Its been years since we gave up our VSNL (now BSNL) connection. But that old phone and the phone number is etched in my memory forever. Back in those days VSNL, a Government of India (Un) concern was more than a phone company… it provided us with hours of quality entertainment.
One of the features of this magnificent phone connection was “wrong numbers”. It was no use telling random people calling us that they had dialed the wrong number. They had actually dialed the correct number and landed up at the wrong number!
Over the years, my brother M became very efficient in dealing with BSNL’s problems. He was in fact a walking talking BSNL Call Centre!!
One day I got so many calls asking if I was XYZ Bakery that I handed over the problem to M. M solved the problem in a jiffy.
Caller: Happy Birthday XYZ Bakery!!!
M: Thank you!
Caller: There is an ad in today’ paper that says that you are giving a kilo of cake free to people who call and wish you Happy Birthday!
M: That’s correct!! Congratulations! Your token number is 78. Please come and collect the cake at 3 pm today.
He gave approximately 14 tokens that day to as many people. Later in the afternoon, M and his friends went over to the bakery and watched with great interest as the bakery owner’s ancestors and their privates were referred to in not so complementary terms by the assorted junta gathered there with their token numbers.
Then there were guys who got cross connected to our number due to the efficient telecommunication conglomerate called VSNL and kept calling back because they had heard a girl’s voice at the other end. This too was dispatched with great efficiency by M.
M (in a gruff voice) : Hallow! Shivajinagar Police Station! Inspector Kempanna here!
Caller: *gulp* Sorry wrong number saar!!! *click*
This was one of the most efficient ways to get rid of persistent guys calling up home.
Inspite every other number dialed being a wrong number, there were people who would call up and get chatty without even bothering to find out if they had the right number.
Caller: Hello is this Rajkumar Thapar?
Caller: heh heh Good morning Sirji! Selvam here! Heh heh
M: Good morning Selvam. How are you?
Caller: I am fine Sir. How is madam?
M: She is fine.
Caller: You sound so different on the phone Sir!
M: err thats because I have a cold you see!
Caller: Oh! So sorry to hear that Sir. Maybe you should take turmeric tea.
M: Yeah sure!
Caller: heh heh Sirji please drop into our humble abode sometime!
M: Sure!! Tomorrow is Republic Day right? We will come over for lunch.
Caller: heh heh thank you Sir. We look forward to your visit.
Sometime back when I went to return this phone connection (as it worked only on national holidays that fell on even days during leap years), I was greeted at the gate by the security guard. “You come to return phone right? Go to the next building on your left.”
I hadn’t even asked him anything yet.
On this Republic Day, I want to say “Salute” to the BSNL of yore. Your phones were something else altogether. They had character, individuality, a spirit for adventure and rebelliousness and most importantly a mind of their own, unlike the Airtels and Tata Indicoms of today that work like boring efficient robots!!
Wishing you all a very happy Republic Day!