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*.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Open Letter: Dear western media, we need to talk

Somewhere in August 2014, Huffington Post and Times Internet announced their tie up to launch the Indian version of the website. Earlier that year, Atlantic Media launched their Quartz India. In February 2015, Mashable made headlines when they revealed their intentions to launch Mashable India. Everyone was happy as western media made their intentions clear about entering the growing news business in India. Buzzfeed was not far behind as they also launched their India version.

What happened next? All of them barring Mashable launched their Indian versions. Everyone was happy with the Indianised versions of opinion pieces, lists and news. While Huffington Post hired some well-known faces from the online world to run their business, Quartz did all that without much media attention. Buzzfeed, on the other hand, got one of their New York office to run their website.

So far, so good. But then, why I am writing this letter?

While I, and many young journalists like me, appreciate the move to open the Indian versions of your award-winning and notable websites, I really wonder how much you will earn. Journalism in the West is significantly different to the journalism in this country. It is more a business here, unlike in the West, where it is about reporting and being the first to break and inform the public about what is happening in the world.

I understand your intention to make your presence felt, to earn those extra bucks, to become global brands in the true sense of the word. However, I have a request and suggestion, which may brighten the future of journalism.

There was a time when publications exchanged employees from one city to another to teach and enlighten them on how the different city bureaus worked differently. Remember the international student exchange programme? Why did that start, in the first place?

When multinational deals are made, the chief management usually travel around the world to see how different newsrooms work. This is something I could never fathom. More than the management, should it not be the employees who need to travel to different bureaus to see how journalism is different across the world?

Why? While the editors take final calls on editorial decisions, it is finally the writers and reporters that help complete the final product. Understanding how different newsrooms work teaches employees more, and in return, helps editors also in making the work more comprehensible.

It is not only that. Sending employees on foreign trips that include fun and work will also make them feel more wanted. Am I making sense?

So it is time that the sub-editor, reporter and even the designer get the flight ticket to other branches and get to learn how journalism works in USA. The management can, of course, keep making those business trips. One less would not hurt them.

Friday, 13 March 2015

You are not alone! This is how you can handle depression!

I must confess, I have a big problem out of many problems that fill up my small clustered cupboard. I get upset when I am not able to achieve a goal that I have set for myself. I try to get my mind off the failure by watching a movie and usually it turns out to be a sad selection. The upset further increases and turns to frustration.

Guide - How to handle depression?

Understanding You: Depression

Five years back falling asleep was as easy as reading a book to me. If I wanted I could sleep over any worry and any sadness. Sleeping was my one and only medicine to all problems. However, now even that seems to be a big problem.

This is what depression does to you. You try to sleep but you can't. Your mind crowded with thoughts of you unable to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself. You twist and turn in your bed till tears start rolling down yours cheeks. You remember everything from your childhood. All that you miss, all the people you spent the major time of your childhood with, the things you told them, the way you separated from them. It all comes back to you. Your mind starts stimulating the thoughts and increases the uncomfortableness. It is uneasy. By the time you fall asleep it is time to get up and waking up can be really painful.

Guide - How to handle depression?

Understanding You: Depression

You wake with a drowsy feeling. Your head aches. You get ready, have too much of caffeine and the time and adversities at the office increase your disgust for life.

You try to motivate yourself by going through random self-motivating posts. You share them with the whole world. You send out affirmations because that is what 'The Secret' tells you. However, life is still the same.

You have failed and you are failing and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Death seems to the only way or succumbing to the suffering.

You are not alone. Look around you. You are reading this. You alone do not suffer this unpleasant disease that you refuse to accept is a part of your life now. Forget what the society feels and says. Think about yourself. You need to get over it.

Dear friend, if you need help, or anyone you know needs help, we are just a call away.

Here is how you can change your life. Here are the remedies. Embrace it. Share it. Do not shy away.

Guide - How to handle depression?

Understanding You: Depression

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Feedback form story

It was 11 PM. She was transfixed in her laptop. It was time to shut the shop. He walked towards her. "Ma'am, it is time to shut the shop." She did not hear. She had her earphones on, and he heard her listening to Jason Derulo. "Real intense," he thought. He said once again, "Ma'am?"

She was trying to write something, at least she had managed to write two sentences compared to yesterday's two words. As she was listening to the song and trying to write at the same time, she saw a shadow hover around her. She finally looked up, the man in the green apron and black shirt and she saw his lips move. She read, "M-A-A-M. Ma'am." She quickly removed her earphones, "Oui?" She corrected and said, "Yes?"

"Ma'am, it is time to shut the shop. It is past 11 o'clock." He tapped his wrist watch. She got a little unsettled. She flustered. "What am I supposed to do," she wondered. "Cheque please," she requested. The man stared back at her. "Has she been drinking?" She looked back, he saw her staring at her. She got a little irritated. "What?" She asked. "You have already paid," he said.

She snapped at herself. "Damn!" She looked at the man, she noted his black shirt and green apron, once again. She tried to read the name but gave up. She needed an eye check-up, it has been long pending. "Sorry, my bad. I forgot." He replied, "No worries." He turned to walk back, but he stopped. He turned back. She saw him put his hand inside his pocket and took out a paper. And she thought, for once it is going to be a gun.

"Will you please fill up this form?" He asked. She took the paper from his hand and started reading it. "Feedback," it read. She sighed. She wondered, "They still exist?" She said, "Yes I will." She sat to fill it up." He waited. He saw her put her hand inside her bag. He thought, "She spends so much time in her laptop. Am so sure, she does not have a pen." But, at that time, she took a fountain pen and started scribbling. "They still exist?" He wondered.

He waited, as she finished filling up the form. While she was filling up the form, from the corner of her eyes, she saw him, staring at her, watching her hand and fingers move. "Disagree. Agree." She finished. "There," she handed over the paper and kept the pen inside. He took it, disappointed at the pace it got over; said, "Thank you." And started walking towards the counter.

As she was packing her stuff, the man returned. The others in the shop by now had shut the front doors. The side door of the shop was open. She was the only customer. One of them had shut the fire alarm by now and lighted a cigarette, near the window, with a small opening, making sure the seniors did not notice. But they did. One of them joined him, followed by five others. Another four cigarette came out. One of them refused the offer of the cigarettes. She thought, "He does not smoke." However, at that moment, he took out a rolling paper and started rolling a joint. She sighed.

He was still standing, as she saw all that happen in front her and pack her stuff. "Oui?" She said, once again. "Are you french?" He asked. She smiled and said, "No." He stopped and wondered. She waited for him to talk. He did not. She looked at him, now, straight into his eyes. Two coloured, she said to herself, "Heterochromia iridum." She ignored, as she started to notice him properly now. Six feet, may six feet two inches. Blonde, wavy hair. Pink lips. Stubble. Brown eyebrows. "Might have coloured his hair," she told herself.

She finally asked, "Yes, how can I help you?" "Should have not said that," she told herself. He saw her. He noted, he noted that she was checking him out, subtlety.

"You said in your feedback that you wanted the staff here to be a little more friendly." He waited for her to say something. She was not listening. She was watching his lips move. He continued, "So, here I am. Hello. Sorry, if you think we are not friendly." And he extended his right hand.

Her gaze broke. She saw his hand coming towards her hand. She waited, she waited for the words to reach her mouth. "Hey, I did not mean that." She did not extend her hand back.

"It is okay," he said. "You come here every day." He wanted to say more, but he stopped and took his hand back, inside his pocket. She saw him wanting to say more.

"Yes, I come after work." She replied. She wanted to now run. The conversation was leading somewhere, she did not want.

"Yes, I know. I am sorry if I am stopping you. But, just wanted to make sure that we are not unfriendly. You come here every day, you are an important person in... life," he stopped and ended the sentence.

She was not looking at him anymore. She had finished packing her stuff. After four cups of coffee and two double-meat sandwich, she was not expecting this conversation. She picked up her bags and looked at him now.

He saw her dump all her belongings inside the bags. He understood that she was not comfortable with this conversation. And now she was looking at him. He wanted. "Another step towards her," he thought. But, instead he said, "The door behind is open. The staff leaves from that side." He did not want to complete the sentence. However, he did, "You can too."

Before he could say anything else, she turned around and started walking. He saw her walking away. But, wait. She stopped and she walked back. "Can I have the feedback form, that one" She pointed at the paper in his hand.

He stretched his hand and gave it to her. She took his pen from his breast pocket. He did not see that coming, but in slow motion saw her hand reach for it and her hand return, near the paper. She handed scribbled something back on the paper and handed it over to him, once again. She said, "See you tomorrow." And she disappeared.

He wanted to reply but could not. He looked at the paper. It read "Strongly Disagree. Except one guy. He was friendly. Even though he forgot to mention his name."

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