Sunday, June 06, 2010

Of Ringtones, Crying Babies & Bar Code Scanners

The last 30 days have been a mad dash. After 16 flights and over 70 hours of flying, I'm finally taking a breather. If this even remotely resembles the consulting lifestyle - spending half of your day in airports through endless lines of security checks and waiting in the departure lounge for the connecting flight; making a complete mockery of your food habits and sleep cycle - then I'm glad that I didn't get a chance to try it out.

Interviews, traveling across the world for a $150/day India trip, visiting ex flat mates and  friends in Bangalore and finding the house to be just like it was when I had left and finally the super exciting exercise of packing up for eleven weeks, leaving C'ville and arriving at Dallas - life's been pretty hectic of late.

This first thing which hit me upon arriving at the New Delhi airport after a 15 hour non stop flight from New York were the ringtones. Loud, gaudy and ringing for ages while the owner of the phone basked in the glory of his awesome choice of music. We keep hearing about the telecom industry in India. About the potential and the scope. I think people's obsession with flashy ringtones and caller tunes is a major contributor towards it. Anyway, I clearly wasn't expecting this.  Not after the ordeal which I had just been through. The kid in the seat behind me on the flight had made it his favorite pastime to kick my seat every 15 minutes for the entire journey. My occasional glance and request to his mother would only increase the interval. To begin with he was doing it unknowingly. But I think later he found a sadistic pleasure in it - to see me twitching and turning in order to get some sleep. He knew that I knew he would strike sooner or later. The certainty of the event combined with the uncertainty of the exact moment of the assault was what made it lethal. After sometime, I just gave up and watched Young Frankenstein and a crappy Bollywood movie instead. 

That was not all. There were a hundred kids in the flight and it seemed all of them were seated close to me. What more, they seem to synchronize their crying so that one would pick up immediately after another stopped. And somehow their moms seemed least bothered! Clearly, saying 'Stop crying Beta' to a 2 year old isn't going to work because a) his linguistic abilities are not yet developed enough to process that sentence and b) he's crying because he's pissed off about something (like alcohol not being offered for a second time, say) and the only way to make him stop crying is to find out and solve the problem. Action, mothers. Not words.

It's good to see India beating the Govt. forecast of GDP growth and surging ahead at 7.4%. It's sad to see simple things not being implemented especially when the Infys and the Wipros have had that technology for ever. Take bar code scanners to scan boarding passes for example. Or simple displays to help transit passengers figure out the details of the connecting flight. Instead, at places we have a person ticking off names from a list while collecting boarding passes and another one crying out 'All Kolkata passengers to the left and Amritsar passengers to the right' on top of his voice as we come out of the plane. The result - longer queues, greater confusion, more noise about nothing in particular and pissed off passengers. Having the technology is of no use if we are not able to find ways to put it to use in our daily lives.

Internship begins tomorrow. Should be exciting. New city. New people.


MechaniGal said...

Atish, entertaining post. Good luck on your internship. WRT flights and kids - welcome to my life buddy :(

anonymous coward said...

bar code scanners are used here to scan domestic passes. foreigners ko 'hungry india, poor india' experience dene ke liye nahi use karte honge.

nisha said...

Good work, i like your blog theme, and content ofcourse

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! but what about the dads of those riotous lot? it takes 2 to tango right