Thursday, February 15, 2007

Breaking rules and breaking news!

Being quite vetti (jobless) at home, I have a lot of time now to watch TV [should not be construed to mean that I do it all the time :-)]. Switching on the TV day before in the afternoon, I found most of the Indian news channels uniformly showing one particular news item as ‘Breaking News’. The news in question was Lalu Prasad Yadav’s in-laws travelling ticketless in a train in Bihar! The news by itself didn’t come as a big surprise to me as Mr.Yadav has been running Bihar as his own fiefdom throughout the time he or his wife has been in power. So, his in-laws travelling ticketless while he is the railway minister in a First A/C coupe isn’t big news at all. That being the case, I was wondering if this particular news item warranted being hyped up as breaking news across all channels. Come on, haven’t we got any other news worth reporting – news, which is really “news” and not just hype?

Now, look at it from the point of view of the in-laws of Mr.Yadav. Hundreds or even thousands travel ticketless day in and day out. In fact, you and I could also have done it at some point in our lives :-) Its just their misfortune that they got caught and they also happen to be related to the railway minister. And in Bihar, I am told that people having reserved tickets usually find someone else occupying their seat. So, is it such a grave offence warranting reporters scurrying to a small town in Bihar to “cover” the news?

Apparently there’s a huge change in the way news is reported these days especially by the visual media. The sad trend seems to be to sensationalise everything and anchors/reporters seem to believe in being ruthless and holding a trial by the media and passing judgement. News seems to be analysed from the point of view of TRPs rather than their actual newsworthiness. Sad state of affairs in my opinion…..

When I picked up The Hindu yesterday morning I was half expecting the incident of the ticketless travel to be in the headlines. Mercifully, they didn’t seem to think it headline news and relegated to a small column in one of the middle pages. I guess they still believe in reporting news rather than selling hype!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

An evening at CCD!

An evening at CCD (Cafe Coffee Day for the uninitiated!) yesterday turned rather interesting than expected! Being as jobless as I am, I was driving around the city on my bike and taking in the sun, when I had the sudden brainwave to meet a couple of friends at CCD in Ispahani Centre. For the sake of brevity we shall refer to them as A and N.

We were comfortably seated in the couches when the menu cards, one pink and the other maroon, were made available to us. Soon it was time for us to order and N began by asking for Iced Caramel in the maroon card, but the waiter (don’t know if its appropriate to call them waiters!) pointed out that he can only give her a Caribbean Caramel on the pink card! The only difference between the two was the price, the one N wanted was priced at Rs.45 and the one he offered to get was priced at Rs.75!! N tried pointing out that both drinks were the same and how there could be any differential pricing but the waiter stood his ground and said he could only get the higher priced one. Not wanting to shell out a higher price, N grudgingly had to settle for a less palatable drink :-)

In the meanwhile A, who had been studiously going over the menu card(s), came up with her order – a samosa and a chocolate crumble! Hearing this, both N and I tried convincing A about the inadvisability of ordering samosa in a place like CCD but in vain. In due course, the samosa arrived, infact there were two on the plate and A began eating one. N who was looking rather wistfully at the other samosa decided to have it herself and that’s when the trouble began. After a couple of bites, N began making a close examination of the contents of the samosa and came to the conclusion that the samosa was burnt! A careful comparison with the other samosa (a small sample of which was made available by A) proved that she was infact right and the samosa was, indeed, burnt!

Having concluded thus, N then called for the waiter and brought the matter to his notice. And the immediate response she got from him, left us all rather stunned for a moment! “We don’t make the samosas ma’am, we get them from outside”, was his reply! But N was not one to be cowed down by such replies and argued that whether they made the samosas or got them from outside, they can’t sell burnt samosas to customers. A chipped in by showing her samosa and pointed out the difference in colour between the stuffings in the two samosas to prove the point. The waiter who had become quite jittery by then took the samosa back with him for an inspection by his higher authorities. After prolonged discussions with his colleagues he came back with the samosa and his verdict, that the samosa was not burnt! This led to more arguments from A and N but he once again stood his ground and pointed out that it was peas stuffing and its appearance is as it should be! However, he couldn’t come up with any satisfactory answer when we pointed out that the stuffing in A’s samosa didn’t look the same. He suggested that the stuffing in A’s samosa was aloo and hence looked different! N then came up with the brilliant suggestion that he should get her an aloo stuffed samosa as well, which left him quite baffled! In the end, however, N got no replacement for the burnt samosa which left her rather miffed and rightfully too.

Feeling rather shortchanged by the attitude of the waiter, A and N decided to vent their anger through a feedback form! The waiter attending to our table was quite helpful in pointing out that the feedback form was available along with the bill, thus subtly hinting that the bill was, as yet, unpaid! A promptly filled up the same and pointed out the “defects” in the samosa that was served and the general attitude of the staff. N, in the meanwhile, decided that she should add her five paisa worth in the feedback and asked for another feedback form. Apparently this was the first time that two feedback forms were requested by people in the same table and the staff seemed to be quite ill equipped to deal with such an emergency!! Hectic parleys seemed to be happening between them regarding the same with no solution in sight! Frantic waving of hands by the three of us and polite “excuse mes” to passing waiters didn’t produce the required form either and at one point of time, no waiter was willing to look anywhere in the direction of our table! After a lapse of almost 10 minutes, the feedback form was finally furnished and N had quite a bit to write on that rather small piece of paper. Having done that we decided that it was time for us to leave, which view, the staff in CCD seemed to endorse as well. On our way out, we passed an elderly gentleman looking rather intently at the samosas and puffs on display and said a silent prayer for him :-)

P.S: The whole episode was quite amusing when you look at it as a spectator, as I was :-)