Monday, July 18, 2005

Kidnapped!

Not Robert Louis Stevenson's book. This is my boss's version, which, apart from being funnier, is arguably more grievous too:

Me: Boss, this (customer of ours) sucks!

Boss: Yes, absolutely....it's &*%#*$& lose-lose. We can't bend over and take their *&^% endlessly. We can try to appease them once, twice, but after a while we are just locked in a downward spiral. We take their rubbish, accomodate their endless requests, and, in addition, we're made to bear the cost for doing so too!

Me: I agree...

Boss: It's like being kidnapped, but with a twist. The person who's been kidnapped also has to pay the ransom while in custody.

Boss: What's more, his support system (family, friends, etc etc) looks on. No, worse, it asks the person being held for a cut of the funds too.

Me (imagining a situation in my mind): Person gets kidnapped, miraculously finds a phone with which to call out for help. Dials 911.

911 Operator: Hello, 911.

Kidnappee: Help, I've been kidnapped!

911 Operator: Oh, kidnapping. Please hold the line.

Automated Voice Response: This is no longer a free service. The following instructions will cost you $5000. Press 1 to pay by VISA, 2 by MASTERCARD, 3 for additional options. Thank you for your business.

Kidnappee (aghast), presses 1 and gives his credit card details

Automated Voice Response: Thank you for your contribution. Please do not agitate your captors by not being a slave to their every whim and fancy, as it does not bode well with future kidnappers. If your kidnappers demand a ransom, please proceed to pay the same by cash yourself. If unable to do so, please press 1 to make a payment to your kidnappers via us using your credit card with a 10% service charge. For additional options, press 2. To speak to an operator, press 0.

Kidnappee (cant believe his ears, and wants a refund), presses 0.

911 Operator: Hello, 911...


Business as usual. Customer is king, they say. I better go be a customer for a while now. Retailers, beware!

Video Killed the Radio Star?

One of the unusual things about radio in Australia (in Melbourne, at least) is the aggressiveness with which radio advertises the benefits of, well, advertising on radio. Driving the 10-odd km stretch from Williamstown to Port Melbourne (and not having an inclination to listen to endless coverage of footie), I preferred the endless commercials on other radio channels, which gave me ample opporunity to get to hear the benefits of radio advertisements touted by Harvey Norman's Aussie boss.

It was refreshing to hear radio taking the battle to the telly, so maybe we can find hope for radio in a world where the Buggles sang:

"They took the credit for your second symphony.
Rewritten by machine and new technology,
and now I understand the problems you can see...

I met your children

What did you tell them?
Video killed the radio star.

Pictures came and broke your heart..."

- 'Video Killed the Radio Star', The Buggles

P.S. Thinking about this, I just realized how nascent FM radio advertising in India really is. Of course, this has not stopped the number of advertisements that appear during peak hours from blossoming (rather, exploding). But don't you think it interesting that most of us were exposed to cable TV's ads before FM radio, if chiefly for the reason that FM radio made its debut in India a few years *after* cable TV? Travelling abroad, I see how much FM stations are a part and parcel of everyday life. But in India, where 22 FM channels square off against 5000+ print publications and 180 TV channels, is it a small wonder then that FM radio is considered a novelty?

Maybe we should be singing, "Radio killed the video star" instead?

Friday, July 08, 2005

History Was Made When We Weren’t Looking

This question is directed at all tennis aficionados. Who is the greatest doubles tennis player of all time, who also announced his retirement from the professional game after a mixed doubles final during this Wimbledon?

I’ll give you some statistics about the player:
Professional since: 1988
Number of Career Doubles Titles: 83
Number of Grand Slam Doubles Titles: 22
Number of Wimbledon Doubles Titles: 9

Who is this guy? And why are we, as tennis watchers (myself included), besotted with Agassi, Sampras, Federer, Kuerten (as we rightly should be), not filled with the sense of awe at what Todd Woodbridge has done in a truly outstanding career?

Part of it has to do with the fact that doubles are nowhere close to as high profile as the singles game. But I do not accept that in the case of people who are close to Indian tennis. We’ve followed, supported and cheered Paes and Bhupathi to the top, and the top then consisted of Woodbridge and Woodforde, so I can’t see how we failed to notice. And yet we did. I mean, we all know that Woodforde and Woodbridge were an awesome doubles pair, but did we know just how awesome? Looking at that record up there, I suspect not.

Woodbridge deserves to be considered as an all-time great. As great as the men I mentioned above. In fact, going by pure record, greater that all of those men mentioned above except Agassi, because of his fantastic tournament record (he’s won all four grand slams, just like Agassi) and his sheer longevity (he’s lasted as long as Agassi). And, to add some spice, Woodbridge has also been in twice-victorious Australian Davis Cup Teams and a gold medalist at the Atlanta Olympics as well.

And when I look at the news, he gets less mention than Roger Federer, who played the perfect game to win Wimbledon again. Media persons are obsessed with the moment, and the moment has been harsh to Todd Woodbridge. He deserves more recognition than he’s got, more plaudits and, most of all, remembrance as the greatest men’s doubles player of all time.

Here’s to a great, in the hope that he does not get forgotten in all the record-breaking activity that Federer promises to be involved in over the coming years!

Given to Fly

Picture Perfect? Roger that.

The most perfect tennis game from a singles player that I've ever seen. Roddick captured the essence of what he was up again by saying something akin to 'I attacked the net and he passed me on the forehand. Then he passed me on the backhand. And then I was getting passed at the baseline.' He went on to add that Roger Federer is the measuring stick for today's men's players, which puts what Safin and Nadal did in perspective.

"And sometimes is seen a strange spot in the sky
A human being that was given to fly
High.. flying
Oh, oh
High.. flying
Oh, oh
He’s flyingOh, oh"

- 'Given to Fly', Pearl Jam