Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Customer is not Always Right

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The adage ‘the customer is always right’ definitely does not hold true in this situation.

I was given a bag from Charles & Keith as a gift from my brother. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a popular brand manufacturing shoes and bags based out of Singapore. Just when I was about to rip the hardware wrapping, I noticed a major gash on the bag, and therefore took it to the store in Bangkok to have it replaced. Instead of apologizing for something that was clearly a manufacturing defect, the first question the store manager asked was ‘what did I do with the bag’. I explained to her that the gash was present and that my mother had the exact same bag for a year and despite rough use it was scratch free. So this was not something that could be done in a day!

I was informed first that the bag could not be changed, and later she told me that they get a replacement from the company. Then I was told that the company stopped manufacturing them, A few calls later I was told that they had located it at the Rama 9 branch and I could come and collect it from the Future Park Rangsit branch (the store the bag was purchased from) in two weeks time. When I returned to the store I was told that unfortunately they had not been able to locate the bag. In the meantime there had been no contact from the company to inform me of the situation, despite having my number.

Next I was told that I could pick another bag but if the value was less there would be no monetary return from the store. I tried to reason with her, but she was adamant. I told her to keep the bag, and that I would get in touch with customer service. I got a call from the store after I had left to say that I could in fact come and pick up the bag and any balance would be paid to me.

By then I was well on my way home, and told her I would be back later. When yesterday I returned to the store it was a different story. Now the manager refused to pay any balance, and since the bag had been on sale, the value allotted was now 70% of the original price. But she would note the original price of any new bag and not the value after the 30% ongoing sale. This sounded extremely ridiculous to me-you are ready to make sure the customer suffers a loss but not you!! After much arguing and a call to the local office it was decided that the original value of the bag was intact, and the sale price of any new bag would be taken into consideration.

Not a single bag in the store matched the cost of the bag, and I asked again if I could club it with another bag or shoe, and I would pay any amount above the original but was refused.

Eventually I had to pick a bag with a loss of 600 THB. This is not a big amount, but it is the principle of the situation that I find shocking. Instead of apologizing for a mistake that was the company’s and for making up for it, the manager chose to first accuse and then rip off the customer.

This is the first time that I have ever heard where the company chooses to keep the money for their fault and in turn have an unhappy customer. It is quite shameful. I have quite a few shoes and bags from Charles & keith and am always recommending it to family and friends. After this unpleasant experience I would definitely not be doing the same.

I am sorry this post is a rant, but I am seriously pissed off with the way the situation was handled, not to mention the times, the manager just walked away from the conversation. Truly terrible!

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Surviving Week 1: Who is the Teacher?

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So school has officially started this past Monday, June 17th! I can’t believe I have been teaching my “own” class for a week. So how has the week been?  It’s been a whirlwind of emotions and experiences. Let me just quickly recount some the things I faced during the first week.

My school for the next two years, Sitaram Abaji PMC in Pune

My school for the next two years, Sitaram Abaji PMC in Pune

With no designated classroom the first day, my kids (20 showed up on the first day) walked up and down 4 floors at least 3 times within a span of 5 minutes. By the time we got a temporary class allocated to us, my kids were quite drained and actually, so was I. But it was okay as the kids greeted me with huge smiles on the first day. They were budding with questions…what did I do before? Where do I live? What do I like to eat? Day 1 ended on a good note, I was able to teach them at least two class procedures and I was content with that. I was all charged up for Day 1!

Class 5B on a Saturday Morning!

Class 5B on a Saturday Morning!

Day 2 rolled around and it was a completely different story. Not only did I realize that due to lack of teachers in the school, I am actually acting like a class teacher for my 5th grade students. On one hand, this was a victory as I now get more time with the students and can really focus on building the core values. However, inside I was panicking because I hadn’t planned enough activities for them!!! On top it all, I felt like I had forgotten everything that was taught to me during institute, especially giving explicit directions and accounting for all things that could go wrong in a class. Anything that could go wrong…pretty much did. I had kids hitting one another, climbing on tables, running around screaming on top of their heads, and one even cried. I was with my kids the entire day and I felt that I was able to teach them nothing. They weren’t listening at all, there was no management in the class, and by the end of it, I almost was on the verge of tears. I left the school thinking will my class ever become the “model” class shown to us in the training videos? Will I ever be able to teach and make a change for these kids? I even asked myself…who is the teacher…me or them?

My individual, Harry Potter, inspired tracker. The kids really want those snitches!

My individual, Harry Potter, inspired tracker. The kids really want those snitches!

I came back home and found myself planning even more. I had to figure out enough activities to keep the students engaged and interested in the class. I hadn’t planned to really bring my class consequences out this early, but decided that this was probably the way to go. Oh, I forgot to mention, I am using Harry Potter as the basis of my class theme. I started giving individual students golden snitches for positive behavior. It worked like a charm!!! Kids wanted those golden snitches and I had everybody’s attention. A huge proud moment for me was when ALL of my students were lined up outside my class exactly as I wanted them to be before school started. I had the bragging rights of telling other fellows that those were my kids lined up neatly outside of the class 🙂

I don’t want to bore all of you but long story short, each day is a surprise. I never know what my kids will do or how they will behave. Which activities will work…which won’t. My daily plan for the kids is constantly running in my mind, how can I make the class better. What do I need to focus on. It’s a challenge, but so far, I am enjoying this journey!

Surviving the First Month

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My baby boy turns one month old today, and it has been a learning experience since his birth. It is definitely not easy, and close to impossible without having someone around to help you. And I wholeheartedly disagree with anyone who says otherwise.

I have been up at hours I did not even know existed, I have had to stay up for hours in the middle of the night, done multiple diaper changes in the span of 10 minutes. But on the other hand, my baby makes the most adorable sounds and faces and he has the most content looking face after he has been fed.

I have slowly learnt to differentiate if his restlessness means he needs to be fed or changed. Sometimes he just likes to be held and will sleep on you, and wake up the second he is placed on the bed.

I know that my baby is super comfortable feeding when supported by My Brest Friend nursing pillow, which really is a life saver (Thank you Rasee). He loves it when you massage him, and loves taking a bath just as much. Humming nursery rhymes, especially ‘twinkle twinkle’ lulls my baby to sleep. He loves it when you talk to him, and sometimes makes facial expressions as if he completely understands what you are talking about.

I have also learnt to do things using one hand, and that includes changing a diaper while he is feeding. I have learnt that it is painful to hear your baby cry, and I can’t for the life of me understand those who are cruel to theirs’.

I am not a saint, and sure it gets frustrating, when you cannot understand the reason your baby is crying, because he is fed and his diaper is fresh. And at times like this it is easy to lose your cool, but I have learnt to be patient. That is the biggest lesson he has taught me: patience. And my parents have taught me that there is always a reason if your baby is crying. And that is so true. Sometimes they are just suffering from gas. Really.

Take a break if it gets too much, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one will think any less of you.

And most of all enjoy the time that you have with your baby, they will have grown up before you know it. I can’t understand how he is one month already. It seems just like yesterday we brought him home from the hospital.

Vanilla Cupcakes

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I baked a batch of my tried and tested vanilla cupcakes when my baby turned three weeks old last Friday. As with the brownies they have a quick and easy recipe to follow which I have had to share with just about everyone who has tasted them.

As you can make out, I love to bake. It requires a precision and if the steps are followed to the tee you are guaranteed success. Here is the recipe for all of you with a sweet tooth.

A little too adventurous with the toppings

A little too adventurous with the toppings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk

Steps

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add the mix into the cup cake holders, making sure to fill only 3/4 of the cup.
  4. Put it in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Check with a toothpick to see if the inner section has baked.
  6. Once done allow to cool on a wire rack.
  7. Cover with chocolate icing and sprinkles before you serve.
Sprinkles are the best!

Sprinkles are the best!

I make my icing by mixing powdered whipped cream with cold water and then adding cocoa powder to the mix. I have also used Nutella and melted baking chocolate. The choice is yours!

My next major culinary adventure: chocolate layer cake. Hope it is not too ambitious of me. Wish me luck!

Apologies for the bad picture quality-my camera images accidentally got deleted, and all I have left are the ones from my phone.

Go Goa

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Pit stops along the way

Pit stops along the way

Hubby and I decided for a quick weekend getaway to Goa!! It was totally an unplanned trip, but it was totally it. Before you remind me that it is the rainy season, let me say that Goa is still fun in the rains. What did our trip consist of? A gorgeous drive and tons of food! I had visited Goa with my friends back in 2010 and during that time I really did not understand the craze for Goan cuisine. This trip changed that; we ate in these hole in the wall places that served the most amazing seafood.

I feel like it is my responsibility to share all the places to eat. As this was a short trip, we mainly roamed around North Goa and therefore these food joints are regulated to that vicinity.

1) Viva Goa (Calangute Beach): This is literally a hole in the wall joint that served the most amazing Bombay Duck (no, it’s not duck but a local fish that melts in your mouth). We also had a chance to taste an authentic Goan dish of Chicken Xacuti. Now, I am not one that eats a lot of naan, but I couldn’t help myself to have more naan to go with the chicken xacuti. The combination was just mind blowing.

2) Florentine (somewhere between Baga & Panjim): I wish I could give you more location specifics so you could find this place, but I wasn’t paying attention to the roads at all. All I can say is that we parked our car on the main street and walked up this dark, narrow alley. There were no lights; the scene was befitting a suspense movie. I felt that somebody could jump out at us anytime. Our walk quickly brought us to the forefront of a two story house that had the sign Florentine on it. There was a long line of other hungry souls waiting to get their hands on the infamous Chicken Cafreal. Service was quite speedy, so we only waited approximately 10 minutes for a table. As we were starving, we went all out and ordered Masala Calamari, Fish Curry, and Chicken Cafreal. The food was served in another 10 minutes, and our plates were swiped clean in another 2-3 minute 🙂 If I ever get directions to this place, I will update the post!

3) Infantaria (Baga Beach): I loved brunch places in the U.S. There was nothing better than stuffing myself with eggs, toast, pancakes, roasted mushrooms, etc. Brunching at Infantaria was all of that and more. In addition to having our stuffed omelettes, we also feasted on Ham Quiche, Beef Samosas, and Goan Sausage Roll.

In a move that is very unlike me, I don’t have a lot of pictures of the food ate. We were too hungry to wait even for a second. But in lieu of that leaving you all with a few pictures of our gorgeous drive.

Climbing the Ghats (Mountains)

Climbing the Ghats (Mountains)

 

Go Goa

Go Goa

Ham Quiche

Ham Quiche

Amboli Ghat

Amboli Ghat