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


Satyendra said...

Dear Sharmistha,
I never knew that you can write so well. Congrats. Keep it up.

Sarojini said...

Dear Sharmistha,
Wow, a writer in you has sprouted .. Please start journaling the events with pictures, one day it could be like R. K Narayan's Malgudi Days, maybe Sharmistha's Hyderabadi Days.
Take Care...

Damayanti said...

very well written budhhidi!

ask said...

Well scripted!!!... could relate some instances to vizag, remember “city of destiny”??? & our presentations...ha ha ha..

Sangita said...

Wow! that's a great piece of work. I never knew that you had such a brilliant talent within you. Great! Keep it up. Keep adding more....

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

That's a great piece! Very well-written. I am just surprised that you get used to the indolence in Kolkata's service sector!! However, the lack of GK is something unique to this city!!

SGD said...

You are right..Kolkata is famous (or rather infamous) for its work culture. But the kind I've experienced here is of a totally different kind and degree.
Here, unlike in Kolkata, people dont argue or justify their's supposed to be an accepted norm of things.
And it surprises me no end that with this kind of attitude at the lowest rung of service providers, the kind of growth that's taken place in the city is bewildering as well as commendable!!

HR said...

This must be the 3rd one from the author.What I could realize that the quality of work is blooming gradually. Some one has very correctly commented that the writer in her has sprouted. The way she has depicted the common problem we come across in our everyday life is enthralling. We expect some more good piece from her down the line.

As far as the level of service provided is concerned I would rather state that the evil is spread in every nook and corner of the country.Albeit the companies vouch on after sales service, the picture in practice is not that rosy. It appears that these companies ought to pursue proper training system to deliver services efficiently.After all the service personnels are brand ambassadors of the companies.

We look forward for more write up.