Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A tele-shock on account of Vishu

I had a strange experience on the 15th. The previous day or late in the night on the 13th I must have sent more than 50 messages wishing Happy Vishu to my relatives, friends, former colleagues and so on. (A day later I remembered I had missed some but there was nothing much to do about it.) Most people reciprocated the greetings. I do not keep count of those who didn’t.

I sent a simple 'Happy Vishu' message with my name. One of the numbers is listed in my mobile as MR Rajan’s. Rajan is currently Assistant Vice President, Asianet. A graduate of the prestigious Pune Film and Television Institute, and an acclaimed documentary maker, Rajan was one of the two Chief Producers at Asianet when I used to be there. The number came in to my new mobile instrument along with my Kerala Vodafone SIM card, and again to my Pune Vodafone SIM card. I must have just prefixed a zero to many of the Kerala numbers. After my retirement I think I had met Rajan during former Asianet colleague Balalchandran’s daughter’s marriage and later and/or after the demise of Shobhana Parameswaran Nair/Chintha Ravi, both Asianet’s illustrious contributors during my time. 

The last time I had called MR Rajan was in April 2008, after my trip to Mumbai following my daughter Neelima’s marriage, for the reception there. I called him to tell him that I met Jyothi Basu, the painter who used to do our sets a couple of years back. We met in a restaurant where our two families, my son-in-law’s and mine, were having dinner. Jyothi Basu was there with a Malayali photographer from the Times of India who came to take his snaps to go with an interview. He lives in the Mumbai suburb of Borivli (West) and in the colony I used to live, which is very close to where Neelu’s in-laws stay. Jyothi Basu and I were astonished and happy to meet each other far away from where we got aquainted. Jyothi Basu fondly remembered Neelu as a small girl because we used to live in the Asianet Guesthouse for a few months. He gave me his calling card. I told Rajan all this, and transferred Jyothi Basu’s address and mobile number to Rajan though he had not asked for it. That is my nature. I want to get connected, and wish others too to keep connected. It was Rajan who told me then that Jyothi Basu’s paintings fetch now Rs.1 million and above. (Neelu checked and told me a year back that they went for Rs.5 million plus at Sotheby’s auctions.)

Now, on 15th April, 2012 afternoon when my daughter and I were shopping at the Spar mall in Hyderabad a call came to me from the number that I have as MR Rajan’s. The caller asked me who I was. Because the place had music and people chattering, I couldn’t recognise the voice and I said, Rajan, this is TMMenon. What followed was a series of pernicious and aggressive questions on how I got the number, when did I call earlier, and so on. I explained patiently my story, and asked him why he was so agitated over a greeting when I had never called the number which I thought was my former colleague’s. He told me the number was his for 12 Years. He then gave me this stiff and rude warning which only a third-rate Malayali can give under the circumstances: “no further calls or messages to this number!” I meekly agreed and immediately delete the number. Ever since I was wondering why the bugger was so peeved over a simple greeting. Early this morning it dawned on me, the number could be a woman’s!

Well, it is not unusual, to have two people having the same number, if you ask me. My wife received a call from DySP, Ernakulam South Police station to appear before him with her Reliance Telephone handset and SIM and she went straight from the airport on her arrival from Hyderabad. There was a complaint against her (!) for using a number that belongs to someone in Kannur. She explained to the Officer available since the DySP was missing, that she had this number for more than eight years. She was asked to present herself once again, with a letter and documents pertaining to the connection. My wife being a bit careless about these things had no paper except a receipt for paying a recent bill. And I fished out the electronic bills from her e-mail box. Armed with this we went. I did not go in to the Station. But I had my wife ask the DySP how come he didn’t feel like investigating at the Reliance Telecom first instead of calling a woman customer living some 50 Km away to come like a criminal to the police station? He agreed she had a point and was only too happy with the documents and close the ‘case’!
My son-in-law, who is Sr.Sales Manager of Vodafone’s Enterprise Division does not understand how two people can have one number though.

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