Thursday, November 24, 2016

#Demonetization Demonized @ Bank Branch

I got this message from the bank, a private bank, rated one of the best, globally (financial performance is no proof of customer service!) 
Dear Preferred Customer, visit your branch in person to deposit your old currency. Call your RM to fix an appointment @ ##### ##### for a seamless experience at the branch
- Got 2 mails from the CEO of the bank, yday & day before. No option to respond, except to the usual link on website! "If you have the option to write to me, I should have the option to write back to you. Else don't write to me"!!

- Why so late? What took you so long?!

I visited the branch to deposit (a small amount) and withdraw, having managed without cash all these days. 
"Bank staff don't even recognize me"!! A humble preferred customer. 
I was made to show original ID proof, copy thereof with my signature; my signature on the cheque was verified for withdrawal and asked to "stand in line" (meharbani?!)

Then why the SMS in first place? 'I would have been better off without the tag, 'preferred' customer!" Pls re-define 'preferred'!
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises…”   Mahatma Gandhi
- Customer sitting next, with exactly 10X my cash (Income Tax may be interested in him!), mentioned, 'people were a lot more disciplined here. But that was not the case elsewhere'. He seemed to be visiting multiple branches, like the Bangalorean who spent his Sunday morning visiting all the ATMs in the area. Of course the ATM attached to the branch remained 'No Cash' for last two days! 

Other customers were heard saying...

- 'I am sitting here at the bank. I will take time' (for lunch?!)

- 'If you don't respect my time, I will not achieve anything in life' (profound!)

- 'What is status of the order?' (he was working, must be an entrepreneur)

- 'I am at the bank, not at a bar'! (No comments!)

- 'No I am not standing in a queue. But 'sitting' in a queue' (Time is precious)

- A child was crying and the mother was struggling to pacify him. Naturally he would have felt the negative energy at the bank!

All the bank employees went about doing their work, but were 'disconnected'. They were professional. But then a machine could have been a better option, instead of human being. The machines were counting notes already.
Literally all employees at the branch seemed to be on demonetization fire-fighting.
But they were fighting someone else's battle. 
There was no empathy for the customer. Bank manager was conspicuous by his/her absence.  Banks, including pvt banks, have lost the plot, an opportunity to serve customer.

I walked out with a slight tilt to my right. It was not due to back-pain or a new style. The cash in my kurta pocket was causing the tilt. Felt heavy, emotionally. I was suddenly conscious of the safety of my cash too. 

It has been two weeks since India was hit by #Demonetization tsunami. Is 'demonetization' the right word (juste mot!) is still being debated in the press. The customers are being demonized.

PS: We train our bankers for the  demonetization 'war'. Let's train them to come 'home', too... To Serve Customers during war & peace
Inspired by TedTalk: We train soldiers for war. Let's train them to come home, too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Sacred Grove by Daman Singh

Set in interior MP, a geography I am familiar with, having lived there for three long years!

Ashwin tells us
- What it is to be son of a government servant, even if King of a district (as a collector)
- Being a student 
- How adults take kids for granted. They are a lot more intelligent than we think they are
- The world from the view of a boy. And how it impacts him. 
Light read. Loved the humor, the flow and setting.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Chandra CashLess, PennyLess in T Nagar, Chennai

Chandra landed in Chennai on Friday, with Rs 210 in his wallet . He left Rs 100 at home for 'emergency'. (What can you achieve with Rs 100 in case of emergency is another discussion)

His cash in hand, as the commerce student in him would claim, remained Rs 210.  He stayed at a guest house, had breakfast and dinner there (No eating out). Facilitated a workshop at a five-star hotel over the weekend. He went around in Uber & Ola. Just as digital wallets played a big role in facilitating the demonetization initiative, these taxi-aggregators played a key role too. 

Ola fare for the one trip he took was double the Uber fare. He was unable to book Uber. Ola accepted      booking without the internet ('smart buoy'!). Was it surge-pricing or mere premium for booking without internet?
Airtel is spending a fortune promoting Open Network.  But connectivity remains very challenging. He lodged a complaint and got a complaint number. Their complaint number is like Sunny Deol's 'tareek- pe tareek- pe tareek, Your Honour' in Damini! No much hope  on that front. At least airtel should stop boasting about their network & connectivity. (After 3 days, Airtel called to confirm Chandra had exhausted his data-plan. With next billing cycle just two days away, he 'decided to live with it, as he did over last one week'!)

A haircut was overdue, no time/mood for a fancy & expensive spa. A simple, clean saloon will do. The way Chandra was losing hair, even that may turn out to be a luxury in the near future. 
He had not been at the tender-coconut seller over last few days. His regular 'outlet' under a huge tree, on T Nagar main road. 
He normally spent for some small stuff at Chennai, on toiletries or fruits or Sri Krishna sweets,  thus contribute to the local economy. 
He wanted some cash badly...

He picked up two debit cards and stepped out for his morning walk on Sunday, 14th. He could activate the runner app, but not podcast (Airtel!!)

Spotted a police van. A cop was standing next to it. He was slim, fit, dark and had vibhuti on his forehead. There was something positive about him, Chandra felt. He was on duty and looked all set to take on the day ahead, head-on. As Chandra reached near him, he surprised with a 'good morning'! Chandra responded with a 'good morning' and a  grateful, wide smile. If all cops were like him....! Cops in Chennai always had this work-ethic - they are 'at work' and diligent. Not the case in many other cities...

Chandra went around looking a clean & safe hairdresser. Found one on the main road. Checked, 'if by any chance they took card payments?' One of the staff smiled and said, 'no saar!' He spotted several other hairdressers, with simpler interiors. Hence did not even check. He was sure they may not have POS machines. 

He went around in search of ATMs. ICICI had two, shutters were down. Situation was same with other ATMs, BoB, Central Bank and others. Shutters were either half down (mourning!) or fully. As he went about searching for ATM and clocking distance on the runner app, he observed he was unable to give any help to the old, seeking help or otherwise. For the short distance, he saw disproportionately high number of old men, who seemed to need help. While he avoided his regular tender-coconut guy, being cash-less, he saw there were many more temperory stalls. Once he covered the main road and some of the lanes, he lost interest and hope of getting some cash.

He landed back in Bengaluru and was unable to book Uber. Ola confirmed 'no cars in the airport'! He went to the 3rd option of cars, mainly KSTDC & Meru. Meru rep was very helpful to look for someone with Paytm option. But it required me to download Meru app and I just could not do, even with his hotspot (Airtel!!). Thankfully, one of the drivers agreed to barter diesel at a petrol pump in lieu of cash. Of course when we reached Shell pump in Seegehalli, it was closed!! Shell used to be a 24X7 open outlet. We were saved by a HP petrol pump nearby. The Meru driver was so well behaved and cheerful, unlike Chandra who was getting restless, at 1030 PM ('Devudu Unnadu')

5 days after PM announced the initiative, he went in search of ATM & Cash. But had to come back empty handed. Wonder how others are coping with the development. Especially the poor with no access to bank account, digital wallet or variants thereof. Hope banks would rise to the execution and does not mar the initiative with poor execution.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

DeMonetization Demon

We were on one of the usual, weekly call... As the discussion went beyond the allotted time, a message appeared on my phone. 'PM to address the nation at 8 PM'. I was worried and in a hurry to leave the call and check the idiot box. 

The news went viral, to put it mildly, when PM made the announcement. There were Whatsapp messages, facebook updates, tweets and of course, good old face to face conversations on "500 & 1000 Notes"! 

- for many of us, for once we felt it paid to be clean & ethical. 
And, that was a huge moment for India's middle class. 
- some were happy to be in possession of less currency, for a change

- a friend was glad he had given up the habit of carrying a wallet a year ago. (I got to find out more about this)

- Most of the politicians had taken the stand on expected political lines. They were expected to toe their party line, even after seeing what common man/woman can do when they chose to vote (#Trump)

- When will we stop politicizing everything? Can we not rise above petty political lines when it comes to our motherland? 

One of my first teachers/friend (a 'Guru') used to say, 'if one generation can choose to sacrifice for sake of country, India will overcome all its problems' (And I was in 5th Std!). Not everyone is blessed with such teachers. 

We love drama. This news gave us all the opportunities to be most dramatic. 

The ceremony held at Rangastala, Rangoli Metro Art Centre, last week began with an insightful lecture -- ‘The Hidden Life of Words’ by Suresh Menon. He spoke about how some nuanced emotions sometimes escape expression. He also observed: “Words are charged with meanings, popular culture, movies, the television. We have no control over how words can be distorted. (

The heartiest laughter came from sister, on phone, in the company of mom. The word at home used to be 'Underground'! An art identified with mom. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Parents at work - Does having children boost your productivity

Came across this interesting tweet by World Economic Forum

- One of the leading players in BFSI had an unwritten rule, only married people were considered for branch (SBU in charge) positions. The interpretation was only married men (mostly men there, if not all!) understood others' problems and pains. Back then 'empathy' was not so much in vogue, not was 'EI' popularised by Dr Daniel Goleman and others!

- Parenting is one of the biggest responsibility in our lives. The most important part of our legacy, whether we accept or not.

- Lot of people have shared parenting is one of the most beautiful experiences in life. For parenting to be more beautiful, the professional has taken care of other relationships, personal and professional

  • Personal relationships with spouse, parents, siblings & in-laws are strongly inter-linked. A strong support system, physical/emotional, would help
  • Professional relationship - for a father even a cycle was a luxury. As such it was a matter of great pride for him he had a car when his first child was born. 
       Time for parenting, understanding parenting, quality vs quantity, etc., are other key elements.

Check out the original article: Does having children boost your productivity? Read more:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Chandra’s Phobia, Dreams continue… Yakshi as an Executive

Image Courtesy #shiboosartgallery

The press report on Mythophobia (Yakshi) was “the news” yesterday, at least among few of us.

His manager was a big sports fan himself, of cricket to be more specific. He was tall, slim. He was a man of few words, with a big heart and literary bend of mind. They both were not only aspiring leaders in BFSI but shared their love for the cricket-analysis. 

Suresh Menon of The Hindu was their favorite sports columnist. Often during their trips to meet clients, they would discuss the nitty-gritty of Suresh Menon’s analysis. 

The article, Taking a Writer’s Call in the Hindu also reported the presence of Suresh Menon and his talk on words, ‘The Hidden Life of Words”. It was a very different talk, something Chandra was not usually exposed to and not expected from Suresh Menon, an exemplary cricket analysist (How we box people!). During his talk, Menon connected with some of the contemporary issues. It was thought-provoking for Chandra, how words play (like the management jargon, ‘Games People Play’!) 

Suresh Menon’s presence brought forth a flood of memories for Chandra, about his young days. 

In his dream, yet again, he met Raghu, his former manager. As it so happens only in dreams, his boss had not changed at all, even after two decades! They met at an event, left their stuff on a big table and started talking about how they used to discuss Suresh Menon and how Chandra was lucky to get the certificate from Suresh himself. Raghu was in a hurry and was about to leave when he observed his phone was missing. Chandra’s cell phone had mysteriously disappeared too.

The search ended on the second floor of his Tharavadu, in Kerala. In dreams, like in astral travel, you can travel quickly in dreams! Second floor was one big hall, the floor with traditional soil & cow dung covered. It was not in use, but a lot of old & unwanted stuff were neatly kept there. 

Chandra found himself seated at the entrance of the second floor! Curiously, there were a lot of contemporary stuff at the entrance to the floor, all neatly arranged, as always. And he saw his phone there and ringing. As Chandra was about to pick it up, a smartly dressed, young executive appeared from nowhere, waved his hand. The phone disappeared yet again and was seen in the executive's hand. 

Who was this young guy, manifesting on the second floor of their ancestral home, at this time? Chandra had not seen him before. 

Their pet dog joined another small group of three dogs, first to stand among them and lie in the middle of their protective presence (out of fear?!). Man’s best friend was not being of much help, yet again.  
Has Yakshi started appearing as smart executive these days instead of beautiful women ?
Going back to the press report, it was a welcome change; a day after Arnab Gowsami’s resignation had hogged all limelight! I don't want to go into the Tata-story! 
- Wonder what phobias these leaders suffer from? 
- More importantly what phobias their viewers (Arnab) and employees of Tata were suffering? 

As I asked on 28th October at the Metro… ‘what phobia are you suffering from?’



Thursday, November 3, 2016

Diwali 2016 @ a Resort


I am writing (typing on a laptop, would be more appropriate) to you from a resort. For a change, it is dog-friendly. Otherwise, most of these resorts are not pet-friendly. This one is eco-friendly, which is a bonus.

- Should not all eco-friendly properties be also pet-friendly, as a rule? 
- What is an ecosystem or an environment without pets?
- Should not all ‘properties’, tagged eco-friendly or otherwise, be pet-friendly? (Sadly not even Club Mahindra, one of the popular brands in time-share, is pet-friendly)
- Why just domesticated pets, why not be Prakriti-friendly, with all 84 lakh species? Every animal, bird, insect has a right to exist, just as the hard-nosed human being.

Human being evolved from us, the "lesser" species (in their eyes), over thousands of years. Yet they have forgotten where they came from! It is not just monkeys.

They have forced themselves into our habitat and converted most of the green space into concrete space, not worthy of living. And now they go in search of 'native villages' and eco-friendly resorts. 

This resort, where we are put up,  is outside the concrete city. It took a full two hours to reach this place, with heavy Diwali traffic. On a normal day, it would not have made any difference either.

Diwali…! Festival of lights. Now it is festival of crackers! For all the noise and air pollution, is Diwali actually a festival, a celebration? All the pollution people cause with flex banners and irresponsible disposal of puja material....?

Back to the eco-resort. The place is filled with dogs and their families. Various breeds of dogs are enjoying the limited freedom. They are mostly on leash or with limited freedom, under the watchful eyes of the respective families.

This is my fourth Diwali in India, ever since we got back. Only now the family could find a place for me, away from crackers. The other dogs were interesting to observe. All types of breeds, including a couple of well-maintained Indies. Each one with different temperaments, just like their families. The food was ordinary for all, including ourselves. The weather was good. But service was good. Lot of space to move around and a lot of grass. Enjoyed moving around and get a feel of grass, which I don't get in the concrete city of Bangalore. 

We could step out of the compound and be in the woods, a mini-forest. Some photo sessions and selfies. 

There was an element of simplicity in the frugal living at the resort. We need that much only. The human being can learn so much from us, animals and birds, nature on simple living. 

PS: Back in the city it is business as usual - people continue to burst crackers and pollute big time! Irresponsible fellows !!