Tag Archives: misery


Perhaps you wouldn’t agree if I say…”Had Gandhi been here he would have been elated to finally see the India of His dreams. An India where we “Hear No Evil. See No Evil. Speak No Evil.”

NOOO?? You don’t agree??

Well let me then tell you my story and you certainly would nod an emphatic yes.

This is the story of a customer, who was one amongst the million many to be lucky enough to avail Customer Care. So then…

One fine day my salary arrived from home. These were hard times and such days were momentous indeed for poor chaps like me. The feeling of being rich atleast for a while made me conveniently forget the sole motto behind that money flow.

Rent—- Later. Bills—- later . Books— Later. Shopping— Need of the hour!!!

My ATM card, the symbol of my All Time Money  All time Misery shove me into  a nearby ATM. My card belonged to SBI while the ATM machine belonged to HDFC. And there started the catastrophe. Each time I would insert my card, it would ask me to wait for the cash and then POP!!! ‘Your Session has expired’.  I would start the process all over again. But after the third try, I quit.

I thought this was an indication by Dear Lord to put aside the street shopping and raid on some classy chic place where I would swipe my card straight away like a rich girl and jump home loaded in luxury.

But little did I know that I was already swiped off onto the streets where even street shopping wouldn’t be affordable.

Unlike the usual times I didnot receive any sms alerts about the deduction of my balance and so I basked in ignominy. But the tremors hit me horribly hard when I decided to clear off some bills online. They had deducted the balance three times from the poor fellas account without as much as an iota of hint!!

I called up SBI customer care. None of the toll-free numbers picked.
Then moments of surfing led me onto a random number that turned out true.
Press 1….Press 2….. Press 3….Press 4..aaaand just go on pressing…
until Press my throat was all I could understand!
but with God’s mercy and squandering away my cell balance, waiting and waiting… I got to ‘talk’ to an employee out there.

They asked where and when and how. They confirmed my loss and that the   HDFC was the culprit. So what next?? I was asked to file a mercy petition to the culprit so that the wrong could be undone!!! and the phone was hung up. Bang!!

I was shocked and scared in disbelief.
I began pondering…
Well Books could be put aside for a moment, with them or without them chances of passing were one in a zillion 😉
But Rent loomed large on me 😦   What If I beg once more for an immediate bail out package?? I could adjust with scanty in the next month…or perhaps I would return when I got back the money…perhaps

But Daddy won’t believe..he would think I straightened my hair again at some expensive salon 😦

So I tried Customer Care once again. This time there was a lady. She set me thinking…English, Hindi, Odiya is all I know…So which Language is she talking in???

I figured out that it was a rapid fire version of Hindi..and some intensely, thoroughly and severely practiced version of English which I was unable to comprehend. Whatever I asked there came the same answer, more often than not, not the answer to the question I asked. Perhaps my English wasn’t as good as hers

I thought. The only way out is to not to let her speak at all. I explained my woe, first in English and then patiently in Hindi. A volley of questions followed...errr …Pardon..Sorry I couldn’t hear you….Pardon I don’t get you….
I summarised my issue all over again.This time in her language, and it worked!! Customers must understand the language specially customized for them. THIS is called Great Customer Care!!

I was asked my Account Number…then  some 11 digit number. Then some 19 digit number… some random number on the ATM receipt and on and on!! How could I ever be grateful to them for considering me not a mere mortal but a supercomputer!

The issue remained unresolved and umpteen calls followed for 2 days. Finally I was asked to go to my nearest bank branch and collect THE Number with which I could file a complaint, which would again be a number with  which I was to inquire about the processing of my request, which would then generate a number…..Ohhhh forget it…!!!

I located the nearest branch. My discretion said it was far. I took a rickshaw and dumped a friend along. Oh don’t tempt me to describe the ease with which we located our destination! THIS is called Banking at the doorstep–Financial Inclusion, so to say.  🙂

We were scared what if it was the lunch-hour and they ask us to wait or come later?? But then there was one consolation. In our banks lunch-hour starts right after break-fast when the office opens at 10 and continues precisely until tea-break at 4, intercepted by just a bunch of more tea-breaks. So any hour in between would be lunch hour… so there wasn’t any point worrying.

We took a deep breath and went inside. Too many counters confused our cerebrum. We decided to randomly try our luck at one.. anyhow we would be tossed like a volley ball and thrown from counter to counter.
And our expectation was proved beyond doubt.
After having repeated my issue to nth people in nth counters in the most patient and polite manner possible then, I decided it was time.

We glanced at each other and rushed straight away into the Branch Manager’s Office. The Lady seemed to be working hard. She looked at us, a tinge of surprise and before I could mumble my issue she took my pass-book and scribbled a number onto it. Yeah she was busy. No time to Hear, See or Speak. I seemed glad until she said I had to call customer care and site this miraculous number and THEN would they file a complaint. I asked why couldn’t I file a complaint here. To which the reply was, ” Madam it would be faster”….Ooooh what a relief!!! THIS is called Fast-track redressal of customer grievance!!

I had to thank her for her mercy and hopped out.

But the way back home was full of hardships. Pretty dresses on the display windows lured me to take them home.
NO! NOO! I would have restrained myself, I swear. But it was my friend who compelled me  and with such easy loans coming one’s way, how do you expect vehement resistance, haan???

Those came home. Some snacks and lemonade also came along…apart from a few other tit-bits.

I came home beaten and battered  and begun jotting down the expenses of the day…this was a habit I took to as survival instincts. 🙂
Oops!! it was 1/10 th of the amount I was hopeful of getting back.
A trip more to the bank to retrieve my lost money and it would eliminate the whole point of wanting it back ever 😛

The series of calls started again. And mercy came my way. She asked me a number and my job would be done. It was my Account number! I was shocked. The miraculous number I had toiled so hard to get wasn’t even of use! My complaint was registered and the next day I got back my lost money 😀 😀

Rent was paid and dues cleared!
With sheer joy I cheered!

And of course I had to throw a Treat for getting the lost treasure back!! 😉
I was ashamed to note down the expenses of the treat in my log book. What if it fell into Daddy’s hands?? That would be my doomsday!

A day passed and I sat down to pay my internet bill online. Annnd as HisStory repeats itself, HerStory repeated itself too! I got a mail saying ‘Transaction Failure’. I was scared to try again but that was the last date following which a penalty would be charged. So I proceeded again. This time they kindly accepted my regards. 😉

But Ooh! to my surprise I got a mail again saying the 1st transaction was a success as well. I immediately checked my account. It had been promptly debited twice. I waited a while expecting a regret mail from Reliance, my service provider and could have waited eternally had I not called them to report the theft.

The story started taking the same flavours. I nearly screamed with disgust.

I rung them up and they said I would have to prove the undue deductions through an email.

So I did. and here’s how…

Soooo! Didn’t I prove it well?

but they said there would be no refund rather they would be kind enough to adjust it against my next bill. This implied their cheeky assumption that I would continue availing their service!! Reliance on Reliance had proved to be a risky affair 😦   I was reminded of the times they had happily fined me for being late by a single day. I wished I could do the same as well.

But as fate would have, I was on the other side of the table and expecting the tables to turn, to have the odds in my favour was like expecting to sprout wings and fly. So I decided to lie down with patience…with the calmness of an ocean bottom and wait…

But there was a greener side as well. 🙂

 I learnt the Customer Care Sign Language.

 I developed as much perseverance as not to scream while sitting on a frying pan. 

I learnt to put on my best smile even in the worst possible circumstances.

 I learnt that ours is a truly disciplined country where “The Rules” are followed come what may, even if that means bending, twisting and changing them altogether, but yet sticking onto them forever.


 So what more does one want!!

NOW don’t you agree that Gandhianism holds true more today than ever before? Just that “The Rules” have been altered a bit. 😛

And we say…

” Hear not Anything.  See not Anything. Share not Anything”.

Now THIS is called CustomerScare!! Ooops Customer ‘Care’ 😉


The Tale of a Head

This afternoon while returning from the laundry ‘shop’ under the Peepul I was unsure whether my dress was washed and pressed well…But yeah I was sure of the fact that I was totally washed off, apart from a couple of other things.

I am unemployed. I am broke. I LOOK penniless!
And yeah,
World is a cruel Place.

Whether you quit, were fired or got caught in a time of layoffs, being unemployed is no fun. This fact had ultimately struck me hard. 😦

I remembered those halcyon old days when ‘Coin collection’ used to be my hobby. I grew up and learnt to call it Numismatics. Gradually the hobby left me and my sister grabbed it. A few ‘precious’ coins were handed down to her and I became one of the facilitators of her collection…

I would collect rare coins without making an effort to do so and pass them onto her.
Until today…when it dawned on me that Coin collection was too expensive a hobby for bankrupt people like me 😦

The story unfolded one autumn morning last September when I got a rare coin from a bookstore. It was a commemorative 5 rupee coin of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore minted to celebrate his 150th Birth anniversary. It was exciting to find someone other than Gandhiji on currency. I also came to find that there happened to be another 150 rupee coin of Tagore… But I knew the limits of my affordability. Recession had already started so I resolved to stay content with the 150÷30 figure!! Ahhaa 5 was a fabulous number 🙂

It adorned my purse since then. I would sometimes run out of change with nothing other than the 5 rupee coin and more often than not I would run out of money in total! BUT ..the Head on the coin would nod me a No to be given away.

I remember…
I had to smile like a kitty to an old woman at the Vegetable store and she let me off with a round figure of 70 Rs.
I had to fight with a Rickshaw Bhaiya when he refused to let me go without a 5 rupee more.
I had to use all my convincing power on an Ice cream vendor when after biting into the Orange lolly I discovered I had no change/ Money ( Money to be Honest 😛 ).Panting,I had run home and with the Ice cream dripping all over my T-shirt, I had rushed to keep my promise.

And Not just this…
I ALSO had to cutely gape and wink at a guy in the metro station counter so that he wouldn’t lose patience and let me wait till somebody from the queue would hand him the precious 5 rupee change. Aaand It had worked then!! 😛

Those were the days when atleast I ‘looked’ rich and credible. Toady even this myth was melted.
I frantically ransacked my entire wallet. Papers, Pocket Calenders,Empty ATM Slips,Credit Cards, Lucky Charm tokens, Dry Flowers from Temple visits…and what not!! But No Money! I “researched” and out came The Head.
I Half prayed that the laundry man didnot see it. But Alas good luck had become a scanty resource for me these days.

It was a matter of exactly 5 rupees and he couldn’t understand why I fussed over handing him the coin. Mr.Tagore stared at me. The head nodding again saying ” So are YOU the ambassador of Colonial era??…the India of abject penury??”… ashamed at my misery, I promised that having treasured him for months, I wouldn’t bid adieu today…

Staring with an oh-so-innocent look at the Laundry man…I crossed my fingers, fumbled into my jeans…perhaps my trick would work this time as well!

But NAAAAA…I had already overturned my pockets, already upturned my purse and having seen that all, he stood as adamant as he could.
I started negotiating, what if I mortgaged those clothes for a while and came back to fetch the money. But No!! He glanced at the dress and decided it wasn’t worth it… what if I didn’t return??? Foolish Man…couldn’t even realize that the expensive dress was also a gift/ donation 🙂 and I was bound to come back and collect it…

I realized with a worn out T-shirt and ragged jeans I was not only poor but I looked poor as well 😦

And after all the staunch argument, hue and cry, I saw plump Auntys peeping from their windows and felt embarrassment burn holes in my face apart from my pocket. I gave up. Gaped furiously at his head, violently nodded my head, surrendered that valued Head and stared up at the windows to face those curious heads.

Marching back towards home I smiled at my fate…I was alone again. The Head,Tagore’s Head had gone. But his voice echoed in already clogged corners of my Head ” Jodi tor đak shune keu na ashe tôbe êkla chôlo re,Êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo re…
If they answer not to thy call walk alone, walk alone, walk alone…”

And I mulled over…
The indignation of being bullied by a laundry man, the gloom of having lost The Head and the Despair of having hung my Head,tortured my braindead Head.

Well Tagore or no Tagore… This tale of a Head has fed a fact into my Head…
” I would Walk and I would walk alone. Not Because I was ever alone but because O Precious Head,YOU have left me. Because I have no more money in my wallet and because no rickshaw would be generous enough to give me a free ride!! 😦  So I would walk alone…So, tôbe êkla chôlo re! Êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo, êkla chôlo re……”