Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Summer Cynic

Summer is upon us and this is the time I start rambling aimlessly, more than I do normally. I attribute this to an attack of summer depression that befalls  me with unflinching regularity ,without fail, every year. I am more miserable and abundantly cranky when the heat is turned on. I have read all the self help books which says that you should simply carry the weather with you, and thus , by that logic, I ought to  be feeling snug and warm as if it was the winter. But I realize that summer simply does not work for me ; I grumble and groan and moan ,and somehow drag myself wearily through the hot summer months. I can manage the cold winters much better- I can always wear more clothes !  But summers are different, there is always a limit to the clothing one can shed, beyond a point ! In the midst of all the grime and sultriness, the grey cells ( and aging one at that !) simply fail to register the sparkle of life.

It is in this bleak state of mind that I start looking around for spots of excitement which can lift the spirits up and extort the mind to sing tra-la-la. Only to draw a blank ,mostly.

As a starter, I  contemplated spicing up my blogs with some cartoons. But then I realized that a certain powerful lady and her cohorts might proclaim “Cholbe Na” and I might find myself entertaining jailbirds, a task fraught with the risk of being rather unpleasant ! Definitely not an activity that might be classified as exciting, by any means ,especially when there is a realization that my own EQ, or “Entertainment” Quotient, is not at an all time high now .

I then turned towards the idiot box then for some much needed excitement. The loony anchors and their loonier panelists continue to thump the tables at all sort of grave issues, but somehow, they failed to excite the sleeping dud within me.IPL posed a peculiarly uncomfortable situation in that I simply could not figure out, even halfway down the tournament, whom to support ! And I was quite aghast at the dress code imposed by the moral brigade on the cheerleaders of some of the teams, and they ceased to provide any further sources of entertainment. After all,how on earth do you watch dancers dancing in the hot humid sultry summer of Kolkata wearing about 5kg of Jewellery each ? And then  to top it all, they then went about adjudging that it is simply an affront to our pristine and vulnerable society to see an  award winning movie on prime time TV as we are simply incapable of handling sex and erotica without governmental supervision.

I turned towards the newspapers for some possible excitement. All I can see are the daily relentless doses of rapes, road rages, murders, abduction by Maoists, abduction by classmates, honour killings , etc,etc. Reforms are on hold as the government is constantly busy repairing the legs of its “Kursi”, routinely  cut off with impunity by its rag tag, motley group of “supporters” who have no idea what a mess they are making of this country. Or maybe they have, but who cares, anyway ! With investments dwindling, and its coffers empty, the “sarkar” is  now trying to bring excitement in its policies by modifying  tax laws with retrospective ambit so that the “evil” investor is further spooked away from the country and we all can live happily ever after !

I realize-nothing has changed. Nothing is new !

Why is it that the summer brings out the cynic in me ?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cross Connection

It was a call like countless other phone calls that you receive in a day. “One more telemarketer”, I thought wearily.

The voice on the other hand was clipped, polished and indeed very polite. “Not the regular telemarketer type” , I said to myself.

“Sir, I am calling from the Jaguar Land Rover showroom in Gurgaon” she identified herself.  “I hope this is a convenient time to talk, Mr. Chowdhury ?”

Normally, I deal with pesky telemarketers in two different methods. One approach I adopt most frequently is to go silent-yes completely silent! A complete state of being incommunicado ! It is only after a while that the person realizes that perhaps this is no longer sounding anything like a duplex communication. The usual pattern is that the telemarketer disconnects the call, thinking that perhaps the line is bad, and dials in again, only to find that indeed it has become a one way communication ! To make matters interesting, I sometimes substitute the silence with chuckles and snortles. This method works like a charm, mostly.

The other approach which also works is to listen in to the whole proposition from the other end and then to reply with questions like “can you please let me know what is the cricket score”, or “is it going to rain tomorrow ?” This method, while it works most of the time, sometimes is fraught with the real risk that the telemarketer actually provides me the cricket score too , while trying to sell me the policy which I vehemently refuse to buy. It does put me off guard, but thankfully , such instances are not that common.

So, coming back to the call from the Car Showroom, I was just about to slip into one of the two modes mentioned above, when it struck me that I never ever got a call from a Jaguar showroom, ever !Curiosity got the better of me and I answered, “ Yes, this is Chowdhury speaking”!

“Sir, Thank you ! Actually I had called up to fix an appointment for you to come and visit our showroom. We would like to show you the entire range of Jaguar and Land Rover Cars to you .Could you please let me know when you could come by so that I can arrange a salesman to explain our offerings to you ? “

By now, I had already slipped into the silent mode referred above, but this time not at my own insistence ! It took a while to realize that the lady was asking me again, very politely, when I could make the visit.

“Er, ahem, gee ! Right away… hell no ! Wait.. what ho , what ho ! Ten thousand Thundering Typhoons. I mean , you are actually asking me to come and visit your showroom “, I managed to blurt out, eventually .

“ Yes Sir, indeed I am “, the reply was ever so polite, the tone perfectly polished .

“But why ?”

“Well, of course, so that we can help you to decide on the car you wanted to buy . Our sales manager will explain everything right down to the smallest detail. We will help to make your choice very easy “.

I was gulping air like a fish out of water by now.”But why” , I repeat the question and then do a slight course correction.” I mean why me ? “ I manage with a final air of, well, almost despair !

“Why do you want me to come and see Jaguars in your showroom “ I emphasized the “me” in the question prominently now.

"Well , we understand that you want to buy a Jaguar, and we wanted to make the experience extremely smooth for you".

I had by then finished my feats of jumping twice from my seat and having  turned around three times around the chair, I managed to find some ounce of strength in my tone,and whimpered, “but no, I don’t. I mean of course I would love to buy a Jaguar. Absolutely positive about that . Not an iota of doubt there, mind you. But you see, I cannot afford  a Jaguar. So, I am sure there is a mistake- I am not the person you want to speak to. I said ,triumphantly, by now, having made my point.

I then continued ” You see, I am sure you have your database of rich Chowdhury’s wrong there. There is a mix up, I assure you.”

“Sir, I am positive that you are the correct person I am speaking to”. But by now, I could sense that the polite voice was slightly shaken. Why don't you still come around this weekend, just to have a look , in any case ?

With that, the phone was politely disconnected. I meanwhile continued to stare at my own set, for a long, long time !