Thursday, November 20, 2008

Customer satisfaction an art …

Isn’t difficult to master. You just need to keep your eyes and ears open. A lesson I learnt from the autorikshaw wallas. Today, from the moment I boarded the rikshaw the driver kept trying to suggest an alternate [read longer] route. When I asked him why he couldn’t go on the normal route, his reason: “Madam, ee routege jaasti traffic ide (this is a heavy traffic route)
Yeah, I know that. I even know that when one road gets jammed the alternate routes succumb to the same fate in less than 10 minutes. So, I put my foot down and he (disgusted by me) stayed on the normal, traffic-infested route. But boy was he persistent, at every traffic signal, he’d turn around and with pleading eyes suggest a change of route. Finally, I just gave him one big boring lecture on the traffic in the city and even gave him a few pointers on how he could turn this lose-lose situation into a win-win one, by relaxing or even taking a quick 5 minute nap! (yeah, poor guy, he had no choice but to listen to my rotten kannada-hindi-english monologue)
That kept him focused on driving for a while but it was only good till the next traffic signal. This time round he said something that had me smile ear-to-ear. The sneaky, conniving guy said something to this effect: Madam, why do you want to waste your time in the traffic. I will take you from a better route. It may be a little longer but at least you will reach office on time. GRIN(auto guy). Hmm, why didn’t I meet this guy earlier?? I mean, why now? when my constant late comings have earned me that special nod, exchange of glances, reserved for me, from colleagues at work. The first impressions have been made, my friend, so don’t bother and stay on traffic-infested route. STIFF UPPER LIP(me).
Down right disgust on his face he stayed on route and ignored me for the last few minutes.
I felt good. I don’t know why. I was not hassled by the traffic (even though I was going to be late to work) and neither was I upset with the driver for constantly interrupting and invading my Me-time. After a while I felt silly to be smiling all by myself. But, then I had reason enough. This over-bearing auto guy made be realize that it was so easy for them (auto guys, who else?!) to earn that extra Rs 20 or more by sweet talk. All they need is a bit of English, a few cuss words to furl at the traffic, talk about the importance of our time and what all we have to suffer daily! Talk to us nicely (follow the above mentioned drill) and we ourselves won’t ask that five bucks back. And might just hand the extra Rs 10 with a smile
And believe me, I’ve been tricked with this sweet talk So, now I just play along and no, no more handing out whatever amount they ask. Sometimes, they are just happy I reached my destination and won’t bore them any longer. :D

Saturday, October 11, 2008


You know what happens when an idea gets entangled with several other ideas that are vying for attention? They all, put you to sleep. And that's exactly what happened when my friend and I went to watch a fiasco called American dreamz, a one man show by some guy who's serious going through an identity crisis. Also as my friend pointed out, "seriously needs help".

The ideas were all there and I guess even the presentation was, but what ruined the play — too many thoughts that cluttered the mindscape. It was a juvenile attempt. Why? Well, simply because all throughout the prime theme was America bashing, if not that then it was poor ol' George Bush (GB). Okay, may be we all love the occassional GB joke but blaming him for every wrong from global warming to people's behaviour? That was, I felt, uncalled for. Also, it clocked more than two hours!!!

Unlike my friend, I liked parts that I thought were simply good, almost bordering brilliance — the theatrics — I'm complimenting. Like the part where he shows the clipping of Global warming and then does a spoof of a wealthy American. That depiction holds so true for all us egoistic souls who want things not because we need them, but because the material possession will define our luxurious lifestyle. When he point out the cigar and says it's not that he can't buy a cheaper one but then why'd he want to be stressed seeing someone else smoke 'his' cigar. The I,Me, Myself syndrome???

Frankly speaking, it was a play about the selfish human that resides in all of us, the degree matters. Throw in a few characters — all played by this Kaye guy — who emphasise on core theme. Bad co-ordination. The clippings followed by his monologues. Long ones at that. (there were a few bold ones who sat in the front row and enjoyed a blissful nap) Not just that but setting high expectations did him in to. Almost shouting "not for the weak-hearted", "turn off your phones or I won't be responsible for breaking any that ring"at the beginning of the play, was uncalled for. Because and I quote my friend again, "a 10-year-old could do this!"

And what's with his obession with 911. Copying a forward and giving the same gyaan again, why??

A rather long, dragged performance. That's what this was. Why would I watch a three-hour long play that is so negative, reminds me of someone who has a lot of soul-searching to do and who likes to blame the wrongs on others. Time for a reality check? I'd ask him to list 5 things he's done that've made this world a better place. Why wait for Bush to lead you, man?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Paws that left a mark

White with patches of brown near the nose he showed traces of the naughty brat he'd turn out to be. He boarded the bus with his care-taker, a boy of nine or 10, followed by his mum who carried not just her hand bag, but also her son's tiffin carrier. Several seats were empty on the bus. Somehow, I sensed they'd sit next to me. Not all of them, just the mother. She nudged her way and sank into the seat. Comfortable.

Liquid eyes met mine and it was puppy love, literally. Let's call him fluff. He clung to the
boy's right shoulder, unsure yet seemingly safe, clutching the indigoed-white school
shirt. Tiny beady eyes that said lots without uttering a woof!

I sat like a stiff old woman not wanting to create a fuss over the cute little thing. So, yes, I felt funny not reacting. Acting snooty and doing very well, thank you. Others, meanwhile had a good look at fluff and the identical twins sitting diagonally opposite us even had a hushed conversation ohhh-ing and ahhh-ing mid sentence. The boy brimmed with pride, a kind of innocent pride, you only find in kids when they are proud of their new dress or pet. He was pet-proud and why not he had just adopted a white 'healthy' stray. Or his pet had finally decided to adopt him.

Fluff may have a new name by now, but that day he was just called 'doggy' by his owner-friend. I've never come across a well-behaved kid( pup). I mean, he just plonked himself between the school bag, handbag and the woman's arm.So, back to the liquid eyes meeting my framed ones. It was an interesting few seconds. The pup was so sure of himself, while his adopted family discussed his dietary requirements, we just looked at each other. He had this sureness that was way beyond his age. I liked his confidence or was it his adventurous streak that he decided to adopt a family? Which ever I thought he'd make a friendly, loyal companion. We instantly became friends, no not the usual kind that goes all out on PDA, we are old school, because while we just looked admiringly at one other we kept to ourselves. No leaning to pat him business for his part fluff didn't attempt to lick/sniff my brand new bag. Very civil. Very us. I approved of his
behaviour and by his manner, knew he did mine. In a strange way I felt connected to this being.
He was so like me. Kept his distance and no he didn't think I was a snob just because I refused to pat his forehead. In fact, he maintained the civility to the core. Minded himself and let his eyes do the talking.

Curiosity didn't get the better of him, for he maintained a safe distance. Someone may
have been disappointed if the dog behaved liked that with them, but I was pleasantly pleased. I'm no dog-hater, but I have issue with people who can pat a dog/cat and then sit down to eat with the same hands without caring to wash away the germs. Eww! Gross.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Joy ride

Yes. In a city whose narrow roads are almost choking with traffic, I find my bus rides a pleasure. Two hours. That's how long it takes me one way — home to work. So, on an average I spend four hours travelling.
Days when I get to sit the entire two hours and get the buses on my route on time, one after the other, it is clockwork. It is just blissful! Like today. It seemed a perfect day. Got the bus on time and then lucky me, even had the option to choose a seat. Just that brought in so much change in the way I looked at things today. It wasn't hot, in-your-face-bright anymore, but a pleasant, sunny day. Every time the driver honked it was music to my ears. Even when the conductor gave back just Rs 20 and announced he'd give the remaining Rs 50 later, I just smiled an okay!
See, what a world of difference a seat can make?
I got time to think — random things, stared at nothing and generally felt at peace with the world around me. The ten minute walk to work didn't sap me out either. On the way back, it was the same story. It made up for all those days when I hang by the rod near the entrance hoping and praying that I don't spill out ... yes spill out of the bus. Days like these dissuade me from getting my own vehicle on the road or for that matter renewing my learner's license.
I'll tell you five reasons you should hop, jump and climb that bus :
1. It is fun
2. It helps ease traffic
3. It heals the wallet
4. and the lungs
5. and keeps your BP in check!
It is a No-hassles ride*. You don't have to bother the traffic, or the faulty tripping meter and all this saves you with lots of energy and cash at your disposal. I think it is time the BMTC hires me as their PR! What say?

(* there are worse days when you are standing on one foot, those are the tiring times when you don't mind paying that damn one-and-a-half meter charge)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Been there, seen that

And now I need something for posterity. After all, there's only so much that ones brain can retain. So at 60, I could just direct my grandchildren to the blog. Now, that's long term. But for now, I'd dedicate this space for purely creative pursuits.
What you'll find here are accounts of visits to — galleries, book stores, theatres, shows and performances. I usually have an opinion and I guess, this is where I'll have it known. This space is about me and things that interest me could be things, people or places.