Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dear Minister, my telephone is not working

The following is my attempt to get in touch with the honourable minister of telecommunication over an issue of my telephone not working. My eyes really popped out when I read the previous line again. Writing a letter to the minister of telecommunication over my telephone not working and imagining the letter to climb up the departmental and bureaucratic public ladder without even an assurance of multi billion infrastructure gains, sounds lame but then a cup of coffee and an inquisitive mind can be a a heady mixture.

Dear Mr. Minister,
I Vivek Shah, am a citizen of the Republic of India currently residing in New Delhi and trying to sustain my existence by working as one of the innumerable IT workers. I am ordinary in every sense of the word. I am all of 24 years of age and have not seen or heard the world as much as you would have. If this letter is really being read by you, I think the politics of our country is in the right hands and the letter would have realised its goal. Since you have already taken some of your time to read till here, I might request you to read further.

I am one of those people who depend upon the telephone connection provided by MTNL for my basic sustenance. It is not because I can end up talking with my girlfriend for hours or discuss the latest happenings in Big Boss 3 with my friend. In fact the receiver on my end does not work. Its a one way traffic so that I can hear people talking about insurance policies on the other end or asking for a wrong person but I cannot just make them hear, "Just f*** off". I am not even complaining about. My most important requirement from the telephone whose receiver lies on the floor instead of the handset, is the broadband facility.

First of all, inspite of the tall complaints, I must congratulate you on the excellent broadband facility which is provided at such an affordable price. This broadband facility is one of the most urgent requirements of my white collar job. This facility ensures that my bosses can wake me up from my beautiful dreams at 1 AM at night and ask me to stare at a piece of file on a computer in Europe because of which a person in US is not being able to print a PDF. Its a small www world these days. So, when my broadband connection was not working yesterday on 30th January, I looked into my telephone bill and called up 011-2222-1504 to register the complaint. The person who picked up the telephone, sounded offended by the idea that I wanted to register the complaint. He did not tell me anything to suggest so, but the human mind can pick up the tones so either the person who answered my call was having a bad case of throat infection and stomach disorder or I am completely off my rocker here. Anyway, he did register my complaint and I got a 4 digit complaint number 3920 as proof of my achievement. I courteously asked him by when can I expect the connection to be fixed as it was particularly urgent to me. He replied, within 24 hours. I asked him if there was something I could do to speed up the process. He said, "Call on 197 and find out the Area Managers number". My first question lies here, since I was talking to this person for help and support(who is getting paid for it by people like me), he could have at least told me the corresponding area manager's number itself(which I am sure would have been searchable on his computer). If my telephone is not working, how can I call up 197 and find it?

Since India is a country of charming people, my charming neighbour came to my rescue and provided me the number of Janakpuri area manager. I reside in New Mahavir Nagar and my house is a 10 minute walk from the Janakpuri telephone exchange. I called up the Janakpuri area manager and mentioned my telephone number 011-2599-7227 and complaint number and asked him if he could do something in this matter. To this, he replied "This number does not fall in my area call up Dwarka area manager" and gave me another number. Perplexed, I called up the Dwarka area manager, who replied "This number does not fall in my area call up Rajouri Garden area manager" and gave me another number. Confused, I called up the Rajouri Garden area manager who replied "This number does not fall in my area, call up the the Janakpuri area manager" and gave me another number. By this time I had gone crazy. I had gone an entire full circle with each person giving me the same templated reply(which I hope you would have noticed). I was wondering, "In which area did my telephone number lie, is it in Pak Occupied Kashmir?". I called up the Janakpuri area manager and told him that I had gone a complete circle and what was this about. It looks to me, he was very busy and so he did not have the time to reply to such a stupid unnecessary question. So he took the shortest route possible, he just cut the call and never picked up my subsequent 6-7 calls.

Utterly dejected, I called up a linesman I knew, and he was working in the area nearby. A few kind words and requests later, the kind soul landed up in my area an hour later and fixed the problem. I can only say "Bless, his soul".

After reading all this Mr. Minister you might wonder what is the point ? The point is inspite of the excellent and thoughtful policies and people who/which have been placed to look after these kind of problems, the entire set up has fallen flat. I have lost a little bit of faith in the whole setup to which I looked upto in order to help me when I needed it most but I have regained a little bit of faith in human relations and what 2 people who want and can try to genuinely help out each other. I might be one of those cases where Murphy's law was true and I was the wrong person with the wrong person at the wrong place and the wrong time but I sincerely hope you don't get letters like these more often. This letter might not have to do with any of the multi billion dollar projects/decisions/investments but it has to do with the most important facet of governance, touching the lives of those who have chosen you to govern. If the governance is not worth it, the multi billion dollar investments/infrastructures just sound very hollow.

Thank you again for the time to read my letter. Thank you again for all the work.

Jai Hind.

4 comments:

  1. The prodigal room-mate returns (to writing)! :)

    Well.. that also made me eligible for a compensatory-off, if only I'd have the luxury to claim it!

    Interesting piece of presentation -- of course, highlighting the failures of system that we've become accustomed to facing!

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  2. Yo man.....back to writing.... :)

    It's the quandary we face all the time...i think people in control are so busy passing the buck that ultimately its the simplest of the person that comes to your rescue.

    And that person is the one who is the most neglected when it comes to appraisal or rewards.

    Thats the beautiful irony of the system that we are a part of....

    One American President on his visit to india described it very aptly....A functioning Anarchy

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  3. First of all I would like to wave to the crowd here for the welcome. Secondly, the whole point of the article was to highlight how people to people contact can overcome the deficiencies in the whole system. If people improve, the system has to.

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  4. The sum total of what you have is a telephone number which is 10 years old. how expensive is a 0800 line?

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