A Procrastinator's Journal

Thinking aloud…

Archive for the ‘General Stuff’ Category

Back after a long hiatus…

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It seems long long ago that I used to blog. Then I lost the enthu and momentum, partly due to other pressures in life. Not that it helped me channel my resources better towards tasks at hand. I’ve been procrastinating about resuming writing, especially since I am writing my thesis now and unconstrained writing does seem to help break the writers’ block that I often get into.

A lot has happened over the past two years–I have a daughter who will turn two this April. I lost my grandfather exectly one year back, on 15th March 2008. Parental duties turned out to be more demanding than anticipated. Other family crises taught me a lot about human relationships. Or perhaps one just becomes wiser with age!

On professional front, things have been less turbulant. I just presented my pre-synopsis seminar couple of weeks back. Now I have to finish writing the thesis and submit it within the next three months. Polishing the results (the presentation, not the content!) and the overall presentation seems like a daunting task, but I guess one just has to go through it.

Of course, there are rewards waiting. The biggest reward is change. Change of place, work responsibilities, house, city, company, professional status, blah blah blah. But change to what? I don’t know. For some reason I am not feeling enthusiastic to search for jobs. I know it seems foolish from career point of view but some things are just like that. I just want to worry about thesis right now, although it means sitting idle for some time. Maybe that’s what I am looking forward to, sitting idle! But this idle probably means ‘not doing something career-oriented’. At this stage of life, I don’t see myself as a career-oriented professional, and my understanding of ‘success’ keeps changing at every stage.

Enough of self-obsessed blabbering. Maybe I’ll resume some useful writing on this blog. On the subject of usefulness, my post on recipe for Biryani seems to have contributed more to humankind than all my research over the years. Maybe I should focus more on that in future 🙂

Written by ppatil

March 16, 2009 at 5:11 am

Posted in General Stuff

Medical Insurance in India

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It’s that time of the year when I have to renew my medical insurance. I’ve had mediclaim policy for four years. But I am far from happy with the service. I stuck to public sector companies- first with National and then with Oriental Insurance thinking that they would atleast not ditch me when I need to make claims. In the current year, there were two hospitalization instances in my family- both clearly legitimate cases for claiming insurance. For my father, they rejected the claim citing diabetes as the ’cause’ and for my sister-in-law, they sent for clarifications twice for no plausible reason. Customer service, as such, is non-existent– no cashless TPA card, no renewal reminders.

This year, I am thinking of migrating the policies to another company. Unfortunately no company would provide new cover for my parents who are over 60, and I am not sure whether I could get continuation benefits if I migrate within the PSU General Insurance group. Many companies I talked to promised to provide continuation benefits to me and my wife. I am scared of the initial exclusion period if I move the policy.

I haven’t heard any first-hand experience with any company. I had taken overseas student policy from Bajal Allianz– it had reasonable terms and good customer service, but I did not have to make any claims. I searched the web (where else?) for any hints on service quality of Medical Insurance in India- Didn’t find much info except for these:

From the IRDA site, the offerings from these private companies look interesting:

Anybody has experiences to share about medical insurance in India?

Written by ppatil

February 7, 2007 at 1:17 pm

Posted in General Stuff

Ryanair puts fun back into flying

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Poking fun at the new security restrictions on fliers, this picture shows passengers getting nude to get quick clearance 🙂
Ryanair webpage

I can understand the Europeans getting hassled with these restrictions- we Indians are used to such things even before the 11’s and 7’s happened!

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August 23, 2006 at 2:40 pm

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General update: 28Nov2005

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The slashdot signature today:

Behold the warranty — the bold print giveth and the fine print taketh away.

It’s getting really cold and wet here for past few days. Had to go to Amsterdam for my UK transit visa on Friday. It has been almost freezing here since then. Nevertheless, had a warm weekend thanks to friends 🙂

I would always pride myself in that Marathis (esp the coastal ones) being the rudest while speaking without needing bad words. Before I met the British embassy people, that is.

It’s one more month before I go back to India. Time to start wrapping up my work here!

Written by ppatil

November 28, 2005 at 1:11 pm

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One more life lost to corruption

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This news makes me feel sad. Manjunath, an IIM graduate and an IOC official was killed recently. His fault? He stood up against corruption. He ordered closing down of a petrol pump (petrol/gas station) on charges of adultration. So he just performed his duties honestly. But the petrol pump owners seem to work in a mafia-like fashion, and a honest officer to inspect the pumps is certainly not liked by them:

IOC official seals petrol pump, is killed

Gaurav Sabnis, a fellow student at IIM-L, has written a tribute to Manjunath. Unfortunately, the mainstream media does not seem to be bothered with this.

This is so similar to the Satyendra Dube murder, when an honest officer on National Highway project (and an IIT graduate) who exposed the rampant corruption in the prestigious highway project was killed, exactly two years ago:

Satyendra Dube murder case

To add insult to the injury, the real culprits in the Dubey case are not brought to book, nor do we hear of any action been taken on the issues raised by Dubey.

The positive thing is that even after Dubey was killed, there was Manjunath, and there still are many more like them who continue to work honestly!

And I am sure they are, because without their presence things would not be half as good as they are.

And India bashers (mostly Indians themselves), please don’t insult these two noble souls (and others) by starting the usual rhetoric of corruption and India not respecting its talent and blah blah. Atleast respect their sacrifice!

Written by ppatil

November 22, 2005 at 4:28 pm

Posted in General Stuff

Arrogant americans abusing Indian call-center workers

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The SF Chronicle has published an article on how Indian call-center workers suffer abuse from irate callers from USA. It makes an interesting reading on the reactions to outsourcing. Quoted from the article, some racist comments by callers:

The caller greeted her with a torrent of racial and sexual slurs, accused her of “roaming about naked without food and clothes” and asked, “What do you know about computers?” The diatribe ended with the comment:”This company is just saving money by outsourcing to Third World countries like yours.”

The less favorable view, though, is beginning to seep into Indian popular culture. The scripts for a new sitcom called “The Call Center,” scheduled to air this winter on the leading channel NDTV, depict Westerners as arrogant, immoral and comically rude.

One of the episodes recreates a real-life exchange that occurred in January between an American and an Indian agent that has become notorious among the call center crowd here. On the Philadelphia radio show “Star and Buc Wild,” host Troi Terrain phoned an Indian call center pretending to order hair beads for his daughter. The call quickly turned vicious.
“Listen to me, you dirty rat eater,” Terrain growled, to muffled laughter in the studio. “I’ll come out there and choke the — out of you. You’re a filthy rat eater. I’m calling about my American 6-year-old white girl. How dare you outsource my call?”

The complete article here: Outsourcing Outrage

I am surely going to watch this program on NDTV if I get to.

I have another issue with the way call-centers (whether Indian or not) work. The person who takes the call has little authority (decision-making power as well as command over the topic). I, as a user, would first try to find solutions myself, or do the preliminary investigation over the net, before calling the call-center.

When the person on phone repeats the same things that I already know (despite being told so), it is the most irritating part. And finally since the person taking care of my problem is someone else (who’s hidden from me, the call center people refuse to give their contacts), I don’t have anyone to hold responsible for, if my problem is not solved. I have rarely been able to get my problems solved through a call to a call-center (within India). I still believe in the old-fashioned across-the-counter/letter/email way of doing things!

Coming back to outsourcing of call-center work, I believe we Indians are fairly good at understanding others’ problems and solving them. Why? I am not claiming that we are a superior race — just that we are products of a chaotic system, a fact which aids development of troubleshooting capabilities.

From whatever little I know about outsourced call-center workers, they are not expected to apply their own mind, and operate according to a fixed set of rules: see if there is a ready solution for the problem already entered in the system. If not, refer the problem to your supervisor, who will follow the same procedure.

So this is not a problem of competence, but just cultural/social/economical/racial problem.

Someone should do a discourse analysis of the media coverage of outsourcing, as well as the conversations during the calls themselves. It’ll surely be one of the most interesting research topics! 🙂

 

Written by ppatil

November 18, 2005 at 1:22 pm

Making a business of the dead

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I get disturbed with those pictures of the dead- or of those in grief. Not because of the gore, but because I feel the dignity of the dead and the grieved is not respected. And these days you see more and more such stuff in an attempt to show off the “photojournalism”. Take a look at the award-winning entries at World Press Photo. Most of their award-winning photos are related to death or mutilation. The stories which we already know about and feel sad about. IMO, a good picture should tell a story, but it is bound by the same rules of decency that apply to written words! Only the 2003 winner is a sensible and very effective picture.

I’m sure there’ll be thousands of pictures from the recent earthquake in Kashmir. And then others will admire the picture framing, light, exposure, and so on.. Yuck! See the first pic on this page: pictures from the quake hit Valley.

As a side note, I found this site with daily photos. Beautiful pictures, but story-less indeed! But atleast he’s not offending my senses!
http://wvs.topleftpixel.com/archives/photos_macro/051110_1358.shtml

P.S.: I forgot to mention that the word press photo exhibitions are not free. One has to pay a hefty entry fee to enter the exhibition, as I found out some years back in Bombay. 

 

Written by ppatil

November 11, 2005 at 9:48 am