‘Kashtam’er Care

Have you ever had one of  those ‘unforgettable’ Customer Care experiences?



I had the privilege of being subjected to many such ‘pleasant’ ones as a customer.  It wouldn’t be unfair to have them nominated for some category of  “Customer Care Experience” awards.

The lost ‘tip’: My friend and I, after a long tiring day of shopping, walked up to this restaurant. The doorkeeper immediately rushed up to the door and slammed it shut in our face. It was his ‘polite’ way of indicating that the restaurant closes at 10 PM. It was few minutes past the closing time. And yes we weren’t royally robed. But at least looking at shopping bags with logos of various brands splashed across it, though it was from Mega Mart, he should have let us in. We just might have tipped him generously, say 2 bucks. Or even 5, maybe.

Pesky customer: 2 hours of valiant efforts (restarting the phone, re-inserting the SIM card) didn’t help with GPRS connectivity issue. As a last resort I called the customer care, rather reluctantly. The representative apparently had better things to do and suggested impatiently the restart/re-insert SIM card routine. The ego beating that the tech support alter ego of mine took withstanding, I gently insisted it was already ‘tried’. He hastily replied that I should try again after waiting for some more time and disconnected. OK! Sorry for being a pesky customer who interrupted whatever you were busy with officer.

All is well: A special (Mom and Dad’s anniversary) day was made even more memorable by this restaurant. Having forgotten the reservation we made, they forced our group of 8 in a table that would barely fit 5. Then they took more than an hour to serve the starters, most of what was ordered were unavailable. Icing on the cake was Chicken being served instead of Panner. My mom, a steadfast vegetarian, smelt it fishy (Chicken in this case). After gobbling up two pieces to reaffirm this, I pointed it out to the waiter. He took a bite himself and nonchalantly said “All is well. It’s just panner overcooked tasting like chicken”. On our way out, we asked the manager if they ever get customer feedback, to which beaming with pride he replied “Of course, we don’t”. Sigh!

If you have you had experiences of  exceeding hospitality, please do feel free to share them…

Tale of Two Sixes…

Clad in Blue, he stands there and catapults the ball sailing over the boundary for the maximum and that was the final strike. It’s all over…

… That shot was heart breaking. A billion dreams would still remain a dream. For me, one among those billion crazy, emotional fans (read fanatics) it seemed like déjà vu of what happened 8 years ago. I switched off the idiot box, stepped out of the house, paced around restlessly and watched the streets, which looked abandoned just a few minutes ago, slowly kicking back into liveliness. Feeling a bit queasy, I dragged myself back to my room, switched on the iPod and placed it on its dock. And for over the next two agitated hours, it was just three songs that kept looping endlessly, as my mind pondered over the possibility of India being beaten in a Cricket Final by our Island neighbors, yet again. Learning about the loss of two crucial wickets pretty early did not help things. Why oh why is this happening, I wondered and started hurling curses to no one in particular.

That is when, all of a sudden the mind started to drift. Over the years across the coast, and all around the world, racial atrocities were being unleashed upon innocent people, who were getting killed for no fault of theirs. And never for once have I felt this disgusted about that. Slowly rational thinking of the mind started taking over the emotional pondering of the heart. I realized that this was a just a game of cricket which might be lost. What is more important is that humanity has battles to be fought (and won) over evil.

A candle lights up within me and all of a sudden things do not look bleak. I crank up the volume and think to myself – who cares about the result of a cricket match, there are bigger battles out there. After all this is just a game. That is when my Mom calls out for me, quiet strangely I knew why – India was about to win the Cricket World Cup. I bolt out of my room to switch on the TV and even before it is fully alive, I start jumping in joy.

Clad in Blue, he stands there and catapults the ball sailing over the boundary for the maximum and that was the final strike. It’s all over…

… This shot was heart-warming. Billion dreams were no longer a dream. This generation finally gets to witness a moment of Cricketing glory which took 28 years to recreate. And the entire (well, almost) nation erupts. Crackers go off and people parade the streets, dancing and singing. Calls are made and text messages exchanged, congratulating each other. For every cricket crazy fan in the country, this was a personal victory. After months of being subjected to news of scammers and corrupt politicians, this certainly seemed like light at the end of tunnel. For once after all these days, heads could be held high with pride and joy.

And it took some time for me to settle down, after night-long status updates on Facebook and a mini celebratory lunch with a small group of friends, the next day. Once the euphoria gradually started to wash away, my mind switched back to the realization that had hit me during those tumultuous hours sandwiched between the two sixes – One hit of the last ball of Sri Lanka’s innings and the one that finished off the match for India.

After all it was just a game of cricket that was won. Bigger and more meaningful battles are being fought out there and they are much more significant. True victory for the human spirit is when peace and harmony prevails over prejudicious malice. As crazy as we may be, in the end, Cricket (or for that matter, any sport) is just a game, right. No?

[55 Fiction] – Six Pack!

I have always been curious to try my hand at 55 fiction.

Here goes my maiden attempt. The first six!

 Strange encounter

Insomnia drove him to office at 6.30 AM. He went straight to the deserted cafeteria.

He was sipping coffee alone, when his acquaintance from housekeeping caught up with him.

After chatting for a while, he went to his desk.

On opening the mailbox, he froze.

That guy he just met had died the previous night.

Breaking the ice

She was the cynosure of all eyes at that ritzy event.

Decked in dazzling black – she was an angel in devil’s color.

He couldn’t take his eyes off her; desperate to talk.

She was struggling with the ice bucket. He stepped forward to help, accidentally knocking the bucket off her hands.

The ice was broken!

Gifts of Love

Madly in love, they seemed to be perfectly made for each other.

Their heavenly bonding was well and truly beyond the trivialities of materialistic charm.

Yet gifts were exchanged in abundance – as a testimony to their affection.

The most memorable gift was, of course, the one she gifted him last.

It was her wedding invitation.

Midnight summer

It was past midnight. Sleep was lost.

He was sweating profusely; choking for breath.

He hated every moment of it. A torture akin to marrying that one person you despise, the most!

He prayed for deliverance.  But there was no escape. No place to run or hide.

Power cut in summer – a trip to hell.

The Lord’s Devotee

He quickly jumped up the ranks and was touted to be The Lord’s successor in His drug cartel.

He skillfully thwarted many an attempt on The Lord’s life.

As His faithful devotee, he wouldn’t let anyone else even hurt Him.

And it remained that way till His end.

It was he who killed The Lord!

Free Lunch 

One of the perks of his job was those free lunches.

He loved it, especially if it was Friday. He could return home directly.

Unfortunately, for him, the elevator in his block was not functioning.

He was on 16th floor and labored his way up to 15.

Before realizing he was in the wrong block.

PS:

* I couldn’t resist having Six Pack as the title. Had to use it somewhere !

[Poem] An Ode to Sachin’s 200…

Started more than 20 years ago, and still counting
Habit of breaching benchmarks, seemingly never ending

His cricketing brilliance never ceases to amaze
Manner in which he does them, warrants countless gaze

First 200 in ODI, it’s just another milestone
That record would be feeling proud, that “HE” was the one

What is left to achieve, evokes much curiosity
As we bow down yet again to the Little Master’s ingenuity!

[Poem] Across the stairway…

Image Credit : ConstantToker (Deviantart)

Never used to believe in love at first sight

Until I saw her across the stairway, other night

Eyes wide open, I stood there in disbelief

Pinched myself hard, oddly the pain was a relief

Alas, I have gone insane, the thought was frightening

Oh, her dazzling charm had truly struck me like a lightning

Took a step forward, with newly found courage

Drawn by the mysterious gravity of her stunning visage

Nowhere to be seen, my heart skipped a beat

Scanned all around, resilience never took a retreat

Now I definitely believe she was my love at first sight

Though I never saw her again, since that wonderful night…

The OCD Bug

I dug this one up from last year. Originally posted in the internal blogging site at work, this was part of a MEME.  In case  you have stumbled across this post and would like to take up it and list your own ‘bugs’, please feel free to do so 🙂

The OCD bug

Looks like when someone “Up Above” (who exactly that is, would be subjected to one’s discretion– it could be the stork, big bang theory, Supreme Power or Evolution, among other things) designed the most complex piece of hardware (the human body), the OS (the human mind) for some reasons was made an open sourced one. Such that, each piece of hardware has it own variations of firmware, replete with its own share of viruses and bugs.

Talking about bugs, OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) is one such, which apparently finds its way into most pieces of hardware and causes it to run certain pieces of code in almost an infinite loop (roughly translated as “Doing something, mostly unwanted, repeatedly”. Phew!)

Now, this piece of hardware has its share of this bug and here are some of those almost infinite loop executions:

Lock, check and two re-checks: Just before the hardware goes to sleep mode, this bug causes it to check if all the doors are locked. Once checked, the routine is traversed at least a couple more times, each time wiping out the result of previous execution, until it manages to reaffirm the hardware that the lock is in place. (Guess it’s a bed time workout? Huh!)

Walk and watch: At times, when hardware is focusing on cricketing action, this bug causes it to change from “resting-on-the-couch” orientation to “walking-around-in-circles” position, till the match ends. Else, the team might lose! Recently though, there is a new variation to this bug which executes itself only when the favorite team is batting in a T20 match. (That’s roughly just an hour and a half? Sigh of relief!)

Stare at walls (or timeline): The So-see-all, Not-working (Social Networking) variation of the bug, causes the hardware to standby in a ‘ready-to-respond’ mode and repeatedly scan the Facebook Wall (or Twitter timeline) for any notifications on self updates, or posts/tweets of interest, to weigh in. Regardless of the outcome, the routine gets re-executed every few minutes, unless the hardware chooses to override it by prioritizing another, err, useful task. (Thank God for work!)

You name it: When the name suggested for a technical symposium in College, followed by a group of conference rooms at work were approved, this bug manifested itself on to the hardware and has caused it be on the ‘look out mode’ for all possible opportunities to name anything under the sun. (Maybe that piece log out there needs a name, say, Dead-Wood? Ugh!)

Then there are few more like ‘keep-planning-a-trip-and-drop-it’, ‘buy-books-but-don’t-read-all-of-them’ etc. But now the hardware is has executed another one of the loops which is called ‘read-from- top-down –then -bottom-up’. Once satisfied and having posted this, it has jumped to ‘keep-looking-for-comments’, hoping you can think about some bugs in your hardware and list a few of them…

Till death do us part – Final Chapter

– Chapter 1 –

– Chapter 2 –

– Chapter 3 –

– Chapter 4 –

 Chapter 5 –

How the mind perceives events during its nascent self ends up in shaping the way it acts/reacts to situations and the decision it makes. The course in which the river of life flows could be determined by a single action or that once decision. This is essentially what is described by The Butterfly Effect, which is a part of Chaos Theory.  Chaos – yes chaos.

December 6 1992:

Ameen’s mind, when young, unfortunately was fated to witness the cruel repercussions of heinous acts, of one selfish group of tortured souls, wreak havoc in his life. Someone’s act originating from a sole intent of spreading chaos took its wings and flew right into his tranquil life and brutally pecked away almost all traces of happiness.

When he rushed back home, he found out all that would be remaining is his life, besides the other sole survivor, were the memories and lessons that he learnt from his father. He had to find within himself the resolve to stick to the path of love and respect, that his father had pointed him towards, and not deviate from it.

February 14, 1998:

When Ashika’s friends had rushed to his doorstep with the news that she was caught in the midst of a clash that had erupted, it was déjà vu. It was at that moment Ameen had chosen to take a detour in the path paved for him, by his father. He didn’t want to lose her and vowed to himself that only people who love and respect others deserved to be reciprocated and the ones who didn’t had to be taught a lesson by being given a dose of their own medicine.

With this new found fury, he raced to the scene. Unaware to himself, the rage had given him a tunnel vision. He reached there with the sole intent of hatred and disrespect and didn’t think twice before striking Amar, who was there trying to save Ashika.

Ashika crying out “AMEEN” should have brought him to the right senses the first time around. But sadly it didn’t. Now there was blood in his hands. Blood that he wanted to wash away, but it refused to go. Everything had happened so quickly. Amar, on the first occasion had taken a blow from him.  And then he had taken a blow for him.

When the blow was from him, Ameen was able to make amends and bring back Amar. But when the blow was taken for him, there was nothing he could do. It was fatal. Fate intervened yet again, with a message that hatred begets more hatred and easily destroys love. Death had done Amar and Ashika part.

Ameen had a lot of questions that needed answering, but no one would be doing it for him. Ashika never spoke to him again. She had decided to seek solace by distancing herself from him. She accepted her onsite assignment and flew far away. Whenever he mustered the courage to contact her, she never responded. After a while he gave up.

Ameen always believed in his heart that Amar would have been the ideal one for Ashika and wanted them to get married. He was furious because neither of them, he thought, trusted him enough. His plan was to tell them on that ill-fated afternoon. But destiny had other plans. His buttery effect moment, the decision to deal hatred with hatred on that Feb 14, actually had its roots in the events of that Dec 6. Chaos was the loss of Amar.

Now Ameen knew that only true love can overcome hatred. He was again left with memories and little bit of hope. Memories of what hatred had taken away from his life – first his father, then his dearest friend Amar. Hope for a miracle to bring some sunshine into his life.

Slowly, and steadily, the city of Coimbatore was recovering from Valentine day’s disaster of 1998. Ameen just wished that Ashika would somehow find it in her heart to forgive him, her brother…

 —— Life goes on with hope —–