Thursday, February 07, 2008

The coldest winter in nearly 45 years

Mumbai, India, normally faces about a fortnight of really cold nights and slightly warmer days, and that too, sometime in late December or early January. This year has truly been unusual, in that, for the first time in over 4 and a half decades, the weather has turned chilly since mid-January, and is turning colder and colder even though the first week of February is over! Yesterday, the weather bureau reported a temperature of just 9.4 degrees C at 5.30 a.m. IST. This was something so unusual that, as one of the newspapers reported, everyone has been inconvenienced, and most people are staying indoors in the evenings. The only tribe of people who have really, really benefitted are the Nepalis who sell woollen clothes by the roadside near V.T. (Victoria Terminus), the heart of the city. They have reported more than doubling of their businesses, both in margins as well as in volumes.

How has the climate affected me? I cannot venture out without wearing a woollen jersey, something that I normally never do except when I have to go and see patients at late hours of the night/early mornings, and that too, mostly in the months I already specified earlier. My clinic air-conditioning is almost always switched off; at home, my family and I haven't used the air-conditioning since over 45 days now, the proof being the nearly 25% drop in the electricity bill for the months of December and January.

Considering that my body insulation has also come down, what with me losing nearly 12 kilograms, you can easily see why the cold weather troubles me a lot.

The positives of this weather/climate are several: appetite has gone up, one yearns to eat hot soups and have tea, cups after cups of it, shopping arcades and indoor forms of entertainment centers are seeing more and more of people coming in to escape the cold winds outside (the internal temperature is warmer than the one outside! :-)) and illnesses and business is down.

Predictions are that the same climate will persist for another week or so.

Let's wait and see ...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"Do Not Call"

To overcome the problem of infringement of privacy, the Indian government decided to establish a "do not call registry" for those who do not wish to accept unsolicited calls or short text messages (SMS's) from business houses, retail stores, holiday clubs, banks and financial institutions, lenders, sellers, advertisers, professionals, marketeers, etc on their mobile phones or land-lines (fixed telephones). A National Do Not Call Registry was made available online, and all that the hapless consumer had to do was to go online and register all the phones that he wanted to register for the DNC.

Heavy penalties are imposed on marketeers who continue to call or message consumers whose phones are registered on the NDNC. Initially, this was pegged at Rs. 500/- per call or SMS sent by them, but in view of continuing violation of the letter and spirit of the law enacted by the government by all marketeers, the penalty has been hiked to Rs. 1000/- per call/SMS.

My cell phone was automatically registered to NDNC by my cell phone service provider; I received a message from them well in advance of the date from when the DNC would become effective. Alas, this has not stopped the unwanted calls and SMS's.

One month after the DNC became "effective" on my cell, I made my first complaint to the cell-phone service provider (mine, incidentally, is BPL Mobile); since then, in the past two and a half months, I have wasted my time and effort and logged in over a dozen complaints against banks such as Barclays, ICICI, retailers such as Pantaloons and Country Club, FI's such as Kotak Mahindra and SBI cards, and what not. The calls have certainly reduced. Barclays, for example, has probably learnt the lesson, as I complained four times against them. They haven't called me now for over 20 days! Others remain unrepentant and shameless.

I am wondering what next I can do other than to change my number, as I am a practising doctor and changing the number just won't do.

Comments? Suggestions? Do contribute, please.