Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Glue

Have you ever been in a friendship with two or more people, when one of them goes away and the friendship suddenly falls apart? I have. We thought we were a happy bunch of friends until one day for some reason a member of the group has to leave, and for those left behind there was suddenly nothing left to say. All we could talk about was that missing person and the good times we had. And the friendship dies a slow death, until we became mere acquaintances who nod and say hello on the occasions we meet.

The same thing would apply for families, I guess. Someone in the family dies and the other members simply retreat into their own shells. A huge void springs up which nothing or no one else can fill, and each member finds his or her own way to fill that empty space inside them.

You might be thinking, what a load of rubbish, but trust me it’s true. There are certain people who possess this charm, or shall we say charisma, allure, magnetism, whatever you call it, that people just flock to them. They attract people. They are the ones who always have a crowd around them, the ones who make friends without any effort at all, and the ones people remember after the first meeting.  I call them the glues. They are the glue that binds friendships, that holds families together, that makes things whole. And we all know what happens when glue loses its stickiness. Things come loose, fall apart, get lost, and finally become forgotten. People drift apart, lose their love and affection, and eventually become strangers.

So am I implying that people are divided into glues and non-glues, and that the non-glues are colourless, boring, uninteresting people who have absolutely no attraction? No! Life is not all black and white. I think most of our lives are spent in the grey area, deciding what to do, which way to go, and who to follow. Sure, there will be people who are charming and attractive, but that doesn’t make you any less charming or unattractive. You will come across people who are magnets, but that doesn’t mean you are a rusty iron rod either. We all have elements of glueyness in us. Each one of us is charming, attractive, interesting in our way. You may sometimes think of yourself as quite ungluey but you never know, for someone you might be the ultra sticky super glue that binds them to you!

A cheesy line – to the world you are someone, but to someone you are the world.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I think I was around 2 years old when I collided into a neighbour’s moving Jeep.  The issue of whether I crashed into or it crashed into me was never resolved. According to eyewitness reports (my mother’s) I was eating a fruit in the road of the road and did not see the vehicle, subsequent to which it hit me and knocked me down. Multitasking capabilities were not yet developed, evidently. Now I can skillfully dodge a dozen vehicles coming from four directions while speaking on the phone and carrying an umbrella with one hand and a soft drink with the other hand. Ok let’s get back to the story. I got hit, but I don’t remember it at all, maybe because I was not seriously hurt. My mother said I became afraid of all automobiles after that incident, so she spent one whole morning taking me back and forth on a bus ride between Thakthing and Kulikawn. That supposedly cured me, but I don’t remember it either.

Sometimes I’d have this feeling that I would get hit by a vehicle while crossing the road, and I would lie there all bloody and mangled and they would have to identify me from my IDs and it would be very embarrassing if I wear ugly underwear and the casualty staff will have a good laugh at my expense. And I don’t know which one would be more horrible – drowning or being burnt to death. That’s why I'm mighty glad that my ancestors were not in the wizarding profession. I don’t think I would find being burnt at the stakes much entertaining.

Remember the 90s? Before the age of the Internet? When if we want the lyrics of a song we would listen to the song very very carefully, ears glued to the speaker, pause and stop and rewind and play and write down the lyrics? And you know how we remember certain days, certain people, and certain incidents more vividly than others? Well, one such incident was when a friend and I spent a considerable amount of time copying the lyrics of Def Leppard’s When Love and Hate Collide. Beautiful song, I still listen to it now and then, and always think of that old friend.

Can love and hate really collide? Maybe. Otherwise why would so many people write about it in songs and poems and books and movie scripts? But can you really hate someone who loves you? Hate is a very strong word. You may dislike, but hate? Unless that same person wronged you terribly, hurt you and your loved ones, brought about your financial ruin, and destroyed your reputation, I think it must be a very strong dislike we are talking about. We hate our enemies, not people who love us.

You are walking on the road, or in the office/school/apartment corridor, and someone walks towards you. You decide, I will walk past this person on the right, but that person has decided to walk towards his left. So what happens, you both move in the same direction. A second of awkwardness, then you both decide to take corrective action and move together in the opposite direction again. More awkwardness, until finally someone laughs and stops and the other person takes a step forward and you happily turn your backs on each other. And sometimes you turn a corner and suddenly collide into someone and you both say a hasty “Sorry” and go on.

Let me leave you with this song, Howie Day's Collide.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Press 1 to read

They say you should never write a letter when you're angry. And I suppose they are right. If I have to write a letter to my bank right now, it would drip venom. It would explode upon opening, or at the least burst into flames.

I received a new card from my bank today, with instructions telling me to call them for the PIN. As easy as A-B-C, I thought, and dialled. It was 10 PM, and I figured I would finish the call by 10:15 and could go to bed by 10:30.

Calling IVR numbers must be put up there as one of the most irritating things in the world, along with nosy people and loudmouths. It was the bank I was calling, so before giving me the option to press 1 to do this or 2 to do that, the voice went on and on about the products they’re offering and what phishing is and some other stuff. I wanted to shout “I know all this!!” but could do nothing but wait. Then finally I began the pressing game, starting with what language I preferred and what products I hold and so on. I had to press, I think, 4 numbers in order to reach a person.

First guy I spoke to was okay, helpful, told me to go back to the main menu and press this and that number and finally I would be connected to the PIN people who would then ask me few verification questions and then I could choose my new PIN. He was very anxious about the call, asking me if he was helpful, if he answered all my questions, provided all the information I needed etc etc. I know the call was recorded and that it could affect his salary, so I praised him to the high heavens.

Let’s cut a long story short. There were IVR problems, call transfer problems, being kept on hold for ages until I learnt all the special interest rates they offered for certain periods of time and listened to how patient I was and how the call would be answered shortly by a phone banking officer and how important my call was, and at around 10:30 I finally got through to a girl.

She asked me how she could help; I said I needed a PIN for my new card. First off, I didn’t like her voice, too loud and too flighty. I know I'm being unjust, but let me go on. Asked me for my card number, and when I duly recited it she asked “This is your number ONLY?” I replied yes, it was my number ONLY. Then she told some story that the IVR couldn’t generate my entire card number to their department and had given them only the last four digits so she couldn’t be entirely sure it was the correct number, because there was no authentication from the IVR.

 It was funny, really. I had gone through the whole process of entering my card number, and when I finally got through to her she asked me some verification questions which was impossible if my card number was not made available to them. After verifying that yes it was really me she was speaking to, and not my watchman’s wife, she proceeded to tell me that she couldn’t help with the PIN generation because the IVR didn’t provide her the whole sixteen digits. Hurray!!

But, she did offer to transfer me to the main menu, and I could start again from step 1. I said I don’t want to do that because I don’t wait to wait for another 45 minutes until I spoke to someone. She said she understood (which I seriously doubted) and then started to explain the whole IVR thing, that only the last 4 digits was routed to them. I started questioning the security of their banking system. She had no reply and offered to transfer me to the main menu again. I said no. She was at her wit’s end, and said she would transfer me to her colleague who could help me. Listened to irritating music again for a few minutes, and finally someone came on the line.

I discovered, to my dismay, that it was the same girl again, this time saying that she was unable to transfer my call anywhere, not to the main menu, nor to her colleague’s number, because she had some “technical issues” with her phone. Complete bakwaas. I then did what any irate customer would do: I asked to speak to her supervisor.

The supervisor was a soft spoken lady who introduced herself nicely. She said they were trying to sort out my problem but had some telephone issues and blah blah blah. She offered to call me back immediately on my phone and they would connect me to the main menu, I said no. She then asked me to pick the time and said that they would call, and again I said no, I don’t want to receive calls from you. She then started explaining the whole IVR thing again which by that time I was a leeetle bit tired of hearing. I interrupted and asked if there was any other way I could get the PIN without having to waste an hour of my beauty sleep by calling them. She was delighted with the question and said she could send it to me by post. Finally, a solution!

So we followed with the usual I'm-sorry-I-was-rude-it’s-been-a-long-day and we-are-sorry-for-the-inconvenience-caused-to-you-is-there-anything-else-I-could-help-you-with and I hung up. It was 11 PM.

Some people rant and rave and shout and scream when they get angry. I don’t do all that drama. I am the bitterly sulking type. And one reason I don’t scream is I get weepy when I'm angry. Sad, isn’t it? Being wronged makes me weepy, being accused or criticised (even when it’s entirely my fault) brings tears to my eyes. But for that particular phone call I wished I was the shouting type. Then I would immediately forget everything and wouldn’t have to write this sad post and make you remember all your bad IVR experiences.

It is 12:15 AM.