Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Charlie’s first cricket bat

It was Charlie’s fifth birthday and he had been waiting eagerly for the morning of April 28 to arrive. He has been planning for over two months now, what all he intended to do. More so because his father, Mr. D’Souza, had promised Charlie of a cricket bat with a MRF sticker; just like Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli. Charlie wanted to grow up to be a cricketer, just like his favourite cricketers.

Charlie woke up before his parents and rushed to the drawing room expecting a lot of presents stacked up for him. However, there was nothing. He waited patiently for his parents to wake up. Charlie’s final exams at school had ended and he was waiting for the new term to begin. The clock ticked 6:15 AM. He hoped that his mother would wake up any minute. He didn’t want to go and knock on the door of his parents’ bedroom and disturb. He sat on the sofa and waited… 6:25, 6:35, 6:45… Charlie had fallen asleep on the sofa while waiting for his parents.

His mother, Mrs. D’Souza, a 35-year-old lady, who had just started her baking start-up, woke up to find his youngest child asleep on sofa. She went back to her bedroom and woke up Charlie’s father.
By this time Charlie had woken up and jumped up on the sofa shouting, “Bat! Bat! Bat!” Before Charlie could say anything anymore, his father had gone back and presented him a wrapped huge box. Charlie touched it and he felt unsure. It didn’t feel like a bat but a huge box. Charlie looked sad.
“Open it up, don’t sulk,” said Charlie’s father.

Charlie quietly sat on the sofa and started unwrapping the gift box. Suddenly a ball popped out.
“Ah!” Charlie led out a shriek in happiness. He did not half expect this.

His unwrapping speed went up by five times and within seconds the six wickets, six wickets, four bails, one tennis ball and a brand new cricket bat was lying on Charlie’s five-year-old lap. Charlie started jumping in joy, letting the wickets and bails and ball roll out all around the drawing room. He jumped on his father and started kissing him in joy.

And, then suddenly he stopped. He ran back to the cricket bat and picked it up and saw something. His face turned gloomy. Something was missing.

“What happened?” his mother asked.

“No MRF?” Charlie asked his father with teary eyes.

Charlie’s father started smiling and went up to him. He patted his light, silky black hair. “Boy, do you think Virat and Sachin started playing with the MRF bat? They earned that label with years of hard work.”

Charlie did not look satisfied. He wanted the MRF bat. He didn’t care. His reputation was at stake.
“But, no one will believe this!” Charlie started sobbing loudly. “All my friends are expecting me to bring the MRF bat and we decided to play with it. Now, everyone will laugh at me.”

Charlie’s father picked him up in his arms and rubbed his tear-filled cheeks.

“You tell them, to go and ask their parents, whether Virat and Sachin started playing with a MRF bat when they were of your age. If they still laugh at you, you will know they are not your friends. Your friends will stand by you and believe you.”

Charlie heard his father speak. He always believed what Mr. D’Souza said and he always did what his father told him. He did not want to argue anymore. He picked up his brand new cricket kit and arranged them at the corner of the room.

Then he went and hugged both his parents and tucked inside his mother’s arms. Charlie was happy.


It was 11 o’clock in the morning. Despite the tormenting sun hovered over their heads, the young 5-7 year olds of Whitefield lane did not care about anything else than cricket. New terms were yet to start and they wanted to utilise each and every minutes of the day before they went back into carrying heavily loaded school bags and gulp in 10-lettered words that was somehow supposed to make them into better citizens of tomorrow.

Everyone had been anxiously waiting for Charlie that day. They waited for the brand new cricket bat with MRF written on it. Everyone wanted to touch it.

Charlie appeared with a huge bag behind him gleefully, out of the corner of the Whitefield lane. Everyone started cheering and loudly calling out his name. “Charlie, Charlie!” As if Charlie had won a tournament for them.

Even the 10-year-olds of the colony ran towards Charlie.

While cheers and demands of the new bat be made public started filling in, Charlie’s heart raced like a rocket. He was happy but his reputation was at stake too. He knew that despite having so many friends, there were enemies too, who were unhappy with the fact that Charlie, the 5-year-old had a MRF bat and not them.

Charlie slowly started taking out the wickets, bails, and the ball and finally came out the bat. There was a loud cheer, “Yeah!” and then everyone was quiet.

“Hey, this is no MRF bat! You cheat!” said a 7-year-old boy, who had desperately fought with his parents to gift him a MRF bat too. Charlie could see the grin and many others also laugh at his back and at his loss.

“When Virat and Sachin started playing, they also did not have a MRF bat! They earned it over the years! Go and ask your mom and dad!” Charlie said exactly what his father told him, but trying to sound convincing. However, he ended up sounding desperate.

The other kids started laughing. Charlie would break into tears any soon.

“Yeah, right! Virat and Sachin. You think you can buy us with that story? Say na, your father did not gift you one coz you don’t deserve! Loser!” said a 10-year-old, who tried to boss everyone at Whitefield lane and took away the ball, if he ever got out early.

Charlie’s eyes had just started to turn red, when another five-year-old came from behind and protested.

“Hey you, you think you are bigger than us, so you can say whatever you want? You know what? My brother plays at Shivaji Park and even he does not have a MRF bat! He also told me that you have to earn to be there where Sachin and Virat are. Stop being such a mean and get on with your game. Why are you wasting his birthday and our time?”

And then the boy turned towards everyone. “Did any one of you get a new cricket bat this birthday? Forget a bat, a whole new cricket set?” No nah! Then stop hurting him and let’s play with the new thing!”

In twos-threes, people started agreeing with this boy. Charlie’s face had turned from red to pink to red again.

The boys started dispersing. The 5-7 year olds, who played together, quickly collected the kit from Charlie and patted and wished him. Some of them even hugged. Charlie threw high-fives also.

The boy, who had fought for him, had started to place the wickets into the ground. Charlie walked up to the boy and said, “Thank you.”

The boy looked back and smiled. And then suddenly Charlie hugged him. The boy got startled and tried to get rid of him.

“Hey what’s your problem?” asked the boy.

“You fought for me, you are my friend. Only friends do that!” Charlie replied.

“Hey, buddy. I really appreciate all these but I just wanted to play. Manu’s bat is almost broken. So, don’t get all excited.”

And the boy turned and started putting the other wickets in place. Charlie did not care much about the reply. He knew that he found a new friend and he could see the boy trying to hide his face from Charlie and had blushed cheeks when Charlie called him his friend.

Charlie picked up the other three wickets and ran towards the other end and started putting them in place, as others came to help him.

The boy turned and saw Charlie laughing with others and he said under his breath, so that no one could, “Friends!” And let out a smile that denoted that a new friendship was born.

Cricket, which seems to have divided the children of Whitefield lane, had just united them. Cricket saved the day, once again.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

My ordeal with Uber India

First of all, this is not a grudge that I hold against any service. However, mere dissatisfaction with the services and hoping that they will read this and do something about it. If they don't, not my loss. I will find another service and losing one customer among millions would not hurt them. Nonetheless, the post will remain and will go ahead in future as a review and the service will be termed bad.

Somewhere in May, 2015, I installed the Uber app on my mobile as I needed a trusted fleet taxi service to travel from my office to the domestic airport in Mumbai at 3 AM in the night, or early morning. Due to some PayTM issue, I was unable to use the service and took alternative services.

I traveled to another city and used their services. Upon my return to Mumbai, I suggested the service to my cousin and referred my code to her. However, what I did not notice was that Uber was giving me credits in Yen. I was careless. Fault accepted.

Next morning, my cousin booked for an Uber service from Santacruz West and final destination was Vashi. However, we did not know that Uber did not believe in traveling from Santacruz West to Vashi by taking a detour. Rather than taking two separate taxis, we had planned to use the same taxi to Lower Parel and then from there I would take the car to Vashi.

The driver informed us that it was not possible because those are two different routes, which means two different trips. So what we did is we traveled to Lower Parel, where I dropped her and booked the same taxi to Vashi. Two trips in the same taxi, which could have been one.

I was ready to adjust. But, the problem of Yen was yet to be  figured out by me. Obviously, it would have taken some time, as I am not staring at my Uber app 24x7. When I notified the Uber, they told me this.

Hi Sudatta,
Thanks for reaching out! You can update your account information both in the app and by signing in at uber.com
To update through the app:
  1. Open the account menu by clicking the icon of a person in the top left corner of the app
  2. Select Profile
  3. Here you can change the email, phone number, name, or password associated with your account

To update through the Uber website:
  1. Navigate to our website and sign in
  2. Click on the Profile tab
  3. Here you can change the name, email, password, country, zip code, language, or phone number associated with your account.
Let me know if you have any questions or check out the FAQ.
I told them that my profile was up-to-date. I have this problem, OCD, you can say. I tend to update and fill up details before using the service. 
To which they replied.
Hi Sudatta,
Thanks for your response. Sorry to hear about what happened. Happy to make this right for you.
Kindly use a desktop pc or reinstall Uber App on your mobile phone.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can assist you with.
I replied.
My profile is very much updated and filled with details which in very simple portrays that I am from Mumbai, India.
This is a problem from your end.
They wrote back, after I ranted on Twitter. 
Hi Sudatta,
This is ______, from the Uber Mumbai Team.
Thanks for writing in and apologies for all the inconvenience.
This anomaly generally occurs, if by chance a rider's location changes on the registration page. However, no need to worry, I have gone ahead and made the necessary changes. Moreover, I will not be able to change the credits that you earned in Yen to INR, because currency regulation laws disallow it.
However, since you have shared your referral code, I have gone ahead and added a promo code to your account. This will entitle you to a free ride worth Rs 300 and will automatically apply to your next ride.
I hope this addresses your concern. Please feel free to reach out if you have any other questions or concerns. I'll be happy to address them.
My problem - This is really frustrating. Neither have I changed the location in settings. Due to a mistake in Uber's system, I have to face this problem. The problem is not in getting a promo or free rides but such a fault in Uber's system. Moreover, the regulations do not allow one to change currencies. 
I am not the only one to face such problems. I know someone who was handed over credits in US dollars and was expected to fly to USA, to use those. Uber expects me to travel to Japan to use 2,000 Yen. 
It is high time that Uber takes their multiple problems, seriously. They are facing lot of issues in the capital and there was some problem in the commercial capital also, recently. I love using their services. However, these problems have really frustrated me. 
1. Uber needs to change their trip-related issues. They are supposed to be my 'Private Driver'. If I want to travel from X to Y via Z route, they should accept it. Either it is Uber's problem or the driver was making a fool out of me.
2. The problem of crediting money in different currencies is a very old issue. Either Uber does it intentionally or there is something wrong with their mobile app. Fix the bug. Please.
However, Uber has done something really nice. There is a transport strike called by auto rickshaws and kali-peeli taxi services in Mumbai. Uber, in return, did this. Here you go —
Getting around Mumbai tomorrow will be tough, but we at Uber are committed to a reliable ride.

We've worked with our partner drivers to ensure that Mumbai's citizens can get around the city seamlessly when choices are limited, especially with the onset of the monsoons. 

 So, on Wednesday, June 17th, from 00:00 hours until midnight, dynamic pricing will be disabled to ensure that you can get to where you need to be. However, no dynamic pricing means that the availability of cars will be affected, due to the increased demand. You may have to try a few times to get a ride successfully. 

We know it is going to be tough out there. Our partner  drivers are enthusiastic in their  support of our efforts to make sure that Mumbaikars keep moving.

 Uber On.

Also, there have been an issue on their part of not being able to charge me for a ride. They are yet to get in touch with me to solve the issue. I am reaching out, publicly.

We were unable to charge Paytm •••• payt
Please correct the billing for your trip on Request time unknown
Charge -₹ 502 to

However, this won't stop me from using their services as these are minor issues. Yet, I want these small problems to be solved along with the big ones. Will they?

Hopefully, Uber will solve these issues. *Peace*.