(TL note: nareshov's diary)

Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

On Indian (Residential Internet) Service Providers

with one comment

One of the reasons a South Korean or a Japanese person would quote to you when asked “Why is it that in your country Internet speeds are quite high compared to the rest?” is “We’re quite densely populated and real estate is costly so homes tend to be much closer to each other which made it a good idea at that time to install fiber optic cables everywhere rather than CAT5” and they’re reaping the benefits of a well-networked country with high Internet speeds.

India is quite densely populated too – at least in the metros – and yet we’re stuck decades behind countries like Romania (which recently surpassed the USA as having a better average Internet speed). I wonder if this is a general trend in tropical countries. The lack of long-sightedness or long-term thoughts or decision-making. Maybe we’re all too comfortable around here (compared to Scandinavia or Siberia, for instance).

The concept of a “good service” is poorly understood in nations with high population densities. It’s a matter of numbers you see. Having been close to one of the largest online service providers (for canned commodities such as web or mail hosting), I’m all too familiar with the sort of attitude an Indian businessman possesses when he markets a service. You’re not important. You’re just another node in the huge graph. If I lose you as a customer, there’ll be another. I can go on losing a customer per day because I’m used to the fact that there’s always another customer (or two) who’ll take your place. So why are you special again?

This is applicable to practically everything around these parts in the mid-sector. What I mean by mid-sector is: the sector that addresses the mass. The middle-class.

A middle-class-style lunch house or restaurant would not have the sort of waiters who’d even recite the menu politely to you. You’ll have to put in extra efforts to get attention. You’re just another customer (of the numerous that go in and out each day).

Oh, and hygiene. Since you’re replaceable or not too important as an individual. I wouldn’t take extra care when it comes to hygiene or even fresh food ingredients (especially the non-vegetarian processed foods). Don’t expect that chicken salami sandwich to be fresh all the time, they will not get rid of it by themselves. And forget about expiry dates on them.

Same applies to roads. Nobody seems to have put in a long-term vision and taken the stand to take the initial losses in order to gain the long-term profits. There was an estimate someone had put out stating the astronomical losses India faces per year solely due to lack of decent roads. Day to day commutes to work and back home is quite taxing – both mentally and physically.

Oops. Let me get back to the Internet service provider issue now.

So, FTTH is still quite costly around here. Sure, there are cables laid around here and there. (And by nature, the first telecom entity that bids and gets fiber optics laid out is always the loss-maker. But someone’s gotta do it). I don’t know if the likes of BSNL are sitting on their butts waiting for people to finally give in to the insane prices or just underprice the damn thing (and take the initial – short term – losses) and reap the long term benefits of increased subscription-base.

Sure, this doesn’t always work: Volkswagon Polo, for instance, underpriced their 10L factory costing car to 6-7L but still haven’t gained the sort of traction the Hyundais or Swifts do. But it’s worth a try – especially in an increasingly net-savvy metropolitans.

Where I live, it seems only Airtel and BSNL are the only ISPs around. We did have BSNL earlier and not knowing that it had better speed plans, I took the plunge of getting rid of them and signing up for Airtel (whom I’ve had a good experience with while I was at Mumbai last year). The 4mbps connection is what I had and was quite happy with it until this August. When the rains began pouring in Bangalore.

The signal-to-noise ratio would deteriorate quite badly whenever it rained. The issue was quite obvious – anybody with half-a-brain would attribute this to poor sheathing of the copper cable – which isn’t in my home – out there anywhere between the CO and my home.

Half of August (beginning late July) had near to no connectivity and almost everyday I had to call up the Airtel customer service (a. annoying ringtone and b. poor internal communication). I resorted to trying to get in touch with their “social” faces: @Airtel_Presence and the airtelpresence email contact.

I got a call on two occasions from two different people (Airtel_Presence), the first time, I had to explain how this wasn’t an issues that requires modem reinstallations or any of the usual circus the technicians tend to do (especially around these parts, you know “Dell Support, how can I help you?”) and the second time, I had to report back saying “nope, hasn’t been fixed”.

I ran out of patience, signed up for BSNL somewhere in early August and placed a cancellation request with Airtel. Someone calls me up again (and again) asking me why I was going to cancel the connection and I regurgitate the same set of sentences and so did they “Sir, I assure you that this will be fixed”. Which rarely does.

It seems that they finally figured what the real issue was. Perhaps a lot of complains from around this locality might’ve hinted at the root cause. And soon enough, the connection started faring better since mid-August. But on one bad day in late August, the issue resurfaced. And I raised a cancellation request again. The next day things were back to normal so I got the cancellation request cancelled. Or so I thought. Until last Wednesday.

The Airtel Presence folks mailed me back:

Dear Customer,

Thank you for writing to Airtel.

This is with reference to your e-mail, where in; you requested regarding
the cancellation of services towards your Airtel landline connection

However; later you confirmed us that you would like to continue your
patronage with Airtel. Please be informed that we are glad to have you
with us and look forward to an opportunity of offering you the best of
our world class products and technology in the times to come.

It is our privilege to have you as our valued customer and would like to
thank you for your continued support. We look forward to a warm and
fruitful long-term association with you.

Should you wish to take a landline/DSL connection with Airtel in future,
kindly contact the undersigned at

XXXX Kachroo
Airtel Presence (Airtel Customer Service Team)
Bharti Airtel Ltd

I was somewhat impressed at this point. “Man, Indian service providers are finally taking things like Twitter and customer service seriously”. I guess I was happy too soon.

Last Wednesday, my line goes dead because someone de-activated my connection due to some miscommunication (or so they claim).

I reply back (5 days ago):

Looks like there’s been a miscommunication on your side. Airtel has
discontinued my connection without any intimation. As a person working
in the IT field and relying on being able to connect to corporate VPNs
at odd times, this is very a very unwelcome experience. Please
re-enable my connection ASAP.

and got no reply. I call up the customer service each night after work, hoping for a positive response and on day one, support executive A listens to the issue, but forgets to log a request (I have no request number with me). Day two, I re-explain the situation to another support executive B and get a request number who says that “the issue would be fixed” (standard phrase around these parts) by 23rd September and gives me another request number.  So I don’t call them on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

There goes another night of unproductive work. Honestly, why is it so
hard for an Indian company to take service seriously. Does it always
have to be the likes of an Amazon?

I call them up on Monday morning to see what the status with the previous request is. And support executive C has no information regarding this request number. So she takes a fresh request and gives me yet another request number and states that “the issue would be fixed” (what did I tell you?) by 5:30pm the same day. I sighed a breath a relief. “Finally I’d get my Internet back” and go out. I reach back home with great expectations by 8pm only to be disappointed again.

I call up the service line again, speak to support executive D, who puts me on hold but the call got cut.

I call up again, speak to support executive E, told him that the previous call got cut – “could you please check request number xyz which I got this morning.” Puts me on hold, call gets cut again.

I call up again, speak to support executive F, requested him not to cut the call and check my request number xyz – which he claims didn’t exist. He puts me on hold and the call got cut again.

I call up yet again, speak to support executive G, told him how three calls of mine were cut; so he escalates to his senior (or so he claimed) and I speak to person H who couldn’t find anything regarding request number xyz (so I was under a false hope all day… expecting “the issue to be fixed” by 5:30pm. I explain the whole situation again explaining how all of this has been a giant miscommunication and that I didn’t had to have my connection de-activated and requested him to contact a backend team person immediately and flip that switch which gets me my connection back (all the hardware apparatus is here BTW, even the “Link” LED is blinking just fine – barring the “Data” LED).

Support executive H has given me yet another request number and claims that “the issue would be fixed” by 22nd September. And that I should expect a call from the backend team soon.

I plan to call them up again and quote the latest request number I have to see if their CRM if fucked in head. Because it has eaten up two request numbers of mine already, it’d sure be a hat-trick if this one gets eaten to.

So that, gentlemen, is a primer on Service Providers in India.

Note-to-self: visit the nearest BSNL office if the third request number really does get eaten up tomorrow and find a data card for my sister who is being affected the most by this because she’s working on her final year project and relies on a lot of Javascript/NodeJS foo that’s not really selling in books yet – making online references mandatory for her.


UPDATE (2011-09-23):

Hello again,

Despite your phone calls and promises on Tuesday that the “issue would
be fixed” in two days, on calling up the customer service today I
found out that the comments were added in the wrong category and
tickets were closed leaving no traces of the grievance I’ve been
facing since last Wednesday – been more than a week now.

I have no words to describe this situation at the moment. I seriously
hope things will improve – at least in terms of available alternatives
to the horrible levels of service you seem to provide.

I am in no state to receive a call from you ever again only to tell me
“issue would be fixed” in yet-another-two days. Save it. Don’t call if
you can’t get this resolved ASAP.

Yet-another-new-request number issued: 4543080 (I hope this isn’t fake)


Nope. Hasn’t been fixed yet.

Written by Naresh

September 20, 2011 at 1:00 am

Updates as of 3rd June, ’10

leave a comment »

It’s been a really long time since I last blogged. My attempts at living a moderately disciplined and occupied life has been quite a success. That would mean a major change in lifestyle from my college days.

Recent updates include:

a. moving to a newer apartment near Powai lake in Mumbai.

Moved in with my former (first one at college) roomie – Koushik Mandal(!) and his department-mate (and my batch-mate from Hall3), Sidhant Dash. They’re cool folks (barring Mandal’s mandalism at times). Each of us were living with other non-IITK, non-Y4 batch folks earlier – this was the primary criterion that prompted the move for each of us.

b. managing to read fiction.

I read ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman’ – a collection of short stories and ‘Hard-boiled Wonderland and The End of The World’ (novel) by Haruki Murakami. He’s a Japanese author and I read the English translations of these. The last fiction I read before these was Agatha Christie’s “The Murder of Dr. Roger Ackroyd” four years ago! I’ve been a passive consumer all along – anime, movies, TV dramas, you know, the kind that don’t require the mental weightlifting as in the case of active media – books.

In a recent Wired article, two abilities were distinguished – “The ability to scan and browse is as important as the ability to read deeply and think attentively.” Being the kind of person who’d been chasing after Google search results until recently, I might’ve adopted the former as my dominant mode of thought and maybe reading “larger” material might improve the situation. Not that this is primary motivation to read- just that it’s a welcome throw-in that comes with it, I guess. Looking forward to another Murakami piece – ‘Kafka on the shore’.

c. weekly anime-sessions.

Vishnu, Karan and I meet up on weekends trying to catch up with anime. I haven’t been able to watch anime like I used to in the past year. But these weekly sessions are fun.

We’ve been watching ‘Aura Battler: Dunbine’, an 80’s show, it’s about 49 episodes long and I think we’ve reached 38 episodes through!

The past 3 weekends I’ve been introduced to the new ‘Dr. Who’ show and I’ve found it a really good British sci-fi show so far. I’m usually wary of insanely long shows – long as in several seasons over the years. For one, I fear getting really sucked into it and wanting to watch it all or read it all. The same reason that keeps one away from, say, ‘One Piece’. Maybe I should stop being such a “perfectionist”.

Written by Naresh

June 3, 2010 at 4:24 am

Posted in Anime, Books, Personal

Tagged with , , ,

On Americanisation of India

with 2 comments

I’ve hinted in my previous post about Shell. And it’s unlikely that you haven’t heard of the notoriety of Bangalore for being the outsource sink of the US. Everything you see in the past 10 years in India has increasing doses of Americanisation. The Bollywood movies, the English spelling in your TV ads, the vocabulary, the TV shows themselves.

Yes, TV shows. Did you know that there’s a popular Oprah-clone that’s been running in the regional televisions (Tamil and now Kannada) for a few years now? A famous actress is the host (her name is Lakshmi, she was hot in her hayday.) I can see that women and men don’t think or use their brains the same way and sometimes Evolutionary psychologists do manage to explain certain behaviour. But here’s this show which my mom and sis watch a lot, and I know that a lot of other women watch it too. Heck even the show itself has plenty of women in the audience who all seem to – in a creepy sense – enjoy the domestic battle that’s being gladiator’d out in the middle.

Meh. 😐

Written by Naresh

December 25, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Updates as of 3rd May, ’09

with 6 comments

Part 1

Plenty of things have happened ever since the humble beginnings of this semester that just ended with my last exam 4 days ago. Let me try summing up how things went this semester – which should’ve been my last semester here in my campus. I’m still unsure of the current state (OARS likes to keep secrets from me until a select date, what can I do?)

Right before this semester started, I remember partying* almost everyday. It was the winters I stayed back for to jumpstart on my second part of the BTP, but it turned out to lead me on a whole different path altogether. The semester starts and a few classes were attended. Soon, the “everyday partying” mode kicked back into our (the ones who were partying) lives. I’ll refrain from mentioning any detail regarding the others. This new way of life was, well, new to me. Partying everyday only to end up lethargic enough to not do anything else for almost a couple or more months during a semester – woah! How irresponsible and devoid of self-discipline I must’ve been. I was the kind of person who was largely amotivated and had no long term goals at that point. To keep up with my lethargic life and give time to partying, I cut myself off from other activities I kept myself busy with.

In the second half of the semester I had reached such a crazy state that I couldn’t sleep well without partying that night. It took me some self-realisation, re-orientation towards my purpose in being a student at this campus and most importantly, strong-minded individuals to help me get back on track. And boy was it a good one. It feels good to be reborn this way. Makes one think about the future once in a while rather than live completely for the present.

Evenings spent with a certain individual thinking back on how things went helped me reshape myself. The “everyday partying” mode that I had been in wasn’t completely a bad thing, it had its own share of pluses and minuses. The decision I made was to stick with moderation and to give up on certain things altogether. I’m just glad I’m making my own decisions. People aren’t the only things that can influence the state of mind. There are other things too.

I blame nobody at this point. It’s quite unfortunate if I’ll have to stay back in the campus for a while longer. But I’m glad I’m a different person today. On the other hand, maybe I wouldn’t have minded my “everyday partying” mode much had I been better off in life. You know? Like an owner of an island off the Pacific or something. Living my own life. But that’s not the case. I’m a student. I need to dedicate time to being one.

partying: wasn’t really celebrating anything, started off purely as a recreational activity and turned into a daily, dull-ish chore. Mind altering intoxicants were involved.

Part 2

This section is dedicated to observations I’ve been making on the people around me in this not-so-normal (temporary) human settlement. Let me list a few characteristics of the environment: The weather here ranges from one extreme to the other. Everyone gets a share of their favourite weather. Food – good for some, bad for some, unbearable for some. Totally skewed male-to-female ratio. Amotivated students. Motivated students. Good faculty. Old-school faculty. Comfort-oriented, make-lots-of-money-as-soon-as-possible kind of students. Whacky, I’m-the-next-avatar-of-Lord-Vishnu kind of students. I’m-perfectly-right-and-everyone-else-is-a-retard kind of students.

This list doesn’t end so easily. This place, as an environment to aspiring engineers, scientists and researchers, consists of a wide variety of inhabitants where plenty of them genuinely require help and constant evaluation at regular intervals to help to re-orient themselves to their true purpose in being here – as a minimum requirement. I mean, come on, this place is supposed to serve a few purposes, quite specific ones at that. Once a student is able to focus with that, if he’s got the time, he can go in directions that don’t affect his focus as much as he pleases. Actually, I’d have loved to refer to a document of sorts that lists what is expected of of a student in this campus. I’m unable to find it on the institute website and if such a document really exists, it’d be a good document to look into once in a while.

These are, at best, observations and suggestions. I don’t want to make judgments on any individual. I prefer humility and losing once in a while rather than having to go off my top and belittle a person because it didn’t fit my view of things or whatever it is that should’ve made me boil with anger or fill me with the need to “correct” a person so I can “satisfy” myself. Or maybe this is how some are accustomed to satisfying themselves. It’s pretty messy towards people who haven’t learnt to adopt a nonchalant nature when it’s called for. Washing dirty linen in the public? No thanks.

Part 3

The undergrad students in the newer batches seem to be a lot more focused compared to the ones in my batch. A friend of mine went “just as I thought” when I mentioned this to him with the anti-ragging initiatives in mind. He says (and I agree with him, empathise even) that the “ragging” sessions that take place during the first fifteen days of a fresher’s stay here is detrimental to their lives in various ways for the rest of their lives here and beyond. One of the ways in which it affects the not so careful fresher is his being accustomed to a mediochre student life. Missing classes, gaming, movies, tv series, intoxicants, and so on are some of the obvious side effects of these “interaction sessions”.

I belong to the Y4 batch and I’m in touch with students from the younger batches (Y5, Y6 and Y7). This semester (and the previous one) I happened to witness certain things that were quite different from how things used to be in the Y4 and Y5 batches. The anti-ragging initiatives were active from the Y6 batch onwards. Lucky chaps. You can see them attend a lot more (CS classes, I happen to be in the CS department so I’ll refrain from talking about the other departments – some departments are known to drive students in their final years crazy) classes, with plenty of scoring A’s and living a decent student life. Man! I wish I had been in their batch.

Things have begun to look a lot brighter now. The newer, younger faculty too are just as sincere and simply superb. It relieves me personally to think that these faculty won’t lose hope and continue to give their best in this symbiotic relationship that’s supposed to exist in this place. Had such faculty been initially exposed (and continued to be exposed for a few batches down the line) to batches such as ours who’ve been “ragged”, who knows, they might lose hope in students down the line and turn harder or rigid.

Note to self: Exercise your body (that includes your brain) regularly and stop being a prick.

Written by Naresh

May 3, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Updates as of 27th March, ’09

with 2 comments

Nothing much. Mundane. Lethargic. Hopeful. Bleak.

A few days ago, the Students’ Gymkhana in the campus came up with a somewhat “April Fool’s Prank”-like decision when they were serious about dropping Techkriti and Megabucks from the Gymkhana calendar and introducing a “techno-entrepreneurial” festival. Now, don’t ask me what “techno-entrepreneurial” is. At the moment, it sounds like certain people in the campus are catching the Capitalist world’s bugs or something. It’ll probably be a techfest like usual with some gambling in the name of “business”, perhaps. What is sad is that the name “Techkriti” shall no longer be in active use. The Gymkhana President has called for an Open-house meeting on this. I can only hope that those in power don’t kill off Techkriti so easily. Megabucks has been disappointing to some no matter what people claim and Techkriti was just hitting the popularity charts among the technical college croud in this part of the country. Sub-events like FOSSkriti have made a huge mark in the past two years and several corners of the planet recognise FOSSkriti as part of “Techkriti – IITK’s premiere techfest”. Afterall, Megabucks, too, started off as part of Techkriti back in ’98 (approx.) – if reducing the number of events per Gymkhana term is a concern, merging Megabucks back into Techkriti should surely cause less harm than blowing the daylights out of Techkriti itself?

Speaking about the number of events that are organised in the campus; IITK, primarily, is an institute of technology. Some bright young ones recently claimed that so is MIT- and yet, MIT doesn’t restrict itself to activites purely technical in nature. Sure, MIT is a huge place with a large faculty in various fields and all – and more importantly with geniunely interested students. Unlike the scenario in our campus – where research isn’t really a flagmark these days (mind you, we’ve got some excellent professors here and yet most theses or undergraduate final year projects aren’t as awesome as they are elsewhere), the activities in other larger institutes that seemingly betray their name have a good reason to be doing so – there are *people* who’re not, say, selfishly looking for personal gains alone. The local newsgroup has been pretty active at discussing these outright Talibanistic decisions that were made in the present Gymkahana’s first meet. I hope this doesn’t cause too much of a damage in the long run. Slow Talibanisation has been happening right here in the campus for a while and very few seem to notice it. Also, I seriously suggest we drop NNTP altogether and switch to reddit’s code – unless there’s a sizeable population still stuck with console-based nntp-clients.

Galaxy – a controversial event in its own right has been resurrected. Well, it’s good and all. But hey, the end-semester exams are right around the corner. But last night’s “Naruto Fan Quiz” was a welcome addition to the set of mundane events that happen in any cultural fest up here – dancing to crappy tunes, lame drama, etc. About half of L1 was filled up last night. It was a good surprise. But the anime community as such exists in fragments. Could be a good thing if the junior batches put aside differences and for a single community. Oh, but wait, I think they’re mostly fragmented because there hasn’t been enough interaction across batches in the past couple of years (thanks to anti-ragging policies which hasn’t really helped those who actually require it). Meh, whatever.

Apparently, Galaxy was resurrected in the hope that Hall days of respective halls would be put an end to. I mean, honestly, they were all a waste. Cheap, half-assed entertainment, the same old standard party food (various kinds of Indian bread, some panneer, you know, the exact same old food which people never seem to get bored of), obligatory invitations, general noise pollution, and so on. One Galaxy for a few days, in several venues throughout the academic and Outreach area, fought between teams made up of members from a bunch of halls, may not be such a bad idea.

I happened to notice a particular feature of Google Chrome (yes, I haven’t looked up the list of features of Chrome yet, and I believe that good interaction design is when one doesn’t need to go through a list or read up plenty on – at least on a browser, duh). So, here it is. You may have visited several websites that have a general search box in them. The next time you want to search something in such a box, don’t visit the site as yet. Type the URL, for example: “” and notice what appears on the right-end of the address bar.

Google Chrome search

Google Chrome: enter search keywords and hit enter

Google Chrome: enter search keywords and hit enter

Now, press TAB as it says, and enter your search keywords. Hit ENTER. Voila. Beat that fat-fugly-browsers.

Updates as of 31st October, ’08

leave a comment »

Been a while since I last blogged and several things have happened meanwhile including intervals of idleness.

First, getting back on track with my final year project. I was given a last chance and I took it. Although, after having started watching Kaiji I feel like I should get really serious about it. It’s mostly system integration work and addition of a layer of easy configurability. Java work and it’s pretty interesting stuff going by the underlying technologies that are involved and why it sets itself apart from the smaller ones as an Enterprise-level software. /me points to Alfresco.

For two weeks, I’ve been suffering from an upset tummy. It’s a sad thing. Due to which, I couldn’t even attend the events at this year’s Cultural Festival (don’t ask my why “.org”, I don’t know) in my campus. Synchronicity, my favourite event in Antaragni, is a rock fest. Of course, there’s metal too \m/. This time around, around 25 bands showed up for round one preliminaries and 8 (or 9) managed to go upto round two. The finale had the best 5 from round two perform first followed by the main show by Irish band Glyder. And, yes, my stomach stopped me from staying back for Glyder and I don’t really feel like I missed it. It’s not the genre I’m into. But those two days of preliminaries and the pre-Glyder performance was something I was very satisfied with.

Antaragni is over, and so is Deepawali, the festival of lights. I had a good time that eve in my Advisor’s house. Fireworks with kids, prepared our own food, discussed some Philosophy – that was a nice family evening. Too bad I caught a cold while returning to my hostel.

Written by Naresh

October 31, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Summer 08′ Anime Season Ends

with 6 comments

Zero no Tsukaima season 3 ended a week ago. The ending looked like they were in a haste. One more episode for World Destruction and it was just getting interesting.

Soul Eater is progressing well, but currently, the fansub group that has been releasing on time for the past two weeks don’t seem to like doing the h264 encodes. Naruto Shippuuden, although out of fillers, still wastes a lot of time with people jumping around on trees.

Code Geass R2 ended today. And what an end it was. Highly recommended shows (season 1 and 2) if you don’t mind unpredictability (in other words, good suspense) and a great, thought-provoking storyline.

Incidentally, it’s midsem exams time now. I’m supposed to be busy so I’ll sign off at this point.

UPDATE: Code Geass R2’s ending isn’t as simple as it might seem. Going with the unpredictability of Code Geass and that it’s a Sunrise/Gonzo production. There’s probably more to it:

Written by Naresh

September 28, 2008 at 8:47 pm