Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Incredible Intransigence -Episode Two

I had been using a particular mobile phone service for nearly five years at Pune. We all tend to stick to the same brand be it a product or a service.

Like a wise guy I thought I will discontinue my Pune-based service that was costing me an arm and a leg here, and then apply for a local one. It takes two days to get a connection, my knowledgeable colleagues reassured me.

When I tried locating the local branch of that service, it took me half a day to go through the phone book and the yellow pages...ultimately an assistant helped me find it. Not very far from the hotel where I was staying, so I went there with a song on my lips and a positive spring in the step. Little did I know...

The office was being raided by half the population of this city. Three pert young things snappily dressed and fluently speaking English, tried to help me. None could grasp the complexity of my problem. Giving up Pune connection, and getting a new connection. They passed the buck for half an hour, asking me to sit in one of those ultra-modern chairs that ruin your back though they seem so attractive. One particular lady, slightly more senior to the trio, kept reassuring me that I would be attended to in 20 minutes. She did, actually did. She just took a blank form and made me sign for a new connection. She asked me to come back again after my return from Pune, where I was to be for four days.

When I came back the young lady had either left the job or had got transferred, so the trio of those greenhorns with their ready answers and zero knowledge of the job, confronted me. I showed them the paper and they went into a solidarity-strengthening huddle. Emerging triumphantly, the sharpest of them, master of dodging and finding excuses, said they could not help.

The sky seemed to be falling down. I had requested disconnection, and in a couple of days I would be without a cellphone service... I felt like my car when it runs out of diesel, the faithful Beast. A youngish executive, more snappily dressed than all the females, with a broad tie and a broader smile, snatched the application out of the pretty young thing's hand... and asked rudely : " What's the problem."

She made a botch, a total complete and thorough botch of explaining the problem, so I had to intervene and tell him the facts. There ensued the very familiar dialogue, that I had faced on three earlier occasions, the worst being at the bank.

" Sir," said the slimy manager smiling unctuously, " do you have a ration card?"
" Yes, but at Pune." He made a face that revolted me.
" Residence proof? Phone bill? Electricity Bill? Gas connection?"
" Dear sir," I said testily, knowing well that he had heard me talking to the young girl," I am new. I have no home here, am staying in a hotel."
" Voter Identity card?"
" Who will issue that to me, I am a visitor here."
" Driving license?" I happily produced mine. He seemed more doubtful than before.
" Ahem. The address is not Chennai. It is Pune!" He seemed horrified.
" I have been explaining to you and your assistants that I am a visitor."
" Sir, how can we issue a connection?"
I reminded him that the lady who used to sit earlier where he was sitting, had told me it was possible, easy and would be done as soon as I apply.
" Any other proof?" He wanted the proof of my existence. I suddenly felt like Caspar the friendly ghost. Couldn't harm him though I could easily go through him.

In total desperation I gave him my freshly printed visiting card.
" Sorry sir, we cannot issue an individual connection to you."
I was speechless.
" So what option do I have?"
" Go for a corporate connection."
" Hey I don't own the company, I have to consult a number of departmental heads..."
" But it says Chief Executive on your card."
I realized that my proof of existence had gone against me. He wanted a bigger kill.
Must be trying hard to meet monthly targets, despite the thronging, milling mobs.

Resigned and fatigued, I left the office in disgust.
It took me nearly three weeks to get a corporate connection, so many channels had to be plodded through.

(c) Max Babi 052006

3 Comments:

At 1:29 AM, Blogger david raphael israel said...

mmm -- in the savoring of redtapism, this is a fine entry Max. Also like such touches as the "broad tie and broader smile."

From the evidence of these two latest stories, it seems possible that people in Chennai are unaquainted with the quaint modern custom of "moving" from one city to another. Perhaps normally speaking, only those born in Chennai are to be found within its city limits?

cheers,
d.i.

 
At 8:26 AM, Blogger Max Babi said...

It's blessed mystery to me, d.i. Been trying to figure it all out without success...one possibility is that the city is expanding so fast there is a vacuum in pockets. These youngsters who can't understand me, despite their good knowledge of English, or sympthize with me, could be due to their being such 'bubble' babies...
cheerz!

 
At 9:06 PM, Blogger Sucheta said...

Either they are ultra-smart, or complete no-brainers. Eitherways, both are difficult to convince. One breaks your head in defeat, the other is disgust.
But look at the brighter side, you did manage to get your connection and emerge victorious. Hip, hip, hurray!
:D

 

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