I didn't have my wallet. I surely had it at the exit from the bus (I swiped at exit), and I was sure I checked my purse for the taxi fare while in the taxi (I was wrong), so we look around the whole taxi to no avail. Bewildered, I send my wife back into the taxi to the place we boarded to check if I misplaced it there. (Apart from the fact that getting a lost wallet is generally tough, getting it in the nick of the time for the flight looked impossible, but what was the harm in trying.)

While my wife was heading back, I take my luggage and try checking in (thankfully, the ticket wasn't in my wallet), but turns out they can't check me in because they need the credit card I booked with for verification and I didn't have the card because that was in the wallet. So, I am nervously waiting for my wife to report on the wallet and the time was ticking for the check-in counter to close.

My wife reaches the point, sees no wallet there, and asks around and miraculously, a man was sitting there, waiting a good 20 minutes for somebody to come by and pick it up. My wife and the taxi driver profusely thank him, she reports this on the phone to me and heads back to the airport with the wallet.

With about 10 minutes to check-in closure, she reaches and we are back in check-in queue (the queue is because of other flights sharing the same check-in row) and we ask the staff to help us be on time, but they assure us that I should be in time and the queue will be cleared by the deadline. It does. I feel fortunate.

Now, when I am finally at check-in, it turns out that I am NOT carrying the credit card with which I booked it. (I had feared as much in the intervening minutes and the staff had assured me that if that happened, they will charge the card I had and refund the older credit to me, but the fear was time running out.) The staff and me are trying to figure out a solution when she tells me that if I could tell the last four digits of the card, she can still complete verification. Thankfully my mother in law, who decide to stay home, was at hand to retrieve the card at home, give me this information and let me check in. I feel fortunate again that my mother in law decided to rest back at home.

By now, I was spooked. Was this a day where signs were being given of an impending disaster? Was the flight going to crash? I started recalling all the episodes of the Aircrash Investigations to revise the dos and don'ts of the crash etc (check life jacket, check emergency exit opening, don't inflate life jacket before having clear path to surface, etc).

I clear all other procedures, take my seat and the captain announces that we are expecting turbulence an hour into our journey. By now, I was quite spooked, certain of a disaster. The flight is delayed, first for 5 minutes, then 10 and they were investigating technical issues (which doesn't help when you are worried about Death or TPD, as the insurance salesmen tell you) and finally 25 minutes into the delay, they announce that they are shifting us to a different aircraft.

That was when I tweeted about it. I am generally not a nervous traveller, but you put a few ominous things ahead of it and I can get quite nervous. I was silently praying for a safe arrival home.

Thankfully, that tweet was the about the turning point. Everything from there on was a spot-on experience. After the inevitable delay, the flight took off. By now, the captain told us that no turbulence was expected now because of the ground delay. The flight was silky smooth, the immigration procedures at Bangalore was tiring (due to the queue and the late hour) but smooth nevertheless. The taxi ride to my parents' home was again uneventful.

I have to downright admit that SIA's service quality amidst all this was about excellent. They had a snack box waiting between the aircraft changes. Our in-flight service was friendly and good, albeit a bit late because it took some time for the crew to get their bearings with the aircraft change. Nevertheless, really really good experience. No complaints. Whatsoever.

Secondly, I was very happy with the company I got. A smiling Sardarjee, who was returning from Jakarta after a business trip put me at ease with very interesting conversations about a lot of things. There is more to say about that, but I am keeping it for some other time.

Thirdly, thanks to those who tweeted and enquired about the situation after seeing my tweet (you know who you are). The moral support was invaluable. 

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