Thursday, June 30, 2005


had been to the Tata Crucible Corporate Quiz regional eliminations and finals today. always had bloated impressions of my quizzing skills. it is that way before every quiz and gets deflated as quickly soon after. this time it deflated with a difference. i think the quizzing standard was way under par. now i know why people like parnab mukherjee dont even raise an eyebrow at such things.

the business quizzes back in college (parnab mukherjee used to grace it) used to leave me answering as much as 3-4 qts from a boquet of 20. here i managed 8. dont think that i've added much to my corporate gyan over a year, though it has always been on my wishlist. but this performance was a morale booster of sorts. maybe i can get good at this!

i subscribe to ET everyday. its time i start reading it too.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

pulsed and nonplussed

just about everything about mumbai gives one an adrenalin rush! stepping out of the arrival gates, mumbai fills your lungs! a deep breath 'pranayam' just extended my longevity by that much! had it not been for the distance, a walk to saki naka would've been the ultimate nectar. settled to getting drunk in its air.

was glad somethings never changed. the comfort of coming back to all that was so familiar, so warm. however strenuous it might seem, living in these environs comes as second nature. the traffic filled roads, potholes thanks to the rains, wobbly autos and cars wading their way through. people oblivious to these little obstacles in their lives, all they had to do was get to work. they seemed to be walking on water. little kids loaded with school bags twice their size, covered in flowery raincoats right down to the toes. looking like miniature jayalalithas. amma would be proud of this fan following :-)

i was there to attend an engagement and a wedding. but for a moment had forgotten all about it. oh yes, the e. and w. revels are a blog post on their own!

out to catch the early morning flight back here. the wee hours too have something distinctly mumbai. 4:45am and i am walking towards the main road. there's a auto chap at the turn. all he can see is my silhouette. a lanky figure with a bag on one shoulder. and he doesnt wait for me to reach the main road. try stopping a rick in chennai. wave out when he's 10ft away; he'll be crawling on the road but would still stop 10ft ahead of you. soon am off to the airport once again.

the santacruz stretch of EE highway never looked so beautiful. a medley of 5 taxis performing a ballet as they race down the banking. looked like an indy car race in silverstone. out emerges the prima donna BMW behind me cutting across like a knife through butter. but the peasants are not humbled, they have their pride very much in place. eventually they all turned at the same airport. my auto included.

while my flight was being readied, heard a rather lifeless bark from an air sahara crew, "sahara passengers to bangalore!". dont know what made her sad. maybe that she was to stay here at the airport while her fellow crew members got to go there! i am told that airline counters at gates have PA systems that help reduce stress on the vocal cords. apparently she wanted to make a point. the walkie-talkie only made her look more important. she was sad no one took notice of her or her call. passengers headed to bangalore anyway were moving to that gate. but i had heard her, even though there was little i could do.

jet airways is not in the LCC category. here are people who have pockets deeper and its imperative that they show it. ironically i have found more bluetooth enabled phones at chennai central railway stn than at the international terminal. i should have checked it here. they maybe on an official trip, but would still show that 'air of superciliousness'. they HAVE to pick a pink paper, wear thin rimmed glasses and have black coffee. an occupational hazard in a way! for me, i had my priorities. a screwed up playlist and lack of sleep in that order. but jet provides breakfast which i have already paid for! cannot afford to miss that, so held eyes wide open with toothpicks. could hear aerosmith crooning in the background "dont wanna close my eyes, dont wanna fall asleep..."

as the plane taxis down, the air crew starts its drill. reminded me of the PT sessions from my school days. good exercise to the wrists and the waist as they show where the emergency exits lay. but heads were still into the pink papers. hmmm, we just rolled past a plane that said 'global peace ambassador'. wonder what that is. got to google it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

pulse mumbai

feeling Mumbai in my veins Posted by Hello


i think its a nexus between the airlines and the taxi operators. they keep their flights so early in the day, the cabbies rake in a rather healthy moolah! all excited, albeit grogy eyed i reach the airport saturday morning 4am. my first air deccan flight! lest i be categorised as the 'nouveau riche', i must insist that this mode of transport was enforced on me. absence of teleportation and circumstance are my scapegoat. but with the iPod plugged into me, i did not quite come across as a chap who has stretched his pockets to make this trip. stares moved from the paper ticket to the iPod and then to me.

probably the first flight out of kamraj domestic airport for the day was DN 613. LCC is the lingo air deccan (AD for convenience) has taught the indian traveller - Low Cost Carrier. the thriftiest of the travellers will feel at home. in time for check-in, i come with the most abyssmal expectations from AD. free seating a la general compartment, delayed flights, old aircrafts et al. first dose of suprise came in the form of a boarding pass WITH a seat number on it! but was left wondering why a sticker with a seat number was attached onto the boarding pass which already carried a number!! ever since i bought this ticket, cost cutting was so engrained in my head, i found this a wasteful expenditure, not to forget a wasteful activity too. the chappie at the counter is also paid to stick those tags onto the passes. extra cost. i am not asked my seat preference. this must be the free seating i was told about.

move on to security check. not one to have had problems in this part of airline journeys, was rather amused to be pulled to the side for 'detailed inspection'. turned out, the iPod had stirred the security personnel's brains. i've seen it to do to one's heart, but this mental connection was new to me. i gathered, the connection was new to the security personnel too. with a pleading eye he turns to his superior, apprehensive hands holding the iPod and a bleating "saar!". would have gladly inquired what was choking him, but my sight was set on the iPod. almost hit myself for putting it in the bag for the X-Ray! the security superior though casts an omniscient eye from afar and okays the junior to let me go. i would rather have him not look at the iPod that way! humpf! world peace restored, the junior hands me back my precious piece and am off on my way.

the essence of a low cost flight did not quite hit me till i found two seemingly rustic men climb aboard. long kurtas, over-washed dhotis and matching yellow turbans to boot. skins well tanned in the summer sun. i must remind the reader here that i had to stretch my pockets to make this trip. now i need to remind myself to ask my boss for a raise, or probably hone my agricultural skills. the emphasis on cost saving was further drilled into me when the flight purser reminded us to not assume that the life jackets were freebies. also, help them bring to book those who considered it so! boy! i am now a vigilante too! her reasoning was infallible. the more we deprive them of their life jackets, the more they spend on getting new ones, the more we spend on our tickets. rather potent logic. i understood it without the need to be told again. by now i was quite convinced that AD was serious about saving money, but wondered whether the flight crew would charge us for a smile. i suppose they do, but i was on a cost saving trip too! did not want to find out.

the interior seemed quite well made, i had imagined electric chairs with straps for seat belts. but my iPod was acting up. it showed 4 instances of Rock and 5 of Slow Rock. must be the Real Player's handywork. had connected to it the previous day. damn s/w screwed up my playlist. i was no longer interested in the decor. but such maladies hold little fort against a slumber induced by a 3hr sleep the previous night. drifting off into the clouds, i am stirred by the sweet scent of a woman's perfume, fresh bread and coffee. maybe i was dreaming but i do recollect having seen a food trolley go past me. the air hostess chose not to disturb me. bless the soul! back to my slumber and this time jolted wide awake by turbulence. pilot crackles into the PA system asking us to belt up. blast his soul! yeah, he would know what was going on, but i did not and i certainly was all (blocked) ears! we were almost near mumbai. i think of all the rain clouds there and tell myself it must be these that created the shake. telling me that something i had so longed for, is finally here!

mumbai. i am back! but the screwed up playlist was disturbing me. i need to get to the nearest iTunes and fast!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

colour ocher?

prads: colleague returned from his trip to mumbai... has coloured his hair ochre... looking like fowl
frnd: i dont even know what color ochre uis
frnd: is it the orangish looking color?
prads: something like the output of a bad tummy
frnd: aiyooo

peaceful weekend

should say, it was one of those frutiful weekends. you plan so much in advance, like a week before and to have it materialse - has its own pleasures. much like a dream come true. anything you get to do beyond that, is added attraction.

Saturday: the much looked forward to Wodehouse Talk happened at The Corner Bookstore (Abhiramapuram). It seems they have such talks every month on books. but it would take a genius bigger than Wodehouse himself to pick one book of his and discuss his marvel. am still envious of one of the loonies there. old chappie, displayed a personal letter from Plum himself! i can merely reconcile with the fact that i was born a mere month before Plum died. having a quill in hand for purposes other than waving it in gay abandon was a far cry. sigh!

the evening had a marvelous end with a peaceful gathering with a bunch of friends and a midnight walk by the beach. the cop made it a point though to have the place cordoned off by the time the clock struck the hour. will try and get there earlier the next time.

Sunday: not one to take focused interest in such things, agreed to go for it since a friend asked. it was my second play. evam Indrajeet, a must see. they have plans to hit other cities like bangalore and mumbai sometime down the line. "your life in 3 acts" is how they put it. quite true to their claim!

eventful and peaceful at the same time! memorable weekend this!

Saturday, June 04, 2005


in a place where no other season is known, it is misleading to say 'summer'. gives an impression that another season exists. it should be simply called weather. someone asks you 'how's the weather?' and you say, 'as ever!' mind you, you cannot say 'hot' because 'cold' would then be a possibility! consistency is the key. would take a moron some effort to flunk a match-the-pairs test and miss out with 'summer' and 'chennai' in the list!

nevertheless, "summer" (i shall use it for the knowledgeable few to relate to) in chennai, is euphemism at its kindest! furnace, 24x7 open-air sauna, barbeque city, are more realisitc terms. this is one city that holds immense business potential for fashion too. one can design a spring-summer collection and expect to sell it all the year round! no clearance sale required to bring out a change.

no other place offers you a more compelling reason to land up in office on a saturday! thank god for thermodynamics, we now have air conditioners! people of chennai can learn a new concept - winter.

Friday, June 03, 2005

sorry for the delay in response

i am compelled to put this here. i would have probably left this as a frustrated customer and maybe even forgotten about it over a period of time. but companies, in their urge to remain in the high visibility range, have a way of reminding you of their stupidity, ineptitude, what have you.

i am happy that the bank keeps me informed about my account balance. but could they just leave it at that? i mean, send me the statement and stop! i dont want to know whether they have loans to dole out or credit cards that clamour for my wallet space. ICICI Bank has now taken a new fancy (yes, they think they are doing me a favour.) i can list myself under a "Do Not Disturb" category which will protect me from their telemarketers and cold callers. i have heard of a hafta* system thats prevalent in some places. but ICICI has a catch. i am supposed to call their call-centre (they call it phone banking) and plead them to leave me alone. its their way of punishing me for not letting them bother me.

Citibank lets you do this via email. its probably less of a hassle, and i might still argue that. but ICICI excels in "customer service". and they take pride that Outlook Money puts this customer service as one of their strengths. i say, Outlook has a wonderful sense of humour!

i simply love ICICI's customer service :-) i mean, it gives my understanding of this world a new perspective.

exhibit 1. log on to their secure net banking site. i have to insist on the term secure 'cos it uses my unique customer id (something the bank identifies me by) and a password the secrecy of which is my responsibility. now i ask them to change my communication address. they promptly reply after 4 days stating that they cannot change my address 'cos of security reasons. hmmm. i remind them that i am transacting through their secure website. it takes them another 4 days to remind me that communicating with them through secure netbanking is well, not secure!

exhibit 2. before i get charged for a credit card i never needed, i decide to cancel it. report to work late one day, make that dreadful trip to their branch and get rid of the plastic. a signboard "credit cards" overjoyed me. so i walk up straight to the "customer care executive" sitting "just for me" and ask him to just cancel my card. he actually isnt worried about losing a customer (it was not the end of the month, he could still hunt new prey). he merely tells me that branches are not authorized to cancel credit cards. it has to be done only through their call-centre. oops! sorry, phone banking. leaves me wondering, was this guy made to sit here just to direct people to ICICI's call centre!?

the most entertaining part of the whole deal while writing to your ICICI Bank account manager through (secure) Net Banking is that they seem to have a reply template in place. (and i love this part) All their mails have a common opening line. "Sorry for the delay in response...."

* hafta - protection money