Monday, August 31, 2009

Update on obtaining a gas cylinder of our own!

The euphoria created by our experience in dealing with the home appliance makers prompted me to try again to get a gas cylinder; this time in our own names instead seeking a transfer from my father's name. I thought this way I could avoid making numerous affidavits!

RC (ration card) in our names was a must for this to happen and we needed a proof of residence to get an RC issued. The document we have for this are our passports. The catch is that my passport shows my parents' home address as my permanent address and I do not live there. Hence I thought Tara had a better chance as the permanent address in her passport is the same as our present address!

So I made a visit to the kscfc office located on museum road to ask if we could get an RC made in Tara's name and also to get an prescribed form to make the application. Tara could not join me as she has started working! I located the office, which was on the fourth floor of a building. As I waited for the lift, I looked up and saw this sign. So I trudged upstairs and was out of breath by the time I reached the 4th floor!

I entered a reasonably large office with only two officials in it. A bit of a surprise! You expect hordes of people in a Gov. Office. I approached the one who looked friendly and spoke to him about my requirement. He heard me out and said that there was no problem and the RC could be in either of our names. That was a relief.

He had a few questions of his own. He wanted to know if Tara's name was in her father's RC. I replied that it was unlikely as we lived in Pune earlier to our move abroad and we had our own RC in Pune. Then I requested for a form so that I could submit it after filling in all the details.

His reply amazed me! He said 'Meet me again with your wife, her father with his RC, along with copies of passport, photographs and your old RC'. Only then would a form be issued to me. I now learnt that an application form is as hard to get as the RC itself!

I told him that we did not have our old RC as we had misplaced it and also informed him smiling that her father at his age cannot climb four floors, like I did, as we are not allowed to use the lift. He replied that the lift operator would have let me in and gave me a look which was typical which implies 'you should know that'! (Thilkobekoo!)

He then relented and said 'No need for her father to come! But make an affidavit on a stamp paper about your loss of RC and you and your wife meet me again and I will give you the form!'

(I searched their website if per chance I could down load the Form! No such luck! As I browsed the website I learnt that control of LPG was one of the many operations of this profit making organisation! I also saw that I could read a report about LPG in their website. Curious I clicked on the report and was asked to log in with a password! I guessed I had to register first, but there was no way I could accomplish this feat! I gave up after a while.)

As I was leaving, I remarked about the large office with only two people in it. I think he said that his people were out on a raid (not too sure if I heard him right!) and then he elaborated saying that 'our staff keep visiting houses to check that the number of people shown in the RC are really there!'

Suddenly I remembered that some one had mentioned a white RC that is issued only for ID purposes and not for rations. I asked him if I could be issued with a white RC. He said that this was discontinued. Too bad as this would have made my task simpler. I then got bold and asked him why all this procedure when most of us were just using the RC only as an ID. He gave me a look which said 'That was a stupid question!'

Then he consoled me with 'Wait for 1 and 1/2 years all this will be solved by Mr. Nilekani'. This confidence in him should make Nandan Nilekani very happy!
Anyway my next expedition would be to the civil courts to make an affidavit about my loss of our RC. Perhaps I may be asked for a police report from Pune that I had really lost it and that I had lodged a complaint. I am really worried as we do not have any details of the RC we had been issued in Pune. So it may be that we have to just wait for the Unique Identification Scheme (UID) to take effect. I wish all power to Nandan Nilekani and god speed in his new assignment.

I saw this notice on the way down from the kscfc office! Not sure if I should approach the registrar for a solution to my problems! May be I will one of these days! May turn out to be an interesting blog!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Is customer the King? Yes it seems so!

While the aim of obtaining a gas cylinder in our own name is still unrealised, we had our household goods in place very easily. The dealers called us later to check if everything was OK and wanted to ascertain that we were happy with their service. Another person called again to ask whether the delivery boys had demanded money for making the 'free' delivery. We said no! While they did not openly ask for money, they stood around with expectation mirrored on their faces and we did give them some 'chai pani' tip. I suppose they earned it as the job was done with a smile!

On the day the goods were delivered, service guys also called to inform us that they had received a service order and then came home to give us a demo on how to operate the equipments. They were competent and knew their job and the machines. Again no demand for money! However the washing machine guy did try to sell us a service contract for 5 years at a discount. I declined as I wanted to see how the warranty worked!

There is a story as to why I felt like a king! The 'Whirlpool' company delivered the refrigerator earlier than they had promised! The delivery crew had to unpack it on the staircase landing as the main door of our apartment is narrow! Anyway as they started rolling in the fridge I noticed a dent, right on the front door of the fridge. I said 'stop' and called the dealer rep to inform him about it and asked him what he proposed to do about it. He said he would call me back immediately after talking to the Whirlpool depot.

Interesting that while the sales guy was trying to sort out the problem the delivery guy tried to shift the blame on us suggesting that it might have happened while they unpacked it on the staircase landing. This upset me a bit as it was their job to be deliver the unit without damage. I am not sure about the small print regarding damages in transit. I believe the delivery guys were on contract!

The rep called back promptly and promised that the fridge would be replaced and requested me to accept the piece as it is and pay for it in full and not hold back about Rs.5000 I had proposed till it was replaced. This was my ploy to make sure that they kept their promise. He spoke of some technical problems for not accepting my proposal and gave his personal guarantee that it would be replaced! I agreed. I was actually expecting him to try and convince me to accept it as is or may be offer me a discount! He did not!

While I accepted the assurance of the rep, I wanted the Whirlpool manager to call me and confirm that this was really going to be replaced the next day. The depot manager did call me soon after and gave me his personal assurance that it would be done. He even said we could start using the fridge in the meantime.

I was actually testing the system as well as the people. I am happy to say that the promise was kept and the fridge replaced as promised. I was specially impressed with the way the depot manager of Whirlpool spoke to me and followed up. There was no bored arrogance that I would have encountered in the (?) old times.
There was a delay in replacing the fridge, mainly due to technical reasons! The delivery people called me on Saturday morning to tell me that it would be delivered around 4 pm. We waited the whole evening and finally called the depot manager about the non-delivery. He was surprised as the delivery order was already made and promised to investigate and tell me why it was not delivered. He called back to inform that his men could not contact me on my phone and hence returned with out delivering. (The battery of my cell phone was dead but was recharged by 4pm!) The delivery man also told the manager that the house locked! I really cannot fathom the reason why the driver had to tell a fib as no one came near the house. May be he just went home after he failed to contact me. The flaw here was that the men had no clear address and they do not use a map to locate an address. They keep calling for directions and they are very casual about the time of delivery. Anytime during the day is a bit too much of a wait. Anyway the fridge was delivered the next day. '
It felt good to get this type of service without a person of influence putting in a word on our behalf to see that goods were delivered, installed and serviced. I remember the days when I had to wait for a TV for over a month, even that was an out of turn delivery, and the guys acted as if they doing me a great favour.
I also feel a bit sheepish when I think of the damage that I fussed about. It was a small dent, about 6mm in diameter and would not have affected the working of the machine. But I am glad that I tested the system and proved to myself how things have changed for the better for an average customer, here in India.
The dent!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I suppose my mother 'wins' as I discovered it this morning!

My mother was all for spending money on festivals. She wanted poojas to be grand affairs, while I wanted it to be simple and personal! I remember arguing with her about lighting 100's of lamps on Krishnashtami and wasting oil. I used to tell her that it would have been better if we gave it to the poor! (Not that we always give it to the poor while we pontificate on wasteful habits!) Her argument was 'Devara Kelasa' (God's work!) was paramount at any cost.

Anyway I remembered her as I went for my morning walk.
Here is why:

As I stepped out I saw the illunination still on around 7 am right under our nose as it were!

This street is about 100 meters away, perpendicular to the Girls School street. It was closed for traffic and Ganapathi is installed in the middle of the street.

This one is another two streets away on the same Girls School street.
Surprisingly or should we say 'no surprise' that there is one more Ganapati installed in between these two on the street parallel to GS steet. I am sure I will see many more if take a walk around KP west.

In fact, around 250 meters from our house on the Reservoir Road, perpendicular to the Girls street, you will see the main pandal where the festivities, I believe, will take place for the next 10 days.
The childrens play area, which is just a bare gravel filled ground, takes on a different avatar.
In fact, I see very few children playing there. It is full of grown ups, teens and above, playing tennis ball cricket!
The roads are illuminated and lights were still on even around 7 am . The road perpendicular to this was also full of lights hanging down from the trees!
It is here I thought of my mother. She would have been very happy that the organisers went all out to make this a pooja to remember!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hyderabad: a charming visit.

We went out to see Hyderabad and stopped at Charminar. Well it is a charming monument. It is simple, not too large and is worth a visit.

We hired a guide, Nandini thought it may be interesting for the kids to learn more about Indian monuments. The guide was good and was full of information.
It appears there is a tunnel below this fountain and one could go to Golconda fort from here!
Pity the tunnel is no more functional as it has caved in at many sections along the way! Neil and Nikhil would have had fun walking through it!
Places of worship are located perpendicular to each other in one corner of the massive column.
An impressive column and an equally impressive beard!

Within the column are the steep winding stairs designed to stop enemies from coming up. They could easily be killed according to the guide! As we climbed the very steep 52 steps (Tara counted) I thought even friends with a weak heart would die!

The guide pointed out this window to show us how solid the walls are.

I was amazed to see that Leela did this. She spelt her name wrong though. It is OK as she is just five. I wonder why Rohini did not correct her spelling!

I know that Rikhi and Seema have been to Tirupathi, but they forgot to mention their side trip to Hyderabad! Obviously!

Et tu Vivek! What have you written in Tamil pray!
Ramya swears that she has not been to Hyderabad yet! A mystery or we can blame it on Ramesh!

Nandini seems to have picked up Telugu pretty quick!

Spitting is also an art form!


The second largest mosque in India as per our guide.

where 10,000 worshippers can pray at a time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hyderabad again - we saw 'Mamma Mia' the musical by Indians!

My blog is more about how odd it felt to see us brown skins acting English, Tamil mamis' in western clothes and flirting (Ayyayyoo!) with the young and (made up as) old men! The actors spoke clearly and I could follow the story, well most of it. I am now totally lost unless there is a subtitle at the bottom of the screen when I watch a movie.

While it was an English play, Indian ethos prevailed. The show started an hour late. There was no announcement or apology about the delay for the first 50 minutes. However, the audience was well behaved, no whistles or catcalls! I had heard that Hyderabadis are laid back and they proved it to us here!

To pass the time I studied the ticket very thoroughly. It was nicely made, the size of a post card. There were 12 important regulations printed on the reverse. One of these, children below 10 are not permitted in the auditorium, had already put us in a quandary. We did not know of this rule earlier when we had booked the tickets. Anyway the promoters of the show assured Raxit not to worry, our kids would be allowed!

Another piece of directive on the ticket, no spitting, surprised me! In fact it is also clearly displayed at many locations in the theatre. The theatre is really well made and the tickets are not cheap. The most expensive ones that day was Rs. 5000. I thought surely someone who forks out this kind of money would have better sense than let fly his spittle in the auditorium. Apparently not as per the administrators of the theatre. They probably know better!

I also noticed something which would not be an issue at Bangkok theatres. A lady who was just behind us at the security check line wanted the security guards to hold the ticket for a friend who would be coming half an hour late! Surprisingly the security chap flatly refused to oblige. Quite upset the lady said: 'They said I could give it to the security'. She never explained who they were and neither did the security guy bother to ask! He said 'You can come out after half an hour and wait for her'! I guessed she was getting angrier, not that her tone was either friendly or polite earlier, when she said with her raised voice 'How Can I do that after the show has started?'
I have no idea how it was resolved as we had moved on. Anyway it did not really matter as the play did not start on time. Probably the security guy knew this.

The reason given for the delay later was a winner: 'The delay is due to a technical reason. There is only one security gate and it was houseful!'. Surely it is nobody's fault if the theatre is that full. Mai pen rai (parava ledhu) rules even in Hyderabad!

The sophisticated crowd chatting after the show. I did not catch anyone in the act of spitting!

You could have seen the N's in the melee onstage!

There was a moment when the audience were invited to go on stage to sing and dance. Neil, Nikhil were coaxed by the artists to join them on stage and Nandini went along! They could have been seen if I had taken a better picture. There was a time when Neil and Nikhil were right in front and I missed! It would have been a nice memonto!

I do love musicals but I have seen only two 'Live' ones, 'charlie boy' in 1969 and 'saigon' in the nineties, both in London! So I was really happy to see mamma mia in Hyderabad that too with our desi actors featured in it! I thought they did well.

Raxit who has seen both the movie and the Broadway versions of this play thought that while there was no real comparison possible it was a good effort. tells you more!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A delightful diversion - we went to Hyder(Cyber)abad!

Raxit, Nandini, Neil and Nikhil reached Hyderabad on the 12th of July and we were there with them on the 15th! Idea was to spend as much time as possible with them before Tara starts her school. Also Tara's mother-hen instincts prompted her to be there to help Nandini settle down in India!

Not really much to do as they were staying at the company guest house with a whole retinue of people to take care of them! Tara did manage to penetrate the kitchen to give some guidelines to the cook and also select the menu for the day. I must acknowledge she did cook upama for me, my favourite, a couple of times.

The apartment complex 'Jayabheri Silicon County' (what else!) is nice and we had a good time especially with the grand children !

That is Neil acting friendly at the clubhouse. It has a very nice swimming pool and I did swim a few times! We can see the apartment complex behind the clubhouse.

Typically, the kids innovate and manage to play cricket! They lost a couple of tennis balls and one went into the balcony of an apartment and too sad, they could not retrieve the ball. Luckily no broken window glasses while we were there. There is a basket ball court at the basement, it is very dark and unsafe to let kids play by themselves.
Cricket was permitted but no soccer! This does not happen at Rishi court in Bangkok! Rikhi permits kids to play soccer in the garden. Why he even let me practice golf. Only chips !

Tara the coach!
This I am told is very typical of Hyderabad! I was a bit surprised to see it in Cyberbad as I climbed down the stairs at the apartment.