Monday, March 24, 2008

Reliance Fresh doesn't believe in Customer Care.

3 bananas, 2 oranges, 1 mango and 1 bunch of grapes. No, I am not going to give a maths question where given the price of each of them, you have to tell my total expense. The sophesticated machines at Reliance Fresh outlets can do that easily and much more!

That is how my fruits and vegetables shopping list generally reads.

Reliance Fresh was blessing in disguise of a store when it opened. The quality of fruits and vegetables was amazing! So fresh, so photo-like! I was happily surprised. It made shopping for groceries and fruits and vegetables not only convenient but also a fun activity.

But it didn't last that long. The store started filling up with general items and fruits and vegetables started taking the backseat. Mostly I buy tomatoes and they were no longer fresh or photo-like but rotten or raw! Carrots were in pathetic shape as well. But I didn't complain, though muttered silently.

Things had deteriorated. You didn't get the freebees if you didn't demand!

Lately they started a scheme where you get sprouts or cut vegetables at 50% off (so that they rot in your kitchen not at their store!). One day I found stuff that was past its Best-Before date. I complained and it was removed from the shelf, but that was not the last time it happened. After that also I found sprouts and vegetables past their usable date.

But the worse was yet to come. My friend found fungus on cut sugarcane which was not even past the Best Before date. He went to return that and complained to the customer care person.The stuff was returned but he was bluntly told that if had problems better he should not purchase from the store. His threats of complaining were blunted with 'do whatever you want to'.

But he could not complain. Because there is no where you can lodge a complaint.

Can you believe Reliance Fresh doesn't have a website of it's own? Or for that matter Ranger Farms? or Reliance Retail? They don't have a customer care email id where you can send in your feedback. You search on internet and you get just a marketing page about Reliance Retail or some unofficial pages about Reliance Fresh.

This is unacceptable and unbelievable that there is almost no emphasis on customer care. I hope Bharti-Walmart and Aditya Birla Group's more will change this scenario and if Reliance does not care for us then may be we too should care a damn for them.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trip to BhimaShankar and Tryambak.

(Read it on Visiting the Holy and High Abode of Shiva!)

How I wish that title could be 'A Trek in BhimaShankar and Tryambak'! But illplanning cost us heavily and what I had hoped for a challenging trek trip turned out to be just a little more than travel trip. But nevertheless this was a memorable trip simply because I got opportunity to two of the holiest places in India. Can't feel luckier than that!

Hyderabad-Pune was uneventful, if you discount Narayan's tryst with APSRTC, and we reached Sivaji Nagar in Pune at the promised time. (You will have to give this to APSRTC, they are the most punctual luxury bus operators I have travelled with.) After a brief stopever in a 'lodge',that made us wonder if it was a 'Decent Hotel' (remember 'Jab We Met'?), we took a bus to BhimaShankar from Sivaji Nagar bus stand. This was a big mistake.

If you are planning to trek in BhimaShankar, do NOT take direct bus from Sivaji Nagar to BhimaShankar. It will take you all the way to top of the hills and leave you at almost doorstep of temple! Take the train from Sivaji Nagar railway station to Karjaat. That is where the trekking actually starts.

BhimaShankar is 125 km from Pune and the bus takes 4 hours. Yes 4 hours! The road is extremely bad in most part and the rattle of MRTC bus gave me a headache! You can also get cab to BhimaShankar if you want, though expense will be on a higher side.

BhimaShankar is one of the 12 Jyotirlings and hence I was surprised (or shocked!) by absolute lack of security in the temple. The metal detector was off, the security guys were selling laddoos and I was allowed to go in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple with my bag which was not even touched for checking. However once I was in all my scepticism vanished and I felt blessed that Lord facilitated me to have His darshan! I just thanked God for his great mercy and came out.

And though MTDC has no presence what so ever, the nature gives you an eyeful! View of Sahyadri Hills and the valley is spectacular. The heights are dangerous and enticing simultaneously. The rocks are covered with thick green and you can feel the expanse even in the air. It's a tremendous feeling being there.

You must spend atleast a couple of days here to be able to trek and explore the entire area properly. I was very disappointed that I could not roam around the place at all and tried to lessen that disappointment by taking some photographs!

Next destination was Nasik, where we had to spend the night before moving to Tryambak. After a hopping bus journey (BhimaShankar-Manchar-NarayanGaon-Nasik) described as 'hitch-hiking' by MSR and which saw great enthusiasm from Narayan we reached Nasik. The hotel seemed to be in an old building and musty smell of our room reminded Narayan of his 'ancestral home'!

Tryambak is just 30 km from Nasik and again we had made a mistake in choosing our destination. Instead of staying at Nasik we could have to Tryambak directly since there are lot many hotels and lodges there. If you are planning for trekking in Tryamabak, make sure you start really early. And it's best to stay here only for the night.

MSR and Uday had their sins washed in the 'Paap Nashini Teertham' before we went to temple. (Narayan and I washed the sins of our feet only!) You can't carry even mobile and cameras inside the temple complex and have to keep them in 'lockers' provided by local shopkeepers. There is a very interesting tradition here. Before you enter the main temple which houses the Lord, you pass through a small temple which houses 'Nandi' the faithful bull on which he rides. People whisper their wishes in the ear of Nandi and it is assumed that he will convey them to Lord himself. You see this 'sifarish' culture is embedded deep in our roots ;)

In the main temple, again I thanked Lord for his mercy on me and seeked blessings. However unlike BhimaShankar there was no time to think anything since the security whisks people away almost the instant they appear before sanctum sanctorum!

It was 11 and we still had atlest 4 hours before we needed to start for Shirdi to reach there in time for bus back to Hyderabad. I was hell bent on trekking to BrahmaGiri and though there were faint murmurs of 'not being sufficient time' and 'not being appropriate time' we started the journey. There were various versions of truth: how much time you need for entire journey? The answers ranged from 4 to 2 hours and I set the corresponding targets for our group from 3 to 1.5 hours! (And we did it in 3 hours!)

The trek to Brahmagiri is not too difficult. There are stone steps which can be a little difficult at times and at some places they are pretty steep but hot sun can be your only challenge if you start late. The view along the journey is exhillirating. The feeling of reaching and then going on top of the rock formations which look intimidating from a distance is simply wonderful. We had darshan in BrahmaGiri and ShivJata temples both on the same range about 100 meters apart.

Uday found a special liking for the Nimbu Pani being sold all along the path and he found ready partners in MSR and Narayan and these three brought a lot of cheer to some people that day!

Back to Tryambak town, we took a taxi to Shirdi which got us there in about two hours. Little more liquid diet for the trio (and mercifully some solids as well!) and we were in the APSRTC Garuda ready to start back to Hyderabad!

The photos of the trip:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Fraternity. Chak De!

If you have seen last year's blockbuster 'Chak De! India' you would remember the match between Indian men's team and coach Kabir Khan's women's team.  The match was ok, but it is what happens after the match that made me writes this blog.

Fraternity. The one word that comes to my mind whenever I see the men's team acknowledging their opponents' performance. The heartwarming ovation from men's team for the girls is truly wonderful and the one that reinforces the spirit of sportsmanship (or 'sportspersonship' ?) since it puts the game above gender differences which is so much inculcated in Indian psyche. How often do you see such sporty moments on celluloid!

I sincerely hope we could emulate this in real life as well.

Shimit Amin and Jaideep Sahni. Thank you so much!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Why Microsoft can't learn from Mozilla?

"It is strongly recommended that you choose "Restart now" to allow setup to finish. Some programs may not function correctly until your system is restarted."

This is the message you get when you press "Restart Later" button after "installation" of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1. And mind you this restart is system restart not IE restart! Damn it. You download a 14.4 MB exe which will again download God (and MS) knows what for five minutes and then it will check my system for "malicious software" for what seems like an eternity and then install the software. My system is slow (Eclipse is running!) but half an hour for an installation? No way!

Compare it with Firefox which will prompt you for an upgrade, a one click process will upgrade the browser and restart it with your session intact. Not even 5 minutes. And Microsoft can't even give a link to the the IE home page in the IE tool bar, forget update messages and quick updates!

What's more, on the IE home page I clicked to see the demos of new features in IE 8 B1 and guess what instead of a Flash or Silverlight video, you get a .wma file which will be downloaded on your system! Are we living in the Jurassic age still?

And guess what, I was wondering why doesn't Microsoft release this browser for Non-Windows operating systems. I don't know the answer but now I wish they never do that!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Congratulations India!

OK, I never generally write about Cricket but this moment I really wish I was not writing this but watching the live telecast of the presentation ceremony. Reading live commentary on makes it look even more enticing. Actually I could hear all the shouts and claps coming from cafeteria, when I was in a meeting with my manager and wished I could run away. But then, if wishes were horses!

With Australia's defeat it proved to be last ODI of the great Adam Gilchrist and believe me he was the only one guy in current Aussie team I loved. One of the greatest wicketkeepers of all times, he definitely would have wanted to retire on a more pleasant note. But then watching Sachin Tendulkar bat like Sachin Tendulkar from close quarters could have been rewarding experience in itself!

I am happy that this tour ended finally after all the controversies which have hogged more limelight than the game itself at times. Harbhajan calling Symonds names ("Monkey" or "Teri Maan Ki", whatever you want to believe. Guess what CNN-IBN had made a joke about Harbhajan using the latter first on "The Week That Wasn't"), Symonds accusing him of racism, BCCI flexing muscles and cornering Cricket Australia and ICC to aquit him of all charges then Haydon again calling him an "obnoxious weed" and inviting Ishant in the boxing ring. Not to forget the great Bucknor-Benson umpiring issue which cost us a match and cost them a few more! Both Indian and Australian media fought pitched battles about their respective (not respected in the other's country!) Hmmpphh that was quite tiring!

And now Indian media would cry itself hoarse praising the team and telling us how experience and youth have done wonders for this team.