Thursday, 7 January 2016

H2O Agonda - Surprisingly nice package!

Being a local Goan, I usually do not try options with beach huts in Goa, as we know they are primarily meant to cater foreign and few domestic clients, however, this one I must admit, was a very good experience I had in a very long time.

Location: In the small fishing village of Agonda, in the quiet and serene lap of Agonda Beach.

Rooms/Ambience: There are 3 types of accommodation available: Garden cottages - which are nice, but internal garden facing, no sea view.

Sea view beach huts - Each cottage has it's own front balcony and face the beach with a perfect view of the Arabian Sea!

Tents - didn't check this option

Rooms are equipped with basic needs Bed, AC, wardrobe and washroom, 2 water bottles, Toilet paper. No TV, wi-fi, telephone in the room. Breakfast not included in cost.

The USP of the rooms is the view. There is an amazing experience we had here - an open air washroom! At the back side of your room, you need to climb down a few stairs which open into a box kind of area, covered with wooden tall walls, with no-roof which makes it an airy, natural washroom! Innovative, in-deed.

Beach cottages are right in front of the sea and one can wake up to the sound and view of waves hitting the shore.

Restaurant/Bar: Serves nice and tasty food, specialty Seafood and traditional Goan cuisine. Offers wine, cocktails and of course chilled beer which one can enjoy watching an endless sea.

What to do? For us, with the sea in front, we had absolutely nothing planned to do, other than relaxing in the couch or on the havoc and enjoy the serene natural gift by God. One can easily spend the evening just watching the sea and the sun set, besides you can take long walks, swim, play relax in the sand, (sun-bathe, not advisable in case you are not a white) or just enjoy a chilled beer at the restaurant, which is again sea-facing.

Itinerary: We had checked-in just for a night, since we traveled from Goa, we arrived at the place by 12 noon, checked-in, freshened up and straight headed to their restaurant. The place was almost empty as it was approaching off-season. We ordered a sizzler, cheese garlic naan and some Beers. Post lunch, we relaxed at the cottage, awaiting for the sun to set. Once, the heat was less and the breeze was out, we went to the beach, while I went for a swim, my daughter enjoyed playing in the sand. We returned to our rooms around dinner time and freshened up with a nice hot shower. Later we took a stroll outside the H2O premises to get a glimpse of night at the village and had dinner at a busy joint, famous for serving good food. Day-2, we asked for coffee and breakfast to be served at the room and checked out straight after that as the day would have been quite boring just being at the cottage, as we would not want to step out because of hot sun/humidity. Of course, spa was the option but we left it out.

Definitely try and stay here next time if, you are in Goa as you can't beat the location.So just leave everything aside and enjoy the moment at H2O Agonda!

Reservation : Though online reservation was available, I decided to drive to the place for a direct check-in. Of course, I called the hotel and informed them and they were happy to hold a room for me.

C-in/c-out: 10 AM.
Parking: Available

Price: Reasonable, I would say. Rooms cost us INR 3000/- and the meals about another INR 1000.

Tip: Power problems, hence AC will trip often.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Goa to Mangalore trip in 3 days

We had not taken a vacation for quite some time and the long weekend during the Gandhi Jayanti holiday on Friday-2nd, we thought was a good time to unwind.

Since the time we brought the Safari Storme, our idea of vacation has turned into “a trip to places where we can drive to, in a radius of 300-500 kms and which can be done in 2-4 days”.

After having explored most nearby places in Maharashtra, we decided to go the other neighbor – Karnataka. After my research on Google, I thought Mangalore was the closest fit to our ‘Travel criteria’.

I wanted to go to a place which is:
           A. 200-400 kms max, so that it can be done in 3 days’ time,
           B. which has some temples to visit and, 
           C. also have some good shopping malls and recreation activities.
and Mangalore had all of these.

On finalizing the holiday destination, the first thing I wanted to set right was accommodation.

After a spending some time on Google (BTW, the trip was planned completely based on internet reviews) I shortlisted on following hotels. (since we aren’t too fussy about hotel stay during travel, it was low on budget and quick to decide).

Finalized the deal on Mangalore International, even though the very first review title said "There is nothing international about it" but the further reviews were quite satisfactory. It is at K.S. Rao road, one can drive straight to this place as an extension to NH-66.

Earlier, I had plans of walking-in to a hotel, without prior booking, considering there are plenty to choose from in the city, however, it came to me as a shock, when I called the HMI (Hotel Managlore International, referred to as HMI) and they said, they are booked for the weekend while all major travel booking sites still showing availability. So, I decided to book this hotel online for following prime reasons:

To avoid the hassles of:
          A.  Driving around the crowded city seeking directions to various hotels,
        B. visiting each of them only to find some of them don’t have the availability and even if they had, go and inspect each room, amenities and so on and,
         C. importantly because, online booking had a discount to offer. 

I booked HMI at an offer of "buy one night and get second at Re.1 only" on ClearTrip. (That really sounded a great offer, though the total cost I paid for 2 nights - in fact should have been the price at which they be selling these rooms). Anyways, was happy that I didn’t have to pay excess price for these rooms.

About Hotel
A. The biggest USP of this hotel is – its location! It is bang in the city, just across the famous City Center mall.
B. the second best (for us) being – 24 check-in/check-out policy (since we were driving from Goa and didn’t have a well-drawn schedule, this added a great flexibility and allowed us to drive leisurely)
C. complimentary breakfast (Vegetarian only, no egg/omelets, typical mix of Idli, Shira, Upma, cornflakes, juice, milk, tea, coffee, fruits etc)
D. complimentary internet (the connectivity was good, even though some reviews said it wasn’t so good)

Not many, however could have been cleaner like they could have patched up walls with a paint coat, fixed some electrical points etc. Also, it does not have its own restaurant and we did not try room service.

  • No covered parking; however there is place right in front of the hotel where one can park where the hotel security guard keeps a watch and the hotel assures you that it’s safe.
  • There is 24-hrs hot water facility; however we faced some issues with it.
  • Check-in/out was smooth.
  • Telephone in the room did not work as some cabling work was being done.
  • Air conditioner, TV, Cable channels everything worked. Towels, soap, shampoo provided. No toilet napkins/papers. No temperature control knobs or remote control for AC so we had to switch off main switch when it was too cold.
  • Not sure if the rooms offered any views as our windows opened into a shabby building next door.
Itinerary planned:

Day-1: Friday
06:00 Leave from Panaji
13:00 Reach Mangalore, Lunch
16:00 Visit Citi Center and evening at leisure
21:00 Dinner at the Mall

Day-2: Saturday
09:00 Breakfast at Hotel
10:00 Visit Kudroli Gokarnath Temple
12:00 Visit Kadri Manjunath Temple
13:00 Lunch at Kadri Manjunath Temple (they serve meal as prasad)
14:00 Visit Animal Park at Pilkula Nisargdham
15:30 Visit Manasa water park
17:30 Tea at Manasa Restaurant
18:30 Visit Bharat Mall (Big Bazar shopping)
21:00 Dinner at Mall

Day-3: Sunday
09:00 Breakfast at Hotel
10:00 Visit Local market for window shopping, Stop by at Ideal's ice-cream
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Depart for Goa
20:30 Arrive in Goa

All of the above fell in line, except:

A. We started an hour late on day-1, which meant it was past13:00 and we were about 60kms behind schedule so we decided to have lunch at Udipi at a highway restaurant. The restaurant, surprisingly, offered good food at a very cheap rate of Rs. 50/- for a South Indian Thali. We decided to halt at the same place during our return journey to try their Punjabi Thali.

B. Return trip took longer due to heavy rains at Honnavar, Karwar belt.

Total Distance: 400 kms
Road: Cannot be categorized as ‘good’ since lot of work was underway at NH-66, because of which had to take diversion every 2-3 kms. Some stretches were really bad and the vehicle had to be brought down from 80-100 to 20 instantly.

Route:Panaji - Karwar - Ankola - Kumta - Honnavar - Bhatkal - Kundapur - Manipal/Udupi - Mangalore

Weather: Pleasant as it was drizzling, warm during day time, about 30 degrees (this was during our visit, otherwise I believe the mercury starts rising during this part of the year).

Hotels: Plenty; few we had shortlisted based on TripAdvisor reviews:

Hotel Poonja International
Rs. 1847/- per night
Address: K.S. Rao Road
Phone:0824 244 0171
My take: Some of the reviews that I read weren't really good, so did not go for it.

Hotel Srinivas
Rs. 1168 per night
Address: Ganapathi High School Road
Phone:0824 244 0061
My take: Reviews were ok nothing spectacular about it.

Ginger Hotel
My take: This was in my mind, however shockingly, reviews of this Tata hotel weren’t that great vis-a-vis their rates.

Hotel Suman Residency
About 5k for 2 nights
Near Bendorewell Junction | Kankanady - Balmatta Road
My take: Good reviews, HMI won over this on the price front.

Goldfinch Mangalore
About 12k all inclusive for 2 nights.
236-2A Bunts Hostel Road | Near Jyoti Circle
My take: This one was the best, however out of my budget.

Places of interest shortlisted (we did not do all):

City Center Mall
K.S.Rao Road | Hampankatta

We visited this mall, because based on reviews, this one was meant to be the best among all other malls in the city, we had time only for 1 of them so we decided to go with this one. Besides, this was just across our hotel.

This is a typical mall bustling with youngsters huddling around and kids running up & down on the escalators. It has most well-known brands besides some distinct stores like a Khadi store doing good business, shops selling 1gm Gold and so on. Besides, you have a floor for all eateries with brands like BBQ Nation, Pizza Hut, KFC to name a few.

Pilkula Nisargdham
15-20 mins drive from Mangalore (outskirts), a must visit animal park. Need about 2-3 hrs time to see the entire place if one decides to walk. There is motor-cycle buggy that can take you around for a mere charge of 300 bucks and can be done in about 40 mins to 1 hr time.

Manasa Amusement & Water Park
Small park, good for kids, walking distance from Pilkula Nisargdham. Entry: Adult=300/-, Children=200/-
Tip: closed on Monday.

Bharath Mall
Address: Opp KSRTC Bus Depot | Kavoor Road, Bejai, Lalbagh
Only mall which has Big Bazar. Also has Pizza hut, CCD - ok place to visit.

Empire Mall & Pio mall – The review said these aren’t as good as City Center, so were left out of the itinerary.

Mahatma Gandhi Museum 
(Canara High School, Mangalore, India) – based on reviews, decided to skip as not a must visit, however good to visit.

Sammilan Shetty’s Butterfly Park – I am not into butterflies so skipped this as well, but most reviews said, it’s a good place to visit.
Address: Butterfly Park Road, Belvai Village | Santhadi House, Mangalore
Phone Number: +91 98 45 993292

Kadri Manjunath Temple - good to visit
From Bunts circle, one can hire auto to reach this temple which will cost you around Rs 30. The temple offers Prasad (lunch) between 12:30pm to 2pm.

Kudroli Gokarnath Temple - good to visit
Address: Kudroli | 3 Km from Hampankatta
Best visit during evenings, day time will be hot.

Shri Sharavu Mahaganapathi Temple - not a must visit, can visit if time permits.
This is a small temple, old, right in the city in the middle of bustling Hampankatta, close to the end of the GHS road in Mangalore.

Panambur Beach - if at all you want to visit a beach, you can try this as its closer to Mangalore. Nothing great about the beach though. Since we hailed from a place of beaches, we didn’t wanted to visit another one.

  • Lot of 1gm gold shops around.
  • People give and accept worn-out currency notes
  • Traffic is same as any other city (didnt experience much due to holiday weekend)
  • Local market is same as any other metro.
  • People usually speak Kannada or Tulu, most understand Hindi.
In all, this was a compact budget holiday.

Tip: Leave your vehicle at the hotel, especially if it’s a big one and hire an Auto-Rickshaw to go to places.
  • No need to seek directions
  • No need to look for parking
  • No worries of jumping signals/traffic rules, paying fines and so on.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Goa Bloggers’ meet, finally…

On the first Sunday of February I finally had an opportunity to attend the Goa Bloggers’ meet – something I have been looking for quite some time since I started my own blog.

The meet, I understand is the first of its kind organized in Goa with a purpose to get together a wide segment of bloggers across the state so that they get an opportunity to meet and interact with each other.

Bloggers community in Goa has not caught up yet as how it has done in other parts of country & world. I am sure with this little step it would turn into a bigger platform for all bloggers across the state to meet and share ideas, thoughts, interests and mutually benefit from it.

The meet was held at the International Center Goa at Taleigao Plateau and was attended by 30-35 people – a good mix of experienced & novice bloggers. Many were enthusiastic about blogging and looking forward to make a beginning while a few wanted to know what blogging is all about.

It provided a fruitful experience to all the attendees as there were some educative sessions held during this very first meet.

The first session – Is your Blog naked? by experienced, longtime blogger Ulrike Rodrigues covered the basics of blogging and gave an overview of blogging including contents, styling, editing and so on. It also touched upon how to make a blog reader friendly, browser friendly, SEO friendly and some basic Do’s and Don’t’s of blogging.

Ulrike Rodrigues hails from Canada and is a web writer, photographer, speaker and a cyclist. Her tales of cycling can be read here:

The next session was about Responsive Web Design and the speaker was Agraj Agranayak, Head of Operations at ImagineWorks, Goa. Agraj talked about optimizing websites and blogs for various hand-held devices, mobile phones, tablets etc and highlighted importance of ensuring that the blogs are readable at all times on all these devices.

The last session on Blogging & Social Media by Prajot Mainkar, Director at Androcid Media, Goa had to be moved to the next meeting because of time constraint. This session is expected to cover how to promote our blogs on Social media, manage & strategize them.

It was an event made to happen by the efforts of few individuals in association with ICG and the Goa Bloggers Lounge and is expected to grow into a bigger community as we would continue to meet every last Saturday of the month at 18:00 at the same venue. The group is still in its novice stage and is working on putting a lot of things in place like arranging logistics, creating a mailing list of bloggers in Goa, a community page so that bloggers can stay connected.

The event is free of cost and open for all age groups. If you would like to be part of this, please email at or leave your email id in the comments section below.

Hope to catch up with some of you for the next meet. 

Happy Blogging!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Kannya turns 6 at Matruchaya, Goa!

As a tradition that we began with the birth of Kannya – our bundle of joy for last 6 years, we celebrated her birthday with kids of her age, who, unfortunately were deprived of parents by the destiny. Like every year, Kannya was excited to spend her special day with these kids who were special for us, and we ought to make this a custom.
Kannya with all smiles set to cut the cake
Something about Matruchaya...
Matruchaya located in a small town in Goa, Ponda, better known for its temples, is a home for destitute, abandoned or orphaned children.
The organization is working untiringly for last 35 years for the welfare of such children. The orphanage which houses two separate units for girls and boys was started way back in 1976. It is recognized by Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) and promotes adoption, by which the children can have their own home.
We made an effort to bring smiles to them...
It houses about 50 girls and 25 boys, aged between 5 to 18. The 4 cute toddlers brought to this place because of various circumstances, are showered with tender love by all the occupants of the home.
It offers schooling and all other basic necessities for these kids.
It was learnt that Matruchaya takes care of the girls until they are of marriageable age and also offers to get them married and settled in life.
Matruchhaya - where Matru means Mother and Chaya means Shelter – is a true home for these unfortunate children.
We enjoyed the little good time that we spent with the kids
Events & donations
  • The organization is open to activities like Birthday celebrations and accepts donations/help in any form.
  • Such events can be organized only between 5pm to 6pm with prior appointment with the Matruchaya office. 
  • Only 5 members of group/family are allowed to join the function. 
  • The donor can learn more about the organization from the in-charge and other office staff.
  • The staff is happy to show you around the home for you to have a glance at the toddlers and play with kids.
  • It is suggested to check with office on the items in shortage, before any donations are made.
  • The office provides a receipt with complete details of donations.
  • It was learnt that there are many donors who have subscribed for lifetime donations/supplies of groceries/books/other household items.
Some girly stuff that brought smiles to their faces
Office Contact:
You can reach the office on +91 832 2312152/ 3142.
We did whatever little we could for this noble cause…what are you waiting for?
My parents joined us for this noble cause

Monday, 19 May 2014

Chivla Beach - weekend getaway from Goa

Like last year, this summer too, we decided to give Goan beaches a miss and instead visited a serene, virgin beach at a not-well-known place called Chivla in our neighboring state. Chivla beach is located in a tiny village at a walking distance from Malwan in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra.

Set for a perfect evening...
While the Goan beaches are flooded with tourists from all over the world, over the years, my love for them has reduced. It could be because of the overly crowdedness and commercialization of these beaches. Somehow, I don’t find that same tranquility which I witnessed here during my regular summer trips to these beaches, since my childhood.
Goa no more has a tourist season now! People flock to this place all throughout the year and some even don’t return to their home land.

I was looking for something, where I could be all by myself with the nature – just the roaring sea and me! And Chivla Beach was a wise choice.
Malwan too is getting highly commercialized and many tourists prefer it, mainly for two reasons – the place is not as crowded as Goan beaches and most importantly it’s cheap compared to Goan exorbitant Dining and Accommodation rates.

I had known of Chivla, since last year, however we chose to visit Tarkarli last year and hence the obvious choice for this year was Chivla beach.
You may NOT continue reading further, if you are looking for the following at a beach holiday:
·         Ogling at Semi-nude Hippies
·         And a similar avatar of Desis [semi-nude again, but Males] holding beer cans
·         Indian newlyweds with hands full of traditional bangles and Shorts – a little short for her.
·         A pampered resort style luxurious stay
·         A dubious massage

The beach – the location
This place is for someone looking for a secluded, serene and 'almost your own' private beach, where one can relax on the hammock outside your room, watching tiny boats taking on the sea, hard-working fishermen busy sorting their daily catch and local kids immersed into a match of cricket at the shore…

The Beach is all yours...
If this is not enough, in the evening you can be one with the nature, watching the sun set over the roaring sea hitting the shore incessantly! A view worth capturing on a canvas!

And at what cost is this? The entire vacation for a 2-night’s stay for couple with child was less than half the cost of a beach aside resort (stay only) in Goa!

However unfortunately we also noticed, the shore had turned ugly at places – because of Mother Nature throwing back at us, the same nonsense we quietly immerse inside her!

The Stay – Mayekar’s Holiday Home
Chivla offers many home-stays – a more traditional, affordable and acceptable form of accommodation.
Having read good reviews, we chose ‘Mayekar’s Holiday Home’ [MHH] for our 2 nights stay. The guesthouse is at a splendid location, just few meters away from the sea shore. The rooms are basic however offer a superb sea-view with plenty of breeze to keep you company throughout the day. It’s a treat to watch the sun set, while you sip tea alongwith hot Bhajiya lazing on the hammocks outside your room.

There are options for AC and Non AC rooms.
MHH is owned by a local Mr. Prasanna Mayenkar. He lives with his wife, a 3 year old daughter – Swara and a maternal uncle – who looks after your needs during your stay. Mr. Mayekar shares his home with the air conditioned Blue rooms, while the Non AC Red rooms are besides the house. Red rooms are much closer to the sea and bigger in size to accommodate a family of 4. Blue Rooms are smaller suitable for a couple.

The place offers basic amenities: a double bed with bed-side tables, a table with 4 chairs in the verandah, hot water from 7:00AM, mosquito net/coil, a service bell in the room. The linens could have been better and should have provided soap or a hand-wash! It serves morning tea/coffee options with breakfast and evening tea/snacks on advance notice. If you don’t want to go too far for dinner, there is a home-food option behind the property of Mayekar’s.

Room cost: Non AC 1800 per night. AC: 2000 per night.
Breakfast options: Upma, Poha, Shira, Bread-omelet, Tea/Milk/Coffee. Chilled Water bottle@Rs.20/-

Evening tea with snacks like Bhajia can be ordered. The preparation takes about 20-30 mins.
Lunch/Dinner: This guest house does not offer Lunch/Dinner options. For this, you can visit any of the nearby home-turned-restaurants.
Security/Safety: One could feel kind of insecure when the place gets darkened with not many lights around and not much security around the home-stay. However, Malwani people are known to be softhearted and we felt at home during our long stroll on the empty road in front of the guest house in the night.
The food: relish on Sea-food!
There is a place at the backyard of MHH, which serves home cooked meals. One needs to place an order at least 2-3 hours in advance. For vegetarian there is a typical Maharashtrian meal with Rice, Chapati, Bhaji, Papad, Pickle, Daal, Solkadhi. For others, there is variety of Fish options to choose from.

The food quality was average while the rates though apt for a beach location, were higher than what it would cost you to have a Fish/Rice meal at a Goan city restaurant.

Malwan has many other restaurants which are famous for serving fresh fish preparations. To name a few: Chaitanya, Saiba, Atithi Bamboo, Ghar Mithbaunkaranche (they are also the caterers for MTDC resorts at Tarkarli).
We had a day meal at Chaitanya – our repeat visit. However, felt the taste had degraded since our last trip to Tarkarli. You would find plenty of good reviews of it and the place is usually over-crowded. When I say I did not like the preparation much: it could be because of my liking for Goan way of cooking sea food and the same may not be true for people traveling from various other parts of the country as at the table next to us, we were hearing a Mumbai party going all praises for the food!
Again, there are plenty of fish & sea-food options with prices same as what I mentioned earlier. To give you an idea of prices, we had a Surmayee [King-Fish] Thali for 250/- (medium size rawa fried piece of Kingfish, Kingfish Curry with Chapati and Rice], a ‘Kalwa Thali’ at 280/- (One portion of Kalwa Masala, one small rawa fried Crab, Kalwa Curry with Chapati and Rice].

You can try Fruitkhand – srikhand with fruits or ‘Aamrakhand’ for desserts.
The cost of the meal was 700/-. (Our return journey cost of a much tastier lunch at Spice Goa, Karaswada, Mapusa-Goa was just under 500/- for two Modso Thalis and a beer!)

One can also try Prawns Malwani, Kombadi Vade etc.

Crowded!! and obviously this is the reason for other problems like delay in taking orders and eventually in serving. The place is on a busy congested lane of Malwan market and hence taking your car and parking is a big pain. I would recommend parking the vehicle in an open space, just when you take a right turn to go to Tarkarli. From here, the restaurant is just about 5 mins walk.
Quality: as I mentioned above was a big letdown. We had to add extra salt in almost every item in our meal.
The attraction
Besides Malwan, which has multiple options, Tsunami Island at Devbag is one of the major attractions to enjoy some watersports. Devbag is about 4 KMs from Tarkarli, which is about 7 KMs from Malwan.

You will need to hire a motor boat, which will take you to an amazing place - a small island in the middle of nowhere, close to ‘Sangam’ of Karli river and Malwan sea.

The boat is costly affair if you have a small family as it charges 1000/- for a return trip. Best is to bargain and look for sharing options. We shared the boat trip with another family of 4 at total cost of 800/-.

One can enjoy variety of water sports like Jet Ski Ride, Speed Boat, Banana Ride, Bumper Boat, Water Scooter, Kayak Ride and so on.

There are various food stalls right in the middle of the water serving mouth-watering local snacks like ‘Chutney and Pola’. It’s an amazing experience to have food at these stalls while your seats almost submerged in the water.

 What else to do/see:
Malwan has various other attractions (we had visited these during our last trip to Tarkarli). The activity that has caught on highly with tourists here is Snorkelling and Scuba diving!

While at Malwan a visit to Rock Garden, Sindhudurg fort and Jai Ganesh Temple is a must. One also has option of visiting few other near-by beaches: (I would suggest stay put up just at one beach)
·         Tarkarli Beach
·         Tondavali Beach
·         Kolamb Beach
·         Vengurla Malvan Beach
Ganesh idol made in Gold at Jai Ganesh Temple
The route
The route from Goa to Kudal via Sawantwadi (on Goa-Mumbai highway) is awesome and had it been monsoon, the drive would have been a real pleasure!

From Kudal one can take either take a polished longer route via Chauke or an internal shorter road. Don’t expect too many signages on the way or while driving in Malwan. It’s best to ask locals.

Panaji to Chivla is about 110 kms.

You will find a lot of local vendors’ enroute which are good option for buying some local green vegetables and Devgad Hapus mangoes!

  • Started at Panaji-Goa at 10:00 AM, reach Chivla at 1:30 PM
  • Lunch: Packed food for lunch from home
  • Evening Tea: Onion Pakoda and Tea MHH
  • Evening spent in around MHH on hammock enjoying the breeze and later playing at the beach
  • Dinner: Vegetarian meal at the property at the backyard of MHH. Rs. 70/- per Thali. Regular home cooked meal with Chapati, Rice,Daal, salad, Tamdi Bhaji, Solkadhi. No Sweet dish.
  • Alarm at 7:00AM. I did my Suryanamaskars on the beach when the Sun had just started shining
  • Breakfast: at MHH. Tea, Upma and Bread Omelet
  • Left for Tsunami Island at 10. [11 kms from Chivla]
  • Lunch: Returned from Tsunami Island for lunch at Chaitanya in Malwan
  • Evening: Spent at MHH on hammock and playing at the beach
  • Dinner: again at the property behind MHH. Fried prawns medium size Rs. 150/- plate with about 15 pieces
  • Alarm at 7:00AM and hit the beach for light jogging
  • Breakfast at MHH: Shira, Bread omelet and black tea
  • Left Chivla at 10:00AM
  • Visit Jai Ganesh Temple on return journey
  • Lunch at Spice Goa, Karaswada, Mapusa Goa
  • Dinner back at home
Ended the trip with a scrumptious meal at Spice Goa

Friday, 7 March 2014

SBI Motor Insurance Review : A bad experience

I faced a poor service handling experience with an Indian service provider company yet again. This time it was SBI General Insurance Company and it was related to car insurance claim.
The least we expect from these public service provider companies is to oblige to what is promised, leave alone giving a pleasing service.
As customers, we agree to all T&C and pay hefty premiums to purchase these services, obviously with expectations that when we exercise our right use them, it would be offered to us, without any hassles.
But in reality these companies make you go through a real painful process.
Wed 22/Jan:
I had to claim insurance for my newly purchased car for a minor accident with a repair cost of about 15k. I initiated the process of insurance claim and completed all the formalities. The process with SBI is that I have to call on a Toll free helpline number and register the case. They promise that within 48 hours a surveyor would be appointed who will visit the workshop.
Since, I knew that the repair is minor, I wanted the survey to happen on the same day, as I had taken a day off with all prior appointments with the workshop and insurance company. However the company would not provide me with any information about the Surveyor.  They mentioned that I would be intimated once the Surveyor is assigned and he would visit the servicing center within 48 hours.
Nothing of this sort was done!
Through my local contacts in the workshop, I managed to contact the person who usually comes in and got the survey arranged.
Next day, I contacted the Surveyor again and handed over all the required documents including the bill.
So far so good, SBI suggested the claim settlement process would take about 3 weeks.
Thu 13/Feb:
After waiting patiently for 3 weeks I finally called up the SBI Tollfree helpline to know the status on my claim.
After providing all the details of Claim, Policy, Car and verifying personal records, the CSE [Customer Service Executive] mentioned that the claim status shows – “In progress”. He could not provide any further information and advised a Service Request to be created for this purpose. The same was done and advised that I would be receiving a call within 3 working days with the details.
Tue 18/Feb:
5 days, post the last call and the 3-day assurance of callback provided by SBI, there was no response. I called them back again. Went through the pain of providing all the details. The CSE assured that the claim would be settled within this week and I would get a call-back when the final settlement is done with reasons for delay.
There was neither an update provided on my earlier SR logged nor any reasons provided for the delay.
In the meantime, I called up the surveyor just to ensure that he has submitted all the documents in time, which he confirmed was done in time.
Fri 21/Feb:
It was end of week, 3 days since last call, which was an agreed timeline assured by them, neither claim is settled nor any call from SBI.
Yet again, I called them up. Same questions asked, claim #, Name, vehicle #, date of accident, date of claim registration etc, went through same process of putting the call on hold, going back and forth with claims department.
This time too, the CSE told me that they would call me back with the status, which I refused to accept. Finally, CSE agreed to get back to me on the same day. This was at 2:00 PM.
As assured, I received a call at about 4:00 PM however only to mention that a call-back has been arranged and that someone from Claims department would call me back today itself, with status and exact reasons for the delay. J
No call-back was received! It was so frustrating that they don’t even acknowledge.
Sat 22/Feb:
The very next day, as I was preparing myself for another furious call with SBI, I received a SMS saying the claim has been processed. After having vented out all my frustrations on them, instead of giving any reasons for the delay, they probably thought its best to process my claim.
Fri 28/Feb:
After a week, the cheque was received at home address. SBI has not sent me any calculation sheet and I have no way to know, how SBI arrived at the settlement figure.
I know for sure that most insurance claim settlement cases in India are real PIA. While for motor insurance the insured is alive to fight and earn the amount back. In case of Personal Life insurance cover, not sure what pains, these companies would put the family members through!