The Technoramus Chronicles – An Invitation to Torture

This is not a sad story unless you are me or one of the hapless nokia customer service executives that falls into my clutches.
I decided to enter the smart phone market on the 10th of June. This landmark day was also the choice of the Slavonia in 1909 when it ran into trouble off Azores and used the SOS was for the first time as an emergency signal. Fitting therefore that I chose this day to acquire an instrument with which to solve every emergency of entertainment.
SOS: What’s the latest on #iranelection.
SOS: I don’t know what’s for dinner. Why don’t YOU ask the cook.
SOS: Where in heaven’s name is JD Somani Road ? You mean its not the same as BD Somani  road?! 
SOS: Need to let the world know the monsoon has still not arrived in bombay.
You get the picture. (In case you didn’t photo of phone below)

The Instrument of Torture...

The Instrument of Torture...

I spent the 10th feeling rather chuffed at having purchased such a smart phone and the 11th and 12th feeling extremely dumb in comparison to it. Can’t set up email. The apps for twitter and chat don’t work like they are supposed to. Latitude hangs and while I can’t find current location on GPS, my colleague picks up phone and figures it out in 30 seconds.


Idiot me.
 By the 14th though, I was feeling happier, working my way through the menus and looking up to display my coolest new discovery to whichever unfortunate happened by. The evening of the 14th saw the family party. Full of the best kind of victims – technologically backward aunts and uncles who would be impressed even by my abilities on phone and young male cousins who would be impressed by my phone if not by me. All went well until I decided to impress folks with the camera. There is a perfectly good camera at home, but my NEW COOL phone, can take better photographs, can ‘t it?!

It can’t.

In fact, the screen blanks out after exactly a couple of shots of just half the khaandaan. I wonder what would have happened if it had been a full family gathering.
There I was, egg (or dahi, if you are a real purist vegetarian type) on face, and folks had already started on horror stories of what would happen when I tried to get it repaired, instead of consoling me.
The First Instinct
My first instinct was to call The Mobile Store – where I bought the phone. Answer to my ‘Will you give me a proper phone’ question
“Please take the phone to a Nokia service center. We will give you a replacement phone if Nokia gives us a ‘DOA’ …
I interrupt, “DOA?”
“Dead on Arrival, madam. “
I look in horror at my shining, beautiful new phone and imagine it in death throes, leaking engine grease or whatever passes for blood in its species.
“Dead? But only my camera does not work”
“Yes madam. Which is why we will not give you a proper phone or your money back. Go speak to Nokia”
Lessons in the Language
While working my way through  the nokia website I discovered that the guys at Shivaji Park were the only ones who picked up the phone. I was completely relieved to actually hear human voice say Nokia Care instead of automated MTNL voice claiming ‘Aaple dial kiyela number vyasta aahe. Krupa karoon nantar dial etc. etc.’ or the fake cheerful Vodafone voice saying “You seem to have dialed a wrong number”
Me.  ‘Til what time are you open?”
Lady: 10 madam.
Me: Really? I need to give my phone for repair. Where exactly is your shop.
Lady: On LJ Road near shiv sena bhavan. Aap na, petrol pump se left leke seedha aao. Dukaan vahin pe hai”
Armed with these directions (and not to mention the still functioning GPS on my phone) I catch a taxi to Shivaji Park. Arrive at 7:10. Heart lighter at thought of restoring phone to full health as I catch sight of a blue and white Nokia board with lots of shiny phones by the window. No. that is a retail store. Two doors down, a rather smaller, less shiny, Nokia Care board is visible. I walk towards it only to find a grimy shutter drawn all the way down and all is locked and barred. Maybe they shifted to the new shiny place. Go back, and ask man: Nokia Care?
Haan madam. Band hai.
Lekin mujhe das baje…
Haan madam. Das Baje KHULTA hai. Saat baje band. Aap thoda late aaye.
Note to self. Do not speak ever for such info in English. The ‘till’ at beginning of sentence was clearly not heard or understood.
Lessons in Patience:
All that followed has been, and still is, an exercise in patience.. Care center located nearer home. Arrive punctually at 10:00 only to find that the center is not open.
At 10:20 I call the Nokia call center. ‘Your center is not open’
‘Sorry madam. Which center?’
‘Your center in saki naka.’
Nokia wait music… 5 minutes later… still on Nokia wait music.
Finally human voice. ‘Madam. He is in traffic jam just a few minutes away. You know saki naka”
In disbelief. “I just came here via saki naka to get here at 10. There is no traffic jam”
Oh. “On hold again”
“Madam, here is cell phone number of sanjay. You can call him and confirm”
Call cell phone. No answer.
5 minutes later
Call cell phone: ‘Madam just parking and coming’
Finally at about 10:45 I’m sitting down in front of babe to tell her my raam kahani.
‘Madam you leave phone. And pick it up at end of day’ .
‘I don’t have another instrument. So why don’t you do it now and I’ll wait’
An hour later I’ve
a)      surveyed the entire shop. Thought that Nokia’s standards of props required in a care center just do not suit the kind of retail space available in Bombay. In trying to fit all the POP’s, chairs for visitors, tables, fundu machines to spit out appointment receipts and tokens and loudspeakers there is no space left over for the customers for whom all this is meant!
b)      Filled in feedback form. As with every pre-folded thing the folds defeat me and I’ve stuffed the badly folded form into their feedback box.
c)       Gone shopping and bought myself a couple of shirts. And felt fat because none of the skirts fit like they are supposed to.
d)      Sat and stared at all my fellow sufferers including the chap that made me feel like an excessively polite model customer. Atleast I don’t say ‘ladki. Apne sir ko bulao. Kab se mujhe chutiya bana rahi hai’
The original late latif strolls back, gives me a horrible replacement phone (that he says is new… probably because the model is so bad no one bought it!) and says, he will let me know the verdict end of day.
End of day. No call. So I call back.
“sorry. This software problem cannot be solved here the phone will have to go back to the center in gurgaon. That repair will take 10 -12 days madam. I will call and tell you.”
Further call to nokia asking if they will just give me another phone or my money back.
Answer from very polite call center lady whom I admire for her equanimity in the face of my outrage. : No. Sorry madam. But no.
So I possess myself in patience and smilingly tell anyone who asks me where the cool new phone is, that it has gone to the Nokia hospital.
June 23, 2009 – Calling Up
I can no longer wait to find out what is going on. I call the Saki Naka place and following conversation ensues.
Me: I had given my phone for repair on16th. Can you tell me the status.
Voice: Job sheet number.
(I read it out … silence… )
Madam ek minute.
More conversation.
Madam physical check karna padega.
Me: Mobile phone shaayad dilli gaya hai. Aapke sanjay sir ne bola ki wahin bhejna padega.
Voice: madam aapka e75 hai? Yahin hai. Hamara engineer pehle dekhega …
By this point my blood begins to boil. I thought I was six days closer to having the phone back and now they tell me it has been lying anaath at their center and no one cares?!
Lose it.  Editing the irrational parts of conversation… here is what I am told.
Sanjay Sir has gone on emergency to gaon. The engineer will look at phone. And the voice will call me personally by end of day to tell me what is going on. But can make no commitments on date.
June 23, 2009 – Getting hung up on
Blood still boiling, I call the Nokia Call Center to vent on the treatment meted out to me only to have the following happen (again irrational parts of conversation edited out)
Me: Can I meet someone at Nokia so I can throw the phone in their face and get my money back?
Agent: No.
Me: lets see what else we can do. Then repeat of sad story so far…
Agent (somewhere through sad story): You need a target date from service center.
Me: The jobsheet has 16th wriiten and they have not given me a new one.
Agent: Then you need to go to the center and speak to the technician.
Me: I just spoke to them. They have not given me a target date.
Agent: That is what I am telling you, you need to go back to the center and speak to technician.
Me: I just did. (this back and forth happens for a bit until…
Can I meet someone at Nokia So I can throw phone in their face and get my money back?
Agent: No.
Me: Okay. Can you atleast accept a complaint about your call center…
Agent has hung up on me and fake cheerful Oz accented woman asking me if I want to give a customer satisfaction survey.
Further calls to prise a target date out of the nokia care center which saw the miraculous recovery of the sanjay who had gone to gaon on emergency amongst other things followed. The net result… I still have no phone and am currently entertaining myself with fantasies of ‘me American – you Iraqi prisoner’ involving me (as american) and the product manager of the Nokia E75 as Iraqi prisoner.


The Technoramus Chronicle – 1

When I told Policewoman that I was going to buy a cell phone, she said, ‘AGAIN?! You must buy the most that I know because you keep losing them or doing something to them”

“No way. This is like my third phone and I have only ever lost one”, I defended myself. Policewoman being who she is, made me count. The final tally was more than 3, but I still think I’m too much of a technoramus to be counted a cell phone junkie.

6 years ago… The Alcatel: The first cell phone I ever bought was this Alcatel… My favourite moment with this one, someone asking me “So, did you pick it up in Europe?” To a then extremely untraveled, 22-year-old me, this was pleasing at 2 levels… the tiny swish corner was rather thrilled the someone (on whom I had a bit of a crush) would think I was ‘picking up things’ in Europe and the rest of me fell off chair laughing at the thought of ‘me’ doing such a thing. 

All this phone did was voice calls and SMS, but it was my first phone, had lovely round edges, was not the ugly Nokia 3310 or 3315 that every one else had and had these replacable panels that could make my phone red or blue or whatever other color. 🙂

The First Phone!

The First Phone!



Testing to see if posting possible from the new cool phone.

Good Morning!

I walked into the room at the wrong time but I couldn’t leave without picking up what I needed.

There was no pause in the harangue. On one side, all the office boys and security gaurds and on the other, the VP of HR, the office admin and the receptionist.

Admin says: “Aap ko jhukna hee padega. Hum bhi jhukte hain na. Saab ko bhi good morning nahin bolte ho. Unka kaam nahin karte ho. Thoda naram hona seekho.”.

Followed by the HR “Agar kisiko ko yahaan kaam nahin karna hai to bolo…”

Goosebumps from the embarassment. I’d just been wished a cheerful ‘Good Morning’ on my way in. I didn’t have what I needed but scuttled out anyway. Don’t have the stomach for such ugliness.

Now I’m thinking was I really being wished a ‘Good’ Morning? Would I rather not hear the ‘I’m having a horrible day because … answer’ to my ‘Hello. Kaise hain aap’

To put the honesty thing in perspective there was MTNL in the morning. They practice it. The call center agent feels perfectly free to be rude, say ‘madam. hum sirf general manager ka call handle karte hain’ and hang up on you.



The cutting edge can cut through.

Vernor Vinge published this  about the dawn of a post human world in ’93. Lots of stuff about the internet and Usenets and the group mind. He did this followup in 2003.  This is his homepage, last updated in 2004 / 2005. You would think, given the nature of his interests, he would have done a better job of putting his ideas out on the net. Where is the blog, the twitter, the facebook? Sigh.

But the article did make me think.

In ’93, I was 14, worrying over my inability to solve quadratic equations. The first thing I would have done, if I had access to this super intelligent system – uploaded a little module on quadratic equations a la matrix, into my head. I would certainly not have any traumatic experiences of failing unit tests (Yes. Failing a 15 mark unit test caused enough trauma that I worked butt out for the next 5 years to make sure I never went through the pain again)

Every life decision would have been presented to the ‘network’ in pretty much the same way as some ancestors (and some contemporaries 😀 ) present questions to astrologer du jour. I’d get one of two things

a) An ideal decision and my little mind would be free to… to what? What would I think ? How would the mind stay occupied if it didn’t sort through the mistakes of my past and contemplate all the possible disasters of the future? Wither surprise and where joy , if I knew outcome going in. While I crave certainty, I’m sure this is not a craving that should be fully satisfied.

b) All the information necessary for the ideal decision and my little mind would ‘process’ it. The sucess of this method though depends on the ‘little’ mind. The unideal decision happens not because one didn’t know the facts, but because one didn’t know oneself. Consider a question like ‘should I be a journalist’. The deciding element of information came from experience And I can’t think of any other way to gather it other than going through it all.

Or maybe there is.

You know what they say about knowledge expanding the mind.  What if this really did? What if information included a simulation rich enough to make you feel the reality? 

If the length of the simulation was the length of human time, it would be no different than living life. If it didn’t… if you just lived the life, felt the mistake/ non-mistake and came back in time to live your choice, why would you? You’ve still already lived it in the simulation and your mind has not forgotten. Unless the simulation wipes the memory out for you and leaves you at the point of having made the choice.  Or…

Sigh. Clearly the mind is too little for this thinking.


Every time I saw one of the new Vodafone ads, I’d get this sinking feeling. The Zoozoo (as I discover they are called) depressed me no end. Driving to work this morning, I realised why… they reminded me of how persecuted Jews in Art Spiegelman’s Maus were drawn.



Source: Zoozoo's Facebook Photo's

Source: Zoozoo's Facebook Photo's

Ungli Uthao

Some of us folks aren’t quite able to fly back for the day to exercise franchise. So we spend it watching the news where we see the special care with which polling officers in mumbai apply indelible ink to middle finger and even more special care with which some voters display the mark of their having performed patriotic duty.


SRK Votes

Shahrukh Khan: Vote in Aadaab mode

See, hiding behind the facial fuzz would work if I didn't also have to comb hair forward to hide the aloepaecia.

Ranbir Kapoor: See, hiding behind the facial fuzz would work if I didn't also have to comb hair forward to hide the aloepaecia. Oh - and don't miss how the color of my shirt matches my face.

.Look at the ring. I also went to the astrologer.

Sonam Kapoor: Look at the ring. I also went to the astrologer.


Manyata Dutt: Constipated?

and my all time favourites…
We are so old we don't have to be politically correct

Kiron & Anupam Kher: We are so old we don't have to be politically correct

The Family Finger

Bachchans: The Family Finger