Thursday, May 27, 2010

Farewell function

No body knows how the system of ‘Farewell function’ for out going staff in offices originated, but every body knows that it is the best time for shedding crocodile tears and showering undue praises by certain staff members. How so ever congenial atmosphere prevail in offices, there would be some, who will be happy in their hearts over the exit of their boss or colleague.

It is these people who try to put all kinds of hurdles in arranging the farewell. Arranging a farewell in itself is a herculean task, especially when it comes to collecting the contribution for the function. The person taking the initiative has to listen to all kinds of comments and abuses like“Why should I pay so much when less was paid last time” or“What happened to excess collected last time, no body gave the expenditure break up” or“Even when I paid so much no body cared about me in the function”.

Then, there would be series of discussion, agreement and disagreements as to who will give the farewell speech, who will garland & hand over the bouquet, who will take the photos and who will arrange the snacks. The farewell speech would always be in praise of the outgoing person listing all his good qualities even if he has none and how every one in the office would miss him or her.

The whole process of farewell function is routine that others become restless if the function is delayed or prolonged. People start looking at the wall clock and eagerly wait for the function to come to an end so that they can grab the snacks and run home. After listening to the speech it would appear that the outgoing person is indispensable but the moment the function is over, people heave a sigh of relief as if they have bid a farewell to a monster! The atmosphere in the office comes to the normal next day as if no one is missing anybody.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sweet & sour

- ‘Hello mister, I will sit near the window seat. I have already kept my luggage on the seat.’
- ‘But sir, I got in to the compartment first to occupy this seat. I just had gone out to have a cup of tea”
-‘So, what? Does this seat belong to your forefathers?’
-‘Look sir, don’t call names’
-‘You don’t know me. I am a famous writer and I want to study looking beyond the windows for my next article’.
-Sir, you may be a great writer, but I am the ‘common man’ of your articles’. So saying, the common man pushed aside the writer’s luggage and sat near the window puffing ‘Beedi’.

There was a long queue at the Pension counter. Old and infirm were waiting for the counter to open. When the clerk arrived, he announced that only those will be paid the pension who have brought the ‘Life Certificate’ duly attested by a banker or gazetted officer.
Suddenly a young man appeared at counter, winked at the clerk and handed over the life certificate. The clerk stamped it as ‘verified’ and paid the money to him. No one in the queue knew that the life certificate produced by the young man was that of his father who died, 5 years ago.

It was an election time and the leader was giving a fiery speech. Suddenly he saw a jeep approaching the dais with few people sitting atop shouting slogans. In a panic state, the leader pointing towards the jeep started shouting over the mike-
‘Look, these people are coming to disrupt the meeting; they don’t want a fair and peaceful election. They are anti social elements,  they are goondas……..’ suddenly the fiery leader became speechless. The occupants of the jeep were his own party men!
.(All the three short satires were translated from my own Hindi satires  published in 1979-80)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Part-II- 'Jaago Re'..Customer Awareness

Continuing my  ‘Consumer Awareness’ experiences, this one pertains to a reputed private bank which claims to be one cut above the rest. Often people frown upon the nationalised banks for their poor and outdated services and always start comparing with the big private banks where every single service is charged except entry in to their premises.
Recently ICICI Bank opened a new branch near my locality and went there to open a tax saving fixed deposit on 17th March. (I may be their first FD customer under the scheme). The employee at the desk took almost 45 minuets to scrutinize the application. Thereafter checked the Xerox copies with original about my address and age proof word by word. Still not satisfied with Xerox copy provided by me, he took another Xerox from their machine. My account option was ‘either or survivor’ but he insisted that both of us sign the Nil nomination form which is not at all mandatory.
My cheque was lodged with them on 17th March drawn on other bank for issuance of FD but the bank presented this cheque to my other bank for encashment only on 23rd March (After 7 days) and FDR issued on 24th March with value date as 23rd March. This FD was delivered to me after 16 days after reminding the branch.
When I took up the matter with ICICI Bank customer care centre, they informed me that “As I was not holding any ICICI bank a/c, the new a/c opening has a processing time of 4 working days”. Readers can observe that the bank was withholding the cheque for full 7 days. Going by their own rule of processing time, the value date should have been 21st March and not 23rd March!
I leave the matter here for the readers to judge for themselves as to how far for the bank is efficient. Needless to mention, in a similar situation one can get the FD issued in 3 clear days time by any nationalised bank without any hurdles.
(Please also read the part-I, previous blog post)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I am the one who believes that awareness does not come by reading books or adding higher qualifications alone. It comes by our observation and our own experiences of life as well as those of others. Such experiences good or bad becomes a part of awareness and remain at the back of our mind for ever. Those who put such experiences into practice grow and mature while the others suffer. Awareness does not mean ‘preaching’, it means keeping one selves abreast of the happenings around, far & near.
Nowadays every one talks of consumer rights and RTI (Right to Information) but have we ever bothered to use them at some point of time, at least once? Shopping establishments, Banks, Post offices, Government offices and all public utility service offices come under the preview of Consumer court or the RTI Scanner. The consumer/ customer availing above services fall in two categories- active and passive. The passive one takes everything for granted. For them ‘Where is the time and who will take all the trouble’ is normal mantra. But one should be sensitive enough to raise a voice against wrong even if the attempt fails. If you are not aware, how the people can be taken for a ride can be judged by some of my own experiences which I would like to share in public interest.
BBMP is popularizing its website through which one can pay the property tax on line. This year I tried to pay the taxes using the website but due to some technical flaw, my debit card payment was not accepted. As the tax form number was already generated with all the requisite columns filled up automatically, I took out a printout and went to BBMP office to pay through cheque. The concerned clerk flatly refused to accept the computer generated form and asked me to get another form available with them to be filled up by them (needless to say, they were charging Rs.50/- for filling the forms). He did not budge from his stand so I had no choice but to meet the officer in charge. The officer, a lady reluctantly told me that the website facility is only for those who want to pay through credit card and not for those who pay by cheque or cash. My plea to her that the website has columns for cheque or cash payment broke no ice! I requested her to go through the website or to get the clarification from their higher ups which eventually she did. She was asked to accept my tax form (even after the clarification, the clerk did not sign the tax paid receipt probably thinking it to be risky. He asked me to take the signature of the lady officer in charge!)
In another incidence, I went to a recently opened Mall. Inside a hyper market I wanted to buy Jockey brand briefs. On a saver pack of two, it was printed save Rs.10/-costing Rs. 149/-after discount as per the sticker. After coming home and just out of curiosity, when I removed the sticker, to my surprise there was another sticker beneath in which the cost was mentioned as Rs. 139/-.It was clear now that the ‘Save Rs.10/-‘ offer was a hoax. They had jacked up the cost. Immediately I sent a mail to the company’s customer care center who promptly gave a reply on 25th March stating-
“We are in receipt of your mail. We thank very much for the effort taken by you to bring this issue to our notice. We will look into this matter very seriously and solve this issue at the earliest.”
As no “serious action” was taken, again on 20th April I sent a reminder to them and still as on the date of writing this blog (4th May), waiting for an appropriate response from them.
You all must have come across several advertisements, hoardings and banners in front of textile shops like “Buy one, take three free” sales. After going through all such shops, I have found that under the scheme a shirt costs in the range of Rs.1500-2000/-and you get 3 free shirts. But in reality, have you ever come across a sale where you get 3 shirts free on a single shirt costing say Rs. 400/-? NEVER. If you try to buy the same shirt singly without free offer, you can get it for Rs. 300-400/- so, think before you leap on a buying spree.
Point here is not fighting for a savings of few rupees but its all about exercising your right in demanding what is legitimately yours. Fight with those who are here to fleece you, take you for granted thinking that you know nothing. Several NGOs and even Government departments are coming out with tools like Consumer act/RTI act and slogans like ‘Jaago Re’ for the benefit of public and to make them Aware & proactive.