Sunday, December 03, 2006

Reading the Signs

Have you ever pondered about those little readme's that life sometimes throws at you? Windows of opportunity, i call them. In hindsight i would say these are rare and when confronted by such an event you should make the most of it. But then everything looks clearer in hindsight. How many times have we interpreted these signs and used them to our advantage? Isnt that what life boils down to... seizing the opportunity?

Picture this. I come home after a very late night movie and am waiting in the lobby for the lift. At 2:30 in the night the guards were sleeping and even the dogs weren't howling! So you can imagine my surprise when a cute girl walks upto the lift and starts waiting right beside me. Now common sense tells you that if a girl is standing all alone, the least you can do is to make an effort to strike up a conversation. But then common sense is the last thing i would expect to work when a cute girl is standing about 2 feet from me. On top of that the eerie silence that filled the vacuum was like the third character in this story. You could feel its prescence, almost. That, combined with the cricketing sounds just got onto my nerves. So when she gave me a sweet little smile it came as no surprise that i blacked out and all i could manage was something resembling a very terse chuckle. So obviously she took the hint and managed to hide her face from the chuckling monster that i had made myself out to be. Just look at the improbability of this event. I estimate that,
Probability of finding a girl waiting for the same lift as you = 0.01
Probability of that girl being cute = 0.01 (since i consider all of them cute)
Probability of that happening at 2:30 in the night =~ 0.000001
Probability of that girl smiling at you =~ 0.000000001

So i am not very far away from the mark when i claim that i screwed up a 1 in a billion opportunity.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Credit card vows...err is it woes?

Disclaimer: This is NOT a crib post about my present work which involves a lot of credit card analytics :)

Less than a year back i had 0(read as zero) credit cards in my wallet. I was a firm believer in the debit card system. And then i always had my dad's debit card too for that added security cover :) Its not that i hadn't been wooed by the ICICI's and the Citibank's but i was always wary of these credit cards. I had turned down numerous 'free credit card saar' salesmen outside my offices and had vowed that i would never take a credit card. But times change and so do our vows. Change is inevitable but then you don't expect a river to change its direction overnight. So when i looked into my wallet today and found 5 cards there, i happened to remember those broken promises. And the worrying part is that the card count is increasing every month.

And just how did i start accumulating these cards is the crucial question. Its all due to my negligence i must say. All of you definitely must have got calls from unsolicited females asking you to take the XYZ free credit card that gives you all the possible benefits a credit card could give you. Then you get 10% off on all blah blah blah stuff. But i don't think anyone responds to these people. And therein lies the single greatest mistake in my life. I fell for one and that set the ball rolling. The result of this has become an avalanche now and i cant stop it :( Yes, i made the cardinal mistake once and agreed to take a card. I revealed all my information to this charming lady from Citibank who spoke to me like she were an angel. Now there are hardly any days when a few chosen expletives aren't uttered in her memory and none of them has any angel in them. I realized very late that all they need to do is to break you once and then pretty much every bank will have you number.

The very next day some girl from ABN calls me and asks me to take their card. I refuse immediately and hang up. A few seconds later the same girl calls me up and asks me the same thing. I politely remind her that i had just spoken to her and hang up. A few minutes later and its her yet again! I always knew that you don't need to know rocket science to do such work but i didn't know that common sense had been taken off the list too.

Well, a week and then two passed after i applied and i didn't get that Citibank card. So I assumed that my application was rejected. I felt hurt that i wasn't even considered trustworthy of a credit line. So i did what millions of Indians do. I got an ICICI card. After all they offer a credit card to practically everyone. As luck would have it, after a few days i did get that Citibank card. And a few days later i also had an ICICI card waiting for me. All was well till then. I asked for one but even with two cards i wasn't really complaining.

That's when all the trouble began. A week after the first ICICI card arrived i got the ATM pin, the internet banking pin and the phonebanking pin. A week after that i got an Online Add On card for online transactions. Then came the internet banking pin for the new add on card. A few weeks later i got a new credit card, again from ICICI. Some card called ICICI Preferred. I noticed that they increased my credit limit by a few thousands too. I never asked for the online add on card in the first place and now i was stuck with a preferred card too. I called up the ICICI customer care but before i regale my problem they started selling me an insurance plan. I hung up in exasperation. After the first ICICI preferred card came along i got the ATM pin, internet banking PIN and the phonebanking PIN for that too. Now, a few days back i got yet another ICICI Preferred Card. My credit limit has gone up again and the new set of PIN's arrive. My room is now full of PIN's and credit card and their booklets, vouchers and whatnots.

If you thought ICICI was bad then the state run credit card companies were not too far behind. SBI must take the cake for ingenuity. A few weeks back i got an envelope from SBI Cards. It said "Dear Mr Sreejith P C, Your application for SBI gold credit card has been rejected. Thank you for applying". Well that's a perfectly normal letter except for a small glitch. I never ever applied for an SBI Card!! Now how a company can process an application and then reject it and then send it to the correct address is beyond my understanding. Only an SBI could have pulled that off.

If you thought i've had enough trouble with these cards then wait. There is an unsavoury episode of an online transaction. When i received that bloody ICICI Online Add On card, i also received a booklet with some promotional offers. One such was that online purchases at the LG site would get me 'fabulous discounts'. So not being one to lose out on an offer, i promptly and very foolishly i might add, went right ahead and bought a television from that site and asked for it to be delivered in Trivandrum. The site said the order would be delivered in 2-3 days. So i waited and waited and, being the patient types, waited some more. After a week and with no sight of the TV, i got suspicious and called up the customer care number listed on the LG site. They patiently appeared to listen to my problem and then transferred my call to the LG Service guy. This guy after listening to my problem for a whole 5 minutes connects me to the so called concerned people at LG's internet customer care. It so happens that there is NO such division at LG and the phone just keeps ringing. Its like the dead end of customer care. So i again call the customer care and the same vicious cycle repeats with the call ending up at the very same dead end number. Now i got really pissed off and call the head delivery manager's number. He listens to my rants and tells me to talk to the guys in Trivandrum(the manager at the delivery point) and he promptly gives me a number. When i call this number(STD), the person on the other end listens and tells me that the reason for the delay was because that particular brand was out of stock. After about 5 minutes of trading heated arguments he finally backs down and tells me that he will have the TV delivered that very day and asks me for the address. I tell him my Trivandrum address and that's when the bloody idiot tells me that he is in Tirupati!!! The moron of a head delivery manager had passed me the Tirupati branch's number instead of Trivandrum's! At this point i gave up and resigned myself to my fate. The domestic customer care is like an impregnable fortress. Try as hard as you can, but you can never get through. Well i guess in the end everything finally ends well. After more than 2 whole weeks a TV finally turns up at my home. Someone up there must really like me. By the way I never got that fabulous discount that the ICICI booklet promised. Someone up there must really love me.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Fallout of a Fall

Many eventful things have been happening in my life! I had my first real fall. Unfortunately not the falling in love kind of fall but nevertheless it did make me horny for a little while. Now if i can take the liberty to call a teeny weeny bump on my head a horn, it does make me horny, doesnt it!

Coming back to the fall, it was a rather uneventful fall from a bike and that too from a friends bike. I just ran into a large pothole, which is a rather ubiquitous sight in Gurgaon, and went flying into another pothole(didnt i tell you that they were everywhere!). They might have built a dozen malls but telltale signs that Gurgaon is a city built into a village are all too visible. As for the fall, not to worry because apart from the usual bruised knee, battered palms , dented ego and the horn on the head every other part seems to be .. errr.. not really in shape(since round is not a shape!) but in working condition.

The amazing thing is that within a week of the fall i went right ahead and bought a brand new bike(a black Honda Unicorn) for myself. That sure acted as some confidence building step. I had been contemplating buying a bike since i landed here and realized that public transport is a non existent concept in Gurgaon. But there always was this deep seated fear that i was maybe not good enough to navigate through the traffic. Having had a fall i suddenly felt less afraid. I can't really explain this but i felt the fear in me receding. Its like i had this quite confidence around me after the fall.

What i've realized is that all of us will have such fears. There will always be danger. But you will never get over the fears that lie in the darkest corners of your mind unless you have faced them head on and seen for yourself what lies in store. I am not saying that one should run around trying to find danger. After all why would i of all people, who has never ever picked up a fight with anyone till date, ask you to court danger! All i am saying here is that sometimes its better to come out bruised rather than living in fear and waiting for the inevitable to happen.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Nuclear is Unclear

I had the good fortune to have been to a friends wedding a few weeks back. This was my very first experince of a 'North Indian wedding' and it was a great one at that. But I guess all the dancing, playful flirting and the simple fact that people were having fun at a wedding was a bit too much for someone like me to fathom!

Coming from down south, weddings have always come across as an unavoidable nuisance to me. I had unfailingly made grand elaborate plans on how to fall sick on a wedding day just to avoid being forced to sit and watch the most sombre show on earth. I must add that almost everyone i know tends to agree that South Indian weddings are more like a funeral than a joyous occasion. The only part of the wedding i remotely liked was the food. And a mute lamb at a slaughter house would be making more noise than what the groom/bride would make at the pandal! I simply just had to compare the poor lamb to them. Evil me.

Now coming back to the topic, well this wedding i had been to had a joint family system in place. That was another first for me. Having lived in an isolated nuclear family i've never known the joy of having cousins around. It was a pleasant experience i must say. In this new age there might be instances where a joint family can work. But nowadays a joint family would be an exception rather than the norm. On the contrary i see the concept of a nuclear family breaking down to an individual level. I can foresee a family of four spread across four corners of the globe.

In such a case the only way the family can communicate would be by a conference call! Now i dont think thats over the top. Its not too long before companies would start offering conference calls for such families! So mom, dad and the kids could all dial in from their own phones. Talk about globalization! Our lives would be a series of calls. Calls at work or client calls followed by family calls. One after another till we recieve the 'final call'. Some bright guy will, i am sure, come up with an idea to implant some communication device right into a child when it is born. that would save us a lot of trouble i am sure. But then with an antenna sticking out of your head i guess you would also resemble those martian kind of things.

I am not really sure if we are leading in the right direction or if this is for the good or bad but i am pretty sure that for me the more nu-clear we get, the more un-clear it gets.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The tease

As it often happens in Gurgaon the power just decides it is overworked and shuts itself in its cocoon. I manage to slouch out of bed and over to the balcony. My perch being on the 7th floor i manage to spend a considerable amount of my time just watching people. You may call me a watcher but i prefer being called an observer. But today I was in for a pleasant surprise. And the stage was set for a picture perfect morning.

The air was damp and rain was imminent. The breeze was what you can only describe as 'just so'. It couldnt have been any better. And while i was watching people getting on with their mundane tasks a gentle spray hit my face. It felt refreshing. Nothing like the tender touch of soft rain on your lips to arouse you. Well almost nothing like it. The wind not wanting to be outdone picked up. The gentle rain kissing the earth in pathches. Savage bouts of lusty winds. It was all a heady mix of pleasure.

A pink umbrella caught my eye. A frail figure, almost mannequin like, was latching onto it. She was fighting the wind for the umbrella. The wind almost snatches it away from her but she gamely hangs on. To win a glimpse of her face i root desperately for the wind. Tufts of hair fly around but she is a fighter. After a few minutes of fiery competition the wind overpowers her. The umbrella is blown away and then, as if to prove a point, the wind then just dies. The wind was at the moment, palpable. Even she is quite amused by the playfulness surrounding her. In that stillness i see her. She was undulatingly beautiful. And then in an instant she looks up and sees me too. I give an understanding look and she smiles back. We understood each other. Perfectly.

But alas! Her husband comes along with an overcoat and she playfully wraps herself around his warm arms.

Sigh. Life is such a tease.