Wednesday, April 21, 2010

South Africa jaana hai!

The plan is to visit South Africa, and embark on a safari. This trip is like no other, and my imagination has been running over-time, filling my dreams with vivid images of The Dark Continent. The happy sequence starts off with me driving a commandeered Land Rover (open-top, of course). I will be wearing my favorite Shikari Shambu hat and Rajinikanth-spec gold-rimmed Ray Ban Aviators. The Yashica WW-II era binocular handed down to me by my grandfather (whose glasses are about as thick as the Yash these days) will hang nonchalantly 'round my neck. The wife, dutifully perched behind me, shall use her export quality Chinese-made electric mosquito bat to keep pesky bloodsuckers at bay. For every ZAP, I plan to reward her with 60 seconds of binocular usage. Whistling happily, I will negotiate the jungle trail, and suddenly chance upon a well-fed lion resting at the other end of a blind curve. The SLR shall be grabbed from the seat beside mine, and the click-click of the shutter will capture the Sultan of the Shrubs for posterity. Even fifty years after this trip, I shall regale the young 'uns with a mildly creative version, snifter of brandy in hand - Ah!

I can feel it in my bones - this trip is going to define me. My unrequited love for big cats, gazelles, and Table Mountain shall be fulfilled! A quick trip to the cricketing Mecca of the Southern Hemisphere - Wanderers - is an added bonus. The lucre has been saved up under a benaami, and the boss has been intimated. What could possibly go wrong?

Damn the cool November evenings in Bangalore. The little bundle of joy is on a trajectory designed to derail our 2nd anniversary plans. Arriving mid-August, he/she (shall be referred to as 'it' henceforth) is homing in like an Exocet, and with every passing day our plan of going somewhere wild - or inundated with wildlife, whichever's cheaper - seems to be disappearing in a conflagration. But I shall not lose hope - I can punish myself by going alone and enjoying this pilgrimage enough for both the wife and myself. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Making the customer feel special

This morning, I got a call from Asia in a Box. The lady at the other end of the line said she was calling to let me know that A.i.a.B would be closed for renovation for the next 6 weeks.

This call blew my socks off for a couple of reasons:

- I am definitely not their most valuable customer. Anu and I possibly provide them with our custom once a month, if that. And our average order is between Rs.600 and Rs.1000, depending on whether we have guests over or not.

- Though I tip the delivery guy quite generously, I have never taken the trouble to call A.i.a.B after a meal and commend them on the outstanding Satay or Pad Thai. A.i.a.B would therefore have no reason to believe that we love them as much as we do.

- They aren't starved for customers. Our friends who live within their delivery radius call them more frequently than we do. Those who live outside their delivery radius keep telling us how they are prepared to move in to East Bangalore, just so that they can get order from A.i.a.B. Ergo, pretty popular.

The call this morning isn't a big deal. For all I know, they could have outsourced it to a couple of college kids wanting to make some extra dough (of course, the afore-mentioned college kids would have then had better luck at a pizza place, what?). But it leaves me feeling special. I know that when we have guests over any time in the next 6 weeks, I won't look stupid for promising them the best Thai food for dinner. I also know that I will definitely call them on the first day they re-open.

Small gesture, big payback. There's a lesson somewhere in there.