Thursday, July 31, 2008

Weekend Woes and encounter with Govt officials(19'th July)


It’s quite an amazing experience visiting the government offices of BSmL and nSEB and that too at the same time. Saturdays, in India are no fun days. No matter how much we try to ape the westerner’s, weekend is supposed to be just another hopeless day struggling to finish the choked ‘workday’ work. So my day starts and ends running pillar to post. Here is my weekend story.
My day begins on a typical lethargic note. Friday hangover; Oh no, not the booze hangover but a not so hectic working week gets the best out of me. So, a late wake up at around 7:30 am gets me completely disoriented for the entire day. Here begins the proceedings for the day. The two notorious and non-customer oriented offices are located at around 2kms from my place. So a walk down to the offices on an always under construction road is not a mean task to achieve.

Reason for heading to the two offices. As follows….

1) BSmL broadband works fantastically when it ‘works’, but once it goes down, you have no clue what to do. There is no single point of contact. There are no published numbers (even if they publish it, for sure they won’t pick up the call. Forget about they noting down you complaint. Follow up on their behalf is like expecting the moon). My complaint is simple. The broadband has consistently and shamelessly thrown the ‘page not found’ error for three weeks in a row now. Not that I am complaining for the first time about this. About two weeks ago I had an encounter with the officers (don’t dare meet the customer care non-officer folks. They have the license to abuse and embarrass you unabashedly.) Then I was told that this would be taken care by. My complaint (they wrote my landline number) was written on a piece of recyclable paper. When I asked them by when can I expect to get this damn thing fixed, I was given the technicians number. I walked away happily then coz at least I had a shoulder to share my broadband feelings. Well later I realized that it was of no use. Every time I called, I was greeted with either a busy tone or an apologetic voice. I am still not able to understand the reason for the emphatic, apologetic tone. Was it because, he tried his best of abilities and still was not able to solve my issue or was it because I was a customer for whom he was employed and paid poorly. I would like to believe it was the former. So with a controlled aggression I stood in front of the decent educated looking officer. I was glad I was not alone. There was an army of frustrated customers yelling there. My grief was divided by a thousand times ogling to the ‘OH WHY THE HELL DOES THIS NOT WORK’ attitude-d people. I waited patiently with a sorry face for my turn. Finally I was given a chance to vomit my feelings. I tried my best to convince him that, if on this earth there was a broadband which needs to work, it is at my home. He tried to empathize and sympathize and asked his assistant to check my account on the computer which looked tired and seemed to be running on some resource critical mainframe. After a couple of tries, she browsed some other portal and looked suspiciously at the information which I guess she passed on to the decent looking officer when I was looking at the antique yet oriented machinery lying there from ages. So when I looked at him, he said he would have liked to get this fixed but (for some reason) my residential place did not fall under his jurisdiction. Why was he then helping me all this time, if he knew that my haveli was not under his control? I was told to approach another person whose official address was shown by pointing towards an infinite wall. Jesus Christ (Hollywood hypnotized), what was going on here? I relentlessly started my journey towards the infinity searching for the infinite. When my search engine gave up all the hope, I turned back and decided to go back to the decency department. To my surprise I met Mr. Infinite standing besides Mr. Decent. Mr. Infinite looked like someone who was malnutrition-ed all his childhood and suddenly by Almighty’s grace turned the corner in his favor by working hard(ly) for BSmL. He appeared a man on mission and was surrounded by equally curious people. When I begged for his intervention, he noted my phone number on a piece of paper and was told that I would be taken care of. Phew, I was relieved at least my number was noted and I had accomplished the mission for which I was blessed with another day on earth.

2) nSEB is known to produce and provide electricity for the residents. Yes it is also supposed to be billing the customers for the number of watts consumed. Billing for the number of watts, perhaps some tax and not for anything beyond that. However, my current bill ran to an unexpected number. Being a novice reader of the bill, I was curious to know how they charged me a mountain. So with an appetite to learn the tricks of the trade, I made up my mind to absorb the complexity involved in reading and get help in understanding the bill. When I reached the destination, of course after my exhaustive encounter with the nSEB folks, I readied myself to expect the unexpected. To my surprise the usually barren office was flooded with people as if they had found an oasis. And it did not take me long to figure out all these human beings had a social get-together for the same cause. All the bills on the earth were tampered with false numbers. I was just a drop in the ocean. There are people whose life was ruined by electricity woes. Jesus! (Remember the Hollywood fanaticism), I exclaimed to myself again. There were two gentlemen sitting on wooden chair with a hint of arrogance and pride in their voice. Arrogant, because of the workload and proud, because of the workload (they must have never felt so important before). No one could ever understand the logic behind the customers queue. Anyone and everyone could sneak in and set his/her priority higher. The scenario was like this. Two officers were seated with a desk for paperwork. The desk had an elevation on its front so that people had to be standing on their toes for a dialogue. They were handling requests in a queue which had a virtual separation in between and each desk acted as an individual counter. This would work perfectly if there were only a couple of customers and if there were two queues. However with a single queue, it was an absolute chaos. People who ended up coming late would be automatically prioritized since they would join the tail which would fall in the vicinity of the last counter. It took a while for a leader to emerge out of the pack and correct the situation. This, so called leader also tried to push his case once before destiny, when people were at their blaming best. However I was not the one to take this lightly and corrected it immediately. Yes I felt important and proud too. Now the real cause of the goof up of the bill. Simple, last months bill (which I had sincerely paid) was added up in the current bill. Not just me. But all of them were suffering from similar symptoms. After making a round trip to home for getting the receipt of the last month’s bill, I got a hand corrected bill after a struggle for 2 hours. I heaved a relief sigh. I decided to head home after a hectic day and decided to feast myself with a nap in the afternoon. While walking back, my thoughts would not let me relax. I kept wondering, if so many people (literally everyone) had the same issues, would it not be wise to just print the bills again and resend then ASAP. May be they must have thought to go eco-friendly and make earth a better place to live. Or may be they must have thought to make these officers work for at least for a couple of days of the month. God surely knows the answer for this. For me, I had utilized my weekend to the best of my abilities. With a smile on my face and confusion in my mind, I walked to the comforts.