My First Memory.

My first memory is my going to a Montessori School in Chennai. I distinctly remember Mrs. Fletcher who was gentle grey haired lady who lived upstairs in the two storied mansion which had all the classes downstairs except one, for the third standard on the first floor. I went to that school till the third standard and was taken out to go to another school when my father moved from Chennai to Mumbai.

Apart from Mrs Fletcher who was the Head Mistress, we occasionally came across Mr. Fletcher who would take classes when one of the teachers was absent. What I remember about Mr. Fletcher is the way hair grew in abundance around his ears and his very bushy eyebrows. He looked formidable. They had a son Babu, who was then going to a college but would also stand in for any absent teacher.

I also remember two teachers. One Rosemary Teacher and one Lily Teacher. (That is how teachers are addressed in some schools in India.) The former’s son James was my classmate and best friend.

There was more playing and horsing around in that school than serious studying and I always remember that when I see children going to school now a days with satchels weighing a ton, and also taking additional tuition, even for lower standards.

My mother used to give me a tiffin box to take to school with rice and yogurt mixed with a dollop of jaggery and I used to relish that during the lunch break. I used to be taken to the school about two kilometers away from our home and back by a cycle rickshaw every day. I vaguely remember some occasions when my father used to drop me off in his car and I would be dropped back home by Babu on his bicycle.

I also remember my younger brother Arvind joining me in the same school for some time and the two of us would go together and return every day. At home too, there was no homework and we would spend most of our time playing something or the other or making things with Meccano sets. Our hero was our uncle, father’s younger brother who would bring these sets every now and then. We also had many Indian indoor games to play and of course the usual out door games like cricket, gilli danda, marbles, tops etc. We would also use up great many drawing books with pencil and crayon drawings and water colour paintings. I used to be fascinated by the dog resembling a greyhound and dalmatian combined that would be printed on the Reeves painting box. All my life I had looked for a dog that would resemble that, without success.

Unlike my grand nephews and nieces of that age now, I don’t remember ever studying at home during that period.

I do however remember group punishments in school as well as at home and who better to remind me of those than my co punishee Arvind who posted this on FaceBook.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where thirteen of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by The Old Fossil. The twelve other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Anu, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, ocdwriter, Padmum, Paul, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

Intelligence.

That is like setting a cat among the pigeons. Commonsense is supposed to be used by unintelligent people and the intelligent ones are supposed to use uncommon sense. That is what intelligence is all about.

Or at least that is what I thought till I read this article in the Economist.

Now my commonsense tells me that I am neither capable of using commonsense nor am I intelligent.

I am in total bliss.

All those who want to experience that sensation are welcome to join me.

Standard Chartered Bank’s Customer Service.

My readers will know how much trouble my friend had with Standard Chartered Bank. If you need more details, you can do no better than go to this post. To go deeper, you can read this post too.

I too had an occasion to face some poor customer service from them later when hard copies of the monthly bills were not being received by me and I was asked to pay penalties for delayed payments. With much exchange of mails and telephone calls it was resolved by SCB discovering that their mailing system had omitted my name for some reason from their mailing list and they apologised and reversed the penalty charges.

I suspect that this attitude towards customers has evolved in The Standard Chartered Bank due to what is called “Back Office Processing” being outsourced to contractors. If they have outsourced Customer Service also to contractors, I am afraid that I am in for a long haul and may well decide to discontinue using their credit card. I inherited it from Grindlays Bank with who I had an extremely long and very satisfying relationship, but Standard Chartered does not appear to care for customers who pay their bills on time. Perhaps they do not like the earnings that such customers generate whereas customers who delay payments or pay in installments are preferred over people like me. Here is the latest instance of poor customer service which is yet to be resolved by Standard Chartered Bank.

On the 4th of June, 2012, I received this message on my telephone from them.

“Your credit card pymt for stmt 21/05/12 is due on 08/06/12. Total due INRxxxxxxxxx.Minimum Due:INRxxxxx. Please ignore if already paid-StanChart.”

I promptly arranged a bank transfer on the same day for the entire amount so that I do not get charged any penalties.

It is to be noted that till then, I had not received any statement of account from StanChart either by hard copy as I always receive every month nor did I get any emails from them enclosing an electronic statement of accounts.

On the 5th of June, I sent this mail to their Customer Service address by email.

“I use your credit card No. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I am yet to receive the monthly statement for May 2012. Based on a text message received on my mobile phone, I have made payment but would like to cross check the amount due with the statement.

Please expedite the despatch of the statement.

Thank you.

On the 6th of June, I received the following email from them:

Dear Mr. Rajgopaul,

This is with reference to your e-mail dated June 05, 2012.

We are in receipt of your payment for Rs.xxxxxxx and the same has been credited
to your card ending XXXX on June 01, 2012.

As requested, we have sent the copy of the May, 2012 statement to your e-mail
id. Trust you are in receipt of the same.

Assuring you of our best services always

Yours sincerely,

Arindam
Officer – Customer Care

On the same day, I responded by email:

No, I have not yet received the copy sent to my email id.

I wrote about the hard copy that you send every month. I have not received that either.

What will you be sending every month from now on? The hard copy by post/courier or an email statement?

I am comfortable with either but I would appreciate receiving A statement every month well before the due date as I have hitherto been receiving.

On the 7th June, I received what StanChart called a Duplicate Bill by email.

On the 7th June, I received this eamil from them.

Dear Mr. Rajgopaul,

This is with reference to your e-mail dated June 06, 2012.

As requested, we have sent the copy of the May statement to your e-mail id.
Trust you are in receipt of the same.

Further, our records indicate that your e-mail id has been registered for our
e-statement facility and the e-statements have been sent to your E-mail id every
month. We request you to check your bulk mail folder.

Assuring you of our best services always

Yours sincerely,

Ravichandran
Officer – Customer Care

On the same day, I responded with the following mail. Please be patient and read it to understand my angst.

Dear Mr. Ravichandran,

I am rather disappointed with your routine response.

Yes, my email id as well as my telephone details are very likely to be registered with you and I do get phone alerts whenever I use the credit card for any purchase.

But, I have not till this morning, when I received your copy of the copy of the earlier estatement, ever received any estatement so far and all my earlier communications with you have been based on hard copies of the monthly statements received by me. I have once again checked my bulk mail folder to find that I have never received any estatement ever. If you can depute someone from your Pune office to come over to my residence, I can show all the hard copies till last month. I am physically handicapped and it would be difficult for me to visit your local office though if needed, I am prepared to do that too.

I have gone so far to check my spam folder as well and find that I have not received any estatement from you.

It is remarkable that I have now received a copy of the statement after I confirmed non receipt in my last email to you, but not the original that you had mentioned in your earlier mail. I suspect that there is something wrong in your mailing list and would appreciate your looking into it instead of putting the ball back in my court. Trust me, I am very computer savvy and I get other credit card statements by email every month. As I had mentioned earlier, I would prefer receiving the estatment and hence my request to you to not treat my mail to be responded in a routine manner. Please do investigate thoroughly at your end as to why I do not get the estatement and more importantly, why I did not get the last month’s hard copy of the statement.

I trust that you would appreciate that unless I get the statement in one form or the other, I would be delaying payments at considerable cost to me. Unless of course you would prefer that I incur such a cost, please do look into my complaint in detail and take such corrective measures as necessary to solve the problem so that I get monthly statements either by hard copy or by estatements, under advise to me.

I would appreciate your detailed response at the earliest.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that I have gone missing from your mailing list and exactly like it is happening now, I was blamed till I raised the matter at higher levels when it was found that there was a problem at your end. If you would like, you could go back some three years ago when this happened. I had also use the blogspace some time ago to resolve another friend’s issue about which you can read here http://rummuser.com/?p=419 I hope that I do not have to again lose my trust in SCB.

Regards,

RAMANA RAJGOPAUL

Having waited for any response, on the 15th June I sent a reminder to Card Services with the heading REMINDER I forwarding the earlier correspondence. I have so far sent four reminders to them for a response and I am yet to receive any thing from them other than their usual auto generated acknowledgement email that within 7 working days my problem will be attended to.

It is now time for the next cycle of billing to start and I wonder if I will get the statement of accounts for June or whether I will have to go through the entire rigmarole that I had to go through earlier.

Fathers Day.

My household has not celebrated any festival or special day like birthday, anniversary etc for decades. So, for the first time ever, my son Ranjan gave me a big hug for fathers day and a gift I was overwhelmed.

Two other adopted sons too called me from far away places to wish me and it was embarrassing. And to cap it all, I got this SMSfrom an adopted grand daughter: “A very happy fathers day to you! God bless! You are an amazing dad!”

Thank you Moni.

So, I decided to do something for my father too. Ranjan came to the rescue and went shopping for something that the former had been wanting for some time. My father was happy.

I did something more. I played a stay at home father and changed my father’s diaper.

Okay, it is not anything special that I did for fathers day, but I can’t help wonder if karma is all that it is cranked up to be. From all accounts from my late mother, my father never changed my diapers when I was in need of such a service. Inevitably either she or a servant did. On the other hand, I did change Ranjan’s diapers often when he was a child.

Talking about karma, a few days ago, my father, oddly enough, while I was changing his diaper lamented “What negative karmic effect is this that you have to suffer like this?” I answered that it was not his negative karma that I was suffering but mine. In fact, it was his good karma that he had me in his life to do it for him!

If I did not have such moments of inspiration, by now Ranjan would have been changing my diapers.