Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Consumer crime or criminal society?

As I asked for my one rupee balance from the cashier, the lady customer on the next billing counter took a whole 180 degree turn and looked at me in such an inferior way as if I had abused the cashier. Like I was not embarrassed enough when the cashier rolled his eyes and took a 5 rupee note and gave me saying “you can keep this instead”. He made me feel like a beggar on asking for my own money. Obviously I did not keep it but amused and astonished I moved away. 

The next day I discussed the incident with my friends, most of them shared the same opinion as the lady at the store, “For God sakes you asked for 1 Rs in change?”, “Thank God I was not with you.. lol” and similar comments. Though a few did agree that it was my money and no matter how less it should have been returned, it’s about principle. This is one of the things which have become a part of our daily lives where it is predetermined that the shop keeper will keep the change (mostly small amount) and your asking for it will be a ‘below the line’ act.

Well, I strongly feel the need to revise the definition of consumer crime here. Consumer crimes are exploitation of consumers using unfair means and unethical trade practices e.g. black marketing, adulteration of food and edible oil. Consumer theft is among the list of consumer crimes of which I was a victim and many of you are too, willingly or resentfully.

Let’s face it! It has become a part of our society and at a much smaller scale it is actually corruption deeply embedded and accepted in the system. Petrol Pumps are a perfect example, if you cannot pay back in paisas, please do not use it as a unit of currency unless you have a proper system incorporated like in the telecom sector. In case there is no option; at least the concept of basic ‘rounding-off-the-figure’ could be used; that is somewhat fair.

Let’s assume that a sandwich company has ‘psychologically priced’ their product at Rs. 199 but in actual they charge you Rs. 200 for it. If they sell 200 sandwiches at the end of the day, they will have revenue of 201 sandwiches without having to spend a single penny for that last sandwich. This is just a hypothetical example; these figures are no way near the real ones. The point is not how much ‘extra’ they are earning, it is simply to point out how much acceptable we have become to such unfair and unethical means of doing business.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Divided we Fall

Despite “unity, faith, discipline” being our national motto, despite “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over a white- except by piety and good action” being the teachings of our religion; we are as divided as much as possible. Abraham Lincoln said “A house divided against itself cannot stand”; that is exactly what is happening to our nation- or should I call country? we are not only following discrimination but also promoting and supporting it- and at every point, stage in fact our daily routine.

We need to stop forwarding messages which keep on reminding what cast we belong to and what is our status in the society, accordingly. Honestly, that has been my only source of knowing the cast ranking in Pakistan of “who is better”. We laugh and forward all such messages because we agree to them to a certain extent. I have always heard that memons and sheikhs are filthy rich who would not spend a coin on even themselves. Did you know Abdul Sattar Edhi is a Memon?

Discrimination has grown into our community to an extent that we often base our decisions of marriage on this basis. The most recent example can be taken from the relief camps; people are being served on the basis of ethnic group they belong to. If you are a gypsy you would not be served any food.  “People call us ‘unclean’ and accuse us of being thieves. We have camped by the road because we know other flood victims may not like us to live near them in the camps,” said a gypsy Bala Din (No reflief from discrimination, Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2010)

We forward the funny Pathan jokes proving that Pathans are not mentally as capable as Punjabis, Sindhis or Balochis when we do not have a single valid argument to prove it. Pashto is among the most difficult languages in the world this is actually a support argument to their mental skills being ‘sharp’. All apart, we do not hesitate in forwarding messages against Pakistan e.g. Pakistan in 2020, energy sources at the country and so on. It is our homeland; it’s the place which has given us an identity, shelter, a sense of belonging and we have absolutely no right of saying anything against Pakistan as we are its culprits- all wrong done to it has been brought by Pakistanis.

What to talk about the goras and the foreign sources; when we are busy deciding which superior group is going to represent us, which groups would benefit and which will not. These are minor things that make a lot difference. We need to understand that we are Pakistani, the perfect being someone who belongs to Pakistan. If instead we circulate texts on what wonders united Pakistan can do or what a can Pakistani do, we will at least be carrying a good image of our country and country man in our minds. We have people like Aisam-ul-haq (tennis player) to celebrate, Ali Moeen Nawazish (Academic high achiever) to talk about and many others. If you find it hard coming up with some interesting message with such motive, I will leave you with one.
“Abdul Sattar Edhi was travelling with his wife, Bilquis Edhi, when some dacoits hijacked their ambulance. On finding out that the person they had just captured is Edhi; they gave them money and left saying ‘we are sorry, May you prosper in your cause. We know that you are going to cloth and burry our unclaimed dead bodies” 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why I love Pakistan?

“Did you see the interview of XYZ, the cricketer? OMG! It was hilarious, not even one sentence was grammatically correct. And Teena, the singer? It is so a must watch. Hold on! I guess one of her videos has already been shared on Facebook, I’ll e-mail it to you in a bit. She says ‘Thaki-yew’-LOL.” These are some of the regular chats of us- the Pakistanis; whose mother tongue is Urdu. Who focus more on how bad English our nation’s artists spoke than how well they performed.

My young cousin is a brilliant student. He wants to go abroad; good- he should. Why do I suspect, he will start working there to contribute towards the betterment of that foreign country where he’ll have to live as a second class citizen rather than coming back to Pakistan? Because, this is the story of most of the Pakistani students. They all of a sudden have this reverse cultural shock when they come back to Pakistan, where they have lived for some 18 years, after 4 years? Pakistan is highly populated and polluted. The government is bad, people are paindu, streets are noisy and jam packed, cinemas are small and it is so NOT secure. I have to go back, I can’t live here- it’s not safe. 

We need to change our individual selves to change what is becoming of Pakistan. Let me elaborate; we are mostly late for gatherings, take shadis (weddings) for an example, but God knows what race we will lose if the driver in front car doesn’t exactly press accelerator when the green light goes bright on a traffic signal; and incase he doesn’t, along with the curses which he can’t even hear, a loud beep will start which stops when your car starts.

It’s either their fault or fates- we are all angels. We did nothing and we don’t plan on either. One day we make a speech on unemployment and reference-jobs, the other day we refer someone for a post. We want to have a government job. Why? Because ‘customs mein bht paisa atta hai’. We want Balochi’s to get our point of view and not want to understand theirs. We have a lot of problems of our own, of our country, its provinces, the brain washed terrorists, to be even thinking about why our country is like this? Look at us! Do we really have the time to play the blame game? 

We stood united at Tsunami and we celebrated the success together. We are making the most sincere efforts to help our brothers recover from this natural catastrophe.  We are a warm nation; we have feelings and we show them. We just need to have that positive-thing-for-nation button ‘on’ at all times. Let’s at least look at made in Pakistan stuff while shopping, from next time. That might, in years, safe goras the cost of exporting ‘made in xyz’ tags to Pakistan. And yes for the answer, I love Pakistan because ‘I’ am just an i at its end, It’s the whole me. 

Stay open-minded. 
Happy Reading!

P.s: Criticize- No one is expected to change in a day 

Monday, September 6, 2010


Assigned a university project on “Are the customer sales representative good as well as smart?” me and my group members decided to include analysis of encounters with the CSR. While I was planning this; my fate had already planned a similar ‘encounter’ for me- and a very comprehensive one and that too with a Telco where losing customers like me- profit category C- is not a big deal. By losing a more-demanding-less-profiting customer, they will be better off.
Anyway, my enthusiasm to do something for the flood victims was much encouraged, yet again, after having a look at the latest stats on damage caused by the natural catastrophe. It was 2 a.m. when I got done reading the article. I thought of doing a fund raiser, and mobile and internet are the first things you think of while going for such a move in today’s time. Likewise I quickly recharged my cell with the 100-ruppee-credit-card; I had bought earlier that day. Activated the SMS bucket, and sent the 3 text long message to most in my contact list.
Turns out I was wrong when I thought the SMS bucket has been activated. The damn company had taken the cash for the service they did not give; the balance for the package was deducted and I was sent a message saying you have insufficient balance. Not only they had deducted the stated package amount but also some 85% tax on it from my freshly recharged account, I couldn’t even taste the flavor of calling instead of missed calling. Needless to say I dialed the ‘help’- where rather than hearing the lady say “Which language you want the instructions in?”, I heard “You have insufficient balance to make this call”. What? They charge you for calling the help center too? And no relaxation to that policy!
I quickly dialed the company’s help number from landline, after successfully acquiring it from the efficient telephone inquiry – cut the giggle; I mean it. I was connected to a, surprisingly, calm CSR, he noted my complaint and told me they will fix the problem in 48 hours. As reasons for the breakup of my long happy relationship were building, more appealing options were becoming a consideration. No call, no SMS in the last 48 hours was a sign.
With much hope I called once more to ask for updates, this time I called from the very number I had the complaint registered of so that I am identified quickly. This CSR told me that I did not have balance when I recharged which fired me and I commented “I don’t think your company is poor enough to opt for this kind of revenue model- no matter whatever the reason was, I should have been given a follow up on my complaint” especially when the charge you to lodge a complaint. This probably ignited him, “If that’s the perception you have about our company, so be it…” and he would not let me talk at all - that is when I realized I was paying for “this” customer care and quickly disconnected.
I ended up with lost initial package activation balance, the costs of getting to CSR and the association I shared with my number. Perhaps I will continue sharing that but with a different connection.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dear Pakistan Cricket Team,

It is indeed sad to hear that some of the top Pakistani cricket players have been accused of spot-fixing, or match-fixing. There is not enough evidence to say anything at this point in time but I strongly hope that these accusations prove to be wrong. But why should they be there at the first place? That’s a whole separate debate which I don’t want to indulge into in this writing, at least.

I am not a big fan of cricket. I don’t watch all cricket matches and series, in fact, I rarely watch cricket or any sport for that matter but I am a huge fan of Pakistan cricket team. I watch cricket, only if one of the teams playing is Pakistan, I jump when Pakistani players bowl so well that the opponent fails to judge and play it right. My heart screams out loud “HOWZAT” when you bold the opponent. I jump as high as I can when the bowl flies high and lands outside the boundary I feel I have won when Pakistani cricket team wins.
When we won the T20 world cup 2009, I was so proud of the fact that no matter what anyone says “we are the world champions”. And that’s exactly the same feeling most of the Pakistani shared, people were out dancing on the streets screaming with joy. The mall road Lahore, the liberty round about Lahore were blocked because everyone was out celebrating; sharing their joy with other Pakistanis- because we had won. Everyone; who had access; was either glued to the radio, tv, internet listening to each and every update- praying and feeling every move of the Pakistani cricket team. The affected locals of the SWAT operations; those shelter less people, even they were swinging with the feeling of pride and joy. To me it seemed like the whole nation had forgotten all the bad news that never seemed to end. It was moment of cheer joy. It was moment of Pakistan.

You are the ones who can give Pakistan this kind of happiness. Yes You!! Cricket is so popular in Pakistan and everyone relates to it so whatever you do think about everyone who is going to be affected by your actions and decisions.

If everyone loves Pakistani cricket team so much why don’t they even think twice before readily accepting everything said against them? Good question, half of the answer lies in question- because they love the cricket team so much. Most of the people criticizing consist of people like me who have high hopes and expectations from you- who don’t want to accept any such comments and since there is nothing they can do about it; calling bad names seems like the only solution to let the anger out. The other audience is the highly informed one whose first reaction to such news, too, is disappointed.

I, as a Pakistani, forgive you for this act, if -at all- it’s true. I am still with the cricket team but please save this spirit of mine the heart attacks of hearing such news- over and over, and over years. Too many of them will just kill my spirit and I will lose hope in you, too. And also forgive me if any of my comments, given at any point, made you think “Are these the people I struggle for, to bring one smile of joy”?

Sincerely and dearly,

A Pakistani fan