Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hello! This is Customer Torture Service

Genre: Humour

If I was asked to choose one way to most effectively torture terrorists, I would without a doubt suggest putting them on the phone line with the so-called Customer Care service numbers of an American bank or credit card company. They have a foolproof four-layered torture mechanizm in place that would freak out everyone from the most calm minded yogi to the most hardcore terrorists. 

Layer 1: The Number Game

The first challenge lies in figuring out the phone number, since they love to mention it using letters for numbers, like 1800-MY-BANK-SUCKS. Dial the number and the Interactive Voice Response starts the torture procedure-

"Welcome to We Suck Bank. We proudly present to you the Super Platinum Credit Card with $1 million credit limit and no monthly charges. For more information and to register for this card, please go to w w w dot wesuckbank dot com.  To continue in English, press 1. Esto perso hola kushti espanialo, hesta 2. Luga buga zhingala maka chuka zulu, pangu 3."

You press 1.

"Thank You. For account information, press 1. For balance information, press 2. For information on credit cards, press 3. For information on car loans, press 4...blah blah blah..., For information on Angelina Jolie's latest child, press 37. To repeat this information, press star."

By this time, you are confused.. what did I call up for? "Was it 2.. no wait it was no I remember it was 1." You press the number and it takes you to the next level.

Layer 2: Speak Up Baby

Off late, the banks have taken a fancy to using voice recognition software, and with it begins new level of torture-

"Thank you. To login, please speak your 16 digit credit card number, 24 digit account number and 10 digit cellphone number, one digit at a time."

You take ten minutes to speak out each number, and just when you thought it was over, it starts again-

"Thank You. To continue, please speak one of the following options. To check your balance, say balance. To request a statement, say request statement. To make a payment, say make payment. To report a lost card, say lost card....blah blah...For more options, say more options."

You try to gather the best American accent and say- "Make payment"

"Sorry. I did not understand that. Please say again."


"Sorry I did not understand that. Please say again." 


After 15 trials, "Sorry I did not understand that. Please say again." 


"Thank You. Please wait while I transfer your call to our Customer Service Executive"

And here begins the next level.

Layer 3: The Eternal Wait

The annoying 'On Hold' music starts... Tu ru ru ru tu ru ru ru ru ru ru.... ru ru ru ru...

After two minutes, the music fades and you feel the person has come on line, but no!

"Did you know you can make your payments online at our website w w w dot wesuckbank dot com! Also we proudly present to you the Super Platinum Credit Card with $1 million credit limit and no monthly charges."

And the music starts again...  Tu ru ru ru tu ru ru ru ru ru ru.... ru ru ru ru..

After 30 minutes of wait, just when you fall comfortably asleep, a voice is finally heard  

"Hello my name is Kathy and how may I help you today?"

Yayyy!!! A HUMAN BEING finally!!! You excitedly start telling your problem- "See, I have a savings account in your bank, and..." but you are interrupted-

"Sir, before we proceed, for your security, I would ask you a few questions"

And here begins the next level of torture

Layer 4: Questions and Questions

"Sir, for your security, may I please know your first name, last name, father's middle name, mother's maiden surname, last five digits of your Social Security Number, roll number of your third crush in fifth grade class and molecular weight of your favorite hydrocarbon compound?"

The first challenge here is trying to remember all questions, and then comes the challenge of answering them all. You spend ten minutes in answering all questions and explaining why you called up.

"Sure sir. We can help. Please wait as I transfer your call to the specialist"

 Tu ru ru ru tu ru ru ru ru ru ru.... ru ru ru ru... 

And suddenly..*SNAP*. 

Disconnected. Last Call Time: 2 hours 48 minutes 36 seconds.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Of ABCDs and NRIs

Genre: Humor

A glance at my Facebook timeline or GTalk statuses of friends currently would give one an impression that the year is 2012 and the dreaded Apocalypse is nearing, what with countdowns of "X Days to go!" type all over the place; but worry not- this is just the annual migration season when thousands of Indian students from universities all over USA make a Swades trip. For the benefit of those who are making their first trip to India after coming to USA, here are some (not-so) useful tips on how to act like a seasoned NRI or ABCD as desired appropriate-

A week before heading home, go to Dollar Tree / Wal-Mart and pick up random cheap stuff like perfumes, Nivea cold creams and Toblerone chocolates to give to friends and relatives who will pretend to happily receive them as if they have never seen these items in India.

The moment you land at the airport, complain- "Oh man! It's so hot!", even if your flight arrives at 3am and the outside temperature is 15 degree C.

On the way home, exclaim "Oh My God! Why the hell is there a cow on the road!". Yes, do it even if you have seen hundred cows on the road before heading to USA.

Crib about the infrastructure- the airport is so messy, roads are so dirty, air is so polluted, anything.

Even if it is 30 degrees C, go out wearing a GAP sweatshirt (No, don't tell me you don't have one- ever since SRK sported it in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, every damn Indian worth his name living in USA owns GAP clothing :P)

When visiting relatives, act extremely melodramatic traditional. Even if you have never ever done it when you were in India earlier, greet all elders with namaste and touch their legs to get blessings (and money!)

Use random American words in conversation. When someone asks "chai thanda kuch loge?", say you will have "soda" or "decaf coffee".

Buy some stuff from your local kirana store (not supermarkets) and offer your credit card for payment. When denied, express surprise- "What! You don't accept credit cards? India is still so underdeveloped!"

Act excessively concerned about hygiene. When at a local udipi restaurant, ask if the cook is wearing hand gloves and hairnet and if the food has been prepared using mineral water.

Compare and praise American transport facilities with Indian counterparts. While on any road, point out "Look at all these potholes. In America, the highways are so smooth. Its so much fun driving at 75 miles/hour on I-95", knowing fully well that nobody else cares a damn or knows what is I-95.

Last and most important point- talk in a fake American accent, even when speaking Hindi.

* * * * *

PS: OK, everyone heading home this month- Aisa kuch mat karna. Aaram se ghar jaao, road pe pani puri khao, rickshaw me ghumo aur masti karke aao. Have a safe flight and enjoy holidays!

* * * * *

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Weather Talks

Genre: Random

Numerous Hollywood movies and American sitcoms send out an impression that talking about weather can be a good conversation starter. In US, probably yes, but does it work everywhere?


Day 1
A: Nice weather today..
B: Yeah, sunny and 70 degrees..I love this.

Day 2
A: Man, this weather sucks
B: Oh yea totally! Yesterday it was so nice and sunny and now these rains..

Day 3
A: Damn, its cold today
B: Hell yeah..those rains yesterday were bad, and now this snow. Sucks.

Day 4
A: Hey, nice to see good weather today
B: Yeah, after that snow yesterday, feels good to have the sun back.

Now, try the same in India-

Day 1
A: Man, these rains.. feels good
B: Yeah, I like the smell

Day 2
A: Nice rains today
B: Hmmm

Day 3
A: Yaar, the weather looks so good with these rains
B: ....

Day 4
A: Man, look at the sky...its gonna rain..
B: Abbe BH#^$%*! August ke mahine me har roz baarish hi hoga na. Kya roz roz ek hi baat paka raha hai.. CH$^%*&!
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