Saturday, January 31, 2009

Two callers I’ll never forget...

“Hi, My name is Kevin and I’m calling on behalf of Sprint Wireless. Your number has been selected to get a free cell phone.”

The voice at the other end answered, “Oh, is it? Where are you based, Kevin?” There was a very nasty emphasis on ‘Kevin’.

Edgily, I answered, “We’re based just out of Las Vegas.”

“Where? In a hut in Las Vegas?”

A Pause.

“Tell me, ‘Mr. Kevin’ do you live a hut in Las Vegas?”

I froze. He swore, uttered a racial comment and hung up.

That was my first day in the office. Two and a half years back.

      I remember one more caller vividly. I was working as a Tech Support for Microsoft then.

He asked , “What’s your name?”

“Kevin” I replied.

He said, “Tell me your real name, Kevin?”


“Aay-aaph-an” He repeated.

“Correct”. I winced.

“It’s such a lovely name. I wonder why did you choose something as boring as ‘Kevin’.” There was an emphasis on Kevin this time as well.

“I am so happy that I am speaking with someone from India. I want to take this opportunity to apologise to you for what we are doing to your people and the rest of the world.”

“Er.. I don’t think you need to apologise. India is unaffected by the war on terror” I replied.

“You’re trying to be nice. But I know, deep down, you hate us. I am speaking on behalf of all the Americans. We’ve elected a stupid bigot for a President and trust me, we Americans are not hate mongers. And we do not support the ‘War’ on terror.” There was an emphasis on ‘War’ this time.

“Na Naah. You get me wrong. I don’t hate America. In fact, I love America and Indians look upto her.” I replied. If this wasn’t digressing enough, this guy had a poor knowledge of geography. Mumbai and Baghdad were miles apart.

“No Son, you misunderstand. You must the age of my grandson. Aren’t you 20 something?”

“I’m 23” I replied, wondering where was this leading.

“Britain tried to be the guardian of the World and it went broke. Now, America it trying to do the same and look where it got us. I wish they left people to lead their own lives. Sometimes, I feel that the world would've been a much better place without us.”

“I still stand by what I said. America is a nation the whole world looks upto.”

“I don’t know what the future will be but I am deeply distressed. This is not the first time I’m speaking with someone from India. But this may well be the last time so I am taking this opportunity to tell a fellow human that I am sorry for the misdeeds of my country. I have terminal cancer and the doctor has given me a few weeks to live. Do well in life and may God bless you.”

I managed to mumble some words of comfort but he had already hung up.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

From the Penseive ...

This is an Excerpt from  my Diary:

September 16th 2008

‘Was in the cab this morning. Me and Nasim were discussing the mediocrities of the day, cribbing about work, the management, love, life etc. The driver asked if we’d like to listen to some music. I nodded.

He had a pretty decent collection. We stopped cribbing and were listening to the music. Music does that to you. Browsing through his collection, I suddenly heard ‘Billie Jean’ . I asked Nasim to stop flipping through the songs and let the single play.

            This was MJ’s best single ever. I loved the song as a kid and as a young boy. Those days of idolising Michael Jackson flashed before my eyes. I remember listening and loving every MJ track.  I listened to Remember the time, Blood on the dance floor, The way you make me feel. There was a thin, nostalgic smile on my face.        

I wanted to listen to ‘Who is it?’ and ‘Smooth Criminal’ and was browsing furiously when the driver interrupted and said, “Sir , let the next one play. It’s ‘Black or White’ I love that song.” Immediately,  MJ’s trademark music filled the atmosphere. I was enjoying the music thoroughly.

I was home.’

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Worst hit of 26/11 ...

It was 3.00 in the morning. I was in the cab on my way to work. For the last two weeks I was in the 4.00AM shift. The roads were deserted and we were cruising on the Mulund – Airoli bridge. At the toll gate, we saw that there were a group of Policemen on the other lane huddled over a small bonfire.

“Kaay saheb, bombil bhaajtaat ki kaay?” Asked our driver rolling down the window. Are you roasting Bombay Ducks?

The Policemen turned back and gave him a stern look. Our driver gave a sheepish smile and rolled the window up. The driver did not see what I was able to. The policemen were huddled over a small bonfire, braving the cold. One among them was apparently unwell as he was under blankets and shivering badly.

            As we approached the toll gate, I saw that there were two very alert Policemen on either side of the road. They seemed very tired. Ten feet ahead was a Police Van with more tired cops and a tired Inspector on the walkie talkie. As our cab proceeded, I saw another Police Sedan doing the rounds of the empty street. Far ahead, I saw one cop sleeping on a chair. He was guarding the octroi post.

                        I could not help but feel sorry for the Policemen. I felt they were being harassed. Since the 2006 bomb blasts, they were given the additional responsibility of guarding every railway station in Mumbai and now after 26/11, they are expected to stand guard at  the Airport,the malls , movie halls, roads, junctions & circles. Not to mention they are deployed to safeguard the Peace Marches, Marathons,Agitations and perhaps the worst of all, they have to guard the Politicians as well.  And if this was not enough, they also have to be present at the Police Station to record the complaints of the drunkard’s wife, the rich brat’s whim, mobile thefts, murders, rapes and robberies.

                     Gone is the swagger of the policeman, they are tired overworked donkeys now.  The city feels better seeing the Policemen deployed almost everywhere but ever wondered how the Policeman feels? I too, feel secure when I see a couple of cops around but seriously, are they supposed to guard malls and movie halls? 26/11 may have ‘hurt’ the Mumbaikar’s psyche, but  it does not justify our current security apparatus!! Our Policemen certainly don’t lay golden eggs, but that doesn’t warrant a punishment to ‘Work till Death’!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

MTNL hai... toh sahi hai!!!

“Hahahaha! Magh, sandhyakali parat bhetuya na? Aaj fakta network shikavla.” So,lets meet again this evening. They taught only networks today.

                I was on the other end of the phone, gritting my teeth, listening to this endless conversation. I was on the phone with the MTNL broadband customer service. I was unable to connect to the internet since three days and was expecting someone to help me out. So here I was, on the other end of the phone, like an idiot listening to two women blabbering about everything except work.

“Hello? Madam??” I was very irritated by now. It went unheeded as it did four times before.


She spoke into the receiver, “Haan haan, aapka number do phirse.” Give your number again, please.

I could visualise what was happening at the other end. She was still gossiping with her colleague, not listening to what I was saying and feeding my number into some  outdated FoxPro system.

“Complaint number 2704!” She said.

“I already have a complaint number. I have called to ask why hasn’t anybody turned up yet!” I cried indignantly.


“I was promised someone would come to rectify my problem.” I said.

I had spent a good couple of hours in trying to rectify the problem myself before concluding that the problem was with the telephone line.

“It’s 4.00 PM. The technician would come tomorrow.” She replied flatly, as if I was late for a show or something.

I protested. “You guys told me that someone would come to resolve the issue.”

“Look, it wasn’t me who answered your call yesterday. And the technician would only come tomorrow. Do you want the complaint number now?” She asked.

“Haan haan! Deejiye madam!” Yes, please.

I tried to be a bit sarcastic. Only a little bit, lest I offend the fat lady at the other end.


She hung up on me before I could do it to her.

So, there I was. Ignored, Humiliated and Furious. So much for being an MTNL loyalist.