Friday, May 22, 2009


So you know how nowadays many weddings offer free on-site mehendi drawing to guests in one of the many the pre-wedding functions. Last year, I spotted one such mehendi artist at my cousin's wedding and promptly went and showed my hand. I got a minimalistic but cute design done across the back of my palm. I was hardly done crowing over its prettiness when a friend promptly managed to smudge it. Giving him a glare which could have melted the Himalayas, I got it corrected by the mehendi artist. Then the clarion call sounded for dinner.

Of course nothing stands between Archana and her food and I was well at the front of the line for the sumptuous buffet spread. I was making my way through getting servings of the yummy dishes, safeguarding my mehendi decorated hand, when a young guy appeared out of nowhere and rudely pushed his way in ahead of me without so much as a muttered 'Excuse me'.

I was startled and annoyed but there was nothing I could do and I proceeded down the line after him. A bit later, when I glanced at my hand to re-admire the mehendi design, I got a shock when I realized that pretty much all of it had been rubbed away. Darn - that rude person had spoilt my mehendi - grrrrr!

I was ready to get all upset and direct my angry gaze upon rude guy when I spotted him and realized that most of the mehendi on my hand had transferred itself to the sleeve of his shirt. Which, till a few minutes earlier, had been a nice milky white.

FOr a moment I was filled with guilt but glee took over almost immediately. Retribution - ha! Since I spread word to my cousins I had plenty of spies to report exactly when rude guy realized that his shirt sleeve now had new designer patterns on it and was also able to note his expression. That would teach you to not cut lines, dude!

It is so true, that old jungle saying: "Never mess with the mehendi on a woman's hands or you will be sorry."

Image courtesy here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fact for the day - 2

Celery eaten as Cream of Celery soup with (important!) a side of toasted sourdough bread is actually quite palatable. Even though each serving has quite a generous quantity of celery in it. I still am not a celery fan though and will think twice before stocking up my fridge with celery again.

Soup made by yours truly. Not so the bread.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A happy ending

Have you heard this saying which goes, only the child which cries gets milk meaning that unless you make a fuss, you are most probably not going to get noticed?

Well, I learnt that for myself today. Two days after I wrote my mighty annoyed post about the misleading cancellation policy at 24-hour fitness, I found a message on my answering machine from a Jennifer at 24-hour fitness who wanted to discuss my troubles with the cancellation policy. With a slight dawning of hope, I tried calling her the next day, but got her voice mail repeatedly.

This morning, I tried her number yet again and voila, she answered. As soon as I said my name, she recognized me immediately and even before I could say anything, she said that they would not be charging me for the month of May because I felt so strongly about it (duh, I bet other people who were forced to pay up in a similar way would have felt quite so strongly about it too). And since the last month was paid for, I could continue to use the gym till June. In other words, everything would work out exactly how I wanted it to in the first place!!

I reiterated to her that the gym employees had given me misleading information about the cancellation policy and Jennifer said that it was "mis-communication" and in any case I would not be charged for May. Hip hip hooray!

I don't know whether this one-eighty degree change in attitude happened due to their pity for my whining or because they thought I was going to take some action against them. In any case, I am pretty sure I *would* have been charged had I not expressed my "strong" indignation.

Ya, so the child which cries does not get to pay useless fees too.

Also, people who want to become members at 24-hour fitness can now do so if you promise me to whine nice and strong if you see any sign of ripping off :-).

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A too green thumb

A couple of weeks back, the green bug bit me yet again and I went and bought a whole bunch of plants for my patio garden. Among my planting ambitions was growing coriander from seeds. According to the directions on the packet in which the seeds came, the seedlings would sprout within two weeks. So I planted the seeds in a pot along with planting the other plants (tomato, capsicum, Thai chilli, egg plant and two flowering plants - california poppy and geraniums - ambitious, ambitious, I know!).

Me being a very protective and caring plant "mother", I began every morning by watering my plants assiduously. However, after more than one and a half weeks, there was absolutely no sign of any activity in the coriander pot though the other plants seemed to be doing okay - touch wood.

Then one day last week I was discussing with a colleague at work about plants and she mentioned that it was watering day for her plants. Huh - watering day? Isn't *every* day watering day? And she said, "Oh no, though I drench the soil completely when I water my plants, I water them once a week only". I doubtfully asked her if her plants did not wilt and die due to this neglect. She replied that they were doing fine and in fact an avid gardener friend of hers had told her that once a week was plenty enough water unless it was very hot weather.

Hmm. Hardening my heart, I decided to neglect my "babies" and decided to keep the watering jug away the next morning. The next evening, my skeptical self was surprised to find that the all the plants looked fine in spite of not getting any water in the morning.

The day after that that, I once again skipped the watering. Later that day, late noon, I stepped into my patio to see how my plants were doing. Surprise, surprise, not one, not two but six seedlings had popped out of the coriander pot!
O boy, I had been drowning the poor seeds all the previous days and no wonder they could not put their heads up! What's more, my tomato plant had grown two more new branches, all the other plants had put forth lots of new leaves too.

Meanwhile I had consulted the Google God. Yup, more people kill their plants by anbu thollai* a.k.a over watering than by under-watering! And there was no need to water plants as long as the top one inch of soil had moisture in it.


Oh well, you live and you learn. Here's to hoping my darling plants will not be the guinea pigs for too many experiments!

*anbu thollai roughly translates to trouble brought on by too much love.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The shameless fraudsters a.k.a 24 Hour Fitness

A couple of months ago, I was forced to join a gym in spite of not liking gyms much because one of the classes at my beloved community recreation center got canceled and I could not find a suitable replacement for it.

In spite of some initial disputes with them(never ignore warning signs), I wound up signing a month-to-month contract at 24 Hour Fitness as it is conveniently located. Now, being the ever vigilant exerciser, I had read plenty of reviews online for 24 hour Fitness. Almost all of them sounded upset about 24 hour Fitness's cancellation policy. Apparently you would invariable be charged for one extra month after cancellation.

I decided to be extra careful and asked about the cancellation policy during sign up and was told that it would be no problem at all, I would simply have to cancel before my credit card got charged and I would have terminated the membership from then on. That sounded reasonable.

While signing up, I was charged the last month's fee too along with the first month's. I made a reminder for myself to call up to cancel my membership in May first week since I did not want to go to the gym from June and since the last month was already paid for, I would not have to pay for May. So far so good.

So today I called up the 24 Hour Fitness people and the operator there coolly informed me that I would be charged for one more month and since I had already paid for the last month, my membership would be active till July! I explained that since I had already paid the last month's dues, there was no reason to charge me for the month of May - they could use for my last month's paid fees for the month of May.

Then this idiot tells me "Oh, we have a 30 day cancellation policy". Well, if that was the case, I did want to cancel in June only but was giving him a 30 day advance notice by informing him in May! But apparently the prepaid last month's dues were some kind of Gandhi-kanakku* which was in some limbo-world where it could not be included as fees for the 30 day notice period.

I asked him why and he said that the payment request would have already been sent to my credit card company though the billing date is 8 days from now. I found this explanation ridiculous as any idiot knows that credit company's will *very* easily stop payment requests even two days before the due date.

So I asked him if it is was okay that I called up my credit card company to stop the payment if they found it so difficult to do it themselves. He said okay. Now this sounded too easy but since I did not have an option, I just got a cancellation confirmation number and hung up.

Then I called up my credit card company and they tell me that they cannot stop a payment request unless it comes from the requester, in this case, 24 Hour Fitness, itself - however I could dispute the charge once it was processed. Okaaaaaaaaaaay.

Since I wasn't sure what would happen in case of a disputed charge, I did a quick google search for other user cancellation experiences with 24-hour Fitness and was stunned by the number of complaint stories which showed up. The crux of the matter was 24 hour Fitness is well known for ripping off cancelling customers and has also been involved in a resultant class action suit which resulted in settlement with the plaintiffs.

Quite a few people had faced the exact same scenario that I have. And here is the rub, if users disputed the charge, in some case, 24 Hour Fitness came after them with collection agencies!!!! WTH!! Obviously, I don't want that to happen and now I am being initmidated into ponying up for a service I am not going to use. Aarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

I am so irritated right now. Their cancellation policy is extortionist in the first place - fine! At least, shouldn't they take the time to explain it to new members especially when they specifically ask for it? Or is this the way that 24 Hour Fitness makes money - by duping people? What kind of horrible corporate ethical business practice standards do they have?

I know one thing for sure, from June, I am never going to go back there again. I am also going to actively persuade people I know to consider other gymming options before they choose this big fraud dump.

Now I am seriously worried since there were quite a few people on the web who had stories where 24 Hour Fitness continued to charge them for months after they had cancelled their membership and had collection agencies come after them when they refused to pay it! I really hope I am not one of them and my relationship with this fraud-house ends permanently in June. Good riddance.

*Gandhi kanakku literally translates to Gandhi's account. Essentially it is equivalent to throwing money down a drain.