Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rape by touch

Some time back on board a local AC bus, where all the seats were taken except one next to a young lady with a kid, a 50 something old man got in and the conductor asked him to occupy the empty seat. For 2 minutes the lady started yelling about how she can possibly sit next to a male... blah blah... I was sitting next to a lady, so I offered to exchange my seats with her ending the ruckus.

Last week, on board another 'luxury' local bus that has two rows of double individual seats just like the AC bus, a 20 something girl asked a 20 something guy if he would mind her sitting next to him, he immediately jumped out leaving her to occupy the seat. Chivalry? Yeah, and he stood for the next half hour beside the door. I think more of foolishness and immaturity.

I'm sure if you had traveled by the local bus you would've noticed women demanding, fighting for the ladies seats on the left side of the bus while other women are occupying seats in the left half of the bus.

While I've seen several such 'scenes' with much amusement in Tamil Nadu. I've never seen this happening at any of the other places I've visited... Only in Tamil Nadu it seems, people can be raped by touch!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Please sign my petition to Rationalise Auto fares in Chennai on Change.org

I often board the Airconditioned MTC bus from T.Nagar to Kanchipuram to get to work. The 70KM journey from Saidapet to Kanchipuram costs me Rs.100. Today I wanted to get to the Saidapet Arch Bus Stop from Chamiers Road and started waving down autos. The less than 3km journey took less than 5 minutes, yet the auto rickshaw driver wanted Rs.100 for the ride!!

I hardly ever use the Auto Rickshaw because I hate haggling with these fellows who expect at least Rs.20-25/km but whenever I'm forced to, it has been a bad experience every time. The Auto rickshaw rates are yet to be revised in almost five years while fuel prices have gone up several times, so I've started a petition asking the Transport Commissioner, Transport Secretary and the Transport Minister, Govt. of Tamilnadu to rationalise Auto Rickshaw fares.

Please sign the petition and share the link with all your friends. Let's spare two minutes for the Chennai we love.




Thank you.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Are we a nation of mediocrity?

When my patients, who are predominantly rural, return for a review, I ask them if their eyes good, often I get a response that they're okay. When I quiz them further about why they're just okay and not good, more often than not there is no answer...

There's a restaurant that I frequent to get my daily dose of caffeine, I'm so regular that most waiters just bring my type of coffee as soon as I walk in even without me even gesturing to them. One of the regular waiter there asks me every time 'Sir, is the coffee average?' I respond it's good. To this day he unfailingly asks me everyday if my coffee is average!

Is this a suburban/rural phenomenon reflective of the general mindset of the people? Is it restricted to Kanchipuram or is this how all our people think?

Composed this on my mobile while waiting for my coffee and here comes my favourite waiter, gottago... :)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Education in different Indias

A kid turned up at our hospital today with complaints that she was unable to see the board at night. Confused, I asked her 'why would anyone wanna see the board at night'. Her dad replied, that at her boarding school, they have classes during study hours at night. Thinking maybe she was in class 10 or something, I quizzed her further... she was in class 7!

On one hand it's painful the farce thousands of kids receive in the name of education, teachers aren't regular, children can 'play' during class hours itself, they can go up to class ten without passing any exam or knowing to read or write even in their own mother tongue. These are the kind of children we at Bhumi work with. We know the education they receive is inadequate but aren't sure how much to supplement that with 'better quality' education without ruining their leisure time.

Then here's this other India which extinguishes their family time and childhoods for the sake of academic excellence and better future careers!

Friday, May 04, 2012

What if everyone treated you like Tata DoCoMo - 2

Continued from What if everyone treated you like Tata DoCoMo - 1 - The real truth behind the 'Disruptive innovation' by Tata DoCoMo

I was getting fed up with all the spam from Tata DoCoMo but didn't wanna subscribe to the National Do Not Disturb registry because I wanted to receive all SMSs and calls from Bhumi.

Call 1 to Customer Care: After getting through all the hurdles, believe it or not I was put on hold for over 15 minutes after which I disconnected the line.

Call 2 to Customer Care (2 days later): Officer refuses to stop Spam from Tata DoCoMo unless I subscribed to National DND registry. I tried demanding my right to not receive marketing spam from Tata DoCoMo but to no avail.

Call 3 to Customer Care (after a few minutes): Thought I'll speak to a manager or someone higher up who could handle the issue better. My call was not connected at all and instead I heard a recorded voice message asking me to 'email listen@tatadocomo.com if I had further issues'!!! Do these people even care?!?!

Email 1 to listen@tatadocomo.com: Read through and have a laugh. I've copy pasted the email as it was sent, the parts in bold were actually the ones they missed. I'll post a screenshot of the email as an update within a day or two.

Hi,
I'm being subjected to excessive spam from Tata Docomo on my number 8148XXXXXX
I do not want to subscribe to National DND registry.
I just don't want any marketing spam call or SMS from Tata Docomo
Both are different, please do not try to educate me on the above, I'm fed up of the same from your call centre people.
Please cancel all communication from Tata docomo to my number immediately.
Please also send a list of all VAS charges that are being deducted from my account in the last 90 days, i believe all of these have been deducted through fraudulent means.

Dr Prahalathan KK

Response from Tata DoCoMo to Email 1:
Dear Mr. Prahalathan,
Greetings for the day!
This is with reference to your email dated 28-April-2012 regarding dnd related details for your Tata Docomo number 8148XXXXXX.
We regret the inconvenience caused to you.
In case you don’t wish to receive any promotional calls, OBD or SMS, you can register for Fully Blocked option or choose Partially Blocked in case you would like to receive information on any of the following topics:To activate the DND service send SMS” START DND” to 1909 and choose the options based on your requirement. 
0 - Full blocking of Telemarketing calls/SMS 
1 - Allows calls/SMS from Banking / Insurance / Financial products / credit cards 
2 - Allows calls/SMS from Real Estate 
3 - Allows calls/SMS on Education 
4 - Allows calls/SMS on Health 
5 - Allows calls/SMS on Consumer goods & automobiles 
6 - Allows calls/SMS on Communication/ Broadcasting /Entertainment/IT 
7 - Allows calls/SMS on Tourism and Leisure 
Once you activate DND, the promotional calls/SMS will be stopped within 7 working days from the date of DND registration.
And also be informed that upon checking our records the deducted amount for vas service-mobile mirchi and this service is also deactivated successfully.
And also be informed that you can call *191# select 6th option to deactivate any vas service in future. 
Please feel free to contact us for any further clarifications or call us at 121(toll free) from your TATA Mobile phone or 9043012345 from a Non Tata Mobile phone.
Assuring you of our best services at all times.
Warm Regards,XXXXXXXTATA DOCOMO- Customer Service
There is more to come.

UPDATE: There is no more to come, we quit using Tata Docomo due to unabated excessive spam

Screenshot of above conversation.

What if everyone treated you like Tata DoCoMo - 1

I've been using Airtel for a really long time, over the past few months Airtel has almost doubled calling rates. So for Bhumi calls I ported my old Hutch number into Uninor, tried it for 2 months and dumped it because of poor signal. Then we chose Tata DoCoMo numbers some 3-4 months back. It made sense, they offer 10p/min intra network local calls like Airtel, but while Airtel is extracting 90p/min for a call to a landline or for any STD call, Tata DoCoMo charges only 1p/2seconds.

Tata DoCoMo claims to be a 'Disruptive innovator', but what they don't tell you is they will 'Disrupt' your life with unbearable amount of spam text messages and marketing voice calls.

As I am blogging this post
67.5% of text messages on my Inbox is SPAM from Tata DoCoMo
40.0% of the calls I've missed are marketing calls from Tata DoCoMo
35.0% of the calls I've received are marketing calls from Tata DoCoMo

So why am I blogging about Tata DoCoMo, don't all telecom companies cheat us?
(Airtel for example is yet to return approx Rs.4,000 billed in excess over a 3 month period on my broadband connection in 2010-2011)
Because the other telecom companies are not misleading the world with ads like 'What if everyone treated you like your Mobile Operator'

Check out how Customer care treated me @ What if everyone treated you like Tata DoCoMo - 2

There is more to come!
 UPDATE: There is no more to come, we quit using Tata Docomo due to unabated excessive spam

Friday, April 27, 2012

Can you give, when you've lost someone?

Today after an hour's drive into the interiors of Kancheepuram we reached a sleepy village to collect the eyes of an old woman who had expired just this morning. As we waited outside people especially children started coming to look at us... (happens all the time...) suddenly a man came running out crying 'no I won't allow the eyes to be taken!...'

Apparently, one of the sons had promptly informed the eye bank about his mother's death, while the other wasn't even aware, many village elders and the brother pleaded with the other to no avail. The whole drama played out for about half an hour on the streets as everyone watched, finally we left the place without completing the eye donation.

This is not the case everytime though. I must have collected at least fifty pairs of eyes in the last 3 years. Generally people are gracious in spite of their loss and when people thank us for coming, I'm often frozen, not knowing how to appropriately return the courtesy.

An instance I remember, once a son who was in final year medical school requested if he could be around when we were doing the procedure, I couldn't refuse, I don't know what he must have gone through, but I'm sure it must have been painful.

What has struck me is the profound impact the whole thing must have on the children of the house... how they would be positively impacted when their grieving parents explain to them with pride that their grandpa/grandma is giving their eyes and sight to two unknown people...

I'm sure these children would turn out to be good people, making this world a better place... :)