26/11

Am I being insensitive in saying that the entire English language media went on a overdrive on the anniversary of 26/11 attacks? Perhaps the media – especially the TV channels are repenting their irresponsibility that was condemned far and wide this time last year.

Excerpts from an article in ToI by Pritish Nandy.

Terrorists do not need to celebrate the success of 9/11 or 26/11 We are doing it for them, even as we weep for the victims and tell the world that we are better prepared to face future strikes. Let’s not kid ourselves. The more we talk about pain, the horror, the memories of these terrible events, the more the perpetrators celebrate.

It’s important, therefore to treat such anniversaries with caution and circumspection. We don’t reallly need to overload the nation with cardiac stress. 26/11 was a terrible tragedy and also a moment of amazing heroism. We lost some of our finest policemen and many innocent people for no reason. But our future lies not in recalling its memories and reassuring the rascals who perpetrated it that they had struck home and caused us unforgettable pain.

When 9/11 happened, US news channels said ‘America under attack’. However, on 26/11 it was just ‘Mumbai under attack’. Doesn’t it say something?

Sainsbury’s

We have been regularly shopping with Sainsbury’s super market for the last 7+ years. Every time I visit Sainsbury’s – not once or twice, every time – I am mightily impressed with their customer service and this is no exaggeration.

Whenever a customer approaches any of the staff for help – be it asking where a product is located or asking if something is in stock or whatever – the staff will simply stop what they are doing and guide the customer around and ensure that his/her requirement is fulfilled before going ahead with what they were doing. One will never come across an answer like ‘It will be there in Aisle 8’ or ‘You can check it out in the yoghurts section’. They have specific instruction to lead the customer to the appropriate rack / aisle in the store and help them get what they need. I have done stress testing on numerous occasions to see if there is consistency among the staff and indeed, they have. 🙂

Best part is the way they react to email feedback. Irrespective of the fact whether the feedback is a praise or a criticism, Sainsbury’s always make it a point not only to reply, but also follow it up with a phone call asking if there is anything more they could do.

This post is not meant to say that Sainsbury’s is an invicible god, but to place on record the fact that there is an organisation who is willing to listen to the voice of the customers. We (esp. I) don’t hesitate for a moment to lash out an organisation if they are slack on this front, so thought it fit to praise them where it is due. If ever I start a company or a shop, my company’s customer service department will be based on Sainsbury’s model.

Manmohan’s Speech

Despite all my interests in Indian politics, I have never heard Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speak. Yesterday was the first time I hear him speak at the White House, standing aside President Barack Obama. He was reading out from a paper and his voice was very weak and hollow. Well, I meant the physical voice – not the other one. Moreover, the way he was pronouncing every word was like he spoke with a chewing gum in his mouth. If someone got an impression that Manmohan Singh doesn’t have a grip on the english language, he could be forgiven for that thought – for his speech did seem that way.

Movies – Buses – Srirangam

Recently saw the movie ‘Madurai to Theni vazhi Andipatti’. This post is not a movie review or anything of its kind. But watching it made me realise that in the recent times, quite a few movies have got released with all-new faces. Although we have seen such ‘all fresh face’ movies in the past, it has become a trend in the recent couple of years. Perhaps, this started with ‘Subramaniyapuram’ and movie makers got emboldened to make story as their hero. It is a good trend indeed, as otherwise we may not have seen the likes of ‘Chennai – 28’, ‘Saroja’, ‘Anjaadhey’, ‘Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu’ etc.

Coming back to ‘Madurai to Theni’, there is nothing great about the movie as such. It is all about the slang. Having never lived in that part of the world, I don’t know how local it is for the locals, but consistency of the dialogue delivery / slang has been maintained through out the movie. Those who have lived in mofussil towns of Tamilnadu will be able to relate to the concept of a bus being one of the central characters in their life atleast for a certain point of time.

Having lived in Srirangam (Trichy) for few years in early to mid 90s, I can vividly recall the emotional attachment people had towards their (favourite) buses. Trichy is one of the towns where private town buses run aplenty along with state owned public transport. As Srirangam was / is only a residential area, most of the residents will have to travel up to Chatram Bus Stand / Main Guard Gate area for work or studies. Also, ss Srirangam is a famous temple town often flocked by tourists, Trichy to Srirangam is one of the most busiest and money minting routes in the region. Thanks to this fact, residents of Srirangam never need to wait for more than two or three minutes at a bus stop.

Most of the private buses used to ply dangerously fast. With two conductors for every bus, they will never stop on the way for issuing tickets (colloquially known as ‘stage’). Moreover, they will have good audio systems that will play the latest tunes (this was well before the re-birth of FMs). While the above easily made the private buses a favourite of most of the poeple, some took it to the next level. Most of the college students will have a good rapport with the conductors and several of us used to exchange our audio cassettes with the conductors. As the private buses compete with one another, this will mean that some of the passengers will have a sort of loyalty towards their favourite buses. Well, this doesn’t get applied very seriously – but if one knows that their favourite bus will be approaching in the next 10 minutes, then they will prefer to wait.

Our favourite buses at that time were PMP, SR (Nagara Puyal ;-), PL.A etc. There is another one from yesteryears called TST (Trichy Srirangam Transport), infamously called ‘Thallu Saar Thallu’, as they were once very infamous for their break downs. Not sure how many of the private buses are still plying, but if all the silly little things could be recalled to a great detail after 13 years, it does means something. Strange that what started as a post on movie ended up as a nostalgic note.

Coverage on Deepavali Celebrations

We have a group named UK Makkal – comprising of (mostly Tamil speaking) Indians in UK. A very informal group that it is, we organise Deepavali celebrations every year and this year it happened at Milton Keynes. The above mentioned day long event happened on 31st October and Tamil daily Dinamalar covered the event with a short note and few photographs. I was and am quite excited to see my name and photograph in print. Yeah, there is no intention of modesty here and that is the way it is. 🙂

Car Insurance

I bought my only car (so far) way back in December 2005. Back then, it was a 5-year old car that cost me two grand in British currency. A comprehensive insurance cover cost me around 700 quid and that apart from the common goodies included the recovery cover (home start). The way the car insurance appears to work in this country is – you get discount (called as no-claims discount) for every year you go with out making any claim on your policy. The percentage of discount is meant to increase with every additional year without a claim.

After 4 years of no-claim (which I have now, touchwood!), you are supposed to get 60% discount on my insurance. When I received the renewal quote today, the insureres are charging a whopping 510 quid for a car that costs no more than £750. I expected the quote to be less than £400 given the fact that my car has depreciated in value considerably. When I asked about this, the insurers say that the insurance costs have gone up and hence the price increase. Damn. I am yet to renew my insurance as I am in the process of negotiating with quite a few insurers trying to get the price down. Comparison websites are fine, but I just learnt that you could negotiate to bring down the quote much further. A good test for my negotiating skills.

TJ

Once upon a time (this is how my son typically begins any story), I started this blog and it will really itch me if I stopped scribbling here. Any happening or thought will always be about how to present that in the blog. It is not exaggeration to say that blogging drove me and it was really good. Good in the sense, I got to know several wonderful people and managed to meet quite a few of them as well. Slowly but steadily, I came out of the blogging phase and so did many others who were actively blogging those days. Barring very few people, I am not in touch with anyone although I know very well that they are all a phone call away.

Today morning, for want of some information I was looking at my blog archives and before I realised it, I was taken down the memory lane. I stumbled upon several comments and when I came across TJ’s (T.J. Swaminathan), I know that he was just an email away. Without giving any room for procrastination, I immediately mailed him and guess what – I got a reply within minutes. We managed to talk for few minutes today and promised to talk more over the weekend as well. It was great knowing him and more than anything, it is really good to renew the friendship. Hope I continue to blog – if not for anything, at least for rediscovering my long last friends.