My stories made it to two books that have been published recently. Both are collections of stories contributed by different people, and related to their own life and experiences.
What is common between the contributors in the two books and in each book? They are all alumni of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), the coveted institution of higher learning dedicated to business education.
In “A Chapter Out of My Life,” the contributors are drawn from different IIMs, from different cohorts in different years.
In “Reflections,” they are all a part of the same cohort, the batch of 1987, who spent the same two years at the IIM in Ahmedabad.
What is common between the two books? I believe I am the only author contributing to both.
Over to the books then. If you do read them, please try to leave a ‘Review’ on either Goodreads or Amazon or any place online you are comfortable with.
1. A Chapter Out Of My Life: Gems from the lives of ordinary people
This has been published by Salil Agrawal, a senior by a few years from IIM Ahmedabad and the founder president of IIMAGES which is a society of the alumni of IIMs. He has been instrumental in creating the ‘network’ impact of the IIM alumni and hence, in many ways, the most suitable person for putting together a book of this nature. The contributors have been drawn from different IIMs, from different cohorts in different years.
In Salil’s words:
“There are extraordinary people and then there are ordinary people. People like you and me. People who are accomplished in their own way and who have had interesting lives. But they are not extraordinary, they are not celebrities. Their stories do not get published even though they are very inspirational.
This book brings to you stories from the lives of nineteen such wonderful people. All of them are alumni of Indian Institutes of Management. They write about an experience from their life that made a difference to them.
These stories will be very useful for younger readers – management grads in the first few years of their career, students of management, those aspiring to do an MBA and also those planning to join the corporate world in the near future.”
Kindle edition on Amazon India (Rs. 49- with proceeds to charity): https://bit.ly/sllbk1
Kindle edition on Amazon US ($0.65): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087XBMWBL
Paperback anywhere: still to be released
2. Reflections: Life Reloaded. Class of ‘87
This has been published by Sanjeev Kotnala, a classmate at IIM Ahmedabad, from the 1985-87 batch that graduated in 1987. The contributors are all classmates of ours. People who spent the same two years of their life in the hallowed precincts of IIM Ahmedabad, pursuing an MBA programme, amid the iconic exposed brick architecture of Louis Kahn.
Sanjeev is the founder of INTRADIA World and a Marketing and Branding professional devoted to enhancing potential and capabilities of clients’ team. He runs 2-day workshops on Ideation and Innovation and is a certified NLP practitioner and an ICF accredited life, Mid-life transition and Master Spirit Coach.
In Sanjeev’s words:
“Eighteen Authors, from CLASS OF 1987, IIM Ahmedabad, share more than 28 real impact stories from professional and personal life. These are small, compelling incidents that challenged their thinking, making an impact in their lives.
Read their ‘aapbeethi’ (self-experiences) as they transparently open up to allow you a behavioristic peek into their lives.
Yes, you can question their Approach and Learning, or maybe you could end up questioning your approach to life. Who knows, which incident here mirror’s your life and touches a chord? Why wait for Self Experience when others’ experience can help guide your approach.
What you gain from these stories presented in five sections; ‘Business’, ‘People’, ‘Encounter’, ‘Life’, and ‘Institute’, is all up to you. Happy reading.”
Kindle edition on Amazon India (Rs. 199-): https://amzn.to/2RsA3Ln
Paperback on Amazon India (currently out of print): https://amzn.to/36qDYg3
People are no longer buying things they don’t need. And that is apparently bad news for the world.
I have always been awed, and perplexed, by the working of the great Economic brains of the world. How they always seem to know what will happen after it has happened. And how, mostly either through a Rate Cut, or Rate Increase, they can solve the most internecine problems plaguing our world.
But how does it work? In order to not further tax the already busy brains of the Economists who are probably working out how they already knew about the impact of the Corona pandemic, and to decide whether it should be a Rate Cut this time or a Rate Increase, I decided to work it out for myself.
Let us take the example of the travel industry, one of the industries often cited as an example of being deeply impacted. As we are not travelling, they must be going through a torrid time. Airlines and hotels must be losing money because travellers, the people who would be paying them for their services, are not paying them. In short, because travellers are not coughing up money, airlines and hotels are getting poorer.
If they are getting poorer because travellers are not spending money, then travellers, who are not spending the money they would normally have, much be getting richer.
Some of these travellers getting richer could be the people who run small businesses. Like restaurants. In Japan.
But people who run small businesses like restaurants are losing money because they have to shut down, and customers cannot come to them and buy their services. In other words, they are getting poorer.
If they are becoming poorer because customers are not coming and buying their services, then the customers who would have come to them must be getting richer because they are not spending that money.
Some of these customers getting richer could be makers of protective face masks. In Kenya.
Makers of protective masks are making money because there is huge demand for these masks. They just cannot make them fast enough. Hence, they are getting richer.
People buying these masks are becoming poorer as they now have to pay for an item that was not budgeted in their original scheme of things.
Some of these people becoming poorer could be employees of a software company. In Mexico.
On account of uncertain business outlook, the software company that employs them has offered a choice of retrenchment or pay cuts to employees. Hence employees are becoming poorer still.
If there are fewer employees and they are being paid lesser, and are becoming poorer as a result, then the employer, because it is spending less money, must be getting richer.
At the same time, the software company getting richer is seeing its carefully built business crumbling. The investment in creating a sales pipeline seems to be wasted as clients are unwilling to place new orders and even cancelling existing ones. If orders are not coming through and existing ones are being cancelled, it will gradually become poorer.
As clients of this software company are not paying money for new orders and saving money on placed orders, they must be getting richer.
Some of these clients getting richer could be mid-size garment manufacturing units. In India.
Mid-size, or any size, garment manufacturing units are seeing a steep decline in orders and are losing money because of that. Not only are they not getting orders, they have to keep paying salaries which is what the government has mandated. As is the business of governments in free markets to do. Mandate. Hence, they are becoming poorer twice as fast.
If they are becoming poorer because customers are not placing fresh orders and buying their garments, then the customers who are not placing fresh orders must be getting richer because they are not spending that money.
Some of these clients cancelling orders and getting richer could be retail clothing stores in Europe.
Retail clothing stores are losing money because footfalls have totally dried up on account of the lockdown and people are restricting purchases to essential items. Hence clothing stores are getting poorer.
Customers who are restricting purchases to essential items are paying lesser for clothing items and hence getting richer by saving money they would otherwise have spent on clothing.
Some of these customers getting richer could be people working for online platforms that facilitate video meetings and interaction over the Internet. In Canada.
They have been offered overtime pay and bonuses because their employer’s business is booming. Hence they are getting richer still.
Their employers, the businesses that own and run these online platforms, must be getting poorer as they are paying more to employees than was budgeted.
Online platforms that facilitate video interaction over the Internet getting poorer are experiencing a surge in demand and cannot seem to be expanding fast enough to keep up with it. Their revenues have seen a spike and they are getting richer.
People buying these services are becoming poorer as they now have to pay for an item that was not budgeted in their original scheme of things.
Some of these people getting poorer could be farmers growing food for the teeming millions. In Brazil.
Farmers are continuing to grow and sell food as people need to eat. They are neither getting richer nor poorer as people continue to buy food and eat. If anything, they could be getting marginally richer as the focus on buying and consuming food is now much higher than just a few weeks back.
People buying and consuming food would be getting neither richer nor poorer as they continue to buy and consume food like they have always done. If anything, they could be getting marginally richer as the more expensive eating-out options are not available at the moment. Not only that, they could experience an unforeseen improvement in health as the home-made food being consumed these days might be healthier.
Some of these customers getting neither richer nor poorer could be employees of a large corporation that operates an airline. Because there is no demand for travel, the airline has sacked a large number of staff. Without jobs, these staff members are getting poorer.
The airline that employs them must be getting richer as it no longer is paying what it had expected to pay in the form of salaries.
But we already learnt at the start that the airline is getting poorer because nobody is travelling and their capacity lies unutilised.
Clear? As mud? Or, using an Indianism, ‘as a jalebi?’
Are we getting richer and poorer at the same time? Or, are we getting neither richer nor poorer at the same time?
And I haven’t even begun to decide whether it will be a Rate Cut or a Rate Increase this time.
I think I better leave it to the Economists.
But all is not lost. At least I have been able to establish that, like the oceans of the world, we are all connected. You wouldn’t have known that, would you?
It was Gol-Maal on Saturday. The original Hindi comedy about imagined twins, of early eighties vintage, with Amol Palekar in the lead.
On Sunday it was Article 15, about the reality of equality versus the utopian hope enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
Yesterday it was Highwaymen, a tepid, predictable period film with Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson tracking down Bonnie and Clyde.
Today’s movie is still to be decided. I expect a lot of decisions regarding movies will need to be taken over the next few days.
No football on TV. No cricket. No tennis. No nothing. At least nothing live.
A lot of people clapped at 5 PM on Sunday, as asked by the PM, as a token of appreciation for the medical people, working with integrity and at great personal risk, in these troubled times. I did not. Tokenism is not for me. I appreciate medical people at all times. Don’t need to clap at 5 PM to show my appreciation. I also appreciate the armed forces. Despite random people insisting we need to show appreciation for the armed forces, and that one would be unpatriotic if one did not forward a random WhatsApp message supporting them. And the police force. And the cleaners. And all sincere, honest, hard-working people trying to make a difference to the world we live in.
The people who did not clap are likely to be name-called by the people who did. Like unpatriotic. And asked to migrate to a neighbouring country. In my humble opinion, that is the nature of herd mentality. But, to be fair, the people who clapped are also likely to be name-called by the people who did not clap. Like sheeple.
One got to see pictures of many leaders, business leaders especially, clapping as asked by the PM. On LinkedIn. On Twitter. What good is clapping at the request of the PM unless you can get someone to take a picture and post it in places where there is some possibility that the PM or his minders will notice. Along with a patriotic, motivational message. In other words, a message that appreciates the PM’s vision and leadership. My neighbours who clapped are fools. I don’t think they took any pictures when they were clapping. Nor did they put up patriotic, motivational messages on LinkedIn and Twitter. I wonder how the PM, or the CM, or even the DM (District Magistrate) will know they clapped. But I will leave them to solve their problems. I have to focus on mine.
In my defence, I was misled. Or unled. How was I to know that the request from the PM to make sound at 5pm had a “very hidden scientific message” that I saw only too late. “Sound waves if created all over the country at a fixed common time will surely disrupt the travel of virus & repel them not to enter our vicinity. This is the reason why sound & noise is made at the dawn & sunset in the temples, in the old Churches in olden times and the holy Aazaan by the Muslims. Without the sunlight the virus & bacteria and all evil Spirits become more active. Hence this stand to create an aura of sound waves to shoo away all the negative forces entering and to save our country and the whole world.” What would I not do to shoo away negative forces. Or weaken and starve evil spirits, and virus and bacteria, with sunlight. Since it was a scientific message, it had to be hidden. And since it was hidden, I could not see it.
As if that wasn’t responsibility enough for the spread of the Covid-19 virus, I also broke the chain. The one that required an uninterrupted chain of 10000008 people chanting the Mrityumjayamantra to be formed. If you must know, even people in Canada are chanting Mrityumjayamantra. Maybe one or two people, maybe in an entirely different context, but people in Canada nevertheless, which the person sending out this missive certainly would have known. And hence so must you.
When all this is over, and mankind looks back on this chapter in our evolution, and our struggle with Covid-19, I think I will be held responsible. Not only no clapping, but breaking the chain too. What was I thinking? I wonder if there will be second, or, in this case, third, chances.
By now we know that it affects the Chinese but not the French or Germans. We know it affects people living in hot climates but not those living in cold ones. We also know that It affects children and young adults but not the elderly. And it affects white-skinned people but not dark-skinned ones. Also, it affects people living in the Northern hemisphere only, and that too people speaking Spanish but not those who speak Mandarin or Russian. Most importantly, it affects the poor but not the rich. More specific to the Indian context, it impacts Jats and Rajputs, but not Kayasths and Brahmins.
Of course, we know nothing of the sort. If we do know something, it is that Covid-19 does not discriminate by nationality, language, religion, caste, or any other difference that humans like to highlight from time to time as a justification to maim and kill others for. If ever there was a doubt that human beings are a common race, hopefully the spread of Covid-19 dispels it.
This too, then, shall pass, is my belief. Of course, there will be Hell to pay. The old order will changeth, yielding place to the new. Some ways of life will undergo a drastic change. Many industries will be severely impacted. As will some sincere, honest, hard-working people, for no personal fault of theirs.
It seems President Trump was right. About the environment. We make too much of a fuss about it. Let us go about our assigned task of messing with it while we can. After all, nature will eventually reclaim its spaces, as people seem to be saying with Covid-19. Witness the once again beautiful sunsets across the Arabian Sea, or the once more breathable air in Delhi. Perhaps we have not crossed the point of no return. Yet.
It seems we had forgotten what it meant to go viral the old fashioned way…
“As an important person, I am entitled to be ahead of the hoi polloi and cannot be bothered about niceties like queues and waiting-for-your-turn. Hence, I did not bother to reach here in time, knowing I could take advantage of the apathy of the common people and their diffidence in taking a principled stand, even for their own benefit. I can play the ‘victim’ card, or bulldoze the off person who dares to object, to get ahead.”
He had actually said, “My flight is about to take off. May I please go ahead of you?”
I had cleared the queue to enter the terminal building, and the queue to drop my checked in bag, for my flight to Bangalore in the morning, the previous Sunday, and had entered the third and last queue, for the Security Check, before I got in to the queue to show my boarding card to the airline staff at the gate, followed by the queue to enter the bus that took us to the aircraft, followed by the queue to enter the aircraft, when he had uttered these words.
And he had almost edged past me completely, assuming, I assume, that all was good, and that I should be grateful for the privilege he was according me, of letting him pass, when I had made my move and blocked his path. “Please come in queue. My flight is also about to take off,” I had said firmly.
Clearly not used to such a response, the gentleman appeared lost at first, but quickly composed himself and said, matter-of-factly, “But I will miss my flight.” Apparently, it was my problem that he was going to miss his flight.
“If you are in a hurry, please ask the airline staff to help you speed up the process.” I was in the mood to be logical and reasonable. I also looked around to others in the queue, hoping they would support my logical stance. But they were engaged in other important tasks to save the world, peering into their mobile phones.
“But the airline staff said they cannot help me with the security process,” he said, agony of that slight writ large on his face.
“So it becomes my responsibility to flirt with the possibility of getting delayed myself and letting you go through?” I responded, bringing all my years of experience writing satire to bear upon that single statement, hoping to shame him to the point of withering away, while appealing to the baser instincts of others, as, by this time, the sight of two adults engaged in a quarrel of sorts had ensured that a small crowd had gathered around us, leaving their places in the queue. It was a relief to know that watching a spectacle live is still more important than saving the world on a mobile screen.
“What time is your flight?” someone asked the other gentleman.
“7.45,” he responded.
“What time is your flight?” the same person asked me.
“7.50,” I responded, holding up my boarding card.
“So let him go through then. His flight is before yours, is it not?”
The others joined in the chorus. I wilted under this onslaught. He quickly stepped past me flashing a smile of victory that said, “Take that you idiot.” As many others had left their positions in the queue, he was able to quickly get through to the Security Check station.
Failure to learn fast has never been one of my weaknesses. Though chastened, almost three seconds later, when the next person came up who was late for the flight he had to catch that was almost at the same time as mine, and made his move with, “My flight is about to take off. May I please go ahead of you?” I was ready. I shook his hand, wished him a pleasant flight, and requested the person ahead of me in the queue, to let him pass.
As I kept flagging people past me in the queue, and as people who were late for the flight they had to catch that was almost at the same time as mine, kept making their move with, “My flight is about to take off. May I please go ahead of you?” my mind wandered off to those happy days at the Well Known Institute of Management in Western India (WIMWI), and to Professor Tripathi’s class on Production and Operations Management, over thirty years back. “Single queue multiple server,” I was hearing him say, “is the most efficient form of queueing, that optimises wait time for the customer and idle time for the server.”
But man keeps pushing the envelope. New discoveries are being made every day. Little would Professor Tripathi have known, that even before he retired from WIMWI, there would be an even more efficient way of queueing; of people showing up late and cutting the queue.
Soon, the only two people standing behind me were two greying ladies, who looked like they were foreigners. I looked at them pityingly. It was clear they did not have the benefit of good education. Of modern theories of queueing. They may have good communication skills, good interpersonal skills, respect for people, but theories of queueing? With such a gap in their knowledge, how could they hope to get ahead? At least in queues in India.
As I continued to be the last but two in the queue, having moved barely a few inches from the time I had entered, I realised that I will miss my flight if I did not clear security in the next five minutes. Being a quick learner, as I have perhaps mentioned earlier, I stepped on the accelerator, alternating between playing the ‘victim’ card and bulldozing my way through the few uneducated souls who dared to object, scythed through the queue, and reached the Security Check point. I had a flight to catch, after all.
Not to be left behind in demonstrating their speed of learning, the Delhi airport authorities decided to resolve the issue of delays in the Security Check queue by creating a separate fast track queue for important persons, entitled to be ahead of the hoi polloi, who cannot be bothered about niceties like queues and waiting-for-your-turn, who do not bother to reach in time, knowing they can take advantage of the apathy of the common people and their diffidence in taking a principled stand, even for their own benefit, by playing the ‘victim’ card, or bulldozing the off person who dares to object.
It is remarkable what can be achieved with a little effort, some imagination and a lot of resolve. In as short a period of time as a week. The Security Check queue presented a transformed look yesterday, which, again, was a Sunday. The regular queue was clear as a crisp February day in Gurgaon. One could see miles out to the security personnel swatting flies as they waited for the next passenger to show up.
Meanwhile, all passengers stood in the fast track queue, along with everyone else who was flying out from Delhi at that time, beneficiaries of Delhi airport authorities alacrity in implementing a solution, continuously moving ahead of others in the queue, even as the others kept moving ahead of them.
“But then, when will I cut them?”
I had forgotten it was my responsibility to ensure he was able to. Cut them. Blame it on old age.
The question had been asked by the young man sitting next to me and, in all likelihood, triggered by my saying, “this is not the place to be cutting your nails,” after my initial “perhaps you should be doing this at home,” had apparently gone unheard.
The trigger for my statements, in turn, had been the act of this young man casually taking out a shiny nail-cutter, spreading a newspaper on his lap, and starting to carefully chip away at his nails, taking care, as a responsible adult, to not leave any vestige of the activity in the surrounding area. Inside a train on the Delhi metro network, that I now take every day to get to my place of work. And back.
And, after the second statement, since there could not have been any doubt who I was speaking to, as there was nobody else cutting his nails in that coach, or in any other coach is my guess, he had left the nail on the middle finger, perhaps as a fitting hint, half-cut, and looked at me and asked the question. Crossly if my interpretation of his look is reliable.
Then he had looked away, perhaps not noticing my discomfiture as I did not have an answer to his question, and allowing me the luxury of a sigh of relief. But then he had looked right back at me and asked, “Where does it say?”
“Where does it say what” I asked right back, now composed.
“That I cannot cut my nails here?” He had not wasted time. When he had looked away from me, he had quickly scanned the coach to check if I had any basis for my unreasonable demand. Of requesting him to not cut his nails.
I was the deer in the headlights now. I sheepishly looked around, desperately searching for some sign of a sign behind which I might have hidden. I need not have. The young man had done his homework. There was a sign prohibiting sitting on the floor. There was a sign prohibiting smoking in the coach. There was a sign prohibiting eating and drinking. But nothing prohibiting the innocuous act of cutting nails. One’s own.
But he was a reasonable young man. He saw my discomfort and offered me a lifeline. “Has the Prime Minister asked the people to stop cutting nails inside coaches of the Delhi metro in any of his ‘Mann ki Baat’ episodes?”
The nation knows that the Prime Minister had asked countrymen to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. How else could we have known that we ought to maintain cleanliness and hygiene. I recalled, with some guilt, that even from the ramparts of the Red Fort, from where the Independence Day address is delivered, the Prime Minister had so far made no mention of not cutting nails inside coaches of the Delhi metro. How could anyone be expected to know that cutting nails is not be done in the coach of a train on the Delhi metro rail network.
As soon as the train stopped at the next station, I got off, though my destination had not arrived. I was unable to face the young man.
I should have known better. Walking down the platform I was reminded of my interaction, just two days back, with another youngster. This youngster eating in the coach. Did I already say there were signs prohibiting eating and drinking inside the coach? This young lady was eating right under the sign when I pointed this out to her, earning the response, along with a ‘puppy dog eyes,’ expression to go with it, “So when will I have breakfast?” I had looked away, shame-faced, at not thinking about such obvious issues. I may not have been her parent, and she might have been physically a full-grown, independent adult, but clearly I had not thought about when she would have breakfast.
And had continued eating her aloo parathas and pickle which the entire coach knew was of mango, seasoned in mustard oil.
The entire coach now also knew of this old chap who was poking his nose in other people’s affairs. “Can’t you get a mobile phone for yourself?” was the unsaid chorus. “Then you can join us and be brave and nationalistic and patriotic and send out forwards here and there on your mobile, when a criminal incident, usually a murder or rape, catches everyone’s attention and gets reported in the media. But following simple to understand, day-to-day rules in public life? Where do you think you are? Canada? Singapore? In fact, if we discourage breaking simple to understand, day-to-day rules in public life, it might well stifle out more serious crimes that have the potential of catching attention and allowing us the opportunity to be brave and nationalistic and patriotic and sending out forwards here and there on our mobiles. Whose side are you on?”
And that had not been an isolated incident either. A day earlier, I had pointed out the sign to another young man seated next to me and about to bite into his carefully packed sandwiches, to which he had, again with a ‘puppy dog eyes’ expression to match, had pleaded, “I am feeling very hungry.” But, this young man had packed his breakfast and kept it back in his bag. He must be a loser.
I had walked up the stairs and reached the ground level of the station. My mind was made up. I was going to see the station in-charge and request him to put up fresh signs inside train coaches so that decorum is maintained. ‘Do not shave in this coach,’ ‘Do not wash clothes inside this coach,’ ‘All cooking activity inside this coach is prohibited,’ in addition to ‘Do not cut nails inside this coach’ were some I had on my mind. And, of course, ‘Do not rape inside this coach,’ and ‘Murder is not permitted in any part of this coach.’ That would teach them, I hoped.
And that is not all. I would also request him to take away the existing signs like ‘Eating and drinking is not permitted inside this coach,’ since they are not followed in any case.
More pleasant rides on the Delhi metro await us.
Thank you so much for responding to my email without reading it.
Your assurance in your email of 20th November, in response to my email of 19th November enquiring about the status of issuance of my shares of Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) lying in a Suspense account, that the issue (I suppose no pun was intended) will get addressed in twenty days, gives me great comfort, as you took over six months to pay me the missing dividend on other shares of the same company.
Had you read the enclosed exchanges, you would have realised that in your email dated 6th November, which was in response to my email dated 5th November, which was a follow-up of my email of 24th October as no response had been received, you had told me that “Please note that the credit of shares are under process. It takes 15 days time.” I now see that if you had read the mail trail, you would have denied yourselves the pleasure of giving me assurance of resolution in a random timeframe of twenty days. You may have even felt compelled to apologise for your inability to meet the timeline committed earlier and giving a new, random timeline for resolution. I apologise for initially feeling angry about your arbitrary and inexplicable response. I was wrong. I am the customer, after all, and need to keep my emotions, and expectations, in check.
It is, of course, another matter, that in your email of 6th November, you never specified the starting point of the “15 days time.” Would it start from 19th October, 2019, which, as I had also mentioned in my email of 24th October, was the date the required documents had been delivered to your office, or would it start from, say, 18th April, 2062?
If my math serves me right, if I send you a reminder every month, and you increase the resolution time frame on each such occasion by five days, my resolution timeframe will increase by sixty days every year.
Staying with the math, suppose I live for another 50 years, at the time of my death, the issue will only be 3000 days, or roughly 8 years, away from resolution.
Signing off in my customary manner, “Kindly confirm once the needful has been done.”
Hello, am I talking to Mr. Mithal?
Yes, you are. Who is this?
Good morning sir. I am calling from Country Bank. The Medical Insurance Policy issued by Regional Insurance Company of India (RICI), that you have purchased through your Country Bank Credit Card, is coming up for renewal next month.
Yes, I am aware. I did receive the renewal notice.
Sir, the policy will be automatically renewed on its due date. Please ensure you have sufficient credit available on your Card so that the premium debit can go through.
Sure. I will.
Sir, as I can see on your account, you and your wife are covered to the maximum limit allowed. However, your children are only covered for half the maximum permissible limit.
Yes, I am aware.
Sir, in today’s world, where emergencies can arise any minute, and where medical costs are rising, we would like our customers to be secure.
Thank you. I am touched by your concern for my security.
Sir, we at Country Bank would like to suggest that you increase the coverage for your children as well to the maximum permissible limit.
Thank you. As the recommendation arises out of your concern for my well-being, should I assume that there is no increase in premium for the suggested increase in coverage?
Sorry sir. It is not like that. There will be a nominal premium increase for the increased cover. Shall I go ahead and tell you the revised premium for the enhanced cover?
No, thank you. There is no need at this point.
Fine sir. I understand you don’t wish to know the revised premium. Shall I then go ahead and process the enhanced cover?
No. I don’t need it.
Sir, we understand you are a busy person and do not wish to get involved in procedures and administration. We have made it very easy for our valued customers like yourself. As a Country Bank representative, I am authorised to take your instructions on this phone line. This call is recorded and will be available for future reference in case of need. Shall I go ahead and process the enhanced cover for your children?
No. I think I have already told you.
Sir, at Country Bank, we respect your time and decisions. We have recently introduced a Life Insurance Policy that also provides cover for Permanent Disability. In today’s world, where emergencies can arise any minute, and where medical costs are rising, we would like our customers to be secure. Would you like me to go ahead and issue this policy for you, sir?
No, thank you. There is no need.
Sir, we have made it very easy for our valued customers like yourself to buy a new policy. As a Country Bank representative, I am authorised to take your instructions on this phone line. This call is recorded and will be available for future reference in case of need. Shall I go ahead and process the new policy?
No, thank you. No need. Actually, hold on a minute!
Yes sir! Yes sir! I am so glad to hear that sir!
That reminds me. I want to remove my older son from the Medical Policy.
But why, sir? I strongly suggest you increase the cover for your elder son.
No. Please cancel cover for my older son.
Sorry sir. For cancellation you will have to visit the bank.
But why? I thought you said you were an authorised representative of the bank and could take instructions on this phone call, which is recorded.
Sorry sir. I cannot take these instructions. We are authorised representatives only for selling to customers. For all other cases, we are a vendor.
So, how do I cancel?
For that, sir, you will have to visit the bank.
OK. Can you help me with the nearest location I can go to for this purpose?
Sure sir. I believe you are located in Gurgaon.
Sir, as I can see from the system, the only centre of the bank that handles cancellations globally is located in Alba Mons.
Nice name. Is that the name of the building? Can you tell me the full address please?
Right sir. It is located on 40.4 North latitude and 109.6 West longitude and is in the Tharsis region.
Tharsis? What on Earth are you talking about?
It is located on Mars, sir.
I hope I have been able to help you, sir.
Meanwhile, If you are interested in buying theatre tickets, or cricket gear, or a yacht, or anything at all, please do give us a call. As authorised representatives of Country Bank, we will be able to do it for you instantly, on this recorded line.
Hello, sir. Are you there sir?
Sir, as there has been no response from your side for thirty seconds, I am authorised to disconnect this call. We wish you a pleasant journey to Alba Mons. Buy buy!
Regulators have done what they do best. Regulated. Without taking any responsibility for the creation of the problem they are trying to solve.
The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the Environmental Pollution – Prevention and Control – Authority (EPCA) to ban diesel generators in and around Delhi, including Gurgaon.
Makes complete sense, does it not?
After all, people, fools that they are, have been increasingly resorting to buying and using diesel generators to run everything starting from lights and fans gradually progressing to increasingly heavier power-consuming gadgets like geysers, TVs and air-conditioners because they have had a regular, assured supply of grid power throughout their lives. Fools that they are, they have generated the means to, when possible, make investments in equipment like diesel generators, to provide for themselves and their dependents, a more comfortable life, at least to the extent a reliable supply of electricity can provide. In Gurgaon, a condominium without a captive diesel generating capacity is like an oxymoron, a self-contradicting phrase. Such an animal does not exist.
To be fair to them, the regulators have been fair in their failure. They have failed to provide an assured supply of power to households just as efficiently as they have failed to provide assured power to industrial establishments and to shops and establishments. The only place they seem to have failed in failing is in providing assured power to themselves. Chief Ministerial houses, Legislative Assembly buildings, and other Institutions serving the common man, for example, are often a beacon of brightness in a sea of darkness during power failures, at least in the minute or two it takes for standard diesel gensets to kick in.
It is not that we have not made progress. Far from it. During my growing up years in a small town in the northern part of India, circa seventies, there were power failures as well. However, during those days, and we probably have to blame our lack of development for the situation, they were often planned and predicted well in advance. For example, the Department of Electricity would announce that our area would have a power cut from 7 AM to 10 AM every day for the next three months.
What did that mean?
It meant that there was a power cut between 7 AM and 10 AM. And, for the rest of the time, electric supply would be uninterrupted, barring the occasional thunderstorm that brought down electric poles or uprooted trees that fell on overhead wires. Even then, we could call a number provided by the department who would be patient and provide an indication of when we could expect power supply to resume. Before Call Centres were invented.
And the elders would hold out promise of a ‘bright’ future, with uninterrupted power supply just around the corner, with the commissioning of projects like the Bhakra Nangal dam for producing hydroelectricity. That has turned out to be an endless curve with nary a corner in sight.
But we have made progress, as I alluded earlier, and it is there for all to see. Today, no such information is available. Power supply can be switched off at any time, at least in Gurgaon, many times a day, in keeping with the vision of successive governments to keep the populace on a high level of alert for any eventuality. Like an earthquake, or tsunami, or war, that can strike unannounced and requires immediate response, a power outage can strike any time and requires immediate response. What better preparation for an earthquake, tsunami or war? In the event a sudden power outage happens in Tokyo or Chicago or Frankfurt, who are the people who are the calmest and seem equipped to handle the situation? The Indians who grew up in India. Try it out.
Of course it needs to be done in a hurry. Since successive governments could not provide an assured supply of electricity over half a century, since they failed to see the rising usage of diesel powered generators over half a century, the common man needs to ensure he is equipped to handle the situation in fifteen days.
The same order also requires the RWAs (Resident Welfare Associations) to provide electric heaters to security staff. Which they can presumably run on the fresh air that will be available as a result of the Order.
“We want no electricity outages in these locations,” Ms. Sunita Narain, the well-known environment activist and a member of the EPCA, has demanded. Of course, as a power-positive society that has been repeatedly throwing away excess power, that should not be a problem to implement. Nobody had asked for it, it seems.
But wait. What about the economy, silly? Has anyone thought about the impact this will have on the GDP? Caused by people no longer buying and running a gadget that they should never have needed to buy and run. It will need to be a brave person who will give Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, our Finance Minister, the bad news.
But what is a government to do? People want clean air, don’t they? Well, they asked for it.
I am thrilled to announce the launch of her new book by my long time blogging friend and popular author Jacqui Murray.
The Quest for Home
Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind her African homeland, leading her People on a gruelling journey through unknown and perilous lands. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that her most dangerous enemy isn’t the one she expected. It may be one she trusts with her life.
The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, the one destined to obliterate any who came before.
Based on a true story, this is the unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man makes his way across Eurasia, fleeing those who would kill him. He must be bigger-than-life, prepared time and again to do the impossible because nothing less than the future of mankind is at stake.
This is Book 2 in the Crossroads series, part of the Man vs. Nature saga (Genre: Prehistoric fiction), and is available at:
About Jacqui and how to reach her:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants, Winter 2020, the final chapter in the Crossroads Trilogy.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/
Jacqui will be visiting blogs September 16th – 30th to chat about The Quest for Home. She answers some questions about the book here.
- What’s the relationship between Xhosa (and Homo erectus) and animals?
Early man had no idea animals weren’t simply another intelligent creature who spoke a different language. Why would they think differently? Man wasn’t the alpha in this environment. Mammoth or Sabretooth were. Man thought he could learn from these animals and become stronger. He respected them.
- What one characteristic would you say allowed Xhosa to survive in a world populated with Sabretooth Cats, violent volcanoes, and predatory species who liked to eat man?
Really, with our thin skin, dull teeth, and tiny claws (aka fingernails), Xhosa had no right to survive against the thick-skinned mammoth or tearing claws of the great cats of that time. But she did. The biggest reason: Even then, Xhosa and her kind were problem solvers. They faced crises and came up with solutions. Where most animals spent their time eating and sleeping, Xhosa had time left over. This, she used to solve problems.
To me, that thoughtful approach to living, one no other animal exhibits, is why we came to rule the planet.
Here’s wishing success to Jacqui Murray and The Quest for Home.