The Virgin Atlantic flight to London was smooth and comfortable. Two movies and a meal later, the captain made the final landing announcements as we descended into Heathrow airport. Earlier at New Delhi's Terminal-3, we were the last ones to check-in, but the airlines staff at the check-in counter was very courteous, even though overtly.
I could sense their inner resentment. We had delayed the flight departure by 15 minutes.
The cabin crew greeted us with plastic smiles, while the passengers on board gave us dirty looks, as we settled into our seats. My wife and I were going to London to assist our daughter, who was expecting her second baby.
The immigration officer at Heathrow was a lady. She took our passports and asked our purpose of visit and duration of stay in England. On hearing our reply, she stamped the passports with a smile and said, "Welcome to the United Kingdom, have a pleasant stay."
How different and pleasant an approach as compared to the immigration counters in Delhi, where the staff is not trained to be courteous to passengers and act as if they have obliged us by letting us pass through. You feel like a convict, being let out on a parole.
The three months away from home in Chandigarh had to be planned out meticulously. There were many pre-departure errands to be done; inform the dish TV operator, the telephone and internet provider, the newspaper vendor, the milk man, the servants etc about our long absence.
I thought this was going to be easy, all one had to do was to call up to inform them to suspend the services for three months, pronto. It was not to be so. The first one I called up was the telephone company call centre.
After many attempts I could get finally get through, there were many options I had to choose from before I could get through to the customer service operator. Starting from; language option, existing or new customer, telephone or internet service etc, the list was long. The procedure was exhaustive and tested my patience. Having finished the formalities, I was exhausted, but relaxed.
We were finally leaving for London a week later. The only thing left was to collect the foreign exchange at the bank.
The bank manager was a dear friend. He offered me a cup of coffee as I sat down and informed him about my requirement of British pounds. I told him about my ordeal in having the services and facilities suspended temporarily during our stay abroad, and how bad the customer service was at all the companies.
Having heard me out patiently he said, "Sir, can you tell me the meaning of customer service and is it an English or a Hindi word?" Now, this was getting beyond me as I replied, "Of course, customer service is an English word." His reply baffled me: "Sir, this is where you are wrong.
Customer service is a Hindi word -- Kasht+mar; itna kasht do ki woh mar jaye (trouble him to death)." We both laughed it out, yes he was right, after all I was his 'Kashtmar'.