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
Profile


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 —
        UBER
#keepmumbaimoving
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

Monday, 19 January 2015

Understanding You: Depression





Depression - /dɪˈprɛʃ(ə)n/ - feelings of severe despondency and dejection. "self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression". a long and severe recession in an economy or market. "the depression in the housing market"

Imagine yourself, sitting on a chair, in an empty house. Your mind is full of thoughts, starting from wanting to become someone great to destroying your life, because you believe you won't be able to achieve or attain that state of prominence.

Imagine yourself in a crowded room. You are in an animated mood. You are conversing with people. People are intrigued by you, you entertain them, they love you. But, inside you, you are not sure, you do not believe anything you say.

Whatever, you have been doing at this point of time, till this very moment, you judge everything. You wonder whether life itself is true. Going to sleep is a problem for you, waking up is worse.

You don't want to share this with anyone, not even the man who loves you, not even the family that dotes on you. You are scared that they will be scared and they would want to take care of you. However, you want to be alone, you are unsure whether they will understand you, in this struggle.

You thrive for love, longing, peace, stability. But, you don't believe that it is worth that pain, it is worth that wait, or time, or energy.

You take double the time to write one sentence; you take triple the time to satisfy yourself by sentence, you have just written. Next morning, you regret that yesterday ever happened.

You are suffering, and you want to be cured. But, you are too ashamed or too unconfident that people will understand. Your whole life has been about running away from the truth, escaping from the very meaning and purpose of your life.

Impulse rules you; rationalism irritates you. You hallucinate; you soliloquize.

You stare, you think about what you are trying to think. There is an emptiness inside your heart and stomach, it is being filled up by oblivion. You close your eyes, you want to sleep, but you can't. Your mind is stimulating thoughts, too fast for you to put in a pensive and analyse it later.

It is morning, you need to get up. Three cups of tea, seven cups of coffee. Caffeine is your best friend. At night, alcohol is your husband. And, scag is your extra-marital affair.

You are not surviving. You are a living death. And then, pop. It's over.

You have woken up from the dream. Was it psychosis?

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Happy Married Life, My Friend

7:49 PM, January 17, 2015. I am sitting on the one of the wrought-iron chairs that we have at our rented apartment in the City of Dreams. There is a pillow and blanket lying on the sofa, the Television set is running on mute. A Vicks lozenge's wrapper is lying on the floor. The centre table have two used tea mugs, one chocolate biscuits packet, open, half-filled. And, a water bottle, half-closed.

For the last two hours, I have been sitting on this place, wondering what to do. I do not like spending the whole day at home. I hate holidays. It suffocates me, idles my brain. An idle brain is devil's workshop. I am very sleepy. Probably, over-slept.

I try to write, but cannot. My brain is not working. I think of drying the clothes that are lying in the washing machine, but I am too lazy to. I think of going out, but I check my bank account summary. I am ashamed. All I can do, is sit and hope for this night to pass quickly.

I look at my laptop; I have been working whole morning. I don't feel like touching it anymore.

I pick up my cell phone. Browse through my contact list. My eyes narrow down to one of my best friends. She is getting married tomorrow. January 18. I have sent her bunch of flowers. All I wanted to send her, is a note, a poem, a book, I don't know. But, something lyrical. Not flowers. They don't allow you to just send a greetings card. Bad for their business.

I have known her for eight years now, is it? I am very bad at mathematics. We did not became friends so easily. My first year at college, was, kind of political. It is somewhere at the end of my first year, that we became friends. How? One day I just simply decided to stop sitting where I used to and move to where they used to sit. It was not welcomed, kindly. But, she and her friends, did not raise voice too.

Rest is history. Tea breaks, tram rides, Some Place Else, Boncharals, etc. Poetry, write-ups, David Daiches, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Tree Trunk, Maroon 5, Jane Eyre.

However, nothing comes easy. No relationship is supposed to be easy. As our college lives came to an end, our friendship got diminished too.

Albeit, when you have been friends, have been so close friends, distance pains. We got back, we worked our way back into the relationship.

It was not easy. We were in different cities, our lives had changed. We were different people. There was a gap of three years, in between us. We remained in touch, may not be as close and good friends, as once we were.

Few weeks back, she broke the news. She was getting married. I suddenly felt cheated. No, not because she was not marrying me! But, somewhere I knew in my heart, I had moved very far.

I read my other two friends get excited over her wedding. And, I wonder, where I am in my life.

Ran away from home, from friends, from love, from the city that taught me to dream.

She is special. I vividly remember her handwriting, the letters we have exchanged. The Reader's Digest, lying somewhere in my cupboard, back at home.

I feel like Bunny, from Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. Best friend is getting married, but I cannot make it. I have been listening to Kabira on the loop. I will sleep my way. Sadly, I cannot just decide to pack my bags like Bunny, and surprise her.

Minutes before I started writing this, I suddenly remembered, or rather it struck me - Mr. Rochester and Jane never got to be with each other. I guess, it was written in the star.

Remember? One afternoon, as we waited for SD to arrive and teach us Francis Bacon, you told me, "Why don't write something big, something for the Booker?" I laughed. I still laugh. But, I knew and still know, you never told me or anyone that you did not believe in.

Thanks, for the best days of my life. I may be different, I may be 2,002 km away from you (Yes, 2,002, I double checked), but you will be a very special friend for me.

I hope you find happiness, that you always dreamt of. You are the most practical person I have met in my life. I wish, sometimes, the way few things turned out, in our lives, it never happened. But both of us, know that few things happen for the best.

Always, love you.

PS - Remember the house, we used to dream of? Four rooms, each to ourselves and vacations? It still can happen. And, you will need a lot of cancer sticks till you are fully done with the ceremonies. Stay, happy.

Happy Boncharal Wedding!!!


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Remembering Abhijit Dasgupta

It's a Saturday and I cannot simply write that it is just another Saturday. For the last three years of my life, there has been no difference between weekends and weekdays. I would get excited if I got a weekend off and would run away to my cousin's place at Juhu to chill out. Chill out meant, spending a quarter of my salary on eating, roaming, and shopping and sleeping throughout Sunday.

However, this is a life I have chosen, and I had decided to live a life like this one since a very long time. One day in 2001, early morning during breakfast, I just randomly decided to become a journalist. As I didn't have any idea about how to become one, I often looked upon at people who were in the profession and industry.

Over time, I acquired good social skills — be it virtual or real.

One random day, while browsing through my social life, I stumbled upon one Abhijit Dasgupta. To my misfortune or luck, I confused him with a former editor of a tabloid. He quickly corrected me and made sure that I did not feel bad or ashamed of my misjudgment. By chance, he invited me over to his office for lunch and I with one of my friend (who acted like my bodyguard) went to meet him.

We became good friends, and he became a father figure. He would tell me, "Kiddo, stay away from journalism. You will only get hurt. It is not the profession for you." And I would not listen.

He would call me the Cosmopolitan girl, and all that he could come up with. In the days to come, we would celebrate another close friend's birthday, miles away from the friend. I still remember having chicken bharta and rumali roti.

I could write and write well. He would tell me, "You write well. But when you write from your heart, you write the best. Stop being a rational writer." And I would ignore.

Blogging earned me an internship with the same tabloid, with whose editor I confused him.

I moved to another city and by the time I shifted back, he had shifted to another new city. He was not happy. We would chat and he would say, "Kiddo, when are you going to write my biography? If you don't, I will be very disappointed."

I would then send him questions, he would answer and then moderate them and send it again.

At nights, we would be busy in our mutual admiration for music and good liquor. There were days when he along with two other very close friends would be my saviour. However, he never scolded me. He always saw the funny side of a bad situation. He knew how to make people smile, especially me.

He also knew that I did not like him colouring his hair black or pampering someone too much. But, he never changed that.

I knew he was hurting but I could not do anything in the end. His death  did not leave me broken or shattered. I do not remember crying or asking why. I knew the reasons and I knew that I could had not done anything.

I kept his phone number in my contact list for few years. I saved his e-mails and chat messages. I would stare at his answers for the book and my mind would be blank. A year later when I met a common friend, I would ask why? She in her own way explained.

But, I had moved on. Moved on too fast. Was I ashamed of it? No, I wanted to escape the bitter truth of life, that nothing is as sweet as it appears. Years later after his death, I read this post by the common friend and I am taken back to the dreadful day, when I received a call telling me about his death. My first reaction was, "Why was not I the first person to know about his death?" Mean it would sound, but he was very special and I would not share him. He was my Father Teresa, and I would remember him like that.

I have been told a lot of stories about him, from people in Calcutta, Delhi and Mumbai. I have heard his versions, I have heard everyone's version.

After four years, I would like to remember only one thing that he had once told someone, "Wherever there is spirit, you will find me."

Nothing bothers me today, but whenever I am alone, in an empty house, struggling to sleep, I wonder, "Is this how he struggled?" And then, I would shut myself and forget everything. I have to move on, like everyone. I guess that is what he would want too.



Oh, yes, he promised me that he will take me to Bishop's House, Calcutta some day. I don't want to visit the place ever. I just want to simply remember that he promised. It will always remain special, just like that.