16 July, 2014

The impact of Satya...a genesis

An interesting 4 video series explaining the genesis and impact of the iconic movie 'Satya'...Do watch
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Harrowing experience at Shell! Customers be damned! Logic be damned damned!

So this one is little odd. It’s been a while since it happened to me. I was nearly missing it and often went on to lament on how boring the whole buyer-seller thing has become. You know, how you pay money for a product or a service and then the goods are delivered on time and any mistakes resolved with just a gentle call or mail. What's the fun in that? Where is that excitement when you claim that the service is not up to the mark and then you keep arguing with the customer care folks and then they curtly tell you that its not their fault that they did not mention that "bricks cannot washed in the washing machine" in their instruction manual. Call it the Amazon effect but lately care center folks have been rather politer than usual in recent times. When I was nearly about to close my chapter of life on those delightful banters with call center agents , came this crowning jewel in the form of gas/fuel fill at Shell gas station on 3405 Coach Lane, Shingle Sprin, California. We (as in me, family and friends) were returning from Lake Tahoe when I noticed that I have about 25% of gas left in my tank. I could have very well reached home but devil's incarnate fatigue descended upon me and out of so many gas stations available around the area I chose to stop at the Shell station which seemed comparatively desolate. I parked my car at the station no. 10 and chose to fill premium gas and declined to get a car wash. I put on auto-fill for a full tank while I cleaned my windshield. We heard the gas auto-fill clip release and my wife put the hose back in its stand. I noticed that I have been charged $70. That was strange because that was about $20 higher than what I regularly paid. I went inside the Food mart on this station to see the gas station attendant and told him what the case was. Also on the receipt I saw that I was charged for 14.7 gallons worth of gas which had to be an error because a full gas tank of Honda CRV on auto-fill never crossed 13 gallons for me earlier even when I had minimal gas in my tank (and this time I knew I had around 25% gas already in it). Randy (that was the guy's name) told me that he doesn't know what to say and that nothing of this sort has ever happened before. I said that even by any chance my car did guzzle 14.7 gallons gas; the charge should not be so high. I pointed out an extra $8 on my receipt to which he says that its the tax for using premium gas. I asked him "What tax? I always fill premium gas" to which he replied "I don't know...nobody ever asked that question before". When I did not budge by his unconvincing answer, Randy obliged to re-look at the receipt and said that its for the car wash that I would have opted during the gas fill. I told him that I clearly remember declining it (I never get car washes at the gas stations) so why was I charged? Also I didn't plan to take one then couldn't he just return my money for the car wash? He said that he does not have permission to revoke any charges and I should come back on Monday when his manager is in store. I told him that I live around 30 miles away and couldn't possibly come on a work day to argue about a car wash....he mulled over sympathetically (poor chap, I kinda felt sorry for him) and  suggested "why don't you just take the car wash..it doesn't have to be just now..you can do it any time within a month". I asked him if I can do it at any shell gas station and he said "Nope. Just this one.”  I looked at him without saying a word (while thinking about the possibility of coming back to this gas station to get a car wash) and he blankly looked back at me when something flashed in his mind and he blinked and said "ya that sucks". Deciding to put Randy out of his misery I agreed to take the damn car wash right away. I came back to my car, turned on the ignition and noticed the fuel needle. It was still at bloody 25%. What the hell was I charged for? I just spent so much time arguing with Randy to find an altogether different problem. I went back inside to tell Randy what happened. He came out and verified that the gas was just 25% filled.  I asked Randy to refund my money straight away as something was definitely wrong with the pump. He said that he can’t do it and at this point he said that he will call his manager and hopes she picks up the call. He called his manager "Starla" who picked up the call and told Randy that nothing can be done until their general manager "Padma" looks into the issue. Randy put down the phone and told me that I would have to come back on Monday. I asked as to why I should come back again when he clearly saw that my car is not filled with any gas. Just revoke the transaction. I think at this point he got tired of me and said that they would send out a check/cheque of whatever amount was charged on my card. Randy saw that I was not convinced and he gave me Starla's cell phone no. and promised that she would call me on Monday. Pissed, I left the gas station as I knew there was no point arguing this guy anymore. I waited for Starla's call and never got it. I checked online and saw that the credit card charge authorization now appeared as "pending" (meaning it may be posted soon) on my credit card activities. Not wanting to dispute charges after it has already been posted I called Starla who told me that she could not call me as she was busy (That excuse is by the way my personal favorite as it can be applied in every conceivable situation except to the question "why don't you look busy? "). She told me that she is aware of the case and that her manager Padma is looking into it and that she would fix it by tomorrow. The next day she calls and said that they have called technicians to look into the machine and they will be researching the problem and once they have made their assessment they will take a call on how to proceed. I asked her what that has to do with my card being charged....irrespective what problem the technicians find why holding on to my money. At the end of the day, I did not get the gas I paid for. Isn't it? Just revoke the charge. Finding no answer she handed over the phone to somebody without telling me that she is doing so. After few seconds of silence came a different female voiced "Hello". 
I said "Hi there" trying to sound as jovial as possible. Which was slightly tough as I just had an argument with my wife and was taking a dump at the time Starla called. I was still sitting on the pot answering nature's bigger call when Starla called as well.
"My name is Padma and we are researching the problem with the station. OK?”  
Unsure and slightly intimidated on how to respond to the authoritative "OK" I decided to put my bravest foot forward. "I appreciate you doing that but can you ensure not charging my card while you do that?” 
Not willing to concede her curtness she decided to not see my logic “NO. Right now we are trying to find out what exactly happened". 
Now slightly annoyed, I retorted "I am telling you what exactly happened...I was charged for the gas that I did not fill in my car. I came in with a quarter tank full and after being charged for 14.7 gallons of gas, I still had a quarter tank full ". 
“Did you show Randy your gas tank before you pumped gas?”
“No. I showed Randy after I pumped gas”
“Then we don’t really know how much gas you pumped. Maybe you pumped 14.7 gallons of gas”
“That’s what I am trying to explain. I could not have done that as my gas tank after completing the fuelling process was still 25% full. My car can’t just take 14.7 gallons of fuel and still be just 25% full. That’s what I explained to Randy”
"Well Randy is no expert of such things..."
"of what things?"
"of checking "how much gas a car has" kinda things"
"I showed him my fuel needle"...
"Thats not the most accurate indicator...Did he look inside your gas tank?"
"who looks inside the gas tank?"
"well needle can be faulty"
"it was not when I drove in"
"It can break while filling the gas..."
Well played Padma...no winning that argument. Quickly overcoming her stunning onslaught I retorted  "what about 14.7 gallons of gas. My car take never takes that much on autofill"
"How do I know how much your car takes on Autofill...I am not calling the manufacturers"
...hmm my lady you are a worthy opponent... "but at this point we both know that there might or might not be a problem...so why charge my card for it"
"look we have to find out what exactly happened. OK?...we have to investigate and will look at the security camera footage as well. Maybe you did fill the gas in your car.OK?"
I wanted to make another logical argument that you would see me put the hose inside the fuel tank but it never pumped in any gas. From the footage how would you know whether any fuel flowed in the pipe or not but I had pretty much lost my appetite for logical reasoning. "Are you questioning my integrity?"
"We are questioning everything. OK?"
"...are you really questioning my integrity for $70?"
"Yes. Yes I am questioning your integrity of 70 bucks. OK?"
"What ok?...are you kidding me? You are in service industry and you have this huge gas station at your disposal and you are questioning my integrity for $70 bucks.?!?"
"YES!YES!YES I AM"...in my mind she morphed into goddess Kali incarnate (If your ethnicity is Indian then you would know what I mean.) with my severed head in her hand. My body trembled with fear and my internal plumbing became overtly active at her screaming.
"Well Padma...you know what..go ahead and charge my card and consider it as a gift from my side. Buy some nice jewelry with it."
I could hear her howling "OK OK..we will charge your caaaaaa....." when I hung up the phone.

Well there you go. Of all the things I could have been called, I never imagined being called a swindler by a gas station operator. This one will be good story for my friends and progeny...and a lesson to never go to a Shell gas station ever again!
I have been checking my credit card and so far it has not been charged. I think they could not do it because their payment system was faulty as well.The pending authorization I saw on my card dropped as well. The whole thing could have just been avoided by little bit of consideration from an overzealous "General Manager" and a more knowledgeable staff.
I have sent a mail to Shell customer care as well to let them know what goes at their locations. Will update here their response.

28 September, 2010

Something about genuineness

Watched Aik Alif-a rendition of Bulla shah being performed at coke studio by Saieen Zahoor and was completely blown off. There is something about genuineness that touches you and impacts you far more than mere words. In one of the other performances a show host asks whether he has to sit or stand to give his performance to which he humbly replies that however you wish me to to do I'll do that-ask me to sit-I'll do so, ask me to stand-and will do so, ask me to lie down-I'll do that too. The video posted here, in the middle of it he goes into the trance and starts turning around in circles, and you know immediately that its not doing it out of any false showmanship but because he really is in trance.That itself watching me gave me a lump in the throat.
A commendable effort by Rohail Hyatt for bringing together so many talents together and creating magic. Rohail Hyatt, once a pop star himself and an under-19 cricketer turned singer created what thousands of crores spent in diplomatic efforts and show masks could not do. Just going through the comments of this youtube channel named cokestudio will tell you that the armours are down by both Pakistani and Indian netizens and are unanimously together in cheering our common culture-a phenomenon not seen when it comes to cricket/politics/movies/etc. etc. videos from both sides.Hope that this does not stop here and this stepping stone becomes much more than earnest effort.

14 March, 2010

The following video is not for minors, weak hearted, pregnant women, insomniacs, people with high blood pressure, history with drugs and people who think Salman khan can act (well not sure about the last one... )
Warning: Rated M for Mature content, explicit language, sheer brutality, physics defying monstrosities and Sunny Deol

21 February, 2010

AIDS awareness short Tamil film Prarambha (with english subtitles) by Santosh Sivan starring Prabhu Deva


Thanks Youtube user "Vamsi Avala" for uploading this.

Farhan Akthar's Positive

Mirabai Productions' movie Positive directed by Farhan Akthar is just one of the many short films on HIV and AIDS.A gem...do watch.

05 January, 2010

Blood Brothers (2007)-Small film by Vishal Bhardwaj

I was trying to watch this movie for such a long time until I finally found it.This is an amazing movie which covers up guilt, regret, hope, cowardice, humor and info in just 18 mins. Do watch it for an amazing performance by Sidharth. It think its his only Hindi work apart from Rang De Basanti. Pavan Malhotra, Pankaj Kapoor and Ayesha Takia shine in the small parts they are given.
Complete Moviegraphy at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0893395/

Part 1:
Part 2: