Saturday, May 30, 2015

Time, Rest, Relationship...

The meeting started exactly at 1:00 pm as scheduled. The chairman made a few opening remarks and the participants took their time one after the other, not hurried but also not wasting time. There were four speeches. The chairman also shared a thought from experience, fitting to the occasion. There was a song and a recitation, both done very nicely. Then there was ‘vote of thanks’ during which refreshment was distributed to everyone. And so, in exactly 47 minutes, I came out of the function held today at Secretariat conference hall in observance of World No Tobacco Day (supposed to be tomorrow, 31st May, but observed today because tomorrow is a Sunday). Time management was excellent.
The reason I kept track of the time was that I attended a jubilee program last winter which went on for 4 hours, and another church program recently which lasted 3 hours. Next time, I will think twice before going for a program in those places.

If I speak for half an hour too long in a program where 500 people attended, I have wasted a total of 250 hours (30 minutes per person) in those 30 minutes. 

Sunday is a day of rest for all people. Especially for people who work hard during the week, it is an important day of physical and mental rest. Therefore, it is not right that certain people should demand that we have very long church program and justify it by saying that we are giving just one day or few hours a week for God. Good work done on week days are also acts of worship. God rested on the 7th day. And so, we must have a day of rest.

We need to have/make time for people. We should not count the minutes we spend with family or with people who need our time. I am glad to have friends who travel several miles just to meet and talk. We are busy making money that we don't have time for people. But relationship matters more than money, and relationships need our time. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Tryst with airtel

Me to Airtel

 28/05/2015 12:22:50 PM
Dear Sir/Madam,
On 26th May at 10: 50 AM, I got the sms from 121:
'Airtel 3G pack will expire tomorrow. Recharge with 3G before expiry & carry
forward unused 3G bal....'
So, immediately I recharged with Rs. 155 and got this sms at 11:01 AM
'Your airtel mobile 8974450*** online recharge txn ID 193297 of Rs. 155 is
processed successfully....'
But this morning (28/05/15), I received this sms that I don't have any internet
'Aapke Internet pack ki validity samapt ho gayi hai! Ab usage aapke main a/c se
So, I called 121 and asked the balance. There is 2G and 3G balance but why is
the unused 3G balance not carried forward?
Yours faithfully
Dr. Sao Tunyi

Airtel to me

Thu, May 28, 2015 at 12:52 PM

Dear Dr. Sao Tunyi,

This is in reference to your email dated on 28/05/2015 inquiring about the carry forward of the internet balance for your airtel mobile number

We would like to inform you that the carry forward of internet balance is currently available for 3G only. To carry forward the 3G internet balance, the immediate recharge value has be equal or greater than the previous recharge value.

However, as the 3G data recharge done on 26/05/2015 of Rs 155/- is neither equal nor greater than the value of the previous recharge value the remaining data balance been cleared on 28/05/2015.

In future, we would like you to recharge either equal or greater than the value of the previous recharge value to carry forward the data.

We hope that we have been able to address your concern suitably. Thank you for choosing airtel.

Best Regards,
Sumedh Saha
Service Specialist

Me to Airtel
Sent: 28/05/2015 03:02:38 PM

Dear Sumedh Saha,
In the sms notification, it was not mentioned as you said that ' the immediate recharge value has be equal or greater than the previous recharge value'. It simply said, 'Recharge with 3G before expiry & carry forward unused 3G bal'.
So, please clarify why this was not mentioned so that it resulted in huge lose of 3G data.
Dr. Sao Tunyi
Airtel to Me

Thu, May 28, 2015 at 3:36 PM

Dear Dr. Sao Tunyi,

This is in reference to your email dated on 28/05/2015 inquiring about the carry forward of the internet balance for your airtel mobile number 8974450***.

As discussed, we would like to confirm you that, you have done an amount of recharge of Rs.249/- 1 GB 3G data on 28/04/2015 as per our records.

Further, you have recharged an amount of Rs.155/- on 500 MB both 2G and 3G data 26/05/2015.

In order to carry forward 3G data balance, you have to recharge equal amount or greater than the previous recharge amount.

We hope that we have been able to address your concern suitably.

Thank you for choosing airtel.

Best Regards,
Service Specialist
 Me to Airtel

Thu, May 28, 2015 at 4:06 PM

Dear Uma,
Please send reference mentioning that customers have to 'recharge equal amount or greater than the previous recharge amount' in order to carry forward unused 3G data. Please provide information where the customers are notified beforehand of this 'condition'.
Dr. Sao Tunyi
Airtel to me

Thu, May 28, 2015 at 4:49 PM
Dear Sao Tunyi,

This is in reference to your email dated on 28/05/2015 regarding carry forward of the internet balance for your airtel mobile number 8974450***.

We would like to inform you that in order to carry forward the unused 3G data balance, recharge of equal amount or greater than the previous recharge amount has to be done before the validity expiry of the previously active data pack.

As the recharge done on 26/05/2015 for Rs.155/- is neither equal nor greater than the previous recharge amount, the previous data balance was not carried forward and has been lapsed.

Thank you for choosing airtel.

Best Regards,
Rilby Babykutty
Service Specialist
 Me to Airtel

Thu, May 28, 2015 at 5:27 PM

Dear Rilby Babykutty,
I understand that my recharge this time is neither equal to nor greater than the previous recharge. That has been clarified several times. But what I would like to know please is: where is this 'condition' mentioned that it has to be equal to or greater than the previous recharge in order to carry forward unused 3G data? Is there a policy page or 'terms and conditions' page where customers are pre-informed of this?
From discussion forum like the link given here ( it is mentioned that even for a recharge lesser than the previous, the unused data can be carried forward.
Thank you
Dr. Sao Tunyi

Fri, May 29, 2:52 PM


Google: The end of memory?

Guest Editorial, Morung Express

There was a time when people would remember each other’s phone numbers and birthdays. Before that, there was a time when people would remember the date and all the tiny details of events. The Japanese invasion, British expedition, the Indian army operations, and all the important date in the Naga national movement are still fresh in the minds of old folks that leave the Google generation dumbfounded. Whole stories are in memory so that good old story tellers can narrate them like reading out a novel. But we have facebook to remind us of friends’ birthdays and we sometimes forget our own phone number. We look up to Google for any information under the sun. But nothing comes out from memory when the occasion demands. So, we keep our phones/laptops like they are an extension of our brains.

Ours is a generation which lives on sound bites. Twitter people cannot bear to sit through a long sermon. We hate narratives. We want our stories in bullet points. We live on news headlines and leave out the details. Perhaps many of the newspaper readers never read the editorials. It is getting worse. It seems like we cannot sit still to read anything in plain text form. If people were moving from reading narratives to bullet points in a power point presentation, the trend now is that even wise-quotes or proverbs have to be put on a picture format or photo background. This restlessness and impatience of our time is making our memories short and shallow.

We know a lot more. But when it comes to any specific detail, we have to look it up in Google. No detail is in memory. Because of the ready availability of the internet, there is no push to memorize anything. So, once we have looked up what we are searching for and used it, it is gone again into the cloud. The Bible verses which I memorized and have been using are all from the pre-mobile phone, pre-internet era. It is so hard to memorize new ones. If I want to recollect a Bible verse, I type a familiar phrase in Google and it takes me to the verse, faster than opening a Bible. Next time I need it, I will repeat the procedure. So, there is no incentive to memorize the chapter or verse if I can get what I want from Google at that speed. We then tend to judge a person’s knowledge more by the technical competence (knowing how to use technology) rather than by what one knows in the heart and mind (Someone who is thought to be knowledgeable may be simply spending a lot of time online so that he knows where to get what information).

I mentioned in the beginning about old folks remembering the dates in our national movement. The stories of our past are passed down to us through the power of memory. We have the danger of losing them unless we write them down. But even if we fill up libraries, newspapers, and the internet, who will read and remember them?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mobile and internet woes

Morung Express editorial

Have you ever heard on your phone, ‘Sorry for the inconvenience of our poor network, we are refunding the amount to your balance’? Absolutely never! You pay for every dropped call and lack of voice clarity. For phone calls which are received but you are not able to talk because of poor network, you pay each and every time. Even though the network is as bad as a Chinese radio station signal, the telecom providers’ ability to cut your balance is Mach 3 razor sharp. Sometimes, you don’t see any signal and your call didn’t go through, but somehow they manage to cut your balance.

When there is a drizzle, the 3G signals seem to be pulled down by the tiny water droplets. When there is heavy rain, even the 2G signals are flushed down the drains. But 4G advertisements are starting to come out. The commercials will get louder and louder until you are brainwashed to think that if you don’t get 4G, your life is incomplete. So, before we had a proper 2G, we jumped to 3G and with a 3G signal which is shaken by a light breeze or blocked by a darkened window glass, we are entering the 4G era.

The months are all of 28 days duration according to some telecom operators. When you subscribe to an internet plan, the monthly rental is for 28 days only. For them, it is always February. And there are ways to make you pay without letting you use what you pay for. The weak signals guarantee that you are not able to use up your monthly plan. And when your plan is about to expire, you are bombarded with advertisements of various attractive plans so that you keep on renewing and keep on paying. Some services are in auto-renewal mode that unless you make them stop, they keep cutting the amount monthly from your main balance. The sarcasm here I think is not out of place or beyond permissible limit, considering the nerve irritation and the high blood pressure which the telecom companies manage to induce.

The marketing of various products doesn’t seem to be built on the spirit of transparency and service to people. The small asterisks (*) indicating ‘conditions apply’ and various other terms and conditions in small prints carry a very different meaning when contrasted with their TV commercials. Conscientious customers need to be wary all the time about cheating and exploitation, so that we are not taken for a ride.

Whole government systems have been built relying on the telecom services. Individuals are also developing a dependency on them. Without a phone or internet, we would be seriously handicapped. Their services are vital for the functioning of governments and individual lives. Telecommunication is a good product of human progress which has been pushing our civilization forward. Having made our world and us so dependent on them, it is crucial that we have good telecom services. The quality of their services and the ethics of their dealings are matters which must be looked into with concern. Although many of them are private enterprises, the public goods which they deliver must be subject to a system of close scrutiny and accountability. Sadly, this has been an area of massive corruption, as in the 2G scam recently.

North East circle, and in our case Nagaland, have suffered injustice when it comes to mobile and internet service. Although we pay as much, the quality of services is not commensurate. Our weakness is in our inability to express our grievances, and this I think is taken advantage of. The telecom companies have made our lives better. But it is a fact that we have not got a fair deal.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Good morning sir

When I go to office every morning, office colleagues wish me ‘good morning sir’. I also wish them back, ‘good morning’. When I meet my superiors, I wish them ‘good morning madam’ or ‘good morning sir’. And they wish me back, ‘good morning’. What is there in this to warrant a blog post?

It is not a weighty issue but what I observed is that some class II and III colleagues would greet me as sir since I am a class I person, but some class IV staffs like peons would greet me ‘good morning’. There is no ‘sir’. I would let things pass. 

Now, if the issue is that I want to be called ‘sir’ by all those who are below me by rank, I wouldn’t have taken the route of writing a blog post because it is less likely reach the intended audience. It is not an issue to wish a class II or III person as sir/madam. Due to seniority, we may wish a colleague as sir/madam. Or when we are visiting another office and meeting an equal rank person or lower, we may greet her as madam out of respect for her chair/office.

I was wondering why is it hard for those grade IV staffs to greet me as sir when they are greeting their superiors (grade I, II, III colleagues) as sir/madam. I can think of two reasons. One reason could be due to age factor. Maybe I look too young to be greeted as sir. That is funny because I look older than my age so that higher secondary students ‘mistakenly’ call me uncle. And they would certainly greet someone of my age as sir if, say, that someone is a very high ranking government officer. I’m not contesting ranks here but considering age as a factor. The other reason could be the fact that I am a contractual employee. This will make sense if one is versed with the common perception of people towards regular and contractual workers. I have been working for the last 5 years in the government sector. But many people speak straight at me like I don’t have a ‘real’ job yet because I am contractual. I have been asked again and again if there is any chance at all for my job to become regular. One more reason some may assume is that those grade IV employees are ignorant and don’t know how to respect people. But that doesn’t seem to explain the issue because they are very respectful to some people. The fact here is that the respect shown is ‘selective’. Of the reasons, the second one (being contractual) seems to be the most plausible explanation for the phenomenon of unique good morning greetings in office.