Tuesday, November 13, 2007

TATA Safari Dicor - A Bag Full of Woes

I purchased a Safari Dicor from Prerana Motors (Bangalore) in the last week of May 2007 .

I am an extremely unsatisfied customer, thanks to the inefficient team that deals with the Service of a Safari Dicor- I was stranded in the middle of a Highway with my family for over 7 hours.

This was when I was driving back from Tirupati to Bangalore on 1st November 2007; about 75 minutes after I started from Tirumala –I heard a rattling noise and the indicator displayed a ‘Check Engine’ message.

Time: 12:15

I tried to check the physically the connections and everything seemed normal. I tried starting my car- the engine would crank up, but when I tried to accelerate the vehicle it would not move as the engine would not rev up.

Time: 12:25

I was surprised because I was stuck in the middle of a highway with my family in a car that was barely 6 months old. I immediately reached out to my hand phone and called on the ‘24 Hour Help Line’ numbers that were prominently displayed on my Windscreen.

The Service representatives who attended to my calls – after listening to me and understanding that I was stranded in the middle of a high way with my family promptly asked me to call on another number (The other number mentioned on the windscreen)

The little hopes I had, was shattered when the representative who received my call asked me to call the first number listed on the windshield.

It took 2 calls to understand that the numbers listed in my windshield were neither 24-HOUR of support nor had anything to remotely do with HELP, wonder what got them associated with the term 24-HOUR HELP LINE.

I then reached the owners manual to look for the Helpline numbers hoping they may finally be of some help.


Time:
12:40

I called TATA Motors-Tirupati and was given the number for Chitoor (MGB Motors), the representatives manning the 24-HOUR HELP LINE had apparently gone for Lunch and returned 45minutes later to hear my plight.


Time:
13:30

They agreed to come over and look at the car – provided I was willing to pay a premium for them having to travel outside their Service Center. I promptly agreed to pay their fee and the Mechanics reached in about 40 mins.


Time:
14:15

It was quite surprising that the Authorized Dealers from TATA Motors had not been trained on the dynamics of the Safari Dicor and needed instructions to be given by the Mechanics in Bangalore about what to look for - even for a simple sanity check.

The real surprise to me was when I was given to understand that a laptop was needed to diagnose the problem and the mechanics from Chitoor didn’t have a clue about this.

Just when I thought the Mechanics from TATA in Chitoor would fix the Minor issue and help me reach Bangalore – did the struggle to locate a Service Center with a lap top/desktop begin.

Time: 16:15

A series of calls to were made and the most obvious choices were to reach Chitoor(15kms) away who did not have a Laptop to fix the issue and the other most obvious choice to reach Tirupati (55kms) also failed as they also mentioned that they did not have a laptop.

The mechanics from Chitoor were convinced that they could fix my car if I went to their Head Office which was about 250kms away in Nellore. What they were unable to explain is HOW we could reach 250 kms when my car was not in a position to move a single inch.


Time: 16:15

My next obvious move was to call the help line numbers of other towns that were listed on the owner’s manual- I tried calling Vellore (about 55 kms away from where I was stranded)to realize that the agency listed(VST Motors) did not deal with TATA anymore…


Time:
16:30

Thankfully a passerby who stopped to attend to nature’s call walked up and suggested I call the new showroom in Vellore and mentioned that they may be of help.

He apparently happened to be a local from Tamil Nadu and thankfully happened to be able to source the number of the TATA showroom in Vellore (Vijay Motors) through his acquaintances.

Time: 16:45

I called Vijay Motors (Vellore) to explain the unpleasant situation I was stuck in and mentioned my fear of being stranded in the dark with women in the car.

I would affirm agencies like Vijay Motors (Vellore) are the only saving grace for TATA motors.

The person at the reception was quick to transfer the call to person concerned and got the ball rolling to check how they could be of help.


Time:
16:55

The team from Vijay Motors (Vellore) called to check with the mechanics from Chitoor about the issue with the Safari; and were prompt in reverting to confirm what they thought may be the cause of breakdown. They agreed to come over to where we were stranded – took directions and promised to reach at the earliest.


Time:
17:05

A representative from Vijay Motors (Vellore) called and confirmed that a rescue team has started from Vellore and gave me the mobile number of a person coming over to help us.


Time: 17:55

The time of day immediately following sunset- fear griped everyone in the car as it was pitch dark and was close to six hours of being stranded with no food and waiting for help. The hand phone number that I use was dying out and the number of the Rescue team was not reachable.

Frantic calls to the Rescue team gave me just one outcome - ‘The Number was not reachable’.

We were left crossing our fingers hoping we remain safe.


Time:
18:45

The rescue team finally arrived and for the first time that day – I realized that I was dealing with a set of professionals.

The team that arrived knew what they were doing – they quickly did a sanity check on the Safari and then got a few iron chains and began to hook up the Safari to their rescue van – preparing to tow the vehicle.


Time:
19:00

We finally start moving – after having been stranded for over 7 hours. One member of the rescue team began driving the Safari – while we were asked to sit in the rescue van.

The rescue team from Vellore had apparently been sensitized to handle these situations.


Time: 21:25

We reached Vijay Motors (Vellore) and were happy to be a part of civilization after having spent 7 hours in the middle of a highway. Thanking our stars for being bailed out.
The team was quick in plugging in a desktop to the engine and confirmed the cause of the failure.
We were informed that it would take approximately 15 days to get my car moving.

The components that needed to be replaced were:

  1. Injectors – 4 nos
  2. Common Rail
  3. High Pressure Hose
  4. Cam Sensors
On getting off the rescue vehicle I found the bumper/crash guard/number plate, etc damaged because of having towed my vehicle.

It would be amiss if I do not mention the customer service skills that were exhibited by the team in Vellore – if at all anyone needs to be appreciated during this fiasco- I would strongly recommend Vijay Motors (Vellore).


Time:
22:00

We made our way to the closest Restaurant available to have our Lunch (yea – after being stranded for over 7 hours) and found a place to rest that night.

During my conversations with executives from the various Centers I was time and again told that several TATA Safari Dicor’s have faced similar situations and this was not the first car to have gone thru this kind of a breakdown.

When stuck, I obviously did not expect the team from Bangalore to drive up to where I was stranded – but the least they could have done is to have escalated the issue to the people concerned who may have had information about new Service Centers that were close to where I was. I would have been less harassed if I didn’t have to stay in the middle of a highway (pitch dark) with women in the car. How I hope people concerned had exhibited some seriousness to HELP.

A few questions that remain unanswered and need clarity:

  • Who will bear the expenses for the failure on the part of TATA motors?
    • The Showroom who sold the car?
    • TATA Motors?
    • TATA Service Centers that dropped the ball?
  • Who will take responsibility for the performance of a brand new vehicle that ends up with a large failure that takes 15 days to repair?
  • Is this vehicle (Safari) made of sub-standard products? Or was my vehicle one of the vehicles in a certain batch that did not go thru a comprehensive quality check?
  • How can I be sure that I will not be stranded in a similar fashion if not worse – because of an issue that is known to officials in TATA motors (little has been done about the same).
  • Will the support provided to customers ever be dialed up by sensitizing the TATA Service Centers and equipping them with adequate tools/support?
  • I have been informed that the crash guard, front bumper, number plate, etc that was broken/damaged while the care was being towed by the TATA motors executives has to be replaced at my own cost.


After the utmost trauma I have gone thru – I am forced to wonder if I made the right decision of buying a TATA Safari.

I have request the officials concerned to take note of the situation and do the needful to refund the charges of a Safari.

I bought a TATA Safari because the advertisements read “Put the Tata Safari to the only test that matters” Little did I know what the team in TATA motors meant when they spoke of a TEST.

Test a person – After a Traumatizing experience

Harass people in the name of a 24 Hour Help Line’s

Inadequate support in the name of Service Centers

Improper- training to the support staff.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Rashtrapathi or Rashtra Pity?

India now has its First Woman president and the entire country needs to be impressed because a powerful politician pulled off a history of sorts by throwing in the gender card.

The irony is that the same day that Pratibha Patil was sworn in as President, the first Indian woman to join the Indian Police Service was denied the post of Police Commissioner of Delhi.
I am referring to Kiran Bedi an IPS officer who passed out in 1972.

Kiran Bedi was denied the post because she apparently does not have enough active policing experience – and the entire country needs to be convinced, because Kiran Bedi has duly performed the duties and has in the past called for controversy and admiration for discharging her duties.

Kiran Bedi has proved herself repeatedly in outsider-unfriendly Mizoram where she made insurgents surrender, in reforming Asia's largest prison – the Tihar Jail and as the chief of the Narcotics Bureau she has always ensured she left her mark.

However let us continue to feel happy about having a woman as a President during our 60th Independence Day; because Pratibha Patil is a complete nobody, has had no strong opinions, and has never added any great value during her career. She is also only responsible for making minuscule appointments, such as:

  • Governors of States.
  • The Chief Justice.
  • Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
  • The Attorney General.
  • The Comptroller and Auditor General.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners.
  • The Chairman and other Members of the Union Public Service Commission.
  • Ambassadors and High Commissioners to other countries.
This President has a strong sense of history because she thinks that subjugation of Indian women began with the Mughal invaders, she is also contemporary and is a classic example of Modern India because she wears a full-sleeved blouse and keeps her head covered under her pallu.

This Independence day when the nation hears the Presidents speech it cannot be called an address by the Rashtrapathi an abvious alternative to this fiasco would be to call it ‘Rashtra Pity’.


Elaneer……Elaneer

This is probably a group of people who are fast disappearing in urban India; with every passing day the number of people selling Tender coconut on cycles is soon becoming a thing of the past and Supermarkets are making a quick buck by removing the outer green husk and repackaging it with plastic wraps.


This particular vendor had a tip in choosing the best variety; he mentioned that “Tender coconuts should be young and green. While there are various preferences for the taste of coconut water, generally a green coconut with some age spots tastes good.
Coconuts from various parts of the world also differ in taste. For example, Indian coconuts tend to be salty and Brazilian coconuts have sweeter water.”

Today, Coconut water is commonly found in regular cans or tetra packs and is marketed as a sports drink because of its high potassium and mineral content which helps the body recover from rigorous exercise.
Depending on the size a tender coconut, it could contain liquid in the range of 300 to 1000ml and is popularly known as 'Elaneer' in Tamil/Malayalam/Kannada.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Smiley Dictionary

After my post about the acronym dictionary here is a quick reference to the smiley dictionary.

So don't get left behind in the smiley revolution. Pick the smiley from the Smiley dictionary that best suits your mood.

Smiley

Meaning

Meandering Thoughts

:-)

Smiling

Duh.

:-(

Frowning

Seriously, duh.

;-)

Winking

Just in case they want you to explain that joke.

:-P

Sticking-out-tongue

Zing your friends. Then add some salt to the wound.

=-O

Surprised

Wow.

:-*

Kissing

Our most unsettling smiley.

>:o

Yelling

WHO NEEDS ANGER MANAGEMENT?!?

:-D

Ecstatic

Again, duh.

:-$

Money-mouth

We're not sure what this one is for.

:-!

Foot-in-mouth

Say something wrong? Tisk, tisk.

:-[

Embarrassed

It happens to everyone, right?

O:-)

Innocent

If your buddy has no evidence that you did anything wrong...

:-\

Undecided

Meh. We haven't decided.

:'(

Crying

Boo-hoo.

:-X

Lips-are-sealed

We'll never tell you what we really think about this one.

8-)

Cool

Giggidy, giggidy goo.

Thought, the origin of the smiley is not completely straightened out; the smiley has become an essential of Internet culture, with animated images and representations, as well text-based emoticons.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

National Highways

Driving back from Chennai a week ago I was pleasantly surprised by the handiwork of NHAI.


It is over a year since I traveled to Chennai by road and what welcomed me as soon as I got off the Chennai city limits was a 4 lane road that continued uninterrupted; if there was anything that had to do with a stretch without a 4 lane road then it was a 6 lane road.

It would be amiss if I do not mention the excellent work by NHAI in constructing the roads; when one drives on this road we are left wondering if we are using a highway in India or are on a freeway in another nation.


The authorities have ensured- the existence of well tarred roads, with adequate support in the form of ambulance on call, regular police patrol, no hawkers, no unauthorized vendors, boards with speed limit mentioned and prominent boards that have numbers listed in case you would need support of police or medical support.

There is a ‘toll fee’ one needs to pay to use the road – but one can def pay a small fee for the excellent service rendered.



Will the other states take a note of this and be quick in learning and implementing similar stretches of world class roads rather than giving the public, excuses about land acquisition, tenders, monsoon, etc.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Kaval Deivam - Guardian angel

During a recent trip I happened to capture a picture of Ayyanar (Kaval Deivam-guardian angel). The statue of Ayyanar with his whip and Karuppusami,(his most important companion with a moustache and an aruval-a large sickle) - are eternally vigilant and stand guard on the outskirts of most villages in Tamil Nadu.

Ayyanar shrines are usually located at the peripheries or boundaries of rural villages and the deity is seen riding a horse with a sword. Weapons such as a trident or a lance are also associated with the shrine.

Ayyanar temples are not architecturally elaborate but are signs of continuing traditions — of craft, myths, rituals and caste politics.

Ayyanar is a regional Tamil male deity who is popular among the rural social groups of South India, specifically Tamil Nadu. In the old Tamil literature he is mentioned as Sathanar and in Vedic stories, Ayyanar is considered as one of the several local manifestations of Sastha.
The deity is also popular among vast majority of South Indian & Sri Lankan (read Dravidian) Hindus and some Buddhists in Sri Lanka. He, along with his two female consort deities, is the central deity surrounded by 21 associate folk deities identified as the Kaval Deivam (guardian angel).

Acronym Dictionary

Let's be honest (LBH) - easy (EZ) is better. Get your message across quickly. Find listed the most common abbreviations that you (U) might come across while IMing with your friends. Good luck (GL) and have a nice day (HAND).

Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations that are formed using the initial letters of words or word parts in a phrase or name. Acronyms and initialisms are usually pronounced in a way that is distinct from that of the full forms for which they stand.

This will make you familiar and help you graduate from a Newbie (Noob) to Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and wore(BTDTGTTSAWIO)


A
AAK Asleep at the keyboard
AAR8 At any rate
ADAD Another day, another dollar
AFAIC As far as I'm concerned
AFK Away from computer keyboard
AIM AOL Instant Messenger
ASAP As soon as possible
A/S/L Age/Sex/Location
ATM At the moment
ATW Around the web

B
B Back
B4N Bye for now
BBS Be back soon
BC Because
BCNU Be seein' you
BFN Boyfriend
BFN/B4N Bye for now
BG Big grin
BIL Boss is listening
BITD Back in the day
BMG Be my guest
BOTOH But on the other hand
BRB Be right back
BTDT Been there, done that
BTDTGTTSAWIO Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and wore it out
BTW By the way
BYKT But you knew that

C
CD9 Code 9: Parents nearby
CID Consider it done
CSL Can't stop laughing
COZ Because
CU See you
CUL or CUL8R See you later

D
DQMOT Don't quote me on this

E
EOM End of message
EZ Easy
EG Evil Grin

F
F2F Face to face
F2T Free to talk
FAQ Frequently asked questions
FWIW For what it's worth
FYI For your information

G
G2G Got to go
GAL Get a life
GF Girlfriend
GGN Gotta go now
GJ Good job
GL Good luck
GOL Giggle out loud
GR8 Great
GRT Great
GTG Got to go
GW Good work

H
H8 Hate
HAK Hugs and kisses
HAND Have a nice day

I
IAC In any case
IAE In any event
IC I see
IDC I don't care
IDK I don't know
ILY I love you
IM Instant Message
IMHO In my humble opinion
IMNERHO In my never even remotely humble opinion
IMNSHO In my not so humble opinion
IMO In my opinion
IMPOV In my point of view
IOW In other words
IRL In real life

J
JIC Just in case
JK Just kidding
JTLYK Just to let you know

K
K Okay
KIS Keep it simple
KIT Keep in touch

L
L8 Late
L8R Later
LBH Let's be honest
LOL Laughing out loud

M
MIRL Meet in real life
MorF Male or Female
MOS Mom over shoulder
MTFBWU May the force be with you

N
NE Any
NBD No big deal
NMU Not much, you?
NP No problem
NRN No response necessary
Noob "Newbie" -- someone who is a novice

O
OIC Oh, I see
OMG Oh my god
OTP On the phone
OWTTE Or words to that effect

P
P911 Parent emergency
PAW Parents are watching
PCM Please call me
PIR Parent in room
PLS Please
PLZ Please
POC Point of contact
POS Parent over shoulder
POV Point of view
PRW Parents are watching

Q
Q Question

R
ROTFL Rolling on the floor laughing
RL Real life
RSN Real soon now
RUOK? Are you okay?

S
SFETE Smiling from ear to ear
SIT Stay in touch
SOZ Sorry
SYS See you soon
S2R Send to receive

T
TAFN That's all for now
TBA To be announced
TBH To be honest
THX Thanks
TIA Thanks in advance
TMB Text me back
TOY Thinking of you
TTFN Ta ta for now
TTYL Talk to you later
TY Thank you

U
U You
U2 You too

W
WB Welcome back
W/E Whatever
WFM Works for me
WTG Way to go
WTH What the hell?
WU What's up?
WYGOWM Will you go out with me?

X
XOXO Hugs and kisses

Y
Y Why
YT? You there?
YW You are welcome

Z
ZZZ Tired or bored

Friday, May 25, 2007

The changing face of the 'Public Transport' system

On roads of Bangalore now air-conditioned Volvo buses are plying, introduced by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC)- a first in the country. Despite transportation and traffic woes increasing by the day, Bangalore is the first city to have Volvo buses as part of public transport.
These buses operate with conductors, like the present buses. They are pleasantly coloured with spic 'n' span interiors, low-floor, disabled-friendly, senior citizen-friendly, cushioned seats, disc brakes that ensure passengers are not jerked forward, electronic system that provides vehicle data to drivers, these are just some of the features a Volvo offers presently.

Sleek, red coaches, fully air-conditioned and compliant with Euro-III environment norms, other special features include kneeling mechanism for the benefit of the aged and the physically challenged; wide, pneumatically operated doors to enable easy boarding and disembarking of passengers. All for a price though. Like an autorickshaw, the minimum fare on a Volvo bus is Rs 10.
With only limited buses it gets difficult to track a bus coming to your area & this is when an interesting service called 'Yelli Iddira' comes to your aid. To know the current location of the buses, send an SMS message to 99456-34666 reading ‘Yi V356C U', where 'Yi' stands for ‘Yelli Iddira?'‘V356c' is the route number ‘U' stands for ‘up' (buses heading out of the 'starting station' are designated to as ‘up', and buses heading towards the 'starting station' are designated as ‘down'). Now this is sure to evoke a 'cool' from most of us.
The minimum fare is Rs.10 and maximum being Rs.45, though a little on the higher end BMTC's argument is "All good things come at a price".

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mockery-Freedom of Speech & Expression

An excerpt from the Indian constitution:
‘All people of India shall be guaranteed and secured social, economic and political justice; equality of status and opportunities before law; and fundamental freedoms - of talk, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action - subject to law and public morality.’
The recent spate of affairs in India does not seem to showcase the freedom of speech and expression. Let’s look at a few incidents that seem to be rocking the country and flooding newspapers/24x7 news channels.

Political turmoil that was caused by an opinion poll in a newspaper.
A family’s political ambitions were made visible, when the sons of political leader M.Karunanidhi took to damaging public property and killing a few innocent people.
The irony is that the loss of public life which was a result of the insecurity; lost visibility to the speculation about Maran’s press conference and Karunanidhi’s gimmicks to get his daughter into main stream Politics.
What surprises me is that the leaders of this country are willing to compromise on policies that will benefit the nation and lack the maturity to understand the know how of an opinion poll.

If media cannot plug in what they would like in their own publication – but need to get a sign off from the government about every article that goes ‘live’- may be it is time to abolish the ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’ and amend the constitution accordingly.

Outrage in Vadodara about art that was considered Obscene:
The last I checked:
  1. We did not have a rule book that mentioned the difference between art and obscenity.
  2. Police had a restriction about entering educational institutions unless they had the consent of the head of the educational institution.
  3. Politicians also had to follow the rule of not being able to barge into a place of their choice – when the place was not open to public.
There is little attention paid to the aforementioned aspects, a politician who gate crashed into an educational institution has gotten away from the law enforcement agencies- but an art student who put expression of his imagination on canvas has been behind bars for 5 days.

Let’s understand that -views on public morality do change over time. For example, there have been proscriptions against eating in the street or allowing women to smoke in public. These examples show that public views on things which are unacceptable often move towards wider tolerance.
These incidents raise serious questions about our ability, or even desire, to protect the cultural freedom of individuals. I strongly condemn all attempts by communal forces to violate cultural freedom.

All of us are a witness to the current breed of leaders making a mockery of ‘The Freedom of Speech and Expression’; this also strengthens the fact that today’s leaders want to be perceived as being powerful and enforcing what they perceive is right- conveniently masking areas that actually need attention.

Even the media has become a puppet in the hands of our uncouth politicians; they want to ensure they have content to power 24x7 operations – but one should realize that politicians are getting away with murders and are conveniently breaking the law. May be someday we want to stand up for what is right.

Is the media shying away from reality because they are not free to speak-up or express themselves?
Or is being in the good books of politicians more important than delivering what the viewer/reader needs to know?