Saturday, January 26, 2008

Belling the BSNL cat!

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.

Caller: Hi!
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?
M: Yes!
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!


flaashgordon said...

hehe !good one. everyone has their wrong number stories i guess. Back home we used to receive calls for aboobacker haji regularly . was an opportunity to exprss my creativity but parents never encouraged responses such as " Pulli pathu minute munpu chathupoyi" :-)

Anonymous said...

ah. i guessed someone in your family has registered your number to some local BSNL call center. *HINT HINT* look out if some member of your family gets a nice lil anonymous paycheck.

make sure you answer my phone when i call you and shout out that the internet is not working. all you gotta reply is "Serrrvarr dowwnn saarr". its totally cool. i call up BSNL at random hours to check if they are working.

anyways, 1st comment. yay!

Balanarayan NT said...

Back in calicut in the 1990's we used to get calls meant for hindi prachara sabha of some sort..
I used to tell them the examination date and their registration numbers.. poor chaps... god knows what happened to them!

Deepti said...

We had a cross connection problem and the conversations we got to hear were hilarious ... Your post reminded me of the movie "Ramji rao speaking" :D

mathew said...

that selvam call was typical selvamish!! nice characters there..;-P

and ur bro's idea was simply superb..hats off..Do you still cakes from that bakery/ ;-P

the weirdest call I have heard of is the one a friend of mine recieved during middle of the night..

"saar..veetil pump keydaanu ennu kettu..ippol verattei.."

ap said...

Good one....

Another comedy was cross connection....u actually end up getting connected to 2 ppl conversing!!!! :)

Karthik said...

Cross connection was a regular feature in our lan phone (bsnl) until a few years back..have had many hilarious memories related to that..anyway looks like bsnl nowadays are changing for the better (or worse??)

Padakkam said...

hmmm... interesting post, but i beg to disagree... at least in kerala, BSNL has surprised me with the level of service which they provide for a government enterprise. I even have a BSNL broadband connection and the net speeds i get at home are better than the speed i get in singapore...

Of course their customer service can never be as great as the airtels and tatas of the world.. but no one can accuse them of not trying.. :)

silverine said...

Flaash: LOL :)) That was not allowed in our home too!

dalda: Did you say "fat pay packet"??? I am gonna kill that someone!!

balu: lol, you were as creative as us I see :p

deepti: Every time we picked up the phone, there would be a across connection. We continued taking anyways :)

mathew: LOL!!! That must be funniest wrong number story I have heard so far!!

AP: I know and it would be quite interesting to listen to, mostly DIL's dissing MILs :P

karthik: I guess they must be changing now what with the competition for the sarkari babus :)

Padakkam: This was almost 10 years back :)

Hammy said...

It is interesting that you consider today's services 'efficient'...

I remember the random errors of yesterday's BSNL machines. I remember the cross connections without which [i]Ramjiravu Speaking[/i] wouldn't have been born.

But I maintain the hilarity of misadventure and the cringing despair of hopelessness that makes you appreciate a good effortless connection.

How? I subscribe to the inimitable Spice connection. At least, I HOPE it's inimitable.


Anonymous said...

Here's my fave anecdote on wrong no:

This was in '04 when I was sitting around jobless and adding inches to my paunch...

Lady Caller: Hello, Alex undo ?

Me ( grinning devilishly because I had had a really lousy day and wanted to spread the virus): Illa; Alex puratthu poyee, any msg ?

Caller panics: Where's he gone ? Eppol Verum ?

Me: I think he should be back by 10pm; the movie should be over by then...

Silence on the other end... more like a stunned silence.

Caller: Eda Vinay; nee aaano ithu ?

Me: No; it's Vinay's friend. Vinay and Alex have gone out with the phirang girls...

Caller by now was fuming: Who phirangs ? Where are they from ?

Me: They've been living with Alex for the last 3 days; hasnt he told you ? He's madly in love with one of them and already put in his papers to apply for a Russian Visa...

Caller: B@#@$%$#...tell him that he if he's seen anywhere on campus tomorrow; I'll burn him in Russian Vodka...Avante ammoomede Russia,


Needless to say; Im sure Alex must have been bruised, abused and confused when he met the lady caller the next day... glad I confessed to that crime and got it off my chest !

mathew said...

Something similar happened to me once..was calling up a friend called Vinod whose Mom picked up the phone..

Me: Hello aunty..Vinod ondo..

His Mom: avano..Vinodu yathraykku poyyi.

Me:ayyo..eppol..ennu..ennu madangi verrum ennu ariyaamo..avannu onnum paranjathee illa..

(Laughter at the other end )

Only realise later that he had infact gone for the movie 'Vinodayathra' ;-P

Mohit said...

Mallu: so it was you, was it? I still bear the scars to this day! :)
(P.S - have to blog under an assumed name now)