Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Who Cares?

I may not make much sense here (Like I ever do!) but to be this is something very serious and if someone out there can answer these questions or offer practical advice…. Do tell me….

All these marketing experts talking about branding and positioning and what not… who talks about the branding of a country? both in the country and for it’s representatives outside?

I mean, how easy is it to make spellbinding website that have cool flashes and mind blowing pictures. We all have heard of Joomla and Picassa right?

The first contact with the country determines the persons impression… for example. I am ashamed to call myself an Indian outside the Indian Embassy in KL and maybe in any part of the world. A citizen deserves to be treated with respect. Just because there are so many of us everywhere.. does not mean that we do not have value..

Start my trying to access the embassy website.. Can I please know who the admin is?? I would like to give them an award for designing one of the best puzzles/ riddle/ maze ever! I would also like to meet the content provider.. Where did they learn the language they are writing in? looks like English, uses the English alphabets, but.. any resemblance to that language ends there.. 45 minutes of browsing and all the relevant information I find is the contact number hidden under some debris.

Then try to call the embassy.. spend a few days (at the least) to get someone to pick up the phone, then spend another few hours getting them to understand you in English or Hindustani, then wait on the line as they pass you on to the relevant person, who for some reason is always in a meeting or out for lunch… so you are asked to call back.. when you ask what time and if you can ask for that person etc.. you are told, “ Does this look like a hotel? Call and talk to whoever answers” (like anyone will!). So finally after a few days.. weeks.. months.. you get that person on the phone and manage to explain to them what you need and they give you the list of documents you need. You confirm this with them and are told very rudely if they would know it or you!

Then.. you GO to the embassy and drive past it 3 times thinking that perhaps that’s a shelter for the homeless or a rubbish heap.. but NO .. it’s the Indian High Commission! Now you know why all the visitors who come to India from the other countries are convinced that we all live in slums and have public toilets and use elephants and buffaloes to move around (Yes eco friendly!)

Then you stand outside the embassy in queues for HOURS.. sweating… burning… scared to leave the “line” because it is just so long.. does not matter what I am there for.. whether it is to apply for a visa or register a death (BTW according to the signboard.. I have to register my own death!) or even meet the darn ambassador. I have to stand in the SAME line (isn’t it more efficient to have separate lines for faster processing).. Then by the grace of the security guard… you are allowed inside.. to stand in another “line” to get a queue number.. The lady at the counter.. did she suck lemons for breakfasts or does she have constipation or is the Indian Foreign Services training them how NOT to smile and be customer friendly? Wish has good morning and she looks at you like you are a miscreant.. so finally you have a queue number, so now you try to find a seat..

Do people forget all form of behavior and conduct once they enter the embassy premises? I think they also forget that they have to mingle with other people and thus they might want to brush their teeth or wear clean clothes or you know … use a deodorant?.. so then you brave men sitting on two- three seats with their legs spread out, while the women and elders stand.. and DON’T even try to use the washroom!

Your number is called… you TRY to approach the counter but there are atleast 5 people there, who are trying to pass their applications etc. you make it to the counter and smile at the lady there, who I think has had her facial muscles snipped off … You tell her what you want and give her the complete document set.. and then she says.. I want 37 copies of this and I cannot accept this as this is a double sided photocopy or because it looks nice etc.. so you politely tell her what the voice at the end of the telephone told you and she says that they don’t know anything (Like I did not know that!) then you leave the counter and go to the photocopy machines .. get the copies, stand in line, get a queue number and then again reach the counter.. the lady pretends she has NEVER seen you before.. so you hand over all the documents and tell her you are there for.. lets say.. attesting your marriage certificate.. so she first makes you run to the other part of the town to get a form signed by your husband.. run back.. then asks you for the “attested copy of the marriage certificate” (DUH YOU STUPID MORON.. WHAT AM I HERE FOR?)… Finally you submit your documents…..

By the time you leave.. You are tired of all the non Indians there staring at you with pity and seriously reevaluating their decision to visit India…. You are glad that you are still alive and have not turned into cattle….

WELCOME TO INDIA PEOPLE! Seriousllyy!! I wont even go into what happens when I go to COLLECT the papers I have submitted!

So what do you say? Would you want to visit my beautiful country if you have never been there before, your only reference is the poverty porn slumdog millionaire and the embassy?

I say, I volunteer to give customer service training classes to the staff and I volunteer to rewrite the website.. Please LET ME! Consider it my SR deed.. I know it is a sawab e jaria.. (life long brownie points) from who ever visits the website.. I also volunteer to donate 50 RM a month, so that they can paint the damn embassy and make it look respectable?? The national palace is being constructed across the road and the high comm. Looks like the garbage dump.

WAKE UP you stupid morons! Whats the use of the “Amazing India” campaign when you cant handle one shitty embassy. No wonder they did not allow you on the Ampang Embassy Row and stuck you in the wilderness of Jln Duta.