Saturday, February 24, 2007

Customer a king or a pest!

Customer is always right! Customer is the King! These are some of the catch lines that businesses all over the world say to their clients but do these catch phrases really mean what it says? For some businesses these are true and for some they are just means to an end i.e. getting more customers.

First impressions are most of the time very important especially in regards to business concerns. The way you are treated at a firm or even at the first point of contact always make a lasting impression. This impression always stays with you much beyond your particular business at that time and the service definitely stays on mind whether you get a great service or you are treated as a nuisance who came to disturb them. This means it is not only the person with customer care tag in their designation who leaves this impression but any individual of a company who comes in contact with a customer. And this holds true for any business whether it is a restaurant, a bank or even a clinic. In fact in a place like clinic it is utmost important for the person working there to make a individual feel at home. Most of the people who go to clinics are apprehensive and need assurance in any form and mostly a smile will go a long way to do so.

Customer care is one of the most important aspects of any business that its owner wants to do well. It is the best form of advertising. A word of mouth advertising, which is free in terms of money but asks for a different kind of input from these businesses that of good service.

Let us take a look at one such sector, that of banking in India. Banking has become an integral part of the modern life but it is very difficult to find ‘the ideal bank’. In fact in today’s cutthroat world where everyone is trying to lure customers by offering various add services. Giving a good customer service becomes quite important. Even one man can make a lot of difference to our perceptions of the company. One man’s service made me think the bank I was using was a great one but when he left the bank I found to my dismay that it was all in my idealist mind that thought the best of the situation. Someone I know had taken a home loan and submitted all the necessary papers along with the post dated cheques, the employee of the bank looses the whole set of cheques and paper and didn’t even bother to let the customer know for a week! In India buying or making your own home is still considered one of the most important and biggest investments in a person’s life, so when a bank gives inadequate service it really is disheartening.

Some businesses provide good service when they are just setting up and after they get established and get regular clientele the standard of service just falls. But while this is from the side of the customers, the other side also has to be taken into consideration. There are customers who tend to take the service for granted and become over demanding. They forget that employees have limits and expect the earth for whatever money they are spending. So really may be there is very thin line between a customer becoming a pest and being pleasant.

Good marketing does get you the initial customers but to keep them there and keep them happy one needs to provide them with reasonably good service. So no matter how often over bearing customers comes their way, they still have to give the benefit of the doubt to the new customer. A simple way to handle this might be for each representative of a company treat their customers the way they expect to be treated as a customer.

Baby a boon or a bane??

Children bring fulfillment in a marriage that can’t be filled by any other aspect. They are your lineage that lives beyond your death. Usually the arrival of a child also brings a new world of expectations, joy and lots of love for the parents. The birth of a child is considered to be the second birth for the mother, the exertion that the mother goes through to bring the new life into this world is finally worth the trouble. Or so I feel. The marvel of childbirth and seeing your creation for the first time is amazing and full of wonder. The child makes its arrival after nine months of care and love. The months of carriage are full of dreamz and hopes for the mother. The thought of how the child will look and how your life will be after the addition into the family runs through the mind constantly. But seldom can you even visualize just how much your life would exactly change. For some the life will revolve around the kid and the kids become their entire universe.

On the flip side, the expectancy for the general public starts immediately after a couple gets married. The very next time people run into you or talk to you the question “any good news?” is sure to come. This expectancy and sheer nosiness by some is little amusing and a lot annoying. But it is not just restricted to people one knows but even a total stranger deems it right to ask “is it planned or otherwise?” or comes up with advises like “don’t wait for too long otherwise it will be difficult later” or “if there is any problem please see a doctor for treatment”. I find such behavior rather appalling. The couple who have planned to take time in continuing their bloodline might not feel hurt. But if it is not the case the sentiments of the couple being asked such questions is never in the thoughts of the person asking them. There is not even the slightest of hesitation for such possibility before popping the question. There are people who will say this is how the society works but I would say if this how it works it is not a refined one to do so. A couple has every right to choose when and if they want any progeny. In fact, I feel couples should take the time in getting to know one another first. Only after that when they feel they are ready for the added responsibility that they should go in for a child. Just because the society asks such crass questions is no reason to go in for a child in a hurry. Because at the end of it once you conceived, it is totally your responsibility. And you have to make the right choices before birth and after its birth. At that point of time all these people who ask such questions will never be around to lend you a hand. And unlike in computers there is no undo button after the child is born. I found it really funny that the people who highlighted the contentment, peace and love for their child before I got pregnant never said even a single good word after I became pregnant. Though now after having experienced motherhood I have no regrets what so ever. In fact, I feel my love for my daughter increases each day and my wonder of having given birth to her has not ceased yet. The amazing feeling that she came from my flesh and bones I guess will stay with me for the rest of my life. But I am definitely glad at the same time that I took time in bringing her into this world. That I didn’t fall prey to these questions but had her when I was ready for her. It is not that there is no downside to this but in the end the happiness always outweighs.

So now I have only one thing to tell the people who are hesitant to dive into this, it really is an experience worth the trouble it comes with. The contentment you feel to hold you child or protective feeling that wells up in you is something that can only be experienced, never understood seeing someone else. But of course I stand by what I said earlier one must always be ready for it fully. And by that I do not mean just the mother being ready but the man has to be equally ready to take on the responsibility. It is never easy to later on make the sacrifices and compromises that are needed to bring up a child alone; the man has to be an equal partner.

All the very best to who ever intend to bring in a new life into this world and the general public please hold your tongues on such a sensitive issue…

Sri Chitra Art Gallery

India is a country of immense heritage and rich history. And the lush green southern state of Kerala is no different, infact the vast cultural heritage that we have in store in this God’s Own Country never ceases to amaze me. Kerala is one of the top 50 destinations of the world according to the National Geographic and I feel rightly so. But I think sometimes we tend to overlook these riches.

One such place is the Sri Chitra Art Gallery in the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram nee Trivandrum. This art gallery is housed in the famous museum compound, one of the major landmarks of the city. The museum compound has the famous Napier’s Museum, another jewel in the capital’s crown, the reptile museum and is also a part of the Trivandrum zoo. And eventhough this art gallery which houses the paintings of the great artist Raja Ravi Varma is in the heart of the city not many locals come to take a peek at it. The art gallery is viewed more by tourists than the locals but for me it is one of the favourite places in the city.

In this God’s own country, a prince was born in Kilimanoor Palace as the son of Umamba Thampuratty and Neelakantan Bhattathiripad on April 29th 1848. He later grew up to become the greatest artist of all times, Raja Ravi Varma. This prince as a young boy of seven started painting using charcoal and I am sure no one at the time would have realized just how famous he would become or how a must have his paintings would become in the modern world. During his time it was not a profession chosen by the royals, but seeing the young talent his uncle Raja Raja Varma brought him to the capital city and arranged a teacher for him at the age of fourteen to learn oil painting. He honed his skills in the later years in Mysore, Baroda and other parts of the country. He learned the traditional art of Thanjavoor and then the European art. His paintings can be broadly classified into portraits, portrait based compositions and compositions based on legends and mythology. But whatever kind they are he has really excelled in his art.

Usually art is a subject loved by an artist or an art lover. But I feel you need to be neither to enjoy the Ravi Varma paintings. As a casual visitor or tourist you can never envision the treasure you will find inside the Sri Chitra Art Gallery. But as soon as you enter the art gallery, you are transported into an ethereal world. It is a world of old world charm and of ancient characters. His paintings are full of life and you would feel they are just going to speak to you. Sometimes I feel if I look close enough I can see beyond the point in the painting. All the characters in his paintings are so simple; some are portraits and some are based on the Hindu mythology. But I always feel so amazed at the minute details in his paintings whether it is the expression on their faces, their clothes or their jewellery.

The beauty of the female characters in his paintings became the models for today’s cinematic beauties. They were painted both as seductresses and also like pure untouched beauties. His famous “Milk Maid” painting is my all time favourite and this milk maid comes in the later category of ethereal beauty. At the same time his “Gypsies of South India” brings so much of tenderness in you that you feel like touching those children to just encourage them to carry on in life. His paintings on mythology all bring to life the stories I have read as a child and now his characters have taken shapes of all those mythological characters in my mind.

Today for the people of Kerala these paintings are a heritage proud to be and if possible a must have in your homes. He is an artist surpassed by none in the Indian art history. So I hope we will treasure these gems for the generations to enjoy them in the centuries to come because he is a link between the traditional and the modern India.

Mom and me

God created woman in such a fashion that she carries the future in her womb. She is the world to the seed that becomes you from her flesh and blood. Her womb is your home for the first nine months of your lives. She is a safe haven where you are nurtured and developed. In short you owe your life to her. One can’t have a deeper or a closer relationship with anyone else. For a mother her baby is the most precious aspect in her life sometimes even more than her own soul mate. She does everything in her power for the happiness of her kids. Inspite of all this, my relationship with my mother has been a journey of ups and downs.

As a child I had always been a ‘papa’s girl’ as most girls are I guess. And since mom was the one in charge of our day to day development, she was always the bad cop for being strict with us. Then came adolescence where both sets of parent were just people who were your caretakers and who stopped you from doing things you liked. But even then dad got away with being good cop because he was the one who gave into our requests and bought us goodies. Or so was scene in the prejudiced mind at that time.

Then came the time when I started working and something in life shifted and from necessary evil in life they became best friends that I had failed to see so far. They became the confidants I could trust and depend on. The highlights of the day was narrated to them without missing a single beat and they too listened as if they were hearing manna from heaven. But even at that time dad took the centre stage in my life and mom never got her due for all what she had done. What ever she was doing too was going unnoticed and I can only remorsefully say I took her for granted. I failed to see the silent strength that was behind me cent percent. Failed to see how much care and love she showered on me, how much in pain she was when I was in any sort of pain. Failed to see how my actions affected her. I am sure coming from your own flesh it must have been more hurtful. Until we become parents we generally tend to not notice the sacrifices they make to bring us up or for our happiness. The changes in their lives they make for our dreams and aspirations. We fail to see our selfishness in this relationship till something happens in your life.

However, I am happy to say that this stage finally did change. The upward swing came after I got married and set up my own home. That is the time the realization of what I had done and what all I had taken for granted come into mind. I can’t express enough anguish in all the missed years of camaraderie and having behaved in the manner I did. But I guess I should feel happy that it is better late than never situation. I am thankful for this time where I have the chance to make up for my past mistakes. And I hope I am able to express adequately to her my love for her and my appreciation for all her concern and love that she has showered on me.

With the arrival of my daughter I can now clearly understand what she feels for me and what all she does for me. I do not think I will be as good a mom to my daughter as my mother is to me but I hope one day I will come close to it. I can only aspire and work to become so. I can also only hope to become as good a friend to my daughter as a mother should be. And I wish I will share the unique bond I have with my mom with my daughter. This spectacular relationship is so precious and special bond which we all must treasure.


Getting started......

I had never thought of starting this spot but I guess there is a time for everything and sometimes you just need some push to do the things you should be doing happily anyway [:d].... I have never felt I am a good writer but I do love to write and of late Rajesh my hubby dearest and couple of my very good friends have been podding and pushing me to do this. And I finally decided to do something about the idea mooted by my dear friend Dona to start this blog and post the stuff I have written either for my writers bureau assignments or gulf news or just for the heck of it hehehhe.... so folks here it goes enjoy and let me know your comments so that I get this right [:)]..... finally I would like to dedicate this site to my soul mate Rajesh who not only encourages me to write but also sponsored my writer's course [;)]