Good News India

Just in case, if you haven’t heard about Good News India, please do take few minutes of your time to visit the site. It is a site run by a one-man-army – a 63 year old Shri D V Sridharan, whose mission is to show-case the heroic efforts of thousands of little known men, women and institutions, while skirting celebrities, politicians and publicity-hunters. I have been reading this site for close to 3 years now and till date he has been doing an excellent job. To sample one of his works, just check out the story of a man who over a period of 25 years changed a rocky hill site to a full-grown forest. What more do you need to get inspired? The main aspect I liked about the site is, Sridharan focuses on the individuals who are ignored by the mainstream media. Do support the site by visiting it, spreading the news about it and also by clicking the unobtrusive Google adverts.

What I am about to say would go against the very name of the website I talked about earlier. But in the realistic world, good & bad comes in equal share and one must be aware of both. I thought quite a few times before adding this paragraph, as I thought that this might go against the spirit of GNI, but nevertheless I decided to go ahead. Sometime in December last year, there were no updates in GNI. A month later, GNI came back to life and Sridharan explained the reason for the lack of updates. Read it yourself to get the full picture. I don’t want to make a generalised opinion that all the whistle-blowers meet the same fate. But it pains. Whats your thought?

Mushy boy’s website – yes, the guy who is the President of Pakistan. In terms of the design, it looks very impressive and fares better than his Indian counterpart’s. But in terms of contents, the site looks more like Mushy boy’s personal site rather than an official Government site. Well, that is not my problem and one can’t expect more from that fella. Apart from the usual rhetoric about ‘freedom fighters‘ and why Pakistan is great, the site does provides some light entertainment with jokes like “President General Musharraf is a sincere believer of democracy”, “Kargil war taught India a lesson” etc. It is like covering the shit with silk. Couldn’t think of a better phrase. 🙂

A specimen called Lalu

Rajya Sabha MP & BJP member Hema Malini, has gone on record that she is Lalu’s fan. Lalu returned the compliment in style. “If she is my fan, then I am her air-conditioner”. Check out this article for more funny stuff on Lalu. Thanks for the link, PVS.

Customer Service

After wearing my new Hush Puppies formal shoe for less than 2 weeks, the thread in the shoe came out and the shoe was in the danger of giving up any moment. I wrote to Bata India, from whose showroom I purchased the above shoe, asking whether they could do anything if I take the shoe to Bata showroom/office in UK. Following was the reply I got.

Dear Mr. Chakkarapani Sampath

Thank you for your email of 11th February 2005, and thank you for being a customer of Bata. We apologise for the inconvenience caused to you while wearing our shoes.

Quality of the products we produce and sell is one of the most important factors within our Company. We pride ourselves in providing total customer satisfaction. We are constantly striving to improve on quality and to improve the service to all of our valued customers. As a valued customer, it is our job to give you the highest level of quality and service. In your case, we have failed and I apologise once again.

Sir, Bata India is an independent Company and we do not have any business connections with Bata in London. Hence it will not be possible for us to have your shoe inspected and replaced in London. Please do let us know when you will be visiting India, so that we can have our local representative call on you, inspect the shoe and give you a replacement.

Please provide us with your local address and telephone numbers.

We await your reply.

Yours very truly

Bata India Ltd.
Kolkatta, India.

Though I have got the shoe mended through a local cobbler, I am pleased with the way Bata responded to my mail all the way from the Managing Director’s office – apologising for the bad quality and offering to give a replacement. Now, this is an example of what I call a good customer service. I promptly wrote back to them appreciating this.

Google results by email

If you wanna reeive Google search results through e-mail, just email and with the text of your query in the “Subject” line.

To get the web contents of a particular URL, send an email to with the URL in the subject.

I tried both of them and it works great. The only problem is with the latter, if you request the frames page you end up receiving numerous mails – one for each frame.

Would be useful to those in offices that only has an e-mail service but no Internet access. Cool one, huh?

Glamour & MGR

Few weeks back, I was reading an article on MGR written by an old director (or may be producer) in some Tamil website. He was talking about movies of those days, current day cinema, glamour etc and said “MGR always took care that there was no glamour or lewd scenes in his films. His films could always be watched by everyone in the family….blah blah…”. Well.. it would have been a lot better if he had stopped at this point. He went on like, “If at all there had to be a glamorous scene or song in his movie, MGR made sure that it is only part of a dream sequence”.

What a brilliant logic! A scene couldn’t be considered vulgar if it happens to be in the dream sequence. I was simply bowled over by his profound wisdom. Perhaps, he wrote something and thought that the readers would remember those deep-breathing sequences by the female leads & skin coloured translucent dresses in the yesteryear movies, including that of MGR’s. I do apologise if I sound more like Selvaraghavan, but you get the point, right?

Air passenger rights

Many times in the past (or at least once), I have argued for clear & unambiguous rules regarding compensation claims related to flight cancellation/delays. While we have to write a fat cheque for paying the airfare, it is ridiculous that the airliners would walk away without any fuss whenever there was any delay/cancellation. Though I haven’t been that badly affected by these delays, I know of several unsuccessful but genuine claims by my friends & relatives, who have been on the receiving end.

Now that European Union has come up with a new set of rules, I am doubly happy that things have moved in the right direction. These new rules doesn’t address the baggage damage/loss claims, as that is one another vulnerable area of concern. Understandably, the airliners are upset and are crying foul. Quite obviously, the airfare would increase in the near future as the cost incurred due to the compensation claims would have to be passed on to the passengers. Even then, as a passenger, this gives me enough satisfaction that if they mess it up, they would have to clean it up. Had these rules come into force about 2 months earlier, I would have been richer by few hundred pounds, courtesy Kuwait Airways. 😉

Yesterday, a shoe repairer waived off his service charges (£4) when he couldn’t get my shoe repaired on time. Few days back, I saw the manager of a catalogue shop offer the customer free gift vouchers equal to the value of purchase (£20 or so) since the customer had to wait for about 30 minutes more than the estimated time to collect her order. When small businesses could honour their commitment & consider customer as their king, isn’t it time that the owners of these big birds do the same?

Screen Keyboard

Yes! This post is related to Citibank.
No! I am not here to complain or whine about its service. I have got used to their levels now. 🙂

In the recent times, Citibank & few other banks in UK have implemented a new feature in their online banking system. The user would have to use their screen keyboard for typing in the password in its place. Apparently this new measure has been put in place for security reasons and I trust the technology behind this, though I don’t know the nitty-gritty details involved. Suppose if someone checks his account from a public computer, don’t you think that it would be easy for an evil minded to gather the password just by glancing at the monitor from a reasonable distance, as one would have to move the mouse pointer over the corresponding characters in order to key them in. Isn’t the new system more vulnerable than the old? I know that crap about technology being a double-edged sword, rose with a thorn etc. Don’t want to hear that again. Just tell me, am I missing something very basic here?

To try this, visit this link and click the Citibank Online link below the One Click Sign-In. You don’t need to have an account to check this!

News Today

Nothing can beat the spice of local news. When I lived in India, I always made it a point to glance at the headline posters of Maalai Malar & Maalai Murasu – the two popular Tamil eveningers in TN. Amidst the ‘thideer paraparappu‘, ‘adhiradikku edhiradi‘ kind of headlines that would normally be dished by these two, there would be one soft & suave News Today – probably the only English language eveninger in Chennai until few years ago. Accidentally stumbled upon its website today and its a nice read. Feels like reading a neighbourhood newspaper in Chennai. I haven’t read this long enough to judge on its neutrality or the lack of it.

On a totally different note, I received a very useful invite from an unknown person to join ‘Jothika-Ajith‘ Yahoo group, which I chose to decline. May the Lord forgive this sin!