Magix 'n' Curses Returns

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A little while longer

When the initial rushes of Maryan and Raanjhanaa landed on YouTube, I'd commented that good times were here again. I hadn't bargained for it to be this good though! 

I haven't really stopped smiling over the last couple of days. Maryan has been playing on an endless loop and I still can't get enough of it. Like most Rahman albums, every song has been playing musical chairs vying for my-favourite-song-of-the-album spot. And with every round of listening, there's a new winner.

Today, it looks like it's going to be Innum Konjam Neram all day. The song is an aural equivalent of a hug.

(Even as the hero leaves the shores, and his love, to work abroad,) A song about reluctant separation it may be. But it is not about the heaviness of the moment or the pain of separation. It is about a beautiful future together and making the most of whatever little time they have left before he embarks on his journey. (Of course, I may be completely wrong about the premise, but this is what the music sings out to me, and I'll cling to this till I watch the movie)

The unwillingness to leave is childishly innocent. Mariyaan and Panimalar have accepted that he needs to go. They both know the "innum konjam neram" is an indulgence. Like a child's plea for "5 more minutes" in his bed, kathi-rolled in his cozy blanket before he has to get up and go to school. And indulge, they do.

This playfulness is beautifully brought out by the ghatam. There is a sincerity about it (albeit with a complete lack of seriousness), as it punctuates the melancholic accordion strains. I don't think you could've picked a better pair of instruments to express the bittersweet pain.

The beauty of this song, though, lies in its simple, uncluttered melody. Vijay Prakash's versatile voice glides over a gamut of emotions, from a breathy appeal ("Yaen avasaram? Enna avasaram? Nillu ponne.") to a mock complaint ("Innum pesa kooda thodangala...") to a mini tantrum ("Ippo mala pola nee vantha kadal pola naanirupen").

That's when the magic begins for me. Shwetha Mohan makes an entry so reminiscent of Swarnalatha that it left me stunned for a for a few seconds. The way the tune begins to ebb, halt and flow ("... andha alaigala pola...") puts in my mind an image of someone (reluctant to leave) being playfully pushed along his way by another from the back.

I had a discussion with @rahmantic the other day about the most versatile contemporary female singer in tamil. The second charanam firmly tilts my vote towards Shwetha Mohan ("... thalai aati naan rasipen"). Just listen to her nail this song. With an inherently honey dipped voice that can change texture at will, her voice becomes husky one second, sad the next, and then goes on to ring with sharp clarity, each with equal aplomb. She even throws in a Rahman special semi-chuckle for good measure! ("Vanthu on kaiyila mattikuven, valaiyala pola").

As the song winds up on a positive note, and as Rahman sprinkles some magic dust to bless the couple (Ok, those are chimes. Faaaine!), your mind pleads to the song - "Innum konjam neram irundhaal thaan enna?".

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Hello.. hello.. ello.. lo...

Straight out of a movie, this feels like.. like entering a dilapidated old house that was once full of life.
Spooky :)

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Beware of Airtel - 4

This was when I decided enough was enough.

The story until now:
Beware of Airtel - Prologue
Beware of Airtel - 1
Beware of Airtel - 2
Beware of Airtel - 3

Dated: 24th April, 2009

Guess what?
My problem still isn't resolved.

And guess what? "Due to security reasons", I wasn't allowed to talk to Mr. Mehul. This time, I spoke to someone called Krishna who was the "Group Manager" (I don't understand the hierarchy at all). He said I have no other option but to go to an Airtel Gallery and submit the documents.

So much for Mr. Prashanth's commitment that I don't have to visit an ARC, and so much for Mr. Mehul's "100% assurance" that my problem will be resolved and he'll get back to me.

And to make matters worse, your customer care number 98920 98920 is NOT toll free. I called them up from my Chennai number (98405 xxxxx) last night, and my balance went from 100+ to 0. I had to call them from a friend's number now. I can pay my friend whatever that call cost him. But who's going to reimburse me for calling from my roaming number?

I was initially just frustrated, now I'm furious. I've been on roaming for the last 3 days.

As of now, that darned sim card has cost me over Rs. 400. It has also taken up a lot of my time - time which I could have spent productively on my project. Looks like Airtel is not just going to cost me money, it's just going to rob me of a PPI/PPO. Thank you so much.

I don't want to speak to "group managers" and "team leads" of the customer care anymore. I'd like to speak to someone much higher up. Technically, I shouldn't still be made to talk to anymore people.

And I'd like SOMEONE to actually take accountability for this. I'm sick of listening to customer care executives constantly passing the buck on to someone else and shirking responsibility under the worst possible excuse called "security reasons".



Beware of Airtel - 3

This was a mail I'd sent later on the same day (April 23rd)

The story until now:
Beware of Airtel - Prologue
Beware of Airtel - 1
Beware of Airtel - 2

More updates:

Called at 4.15 PM. I was told by the guy who picked up the phone that he cannot connect me to Ms. Kaveri "for security reasons" :)
I told him to connect me to whoever was his supervisor, so I got Mr. Mehul on the line.

I finally have a tangible update. I apparently have a complaint number now!
It's 0421499011. He has given me "100% assurance" that my outgoing facility will be up and running by 4.30 PM tomorrow.



Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beware of Airtel - 2

This was my second mail to my friend. He promptly forwarded it to the people concerned. Nope, no responses then too.

Before you read this, do scroll down and read the 1st two posts in this series.
Or click the links below:
Beware of Airtel - Prologue
Beware of Airtel - 1

Take the patience you display as you read through that epic rant and multiply it by 121. That's how much patience I've had to exhibit so far. Not anymore.

So here's mail 2!

23rd April, 2009

I called up customer care as they didnt get back to me by 1 PM as they'd committed.

Mr. Prashanth, the team lead, had told me last night that I'd get a message from Airtel regarding the status on both my numbers (Mumbai and Chennai) by 1. If I didn't receive a message by then, I could call up customer care and ask for him. I gave them a leeway of 45 minutes after 1 and then called. Mr. Prashanth, to no surprise in retrospect, wasn't on the floor because it wasn't his shift. Though I appreciate his gesture of trying to be personally accountable, I think the gesture would make a lot more sense if the accountability is taken when he is actually at work!

I reached Ms. Kaveri, the escalation officer. She, as usual, asked me to visit an Airtel Gallery. I explained why that's not possible and how Mr. Prashanth had given me a committment. She tried to reach him over his personal contact number and said he wasn't picking up the phone. When I asked her if there was any reply from Mahim office to the mail Mr. Prashanth sent them yesterday, she said they haven't replied yet. I thought my previous job in IT paid me most for the least work, but I guess these guys sitting in Mahim office have a better deal. They seem to get paid for doing no work at all. I can't help but be judgemental about these folks.

Ms. Kaveri told me she could raise a complaint from her end, with a lead time of 9 hours. I asked her how she could claim accountability, when in 9 hours, her shift would be over and she'd be long gone. She didn't have a reply to that. I've given her until 4 PM to reach Mr. Prashanth and get back to me.

That's all for the current status update. Further bulletin as events warrant!



Beware of Airtel - 1

This was the first mail I'd sent to them. It was more of a blog post than a complaint mail. Old habits die hard! :)

I also realise that I shouldn't have written those last lines. That just gave them a license to take me for granted. Hence this series of posts.

Scroll down, or click here to read the Prologue.

Re-Reminder: Inviting write ups from anyone who has faced an issue with Airtel that was handled badly or left unresolved.

To whomsoever it may concern,
Why do you wish to test a customer's loyalty? No seriously, why?
The following complaint wouldn't look out of place in my blog. Being someone who's been loyal to Airtel over the years, I am doing you a favour and writing this as a mail. I didn't want you to lose more customers because of me. But trust me, with the quality of service you've exhibited, you don't need my help to lose them. You're doing pretty well on your own.

Here's a blow by blow account of what I've had to put up with over the last few weeks. I will have to put a disclaimer at this point that I'm not sure about the exact dates and words uttered.
Frustrate me any further, I may just forget my own name.

6th April 2009
I visited this small retailer called Ronak Electronics in Dadar along with a few other friends. We're temporarily on duty in Mumbai for 2 months and we definitely needed a local sim card. One friend bought Reliance, the other bought Vodafone. I bought Airtel, and got scoffed at. I was told "the service in Mumbai sucks" and that I was making a mistake. But no, I HAD to buy only Airtel. I filled out the enrollment form after being made to wait for about 45 minutes. After I filled it out completely, I was told we needed a local address proof and that it was a new rule. So I agreed to get it the next day.

7th April 2009
My friend who's a Mumbai local gave us a photocopy of his passport that he always carries around with him. He asked us to make more copies from that. Satisfied that we were armed with every document you may need, we went back to Ronak Electronics to submit the documents. I even topped up my unactivated Airtel number with 60 bucks in (foolish) optimism. He promised us that it'll get activated in 15 minutes. Of course it didn't.

8th April 2009
I called up Ronak Electronics in the morning and asked him to activate my card. He said he'd do it at 11 "when the distributor comes".
Of course he didnt.

9th April 2009
I called up Ronak Electronics again in the morning. He said he'll send the SMS asap and that it'll get activated that day itself. No guesses what happened. My frustration'd pretty much touched boiling point. So I called him again in the evening. He had switched his phone off. By the time we left from office and reached his store, he'd already closed and gone.

So I called up customer care and told the guy my predicament. He suggested that going to an Airtel Relationship Centre may help. It was 9.40 PM and I asked him if they'd be open. I was told they'd be open until 10. And what do you know? After walking for 10 minutes, I found myself staring at the shutters. (I found out through your website today that they are only open until 8. Maybe you should rename 121 as "CustomerCareful")

10th April 2009
Enough was enough. After being coolly told by the retailer that the documents will reach the office on Monday only anyway, I took the documents from him, found the nearest Airtel Relationship Centre (the one at Mahim) and submitted the documents myself. I take a service ticket and waited. And waited. And waited some more. After an hour, it was finally my turn. I was told by the lady at the desk that the document had been filled out wrong and that I needed to write the address given in the local address proof. I told her I had an appointment to keep, and asked her if I could sign in the relevant places and if she could fill it out for me. "Of course, sir", I was told, "We wouldn't want to waste your time any further". Finally some customer care, I thought, as I headed out of the office. I was promised activation in 4 hours. I'd waited 72 hours, what was another 4 hours going to be?

11th April 2009
Another 4 hours was going to be 24 hours. My sim still showed no signs of activation. I was at a place pretty far away from Mahim, so I called up Customer (s)care to help me out. I was told in no uncertain terms that there was absolutely NO WAY that the relationship centre could be contacted.
"Don't they have a landline?", I ask.
"No sir, they don't", I'm told.
"Don't you at least have the numbers of the employees who work there?", I enquire.
"Sorry sir, but I'm not authorised to disclose that", is the reply.
"You mean to say they're stand alone offices that have no contact with any of the other Airtel Offices?", I ask exhasperated.
"Yes sir", was the pretty confident sounding reply.

So I go out of my way to the Airtel RC at Mahim. I asked the same lady at the desk why my sim hadnt been activated yet. She went on to explain how it was a 2 phase process and that it was the distributor who still hadn't sent his message to Airtel to confirm the activation. She then asked me if I was sure I submitted the documents. I reminded her that it was she who had checked it the previous day. So while another assistant searched for the documents everywhere, she coolly moved on to the next customer. When the assistant said he couldnt find it anywhere, she turned to me and asked, this time with a hint or irritation in her voice if I was "really sure" I submitted it. I reminded her yet again that it was she who'd agreed to fill the form out herself after getting my signatures. The irritation on her face gave way to realisation. She opened a drawer and found my form.

Still unfilled with only my signatures.

With as much patience as I could muster, I asked her why she hadn't filled it out.
"Sorry sir", she replies, "my ARC (or something like that) got over".
I suppose it meant her shift. It's a pity I don't remember her name. I think it started with an A.

I was promised again that my sim will "definitely be activated in half an hour". I couldn't trust her words after the amount of sloppiness she had displayed. I asked her if there was anyway I could contact them as I couldn't wait there for half an hour. "It will surely be done sir", I was told pretty assertively, "you don't have to worry". I felt uneasy as I walked out of the office. I went back inside and confirmed if there was absolutely no way that Airtel Customer Care could contact them. I was told it was possible by mail. (So which one of your custome service folks gave me wrong info?)

I asked her to send the sms before her shift ended and walked out of the office. In 15 minutes, I received an sms that my number had been activated. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

21st April 2009
No. It isn't over yet!!
I return to Mumbai after having been out of station for a few days. Voila! My outgoing is barred. Whatever number I call, I am greeted with the same message "Your call cannot be completed. Please submit the required documents at the closest Airtel Outlet immediately. Your service will be restored within 24 hours of receiving the documents." And what was, without doubt, the heights of ridiculousness was that I received the same message even when I called 121!

I had to borrow a phone from a person I hardly knew to make a call to 98920 98920. Vinay Ujjwal, the customer service guy (I had learnt my lesson.. I made it a point to take down his name) told me that Airtel still hadn't received the documents and that I should wait for 24 hours so that "backend could check if my documents were there" and my services would be restored. Or better still (!), I could go back to the same Airtel Relationship Centre and tell them my problem!!!
"Can you at least enable me to call customer care from my phone?", I ask.
The assertiveness training that you give your BPO folks works well. I could make that out from his "No, sir". Here's some news for you, it pisses off people too. Saying the same cliched "sympathetic" sentence with not an iota of sympathy, over and over again doesn't help either.("I understand your inconvenience sir".. Yeah. Right.)

I've so far spent 100 bucks on the sim, 60 + 60 on top ups and a further Rs.102 to enable cheap SMSes. I've invested way too much time, effort and money to throw the sim card and go buy a new one.

If this mail doesn't make you folks realise how much you frustrate your customers, if the only solutions you still have to offer are "wait for 24 hours" and "please visit the same Airtel Office".. well.. there's nothing I can do. I'm way too exhausted to take any kind of action. You've successfully managed to plant huge doubts in the mind of a loyal (why am I still using this word?) customer. Congratulations.

No thanks and very little regards,


Beware of Airtel - Prologue

I'll be posting a series of problems I faced with Airtel. These are complaint mails I had written to them which (not surprisingly) fell on deaf ears. I'll also be posting the complaints of a few other friends of mine to Airtel. I'm considering creating a separate blog for this and am inviting write ups from anyone who has faced an issue with Airtel that was handled badly or left unresolved. I'd been a loyal customer of Airtel. But not anymore. They've left me pretty disillusioned.

Not only did they take 6 days to activate my sim card, they also went ahead and deactivated my outgoing in a few days on account of "my documents being rejected". Get this, the reason for rejection was because the buggers at Airtel Office, Mahim actually LOST my documents. The careless service executives had also done a worse muck-up a few days earlier. You'll read that on my post. Today, they descended to the cheap depths of rendering even my incoming out-of-service.

All this might have been solved if I just visited an Airtel Gallery (for the nth time) and re-submitted my documents (which they so conveniently lost in the first place). But that would just mean that the whole issue gets swept under the carpet. And no one would take ownership for the problem. There has been absolutely no accountability in Airtel Customer Service. Here is my sincere request to anyone planning to buy a new connection.

Avoid Airtel like the Plague! (Especially if you are in Mumbai.)

I'm prepared to add a new post, or even remove this one*, provided everyone mentioned in the mail calls me up or mails me, and apologises for their pathetic service. I will definitely update this blog as and when I receive ANY form of communication from them. As of now, not a single person from the Mumbai circle has even as much as responded to my mails.

I'd also like to mention my friend at Airtel Chennai who has been trying so hard to reach the right people and get my problem resolved. I'm really grateful to him for all the troubles he's taken to solve a problem that has no connection to him whatsoever.

* Removal of these series of posts entails a resolution of my problem in 48 hours without troubling me in anyway. Of course, the condition of the apology calls/mails stays.


Monday, July 14, 2008

It's been ages since I went gaga on my blog about a Rahman album, though I was presented with several opportunities to do so in the last coupla years. Here I go again! :)


Taxi Taxi - Benny Dayal, Blaaze, Viviane Chaix, Javed Ali

Whacky. Unfettered. Sheer unadulterated fun. It's like revisiting Bombay Dreams all over again!

Ambient traffic sounds, a lady's voice humming something which is bound to get on your mom's nerves if you try it out at home, a pulsating rhythm... throw in Blaaze's funky rap and you have a winner that's gonna be played on FM stations every other hour.

If Naresh Iyer was the next Karthik, I guess Benny Dayal's the next Naresh. Wish Rahman would make up his mind. :) Or maybe not. His voice has the perfect hint of youthful zest to pull it off.

It's amazing how Rahman structures his songs. The track meanders to a halt, not very unlike a rickety yellow and black ambassador coming to a sputtering stop at a heavy traffic junction, and when you expect it to come to complete halt, Rahman surprises you with the sound of a car starting and the song regains momentum. Brilliant.

Marudhani - Madhushree, AR Rahman, Hentry

It's got the same formula of one other female solo that gained immense popularity. Madhushree's rendition and Rahman humming in the middle.

Rahman plays too tiny a role though. His portion doesn't quite have the punch as Sandai Kozhi (Aayitha Ezhuthu) had. Me slightly disappointed by that. :( But overall, it's the kind of soothing romantic melody that we've (a tad unfairly) come to expect ARR to churn out in every single album. That way, I'm definitely not disappointed!

Public opinion seems to suggest it's the next Munbe Va. Maybe it is.

I Miss You Da - Chinmayi, Indai Haza

Trust Rahman to make you scratch your head when you try to slot his song in a specific genre for your oh-so-meticulously maintained iPod. No seriously, where would you put this song?

An interesting experimentation that takes some repeated listening to grow on you, Rahman puts Chinmayi's vocal acrobatics through some pretty complex hoops! You have Stop-Start beats. You have whispered singing. Before you know it, you have heavy-duty beats and a (soft) high pitch twist that threatens to rip the singer's vocal chords into two.

Patterns be damned. :)

Chinnamma - Benny Dayal, Chinmayee

I was very unsure about this one when I heard Rahman was reusing his hit Meenaxi track. I'm delighted now. :)

I love the way he has adapted it to suit the tamil palate. Benny's spirited effort to match up to pretty high standards Sukhwinder had set in the original and Chinmayi's stylish counterpoints in the middle stanzas stand out. Someone give Rahman an award just for the way he makes the female singers laugh!

After Madhuraiku Pogaadhe Di, ARR threatens to create an all new genre. Classical kuththu! :)

Elay - Krish, Naresh Iyer

What do you get when you throw in a pinch of Roobaroo (RDB), a dash of Adhisaya Thirumanam (Paarthaale Paravasam), a drop of Smiyai (Kandukondaen Kandukondaen), a fistful of resounding orchestration from Vanessa Mae's Choreography, some brilliant guitar riffs and a whole barrel of soul? You get Elay, where the whole is greater that the sum of its parts. Oh, and the old Benny Dayal is back! :)

Currently my favourite in the album (you cannot do without the "currently" word when talking about Rahman albums!), the violin pieces blew my mind. College bands are gonna have a blast with this one at their culturals. God bless their violinist though!

Naan epodhu - Reena Bharadwaj

I love that woman's voice! Why doesn't she sing more often?

I'd always felt Yeh Rishta was pretty underrated. I'm glad Rahman reused the tune. I hope it gets the appreciation it deserves at least this time around.

Would I recommend the album? Nope. Because I'd be busy glowering at you for not having bought it already!


Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Standing opposite Rani Meyyammai girls' school on RK Mutt road, I was once again reflecting deeply on how utterly jobless I was. Those who are friends, have seen my Facebook profile or my gtalk status, please forgive me as I say for possibly the 329th time - jobless, in every sense! Almost all my friends were employed (as e-coolies) or abroad (as Gosh-I'd-Forgotten-How-Hot-India-Gets-I-Need-My-Mineral-Water NRIs in the making!), and here I was, clearly not getting used to unemployment. Now that I'd resigned from Infy, and was no longer getting a salary and having squandered most of my savings on flight tickets (for a good cause! I shall come to that later.), I could no longer afford the conveyance for the well-to-do. Yup, that three-wheeled contraption, with a glass pane covered with Rajni/Ajith/Vijay stickers leaving about as much space as a peephole through which the world of chaos and expletives (popularly known as Chennai traffic) was to be viewed, behind which sat a usually loud mouthed-beedi smoking gentleman whose singular, unwavering justification for hiking the fare by 300% always remained "petrol velai eriduchu, sir", behind which sat a metal box (called an autorickshaw meter) for strictly ornamental purposes, behind which sat a fool who'd beaten down the aforementioned gentleman's quote from 300% to 275% in a weak attempt at a fair bargain, behind which sat a rear engine which generally whined louder than the aforementioned fool. (If I go further back, it might become Panchathanthiram revisited.)

Bored me had to go somewhere. Stingy me was too afraid to shell out non-existent currency notes for a cup of bad coffee in a dimly-lit room masquerading to be a cozy-hangout-for-the-young-and-restless. Clever me decided to hit the beach. But how?

That was when, as I have already once mentioned in my blog, magic happened. I turned. There was a horrible sensation that I was being squeezed through a rubber tube; I could not draw breath, every part of me was compressed almost past endurance and then, just when I thought I would suffocate, the invisible bands burst open, and I was standing in the open, breathing in lungfuls of fresh, salty air. Though the previous statement, an almost word-for-word lift from The Half Blood Prince might suggest I had performed a side-along apparition with about 20 others, the fact remained that I had, in fact, travelled in a 29C bus to Besant Nagar. Ah, it's good to be back in Chennai!

Doubt Debunkers:
1. What's that great escape thing?
The great escape mentioned in the last post was my successful getaway from Bhubaneswar.

2. What are you doing in Chennai?
I had no other place to go well, at least for a week.

3. So where are you going after a week?
To Indore.

4. But why?
IIM beckons

5. What? When did you write CAT?!
November 2007, obviously

6. Why didn't you tell me?
Sorry! But now you know!

7. Who's supposed to be asking all these questions?
The people in my schizophrenic mind. The ones I'm delusional enough to think still read my blog.

8. What the hell is the title supposed to mean?
I'd promised more if you watch this space, hadn't I?

9. What were you doing outside a girls' school?
My aunt lives close by. Promise!


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Watch this space for more :)

Updated 31st May, 2008:
Or not! :(