Thursday, August 11, 2005

Agony and XXXtasy

The day I started using a cell phone, I was convinced that after wheel, it is the greatest invention in the history of the civilisation. And now after three years of using it, I am convinced that it is one of those ‘necessary evils’ created to teach humanity lessons in patience and endurance. “Sir, do you want a personal loan? We are offering the lowest rate of interest,” says a girl over the phone when I am literally playing hide and seek with my client over an important project. Interestingly, you get the same call from the same bank at least once every week. Perhaps, the trick is to pester the person to the extent that he is forced to take a loan.
And sometimes, the danger comes in the form of congratulatory’ calls - “Sir, you are one of our lucky bakras (read customers) to have won a free credit card.” And if you answer that you don’t have a credit card but you are not interested, then you’ve had it. As this is when the convincing rounds start and it could even beat the most desperate of lovers. “It’s absolutely free sir. If you don’t like it you can cancel it.” So the most apt response to cut the answer short, which I have stumbled upon after years of agony, is “I already have a credit card from your bank.” or “I have already taken a personal loan.”
And if that is not enough, once in a while you get calls from somebody asking you, “Hello Azeez Bhai hai Kya…” Even if you convince them that it is a wrong number, they still ask you to tell your number. And because cell service providers allot the de-activated numbers to new customers, Azeez Bhai will keep receiving calls much to my agony. If you get irritated and actually tell the caller about the number games being played by the service providers, you’ll come across a typical Hyderabadi answer, “Aisa.”
Now, let’s move over to SMS. On an average day if I receive five SMSs from my friends, my service provider sends me double that number. These are about ringtones, new rental plans, mythical discounts or something like participating in KBC. The latter was, of course, a plan customised to make the service provider a crorepati. An average call to participate in the quiz can lighten your account balance by Rs 60. Here’s is the trick. The first two rounds of questions will be sitters to give you false confidence. And the third round will be so tough that you will lose the chance. The trick in prolonging the call is also equally simple. If you so much as whisper during the question, the voice will simply stop and repeat the question.
Now, should we elaborate upon the agony of MMS? Ask Riya Sen, Preity Zinta, Mallika Sherawat or Sania Mirza. But in all these cases there are scores of people who thank their mobile phones for having MMS. That’s the XXXstasy bit of it.

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