Thursday, January 20, 2011

Know Your Customer

So the mutual fund guys, after taking all my money over the last few years, suddenly want to know who I am, and whether I exist. Every day, I get these ominous email reminders from my accountant and the mutual fund people that I have to ‘comply’ with a KYC (Know Your Customer) verification process, else my transaction will suffer the risk of being rejected.

The email said:

“We wish to bring it to your kind attention that effective 01st January' 2011, Know Your Customer (KYC) is mandatory for all investors who wish to invest in mutual fund.

KYC stands for "Know your Customer", a term commonly used for Customer Identification Process.

All investors in mutual fund schemes are mandatorily required to complete the KYC process as per the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 ("PMLA"). This one-time verification is valid for transactions across all mutual funds. In order to avoid any transaction rejection due to Non-Compliance of KYC, we request you to kindly update your KYC at the earliest.....blah blah blah..."

This was followed by two pages of documents required.

Nice. You didn’t have to know me when you took my money, did you? And now that you have all of it sitting nicely, you want to know me better.

So I have to prove that I was born, that I exist, that I have a valid address, that I have a bank account, a passport, a PAN card, that I have enough money (acquired by legal means) to invest in your company, that I pay my bills, that I will continue to do so forever and ever.

It’s easy for me. All I have to do is rummage through my files, and produce the necessary documents, get them attested, and there! My investments are safe. After two days of tearing my hair out, that is.

So this has been a month of paperwork. Not. Very. Nice. The poor husband is on another formidable journey. That of getting his passport renewed. He was shocked to realise that as per the mandates of the passport authority, he doesn’t even exist, forget being eligible to apply for a new passport. First, he has no document to prove that he lives in Bombay. Our lease agreement just makes us poorer every month, but does not hold water in any court of law, we were told. His old passport has a Delhi address. He doesn’t own property in Bombay. Bank statements, utility bills, credit card bills are no good, we were told. He doesn’t have a birth certificate or a school leaving certificate. Dubious, I thought, but it is too late. I have already married him

The only proof that he exists is me. Me who has a valid ration card and a permanent address in Bombay. Me who is on paper (and otherwise) married to him. Me who was proactive enough to get our marriage registered so that his highness would have some proof of existence. Me who was also proactive enough to apply for an MTNL connection which, in case you didn’t know, is proof of residence that far surpasses your bank statement, your lease agreement, your various wallet-ripping bills. So he exists because I do, I gently reminded him. He quickly agreed that I was his best investment.

So off he goes into the big, bad world, armed with a marriage certificate, ready to renew his passport. At least in this case, the famous Hindi dialogue should read as, “Mere paas biwi hai!”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


The husband and I live our life vicariously through Tata Sky Plus. Now, this is not a plug and I am not a brand ambassador and no one is paying me to write this, but metaphorically, it comes closest to describing our different temperaments.

I like live pause. He likes record. His philosophy is, when in doubt, record. When not in doubt, record. Even in real time, record, because what if something happens? Dammit, just record everything that allows you to record.

He doesn’t know what real time is anymore. Not that he ever did, but since he is a hoarder, he is in a phase of hoarding real time programming. Our hard disk is full of Tonight Shows, Burn Notices, CSIs, Policewomen of Broward County and Hotel Babylons he will never watch. Just as his shelves are full of clothes he will never wear, games he will never play, music he will never listen to, books he will never read.

I on the other hand, am about here and now. I make real time wait for me. I have no patience for collectables. So Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherji can wait, while I heap up my plate with more dill, tomato and lettuce salad. And Karan Johar can stay frozen forever, for all I care. All I know is, when I come back (usually from the kitchen, or warding off a pest at the door), everything will be as is. It is truly empowering.

The more gentle and politically correct husband takes the less harsh way out, and goes into his bank. Now, I hate the fact that I am watching leftovers; it makes me feel marginalised. It’s like watching a movie that you missed on screen on satellite television with all the moronic ads. Yes, you can fast forward the ads, but who has the time? When I was in advertising, I made it clear that TV ads were not my scene, and there was no point telling a story in 30 seconds when I could write 300 words. I guess I was prophetic, because who in their right mind spends crores on ads that can be fast-forwarded?  And no, it's not the same as turning the page.

I am now raising the bar. Earlier, all I did was to pause live television. Now I am cheeky and disrespectful enough to rewind. So if I am late, and Frasier has started without me, back he goes to the start of the program. Aha. That feels good. I am in control. At least of the inanimate objects in my house. It perhaps is some respite, especially in times when my cat is stealing my quilt, and I am left quivering in the middle of the night.

A friend of mine recently forwarded me a quote, which seems to fit in nicely here:

"Life would be perfect if: Some girls had mute buttons, some guys had edit buttons; hard times had fast forward buttons and good times had pause buttons."

I don’t know about good times and hard times, but yes, there are some men I’d like to fast-forward and some I’d like to mute.

Which brings me to: If there are campaigns for ‘no television’ day and ‘no honking’ day and ‘no auto’ day, how about a ‘no talking’ day? Imagine a day when you wouldn’t have to talk to anyone? And no one would talk to you? Or is it that we have to go all the way to Igatpuri to do that?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Reunion is a biaatch

Okay, sorry for that gap. I just figured people might still be recovering from new year excesses, resolutions made and broken or on the verge of being made (technically, you can do it till the end of the month).

Well, yes, I could have written about my quiet new year’s eve, the idiocies of last year, my Christmas tree (which still looms large, despite the cat eating a part of it), my birthday (which doesn’t fall in December) or my trip to Goa. Really now! How much reality TV can one do? Even if you are a loyal reader, do you really care?

But that’s not it. My silence had to do with my resolution to be Zen about life. That is, to not treat everyone as a moron unless proven otherwise. Which means to assume everyone is super intelligent and super cool unless proven otherwise. And to say nice things whenever I can, and hold back on the not-so-nice.

Suddenly nothing Chickwitty was happening, as I pledged not to view the world with those eyes. This was self-defeating, I figured. I was better off being mean and judgemental. I missed my fangs.

It took a reunion invite to change it all in just seven days.

I know I have talked about this before, but you are always in touch with people you really want to be in touch with. Even if you meet them once every few years. The rest of them get weeded out from your life by desire or circumstance anyway. Unless it’s family where you can laugh at your genetic connectedness to absolute imbeciles and their offspring, I don’t find reunions very cool. In fact they are the opposite of cool. It’s like everyone is trying to be what they were 10-15-20 years ago, and thinking it’s cool. I also abhor people who say, “Oh, you haven’t changed one bit.” Of course I have, you twit. I don’t have to be nice to you anymore.

So the said reunion was a “50 years of.... (place I worked at)” thing. It reminded me of a phase of my career I wanted to erase (including the people who featured in it). Given a chance, all I’d like to do at such reunions is rearrange a few faces. Now that I no longer work for them or with them, I am free to do anything, am I not? Then I figured, some of them would have been botoxed and rearranged anyway, so why go through the bother?

I quickly realised such thoughts and desires would tamper with my resolved Zen-ness. I declined.

But there are some reunions I really dig. Those with old girlfriends. There is something about a biaatch from yore. I met a dear one last week, and it was as though everything else in our life had been obliterated for those few hours and we were back to what we were 15 years ago. It was therapeutic as we tore people we mutually hated to shreds (all over again), gloated over our coolness, took stock of our vanities, drank ourselves silly, whined about all the men we didn’t introduce each other to, completely ignored our status change (she: married for ten years, me: married with child) and pitied all those who didn’t get us.

Evidently, Zen went out the window.