Tweets on 2012-09-26

by Vinaya HS on September 26, 2012

in Finance,Travel

Things have been pretty quiet around here for the past two weeks since I was traveling on work and often had to maintain an 18 x 5 schedule. But travel to me also means “a whole lot of expenses” and this time was no different. But thankfully, I didn’t have the usual cartload of expenses and most of the expenses this time were spent in looking around on the weekends — thanks to a couple of classmates and close friends in NYC.

I’ll be back to my regular posting schedule starting Friday. Thanks to everyone who wrote-in asking about my whereabouts. Much appreciated.

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Thinking Of, Wanting To, and Actually Spending Money

by Vinaya HS on September 12, 2012

in Finance

I’m a big fan of the I Will Teach You To Be Rich blog. I’ve been following that blog since a couple of years mainly because the approach to money preached over there is very similar to my own thoughts and beliefs towards money. My policy on money is quite simple — “Don’t feel guilty (if there is such a thing) about wanting to earn more money and don’t feel guilty about wanting to spend more money especially on things that define you and that you value.” That to me is a rich life.

In the specific post that I linked to above, the author poses three simple questions for you to answer –

  1. Where do I think I’m spending my money?
  2. Where do I want to spend my money?
  3. Where am I actually spending my money?

My own answers to these are –

  1. On traveling — in style.
  2. On traveling — in style.
  3. On traveling — in style.

There. Perfect harmony. I don’t mind spending a mini-fortune (as measured by my earnings) in lieu of a wonderful travel experience. Goes without my saying that the mini-fortunes are first saved before they are spent. And if I’d saved all of the money that I’ve this far spent on and during travel, I’d have easily hit my ere-goal long back. I’m also quite lucky in that D has pretty much the same policy on money — else we’d be haggling on every little thing in this world.

But I wish I could answer the same three questions albeit with respect to “time”.

  1. Where do I think I’m spending my time?
  2. Where do I want to spend my time?
  3. Where am I actually spending my time?

My answers to these are in perfect discord.

How about you? What’s your money policy?


I’d promised to write about our US visa interview experience. So here goes.

In general, two human traits standout with respect to the topic of a US Visa:

  1. The amount of advice you receive on what to do and what not to do.
  2. The way people transform themselves on the day of the interview.

But first, some background.

I was required to visit our office in Palo Alto for a month for some brainstorming. Since D had a whole bunch of accrued vacation time, I thought it’d be awesome to take her along with me. A, who’s D’s best friend (and mine too!), stays very close to Palo Alto and so does one of D’s cousins. So it didn’t require any convincing from me. :-) I’d be applying for a B1 through office and D would be applying for a B2 on our personal expense. My plan was to schedule our interviews together. But as word goes out, advice starts pouring in.

I’ve consolidated below all the well-intentioned-but-wrong advice that I received from various quarters.

  • Don’t ever mention – both while filling-up the application form and in-person during the interview – the fact that you have friends residing in the US.

  • Don’t ever mention – both while filling-up the application form and in-person during the interview – the fact that you have family/relatives residing in the US.

  • Don’t ever mention – both while filling-up the application form and in-person during the interview – that you plan to stay with friends/family/relatives instead of at a hotel.

  • Apply for and get your B1 Visa first and only then think about applying for your wife’s B2 Visa. Don’t ever mention – both while filling-up the application form and in-person during the interview – the fact that your wife plans to accompany you to the US.

  • Your wife won’t get a visa since it’s her first travel to the US.

We have friends who reside in the US. We have relatives who reside in the US. We plan to stay with a friend and not at a hotel. We are applying for respective Visas together. That’s what we declared on the application form. Why hide the truth?

And, for the actual interview:

  • You don’t need to dress differently just because you’re applying for a particular type of Visa. D and I were perhaps the only ones around in casuals.

  • You don’t need to quote canned answers from memory.

Based on my experience, I have only one advice to share: Be truthful while filling-up the application form and be yourself during the interview. Nothing more. Nothing less. Turn a deaf ear to everything else that you hear.

As for us, we had our visas approved in less than two minutes.

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My Whereabouts

by Vinaya HS on November 19, 2010

in General Stuff

Maldives was heaven. Period. The day we came back to Bangalore was the day we left to Chennai for our US visa interviews. I was supposed to make a trip to our US office and convinced D to take a long overdue vacation from work. D’s best friend A stays near San Francisco and that did the trick. We got our visas — the whole “halo” around the US visa interview is something that I’ll write about in detail later. A couple of days later we were in San Francisco minus our baggage thanks to British Airways.

So this is where I am. Hope to return to my blogging schedule shortly — if my Garmin nüvi and rental Nissan allow me to!

To everyone who asked my whereabouts, a BIG thanks. :-)


Tweets on 2010-10-30

by Vinaya HS on October 30, 2010

in Finance,Travel

Don’t just travel. Travel well.

Lonely Planet Magazine, India.

Amen! That’s what I believe. That’s why I avoid “package” tours.


Travel Tips: The Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur

by Vinaya HS on October 26, 2010

in Finance,Travel

Indians receive a different treatment. Foreigners receive a different treatment. You can guess who out of the two gets the second-hand treatment.

D had only one thing to say: “The Taj Fake Palace, Udaipur.” I agree.

The second-hand treatment cost us approximately INR 35,000 for a night for a Palace Room — the personal butler, who’s supposed to wait on you hand and foot, was nowhere to be seen after the check-in.

Avoid — if you’re Indian.

1-star (only because the chef had made a 5-star Naan and Curry).


Travel Tips: Banasura Hill Resort, Wayanad

by Vinaya HS on October 19, 2010

in Finance,Travel

Thought it would be a good idea to take a break from those morbid What’s Your Fallback Tuesday posts. And what better a way to do that than to write about travel. And what better a destination to write about than Wayanad.

Wayanad was our second trip post marriage. The first was to Rajasthan — I’ll post my views on the Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur next week. At Wayanad, we stayed at the Banasura Hill Resort. I instantly fell in love with what I saw on the resort’s website and what you see on the resort’s website is what you actually get in reality. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Note: On previous trips to Wayanad, I’ve also stayed at several budget hotels in Kalpetta while scaling Chembra Peak.

It takes some effort to reach this resort. You need a capable vehicle and a keen sense of direction to get there — especially when it’s pouring cats and dogs. Thankfully, D’s an excellent navigator. Below is the Swift doing her job on the road up to the resort.


If I remember right, a 3-night stay cost us approximately Rs 20,000 including food. Gorgeous location. Awesome service. Affordable. What more can you ask for?

Highly recommended.