Search my WHIMS n WISHES!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hyderabadi Hiccups

The City of Pearls and Nizams, forts and monuments, dotted with lakes and rocky hills... Steeped in history and culture, here the confluence of multitude of religions rendered it a novel charm of harmonious co-existence. Life was graceful and slow-paced. ‘Tehzeeb’ and nawabi etiquette were true to form in all strata of society…be it the lowest rungs or the upper echelons of the social hierarchy.

Hyderabad was all of the above and more…Hyderabadi way of life was unique because of its multifaceted hues.

Then came the windfall. A whirlwind of growth frenzy and development brought about a metamorphosis… And Hyderabad, in a span of few years transformed itself to Hi—tech city aka Cyberabad.

The city changed … and how!
The indulgent way of life had to give way to breakneck speed.
Hyderabad became a ‘happening’ place to be in - with almost every IT giant one can think of, making Hyderabad its major hub; with a booming real estate with massive projects coming up; with SEZs mushrooming in surrounding districts; with a swanky airport of international standards to boast of; with bright, young professionals flocking to the city from all over the country and different parts of the world.

What more could Hyderabad ask for? Unfortunately, MORE..MUCH MORE - better service, better work culture, sense of punctuality, a positive and proactive attitude, to say the least!

The new makeover was too sudden and at too alarming a speed. The common man, used to the nawabi culture and an inherent attitude of indolence and procrastination, COULD NOT and DID NOT keep pace with the speed of transformation.

My husband and I are part of the burgeoning professionals who have made Hyderabad their home in the recent past.

Moving to any new place is a mammoth and tiresome task, settling down to new environs is not easy.
But in Hyderabad, the difficulties are several times more, thanks to a pathetic, uninformed and lackadaisical local service sector…
- be it a driver who oversleeps and forgets to report to work; or
- a car mechanic who responds to a complaint of a broken silencer two months later, expecting that the repair job would be waiting for him ; or
- uninformed / untrained sales personnel at departmental stores who respond to a request of the modest eau de cologne with a blank stare followed by directions to a shelf stacked with Colins cleaner.

I can cite a zillion such instances which I have been experiencing in the past twenty months that I have been in the city. Some, on hindsight, are so comical that one forgets how exasperating and irritating they were when they had actually happened!!

An illustration :
Last year, just after shifting, I called a carpenter to fix a shelf. After at least a dozen phone calls and half a dozen visits to his workshop, he finally took pity on my desperation, and obliged me by coming over to ‘have a look’ at the dimensions and estimate the raw materials needed. It was the humblest of shelves, with no ornamentation, just utilitarian to keep my printer. A job of not more than half a day. Well, after his first ‘visit’, he decided to disappear once again. Again I resumed the phone calls and trips to his workshop. Finally he relented. He came with the materials, started the job, made the two supports to which the plank of wood was supposed to be fixed, cut the plank of wood as per the required dimensions. And before he could proceed, he received an ‘emergency’ phone call and with the ongoing job and materials scattered all over the floor, he again did the disappearing act…NEVER TO RETURN, despite several dozen attempts at contacting him..
A fortnight or so later he called me, demanding payment for the material and work (he seemed to have been afflicted by selective amnesia, choosing to conveniently forget, that the work, for which he was demanding payment, remained unfinished). I burst out in anger, ranted and raved. But to no avail. That was the last I heard of him or from him and I was just too tired and disgusted to care.
The plank of plywood was later utilized as a makeshift shelf where I dare not keep the printer!!
Please note that the carpenter did not even bother to collect money for the raw materials he bought!!!

Some not so comical ones…
For the past one and a half month my microwave is out of order.
Initially, the oven door had come off. The response to the complaint lodged with the call centre was snail paced. The technician decided to turn up a good ten days later. He reported that the door needed to be replaced which would be done within two days. I was surprised, as the door, to me, looked in fine shape except for the joints. But the technician would know better…or so I thought!
Another week or so passed by and when I again called up the fellow (I had been wise enough to have stored his mobile no.) he informed me that new doors of that model were out of stock and he would come and repair the existing door! Well, if the existing one was repairable why bother to prescribe replacement in the first place, I asked, but to myself. I was too happy that the microwave would be operational the next day. So I did not dare ask too many questions. The technician turned up two days later, repaired the door, collected Rs.400/- and left. My maid informed me (over phone as I was at work) with great pleasure that the ‘mesheeen’ was working.
She was the happiest as the chore of heating food is so much more simplified with the ‘mesheen’ in action!
But our happiness was short-lived.
The door was fine, but now, due to his inefficiency or lack of skill, the technician had dismantled and reassembled the machine in such a manner that it was not working at all. Another technician came after a week of phone calls and we were finally asked to send it to their workshop where it is still being ‘repaired’ (or further destroyed!!). Our wait is on…

My three year old goes to one of the better playschool cum day-care centres in an upmarket locality of the city. The school has great infrastructure, pleasant teachers, adequate outdoor play areas which satisfied my husband and me enough to entrust them with the responsibility of our baby for almost ten hours a day. Last week while I was discussing the activities of the kids with one of the teachers, I casually mentioned Montessori method assuming it to be common knowledge. I was shocked and amazed that the terminology was as alien to her as Greek is to me.

These instances, you would say, can happen in any Indian city. Maybe….though I’m sceptical that the levels of service in any of our other BIG cities can be this poor. What makes the lack of professionalism and efficiency all the more glaring is the cost factor - The charges for the substandard services doled out are exorbitant and could be amongst the highest in the country. The price charged for the sheer indifference, complacency, lack of interest and absence of adequate skills, is mind boggling..

Well, from all of the above, you would conclude that I hate the city. Strangely enough, I don’t. Though neither am I magnanimous enough to love it.

A city like Hyderabad, with its peculiarities and nuances, grows on you. Its myriad contrasts are almost a microcosm of the India of today-where development and backwardness co-exist with glaring obviousness.
But to rise above the average, retain its growth spurt and make it a city of high standards, a remedy for the HICCUPS IN THE LIFE OF A COMMON MAN IN HYDERABAD, has to be developed.
Because hiccups may be just a mild discomfort, but if they persist, life becomes sheer HELL and are indications of bigger problems to come!!!!
Bibliography : Tehzeeb - An Urdu word which means manners / etiquette

Monday, September 22, 2008

Of Babas and Babies...

A mother of an almost three year old, life in the past three years has been a roller coaster ride of amazement, wonder, exasperation, anxiety and tests of innovation & imagination..

My little girl is a veritable chatterbox who, every morning, starts talking with her eyes closed, even before she’s fully awake…

She was an early speaker and by the time she was two years old, she just about repeated anything and everything she heard. So we had to become careful of what we uttered and self censorship was essential.

One fine morning, I heard her call out to my husband by his name instead of the usual ‘Baba’. And throughout the day it was repeated everytime she wanted to call out to her father. Asking her not to call him by his name was ignored.
Both my husband and I initially found it funny and sweet but realized that the habit HAD to be nipped in the bud. It was just NOT ACCEPTABLE!
But we were at a loss of how to go about it….because making it an issue and admonishing or scolding a two year old would be ineffective or worse, counter-productive.

A few days later an idea struck and I thought to myself…why not implement it….

I started calling my husband “Baba” making sure that my little lady got to hear it every time I called out. We stopped correcting her when she called her father by his name and decided to ignore it for the time being…
The little mimic that she had become, our strategy worked and “Baba” was what she resumed calling her Dad.
Well, all’s well that ends well, you would say.So very true…

But the twist in the tale is - I carried on calling my husband “Baba” and continue to do so till date… it's become habit!!
Bibliography - Baba : father

Monday, September 15, 2008

Shopping & Nostalgia

Sunday evening...
Pujas just a fortnight away. ..
A true blue bong has to finish her “Pujor Bajaar”!!!
The realization dawned that I had to do my Puja shopping and HAD to do it TODAY as days for my Calcutta trip were literally numbered.
Four hours later, I was back home, with bulging carry bags and a much lighter wallet.

With swanky malls sprouting in every nook and corner of almost all neighbourhoods, shopping in our metro cities nowadays are all about comfort, variety and indulgence. Be it shopping for clothes, eatables, electronics ….with retail boom leaving no corner of urban India untouched, shopping is not the same as ..say…what it was just half a decade back. We have every global brand offering us the best bargains, the widest choice, the latest trends. Could we ask for more?
A tired me says YES with capital letters.

"Silly woman", you would say, "aren’t you satisfied with the convenience, comfort, the simplicity of walking into a mall and walking off with what you wanted, all in a jiffy!"
The answer to that would be NO, I AM NOT…I don’t like the malls with their almost identical ambiences, the same brands on display, the dead-pan, expressionless salepersons. I love the uniqueness in the smell, sound, taste, feel, dialect of every bazaar. I hate the modern malls which are little more than mere clones of one another. You would call me a regressive, nostalgic fool craving for the past.

Well…that’s the way it is with me and thank God, that my good old city with its old world charm still retains the flavour, albeit in bits and pieces….where makeshift stalls give the mega malls a run for their money..EVEN TODAY! Where the bazaars are still teeming with people queuing up for fresh food instead of the frozen stuff of the supermarkets!

Well, I’m talking about shopping in good old Calcutta. Being away from my city, I miss the haggling and bargaining, where bargaining to the last rupee was more a matter of pleasure than monetary loss or gain. It was almost like a war of words and tenacity, spiced up with wit and banter, between the zealous salesmen and the potential buyer. The whole atmosphere was almost carnival like with neighbouring stalls vying with one another for the attention of the shoppers passing by.

The gradual upgradation from “Bonti” ”Didi” and to the present “Boudi” which sometimes gets replaced by Didi (when the hawkers are in a doubt regarding my marital status) are something so unique and yet ubiquitous to roadside shopping in Kolkata. Another decade or so and I would reach the “Mashima” stage!! For the grossly uninformed, these are the different forms of exuberant greetings a hawker uses (depending on the age of the prospective buyer…) to call out to the customers.

Well.. no nostalgic remembrance of Calcutta shopping is complete without the mention of the rolls, phuchkas, jhaalmuris……how I missed them all this evening when I had to satiate my post-shopping hunger with a measly masala corn.

Bibliography: Bonti:little sister; Didi:Elder sister; Boudi:sister-in-law; Mashima:Aunt

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Scribbling Pad

Here I am in the blogsphere ..teeming with thousands more...carving out a little space for myself in this virtual universe called cyberspace.

But why exactly am I here??

Frankly speaking...I dont's again one of my whims.

I am not here to sermonize, educate, or for that matter for any larger than life issues or any social cause.

I am just here to see what it feels like to have a virtual scribbling pad...

I dont know how long I'll continue the scribbling...but as of now, it's caught my fancy and so i decided to become a BLOGGER!!!

So friends go ahead on...this is one place where freedom of expression is at its truest form. You can opt not to visit my site but you cant stop me even if you want to!!!