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Tuesday, January 5

Live it Up, You!

Wow! This new year really seems to be boding well for my blog... or rather YOUR blog where I write :-) 

There are multiple posts in the last 2 weeks, and that's quite a favorable change from my regular disappearing act. Let's hope the trend continues... Just like throughout the year Amazon, Jabong, Flipkart, and Firstcry online sales.

(No, that's not a resolution. Resolutions are made to be broken. No point keeping one.) 

Umbilical cord guilt.

That's a term I picked up at a session that my company had arranged for women employees. 

While the trainer far from impressed me (professional hazards of being a trainer and self-proclaimed evaluator/critic), I did find myself agreeing with this concept. 

Simply put, it is the state of wanting to do everything, doing most of it, and yet feeling inadequate and miserable because you do not think you are doing satisfactorily for your progeny, and blaming yourself silly for one simple thing that you missed or did slightly below excellent. No matter what or how much you do, you believe you have failed. You stumble under that guilt, and over-compensate in all possible (and sometimes impossible ways) trying to prove yourself superwoman... or rather supermom. 

Every little thing you do for yourself weighs upon your self-esteem and ego, and you blame yourself for every moment of personal joy, peace and freedom away from the little one, who you have probably entrusted to a very caring grandparent or a reliable daycare.

True, you gave birth to that beautiful creature. True, you want to give him/her the world. True, you want him/her to have a happy childhood and set them up for a life of success and joy. 

But at what cost? At the cost of being stressed and rushed, day in-day out, yourself? 

It's not a temporary phase, as we moms keep telling ourselves. It will always be that way. When the child is a few months old, you are led to believe that things will get better as he/she grows. You are reminded of the same "fact" when the kid is one. Then you keep fooling yourself by setting new milestones like when the child goes to school, college, and enters matrimony.

The truth is, the child is independent sooner than you assume, and is very well able to take care of him/her self and his/her needs. I mean, I look at my son like he is a frail, dainty being, and I warn myself that he needs me all the time and I better be available and up to the mark. And then I watch him stupefied as he gallops around the house or park, mingling with other children and adults, communicating in his baby and body language, and getting his tasks done. If he is hungry, he manages to get some food by gesturing, and if he wants to play, he ensures that his toys and games are acquired. So really, what is it that I am feeling guilty about? 

I would like to say that I understand work-life balance, and I do a fairly good job of implementing it in my life. I work smart and I get good ratings, and I also do the things I love in my free time (rare, but there). I socialize with my friends and family, I read books and watch a few sensible shows, I squeeze in a movie or visit the mall with the husband, and I find the time to dish up some delicacies over the weekend. 

All in all, I don't count as a workaholic or idler, though of course there are others that are way more talented and living it up in salute-worthy ways.  

The point being, are you blowing up your self importance and exaggerating your existence as indispensable to someone or something? 

(And that question goes out to all of you, men and women alike, parents or bachelors or whoever you may be.)

Trust me, the world will go on with or without you. So, don't wait until you are ready to die to start living.

(Wow, what a paradox!)

My mom is a living example of this brilliant gyaan. She is putting to action all her zest for life and bringing to fruition all her passions that include religion, traveling, socializing, cooking and the works. I and my brother do bound her at times by unleashing our kids on her, but she loves us all and the grandkids are her jewels, so she doesn't complain. People always have an opinion on everything, and that does bend her will to enjoy life a bit, but I am ready to pump her back to activity whenever this happens. Critics are folks who did nothing amazing themselves and want everybody else to be miserable as well. She is my strength and ideal, that wonderful woman. I could never be her, and I can never stop loving and admiring her. And I have made it my personal goal to ensure that she gets to do all that she likes. 

My dad and husband, on the other hand, keep cribbing that they are unable to accomplish anything, and plan all their goals for a later time (which even God wouldn't know when it would come). Hubs thinks Vodafone will probably crumble to bits if he spends less than 540 minutes at work and Dad cannot leave the city even for a day as if he is the lifeline of Pune.

They're good men, these two chaps. Yet, I wonder if they wouldn't be able to strike a better balance within themselves if only they loosened up a little. 

Hey, I ought to be talking about myself than preaching for others. 

Yes, I need to loosen up, too. The house needn't be spotless every single day. It's okay if the clothes are unwashed or not ironed this week. Bedsheets unfolded and messy drawers are a sign of life, and it's all right if we order food from outside once in a while rather than me bending over in all directions to roast a roti as my bub screeches down the hallway. I love my spouse, and if I do one thing less for him or stop worrying about him, it is not going to impact his well-being. He is an adult and can very well take care of himself. 

Just like it's fine to pamper Aarush once in a while, it is cool to pamper myself now and then. A massage, some quiet time with a book and coffee, a quick tea break with the office buddies, and a snack that doesn't qualify as healthy - no harm done. 

Obviously, unless we go overboard. 

Let go of the guilt, dear folks. Stop being so responsible for everything. You won't remember the days when everything was perfect. You'll marvel at the days when you did something out of the blue and felt pleased. Life won't happen as you plan it, who knows what the future holds in store? Start living. NOW. 

And those of you who live each day as it comes, that's called taking it too far. You might want to step back and see how you can be more effective :-) 

Different strokes for different folks!

Best wishes as we start the new year - make this one memorable! Do something that you haven't done before, or something that you haven't done in a long time. Go out and create something, get started on your goals, one step at a time. 

Just do it.


Monday, January 4

Customer Service: A Myth

Happy New Year!

A myth, by definition is: an idea or story believed by many people but is not true. 

Simply put, a myth is a fictitious or imaginary thing. 

While I am a connoisseur of mythology (all those interesting bunch of Greek/Indian/etc traditional and fantastic stories), the lack of customer service is a glaring reality that does not amuse me at all. 

While I've raved sufficiently about this topic in a myriad of blog posts, my chagrin is far from over. This time around, a fresh set of stale experiences that left me fuming, and frustrated. 

Read on...

Story 1: 
Claypot restaurant in Kharadi does not need customers. No, I'm not saying this. The owner did. He categorically told my husband that Claypot does not need patrons and they have enough. 

When we moved to our new Kharadi abode over a year ago, we frequented the very same eatery for its tasty parathas and great service. 12 months later, the state of affairs is sorry to say the least. The food is far from delicious (and distant from being well-cooked), and the service is atrocious. The owners are a set of arrogant beasts who do not listen to requests and feedback, and curtly hang up on you without sparing a moment's courtesy. I had to wait over 50 minutes for a pair of paneer parathas that I'd ordered for the baby since I did not have the time to cook, and when they arrived 30 minutes after the promised time, they were soggy and poorly fried. I called the restaurant 10 times and each time the pig-headed owner answered the call and disconnected without saying hello as he knew I was calling to complain. My  husband personally went to give him an earful, and was told that he needn't order again as they had a flourishing business and could do without our patronage. Reminds me of Punjab sweets in the vicinity that had the same sick attitude and were almost driven out of business once the amazing India Sweets came right opposite my place. 

Products are definitely a driving factor, but service comes out tops when you want to secure clientele. Unfortunately, Claypot is going down the wrong path, and with numerous food joints mushrooming in the Zensar and EON IT area, they're inviting doom by behaving in this pathetic manner. Kudos to your arrogance, Team Claypot. Let's see where it gets you. 

Story 2: 
Ola sucks. 

I and my husband have been regular customers for Ola and their drivers as well as customer (non) service is hideous. 

I was yelled upon, abused and humiliated by one of their drivers (not the only one this month) because my husband's Ola account functioned erroneously and did not credit the amount he had recharged. Helpless and angry, we moved to Uber and it's been a smooth ride (pun very much intended) thus far.

Story 3:    
This is an old one, but still alive in my memory and unforgiven in my books. 

Lilam Enterprises. 

A maid agency that does not have or supply maids, but only takes the commission upfront and keep duping and avoiding the clients. 

Maybe it was my own fault that I did not check online for reviews before I contacted and paid them. Had I done that, I would have come across the hundreds of bad reviews that they earned by duping their customers. I am now 10 grand short that I paid as commission and more than 10 grand down due to the multiple calls I made to them over the course of the year. They keep promising that they will send a maid, send one and tell her to leave within a few days/weeks, then promise to send another and don't do anything about it. A handful of people keep answering the phone (if you're lucky) and keep giving different names that make you want to knock their heads off. "2 days" is their standard response and there is no action/outcome for the next 20. 

Finally, I closed the matter and stopped contacting them. 

Like everyone else. 

That's not all. Be it Flipkart delivery or Make My Trip representatives, everybody is out to show you how little you matter to them. 

I've been in the customer service industry a long time. All business and jobs are finally about customer service. Be it internal or external customers. Our motto is to keep them happy. I guess I (and a few others) are the only ones thinking about this goal. Coz everyone else that I am interacting with has no such concept in mind. 

Customer is no longer god. Customer is a beggar who keeps seeking fair service and expecting a little empathy, but only gets kicked in return. Since he has no option, he learns to put up with the kicks, coz everybody offers them gallantly and unabashedly. 

Indians don't know customer service, can't offer it, and don't expect it. 

Any refreshing winds of change this year? 

Let's do this, one person at a time. Let's start with you and me. 

Hopefully, the rest will take cue. 

Else we suffer on. Year on year. 



Goodbye, Abba - You shall be missed

Subhash R Rathi. A man of umpteen roles and talents. He was a son, brother, husband, uncle, grandfather, partner, colleague, friend, advisor...