Keeping tradition – Dancing on the streets !

2011 Cricket World Cup victory celebrations for India under my apartment !

It is interesting how the celebrations start out in the town square and slowly move onto the streets :)

Let us all gather in the town square to celebrate peacefully.”

Hmm, something doesn’t feel right. I wonder what?”

I’ve got an idea – lets try moving on to the streets!”

Hey, this is great ! Who knew blocking traffic was such fun!”

Lets get this bugger ! Yippiee…..!”

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Customer Service and Vodafone – The sticky ‘ex’ story

For a country that swallowed customer service jobs across the globe, slapped multi storied towers on acres of land building call centers, and made people work through the night, you’d have thought they got one thing right – Customer Service!

“I will give you my personal number” said the lady at the Vodafone store on Mangaldas road, a quite lane in Koregaon Park. “I assure you, you will have no problems with the account again. Ever.” she continued. “Thank you” I said, “but I would like to close my account and terminate my number”. As she reluctantly filled the account closing form, I was happy knowing that I would never ever have to visit this store again or speak to another Vodafone customer care executive, whose only solution to my problems was – “Sorry madam, but you will have to visit the store personally”.

Have you ever been in a relationship where one person wants out and the other is willing to do everything to keep it going? Plead? Beg? And if you still magically got out, the begging turned to harassment and pestering? So much in love was Vodafone with me, that they just couldn’t accept that our relationship was over. Long after I had payed off the last bill and settled all dues they sent me another one! Yes, a bill for a period during which the number did not exist. I had left the relationship. Vodafone had not. They kept their end going, sending me bills and harassing my poor mom whose number I had provided as an ‘alternate’ (extremely bad decision).

I called the Vodafone customer care executive who told me “Sorry madam, but you will have to visit the store personally”. At least they were consistent.

I wrote to Vodafone customer care explaining my situation. They wrote back saying they tried calling me on this closed, non existent number but could not reach me. Poor things, in a corner of their heart they still believed that this number was alive.

One day, my dad received another pestering phone call from Vodafone. The person spoke with a voice of finality – “Are you going to pay the bill or not?’ My dad thought for a moment and decided he might as well give the 350 bucks and shut the matter. So, he told her he would do so, but she must give a clear statement saying that the matter was now closed. She thought for a while and then said: “Okay. Then will you pay 700?!”

We all know that the customer care around cellular services is a joke in India, but Vodafone seems to have taken this analogy quite literally!

5 days in Cochin, Kerala

Day 1

The flight to Cochin was estimated at a little over two hours. It started off brilliantly with an aerial view of the Bandra-Worli sea link. It however, refused to end. The merry-go-round over the Indian peninsula was in its third hour. Finally, we landed, in Calicut. We waited as the overpriced airplane cookies sold out. Four cookies down, we got the green for Cochin and another 26 minutes later, we had arrived.

It was a bit ironic. Last July we had dropped the idea of visiting Kerala as the monsoon rains were to be dreaded. And here we were in the middle of summer under a rainy thunderstorm. C’est la vie :)

View from Aircraft - Bandra Worli Sea Link

Bandra Worli Sea Link - Aerial View from the clouds

On arrival we were greeted by our cab driver who had obediently waited at the airport the whole time. That brought a smile on our face, and surprisingly his too! I suppose the fellow cab drivers had a pleasant time, chitchatting as the rains healed the burns.

The delay left us with little time that day, all we now wished for was a traditional sea food meal. Le Meridien, Cochin being far far away from the city left us stranded for choices. We settled for the in-house Lagoon restaurant, which was a pleasant surprise! Not only was the food delicious, but it also did not have 5 star prices slapped all over it. I loved the Karimeen Pollichathu served in a babana leaf. Yum.

Grilled Karimeen Pollichathu in a banana leaf

Grilled Karimeen Pollichathu in a banana leaf

Day 2

Nothing to rave about. A quick visit to the city followed by a ferry ride to Fort Cochin to see the famous Chinese Fishing nets. The ferry cost us 2 rupees 50 paise. I couldn’t believe it.

Le Meridien, Cochin

Le Meridien, Cochin

When in Cochin, I had no clue, how interesting the nets were and missed them in action ;( Shame on me. I just checked a few YouTube videos and its really quite amazing. The whole structure drops into the shore and when they roll it back up the fishes are in the net. I’m sure it was quite ingenious back in the 12th century when they were set up by Zheng He. A man of lazy disposition, isn’t he ;-)

Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Cochin

Chinese Fishing Nets, Fort Cochin

Day 3

We spent the day visiting Munnar, which I must admit turned out more hectic than I had expected. Every time I decide to go easy on my travel plans, “tourism” gets the better of me. On the bright side, we were blessed with lovely weather and I also got to shop for a lot of tea.

Periyar River, Kerala

Periyar River, Kerala

Tea garden, Munnar, Kerala

Tea garden, Munnar, Kerala

Day 4

The Munnar trip left us a bit confused. Should we relax and soak in the sun (more squeeze out the sun if you are in India ;-) or should we allow our friends to mock us for having skipped the backwaters of Kerala! I think you know who won.

Paddy fields behind the coconut trees

Paddy fields behind the coconut trees

Backwaters at Alleppey

Backwaters at Alleppey

The backwater ride at Alleppey was very scenic. Though initially, the driver, a cheeky little bugger refused to take us to the pretty narrow backwater villages unless we tipped him upfront! He tried to trick us, and then we tricked him, and ultimately no one felt too good about it. Oh well!

We tipped off the day with a dip in the pool. I ain’t no swimmer, but the surplus fat in my body helped me float easily allowing me to learn the backstroke! Yay!

Three level pool @ Le Meridien, Cochin

Three level pool @ Le Meridien, Cochin

Day 5

The last day was spent relaxing (finally ;-) and getting an ayurvedic massage. I took one which felt like a rice bath :D It wasn’t particularly relaxing, but it was an interesting experience :)

Aurvedic Kerala Spa

Aurvedic Kerala Spa

All pics have been uploaded on Picasa. Nothing beats travelling! :)