An Indie cat I was looking after in Udupi gave birth to 3 kittens a few months ago. I raised them at home in Udupi, and then brought them to Bangalore where I got them adopted. Here is a guide which I prepared for new kitten adopters.
Kittens have food frequently. Wet and dry is required for them as it has essential nutrients. It is good to feed them wet cat food once a day. At an early age, there is no need to regulate the quantity of food they eat but as they grow older it is good to feed them the same quantity every day as they tend to over eat. You can also try feeding them cooked, unsalted chicken, fish and other animal meat. Don’t feed them anything which has spices.
There are many cat food brands available in the market. Some brands are not good (Purepet, Meo-w) etc. Stick to good brands such as Royal Canin, IAMs, Purina etc.
Important: Keep a bowl of fresh water available always, because when they eat dry food they consume a lot of water whenever they feel like.
It is good to get kittens used to pine wood litter which is eco friendly. Each kitten needs 1 separate toilet tray.
Recommended brand of pine wood litter from Amazon.
There are sellers whom you can contact directly to buy 10/20 kg bags of pinewood litter for a more economical price.
The toilet tray must be kept clean and odour free. This is important because otherwise they may develop health issues. They may also start dirtying other places in the house if the litter tray is not clean. Flush their poop immediately after they do their business.
Again – please keep 1 tray for each cat and in different places (not next to each other). They don’t like to share. In the wild, cats mark their territory by defecating.
Take them to the vet once they have settled down in your house. At the clinic, ask for:
This has to be done on regular intervals. After the first time, you can give them deworming tablets and apply spot-on for fleas yourself.
Vaccinations are to be given at regular intervals too. There are 2 vaccines to be given – the doctor will tell you which ones. The doctor will give you a booklet to record the vaccinations given. Please follow the schedule.
Indian breeds have good immunity and they can eat varied diet. But ensure that if they become lethargic, stop eating for more than 2 days, have loose motion etc, you take them to the vet immediately.
It is very important to get them neutered after 6 months. You can watch this video to understand the neutering process: https://youtu.be/lM-bIRNnhpg
Kittens are very playful. They like to jump, catch, hide, scratch and attack. It is important to give them toys to play with, else they will be dull. Also, siblings are very generally close to each other and they keep each other company. To develop a bond, it is important that humans also play with them every day.
Cats don’t like new places, people or smells. So avoid taking them out of the house. When you travel, you can leave them at home and ask someone to feed them regularly. Please don’t keep them in a cage or other confined places. All these things lead to behavioural issues.
Cats are very curious. Because of this, and because when they grow up their instincts tell them to go in search of mates, they may try to escape from the house. This can be dangerous in a city as they can get lost or hurt by vehicles. Ideally, a cat environment should have trees for them to climb. But it is not possible to find such an environment in a city. So please cat-proof your house and make sure they don’t escape. They can easily open sliding windows and push doors. If they go out they may never come back or get hurt 🙁
You can consider buying a cat tree from Amazon. Amazon Basics cat trees are economical.
They also need sunshine. In the wild, cats know at what time of the day to soak in some sunshine to get the warmth and detox they require. Please create such an environment for them indoors where there is some sunshine.
Cats take time to get adjusted to a new place so patience is the key. If you are shifting houses, you can follow some recommended steps to make them comfortable. Watch Jackson Galaxy’s video.
Cats tend to sleep a lot, even after they grow up. Kittens older than 3 months have a long sleep during the day. Younger kittens sleep more. This is important for their development.
Kittens also have short naps after eating. This pattern may change as they grow up. They generally like cool, dark places to sleep (like under the cot). You can put a gunny bag or make a soft bed for them to sleep on but they may not sleep on it every day. As they grow old they won’t need a dark place to sleep.
There is no need to bathe a cat regularly. They lick and keep themselves clean. Also, there is no need to clip their claws. If you have a Persian breed, this does not apply. But Indian cats, when kept indoors, require no grooming. When you take the cat to the vet, get the ears checked for infection. Regular application of spot-on and cat food keeps their coat healthy.
You can watch videos from Jackson Galaxy to learn more about cats:
If you own a Volkswagen AG (VAG) car in India such as the Volkswagen Taigun/ Virtus/T-Roc/Tiguan/Polo or Skoda Kushaq, this post is for you. I am going to show you how you can activate hidden features in your car. These features are not available in the console of the car, so your car manual or dealer will not mention it.
Most Indians did not know about these hidden features or the software required to unlock them until the Government introduced a warning sound at 80 kmph and 120 kmph as part of the BSVI norms. Let us see how we can remove these chimes, because frankly, it is annoying. In fact, this is what has lead them to discover other hidden features in VAG cars. Some folks on Instagram and YouTube are charging a lot of money for these hacks. I show you 3 different methods which you can pick and choose yourself. We will also see the pros and cons of each of them.
What do I need to unlock hidden features in my VAG car?
The majority of cars made in the past 2 decades are fitted with an OBD2 or OBDII diagnostic port. The OBDII scanner is the way for the authorized garage to diagnose fault codes. The main purpose of the OBD based devices is to scan the vehicle for fault codes. Using the same OBDII port, and some software, you can unlock features using adaptations and long coding.
The most common method of unlocking hidden features in your Volkswagen Taigun/ Virtus/T-Roc/Tiguan/Polo or Skoda Kushaq car is by using VCDS. It is made and sold by an American company called Ross-Tech.
The Ross-Tech product has two components – a hardware component (the Hex v2 cable which goes into the OBDII port) and a software component. There are mainly 2 types of licenses for the VCDS hardware/software combo. You need to connect the cable via USB to a Windows laptop running the VCDS software.
The VCDS product is expensive. See screenshots of the pricing from the Ross-Tech website:
This pricing does not include shipping and customs duty. You can expect to pay 50-70% more if you are importing this cable from the Ross-Tech website to India.
There are places from where you can get this cable for cheaper (hint: China). They also give you a pirated version of the software along with the cable.
There are some obvious downsides to going the cheaper route.
You have to turn off the antivirus software on your Windows system to install the system. This is risky, and potentially impossible to do on an office laptop.
Upgrading the software may break the functionality and render the cable useless.
You have to keep the old version of the software installed on the system forever in case you want to revert changes.
Ross-Tech can introduce a firmware upgrade to render the fake cable useless.
The biggest advantage that the VCDS software has over the other methods is that it is the most complete software package to diagnose your car and unlock hidden features. It also allows you to disable the warning sounds that the Indian VAG cars make at 80 kmph and 120 kmphs. But I cannot imagine carrying a laptop around with me if I need to diagnose faults in my Volkswagen Taigun 1.5 GT DSG.
Another way to unlock hidden feature is by purchasing the OBDEleven device. This device connects to the OBDEleven app via bluetooth. You need to pay an annual fee to use the app on your iOS or Android device. And for every feature that you want to unlock, you use up credits, or you pay a small fee. Personally, I found this recurring cost high, so I did not feel it ist worth my time to explore this option. The OBDEleven product is available from their website directly. Their shipping cost to India is high and since they use DHL/FedEx, you can expect to pay import duty.
On the plus side, the OBDeleven is also another way to disable the warning sounds that the Indian VAG cars make at 80 kmph and 120 kmphs.
Let me tell you about another cheaper method to unlock hidden features without breaking any laws or having to import devices from abroad.
How Do I Unlock Hidden Features in my VAG Car without VCDS or OBDEleven?
There is an app known as Car Scanner ELM OBD2 available for iOS and Android. To use this app with your VAG car, you need a ELM327 based OBDII adapter. This adapter is easily available in India. Remember to buy an adapter with an original ELM327 chip though! If you need to know how to source this adapter for cheaper, leave a comment below. You can check if your adapter comes with an original ELM327 chip by connecting it to an Android phone and running the ELM327 Identifier app.
So once you have purchased the ELM327 based OBDII adapter, you can pay for the Car Scanner ELM OBD2 app and start coding your car to unlock hidden features. The best part is that this app supports many cars, and not just VAG cars.
I purchased the Vgate iCar Pro Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE) OBD2 Fault Code Reader. It connects to my Android or Apple iPhone via Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE). The Vgate iCar Pro device works with most popular OBD apps such as Torque, Car Scanner, OBD Fusion, OBD Jscan, BimmerCode, etc which can turn your iPhone or Android phone/tablet into a sophisticated car scan tool.
Once you pay for the Car Scanner ELM OBD2 app (it is cheap), you can unlock the full features which includes adaptations and long coding.
This is the complete list of adaptations which worked for my 2022 Taigun GT Plus DSG (1.5L).
Adaptation using the Vgate iCar Pro Bluetooth 4.0 and Car Scanner ELM OBD2 app
Save air recirculation state after turning off ignition
By default, the air recirculation mode in my car is set to “disable.” In automatic air recirculation mode, fresh air will enter the vehicle interior. The air recirculation mode will switch on automatically if the system detects an increase in the concentration of noxious substances in the outside air. The air recirculation mode will switch off as soon as this level has returned to normal. But I live in a hot city so I prefer inside air to be recirculated always. I find that this cools the cabin quickly. With this adaptation, the car now remembers the last setting and I don’t have to enable recirculation mode every time I start the car.
Temperature adjustment for hot countries
I don’t know why this is disabled, but after enabling this adaptation, the car cools much faster than before.
Show free space in fuel tank in the dashboard
After enabling this feature, you can use view the free space in the fuel tank by using the controls in the left side of the steering wheel (Refer to page 32 of the car user manual for how to use these buttons in the steering wheel).
Automatically lock car doors when key is outside of the car and all doors are closed
This is a very useful feature as it makes locking of the car after exiting the vehicle totally hands free! Combined with the keyless entry feature which is available by default, I don’t have to take the car keyfob out of my pocket when entering or exiting the vehicle. Note that for keyless entry, you have to press the button in the door handle. However, while exiting, the car locks automatically when the keyfob is outside the vehicle and all the doors are closed when this adaptation is active.
Front fog lights: activate with high beam
With this adaptation enabled, the fog lamp turns on when you turn on high beam. Useful for driving on dark roads. There are a few other options such as “Front fog lights: activate with high beam and blink with high beam blink” which I did not try.
Turn lights: polite blinks count
The lane change indicator is set to 3 times by default. You can change it to a max of 5 using this adaptation. This feature is useful if you are a careful driver who uses the indicator when changing lanes.
Acoustic feedback: when locking Acoustic feedback: when unlocking Optical feedback: when locking
These 3 features gives an acoustic and visual feedback by beeping the car horn and blinking the indicator when I lock or unlock the car. This gives me assurance of the car’s lock status.
Smooth turn on buttons light
The cabin lights dim before turning off when you enable this.
Start engine button heart beat (pulsating light)
The light on the engine start/stop button starts pulsating. Folks who have never sat in the driver seat of my car have a tough time finding the engine start/stop button. This should help.
Access trip computer in multimedia when ignition turned off
The following adaptations which I tried did not work for me when I enabled them. There are many more adaptations which I did not try.
Display blower (fan) speed in auto mode
Active info display speedometer style
Active info display tubes style
Disable “Turn on lights” warning
DRL: Turn off DRL when parking brake activated
Show offroad screen in multimedia system
Open and close windows holding key fob buttons
Startup screen for dashboard
Teardrop mode (additional wipers pass) on the windshield
You can see the full list of adaptations which are available in this app for the MQB platform here.
I did not find an option to disable warning sounds that the Indian VAG cars make at 80 kmph and 120 kmphs in the Car Scanner ELM OBD2 app. However, I have written to the app developer to ask if there is a way to do this via long coding.
Great News! The Car Scanner ELM OBD2 app has been updated (ver 1.101.9) and now supports disabling the warning beeps in Indian cars!
In summary, here are the pros and cons of the different software discussed here.
VCDS Hex 2
Most comprehensive for VAG diagnostics and adaption (unlocking hidden features).
Limited to VAG cars.
Big online community and online documentation.
Limited participation by Indians in the online forums.
Good support by the company for paid users.
Product is expensive to buy. Extra fee to transfer license. Cheaper version limited to 3 cars (3 VINs).
App based. No laptop or desktop required to use the features.
Adapter needs to be purchased from OBDEleven. App subscription needs to be renewed annually.
Speed limit warning for Indian VAG cars can be removed
Limited online support for Indian VAG cars on the OBDEleven website
Can unlock most other features
Need to pay extra money over and above the app subscription to unlock features. Rolling back of features in future requires a fresh subscription.
Car Scanner ELM OBD2
I think the Car Scanner ELM OBD2 is most value for money because it can unlock most of the important features for Indian VAG cars. Personally, I don’t care for the features it cannot unlock. Plus, it works for many other brand cars as well. With the latest update, it can disable the warning beeps in Indian cars, making it the most cost effective way to not only diagnose your Skoda Kushaq or Volkswagen Taigun car, but also customise it.
The biggest con is that it cannot disable the 80 km/hr and 120 km/hr speed warning for Indian Volkswagen cars. I hope the developer responds to my mail and instructs me on how to do it via long coding. If you are interested to keep yourself updated, check back on this blog later.
In June 2022 I left Bangalore for good. I moved to the coastal town of Udupi. This decision which was largely possible because of the remote work options which many IT companies, including mine, provided after the COVID-19 pandemic.
I had modest expectations from my move. I wanted a simple, stress-free life. I love photography (and travel!) but staying in Bangalore wasn’t helping me with my passion. With the city’s infrastructure crumbling, it is almost impossible to go out and spend quality time in nature.
In this blog post I outline the background to my decision, how I went about executing the move, and how a change of place did more harm than good in certain aspects.
This world is big. Bigger than our minds can fathom. When we are young, we are inquisitive about the vastness of this world. But at that age, we have very little access to this big world, so we revel in small joys of discovery. As we grow older, we have the means to see more, but most of us end up shrinking our worlds. We lose our curiosity, and work hard to build walls. The big world is no longer accessible to us because we have cut ourselves out.
It is also safer to follow a template when growing up. Education, studies, job, marriage, kids…..it’s all hunky dory till something bad happens. And that is when you learn some lessons in life, and hopefully become a better version of yourself. With me, I don’t know if things go wrong because I am always striving to become a better version of myself, or because I am an idiot.
As we age, being ‘responsible’ becomes the most important duty of life. In the process of taking responsibility of our lives and our loved ones, we get pushed and pulled by forces not in our control. We also start processing change, grief, loss and other difficult emotions which life throws at us, very differently.
Some of us are lucky to take charge of our lives from these external factors. But some internal factors also decide how we sail our ships as we navigate through life. We make decisions based on:
What brings us happiness
What keeps us away from negative emotions which we cannot handle
Greed and ambition which drive us
Personal insecurities that we carry from childhood
Bottom line is, adulthood is all about balancing external and internal forces which push and pull us in all directions.
However, these personal life experiences of mine have shaped me in a way where I now no longer relate to a conventional way of life. Irrespective of how we see our lives, the common thread which unites us all is the realization that our lives come with an expiry date. For some, this realization is yet to come. For others like me, it has already dawned and my urge to see and experience more has only increased. But what does all this have to do with me moving out of Bangalore?
Why did I move?
During the pandemic, a lot of us started to work from home permanently. Once the pandemic was no longer killing enough people, the concept of workation became main stream. Remote work, which many of my Western counterparts in my company always benefited from, even before COVID-19, was suddenly opened up to Indians. Combine that with a vacation, and you have a workation. But vacations don’t last long. That is why I decided to permanently move out of Bangalore.
A shift in HR policy was what I was waiting for to set the ball rolling. I would have left home right after college 20 years ago. Unfortunately, I did not have the means to do so then, and being the only child, I was always emotionally coerced into doing what my parents wanted me to do.
After facing all the ups and downs which life brings, including death of a parent, divorce, a layoff etc, I finally decided it was now or never. I also had the monetary resources to execute this decision now. To map this to what I had mentioned earlier:
Right from a young age, staying connected with nature has what brought me happiness. I love to watch birds, cats, dogs, trees, rains, sunshine etc. to pass my time. Weekend trips from Bangalore to get a dose of fresh air were getting increasingly difficult thanks to the poor infrastructure.
The daily grind of city life can evoke a lot of negative emotions and stress in any one, and I seized the first opportunity to leave that behind. The paradox of living in a city like Bangalore is that you have access to all the comforts of life. But the happiness tax that you pay to live here is rather unreasonable. There are very few ways to de-stress in Bangalore without spending money. I didn’t want to deal with this anymore.
My greed and ambition luckily or unluckily has nothing to with my professional life. All I expect from my job is a sense of financial security. My company’s policies were tweaked to allow work from anywhere after the pandemic which worked in my favour.
Amongst my insecurities, the one which I wanted to face and overcome was the one of having to fend for myself. I had no prior experience of cooking before moving out from Bangalore. I knew that the only way I could train myself in the kitchen was to stay by myself.
A lot of folks whom I spoke to were very excited for me. I was going to do which many of them could only dream of doing. The grass is always greener on the other side, as they say. A few are ready to jump over the fence to go over to the other side – and here I was, going to do just that.
Planning the Move
Udupi, is a town which most Indians would be aware of because it is associated with good South Indian food. So, even if you don’t know where it is on the map, you must have seen or heard of an Udupi (or Udipi) restaurant in your town.
The decision of moving out wasn’t the toughest part. Figuring out how to, was. I would have loved to chuck all my worldly possessions and start afresh, but in reality I had to take them with me to Udupi. And I couldn’t break the continuity of my professional life. It wasn’t like I could take a week or two off, move lock stock and barrel, and then get on with office work as usual. I had to move in phases.
I looked up rental properties on Olx and FB, and connected with a few property brokers (again, whom I found on these two platforms). Unfortunately, the concept of rentals isn’t popular in Coastal Karnataka (as much as it is in Goa), and many house owners hesitate to rent to bachelors. Staying in Bangalore and looking for a house in a different region wasn’t easy either. I guess I just got lucky finding finding a house via an ad on Facebook Marketplace. It is 15km from heart of the city, and 5km off the highway which goes towards Kundapur. Now that I have actually lived in it for a few months, I can say that is meets most of my expectations.
My house owner is a government servant who lives close to Kundapur. He purchased this house just after it was constructed, and never actually occupied it, because he has his own place in a government quarters. I was happy to be the first one to occupy the place, because most houses don’t age very well in the Coast. When the quality of construction is poor, or if the house is not well maintained, the tropical climate takes a toll on the building very quickly. This fact was corroborated by some older houses which a local broker showed me.
Setting up the House
Once I zeroed in on the house, I had to decide how to set it up. I ended up having to buy basic furniture, and items for the kitchen. I had no experience in cooking, so my mom’s expertise in that matter helped. I purchased most of the items in Bangalore, and transported them to Udupi myself.
I made several car trips between Bangalore and Udupi, transporting what I had already owned, and some household goods and furniture which I purchased new. I bought a lot of stuff on Ikea because their website displays the exact dimensions of not only the product, but also the box in which the product comes. This helped me pick exactly what would fit inside the car. There wasn’t an Ikea store in Bangalore then, and they did not deliver outside of a few metro cities, so I had to do this.
I already owned a computer and study table, which surprisingly fit in the boot of my Maruti Vitara Brezza. So, the on my first trip, I moved my tables, and household goods which I purchased in Bangalore. On the second trip, I moved a lot of furniture which I purchased online on Ikea.
Except for some small hiccups due to external factors, things went as per plan. Every trip which I made by car, with a boot full of stuff, was an adventure. It takes around 7-8 hours on the road to reach Udupi and every minute you spend on an Indian road is an exposure to risk. After the third road trip, I started to feel like a truck driver. Apart from the car trips, I also rode my newly purchased KTM 390 Adv motorcycle to Udupi.
After every journey to Udupi, I had to set up the things which I had brought with me. Again, I did all of this by myself. April, May, June is peak summer and the heat along the coast is brutal. So driving 8 hours, reaching an empty house and then setting it up wasn’t exactly easy.
I purchased large furniture like a cot, diwan, and wardrobe locally. They were cheaper than online furniture stores, and transporting them to my house from the shop wasn’t an issue. I rented a refrigerator and washing machine for a period of 11 months – which is the duration of my rental agreement. Both appliances weren’t exactly in great condition, but they do the job.
On my penultimate drive from Udupi to Bangalore, my car broke down after hitting a dog on the highway. Luckily, I wasn’t carrying a lot of luggage because I was returning to Bangalore. The speed at which the dog ran into my car did not give me any time to react, so the roadkill was something I just couldn’t avoid.
It took me 4 hours to find a tow truck and another 3 hours to get my car towed to the nearest Maruti service centre in the outskirts of Bangalore. The delay in getting my car back from the garage scuttled my plans quite a bit. Although I did claim insurance, I had to pay towing charges amounting to ₹8000 from my pocket.
Looking back, moving goods on my own is not something I would want to do again. The next time I move houses, I’d rather hire packers and movers to do the job. Since this was the first time I was moving cities in 17 years, I did it the way I did it.
I had to set up the house not just to my liking, but also to accommodate Smokey, my cat. I put a lot of thought into how I would transport, and accommodate her in the new place. I also read up on how to prepare her for the journey and life in a new place.
A Day in My New Life
The rhythm of daily life generally revolves around one’s profession, family, and then hobbies, if there is any time left for it. A day in my new life revolves around the weather. When I moved in, it was summer and extremely hot. I tried to finish most of the household work before 10 am. Then came monsoon, where it would rain continuously for days on end. That is when I started a new hobby of watching TV, something I never did in Bangalore. Fortunately, the rains brought down the temperature to a point where I could run the fan at the lowest speed. Rainy days were frustrating because I barely got a chance to step out. I eagerly awaited dry evenings to visit the beach or explore some new locations for photography. Now that the monsoon of 2022 is almost over, I look forward to winter when I can become a regular at some of the places of natural beauty near my home.
On most days, I sit for work by the door, watching the the slow pace of life outside. It is very silent around me, and the birds are the noise-makers. I have peacocks, bulbuls, ashy prinias, parakeets, sun birds and grey horn-bills to watch out for. It has been more than 2 decades, living in a ground floor house and I enjoy stepping out barefoot and feeling the earth when I feel like it.
There is nothing glamorous about this life. A large part of the day goes in cooking meals, apart from attending meetings and doing my day job which pays the bills. I purchased an electric pressure cooker (not an electric rice cooker) which really brought out the master chef in me. Jokes apart, I learnt, rather quickly, how to cook simple food which I enjoy eating. On most days, I consume freshly cooked home food which satisfies my taste buds.
There is nothing I miss about Bangalore, either. I was never the types to go out to expensive restaurants or hang out in malls anyway. For purchasing household goods, I head out into town and finish my work effortlessly. I don’t have to worry about traffic jams, parking troubles, or avoiding old uncles who ride their scooters in the middle of the road.
A Life for a Life
Smokey was a Covid kitty, born during the lockdown of the first phase of Covid-19. She grew up in the security of my apartment basement, and under the watchful eyes of Lucy, her mother. For every day of the last two years, either my mom or me made sure that Lucy and Smokey were fed twice a day. I tried to domesticate Smokey several times by bringing her indoors in my apartment in Bangalore. But she hated it. The only attempt to get her adopted when she was around 6 months failed, because her adopter couldn’t handle her incessant crying and returned her to me. She was the same adamant cat, even after 2 years. The only place Smokey wanted to be, was the basement of my apartment. This was ironical, because Smokey was extremely skittish, and was constantly worried about Tom cats stealing her food. Her only defense was to run and hide. In fact, I have never come across a more skittish pair of cats than Smokey and Lucy. Smokey regularly skipped meals because she would be hiding somewhere. Except for this one time, where she was severely wounded after being electrocuted at the transformer behind our apartment. Read about it here.
While moving to Udupi was my attempt at changing my every day life, it was also an ambitious move to make Smokey an indoor cat. I took this calculated risk after reading up a lot about how cats can be made to stay indoors. Smokey had no safe future in the outdoors in Bangalore. I was willing to give up my passion of travel (and photography, if need be), to be with Smokey while she transitions from an outdoor free roaming cat to a domesticated, indoor one. However, that decision ended up becoming a huge mistake, one which I cannot get over. Read about it in Part II.
Olx is a website where you can put up new or used stuff on sale. I don’t think Olx really monitors the quality of the items you post, so you could claim anything in your ad. .
Scammers are always on the prowl on Olx. Whether you are a buyer or seller, it won’t be long before you come across someone trying to rob you of your money.
Olx Buying Scams
Here is how con-men start their conversation when you have something on sale:
The seemingly harmless message is start of a long scam where you are tricked into sending your item to an address outside your city before receiving payment. And the money for your item? It will never reach you. But the con-men will send you screenshots of fake bank transfers to show you that they have paid you. This is an old trick, and I generally just delete these messages.
Olx Selling Scams
Then there is the other type of scam – where you are the buyer and you come across a product and the price is tempting. In fact, it is too good to be true. For example, this camera and lens is selling at half the price of what it is supposed to be selling for:
Just to see how far this seller would go, to scam me, I chatted with him on WhatsApp. The conversation that ensued was full of inconsistencies. Of course, I knew this was a scam, but I was curious because the seller’s ad on Olx mentioned that the product is in my city.
In the first two screenshots, the seller tries to convince me that he is selling a genuine product. He says he can deliver it to my place. He even shows me the bill.
The items in the bill did not match the products he had advertised for, but let’s not kill the fun right here, shall we?
After a lot of insisting that I would like to inspect the product, the seller relented.
He very confidently asks me to come to Arunachal Pradesh to inspect/buy the camera. Maybe he thought I’d fall for the authenticity of his words. But I did not, because he had told me he can deliver the product from Arunachal Pradesh to Bangalore in one day. So I asked him.
I decided to let go at this point of time because clearly, he was being very stupid. The distance between the address he mentioned, and my house, is 3000 km. And there are no direct flights.
Why Are There So Many Scams?
There are so many scams on Olx because there are a LOT of very stupid people on the internet. When I sell stuff on Olx, I always come across such people. Some are ill-mannered, some can’t read, and some just have a lot of time on their hands.
Here are the types of buyers have come across on Olx.
The Ones Who Lack Manners
These types of people are the most popular ones on Olx. In the recent times, thanks to low-cost smartphones and cheap Internet, a lot of Indians have gone online. And the way we Indians behave online for everyone in the world to see. I think as a nation, we are by far the most ill-mannered people.
On Olx, you will find a lot of people who don’t believe in greeting, thanking, or closing discussions. Their messages are an example of how our education system has completely failed in teaching us about basic courtesy.
Not closing a discussion is very common on Olx.
The Ones Who Try to Act Smart
This is the second most popular category of Olx buyers. They think they are smarter than you, but their words and actions don’t really prove so.
The dumbest of this type goes to Amazon, types the name of the product you are selling, and tries to prove to you that your product is over priced. Until now, all the people who have behaved this way with me have either not looked for the correct product, or not included everything I am offering on sale when searching. And it is not like Amazon is the hallmark of safe buying. There are sellers on Amazon who ship from overseas, but don’t mention that clearly in the description.
Another way of trying to act smart includes comparing products purchased in India with Indian warranty with prices abroad. For example, if you are selling a product which was purchased in India and has local, country specific warranty, it is not fair to compare the price of the same product in the international market where the price might be lower, but there is no warranty available in India. So it is never an apples to apples comparison.
The Desperate Ones
I feel sorry for these guys. Because they very badly want what you are selling, but don’t want to pay for it. So they first lowball, and then try to justify their price.
These guys all have some theory that if it is a second hand product, the cost automatically drops to half or lesser, even if it is a day old.
The Ones Who Cannot Read
Even after you take great pains to put up all the details about your item in the Olx description, there will be people asking you very basic questions. I wonder if these people have a language problem, or reading problem. Here are a few examples.
Does it Have to be so Taxing?
The reason why I created this blog post is to show how a useful platform where buyers and sellers can meet to mutually benefit from each other’s needs (of selling and buying) has turned into a complex and dark place where Sigmund Freud would have loved to hang out.
When a seller puts something on sale, all they expect is to find someone who matches his expected price. If he doesn’t find such a buyer, it is up to the seller to lower the offer price or decide not to sell the product.
Thanks to the kind of people I have come across, online selling is a mentally draining activity. One must be prepared to get cheated, offended, abused and trolled by people who just don’t understand basic decent behavior and courtesy. All this only ends up sucking you of your energy and time.
But this is the direction in which all social media networks are headed, right?
I got to test the Syrp Genie, Genie Mini, and my Carbon Fibre slider this week. Using the three, I was able to achieve a timelapse that had linear and panning motion.
I wanted the timelapse to show the transition from night to day. I had been researching on tools that would help me automate the exposure correction required for a timelapse that runs from dark to bright or vice versa. If you are wondering why – the settings for a timelapse when it is dark cannot be used when the light changes and becomes bright (or vice versa). Such a timelapse involving exposure changes is called the ‘Holy Grail’ timelapse. The right term for this kind of exposure change is ‘ramping’. You either ramp the ISO, Shutterspeed, Aperture or all three depending on the situation.
The best method to automate and achieve the holy grail technique is by using an app called qdslrdashboard. Unforunately, it is Android only, so I had to borrow a One Plus One phone to try it out.
So yes, I was able to make the Syrp Genie, Genie Mini and QDslrdashboard to work together. I almost did not get a chance to do the timelapse because of bad weather. Thankfully, the skies cleared up after 1 am and the stars showed up. It was not the darkest of nights and the skies were hazy after the rain.
I set up the genie, mini and the slider first. Once connected together, the Genie and Mini connect to the phone via bluetooth. The camera can connect to the phone via WiFi but I connected it via USB. I set the whole thing up for 4.5 hours. I realized later that this was a mistake. Why? Because:
Qdslrdashboard had a setting which determines the longest shutterspeed. It was set to 4 seconds. This prevented the app from increasing the shutter speed correctly once the night turned to day.
The slider and panning movement was controlled by the total duration of the timelapse. So by the end of 3.5 hours – when it had turned bright and I realised that the frames were overexposed, the slider had not reached the end of the track. So the end result does not show much of linear movement.
The interval between shots was set to 30 seconds. This interval was fine when the expsoure was 25 seconds at night. But as it got brighter and the exposure time decreased, the interval became a little too much. Not that it mattered – I was just getting impatient 🙂
Another challenge I faced for lens fog. I had to clean the front of the lens in between the timelapse which introduced some shake in the time lapse.
It took a bit of an effort to shoot mid-week at a remote location, staying up almost through the night. This is what it takes to learn something by doing. Here is the end result. The Milky Way is faint. But you can see it rise and disappear as the night turned into day. And a bunch of us running around with flashlights 🙂
Not many get to witness the movement of the Milky Way in the sky. Enjoy it here in the timelapse. More stuff to come when I get a chance to go out and shoot.
I like shooting timelapses. It compliments my love for landscape photography. Timelapses help me show how dynamic nature can be over a short period of time.
But shooting timelapses of nature is hard work. Adding motion – linear or panning – to a timelapses is not only more hard work, but even heavy on the pocket. I am learning the video side of things – which is what most timelapse equipment is based on – after I purchased the Syrp Genie.
The Syrp Genie is a device that helps you pan your camera when mounted on a flat surface, or move your camera in a linear direction when mounted on a slider. It uses a rope and pulley system to move in a linear direction. A slider is a track for the camera to move. The distance that the genie can travel is limited by the length of your slider or length of the rope that you have.
I just got the Genie and tried out a panning timelapse. I don’t own a slider yet. Looking up sliders online is making me sweat – they are mighty expensive! Plus, sliders are not very portable. And in India, you need to travel long distances or hike for days, to shoot nature in its purest form.
Today, I tried out the Genie to capture a panning timelapse. It is easy to shoot a panning timelapse, because all you need is to mount the Genie on a tripod. The genie connects to the camera via a cable. It controls the panning movement, and triggers the camera as per your settings. Because the Genie is in control, the camera will not fire when the Genie is moving. You will not have blurry photos. This way, you can use the Genie to take timelapses of celestial objects at night. Something that I have been dying to do ever since I got into night scapes. I have tried static time lapses of the stars at night. Now, I want to take it one step further and add a panning or linear motion. For inspiration on the possibilities, check out this tutorial from Syrp.
Here is my first timelapse that I shot with the Syrp Genie, today:
Syrp Genie with Photo Clam Gold ball head
Feisol 3441T Tripod
Irix 15mm f2.4 lens
And oh! Found some interesting places to shoot the Milky Way today. Looking forward to next week.