Saturday, December 29, 2012

A few lessons at a cost!

 I was sent a Lawyers notice last month. Hopefully the last! It was on behalf of an internet service provider demanding Rs.783/- or else. The notice threatened legal action, both civil and criminal.  In addition I was asked to pay interest at 24% and Rs 500/- legal charges. It was the culmination of a battle between me and the service provider.

The story begins with my cancelling their service in Jan 2012. I walked into one their collection offices after making sure all dues were paid. There was no form to fill, so I jotted  my details on a piece of paper and gave it to the boy at the counter and thought that was it. As the server  was down, he promised he would do it later.   I discovered a week later that he had forgotten!  My getting upset had no effect. He said 'You can complain!'  It meant I had to pay for unused services for an extra month! This should have given me a clue about the future. The first lesson:  Keep a copy and follow up the same day! (Obvious to many!)

Then a girl called and offered safe custody for six months with no charge! While not fully sure, I agreed as this would give me time to test the new service provider! I also enjoyed the thought of having options! Then it was time for my second lesson. A bill came even though it was a no-charge safe custody. Don't trust the promises, as the systems do not work the way the girls/boys tell us!.

Luckily I had the letter which had promised me safe custody! So after many exchanges, I was given the good news that I need not pay. The wordings were, 'We would like to inform you that amount of Rs. 951 has been waived off docket number ******* as a good will gesture!'  This good will gesture made me mad! It was their system error and there should have been an apology! The third lesson:  Do not expect anyone to accept mistakes! It is only human. It may also affect their career if they admit mistakes!

It was quiet till August and then the unexpected bill came for the month of August. Apparently the service was automatically restarted, even though they do not say so! In fact, I do remember a girl reminding me about the safe custody period which was about to end! I had told her clearly that I did not need the service anymore and thought that was enough. Not really!  Finally: Reconfirm with a letter, preferably a registered letter! 

 As soon as I received the legal  letter, I spoke to Roopa, the attorney in the family. She asked me 'Do you want to contest?'  and I said, 'yes!'  She then asked me to send her all the correspondence I had and cautioned me not speak to anyone from the service provider. That was ominous! After she read the stuff I had sent her, she told me 'You are too emotional. Stick to facts and in any case do not write them again!'

There were at least a dozen phone calls from different people asking for 'Doreswamy' and chasing for payment. Some cajoled, some  polite and a couple were rude and I reacted to them depending on my mood, but basically asking them whether they had read the mails I had sent. In short asking them 'Did you do your home work?'. Anyway I am still not used to being called Doreswamy! So invariably the conversation began on a wrong note!

 Then a letter from the District Legal services Authority, Bangalore Urban invited me to present myself at the office of the Deputy registrar, at Mayo Hall. It was the day after my return from Rajasthan.  Roopa advised me that it was Lok Adalath and I could pay under protest, if need be and we could take it from there. She would not be in town or else she would have come with me.

Anyway I took the copies of my correspondence and stepped into the premises. The door in front said, 'office of the Public Prosecutor'. That was a sentimental moment, as my father had worked in the same office ages ago!

I finally made it to the registrar's office. And it was all streamlined from there on. They were two persons with tables at the door of the registrar's office and a couple more from the lawyers office on a bench. Two persons were ahead of me, one was a lady who was totally upset as she had to take leave from work. The man ahead of me said 'I should go to court, but who has the time!' and paid.

Then it was my turn, the person was polite and made a token attempt to see the bunch of papers I gave him and said, 'You could pay Rs. 400 or you could refuse, but then you have go to the consumers court.'  I agreed to pay, wondering whether Roopa would approve! Luckily, I had taken along papers of another bill for Rs. 328/- which was still brewing to become a legal case. The service provider rep. agreed to waive off the demand as it was within his powers, but not the one in question!

I paid up and walked in to the deputy registrar's office with the receipt. It seemed the registrar dealt with a case only if there was no agreement. A letter was typed and I signed and was asked to collect a copy of the letter from another court in another location after 3 days! Speak of bureaucracy!

As I look back, I know I should have talked to the deputy registrar before accepting the offer made, as it was my intention to protest. But, I fell in line with the others! In fact, I was expecting that discussions with the company rep. would be in front of the deputy registrar. Wonder why it was not so? Something to think about!

The companies do off-load their work to contractors for saving costs and obviously there are problems of communication and of systems. It is also true that companies have to deal with customers who avoid paying. Hence there is a need for a system to collect dues, the collection department and the lawyers.

But it is also easy for the same team to make deliberate mistakes and the customer, who is the weakest link in the chain, is made to pay. While individually the amounts could be small collectively they are not!

Anyway, I did meet the registrar to make a statement, 'Sir, I have agreed to pay, but I am paying for the lapses in their system.' I was a bit mollified and also not surprised when he said, 'Yes! And it is true of every service provider!'

Disappointing  that service providers have such a poor image. And when I had mentioned earlier to Roopa that 'some young men and women on the phone  were just lying!' She replied 'Forget truth! There are only lies, white ones and other types!'  All very depressing! It seems that lack of ethics is all pervading in this industry!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The joke is on us. As always!

 I have not blogged about namma bengaluru for a while. I was busy with the  Mahabharata blog and Pandora's Box, a venture worth a blog! More importantly the subjects I like to blog are already covered extensively by the newspapers, the cable tv and books! Learning to Live in Bengaluru (and India!) does not just challenge an ex-NRI, it engages many eminent people all across the nation!

I used to think that anything connected with IT is a breeze! Not really! Today I was at the bank to get my passbook updated, but the system was down and out for a long time! The manager spoke loudly, to no one in particular, like an aside in a play, 'This is happening every day and not just our branch!' I gave up and collected my passbook and walked out.

 I went to the P.O. to collect interest on a deposit. The clerk, just as he was about to give me the money stopped. Then he, the postmaster and another senior colleague had a long discussion as they stared at the monitor. I and many others in the post office were kept waiting. It was close to lunch time and to their relief, I told them I would come back later in the afternoon. I hope it was more an input error than a system problem.

Then there is "A smart story" on how I got billed for something I did not want or even know!
It is possible the service supervisor who came to check my computer  for low speed just "HELPED ME" to have a better speed at a very high cost. He surely helped his company. Probably  even he did not know, as he was guided by a smart executive on his cell phone. So BEWARE!

 I do not want to name the company. I had enough arguments with them about how there was no message from them about the plan to tell me what I was getting into. After many discussions I finally got this. Dear Customer: The internet usage details of your.... broadband account for the current bill cycle are mentioned below:
High speed data transfer limit 10.0  GBs left in your account 6.83.  Days left in the current Bill Cycle 20. You can now retain your high speed by subscribing to any of our following ...... data pack:
Buy 1 GB for Rs. 99/- Buy 2 GB for Rs. 159/-
Buy 5 GB for Rs. 299/- Buy 10 GB for Rs. 449/-
Buy 20 GB for Rs. 799/- Buy 50 GB for Rs. 1499/-      
OR Continue as per Plan

Honestly I did not know I had chosen this 'Smart pack' and that too for 50 GB they had billed me for. Why would anyone jump from 10 to 50 when by calculation 10 GB would do? So seniors of my age, be careful. Not easy as these boys and girls are trained to speak at the high speed they  promise for the broad band but do not deliver! You get confused and bulldozed easily!

Then there was another incident which is still ongoing! I had agreed to keep a service on safe custody for a while at no charge! After a few months  my IT karma kicks in and a girl calls me to ask about the safe custody and I tell her 'please cancel!' To my surprise I get a bill the next month! It is a nightmare to go through their telephone system. We cannot deal with them in writing  as their emails are no-replay mails. We get a barrage of telephone calls from girls who are employed to chase overdue bills. They do no want to hear what you have to say. Their job is to chase overdue bills. Then senior executives take over and again no one really wants to listen to you. There is a stalemate and finally you receive a letter which beckons you to visit one of their offices to sort out the issues and they are willing to hear you out personally.

My friend who had a similar experience advises me to send them a registered letter and threaten to sue them for harassment. Anyway it is their word against mine, and their one way messages are all vague and sound very legal. I can give you examples of their SMS messages which takes you round and round! There are messages which tells you that you are billed for a service and add it will not be charged to you if it is in your planned package. I do not understand why there is a bill in the first place. Can they not build it into their system?  While all this is happening, the meter is kept running and the senior manager calls to negotiate the bill and offers magnanimously a discount on a bill which should not have been made!

I can go on ranting! This reminds me the article by Chetan Bhagat where he called some authorities Stupid. He was talking about airport security insisting on printed e-tickets while they could check the PNR numbers on the cell phones! May be he is right. If you forget to print, the airlines charge you Rs 50 to 100 for a print :-(

But having dealt with many levels of harassment over the phone, I conclude that we are neither stupid nor are we idiots, with some possible exceptions! IITians? ;-). But when I look at the general scene I guess we are faced with a set of jokers and as always the Joke is on us, the aam aadmi. The mango people!

 My friends will believe me when I tell them that the first time I heard these words, even I thought it meant mango people!

Monday, July 2, 2012

One of the most difficult things in life. Being Tolerant!

 Venkat said this on wednesday while we were playing golf.  Venkat and I were in college together! Not as class mates, but he took some subjects with us. He was an honours student! Then we met again in Pune. Lost contact and met again on the golf course about a year ago! Since then we play golf together whenever we can.

It happened this way! We were just two-ball and were following a four-ball group.  We thought we could request the group ahead and go past them. Venkat spoke to one of them, and as I approached, I heard him say 'Okay! PLAY FAST!'  He sounded very abrupt and did not sound courteous! I replied, what I thought was a smile, but it could have been  a grimace, 'Thanks! But expect us to play at NORMAL speed, not fast!' At the same time, Venkat smiled and said, 'If we get slow, we will just pick up the ball and go ahead!' But the man reacted to my comment and said we could not go ahead of them. I walked back!

Obviously Venkat was a bit annoyed with me,  'Do not expect  expect courteous behaviour because it is a club. Not all are the same, and probably he could not even express himself porperly in English.' and added 'One of the most difficult things in life is being tolerant'.

It is true I was upset with the man. In golf we do let players behind us go ahead. It is understood and it is required that we do not hold up the group following us with our slow game. Is some clubs, marshalls keep track and tell us to get going!

But Venakat's words stayed with me and helped me maintain my cool the next day! First was the auto driver, he interrogated me about my destination first and then refused to go! The next one would not even look at me, which meant no! The third guy was good enough to say yes! But he was irritated with me as I did not give him the exact location! 'You should have said: the bank near the petrol pump.' But he was honest and did not ask for more! I do sometime lose my cool and take a reformist attitude and lecture them and once I even shouted at one guy. It is just useless anger as there is no way things will change!

Yesterday it was not just the auto guys. It was also a gentleman driver, adorned with the standard mustache and goggles, who decided to scare the s**t out of me. As I was crossing the road along with others, they were probably scurrying while I was walking, the driver decided to try his skills as a matador and brushed my ankle. While I admire his skills, if he had been an inch closer, I would have probably stumbled. I don't think he was right in doing this and I was very upset.

The car stopped at the crossing, one more reason why there was no need for him to speed up and then brake. Anyway I went to him,  While normally I would have banged on his car and shouted, I told him politely that he almost knocked me down. Not surprisingly he and the woman next to him, did not bother even to look in my direction, he did not say a word, but twirled his hand in a typical kannada style, which meant 'I couldn't care less!'   I got really angry, as his attitude told me that he had done it deliberately, but controlled myself. I think I owe it to Venkat.

I spoke about this need for tolerance with my friend and auditor Yathiraj, I was with him today. He added that we also need to tolerate a lot, looking at what is happening in the country.

I called Raji on my return and checked about the situation at their new home. They have just moved, and the brand new home needs repairs!  The plumber just broke the wall in the bathroom, did something and would check again after two days. If there is no improvement, then he promised to break the tiles to go to the root of the problem!

Oh yes! The TV chaps did not even turn up!  I thought I will pass on my new gyan to her, but she said she will talk later! Hope she reads this blog works on both the T's.

I checked both words on Thesarus and there is a shade of difference between the two. I have copied it for fun! Take a look!
Entry: tolerant  [tol-er-uhnt]  Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: open-minded, easygoing
Synonyms: advanced, benevolent, big, broad, broad-minded, catholic, charitable, clement, complaisant, condoning, easy on, easy with, excusing, fair, forbearing, forgiving, free and easy, humane, indulgent, kindhearted, lax, lenient, liberal, long-suffering, magnanimous, merciful, patient, permissive, progressive, radical, receptive, soft, sophisticated, sympathetic, understanding, unprejudiced, wide
Antonyms: biased, disapproving, intolerant, narrow-minded, prejudiced

Example Sentences:
He took time to find out what he thought and he had an open mind and a tolerant nature.
They have created a tolerant yet orderly society, and have married mateship with rugged individualism.
Entry: tolerate  [tol-uh-reyt]  Part of Speech: verb
Definition: allow, indulge
Synonyms: abide, accept, admit, authorize, bear, bear with, blink at, brook, condone, consent to, countenance, endure, go, go along with, have, hear, humor, live with, permit, pocket, put up with, receive, sanction, sit and take it, sit still for, stand, stand for, stay the course, stomach*, string along, submit to, suffer, sustain, swallow*, take, tough out, undergo, wink at
Antonyms: check, disallow, disapprove, halt, stop, veto

Friday, March 30, 2012

It all depends on our default setting! Still chasing a bubble!

If you had read my blog 'My paradigm vanished!', you would know that we bought an apartment in JP nagar and then gave up the idea of moving there. However, we  hoped to use it on week-ends. Play tennis, swim, use the gym and even go bowling. Yes, the apartment complex has a bowling alley. Also I could use it as a transit camp and drive for my golf from there. Nothing of the sort happened.

So we decided to rent it and we looked for a tenant. Typically we wanted more rent than the market. We argued that the interiors were worth it. We also got choosy with the type of tenants or the tenants were choosy! Some wanted ideal vaastu! I remember an incident where a prospective tenant came with his wife. She had seen the aptmt. earlier and had liked it. He did not even say hello!  As I stood surprised at his attitude, he walked to the main door, took a small compass from his pocket, checked the direction of the main door, muttered no vaastu and started walking out! Tara tried to engage him in a conversation, but no luck. I later learnt that our broker had expressed our reluctance to rent the aptmt. to self-employed business men! No wonder he was upset, as he was one of them! The only sentence he spoke to me was 'I am a builder for Jains!'. That probably was to prove his credit worthiness!  In short, the apartment continued to be vacant. Finally it dawned on us, with a little bit of nudging from our daughter and friends, that it made sense to sell!

I quote from earlier blog to explain the dilemma one faces while looking to buy ( or sell!) an apartment:
'But I was getting restless and bored and Tara said she was ready to move .... but would prefer to stay in a place closer to Kumara Park! We looked at some other bubbles which had all the facilities and liked them. But the apartments on offer were all second sales and owners wanted money in two colors in spite of all noise made by Anna Hazare. He of course was targeting corrupt politicians and officials, not enterprising investors. (Hopefully their time too shall come!). Desperate, I even wished that there was an ATM type of machine, govt approved, which changed color of the money, for a reasonable fee!'

With this experience, once the decision was made to sell, I was more worried. We needed a buyer who was comfortable with only a single color of  money.  My accountant friend asked me 'Do you know that you are liable to pay short term capital gains!'  Honestly I did not!   The only way to avoid paying short term capital gains tax is to wait for three years or find ways! That is when  temptation rears its head!

There are many strange laws on income. If you own two houses, you pay the exchequer a tax on the notional income from the second house. But there is no offset for the interest lost when your house/aptmt. is under construction. Even if there is a delay, there is no relief. It is deemed a business risk. Some builders do offer a pittance for delays which will probably allow you, if you are really hard pressed, to rent out a room in the nearby basti which you probably will see from your bed room once the apartment is ready.

 Anyway, we had by then asked an estate agent, who understood our inhibitions, to look for buyers. She called one day and said  'I found a buyer who matches your needs. He  is the son of a retired IAS officer, and his father wants to pay only through cheques!' There was a moment of confusion in me. Do we tell her that we have changed our colors or go with the deal. This is when your default setting comes into play. We agreed!

I make no special claims for probity here! The gain was not too high to tilt the scale and tempt me. For some reason the south Bangalore has lost its sheen for an investor! Now that I am veteran at the sub-registrar's office, I can say that it does take time to register! Probably it is in-built into the system to discourge direct walk-in buyers or sellers. The secret is to appoint a lawyer and he will ensure that the system works like a well oiled machine. Well most of the times. Sometimes, you do get delayed, if your lawyer is not as savvy as the other. I have also heard of successful stories where a lawyer was not hired!

I have heard many arguments why so many honest people try to beat the system and cheat the governament of their dues. The strongest argument is that it will be mis-used and it is too high! Some have no alternative, the only buyer they find after a long wait, wants to pay in two colors and you have no choice as you have  committments to meet. I have seen this happen. I do not know about the other types, but I hear there is a lot of the other money sitting idle and buying apartments is one way to make it work for them.

In our case, we both, the buyer and seller hoped that somehow the extra  money we have passed on to the exchequer will find its way to a good cause and we gain merit in the eyes of the almighty.

Now that my dream bubble was sold, we looked around and have booked  one in the north of Bangalore. It is called Paradiso. I am eagerly awaiting for it to get ready. I guess it is better to be in Paradise on earth. As paradise above is a non-verifiable belief. Even if it exists, I am  not really sure I will qualify and stay there before I am asked to move on to the next birth, whatever and wherever! 

While I may not miss the sports  activities, I will sorely miss the view from our sold apartment. Having been boxed in and looking at walls, I would have enjoyed this part of the apartment.

Hope the coconut trees survive.

There is a hope that the lake will be cleaned up!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A special day. The 'auto' drivers were in a good mood!

I like to walk, but today it was around noon and a bit hot! I saw an auto parked near the junction and its nose pointing generally towards malleswaram. I approached him a little timidly.  I do that as a rule,  I have learnt that most auto drivers have attitudes similar to owners of an expensive boutique or a jewellery shop.

While I can afford to buy an auto, the driver does not know that. In his estimate if someone is dependent on his auto, it is clear that he is pretty low in our societal hierarchy and he better behave politely.

 Has anyone ever experienced this? An auto coming towards you to pick you up. I have never had this privilege in bengaluru. They will wait for you to walk to them and if the destination you are headed does not suit them they will push off even without a glance towards you. I almost fell off once as the young driver started to move and I had half a leg into his cab. That was before I understood the rule that we have seek their permission before we get in.

Recently I read a blog about rickshaws in mumbai and it surprised me. I thought mumbaikars had a better time with autos. Apparently not. His open letter to the union of auto drivers is worth reading. mumbaikars! Welcome to the fold! Read on:
My first request is that if we do make an error of hailing one of your forces, can the person at least look at us and acknowledge us? If this is not asking for too much, then I can go on. Can he also listen to us as to where we want him to take us?

My second request is can we expect your forces to understand that Mumbai has street-jams during office hours and so, during those hours, traffic would be slow anywhere and everywhere. If this is well understood, then they would not have to rudely (apologies for this word, but many feel that this too is an understatement) tell us that he cannot go on that route as there would be traffic. Don’t tell us what every kid in the city knows..................
Finally, the cops and the government tell us that an auto is supposed to ply anywhere and we passengers simply need to board the vehicles and then tell (‘tell’, I repeat, not ‘ask’).
There is more.....

But not all auto drivers are bad. Today is a good example when they, all four of them, were polite and pleasant. I have been on an auto when the driver got off  at a junction and gave a rupee or two to a lame  beggar who was squatting on the footpath. So it should be your stars, lucky or otherwise that will decide whether you are in their route.

 Here are two I would love to tell you about.
He was polite, and as the distance was around the min. meter distance he did not put the meter on. This meant that his meter was not tampered with. Sometimes I have paid one and a half the fare  from the same point. He works ten hours a day to meet his expenses, which includes schooling for his  son in the higher secondary and daughter in middle school. He says many of his fares have his mobile number and call him a day earlier, if they need him. He did not give me his number as he does not live close by. But gave me the name of a driver who parks close to where I got off in malleswaram. He also said that as the gas price has gone up, he has to work harder.

It was not today, but I met him very recently. He is rather unique. He does not ask you where you want to go. He will tell you, 'First sit down and then tell me. I will take you there.' He also works hard and is a happy person.

 I am sure there are many more who are good and honest. We must make this group larger and more effective. I am sure they will be helpful, considerate especially to the senior citizens. They are probably keeping to themselves. We must find a way of getting their telephone numbers and spread it around to various localities closest to where they live and I am sure they will come to your rescue when you need it most.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The story of my interent karma, iTroubled because of iPad!

My first internet service provider was an old established one.  Their rating was not flattering, but chose them out of old loyalties! Younger ones will not understand the thrill they gave us by just giving us a phone connection. Grateful, some of us would go to the temple and break a coconut. May be even perform pooja!

The service engineer came home all smiles to install. He was not too pleased that I had my own modem, gamely tried and made it work with another guy's help over the cell phone. I was also taught some rituals to follow in case of problems. It was made apparent that if  any problem occurred, it would be due to my modem. While he took credit for saving me a thousand plus rupees, surprisingly did not accept the small baksheesh I offered! A rare breed and may they grow in numbers.

But my internet karma was not good, there were many breakdowns in the continuity and the rituals he had taught me did not work most of the times.  I walked into their office one Friday afternoon to complain and the whole office was busy with a pooja and I was invited to join. I believe it is a weekly ritual. After the pooja, the service engineer suggested that I should try their modem suspecting that mine was the culprit. Convinced by his sincerity, what with  the pooja and also the prasad, I bought  a new modem.  Soon realised that the problem persisted and actually it got worse.

I  suspect that the real problem is that they give more connections than they can handle and then  ration internet time like KEB does with the power and have planned shut downs. Obviously they do not tell us. I think there is a reason for this mafia style of code of silence.

 People affected argue with the lower tier people who have no say in the policies, skewed as they are, generally make themselves a nuisance. Some get loud and abusive.  The older smoother types, will try to bribe them. They also go higher up to seek special privileges.  We all hear the boasts of people who are neighbours of the bigwigs. No shut down or nor lack of continuity and so on!  No wonder the people in the firing line get tired of these irritants and threats, give vague reasons, talk too fast or go very technical or  blatantly lie.

Anyway, on a friend's advice  I chose a gadget which we just stick to an USB port. This worked well  and peace prevailed and I was blogging and surfing to my hearts content. Happy, I went back to my old service provider, returned the modem and cancelled the internet connection. Predictably, I kept the land line. A throw back from the old times. We old timers don't give up a phone connection!

Then it had to happen and trouble started all over again. Tara was given a iPad by her school which worked only on a wireless connection. The USB modem was useless. When I tried to talk to the service provider about it, my audio abilities were severely tested, I felt more tone deaf than I actually am. I just cannot figure out the accent of the new breed of english speakers.

 The labyrinths in the system also overwhelmed me. Most lost interest as soon as they knew that I had an old USB modem. They were only keen to sell me a very expensive new 3G system and passed me on to another 'executive' and I had to start all over again.  Frankly no one was interested in trying to know my needs, they just went berserk proposing this or that at their usual high speed local accented English! To top it all, trained go on a first person basis, called me 'Dore', thus invoking my late father into the conversation.

I gave up on my USB modem and a young computer friend came to my rescue.  He sent an overeager salesman, who met Tara and promised us an internet service in a days time! But he called the next day and gave us the bad news that the company was not willing to dig the road to lay a new cable and the money we had paid was refunded after some serious follow up by my friend and Tara. The fun part  was that the company had used our building to install a junction box but it did not have free slot!

Meantime another new entrant came to know about our need for an internet service and offered to test the site for connectivity. A techie came, climbed to the highest level of our building and conducted  some tests and at first declared a failure, then for some reason gave it a clearance. A receiver was installed on top of the water tank.  And as I feared it failed to work the next day! I wrote a letter to the HO to look into my problem in a nice way and there was action. Lots of it! An engineer  came the next day and worked the whole day and got it working. It did work well and more or less was satisfactory. As I still held on to my USB modem, I had two internet connections!

A day later the company which had regretted called and said that they had solved the problem and as a special case offered to connect  free of charge. I did not know that my computer friend had threatened  the company that I would pull out the junction box as an illegal intrusion! He called and advised me to get it done as he had put a lot of pressure on the company.  I agreed, not willing to displease my friend,  thus I had three connections! I continued with all the three for a month! And ultimately chose to keep the one my friend had arranged. Speak of Anavristti  of the old days and the present Athivrishti!

 I thought that it is just a phone call to get them disconnected. Not so easy. I tried calling the company and  failed to navigate thru the labyrinths. Walked into one of the offices nearby and asked them to cancel my connection. He said yes and asked me to give a cancellation letter in writing. He tried to key in the details and the server was down. He promised to take care and there would be call by one of the executives before they disconnect. When no one called for a week  I went to the office and found out that no action was taken and there was no record of my request. The shocking reason was that the staff who spoke to me had forgotten to do it. I insisted that he do it in my presence. He kept me waiting, while he attended on the callers who came to pay.  His priority was the paying customer. I just waited there and got the information keyed in and also gave him a lecture of his attitude. I guess that was a waste of time. He did not seem to care!

Anyway there was an inquisition from one of the executives who called. I just told her that I was going to be away for six months. She offered to keep it in custody for six months without charge. I did not have the heart to say no. So I have a internet connection in custody waiting for me. It is no more the customer who waits.

Then it was the turn of the service provider whose  engineer had climbed heights to install the receiver to be told. After a  couple of calls, I managed to get the supervisor, who wanted to know what was the problem. I said no problem, I just don't want it for some personal reasons. He was not convinced and said one more executive would call. I said I was not interested in talking to more people and I just wanted the service to be discontinued.

But sure enough there was a call a few days later by one of the senior guys.  I was apprehensive that he would call me 'Dore', but he sounded peeved and wanted to know why I did not want the connection and what was the problem, and if personal what kind of personal problem. I said:  'I am sorry, I have spoken to your other executive and he will explain to you. I have  no intention of talking about it any longer, I just want it to be discontinued' and did not wait for his reaction and disconnected.  I am not sure when they will take action. I am also worried as the service engineer has to again climb to the top of the building, unprotected.

Anyway, I learnt a lesson! Getting into new technology is like the abimanyu's chakravyuha, not easy to get out!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Amazing Mysore. We are impressed!

I am stealing this slogan from the Thais. They use it to attract tourists to their 'Amazing Thailand'  with a lot of success! I am not trying to teach our 'experts' how to go about attracting tourists into Karnataka. I am sure they have their own strategies. In fact, they seem to have made a start, they charge more for the foreign tourists, except that foriegn tourists are not seen barring a few stragglers here and there! Almost nothing when compared to Bangkok! Being an incurable optimist I hope the tourists will come pouring in. But at times as I scan the newspapers, I am almost cured of my optimism!  Anyway enough of my rambles.

We returned from the zoo to our wonderful hosts' lovely home. Madhu's (Sethu) parents live in Mysore and were just 15 minutes away from the centre of the city. Had a delicious lunch. Thinking that Leela and Rhea were tired and would sleep, Rohini planned a trip to the palace. (Link to my earlier blog.) We were wrong as they were both awake and active.  Leela said she would go with Rohini to see the palace. Rhea, of course, also wanted to go! I had planned to take a break, but tagged along just in case Rhea fell asleep in the car.  We made  a quick tour of the Palace and they did very well.

Finally at the end of the day, it was the grandfather who was under weather and by evening was a victim of stomach flu and had to forgo one more delicious iengar dinner with  lots of regret.

Actually it was our second day in Mysore . We saw the Brindavan Gardens the evening before. The kids enjoyed watching the musical fountain, but we did not stay too long as we had planned a long outing for  the next day. 

On the third day, we left early as our host Parthasarathy suggested we should go and see Ranganathittu on the way back.  We are thankful to our host to have practically insisted that we go. Luckily for me, the starvation in the night and a couple horrible sessions in the toilet throwing up had cleared my stomach and I felt fine. We left early in the morning after breakfast. A pity I had to miss it, Godha, our host, had made pongal. I averted my eyes as I walked past the dining table. Tough!

Ranganathittu was a delight and our first encounter with a crocodile at such close quarters. Most pictures are by Rohini and a few by Leela at Brindavan. For some inexplicable reason I forgot to take video clips of the crocodile as it drifted within a lashing distance of our boat. May be that was the reason!

A few more thoughts as we left for Bangalore.  There is so much to see and do around Mysore. A veritable gold mine for the tourism department. The places we saw and loved were dreamed by and implemented by great men, Sir M Visvesvaraya, Sir Mirza Ismail and Mr. Salim Ali before our  Independance.

It was great to see Ranganathittu and while nothing to fault it, let us hope there are more dreamers who make it better and better.

I have very vivid memories of Brindavan from my younger days. We used to approach the dam from the higher level and would see the garden from the top. Later to see the garden light up as it became dark was magical. It is a pity, that the dam is sealed off for security reasons. I hope some one locates a spot near the dam, which is secure and at the same time we can approach the garden from a higher level. This will give a panoramic view of the whole area. Imagine the gasp as people see the dam, the lake, the venugopalswamy temple which is being rebuilt by the Khodays and the beautiful garden as it lights up and the downstream green lands. May be a space needle or  a raised platform? I wish there is someone among our netas, who has the interest to do it .

Our very gracious and hospitable hosts. They said come again.

As we enter!

View of the downstream

Just before lights!

Different shades!

Our first view of Rangana Thittu.

Did you spot the crocodile?

This croc made us nervous. The boatman said 'They are also afraid of us. Not to worry'. I think they just let us be!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Leela and Rhea had a great time at the Mysore Zoo

I used to love the  Zoo as a kid and then became confused or ambivalent as I grew older. It is tragic that many animals and most birds are caged in inhuman conditions!  I also vaguely remember that there were some mystery deaths of animals due to poisoning in the Mysore zoo. I am not sure if the culprits were found, but as there is no mention of more deaths, hopefully things are alright. Lalbagh in Bangalore was not so lucky, rumour has it that a whole lot of deer were killed and consumed.

Anyway we decided to take our grandkids Leela and Rhea to the zoo. Mysore zoo is one of the oldest, created in 1892 under royal patronage. Initially we thought we would take the battery operated carts but were disappointed with the way it operates. The person at the station said, 'one hour and three stops!' The way he said it did not sound encouraging. Before I could ask for more details Rohini said let us walk. A bold decision, but the girls did very well considering there are 7 and 4 years old. We were there at the zoo for four hours!

As we walked I did notice some carts were not full and appeared to be reserved only for one group.  Possibly there is a scheme to hire these carts individually and pay a higher rate. It could be the reason why the operator discouraged us from taking the carts which were half full. A ploy to make more money from an obvious NRI. Or it could be those individual groups were VIPs. A common feature in India.

  We could have seen more if there was a system of hop-on and hop-off system seen in most advanced countries. Oh well! I am sure it will happen one day! The other disappointement was there was only one type of cool drinks in the canteen. There was of course the tender coconut water stall!  May be a good idea to send some officials to other zoos to learn a few things about dealing with a crowd who would be tired by end of the day.

We took it in a slow pace and covered as many spots as we could before we adults got tired!  I must say we had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed the zoo. It is indeed beautiful. There are  lots of positive signs.
  •  Group of children from schools are admitted free of charge.
  • The enclosures are getting larger and many animals are in their natural surroundings. More are planned.
  • The adoption system seems to be working well. Nice to see our guruji B K S Iyengar amongst the donors
  • There are many many trees and this makes the place cool and absolutely pretty.
  • Especially the wetlands, which by itself  is worth the entrance fee we are charged.
  • 'No plastic' rule is seriously implemented.

Here a few pictures for you to enjoy!

As we enter.

It is a challenge to focus past the grills

The white tiger.

Two young cubs frolic

Our ancestors should approve!

Rhea maintains a safe distance

Mysooru mallige is a must!

Rohini says it is a rare view! Asian and African elephants as neighbours.

Leela has her first taste of tender coconut water. It was kind of good she said!

And the pulp!

The cat could not climb higher. Hope  they do something about it.

Will probably get a new home.

The smile Rhea gave when she was told that the bird in the enclosure is RHEA!

Leela has  a long way to go to compete with a giraffe!