Intensely Angry

I still remember the day clearly as if it happened just yesterday. It was at the third birthday party of my daughter’s second cousin that the incident happened.

The birthday boy, as is the norm with three year olds was running around the small party hall in which the cake cutting was organized. And since the rest of the crowd was yet to arrive, his only playmate at this point in time was my daughter who was just a few weeks of turning three years old herself.

Now both these kids were ‘only children’ in that they didn’t have any siblings to share things with and were pretty much the center of attraction and attention in their respective families. This automatically meant that they were used to getting their wishes fulfilled and although were not ‘spoilt brats’ in the true sense of the word, the honest truth was that there was no competition for them as far as having their way at home. This naturally meant that both of them were quite bossy (for lack of a better term) in their demeanor.

That being said, both of them quickly realized that they were the only kids in the room and therefore adjusted well to playing with each other, generally singing rhymes and running around the room. Slowly however, as the birthday boy’s friends started arriving at the venue, he started getting more and more into his element. Within the next half an hour or so, we had a bunch of 10-15 kids running around, having a fun time in general.

Pretty soon my daughter was the only one there who didn’t know the other kids at all, and she started being left out of the fun and games that the rest of the kids were figuring out on their own. But that did not dampen her enthusiasm to be part of the fun and at every given opportunity she joined in on the fun, laughter and running around with the gang.

angry-faceI still haven’t been able to figure out why, but all of a sudden the birthday boy suddenly started pushing my girl around. Every time she tried to get into the crowd of kids playing, he would make it a point to come over to where she was and physically pushed her away from the game itself, so much so that on more than one occasion he managed to successfully ensure that she lost her footing and fell on her butt.

While my wife and me were quite disturbed by this behavior, the fact remained that it was the boy’s birthday party and both of us knew better than to get involved in a kiddie fight as long as it was not physically dangerous. But, once we noticed that the boy didn’t have any intention of letting it go and let my girl join in on the games, we had to intervene and pull her out for fear of being injured, both physically and to a smaller extent mentally as well.

What got my goat was the fact that neither of the parents of the birthday boy even tried to intervene and ask him to ease up on his bullying of my girl. Yes, it was his birthday and while the intention of not scolding him on that particular day was understandable, the fact remained that he was targeting my girl for unnecessary heckling and that irritated me to no end.

On previous occasions when my daughter had tried bullying other kids elsewhere, both my wife and me had intervened and explained to her as to how it was important for her to share her playthings and allow other kids to join her games. And while she didn’t quite like it at first, she soon understood that this was ‘the rule of the land’ as far as interacting with other kids went. Therefore, when the birthday boy continued his bullying without any intervention from any of the adults present, it ticked me off to no end that nobody was discouraging this behavior in him.

angry-face-clip-artWhile I understand that the kid was probably a little too young to actually understand what he was doing and how it hurt my girl, I was more irritated at the sheer callousness displayed by his parents who ideally should have intervened in this situation up front itself. Just remembering this incident rankles me a lot for more than one reason, not the least among them being parents inculcating good value systems in their children right at a very young age itself.


This post has been written for Project 365: A post a day where the intention is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided. Today’s prompt was to describe the last time I was surprised by the intensity of a feeling I had about something or how strongly I reacted to something that probably wasn’t a big deal.

The loser…

Dennis had always been a loser.

Right from his childhood, he had been obese. His mother had brought up him on a steady diet of pastries, cakes and sweetmeats. For the first 15 odd yrs of his life, not one meal time had passed him by where he did not end it with dessert. In fact so much so, that eating sweets had become his comfort mechanism.

Dennis had always been a loser.

Right from simple games at school like running races, soccer, cricket or simply running around the school playground, he was the clumsiest and slowest courtesy his weight and ungainly girth. He was always made fun of, he was always the joker in the pack, he was always the laughing stock.

Dennis had always been a loser.

The one time that he had tried acting in a play, the wooden stage creaked and shuddered so much when he was up on it that the headmaster had to intervene and stop the play in the interest of the safety of the entire audience and the others on stage. In any case, the role was an unsubstantial one, that of a tree with eyes, without any dialogues. After this incident, no one dared to ask him to participate in any other school activity which involved coming up on stage.

Dennis had always been a loser.

At college, though girls became friends with him easily enough, he soon realized that was because they treated him completely different from the other guys. He was more like a conduit through which they passed their messages to other guys. He was not even close enough to be called their friends as they didn’t treat him with enough love and affection that they treated even their acquaintances. To the girls, he was more like a use and throw paper napkin than anything else. He was their friend when they wanted something to be done by him and he was persona-non-grata when they didn’t have any specific use for him.

Dennis had always been a loser.

But today Dennis was the winner because he was a loser.

For the past 30 days, Dennis had been part of a competition which truly tested him, pushed him to the limits of his patience and endurance, probed his mental and physical strength, and he had persevered enough to be the winner.

Even today Dennis was a loser, but he was the winner because he was the ‘biggest loser’. He had just won the competition – Biggest Loser Wins!!!



This post is part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by Blogadda.


This post was picked as one of the WOW picks of the week on August 12th, 2013.


Let the buyer beware…



  1. When we spend 50 ps to buy ourselves a candy, we are not too worried about what candy we buy.
  2. When we spend 10 bucks to buy ourselves a chocolate bar, we are still not too worried about what chocolate we buy.
  3. When we spend 200 bucks to fill fuel in our two wheeler, we ensure that the fuel meter is set to zero and all the fuel goes inside the petrol tank of our vehicle.
  4. When we spend around 1,000 bucks to buy a branded shirt, we ensure that the color and pattern is of our choice, the size and fitting is appropriate and that we are fully satisfied.
  5. When we spend around 50,000 bucks on buying a new electronic gadget, we do our homework, we ensure that we research various brands, features, compatibility with our existing devices, etc and then we go ahead and ensure that we buy the right model of the correct brand after having seen a demo of the product itself.
  6. When we spend more than a few lakhs of our rupees on buying a new car, we do more extensive research, we take a test drive, we might even take our family members out on a test drive, we enquire which dealer provides the best after sales service, the best deals and then buy the car.

What was the point of this whole rambling above? The point that I was trying to make was that as the amount invested in a particular venture increases, our commitment to ensuring that it suits the original purpose increases manifold. As the amount increases, we take additional steps to ensure that all the money spent provides us with desired (or in some cases, better than desired) returns. Right…..

I still remember one of the earliest concepts that I was taught in Microeconomics was ‘caveat emptor’, a Latin term which literally translated means ‘let the buyer beware’. To put this term in layman language, and in plain English, it simply means that sellers and service providers are at liberty to pretty much sell anything they want, in whatever condition they want, and it is the buyers’ responsibility to ensure that the goods/services they purchase meet the conditions for which they are required for. The only exception to this principle is if the seller actively conceals any defects or faults in the good/service.

Why exactly am I giving the readers of this blog a lesson in basic microeconomics?

Because I came across this hilariously funny article (which I have every reason to believe is fact) where during the recently held IBL (Indian Badminton League) auctions, the bidders bid USD 46,000 for Pradnya Gadre whereas her more illustrious doubles partner, Ashwini Ponappa went for a price of USD 25,000. Why? Because the auction organizers made a mistake in their brochures and listed all of Ashwini Ponappa’s achievements under Pradnya. [Link to article]

While the organizers might have made a genuine mistake, my question was, what the hell were the bidders thinking about? Were they relying only on the organizers’ brochures for information regarding the players they were bidding for? Did they do any other homework at all before bidding? Do they even care about the game of badminton? Or are they participating in the IBL only because they foresee it to be the next big sports league of the country like the IPL? Just what the hell is going on…

It is a sad state of affairs when people who are willing to spend USD 46,000 have no clue as to the achievements of the player they are buying, and have also ended up buying the wrong player.

Wonder when sports other than cricket will get any kind of respect, attention, and the love of the paying public in this country…

Image courtesy: Google image search for ‘caveat emptor cartoons’


Customer Service in India….not quite dead yet…


When we talk of ‘customer-service’ in India, I am reminded of what my Services Marketing Professor back at IIM Indore used to tell…in India, a customer is one who will “kasht-mar”, loosely translated in Hindi, it means “someone who will die (mar) due to the kasht (troubles)” caused by the seller. Using that analogy, you can imagine my impressions of customer-service in India. And truth be told, in the 20+ yrs that I have actively, individually been using services in India such as banks, mobile phones, mobile service providers, cable TV providers, and other such assorted services, the customer-service has been nothing too great. In fact, if I managed to get decent service, that was a bonus, and if I managed to get a smile from the service provider, that was like a double bonus 🙂 .

The entire above paragraph was just to give the readers an idea about my general perception of customer service in India. Please note that these views are based purely on my personal experiences and are probably not a general statement about all service providers across India.

This being said, when I walked into GK Vale, Photographers, at the New BEL Road branch at Bangalore for two simple requests, I wasn’t expecting too much from them. All I wanted them to do was to scan one photo and give me 3 prints of a larger size. And the second request was to cut out one person from one photo and another person from another photo and merge them both into one new photo and give me 3 prints of the new photo. Simple enough, right?

Wrong…first up, the person behind the counter, the so called ‘expert’ informed me that the merging cannot be done without even enquiring with the person who was actually in charge of the merging process. He didn’t even bother asking the Adobe Photoshop expert whether it could be done and flatly refused even to take the order. It took my intervention and speaking to the person behind the computer and showing her the two photos after which he took the order for the merging.

I was then informed that the merging would take place on the system after approximately 12 hrs and that I would be required to come back to the showroom on Sunday morning at around 11 AM to confirm whether the merge was correct, and then the photo would be printed and delivered to me by around 6 PM on Sunday evening. While I didn’t understand why it would take them that much time, I consented for the same.

On Saturday evening at around 4 PM I was then called on my phone and informed that the merging was done on the system and that I had to approve of the same before the photo could be printed. When I went back to the showroom, one person was watching some B-Grade horror movie on one computer, and another person was checking his Gmail. While I understand that these things can be done when there are no customers around, the fact that even after I entered the store and stood there for a good two minutes without anybody caring for me, while the movie viewing and mail checking was going on was quite disturbing to say the least. After a while, the person watching the movie turned around and asked me what I wanted. When I told her that somebody had called me to approve of the merged photo, she just turned around and continued watching her movie. After standing there quietly for around 2 more minutes, when I asked her what to do next, she told me that the person performing the merge had gone out and would be back in 15 mins. I then sat down waiting for the Photoshop expert to arrive.

And then when the expert did arrive, she promptly parked herself next to this lady and started watching the movie. It was only when I spoke to her and told her that I had come over to approve a photo did she get up and show me the merged photo.  I was then informed that I could collect all my photos, 3 prints of the enlarged photo and 3 prints of the merged photo at 8.15 PM the same evening.

Then I made my third trip to the showroom at 8.15 PM on Saturday, when I was informed that while 3 prints of the merged photo were available, only 2 prints of the enlarged photo were available. Apparently there was some error when they placed the order with the lab where these photos were printed. While errors are acceptable, the fact that the information was provided to me without so much as a simple “sorry” or any kind of regret in behavior/tone of voice/attitude was what irritated me to the core.

I was asked to come on Sunday evening at 3 PM to collect the one remaining print.

All of these experiences ticked me off so much that I went ahead and did something for the first time in my life. I actually sat down and narrated these experiences in a mail and sent it to 3 mail ids which were mentioned in the store as Customer Care mail ids. The typing out and sending out of the complaint itself were my wife’s and my way of letting out our frustrations without actually hoping for any kind of responses or results.

What happened later completely took my wife and me by surprise. We actually got a call from the CEO of GK Vale enquiring about the exact nature of my complaint. We were then informed that this particular branch, the New BEL Road one was 1 of 5 franchisees of GK Vale and that there were 26 other stores in Bangalore, Mangalore and Hubli which were run by the company itself. Apparently, a few other customers had complained about the poor customer service at this particular branch and the franchisee had already been warned about the same. Based on what the CEO told me, I get the feeling that this was the last straw and that the company would withdraw the franchise from this particular guy.

What happens to the New BEL Road franchise is not the point of this long post at all. Rather, the fact that somebody as big as the CEO of the company took time out to read my mail and give me a call, apologize for what happened and explain the corrective action being taken in this regard, that completely surprised me and left behind a really good opinion about the individual and the brand in question. For an Indian brand to be so sensitive to its customer opinions, take action based on complaints, and that too so promptly, was really surprising to me. I guess Indian consumers still have some hope for better customer service after all.

On a related note, read this Firstpost article about the author’s experience with customer- service.

Image courtesy: GK Vale official website

The Mahatma, the Movie and Mindsets

January 30th, Martyrs’ Day, the day The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi passed away. One of his favorite bhajans was

raghupati rāghav rājārām,

patit pāvan sītārām

sītārām, sītārām,

bhaj pyāre tū sītārām

īśvar allāh tero nām,

sab ko sanmati de bhagavān


Literally translated it means


Chief of the house of Raghu, Lord Rama,

Uplifters of those who have fallen, Sita and Rama,

Sita and Rama, Sita and Rama,

O beloved, praise Sita and Rama,

God and Allah are your names,

Bless everyone with this wisdom, Lord.


Such a nice and small poem which still holds complete relevance in this day and age. When The Mahatma sang this song during the Dandi Salt March, its popularity soared so much that it remains to be sung to this day all over India whenever anybody thinks of him.

That being said, it is quite ironical that today was the day I read these three news items –

  • The controversy caused by SRK’s article in The Outlook magazine, now hosted on NDTV [Link]
  • The controversy caused by the TN Govt over the release of Kamal Hassan’s Viswaroopam [Link]
  • The pre-emptive ban imposed on Salman Rushdie by the West Bengal Govt [Link]

All of this leads me to wonder just like Kamal Hassan did, do I want to live in this country whose constitution (law of the land) calls it a democratic secular republic. Well, we do have democracy at least in name, to the extent that all of us who are more than 18 yrs old can vote (that is, if we can find our names in the electoral rolls and if somebody else has already not voted in our names).

However, given these headlines and based on various conversations that I have had with well educated colleagues, friends, family members and everybody in general, I struggle to find even 1% of secularism in this country. All of us are so tied to our belief systems, our prejudices, our notions, our stereotypes of how various communities are, how people from these communities behave, etc.

Most of us seem to believe that the only way we can live in India is to judge people, events and base our reactions and lives accordingly. Nobody seems to be willing to be just a little more open-hearted, welcoming of dissonance, welcoming of disagreements and overall truly secular, in all sense of the word.

Wonder if it is just me who is frustrated at all that is happening right now, or are there more folks like me out there thinking similarly?