September 2006

Importance of Time

Time is very precious. Every second is invaluable. Even a second that we waste can not be recovered or compensated. Hence for this reason, it is often said that Time is almost next to money and both of which should be handled with extreme care.

I came across a video called Meetings Bloody Meetings in  a presentation which humourously talks about how much time is wasted in meetings by teams in many organizations. This is a must-watch for any one who attends or chairs a meeting. The underlying thought of the video is how to shorten the meetings and make the most of out of each sitting.

The hero of the film is John Cleese. He is depicted as being charged to criminal sentence in court (in his dream). The charges against him was wasting of his and his team’s precious time. The other charges are:

  1. Coming to the meeting unprepared
  2. Failing to keep everyone in loop
  3. Missing Agenda for the meeting
  4. Poor control of the directions in which the meeting progresses.
  5. Failure to record the discussions of the meeting (Minutes of Meeting).

I think point no. 4 is typical at least to state legislative assemblies and the speaker is not able to exercise control over the proceedings of the assembly. We have already discussed an issue about unruly scenes in Tamil Nadu Legislative assembly over here.

A search for the video revealed this website of The Richardson Company, from where the video can be ordered in DVD format. It comes to about USD 870.  The website has also given a small preview link.

Travel Enrichments

Travelling to long distances via any channel be it road, rail or air is indeed a pleasure as long as you gain yourselves a vision to enjoy your journey. Even the commuting to your workplace daily can be a pleasure if each journey could show you something new, some new discovery.  The only thing that is lacking in  Chennai is the acute traffic problem and I am sure we have been discussing this time and again. A few of the top discussions on Chennai traffic is here (for your reading pleasure)

  1. Monday Blues and Chennai
  2. Acute Road Indiscipline 
  3. Educated Illiterates

Well! Coming back to our discussion on enjoying travel, there are two great sayings that share this too.

  1. The Woods are lovely dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep

    (From Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost)

  2. Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss
    A famous English proverb

In Chennai, you can observe in workplaces and elsewhere some clowns always asking this negative wave tainted question “Are you travelling from soooooo…. far daily?” I really feel pity for these type of educated illiterates. I simply brand them as educated illiterates for the simple reason they just embrace defeat. They might be having a sinister motive of discouraging others but both in the short and long run, it is a defeat for them indeed.

There is indeed a Tamil proverb too which describes those who are afraid and/or reluctant to travel to different places as toads in the domestic well water (kinathuth thavalai). The meaning of this phrase is that “One who does not travel to different places would not get diversified picture of the world and people. He always thinks that his place is the entire world. This is similar to the toad in the domestic well that thinks the well is the world”.

Readers –> What do you think? Share your views too.

Thikkuvay Thandavarayan

Sometime last week, I needed to talk to ICICI PhoneBanking regarding irregular statement dispatch and other issues with respect to the credit card. Time and again it had been regular humor series novel in negotiating with ICICI PhoneBanking. There are umpty number of faulty phone banking services and I think ICICI is more competing towards staging a number one comedy show through its Phone Banking Unit. Whenever you send a feedback to ICICI either to or, the only reply you can ever expect to get is ‘Thank you for your feedback. We are always eager to raise the bars of our services to a greater level’. But in reality, the level of customer acceptance of the services seems to be always going down and the most signficant drawback is the Phone Banking Unit.

I talked to a guy and he seemed to have a Oriyan accent. Almost I could’nt make out one word of what he was telling. I really wonder how such local accent-powered guys get on to phonebanking. With CallCenter training institutes so much emphasizing on Accent Neutralisation, to favor a global communication standards, this came out indeed as a distinct shock.

Well! The caption of this post, to illustrate this, is rather a misnomer and intended to convey the drawbacks of PhoneBanking and to use a humor vehicle to carry it on a very lighter tone.  The real meaning of the caption and how it befits their service standards is described below.

The Phone Banking guy actually did’nt stutter nor he seems to have any stammering weakness but the only thing is that his adamant attitude to the local language accent and his stubbornness in not making his client comfortable and he seemed to have taken resort of his accent to shoo shoo the customers away.  This had been a recurring issue with ICICI PhoneBanking executives. The following are some of the standard responses that you can expect to get.

  1. “I am sorry I can not hear you. ” (even after you shout. This typically occurs when there is a conflict of interest which you want them to record. One type of excuse that they deploy to momentarily escape the wrath of the consumer).

  2. “Our systems are under routine maintanence. Please call us back after one hour”.

  3. “I am transferring you to another officer.” (Hold music starts). If he is transferring to another officer, who does the similar joke, then what is he then?

A friendly note: Ensure that you never call ICICI PhoneBanking over any long distance or roaming lines. You ought to spend a minimum of twenty minutes to even get a simple query answered by the Phone Banking executives.

It is high time that ICICI Bank brings some disciplince, accent neutralization, global accessibility of the staff and consumer’s money, a relative and easier degree of transparency of its processes to the consumer else I think, Reserve Bank of India should consider some moratorium on it on account of bad business practices.

Other salient features of ICICI Bank and bad business practices:

  1. Banking for the Booty

  2. Record Number of Complaints against ICICI

Caption Explanation In Tamil, if ‘Thikkuvay’ normally stands for unintelligible speech normally driven out of stammering or stuttering weakness.  ‘Thandavarayan’ is an indicative name similar to ‘Paul or Peter’ (in English) like in the proverb “Do not rob peter to pay paul”. If you really want an English version of the caption, readers, feel free to suggest one. Put your thinking caps on. Something to start with.

  1. Indian English Caption: Stuttering Sivakumaran

  2. Western English: Stammering Samuel

The bottomline rule of the ‘Rhyme the Name’ caption contest is that it should be rhyming.

Disclaimer: The names and/or the contest is purely for entertainment purpose only. Real Tangible Physical mapping of the name to any actual physical entities or creatures is accidental or coincidental. The contest is made on good samaritan gesture to make a bit of humour, while conveying the acute financial scam by leading private sector bank.

Minibus on Two wheelers

If you have been travelling towards Tambaram on the Velacherry Road or just Velacherry you can simply find two wheeler mopeds or three wheelers (like autos) almost overloaded and looking similar to buses. The normal driving license and the road permits allows two (one driver + one pillion rider) for two wheelers and three persons per auto.

I have been watching this for sometime and just thought would like to share with the same. On Saturday, I had been near St. Thomas Mount and it had been nearly harrowing experience travelling in the share auto since the way vehicle was over packed in the crowdy turning towards Kathipara junction was making the journey nightmarish.  On Sunday, I observed one more family of five persons clinging on to a poor Hero Honda Splendor plus. I think, even the Hero Honda Splendour Plus had mouth, it would really open its mouth and wail for the type of acute overloading it had been subjected to.

The acute problem underlying these gross irregularilities in the number of passengers travelling in small vehicles is that they are trying to make the best use of the resource. Good. But there is a limit. With too much of passengers the vehicle would start getting faster wear and tear besides the acute passenger safety which is thrown to airs.

Would the state or city administration look into this?

Missed Call Menace

Handheld mobile phones have been the best utility gadgets that have been ever invented. In India, our Department of Telecommunications time and again publishes statistics about the most rapid growth of mobile phone subscribers even outnumbering landline customers. Thanks to cost cutting, price slashing, attractive offers from various operators all have contributed to the remarkable growth of mobile phone subscribers in our country.

But I feel there is a terrible shortcoming or a bad habit that is being practiced in India. It is the Missed Calls. Most of the subscribers opt for prepaid subscriptions and they seldom want to spend thier money or airtime even for thier own services. This includes even credit card agents and bank personnel who meet us for loans and other things. They just give a missed call and expect us to return the call back to us thus paying our airtime for thier benefits. This one attitude of Indian Mobile spectrum is rather very much disgusting and I feel this would be a big black spot in the fabric of mobile phone industry in India. The mobile operators should bring in some ways where repeated and deliberate missed call attempts should be made on par chargeable like a normal outgoing plan, according to the subscription plan.

While this is one part of the story, there are other interesting issues related to Missed Calls. Check out the following:

I have been actually having this experience with a HSBC Sales Executive and to make even a simple call, he was almost jumping on my mobile and my builders’ mobile giving the number from his handset. And that too for just for  a two minute local call. 🙂

Tax Saving for Cinema — Is it really justified?

Recently I came to understand from a newspaper release that the Government of Tamil Nadu is trying to waive all entertainment taxes for movies that carry pure Tamil names. I really appreciate thier love and affection for development of Tamil language and humble efforts to promote it to world standards.

Introspecting through the various maladies in the revenue generation from movies and the attitude of movie makers and the actors, I think this Tax Saving programme for movies is really a total waste. Let us enumerate through a few points.

  1. Already each of the movie producer is earning in multi crores that a simple desktop calculator can not accomodate the digits.
  2. Adding to the woes is the amount of tax escaping sprees that these guys resort to.
  3. Besides every fortnight you can see a headlines hit about some cine financier getting arrested for resorting to illicit private lending and fleecing activities (Kandhu Vatti in Tamil).
  4. Besides this, the cheques given by these actors normally bounce off purposefully. They then terrorise the lender not to ask them again for repayment.
  5. The movie names do not carry any sense of decency. Gone are the days of Sivaji Ganesan when his move ‘Veerapandiya Kattabomman’, ‘Thillana Mohanambal’ etc are still memorable and live fresh and green in our memories both in terms of movie names, dialogues, scenes and songs. But can we expect this with current movie names like ‘Nee venumda Chellam’, ‘Unakkum Enakkum’. The latter two take the obscenity of movie nomenclature to its extreme height. I think even the Censor board should actively include movie names and thier auditing as an essential part of movie censoring activities.

    The worst nature of such obscene names was carried as a precursor to start of eve-teasing activities already. A news item was found in Dinamalar Varamalar (24th September 2006). The public have beaten the eve-teasers in the case, who were calling the college girls waiting at the bus stand with the movie name ‘Nee venumda Chellam’

Readers What do you feel? Share your comments and views.

Monday Blues and Chennai

Monday seems to be worst for Chennai particularly the road and traffic. Pick any of your favorite destination in Chennai and when you start for commuting to work, you can see horrible traffic conditions prevailing in all roads irrespective of whether it is arterial or a bylane. Ranging from the crowd in the public conveyance systems to the haphazard traffic discipline practised by two wheelers.

The problem faced by the guys is that the two weekend days all guys enjoy like anything — boozing and all sorts of activities. Some even have the practice of taking off of Friday too. Most of the call center staffing often practice this. When it comes to Monday morning, to avoid the leaves bieng cumulated they run and join the workplace.

A search revealed some of the interesting tips on Monday Blues. However, at least for Chennai, the district administration too should bring in some traffic discipline among the two wheelers.

  1. Rediff Tip on Monday Blues
  2. IndiaTimes Tip on Monday Blues

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