Thursday, October 19, 2006

Justice to Imrana!

The injustice against Imrana had forced my debut in the blogger's world. It is heartwarming to find today that her father-in-law has finally been convicted today by a local court in Muzaffarnagar.

It seems as if these are the days of justice being finally meted out to Indians, who have been badly beaten and bruised by the their own judicial system. Only yesterday, Santosh Singh was convicted in 10 year old Priyadarshini Mattoo case.

Some pro-activity by media - innovative campaigns to gain a few points in TRP ratings - whatever, has certainly helped Indian public. People are getting together in supporting these causes. Youth of India has suddenly realized the role it can play in solving India's long-standing problems - call it the "Rang-De-Basanti effect", if you will!

When NDTV launched its SMS campaign in support of a retrial of Jessica Lall murder case, which generated humungous response from all over the country (resulting in 211904 responses so far!), no one expected things to snowball so much.

However, even if a few widely publicised cases do end up in justice due to media intervention, there are crores of others perishing in files and procedure. Witnesses turning hostile - up to the extent of contempt of court (as in Nitish Katara case) under pressure is common.

Of course, Indian media cannot replace (or even exceed) judicial delivery system. Even if it creates an illusion of being better in a few cases in wide public knowledge. What it does create, is a real confidence among the youth that whenver we all get our acts together, we are capable of making a difference to each of our lives.

"...capable of making a difference to each of our lives!" Nice thought to live for, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Extremely Poor service by Airtel KK / 9880826363

[An open letter to Airtel KK for the 'customer experience' I have had.]

Dear Airtel people,

It would have been great if I could start this email with "I am very happy to say that I am disconnecting my Airtel mobile connection and registering with a rival operator". Unfortunately, I have huge intertia against doing that even though the mood remains the same.

This is a case of utterly poor service by Airtel. And most probably this is the 'normal case' scenario. I ams so pissed with this that believe me I can't imagine myself in the 'worst case'.

There are three parts of the story:

1) I lost a mobile phone on 4th April 2006, Sunday. After ample number of calls, finally my incoming got activated in two working days (Tuesday). Outgoing local and outgoing STD took two more days to be done. I thought this was only the case with me and that I was unfortunate that this happened on a Sunday when most shops are closed (Can you explain why should shops be closed on a Sunday?)

2) My worst experience with Airtel was when for some strange reason, my SIM card got destroyed while I was roaming in TN circle. That was 9th, a Sat and as the organizational structure stands today, I cannot expect Airtel KK people to service me in Airtel TN (Question this: Why can't they be integrated from customer's perspective?). The next day was a Sunday. I called customer care to get address of an Airtel outlet in Indiranagar which is open on Sunday. When I reached this place (2nd Main, BDA complex), I was told that this shop remains closed ALWAYS on Sunday. Gosh!

In the evening, I found an Airtel office open on Airport road (opp Leela Palace). I went inside and the person was surprisingly polite. He noted my number, I filled a form and took a SIM card happily with an assurance of activation early next morning. Little did I know that this poor guy's computer will not work for two days. This is what I was told by the customer care. I had spent two days out of service and was getting desperate. When I called the customer care up, this guy asked me to send an email from the official ID and also wait for Airtel office to punch the number in.

Even earlier, I had found similar things. Even for a simple thing like roaming activation, a corporate customer had to forward an email from the rep at the office for some strange reason. I waited till the evening. When I called customer care, the person asked me to wait a little longer. I was already getting impatient.

The worst happened when even till Tuesday morning, the activation had not taken place. When I called CC again, they gave me the same response. On my asking why, they said this is for them to get the SIM number. Now, I had already given the SIM number to then twice before. This afternoon was the first time in years when I was so outraged that I did not know what to speak. I desperately wished this person was in front of me. Still, I asked firmly but politely to connect me to a more responsible person in the call center. It was only now that I saw real action taking place - my SIM magically got activated within next one HOUR! All I am left is with a thinking why should organizations make stuff as simple as a click so complex and process driven such that it is the customer who has to bear the burden of it.

3) Then it was the case with Airtel's FFO. With much fanfare, you had launched FFO in Dec 2005. I registered myself in Feb 2006 and patiently waited till May 2006 when the offer would have got matured. I lost count of calls I had made to Airtel in June, July and August. Everytime I reached customer care, I got an assurance to wait for a few more days. First it was late June, then early July, then late July, then mid August and finally the coveted voucher arrived on 27th Aug 2006!

To my surprise, you had ensured that the customer does not make any travel at all. Can you explain these:

a) If there was a travel to be arranged, how can you expect a person to travel to 'any one of three' destinations? It is either one particular place, or something very nearby, or nothing at all! How can you expect someone to travel just for the sake of it?

b) If even the dates are undecided, how can you expect a working person to leisurely plan according to YOUR convenience?

c) You give a notice period of just two months for the travel to be completed. In most cases, it takes more than a month's time for anyone to get his leaves sanctioned. How can you expect people to just travel at such a short notice?

All hell broke lose when I discovered that I should have got a call from InfoVision solutions or in mid Sep. Of course, if the travel has to take place in mid-Oct, one needs to know about the destination and date by end of Sep, in worst case.

When I call the customer care, I got a typed reply - "Sir, I have registered your complaint and my system tells me that you will get the response in 10 working days". Gosh! Do you know what that come to - 17th Oct. This is the date when I am supposed to take the flight!

Guys, are you aware what kind of foolishly planned scheme this has been? A result of some purely Tughlaqi idea, this scheme was withdrawn soon after it was started. The worst part is that as a responsible organization you did not feel the need to continue your support for all the existing subscribers of this scheme. For example, the service at number 2006 was withdrawn in mid-Aug without any intimations!

You know, I am ashamed now when I defend my choice of Airtel over other (cheaper) operators. The kind of service I have received in past few months has been pathetic, if not worse.

I can't explain all this myself. If I had been a responsible manager reading this email, I would have immediately called for an internal inquiry into all these questions. However, given the past record (a little glimpse of it above), I cannot expect any such thing to happen with Airtel KK.

I don't think if this email would ever reach a responsible senior officer at Airtel KK. And it is for this reason that I am also posting the same on my blog, where I can create public awareness about the level of service Airtel is offering.

I am not asking for an explanation. All this is not an anomaly in Airtel's service. This is an honest feedback that I wish to make for Airtel. It is upto them to take it or leave it.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Keeping your cool

2145 hours. 13th Sep 2006, Wed. I was speeding on the airport road. Just next to Command Hospital (CHAF) bus stop, there comes a small bent in the road. As I crossed it, I saw a man crossing the road, walking with his cycle.

I horned ferociously but he just kept crossing showing a hand to me signalling to stop. "But why isn't this guy stopping?" At that speed I could never have stopped though I started breaking immediately. Then... BANG!! I hit his cycle right in the middle. He was knocked on the road. I stopped immediately and returned to the guy. His head was bleeding profusely and he smelled of alcohol. A small crowd had gathered. I got him into a Santro and rushed to the CHAF. Traffic cops mysteriously traced us to hospital...

The rest of the story in fast forward. He got first aid, called family members, I called friends, we returned at 2330. My bike confiscated. I did not want a legal case. They were not in mood anyway. Had a small negotiation. Fixed up an amount - head injury, head scan, pain in ribs and knee, broken cycle, alleged loss of watch but was drunk. Paid them in return to written undertaking. Cops' service charge. Bike damages could scale to Rs.2500. But, of course, I am happy!

Morals of the story:
1) I could have not taken responsibility of this. But don't regret doing what I did. There is enough good will and bad will in this world. YOU have to make a choice.
2) Have a set of good friends who can stand by you 24x7.
3) Legal action could be worse than any kind of money.
4) Like everything else, there are thousands of such cases happening around the world. So, you are not an exception even if this is happening for the first time with you. Don't panic. Take control. And take thoughful, wise decisions.

(Though I don't think Indian legal system is that active but I do think I should delete this soon as some of my future opponents can potentially use it against me. So, you might be among last few people to read this.)

(I am aware that this is an abnormally small post by my standards, I assure you that my standards are not falling.)

Monday, June 19, 2006

When your family visits Bangalore

My family (parents and sister) visited Bangalore last week. I had two weekends and the weekdays in between to tour them around. Their prime objective of coming here was to relax and not to make a fast trip to all places around here. Since I had to do all this digging myself, I thought I should share this information with everyone.

Since the objective was to relax, it doesn't make any sense to make long overnight bus trips to Kodai/Munnar/(elsewhere in Kerala). In North, Ooty is a famous place. Karnataka Tourism has a value-for-money package tours for most places around Bangalore like Mysore-Ooty. The advantage of package tours is that they are hassle-free. Getting seats in them is not difficult even a day before. However, please avoid going to Ooty in Monsoon season.

Even during Monsoon, Mysore is a place worth spending a day at. The KSTDC package tour for Mysore costs Rs.560/person which includes Volvo travel and sight-seeing. The bus leaves Corporation circle at 7:00 am and returns at 11:00 in the night.

The disadvantage of taking a conducted tour is that they make you run around in order to cover all points. A taxi (non-AC Indicab) would cost almost the same as a ticket for 4 (Approx Rs.2500) and provides the flexibility to spend more time at a place you like. It also allows you to start as per your convenience. However, a Taxi cannot guarantee visit to all points and you would have to pay extra for a guide.

KSRTC has a very good full/half day conducted tour of Bangalore sight-seeing. Full-day Volvo tour is Priced Rs.220. ( This tour covers about 8 different tourist spots in Bangalore.

We, however, took a Taxi for Bangalore sight-seeing. To be frank, there are not too many places of tourist interest (to me, personally - and to most bachelors like me, I suppose) in Bangalore. Typical package of a taxi costs Rs.800/- (non-AC Indicab) for a 8 hour/80 KM trip around Bangalore. Within this you can cover four-five points within Bangalore. Places like ISKCON Temple, Lalbagh, Vidhan Soudha and Viswesaraiya Technology Museum are worth visiting.

I was surprised to know that the markets at Commercial Street and Chikpet are larger and crowdier than MG/Brigade road! These places are heaven for all the ladies. Mysore Saree Udyog on Commercial Street (Sunday closed) is a good place to get your mom buy sarees :)

Another place of interest when someone comes down south it Tirupati Balaji. KSTDC/APTDC/ITDC/Southern Travels (and more private operators) have conducted tours for the pilgrimage. The charges vary from Rs.1175 to 1275 per person. This covers Volvo travel, accommodation, local transport and special ticket (AAD Darshan). The tour starts first day evening and returns next day evening. However, this is available only on a weekday (Departure - Sunday to Thursday). You get to have darshan within 2 hours of standing in queue. Thereafter they take you to the Padmavati temple and return.

Another package of Rs.800 per person is offered by many Private operators would cover non-AC travel with a normal (Rs.50) entry. This might take upto two days before you have the darshan. I was told that most private operators would not guarantee a darshan within an expected time limit. So, it would be advisable to go for ITDC/KSTDC/APTDC tours. However, getting a ticket in these can be tough. Ensure that you get your bookings done 10 days in advance as they only have limited seats.

These were the places we visited. If you can put together a gang of more than two, do make a trip to Wonder La. It is a memorable experience for everyone. Bannerghatta National Park and Meenakshi temple near it are good too. Besides these, KSTDC's Hogenkal/Nandi Hills/Jog Falls tours can be tried.

Here are some relevant contacts:

  • KSTDC: 22275883, 22352901-3, 22212098, 22222400 (Website not updated)
  • ITDC: 22383361-2 (Hotel Grand Ashok)
  • Brindaban Travels (Agent for KSTDC/ITDC) 25584529, 41123184 (Brindaban Towers, MG Road)
  • KSRTC:
  • Southern Travels: 22262633, 22267040
  • Taxi: Contact your neighborhood travel agent for this. The rate (Rs.800) is standard throughout and there is NO extra driver-batta.

[All the views expressed in this post are personal and I am getting NO benefits from any of the above mentioned operators :)]

Monday, January 23, 2006


Have you ever felt that you are living in a solitary confinement of sorts? Have you ever felt completely unrelated to the world and everything in it? Have you ever felt that everything around you is running just because it is supposed to - much like a program with billions of entities in parallel? Do you believe that we all live in a 'matrix'?

What we enjoy as freedom, is nothing but a greater - pervasive - confinement. We eat the same food everyday. We see the same things everyday. We meet the same people everyday. Occasionally get ourselves sanitized. But continue to live in it. Most of the times content and sometimes, happy.

Often we take so many things around us as 'ours' – our locality, our city, our nation, our world – our thoughts, our ambitions and our dreams. Step back and think "What would have been different if you were to be replaced by someone else?" Or "What difference would it have made to anyone in a locality next to yours when you die?" The answer is a cold - Nothing! Surprised? Welcome to the real world.

Where do you fit in the grand scheme of things? Try to move in a corner of your room. But try to keep your body at this very place, in this very state. And look towards yourself from that distance. Spotlights on, environment dull and everything else silent. Visualize how familiar does this look to you. Aren’t you just another guy in another setting?

Now step further back. Try to look from outside your immediate locality. It becomes difficult to identify yourself here. There are thousands of people working just like you. Each of them has a dream. A set of handicaps. And a set of commitments. How different are you from any one of these?

Now take a step further backwards. You see a blue ball called Earth in your hands. Peep in. It is difficult to even pinpoint the city you live in. Leave alone your house, car, neighborhood, locality or your friends'. And it is so quiet out there. So captivatingly beautiful homogeneity. And we all pride ourselves on being unique!

The truth is that we are mere programs running on huge parallel processors. Each entity has a few specific properties from a fixed set. Each one is aware of its existence. And is happy and possessive about it.

In this perspective, all your pains and complaints, your joys and desires seem gibberish. And you experience an eternal peace of mind. The question now is “Why do I perceive things the way I do? Why this cloak of uniqueness?”

Just like in any computer program, everything that happens around you is due to a reason. You have parents because you have to come into this world someday someway. You have relatives for the same reason. You have friends because you need their company and help. The same is true for everyone around you. Everyone lives in this small world of theirs. And outside this world no one cares about them. Just like nobody cares about me outside my world.

But if I am so insignificant, why is it that my body was designed with so much perfection? Where does my existence fit in this grand scheme of things? Honestly, I don’t know about mine. But so doesn’t anyone else. Some try soothsayers. Some go to spiritual gurus. But no one can conclusively say "Ki MAIN zinda kyun hoon (Why am I alive)?" The answer perhaps lies inside one’s self.

We always fail to realize the power of concerted thought – the power of dreams. When you know your aim in life, your every moment is spent planning and laboring towards that end. And when you are about to rendezvous with your destiny, everything just falls into place. More often than not, you get more than you ever dreamt about. What is takes is to make his sense of being – as ‘The Alchemist’ says – WANT it more than anything else in this world.

I know I am insignificant in this world. Each one of us is. Within months after we die, memories about us will start fading. Even in minds of our closest buddies. This makes me feel so lonely that I feel unrelated to everything around me. To that beautiful lady that just went past me and to the big buildings and trees I see along the road. I look towards everything with awestruck amazement. What is even more incredible is that though you may not find all reasons, but one thing leads to another just as in a sequential clock-work.

I don’t think I will be able to carry this state farther. Perhaps, I am not strong enough to live through the challenges that living in this state might pose. But I would like this blog entry to serve the purpose of a time-capsule. If ever I would return to my normal state, this will serve as a reminder of how, for one moment, things seemed so crystal clear – so blatant. The moment of enlightenment!

[These thoughts pervaded through my mind while I was watching the movie ‘Zinda’ at a city multiplex. The protagonist was put in a solitary confinement for 14 years by the villain, for a small childhood gag which snowballed into an innocent girl’s suicide. The girl happened to be villain’s elder sister. The protagonist then prepared himself for the fateful meeting with the unknown villain every moment of those 14 years, eventually killing him battling all odds.]

(Zinda)*=Alive (Hindi)