Sunday, March 07, 2010

a relationship story

Ah, well. Here is a story about much cliched, ever preached, and never practiced term - customer service.
I relocated to Hyderabad a month ago, from Bangalore. I had an Airtel postpaid mobile in Bangalore, and was quite happy with it. So, when I was preparing to shift, I thought I would continue with Airtel in Hyderabad as well. So, like a loyal customer that I was supposed to be, I called up Airtel customer care (another cliched term, who cares anyway?) and was soon talking to Anjali. I told Anjali the whole story and she listened to me as if she is my best friend. I wanted to know if they have any process where a customer gets transferred from a state to another, with least amount of effort required from the customer. Anjali thought for few seconds and then politely told me that they don't have anything like that, and that I will have to get a new connection in Hyderabad like anyone else. She, in other words, told me that me being loyal to Airtel for 4.5 yrs didn't at all matter and didn't gain me any mileage with them. Fair enough, I said, and dropped the call.
Cut to Hyderabad. Picture a train reaching a station, and the screen filled with 'Hyderabad Railway Station' board. Sorry, I am poor, and I work for a poor company, so you can't afford to picture a flight taking off and landing. Let's call it the austerity drive, sounds much elite that way. Well, let's get back to our story. I held on to my Airtel mobile connection, as if it was my last piece of memento from Bangalore, I loved Bangalore, after all. In the meantime, I also felt quite generous towards this Mittal guy and donated some extra bucks to him. Roaming charges, you might want to call it, if you are tech-savvy.
Finally when I got the address proof letter, that precious piece of paper which stated that I am not homeless in Hyderabad, I went to Airtel *Relationship Center*. Because you know, they don't give mobile connections to the homeless. You rather be a terrorist than being a homeless, because somehow terrorists always get mobile connections. Let's get back to the *Relationship Center*. I was greeted warmly by Imran there, he sure had a nice smile. I repeated the whole story that I had told few days back to Anjali. He too thought for few seconds and gave the same answer that Anjali had given me. He told that I can raise a request for canceling my Airtel Bangalore connection and get a new postpaid connection. I told him about my plans of getting a broadband connection. He took down my phone number and promised to put me across to their executive.
Murali called me the next day, Imran hadn't forgotten to pass on my number to their executive, Murali. He said he was the broadband guy, and was rearing to cater to my broadband needs. I was much happy, things are rolling on, I thought. Murali asked me where I lived, and I told him. He thought for few seconds, and told me in sad tone that they didn't have *feasibility* to provide broadband connection in my area. That made it sound like I am living in the dirtiest slum in Hyderabad, though Murali was kind enough to try and reduce the effect to minimum. I also appreciated the usage of word feasibility; that was corporate stuff, and you got to agree with those who use jargon.
I was back to ground zero, without mobile connection and broadband, left just with an address proof letter. I had to do something about it, now that I had stopped feeling generous towards that Mittal guy. After few clicks on the computer and few steps out in the Hills, I was standing in front of a Tata Indicom store. I held on to my address proof letter, and got in. Soon, I found myself sitting across Fareed. He was more scared than I was, not of me, but of his boss and of his deadly deadlines. He was nice to me, and within minutes I was carrying speed! Photon+ was the solution to my broadband problem. Sensing a bigger prey, Fareed asked me if I needed a mobile connection too. That was the test of my Airtel loyalty. To reel me in, Fareed shoved a piece of paper in my hand, I had one glance on it and I knew it was time to call it quits with my long-time friend, that Mittal guy. This Tata guy was asking less of my money to give me a mobile connection than the Mittal guy ever asked, Tata Indicom tariff plans were awesome! Fareed was kind enough to come to my house the next day and give me the postpaid connection. Not that he was great at serving his customers; he was bothered about his target achievements, and didn't want to let me go at any cost.
I went straight to Airtel *Relationship* Center after Fareed left, and raised a cancellation request. Imran flashed the same warm smile, and saved embarrassment to both of us by not asking why I wasn't taking a new connection with them.
There I was, with a Tata Indicom phone in my hand and speed in my computer. Happy ending? Not yet. Poornima called me the next morning. She introduced herself as Relationship Executive from Airtel. I was about to say that I didn't need any relationship advice, but she didn't give me any chance to speak. She demanded to know why I cancelled my Airtel connection. I told her that I relocated from Bangalore and wasn't rich as Mittal to keep a roaming connection forever. She said she is offering me a 'relocation package' where I get to keep last 5 digits of my Airtel Bangalore number and only first 5 digits would change, and she could send an executive right away to give me the connection. Just imagine, a relocation package, man!! She also told me that I was their valued customer and they didn't want to lose me. Just the stuff I wanted to hear. Sad it was that I wasn't destined to be loyal Airtel customer any longer, and sad it was that Poornima was just a bit late. I just laughed a sad laugh and said bye to Poornima.
So sad was I that I had to disappoint Poornima, I kept thinking about the whole thing for quite sometime. I was just thinking, why Anjali and Imran didn't know about this relocation package and only Poornima knew about it? Either it is their top secret or only Poornima works sincerely for Airtel. Funny it is, how the retention process starts only after the customer puts up a cancellation request. It is commonsense that a normal sane human being can't live without a mobile phone and they would get another connection before canceling an existing connection. Why don't they - Poornima and Anjali and Imran and Mittal - think about it? Isn't this a flaw in the process? Why can't they equip their Anjalis and Imrans with the knowledge of all the packages they have?
All said and done, I don't think Mittal will miss me much.
ps: Some names have been changed. No, not for protecting their privacy, I am not that nice to them. Just that I have bad memory.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Photographing people has been a fairly recent thing. I am trying my hands at it, and liking it too. Here are few clicks.

If I were to caption this picture, I'd call it 'thinking woman'. I like the intensity in the girl's face. I feel the picture portrays strength, courage, and intellect. I wish I could avoid the noise in the background and the foreground.

I like the curious eyes, and the messy hair. But for my disappointment, the mother of the kid found out soon that I was clicking pictures of her daughter, and promptly dressed up the kid, burying all the charm under talcum powder and neat hair.

Yes, the guy is a looker. He's the only one who manages to look cute and handsome at the same time.

I like the dreamy eyes, specially when I know that this girl, daughter of Srilankan refugee parents, dreams of becoming a doctor. Hope her dreams come true.

This is when I learnt to take black-n-white pictures in my camera. Nemo is a real sweet kid.

ps: all these pictures are taken from real far and none of the subjects were aware that they were being clicked.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

.. poem lovely as a tree

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

These are the opening lines of famous poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer. Looks like my camera has a taken a leaf out of Kilmer's book; it loves trees these days.

This one has been my fav picture for past few months; I like the silhouette effect.

I think that I shall never see
a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.

- Ogden Nash

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.
- Willa Cather

Actually I was trying to capture flowers this spring. But some bare trees got my attention; they were not conforming to the season at all.. they looked so good though.

Kilmer's right, only God can make trees.

As the poet said, 'Only God can make a tree' -- probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.
-Woody Allen

* * * *
While you are at it, check out Trees for Free.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

moments with a good friend

And the good friend is my camera. I am spending a lot more time with my cam these days, and enjoying it. I don't know if I am getting better at photography, but who cares! One of my dear friends keeps telling me that I am very good at it, and I am not bribing her to say so.

Here are few pictures that I have clicked recently. I like coming up with captions for my pictures.

Rays of hope

Looking back before looking ahead

The sky is the limit

I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Innocence sparkles too!

Studious sage


Melancholic monk

This is my attempt to get back to blogging. Hopefully, I will succeed.

Monday, February 04, 2008

random notes of a morning

# A very bad and scary dream wakes me up early.
# RJ Vasanthi Hariprakash isn't doing morning show anymore.
# Trees chopped at CMH road for Metro work. A sad sight.

Take heart, shri.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

the kite runner

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is the most heart-wrenching, appealing tale I have read in recent times.

It has mixed emotions in it, in every sense. It has the innocence of childhood, real sorrows of the world, there are relationships, a lots of them, strong ones and weak ones.

I liked the vivid imagery it pictures about the happy-life at Kabul pre-Taliban. I could get the picture more clearly as I have lived in Iran, and those Persian phrases which pop-up in the book were familiar because of the Persian I had learnt back in Iran.

This book has some amazing twists in the story. And they are handled wonderfully well. It also has strong characterizations, even the smallest of character is shaped well, they sure are going to live in your head for long time even after you put down the book.

Well, it's a sad book. Because world isn't fair to all people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

toastmasters speech - 4

I did my fourth speech at Toastmasters club last Sunday. Speech objectives and guidelines for this speech is titled 'working with words', which means the speech should use good, simple, easy-to-follow language; it should also use literary devices like similes, metaphors, alliterations, and dyads and triads.

Keeping all this in mind, writing this speech is quite tough, specially for me as I am a technical writer; I am always expected to write in simple language and avoid flowery words.

So, I came up with this over-the-top and exaggerated type of subject for this speech, which gave me scope to achieve the speech objectives. In my speech I tell my audience how I fail to come up with a speech.

* * * *

1, 2, 3... Full stop!

It was a nightmarish nightmare. It was like desiring to see John Abraham in your dreams and dreadingly getting Shakti Kapoor instead. It was like finding a desert all of a sudden amidst western ghat's evergreen rain forests. It was like getting to know that there won’t be masala dosas served in Bangalore’s darshini outlets anymore.

I was dejected, disgusted, and devastated. I had fallen short and failed, no matter how fervently I tried. The news gave me bigger shock than the one Rahul Dravid would’ve got when he got to know that he was dropped from the one-day series against Pakistan! No matter how hard I tried to hide the fact, it kept popping up in my mind… just like Amitabh Bachchan’s ads pop-up in every other TV channel no matter how hard and quick you press buttons of your remote control.

Toastmasters, the fact is... I am... a 3-speech toastmaster. I couldn't come up with one more speech! I just couldn't write a speech no matter how hard I tried! It looked like I could anything else... I could look as good as Deepika Padukone; I could make more news than Rakhi Sawant; I could even grow taller than Husna Ayesha[1], but... I couldn’t come up with one more speech! I was, I am, and I will be a 3-speech toastmaster! I could even bear a 21-day fast, but not this tormenting truth!

It was tough to take terms with the truth! All the fun and frolic in my life faded away. The otherwise-evergreen factors in my life - enjoyment, excitement, entertainment – their existence evaporated. Whenever I went, whatever I did... this fact that I'm a 3-speech toastmaster hit me on my face all the time, like Himesh Reshammiya's voice. I started feeling more miserable than 'Sanjay Saawariya Bhansali'! I no longer could enjoy pan-fried noodles at mainland china – the tempting tasty thing I love more than my life.

Even coffee didn't give any kick! My days were as miserable as days in office when the vending machine was out-of-order! Roar of a tiger I heard at midnight during a trek didn’t interest me either, it only indicated that even an animal could get more vocal than me. In the menu cards of restaurants I kept searching for words to use in my speech. Even a movie at gloriously grand gold class didn’t bring down my grimace.

Well, you might want to know what I did to overcome this problem. Ask me what not I did! At times I took a crystal clean white sheet, wrote the title of my speech on top... underlined it, made a flowery box around it, overwrote it using another color pen... and I wrote the lyrics of ‘dard-e-disco’ underneath!

Some times I would come up with a great opening, write it enthusiastically... but then my mind would go as blank as Rani Mukerji's world in the movie Black. It felt like Sehwag, hitting fours and sixes in the first over, and then getting out cheaply at gully in the second!

Someone once told me ‘you can get a speech topic everywhere, even in a casual conversation with your friends’. So, I started watching for words when my friends spoke to me. Soon my friends started avoiding me; they said I was worse than an irritating LIC agent!

I searched for ideas in every nook and corner of my world. I started looking for one-liners and anecdotes in the hoardings instead of enjoying a Milind Soman or a Kunal Kapoor picture! I suspected my own sanity when I realized that I was looking for vocabulary even in a Shahrukh Khan interview in TV! Newspapers, magazines, movies, and even Ekta Kapoor serials... I desperately searched everywhere for inspiration... in vain!

Friends, I have to live rest of my life with this fact that I'm a 3-speech toastmaster, just like Salman Khan and Vivek Oberoi live with an Aishwarya Rai... sorry, Bachchan dump. They say ‘failure is the stepping stone for success’. But for me, this failure is like an elevator stuck midway while I’m in it. I can only take heart to say that this horrendous truth is a humbling experience. On the face of this earth, I am going to remain a 3-speech toastmaster.

* * * *
[1] Husna Ayesha is a tall girl among the audience.

* * * *

Speech was very well received. People appreciated the references and examples I used from the world of cinema, cricket, and food.

My mentor had warned me that this speech doesn't have a 'message' or a 'take-home value', but I argued with him saying I want the speech to be fully entertaining, not preachy at all. My friend Smitha rightly points out that 'message of this speech is that every speech need not have a message'. And I so agree with her :)

Monday, November 26, 2007


ScienceWoman has promised that she will send a gift for me. I'm pretty fascinated about this; with the idea that someone I haven't even met is going to send a gift for me all the way from the US.

You can get a gift too. here's is how:

Within 3 months, I will send a tangible, physical gift to each of the first five people to comment here. The catch? Each person must make the same offer on her/his blog.
I feel this is very interesting chain. Hope you find it interesting too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

greenish encounter

I am lazy to write another trekologue, but here are few pictures from my weekend trek at BR Hills.

This one is my favorite, the lonely tree.

Dew drops on web..

This is where we stayed.

Shot this from behind the window mesh of the house, i feel it's a cool picture.

* * * *
BR Hills is in the border of Karnataka-Tamilnadu, in Chamarajanagar district. This was Veerappan's core area when he was alive, so this particular trekking route is now called 'Veerappan trail' or 'mystery trail'. This forest has diverse wildlife. This region is famous for Soliga tribes, natives of BR Hills area, and Dr. Sudarshan, who worked for the welfare of Soliga tribes.