“I learnt by getting to know the forest as a being, feeling its breath in the stillness of days, filling my lungs and my whole being with the freshness it inspires.”
It was partly one of those periodic urges to run away from the world, and partly the wait for monsoons that found me flying on a Saturday morning to Guwahati. Mumbai had been sweltering hot during the previous couple of weeks and even though the lack of sleep the night before should have dragged me down, I found myself wide awake, looking at the crimson shadowy morning, eager to keep moving.
I couldn’t keep up with the running white strands of the clouds, and dozed off peacefully. I was woken up by a sudden turbulence in the bus. Everyone was rushing out and their gaze made it very clear that it would be the opportune moment for me to do the same. The bus that I took to be going to Shillong dropped me at Paltan Bazaar, a busy market in Guwahati. It was 9 in the morning. The clouds had conspired for a showdown while I was asleep. The sky was dark brown, the clouds steady as a rock, refusing to move an inch. Full with anticipation, I continued onwards to Shillong in a shared taxi. The family sharing the taxi with me was not very keen for a conversation, and I too had similar feelings. We continued forward in peace, while the new landscapes ran past me. The brown urban mud soon gave way to green fields, marked by the colors of cattle and reminiscence of spring.
It has been a decade since I started this blog. The journey from Blogger to WordPress, from engineering to masters to corporate life – it has both been a short time and a long one. Short in the terms of the overall scheme of things, and long in terms of me as a person. I favor reading a lot more than writing, nowadays – It has come with a lot of patience in my life – And I often find myself wondering about things I didn’t know exist.
Still, I wish I write more. I am not sure if it is a mental block or just a case of priorities. Is this space just a pensive or is it still alive? I will admit that I am not sure anymore. I wish to find that out for myself, and hence you find me here, blabbering without a particular theme in mind.
Wadala House and the Mango Tree
June has been a GREEN month for me. Backpacking across Meghalaya for a week was a much needed detoxification. I encountered the first rains of the season. Flying back to Mumbai, I found the west branch of Monsoons greeting me. Even Bangalore was gleaming with wonderful colors as sky poured incessantly, This is the most tranquil part of the year, which rejuvenates everything – living and animate alike. It does come with side effects, but I believe it has a lot of pros than cons. A festival which spans across months – Monsoons is a pleasant reminder that even a metropolitan like Mumbai has to mend its ways as per the dictate of Nature – And it’s citizens happily go the prescribed path. Continue reading
I came across CouchSurfing while going through a travel blog. I had heard about CS earlier, and this reference acted as a re-enforcement to install the App. This is where I started on an acquisition flow, which was so cleverly designed to trap the users, that even in the hindsight it is improbable to spot this trick.
Let us go through the on-boarding flow for CS:
1. First screen post Sign Up:
So you land on the front page, trying to figure out the navigation. And the first thing that you notice is the “Get Verified” link. In the current ecosystem, majority of the sites follow following two ways of verification:
1. ID proof / Mobile Verification – This is done to confirm the identity. Most of the social networks have mandated this.
2. Payment Details – Sites like AirBNB asks you to confirm your payment method. This is done with sole purpose to safeguard the hosts.
So I did not wait to question the CTA and continued with the flow to get started quickly.
2. Farce of Verification Benefits
The verification page highlights the multiple “benefits” – Content bundled around a decent UI, with only a minor information missing – they actually forgot to mention that the verification is not FREE – of course one could argue that they never mentioned that it is FREE either. We shall come back to that.
Coming back to this page – It contains over 500 words, photos of verified members, “Testimonials” from the happy users, and logos of Forbes, Time, NYT and Guardian. A perfect setup you might say.
You can verify your account using either Credit Card or PayPal (Just getting this information as a safeguard, are we?)
I clicked on Credit Card and proceeded. Let’s see what happens now.
You land to the next page, not suspecting any foul play. Now look closely at this page. You might say that you can see the amount mentioned here – “Just Rs 3900 for life helps you meet the world” – Such a noble thought. But the objective of this design is to deceive the user.
– The text is intentionally kept vague, 3900 to meet the world. All the pricing principles asks the product owner to specify the payment details clearly on the checkout page. But these principles were made for ensuring good user experience. They do not make sense if you are concerned about creating false revenue channels.
– Notice the font color of the text? As light gray as could be. I wonder if they would have debated to keep the text color white – Why not go all the way?
– The bottom CTA says “Verify My Account”. If you explore other e-commerce sites, you will not find such a deceit elsewhere. All the sites says “Complete Payment” or “Pay Now”. Interestingly, CS says “Complete Payment” for iOS App. Reason – Apple is far stricter compared to Google in protecting users.
I, like many other users, was deceived. I entered the details and by the time I realized what was happening, I received an SMS from my bank. Another thing that got me here was absence of second factor authentication (company outside India – hence the false cover of security also played a part in the same).
CS can argue that they did mention the charge. But if they bring in this argument, they already lose. Victim blaming and hiding behing T&C has never helped any organization.
Once the first phase was over, I contacted both CS and my bank instantly (as I had no trust left in CS, even though they promised a full refund if requested within 72 hours). While I waited for them to respond, I checked for similar cases Online. No wonder Internet was full with similar complaints against CS. Here is a full list of the complaints: https://twitter.com/i/moments/900365776133206016
Apparently, CS did an AB experiment around Aug-2017, where they tried this new gold digging tool and it succeeded (obviously). The B users would have been more revenue generating, even after all the refunds (if honored). This is a perfect example of how not to run your business. I wonder how they intend to succeed, if they continue with this modern age scam.
I am reading stuff online to identify a way to escalate this (Not that this has not been done earlier, but one got to try). If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.
If I’d known, I would have done things differently.
– The Dry (Jane Harper)
I might have done things differently. Or I might have wanted them to stay the same. Who knows? In this world of jumbled realities, it’s better to leave things as they are, than looking too much into them.
All good things come to and end. MUST come to an end. I don’t think this is necessarily a negative statement. How can something new come until you let go of the old? But cannot you run along with both? Who knows! I guess I have to find out.
He looked forward impatiently, as one might look to the moment of a journey that one does not particularly wish to take. And like any traveler, he felt that there were many things he had to do before he left, yet he could not think what they were.
~ John Williams, Stoner
I am at home right now, courtesy Holi holidays (Holiday to be precise, clubbed with weekend). We are continuously chasing deadlines, trying to squeeze out few days in order to escape the loop. I have been home for Holi for the first time in last 5 years.
I had just entered the loop of the professional life and was still stuck in chasing targets. I was in Mumbai, with my cousins and Sam. I was walking from Pedder Road to Priyadarshini Park, taking in all the visuals that filled up the surroundings. This was the first time I was seeing how the city looked like in the festive season. There was a sharp contrast with “UP ki Holi” – No one attacked me with a barrage of color balloons. I could not see shirtless, silver faced humans, tripling on a bike, shouting out their ecstasy to the other members of the silver-face community. It was all quite civilized and I reached PDP safe and sound, although I did not wished for the same. I missed my city and this was one of the very few things of the Maximum city that did not appeal to me.