Monday, August 06, 2007


It was that time of the day, Tunna and Chutki took their places behind the long curtains in the living room. Eyes twinkling with mischief and faces beaming with smiles, they waited for Jiji to arrive at the scene. The big grandfather clock on the wall struck 7 and Jiji came waddling into the room. She chanted her prayers in a murmur and grimaced as she walked; it was the arthritis. There was nobody in the room, she noticed as she squinted from behind her thick glasses. Jiji turned on the TV and slowly settled into her rocking chair.
The TV screen came alive with Jerry trying to run away from Tom; Tunna and Chutki burst into loud giggles. Jiji frowned and called after them. This was the daily prank they played on Jiji. Every evening just before Jiji came to watch her soaps, Tunna changed the channel setting to their favorite Cartoon channel; Chutki liked to play accomplice. They enjoyed seeing Jiji struggle to find her channel; the channel that played all the melodramatic soaps.
Tunna and Chutki were the youngest among Jiji’s pack of grandchildren. Jiji had three sons and they all lived together with their families. Ever since their father’s death 7 years ago, they had brought Jiji to stay with them. Jiji had never wanted to come to the city from Bagra….what did the city have??…she didn’t want to leave her home and her friends, but couldn’t resist her sons’ plea. Nobody really had time for Jiji and she met the family only at night during dinner.
Jiji punched the numbers on the remote and looked up at the TV screen to see if she had found her channel. She muttered something about how naughty Tunna and Chutki were getting and how their generation lacked respect for elders, as she went about this channel scanning exercise. Suddenly her jaw dropped as her gaze settled on the screen. She adjusted her glasses and looked at the screen one more time.
The same straight nose, the same white hair, combed back slickly and the same starched, pure white kurta and the same broad frame. Jiji couldn’t believe her eyes. The man on the screen looked just like Ramcharan, her husband who was no more. The man was speaking a language that was beyond Jiji’s comprehension, but when he smiled…she smiled back, because the smile too was just like Ramcharan’s. She called out for her sons, but no one answered. For an hour Jiji sat there glued.
The family was surprised to see Jiji chirpy and excited at the dinner table but nobody bothered to know why. Jiji’s evenings are no longer lonely. Her hour-long date with Ramcharan daily even keeps her arthritis at bay. Sharing her deepest thoughts…speaking her heart out…reprimanding him about his health…complaining about her sons and daughter-in-laws at times…sharing stories about the city and her grandchildren…the hour seems to fly for Jiji

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Of late, I have been dishing out small pieces which I consider to be my feeble attempts towards fiction. But this post is very much real and as you will soon realize, about an issue that is close to my heart. Without further ado I will get to the heart of the matter. Please be ready for my rant mode for this post.
Pardon the profanity in the title. However, I am sure anybody in my position would be driven to such extremes. A few months ago we signed up for a broadband internet connection through Reliance. Since we signed up as a group (a bunch of people from my colony) they threw in a free intercom service and waived off the activation fee. We were elated! What the dodo in me failed to note is that we had ended up signing for their phone service for which my family had no real use. Hence, I decided to terminate the phone service and upgrade my broadband to a much better plan.
So pronto I did the needful; switched the broadband plan and put in the request to terminate the phone connection (14th July 2007). Apparently only a supervisor level individual can take the termination request. So 1st a regular customer care dude, verified my identity and then put me on hold for 30 minutes at least (seriously, no exaggeration there) so I could be transferred to the supervisor dude. Apparently all the supervisors were busy just the time when I wanted to put in my termination request. I gave them the benefit of doubt and tried to be merry listening to the music track that they play when they put you on hold. O BTW the music really really gets too you as the time you spend holding the call increases. At last, after what seemed like eternity the supervisor came on line. I had to repeat the same verification details, provide him with reasons as to why I want to terminate the connection, etc. I was informed that somebody from another team would contact me to take an appointment so they could visit and take away the phone instrument and finish the other formalities. I provided him with an alternate number to call. I was told that the timeline for the completion of the request would be 14 working days; that’s like half the billing cycle. Oh well! Maybe their motto is: “Our customer is our GOD (spelled backwards!)”
When I came home next day, ma informed that the Reliance folks had called. Unfortunately I had not clearly updated folks at home, so ma ended up telling them to call later since she did not have a clear idea about the termination request. Of course they never called back. I called up Reliance customer care that same night and I must say they are either out of their mind or have a really crooked sense of humor. I was informed that we had communicated that we want to retain the phone service!! Wallah…how they twist the customer’s words. I admit that I really admire their skill of interpreting new meanings from seemingly simple statements. The only option that I was left with was to put in a new request (as outlined above).
It is well known that I need a lesson in anger management. The prospect of being on call listening to crappy Reliance on-hold music was quite daunting and I guess that proved to be the last straw. I sort of raised hell as I put in my request the second time around. Only this time, I decided to do better than listen to their on-hold music; I utilized my time by making some pending phone calls and caught up with people that I needed to catch up with. After much tantrum throwing (no that did not help, my call with them still lasted the customary 45 minutes) I had put in my 2nd request. I got a call from the other team on my cell within a couple of days. I was not in a very cordial mood (when am I you say? ;)) and so ended up telling them point blank that I wanted to terminate my phone connection ASAP. I also informed that I was tired of giving reasons. A week or so elapsed, no follow up signs from Reliance and I began to get suspicious.
Another round of calls confirmed my worst fears. Their logs show that I confirmed I want to retain their phone service! Now either I have forgotten how to communicate or they have some serious mental challenges. With no other option I put in my termination request the 3rd time around last night (3rd August 2007). If a phone call to Reliance customer care entails termination of service, then be assured that their supervisors will be busy (which means you are on hold indefinitely) or that their system will be down. (which means you have to call back later)
These incidents coupled with some previous sour experiences with Citibank have led me to believe that customer care around here is customer, don’t care. They come kissing at your feet to activate any goddamn service, but when you need to cancel the same, you are at their mercy. Often customers are plundered by signing them up for unnecessary services. Agreed it is the customer’s duty to thoroughly verify what they are getting into. But often, time seems to be the challenge and hence such minor plundering is either ignored or most times goes unnoticed. These service providers don’t seem to value the customer’s business or their time. Their contorted processes are proof enough.
Have any of you had similar issues with Reliance or for that matter any other customer, don’t care service? I urge all those sailing in the same boat as me to not give up on such issues. Hopefully our follow ups will yield the desired result someday!
Moral of the story:
Be extremely careful before signing up for anything that requires your money, because it takes a lot of time, patience and mental agony to get out of it. (Take my word for it, will ya?)
To Reliance:
GET WELL SOON. My flowers are on the way!