High BP near IBP Petrol Bunk in Medavakkam
The IBP Petrol Bunk near Medavakkam, a growing suburb in Chennai seems to be an eternal nightmare for passerbys of all sorts and creed — be them commuters of public transportation or private motorists. One can witness the callousness of traffic cops in their conspicuous absence to enforce discipline in the area besides the lot of stray cattle that loiters around endangering themselves besides throwing open a grave insecure road for the motorists.
I have personally registered a Chennai City Traffic Police complaint through the Internet Complaint Cell vide Complaint ID ‘CTPCO00679’ around the fourth week of August but hitherto the complaint is still in the status like ‘Your complaint CTPCO00679 is being reviewed’. 
Hence I just thought of sharing  the state of affair of the road with others too. Last week while commuting through this stretch when I saw the IBP petrol bunk the name made me think that this is really making the blood vessels to bump high and low. The badly constructed speed breaker with incorrect gradient also is for sure to give you a rough jolt when you negotiate the stretch. At least till CCTP wakes up from the slumber to address the menace, we ought to exercise an extra bit of caution whilst negotiating through this  Velachery – Tambaram state highway 48 (also known as  Marmalong – Irumbuliyur Road).

Costly Clerical Errors due to poorly qualified staff at contact centers

Sometime back we discussed about “Poor Clerical Work at Citibank Chennai“. I just thought of the gravity of this incident is actually increasing and is encompassing in a bewildering way to even nonbanking contact centers. I have two more incidents to share in this front:

  • Recession days are triggering Retail Robbery
  • A few days back I had my vacation trip to Manali through New Delhi. I had the entire accomodation booked through MakeMyTrip. Though MakeMyTrip offers a one-stop capsule offering of all accomodation-cum-travel, I did observe a significant amount of major goof-ups in the same. A few of them below:
    • For the bus pickup in New Delhi, the phone number mentioned in the confirmation email was totally wrong. The address was incorrect too. Actually the bus comes to a petrol bunk near Hotel Imperial in Connaught Place to pickup. Fortunately, I could manage with the help of JustDial assistance and since I was able to manage the language. The most significant thing that pissed me off in the entire incident is that at one point of time, the call center agent simply brushed off and replied “I have no clues regarding that address. This is what I have in the database”.
    • The hotel booking confirmation too had a wrong number. Instead of September 14 to September 19, they had mentioned as December 14 to December 19. Fortunately, a quick call to the Hotel supervisor and his magnanimity saved a good deal of embarassment.

The organizations which are trying to open up call centers in India for the benefit of cheap labor and ease of management should also ensure that they don’t jeopardise the quality of the services rendered.

First kickstart on the cyberway to drive on the highway or to fly…
These days of Internet Age, booking tickets and planning a travel has never become difficult, as long as you carefully draft an itinerary. Whatever be the mode of transportation (roadway, railway, airlines or ships), you can always count on a quick website to do a travel booking for you at the comfort of your home/desktop and tickets delivered at your doorstep.
This post is actually intended as a compilation of various websites that offer travel booking to various places. This list is no means exhaustive. If you know a different provider, feel free to share it as a comment for the benefit of other readers.
  1. Indian Railways: IRCTC Online Passenger Reservation Site
  2. Roadways:
    1. State Express Transport Corporation
    2. Parveen Travels
    3. KPN Travels
    4. Rathi Meena Travels
  3. Airlines:
    1. Indian Airlines
    2. Air India
    3. Air Deccan
    4. KingFisher
    5. Lufthansa India
    6. British Airways

Perhaps if you know of similar websites, please feel free to share it as comments for the benefit of other readers.

A Poor Man’s Deluxe Car

The Chennai city’s prime transportation line (Metropolitan Transport Corporation) seems to be getting innovative going by the day. Gone are the days when we just have bus that used to give rattling sounds, make the journey nauseating (vomiting sensation due to bad roads and strenous journey). At least from the second half of the reign of the previous Chief Minister Puratchi Thalaivi Dr. J. Jayalalitha and the current rule of Dr. Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi, the transport ministers are putting some diligent and focussed efforts to provide good bus services networking nook and corner of the city.

Not everyone can afford to have a car; Not everyone can hire a call taxi or a dedicated air-conditioned travel car frequently; Not everyone can just pickup an autorickshaw. We have a real significant of middle income group in the city who still depend on this public transportation system. And we should at least thank the Transportation Department and the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) for thier focussed efforts in bringing world class bus services to reality in Chennai.

At least, I feel that Vestibule and Low-Floor-Deluxe buses look like comfortable cars for me. It is about a couple of rupees (half a US dime) more than the normal buses but the advantage you gain being comfortable journey to your destination.

Technology-wise, I also appreciate the quick route maps in MTC website which enumerates tariff, routes between specified source and destinations. The website also discusses about the luggage allowed including free allowance per passenger and other proposed plans.

Of course, with these are the plus points, it is not MTC can just take rest. There are but scores of negatives and shortcomings that they have to address too. A few of them are:

  1. Security in buses is still a challenge. Even now, you can not comfortably keep your wallet in any of the deluxe buses in shirt pocket. You have to squeeze it somewhere deep in the hidden pockets to safeguard it from pocket-pickers. We have discussed sometime back a few tips to escape from pocket pickers.
  2. Eve-teasing menace and harassment of women passengers is still reigning high at least in the suburbs. While Chennai City Traffic police is giving tall claims of having plain clothes cops supervising, I don’t think they are anywhere near success in getting the eve-teasing menace under check and control. Before something like Sarika Shah tragedy strikes, MTC can be proactive in controlling this eve-teasing menace.
  3. Under the pretext of deluxe buses, a number of little bus stops are ruthlessly shutdown by the MTC. This acutely affects regular commuters, office-goers, ladies and kids, school students, patients to hospitals and aged people. They should adopt a trick like ‘Alternate Buses; Alternate Bus Stops’ instead of having a hard and fast rule like ‘Yellow Board (LSS) buses’ would stop here; White Board (All Stop) buses would stop here’. Currently, the All Stop buses have a very little percentage share of 15 per cent of the total MTC fleet, as I learnt from a weblog. We have a discussion on this in Consumer_Voice_India over here.
  4. Maintenance of buses is serious lacking. Already the very new buses too have started getting so much dust on the windows. The cleaning personnel at the bus station should be strictly advised and trained to clean and maintain the buses. This rule has to be enforced strictly. We have a discussion on this topic in Consumer_Voice_India over here.
  5. The staff has to be trained to be more polite and caring for the passenger. Even yesterday, I witnessed one driver in 21L, who when we requested for a bus stop, started to bark incessantly and stopped the bus after a while as if he is doing a favor for us, when he was actually doing his duty. Every staff has to be trained to remember the following slogan always:

    “A ‘Customer’ is the most important visitor on our premises.
    He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.
    He is not an interruption on our work. He is the purpose of it.
    He is not an outsider on our business. He is a part of it.
    We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

    — Mahatma Gandhi

  6. Time management in pathetic. But I am sure that this issue can not immediately be taken up since it depends on multiple factors like road traffic conditions, political meetings, route diversions etc.

I do have a suggestion regarding the problems (1) and (2). MTC can consider having a separate police force dedicated to itself instead of depending on the normal police. They can have something like MTC Police with thier own access telephone numbers dedicated only for problems in MTC buses. Dallas Area Rapid Transportation (DART) actually has this setup and you can find more details of DART police here.

J Walking — Most Common Feature in Indian Roads?

I just thought of this unique syndrome that has afflicted almost any Indian roads — J-Walking. Yesterday,  during my trip to temple, I observed a huge lot of people resorting to this practice. And you know where? The busy Sardar Patel Road – Velachery Tambaram road intersection (also known as Halda junction). Interestingly, this stretch has been made one way from both Velacherry and Adyar direction.

I don’t find a single cop in this traffic intersection even at the busy peak hour evening. The free left from Adyar towards Velacherry almost makes crossing virtually impossible besides the nonchalant people involving in reckless JWalking.

The Government of Tamil Nadu, which has tried bringing in a statute enforcing Mandatory Helmets for the safety of public can also try bringing in some rule to ‘contain’ this menace of JWalking. Would the traffic authorities wake up from slumber?

Brisk Sales of Head-Protecting Gadgets in Tamil Nadu

Thanks to the Government Order in Tamil Nadu stipulating that helmets be compulsorily worn by all two wheelers including pillion riders, it is a great good news at least from the health perspective of the people. A significant number of accidents end up being fatal only because of head injuries. There is a great expectation amongst the people that the order which gets into practice starting June 1 in the metro cities of Tamil Nadu like Chennai, Coimbatore etc and July 1 on other cities would minimize the number of accidents for two wheelers and make a healthy transportation route in the state roads.

We should also appreciate UTI Bank for emphasizing the need of helmet wearing long time since. Here is a discussion on the same: “An hardware to protect the software“.

Even for business houses, this seems to be a brisk business. I saw a petrol bunk in Anna Salai yesterday while travelling to the ‘Routine Temple Trip‘ that ‘Purchase one helmet and get 200 INR HP Petrolcard for 100 INR’.

Similarly, it would be great if Government could stipulate that wearing of Seat belts in cars is also mandatory. The other day, my friend gave me a ride in the car till Pallikaranai. It was a modern new car but he hasn’t cared to have a seat belt system in his car. We have already discussed about the how rash and reckless is the traffic condition in Velacherry – Tambaram freeway. I see traffic police have put advisory notes near Anna Flyover like ‘Wear Seatbelts for Safe Journey’ in English and Tamil. But I don’t think our guys would listen to advisory notes unless a whip is brought in.

The next significant thing the Government should try bringing in stricter lane disciplines. Yesterday while returning from temple to home, I really found tough lane violations in Sardar Patel road, Adayar, which has been made one-way from Raj Bhavan to Velacherry. I could literally find vehicles darting across the lanes in thier own whims and fancies.

Would the state transportation department maintain the high spirit in making the transport cleaner instead of jumping back to slumber after the helmet project?

Air Deccan Employee finds himself as prime accused in Credit Card Felony

In yet another case of breach of trust involving service providers facilitating credit card based transactions, an Air Deccan employee has been proved guilty and has been taken into custody for allegedly misusing the credit details of the customers of the company to make himself comfortable in exoribitantly expensive electronic gadgets through an online order.

While casually browsing through Dinakkaran, Tamil Nadu’s number one morning newspaper, I found this credit card felony. You can find this incident in thier ePaper version dated 26th May, 2007 (Chennai Magazine section) — Page 17.

Nitesh Chandran (24), is working as sales executive in Air Deccan chennai branch. It is customary for Air Deccan customers to submit proof of identification when dropping in to purchase tickets. Some elite person has brought in the concept of submitting copies of credit card bills. All were fine till this Satan struck the deal. He used to note down the credit card numbers from the photocopies. And interestingly he has placed orders to a famous cell phone shop based from Alwarpet through thier website. When he went in person to get the mobile, the shopkeeper got suspicious since his name and card details didn’t match. When the merchant alerted the credit card issuing institution (HDFC in this case) regarding the anomaly, the bank in turn contacted the credit card holder who was the then travelling in Andhra Pradesh. He conveyed that he had not made any online orders whatsoever. Now Nitesh Chandran is behind the bars for his Credit Card felony.

[Air Deccan Credit Card Felony]

Now comes some interesting observations based on this incident.

  1. Handing over photocopies of credit card with even the CVV numbers visible is highly dangerous. We have been having another interesting encounter with a SBI Credit Card agent long time back stubbornly demanding photo credit card and I had shoo shoo him away.
  2. Air Deccan has pioneered in providing low cost travel and it is a great welcome boon to facilitate Air Travel for middle income group. But alongside the slash down of the costs, there had been a lot of negative points too.
    1. Too very often, you can find Air Deccan shuffing its flights and/or canceling it.
    2. The customercare is simply nonchalant to any of the customer demands. My colleague, Ashutosh Ravindra Inamdar, once booked a ticket from Chennai to Pune. The flight was initially at 11.30. But three times the flight was rescheduled and it was starting at 1930 in the evening. Interestingly when he called the customercare center, for a continous period of 45 minutes, the phone was just repeating the hold music and no customer care was caring to address the call.
  3. Air Deccan confirmed tickets are not truly confirmed.

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