Retail Investor announces Retirement from Stock Markets

My broker friend Jigneshbhai had asked me and Swami to come over to an investor camp last Sunday for our evening coffee. At that event, a retail investor took center stage.

retirement-clipart.jpgInspired by Sachin Tendulkar’s heart-touching farewell speech, the retail investor made an emotional speech thanking everyone for his experiences in trying to get rich by investing, before finally announcing his retirement from the stock markets.

“All my dear friends, settle down, let me talk. I will get emotional if you keep reminding me of my losses in the stock market.”

“It is hard to believe that my investing life in the equity markets, to which I hung on for the past 20 years is coming to an end. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people who have been with me as part of this journey.”

“Firstly, my father. Even though he came from a non-Gujarati middle class background, he allowed me to chase my dreams of investing in the stock markets. All he told me is don’t take short (or long!) cuts. When no bank was willing to give me money to invest, he was the one who lent me money to put in the markets. When I faced losses, he even went to the extent of writing them off. At a young age, I got used to the experience of losing money in the markets which stood me in good stead throughout my investing career. Without him, I would have been even worse off.”

“My mother – I don’t know how she dealt with a child like me. She kept telling me don’t go near the stock markets, buy gold, keep money in the bank, but I did not listen. While I was busy losing money, she kept on praying for me, and her blessings have been the reason that at least for some time I made some profit. I want to thank my mother for all her prayers.”

“My brother – what do I say about him? We have lived this dream (nightmare?) together. He and I started investing at a young age and lost a lot of money together. Eventually he sacrificed his career as an investor, and decided to become a financial analyst himself and salvage some of the losses by getting a hefty salary. This is our journey together. It all started many years ago when he took me to my broker, and since that day, my life changed.”

“You will find it difficult to believe that even last week, though my career was almost over, we were discussing newer methods of technical analysis to beat the market. We had our agreements and disagreements on investing techniques, but when I look back at them now, I feel that without that, I would have been a better investor.”

“The most beautiful thing happened to me 15 years back when I met my wife. Those were beautiful years, and now I think, without her constant motivation on why we need more money, I would not have ventured into those get-rich-quick schemes in the stock market. Thanks for staying with me through the profits and the losses. And thanks for forcing me to buy the gold and the house. That’s the best partnership (with the best returns!) I have had.”

“The turning point of my life was when my brother took me to my financial adviser. Normally my adviser sits in front of the television and keeps watching the markets. His advice keeps changing as per changes in the markets. But over all these years, he has never said ‘well done’ to me. Honestly that is because I have not done well in the markets. Now he can say so, because from here on, my money is going only in fixed deposits and gold. I would like to thank him – you have made an immense contribution to my bottom-line, or the lack of it. Some day, you will thank me for my contribution to your bottom line as well.”

“My investing journey started here next door at Dalal Street in Mumbai when there was no demat, no online trading, no 24 hour TV channels. The dream was to make it big, and that’s when my association with various IPOs, fund managers and advisers started. I want to thank all of them to have given me the opportunity to participate in the India story.”

“There have been a lot of friends, brokers and advisers who I met in this journey. There have been difficult moments like during the dot-com crash or the global financial meltdown when I had sleepless nights and felt that my career as an investor was over. But these people came at the right time, sometimes at odd hours, and always sold me new things to put my money in, and helped restore my faith. I want to thank all of them.”

“In the early days, when the markets used to do well, the media used to back it and get excited every time it reached a new high. That definitely had a positive effect and encouraged simple retail investors like me. Thanks also to all the photographers who provided wonderful bull pictures during market highs and bear or bloodshed photos during crashes. Those moments will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

“Finally, I want to thank all those foreign institutional investors who have flown from all over the world to invest with me in the Indian markets. I know my speech is getting a bit long. (crowd cries) You have supported the market for a long time. I used to invest with you in the equity markets through highs and lows, but going forward, I wish you all the best as you are really going to be the only ones investing here.” (crowd cries more)

“Time has flown rather quickly but the memories of my small profits and big losses will be with me forever – specially the constant chants of ‘Scam, Scam’  – which will reverberate in my ears till I stop breathing. Thank you very much. I am retiring from the stock markets. If I have missed out on anything, I hope you understand. Goodbye.”

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The Vishwaroop Darshan of Film-making

My readers have been wondering where I have been for the past so many days, and why there have been no posts for a long time. My profuse apologies, but I must admit that I was busy in something more important. Well, not more important as such, but something that kept me busy. I was helping my friend Swami make a film.

Well, as everyone knows, making a film is no easy matter. It needs a story (that’s what I felt till I ventured on this path!), and that’s what I was writing.

vishwaroopSo I was writing a story for my friend Swami’s film.

The story took all of November and December and finally was ready for shooting in early January. Swami was happy with the story, but needed a financier for the movie. Like most film-makers, he had to find some producer to finance the movie.

So during our January coffee session, Swami spoke to my broker friend Jigneshbhai that he had a film with a story ready, and needed someone to finance it. Jigneshbhai thought about it for a while. We thought that among all his wealthy clients, at least someone would finance it, if he put in a word. Even before we had finished our coffee, Jigneshbhai said that he could have us meet the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow to check if he was willing to fund it.

So there we were last Sunday. Swami and I with our thick, bound script all set to meet the wealthy man in his sprawling bungalow along with Jigneshbhai.

As he came down to have a chat with us, Swami was getting ready to start narrating the script. But the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow stopped him mid-sentence.

“I don’t want a villain from the minority communities” he started. Swami quickly made a note, and smiling at his future financier, he said, “No sir, the religion of our villain is flexible.”

The wealthy man looked happy. “Good – hope there are no terrorists in the film.”

“And I cannot finance any historical film – what if some community says that their history is not correctly portrayed?” the wealthy man continued. Still maintaining his smiling face, Swami said, “No sir, no violence, no history.”

“And I don’t finance science fiction movies. They are like technology stocks. Unclear business model, too expensive and don’t work. Low Return on Equity.”

“No sir – it is not a sci-fi movie. It is a family movie.”

“Ok – good. Family films are fine. By the way, in that case, there should be no widows, no words like ‘mochi’, ‘sunar’, ‘lohaar’, hajaam’ that can hurt someone, also no gay heroes or heroines or characters. No South Indian, North Indian stereotypes” he insisted.

The smile on Swami’s face was evaporating quite fast, almost at the pace of the wealthy man’s instructions. He was starting to get a bit impatient to narrate the script, but was now checking if the list of characters mentioned were present in the plot.

But the wealthy man was not finished. “And if there are any prayer scenes, make sure the priests – whatever their religion – are not insulted. No one – even if he is the hero – should curse any priests, or for that matter, insult any elders.”

“Ok sir” Swami politely said, by now, resigned to his fate as a film-maker.

“And by the way, in the costumes, avoid saffron, green or white. And may be blue also. You know, these are national colours.”

This was turning out to be a soliloquy. Swami and I were prepared for a one-way narration of the script, but this was a one-way instruction from the wealthy man on how not to make a film. But I guess, we were rookies, and he was experienced. While our enthusiasm waned, the wealthy man continued.

“See you may get discouraged. But like one learns from experience in everything, I have made a checklist for elimination of projects for funding based on my experience in this area.”

“I hope you have the other standard exclusions already factored in.”

Swami and I looked at each other and then at Jigneshbhai. The wealthy man realised that we did not know.

“Well, the hero or even a shady character should not smoke on-screen, or even in public. No animals should be harmed during the movie – even if it is a pet. No expletives on screen. No spanking or shouting at children on screen too nowadays, I have heard.”

“Ok sir” Swami noted, not quite sure why he was noting them.

“Ok great, one last thing, you know things that you need to take care” the wealthy man continued. “When you cast someone, make sure the hero is not an activist and does not say anything controversial till one week after the movie is released, and that the heroine does not get married or pregnant till then.”

Swami and I looked at each other, wondering how we will ensure that. In any case, it was a bit far-fetched given that the hearing of our script had not yet started.

Meanwhile, the wealthy man continued. “And you must have an item song. If something happens before release, at least we will recover the costs from the music.”

“And I hope you don’t want to give any complex, social messages.I have realised that in investing in films, it is similar to investing in businesses. They should be simple.”

By now, Swami and I were drowned under the barrage of instructions from the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow. We had heard that he generally spoke little and that too, he was cryptic when he spoke. But this was a lot of talk, and everything was loud and clear.

Finally, as we left his house, he encouraged us. “Don’t worry, you will get it right.”

So here we were – back from our first and last discussion on making a film. Swami decided to get back to his job, and I to mine.

Finally, I saw that writing a film was not my cup of tea, specially for a hobby writer like me. So here I am again. All that I will attempt to write from now on is articles on this blog. That hopefully not many will read. And fewer will protest against.

Department of Internet Control: Creating Jobs by Screening Social Content

“Take the first left after the third signal from here” my South Indian friend Swami said to the person asking him directions in cold Delhi over hot coffee.

“This is the 10th car since morning asking me for the address of the Ministry of Human Resources or Ministry of Information Technology” remarked Swami. “Looks like there is some conference or job fair. Any idea what the reason is?” he further inquired.

“Yes – I know why they are here. Google, Facebook, Ebay, Yahoo, Twitter and so many others – I saw a big queue this morning” said my broker Jigneshbhai, fiddling with his newly bought Android Smartphone.  “They are here to present their case to the authorities that they cannot possibly regulate what users post online. There is some new law coming up to screen everything online – right? They have to make sure their businesses don’t shut down” he explained further, with the expertness of someone familiar with the subject.

“Maybe he knows better” he continued, pointing sarcastically to Swami.

“Of course, you all these social networking high-tech types don’t understand and just keep chatting nonsense on freedom. Our ministers are just doing their jobs. In fact governments – even in the US – are doing their jobs” said Swami, nonchalantly, not realizing that he was fraying some nerves.

“And their job is to control freedom of expression?” a caustic Jigneshbhai said.

“Arre no, their job is to enable employment creation!” a cool Swami replied confidently.

I am not majorly into these social networking and internet stuff, but I must say, they seem useful at times, and fun too. Some of them are indeed good for businesses, I had heard. Hence, I must admit that I was unable to quite understand how Swami could say something like this. Seated next to me, Jigneshbhai was positively wild.

Seeing our reactions, Swami decided to explain.

“Governments know which sectors can provide growth for the future; they know how to create rules and regulations that create jobs. Who do you think will do the monitoring – whether or not technology is there? In order to remove the digital divide in India, to provide knowledge-based work to our millions of youth, for inclusive growth, what better than providing them jobs to go through online content and report culturally sensitive stuff?”

“And online content is only going to increase. Imagine what kind of potential this holds when people start posting culturally-sensitive stuff in local languages too!”

Swami seemed completely convinced of the possibilities. Neglecting our surprised looks, he continued passionately.

“If the companies don’t hire people to monitor content, governments can set up a regulatory authority and give people secure jobs. You see – governments all over the world know that people want jobs, and that’s what they are doing. And you guys are cribbing about freedom of expression!”

Listening to this explanation and theory from Swami, I was not quite sure how to react. I thought my broker friend is either getting ready to bash up my South Indian friend, or go buy some stocks that will benefit from this new wave of internet regulation jobs.

But just then, he felt a stick on his shoulders. Turning around, I saw that a Delhi police constable had just tapped Jigneshbhai and asked him what he was doing on his phone. “Sir, nothing, just checking email” he explained with a bit of trepidation.

Sensing trouble, we got up to leave – perhaps we had got on the wrong side of law. But with a stern warning, the constable showed his ID and said, “Hum Internet Control Department se hai. Idhar Delhi Parliament area mein mobile par yeh social networking karna allowed nahi hai. 500 rupaye ka fine hai. Receipt faad lu?”

Play for the Country: The Noble Intentions of our Cricketers

My South Indian friend Swami had just returned from Australia, and joined us directly over the weekend coffee, straight from the airport. My broker friend and I were discussing what’s in store for the markets, specially after this mass downgrade done by S&P to European nations, when Swami barged in. After a long time, Jigneshbhai was not in a good mood, and was telling me how Friday the 13th was turning out to be a bad omen for him. “First that S&P downgraded European nations and I don’t know what the impact on markets will be, and Second, look at what our cricket team is doing in Australia” he mused.

“They are playing for the country” said Swami.

“But that does not seem to work out. They are not winning anything. They are finishing test matches much before the five days end”, said Jigneshbhai in a caustic mood.

“Winning does not have anything to do with playing for the country”, Swami said.  Looking at our stunned faces, Swami went ahead explaining that his respect for India’s cricket team had gone up a few notches after he met them in Australia.

“I met the team at Perth just after the match got over, and passed on condolences for the defeat. But some of the players got angry at it. In fact, one of the newcomers – you know newcomers tend to be a bit raw in their reactions, I don’t remember his name now – told me that the entire country does not understand that each and every member of the Indian cricket team always puts the country before anything else, even more than the game itself.”

Continuing, Swami explained, “Apparently one of the seniors had told him that as a team, they are aware of the problems our country is currently facing, so they had decided as a team that stretching tests beyond Sundays back home does not make sense. Already we need our youth to keep working hard to get our economy back in shape, to generate employment and maintain growth rates. And if we make them bunk work in the hope of our wins on weekdays, wouldn’t it be harmful for the nation’s long-term economic story?”

“Also, our country faces such a major problem in the area of infrastructure and power. We already have power shortages back home. With so many TVs constantly on looking at our team, wouldn’t it add to the problem? People get on to our already choked roads to watch us and celebrate when we win. The team thought our country’s best interests would be served if lesser people watched them, and fewer people got an opportunity to come on the roads to celebrate. At least they will go down in history as the team that really helped the nation, albeit a little bit, in solving its power and infrastructure problems.”

“So look at it, employment, growth, power, infrastructure – the Indian cricket team is playing its part, giving a helping hand, really playing for the country. But you know what really raised my respect for them?” Swami asked, really inspired this time.

Having got no answer from any of us, he continued. “The biggest issue our country is currently facing is the problem of corruption. And the Indian cricket team has decided to join hands in that fight too.”

Looking at the surprised look on our faces, Swami continued, “They told me that they have decided not to win a single test, till Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal bill is passed. If that is not playing for the country, tell me what is? Is winning more important than the country?”

भ्रष्टाचार को पकड़ना मुश्किल ही नहीं नामुमकिन है: The unending search for catching corruption

“There is one thing tougher than catching ‘Don’. Call it Mission Impossible if you will, though it is tougher than that. Can you tell me what it is?” asked my South Indian friend Swami as we sipped an evening coffee.

I gave it some thought for a while and ventured a guess. “Beating Australia in Australia.”

“No, we have done it a few years back”, Swami said, rejecting my answer. “Any other guesses?”

Then it was my broker friend Jigneshbhai’s turn. “Beating the market index?”

“Naah, sometimes some people do end up beating the index. It is मुश्किल, but not नामुमकिन,” said Swami, like a quiz master, surprisingly using Hindi, possibly giving us clues.

When there were no more guesses, he finally announced in chaste Hindi, “Well, you may achieve Mission Impossible and catch Don, but भ्रष्टाचार को पकड़ना मुश्किल ही नहीं नामुमकिन है!”

He continued telling us that he had just finished watching three thrilling, adventure movies in the course of the week. He started with watching Tom Cruise jumping off buildings in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and was impressed with the thrills. On the next day, on the insistence of his wife, despite the Ra.One experience, he went and watched Don 2: The Chase Continues. He said he was impressed with the thrills, pace and slickness of the movie.

But the most thrilling of all was the movie he watched on TV spread from Tuesday through Thursday, in which he followed a bunch of talented artistes chase and nail down a known evil named ‘भ्रष्टाचार’. “It seemed a thrilling, almost non-scripted ride. It was never clear what will happen next”, remarked Swami.

“In fact, there was amazing suspense on who the heroes were, who the villains were, and viewers were left wondering whether they kept changing roles”, remarked my broker friend, Jigneshbhai who had partly watched some of the proceedings.

“Yeah – new characters kept coming in from time to time. The stage kept moving, new rules and equations between various characters kept on emerging. In fact, at one point, they even left the viewer guessing on whether the story was actually about nailing down this भ्रष्टाचार guy, or if the plot had changed to something else”, Swami remarked, confused as always.

“Hey, you must be joking about the Lokpal Bill”, I said.

“Yes, of course. But were the thrills in it anything less than MI-4 or Don-2?”, mocked Jigneshbhai. On second thoughts, he continued “Well – those movies at least have a happy ending. This one does not seem like it is going to end soon.”

“But they were going to pass the bill soon, I had thought. Perhaps this session or the next”, I said, trying to be a bit logical and patient. One better be rational and take a well-considered view, specially when it comes to issues of national importance.

But then Swami said, “Well, it is a thriller – so you never know what will happen. They may pass it, but most likely not. In any case, passing the bill is one thing. But catching भ्रष्टाचार is another. That guy will still get away. Don does not catch himself, right?”

He continued, “That’s why I said, Tom Cruise may achieve Mission Impossible. Don may get caught eventually. India may beat Australia in Australia. Someone might even beat the market index consistently. Those things are easy. But it has been 40 plus years now – in our unending search for catching corruption. So भ्रष्टाचार को पकड़ना मुश्किल ही नहीं नामुमकिन है.”

Why Bulls, Bears, Pigs and The Big Fish don’t matter, and Cows and Goats do

“The ocean in Mauritius is just wonderful, blue-green and pristine. Truly is a paradise island”, said my South Indian friend, Swami who had just been back from his vacation. One of the few times I had seen him happy, without much to complain about. Just when I thought he was in a good mood, he said, “But I got badly tanned. Got fully blackened, and for two days, I could not get out of my house.”

“So did you do any under water activities?” asked Jigneshbhai my broker friend.

“Yes, I think that and the sun is the reason for my tan. But it was worth it. The sea life – the fish and other sea animals were just wonderful to see up close under water.” Swami remarked. Clearly, his vacation had got more positives than negatives out of him. I was glad to note that he loved the sea, the fish and the sea animals more than he disliked the seafood. And if this is what Mauritius could do to Swami, I am sure it must be really be paradise for normal mortals. Jigneshbhai and I exchanged a smile on that thought.

But our thoughts were interrupted.

“I am not interested in the small fish. It is not useful to check even what the big fish are doing.”

We just looked around to check who had spoken. It was the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow who had just joined us. I am sure he must be frequently going to Mauritius – I hear it is some sort of tax haven for wealthy people and foreigners. So not surprised that he had a view on the sea life there.

“No, sir. I could see only the small fish, we did not go deep enough to see the big fish. But the small fish were very beautiful and interesting, sir!”, Swami remarked, trying to disagree with the wealthy man.

“No point in following the small fish or the big fish. I am not interested in either the bulls or the bears also”, said the wealthy man.

He was known to speak rarely, and when he did, it was cryptic. But I was not sure he realized that we were talking of Mauritius. As far as we knew, bulls or bears were in the safari or at best in the markets. We just stayed silent, trying not to look awkward.

But Swami could not resist continuing. “Sir, we did not go to mainland Africa, only to the island of Mauritius. So did not see any bears, bulls or other animals in the safari.”

“Well, Africa is still the new frontier. You should be more worried about the Pigs in Europe – I hope someone takes care of them.” As he said this, we were almost getting on the edge now. Swami and I were desperately trying to make sense of this conversation.

I think Jigneshbhai got what the wealthy man was trying to say now. He quietly signaled to us to stay silent and asked, “Sir, got it. Those economies – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain are in trouble, and I understand that this is good time to ignore the bulls, bears and all the big and small fish or anyone who has a view on the markets.”

“Yes, indeed. You are right”, smiled the wealthy man, finally satisfied that someone understood what he was saying.

While both Swami and I were clueless, Jigneshbhai eagerly asked, “Sir, in that case, which animals do you prefer?” This left us further dumbstruck. Looked like he had picked up the animal language.

The wealthy man replied, “Honestly, I prefer goats and cows. They are easy to maintain, need just simple grass, and are sure to give you milk regularly. As they grow older, they almost always multiply easily. If they don’t, their meat is useful. So even if you pay a high price, goats and cows are useful, valuable animals.”

While Swami and I were wondering what happened to our conversation on Mauritius, Jigneshbhai was happy hearing what the wealthy man said, almost cheerful and thanked the wealthy man as he left back for his sprawling bungalow. And while leaving, the wealthy man turned back to us and said, “There’s a lot of animal instincts out there. So don’t go with the herd.”

Your Call is Important to Us: The Tragicomedy of Customer Service

In the old MTNL days, customer service used to be quite honest. It may not have been good, but you cannot fault them for honesty. So when you called them for some request, mostly you were welcomed with something like “कृपया प्रतीक्षा करें, आप कतार में हैं” which made no bones about the fact that you have to wait and we will attend to you when we reach you perhaps after all else is done. Even the English version said, “Please wait. You are in queue” or something like that. So you basically called a number and waited for something to happen.

Now the onus has shifted. You call a number, and try to make things happen! When English, Management Principles and Technology get together, it can create good things as well as bad things. So today, customer service may be better, but it is not honest. The approach is you are important to us and we will attend to you when you are able to reach us, and when it suits us well. * Conditions apply.

So my South Indian friend Swami who grew up in Matunga in Mumbai during the MTNL era complains that he has to pay a lot of attention nowadays when he calls his bank’s, or for that matter, anyone’s customer service number.

“Every time I call them, it starts with – ‘Please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed’. For the past few months, I have been searching for the change, but haven’t found it”, he complained. Well, I was not sure what exactly he was complaining about, the change or not being able to find it. But be that as it may.

“That’s just to wake you up, Swami. They are telling you please don’t blame us later if you stand in the wrong queue”, remarked my broker friend Jigneshbhai, tongue in cheek over our customary weekend coffee.

“Yes I know. That’s when I realized that the thing that has changed is that they removed the ‘Press 0 to talk to our service representative’ link from their menu options”, Swami said pleased at his discovery.

“So they removed the counter which had people earlier, so you cannot form a queue there”, Jigneshbhai continued with his expert comments.

Not one to give up, Swami added, “But I have mastered all their tricks now. A few times I tried all options in their menu to get to an agent. I pressed 0 like I used to earlier. But the system said ‘I haven’t understood your inputs’ couple of times and disconnected me saying ‘please call back later’.” His initial spirit of discovery changed to a mood of disappointment as he was saying that.

“They know that stubborn callers like you will fight for that counter which had people earlier, so they want to make sure that the queue does not start, or at the very least it is tough to find that counter!”, reiterated Jigneshbhai.

“Exactly. But finally, I got it. If you want to speak to someone, you do nothing! You wait at the main menu itself – and it will say ‘Transferring your call to a customer service representative. This call may be monitored for quality and monitoring purposes.'” He informed us almost with a triumphant smile on his face.

“Great”, I said, thanking Swami, thinking this was the end of it.

But Jigneshbhai poked him further. “That quality and monitoring stuff was to discourage you, and put a doubt in your mind, so that you reconsider standing the queue, even though you have reached it. But you are tenacious. So finally you got what you wanted?”

Swami’s victorious face suddenly turned to anger. “Arre Baba, I had just got into the queue now. Now they said, “Your waiting time is expected to be 13 minutes. Please hold. Your call is important to us.”

“Of course, you have proven your tenacity and finally got into a queue. Well – they are saying if you can’t serve yourself and insist so much on being served, we will serve you, but wait for some time till we have tea. So this is perhaps the final hindrance.” said Jigneshbhai adding insult to injury.

But Swami had internalized his customer service experience beyond our expectations. “I wish it was the final hurdle. Someone came up after some time, and after some hello, how may I help you, asked me my address, date of birth and mother’s maiden name for security reasons. Now I remembered the first two but could not remember the third. So she told me that she will need to direct me to the system again where I can enter my account details.” As he said this, I could see the sense of dejection making its appearances on his face. “And on top of it she asked, ‘Can I put you on hold while I transfer you to the system?’ As if I had a choice.”

“Hmm. I think this is like reaching the counter in the olden times and the agent asking you for a set of documents she needs which you did not know”, remarked Jigneshbhai.

“Yeah – so I entered my account details and then the system asked me for some verification. And after just one “Your call is important to us” she came back, and she said, ‘Sir, thank you for your verification. While I pull up your account details, may I place your call on hold?’ Well if you say so, I said. Then I started listening to some promotion of their products to be added to my account for a good 5 minutes”, Swami’s sorry tale kept getting sorrier.

“Hmm..you see you did the right thing in having all your documents ready when you reached the counter this time”, Jigneshbhai remarked with his first positive comment, poking Swami who was no longer finding it funny.

“Ok, then what happened?” I asked, trying to give Swami some empathy.

“Finally, she asked me what I wanted. I said I wanted to downgrade my account plan and change the address.”

Continuing, Swami said in a flabbergasted tone, “I don’t know what happened after that, but for 10 minutes I spoke to three people from three different departments every time the system kept transferring the call and saying “Your call is important to us”. They kept telling me how my current account plan was the best and how a downgrade would be disastrous given my profile. Eventually they gave me some discount in my account, and I agreed not to change anything!”, reported Swami with an emotion that had a mix of victory and defeat.

“And what about the address change?” asked Jigneshbhai, almost spurring Swami into anger.

“Nothing, she took down my request, and gave me a request number. And told me that it would be effective after I submit my address proof at any of their branches.”, said Swami with a dejected look.

“So that was it?” I asked, trying to close it. Any further and Swami would have had a nervous breakdown.

He was close to it when he finally said, “Yeah. As I disconnected, a voice said, ‘Thank you for your call. It would be our pleasure to serve you again. Please provide your feedback by sending an SMS to 56076.”

As we left, Jigneshbhai remarked, “Sometimes I wonder if ‘कृपया प्रतीक्षा करें, आप कतार में हैं’ was better than ‘Your call is important to us’! If not for service, at least for mental health!”

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