Thursday, February 22, 2007

Customer Service...

Symantec's AntiVirus customer service stinks. I recently bought Antivirus 2007 software from their website and tried to download it. It kept popping up a new window with a technical exception about database connectivity. Users should really not be seeing such raw exceptions. A good programmer would've handled it and popped up something meaningful on the UI. Sigh. I thought that perhaps this was temporary and tried after a couple of days. Same result.

Now, if you want to talk to a customer service representative about your inability to download their software from their website due to technical faults of their database admins/programmers, you have to pay them $39.99 per phone call. Note the fact that I am not trying to call them because I don't know how to install their software or use it. But even if its their problem, hey, its $39.99 per phone call.

So I turned to their Live Chat option. I interrupted my dinner for 20 minutes to talk to a rep. As fate would have it, I got someone from India.

Rep: Hello, Ma'am

Me: Hi, I've got a problem with downloading Antivirus.

Rep: [cleanly ignoring my response] My name is xxxxx and I am here to help you today. What can I do for you today?

Me: I have an issue with downloading Antivirus software. It pops up a window with the following exception. [Pasted exception]. Can you help me?

[Silence for 5 minutes]

Rep: So you're saying you have some issue with Antivirus?

Me: Correct.

Rep: So, what's the problem?

Me: [$%##%%#%..Blue blistering barnacles, I just told you, you numskull] I purchased Antivirus software from your site. I have trouble downloading it. I get an exception as follows...

[Silence again]

Rep: Did you buy the software?

Me: Of course! [Why do you think I am chatting with you?For your cerebral charm? I paid 40 bucks for that software!]

Rep: Can you give me your order number?

Me: Yes. xxxxxxxxx.

[Silence for a looooooooooong time]

Me: There?

Rep: Yes. You can download the Antivirus software for FREE in this link. [Gives link]

Me: For free? You mean I have to buy the subscription key, right?

Rep: No. Its completely free. Its a new offer.

Me: But what do I do with my existing purchase? I paid $39.99 for it!

[No response]

Me: I have puchased it already and I just need to download it.

[No response]

Rep: You can download it for free on this link I sent you.

Me: But that's for Vista. I am a XP user.

[No response]

I got so irritated with this guy that I just closed the chat session unceremoniously. Now, that's wonderful customer service for you. This has been my experience with lots of customer service representatives from India working for American Express cards, Dell, Symantec, Citicards etc... Perhaps, they're trained to read from a script and don't know what's happening. Or perhaps they are told to ignore customer responses. Who knows?

And I tried to download the software from the link the guy sent me. Whaddaya know? It asked me for a subscription key when I tried to install it..:) Grrrrrrr. And I still don't know why I have to pay Symantec to talk about a problem of theirs!

Perhaps, Symantec should pay me $ 1000 as damages for my interrupted dinner and the psychological trauma I suffered from chatting to their representative.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pick of the week

Prakash Raj's "...Solladhadhum Unmai" series in this week's Ananda Vikatan impressed me. I like the way he has handled "faith" and "belief".

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Saturday, February 10, 2007


From left to right in each row as we go down:

1. Thirukkadayur Abhirami - Amirdhakadeswarar Temple tower

2. "Kamalalayam" - Tiruvarur temple tank

3. Tiruvarur Temple tank again

4. Madurai South tower

5. Mayavaram Mayuranathaswamy - Abhayambika temple tower

6. En route to Thirunallaru

7. Utharavahini Kaveri in Sivaramapuram, near Mayavaram

8. Beloved Kaveri again...

9. A peaceful twilight amongst coconut groves
10. Thiruvarur Temple tower
11 & 12. The dilapidated state of the ancient Utharakosamangai temple near Rameswaram.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Kala Ghoda, Handicrafts and Chozha bronzes

Mumbai is making it a tradition of celebrating the "Mumbai Festival" around January every year. Its a month long celebration of arts, food, culture, living and the Spirit of Mumbai. A lot of the events around this festival revolve around the Kala Ghoda arts district area of Mumbai. In my novel efforts to beat jet-lag, I figured making a few pit-stops at these events would keep me engaged in the afternoons.

I visited the Kutch Handicrafts Fair in Kala Ghoda. They were showcasing a whole bunch of hand-made, hand-painted crafts ranging from pillow cases, bags, patchwork quilts and bedsheets, dresses, paintings, decorations etc...The colors used were brilliantly and uniquely Indian and the workmanship was refreshingly all-human (as opposed to machine-made stuff is what I mean).

The Mumbai Food Festival, for all its hype, doesn't really deliver. I took a brief glance at the stalls but was turned off by the lack of anything innovative. Bhel puri, chaat, pizza, pasta etc..lined the stalls and sure enough, crowds were milling around each of them. Recovering as I was from flight food, my taste buds were just craving regular, delicious, home-made jeeraga rasam and I was able to safely skip the food fest with zero temptation..:)

The Pottery Mela in Colaba perhaps took the cake of them all. It really blew my mind to see what could be made out of plain clay - beautiful, sturdy wind chimes, hand-painted and glazed dolls depicting various scenes of village life, key hangers, wall decorations, Ganeshas in different poses and much, much more. I'd never realized that wind-chimes could be made out of clay. The villagers were indulging in direct selling themselves. And truly, its worth every rupee spent to encourage such cottage industries!

I fell in love with a village couple doll-set they'd showcased. The man, clad in a simple white dhoti, kurta and turban was enraptured in playing the dholak. The Rajasthani woman,sitting beside her husband, had her head downcast, the colorful pallu draped around her head modestly. Only the lower part of her face was visible. Her mouth curved upwards in a coy smile, she was playing a coconut violin (Kottangachi Vathiyam, in Tamil). The colors used in the dolls, the expressions on the faces and the beautiful workmanship still dance before my mind's eye as I write this. I desperately wanted to buy it but refrained just because I couldn't cart them to the US safely!

Hindu dharma says that a man/woman who allows the destruction of their country,culture or language in their own lifetime carries the burden of that sin through multiple lifetimes. Far be it from the Indian populace to destroy our own, wonderful rural cottage industries in the quest of all things foreign!

The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is on from Feb 3- Feb 11. If one of you has a chance to visit Mumbai in this period, do check out this wonderful effort!

I wish Chennai had its own "Chennai Festival" where we could showcase the wealth of our region's culture! :)

P.S 1: In a case of misplaced enthusiasm (the "misplaced" qualifier arose later as you will discover in the following sentences), inspired by all I'd seen, I figured I should also look for arts from our own TN. I'd heard of famous Chozha Bronzes. So I marched into the Cottage Arts Emporium in Mumbai. I took a look at a particularly beautiful bronze of an elephant. It was about a foot high and definitely perfect as far as my untrained eyes could tell. Then I took a look at the price tag - Rs. 92,000! Gulp. Then, I realized that most of the bronzes came with a minimum price tag of Rs. 70,000. Another gulp. Thence ended my quest for Chozha bronzes (for now).

P.S 2: A week after this episode, I visited the Mayavaram temple. In front of the Abhyambikai Amman Sannidhi, there's a beautiful Chozha bronze of a "Paavai Vilakku". One has to see it to be amazed. I can't describe the beauty of it enough. So, I've given you a to-do next time you hit Mayavaram..:) The one on the left (Courtesy: is just an example.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tempus fugit, non autem memoria

Its been a good month since I put my fingers to type out a blog. Its not for the lack of topics though. I am bursting with things I want to write about. But since my muse is fickle and I have only so much time on my hands, this hasty blog is for starters.

I've been gone 20 days to India. I spent 10 days deep in the heart of Tamilnadu visiting ancient temples in the green, peaceful countryside of the Tanjore district. I've not felt so rejuvenated and relaxed in a long time! Visited my grandmother's village right by the Cauvery which she so fondly remembers even now. Met a lot of people whose lifestyles and priorities are so different from mine. Their lives revolve around fertile paddy fields, managing the harvests, milking the cows at home, tending to dogs, cats and birds that wander in from the lush coconut groves surrounding their house. They're educated and knowledgeable but they've chosen this rustic, laid-back, relaxed life. And more than me or my parents, they do look healthy, relaxed and happy!

Did we make a mistake by shunning this lifestyle and running to cities in search of money? Did we trade our peace and happiness by opting for hectic lifestyles? Or is this a case of grass on the other side always being greener? I am still introspecting...:)

Whatever it is, I know I belong in that land.

Oh, in case you're wondering what the title of the post means, its Latin for "Time flies, but not memory".