Vishnu Sharma

Randomness Redefined


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A Lazy Vacation at Coorg

Sometimes you need a vacation that is all about simply doing nothing…Sitting at a place where even the phone signal is not that great…good, no more pestering calls from office on your vacation that ‘something urgent has come up’.

Homestays at Madikeri in Coorg are a perfect weekend getaways for such vacations. Away from the world for 2 days.

Talakaveri

Talakaveri

How to Get There

You need to reach Bangalore (Capital city of state Karnataka in India), first. Bangalore, now a days, called Bengaluru, is accessible from all parts of the country via road, train and airports.

From Bangalore, if you really need to enjoy, you should go to Madikeri via road. Either hire a taxi for the weekend, or, if you are like me and want to drive, you can rent ZoomCar. I was very happy with the ZoomCar service (and I’m not getting paid to write this, your experience might be different). The drive from Bangalore is about 250 Kms.

Where to Stay

If you want to really enjoy your stay at Coorg, you must stay at “homestays”. You can book from Coorg HomeStays Website. I stayed at “Mystical Homestay“. The place is great and more than that, the owner, Harish, is a great host. My next trip to Coorg, I’m once again going to stay at the same place.

What to do at the Homestay

We wanted a lazy weekend, so our plan to just sit and do nothing ! You should ideally have a few friends, or if you are travelling with family, go with one more family. There aren’t too many rooms at Mystical Homestay. So, just two families with about 6-7 heads should be fine. At the homestay, we went around looking at Harish’s coffee plantations and since we had kids, we showed them various different plans (e.g. pepper, vanilla, cardamom). At night, I found only two great activities – eat around bonfire and or have a nice drink in the middle of heavy plantation. Remember, you must get the drinks from outside, or you can sometimes ask someone else to get it for you. Homestays cannot serve you liquor by law. Still, you must get them from the market, ideally, before sunset.

The Food

While I could not find anything special as far as Coorg food is concerned, the food in general, was home-cooked and was sumptuous. The only new surprise was Kadmbuttu –  Steamed rice dumplings. New, not that great, but I had it for the first time.

Kadmbuttu

Coorg, Madikeri Rice Dumplings – Kadmbuttu

Nearby Places I Visited

Since we were not much into seeing places and more interested in a relaxed vacation, we just went to only four places. Two for kids and two for the religious ones in the group.

1. Vintage Car Museum

Well, visit this place only if you are a car buff or if you have kids. The place is more like a junkyard with cars parked inside a shed. The only good part is that there are indeed some good old cars in the shed.

2. Talakaveri

It is said, that Talakaveri is the source of the river Kaveri. From Madikeri, it is about 80 Kms and a temple is built around that. I’m not that religious person and would have skipped that, but then, in our group, rest everyone was, so we decided to drive. What I enjoyed was the scenic drive. It can take about 2.5 hrs.

TalaKaveri

Talakaveri

3. The Dubare Elephant Camp

This trip is worth your time. Dubare is a nice place where Elephants are kept and trained for the Mysore Dussera. I suppose you will like this place irrespective of your age. You can see the elephants up and close, being bathed by mahouts. You need to cross the rive using a boat (no life jackets). The river does not seem too deep. The view is gorgeous.

Dubare Elephant Resort, Coorg

Dubare Elephant Resort, Coorg

Dubare, Elephant Bathing

Dubare, Elephant Bathing

4. The Buddhist Golden Temple

Until I visited Coorg, I used to think that the buddhist from tibet were only settled in Dharmshala, India. My friends told me, that another settlement happened in the Madikeri district. The Golden Temple is a must visit, even for non-religious folks like me. A grand view and a treat to the eyes.

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Golden Temple, Coorg

Golden Temple, Coorg

Enjoy your stay at the great weekend getaway at Coorg, Madikeri.

 

 

 

 

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Throw Brand Loyalty Out of the Window

If my needs are met, then I generally stick to products and services from the same company, even if sometimes, it costs a bit more. I’m sure there are many like me out there. Just the hassle of changing things like phone number and bank accounts is way too much.

That’s exactly the kind of behavior some companies take advantage of, and then, lower the quality of service to you to cut costs ! Here are a few examples on how…

logo-airtel

The Aggressive Airtel

Airtel (www.airtel.in) is an Indian telecom services provider company, will full name being “Bharti Airtel Limited”. It is a public limited company, listed in “Bombay Stock Exchange” (India) as well as in “National Stock Exchange” (India). At the time of this writing, it is operating is about 20 countries with annual revenue of about 9.5 Billion USD (FY 14-15).

It launched its 4G service, and I, being a heavy internet user, and an active customer of Airtel for over 7 years, quickly ordered for a new 4G hotspot. While filling up the form, I made a small mistake in my current phone number (one digit). Alas, that turned out to be same as “treason”. Here is a sequence of activities post this mistake:

  1. After taking the payment, the sales guy stopped calling. I had to call multiple times to close the process
  2. Because my alternative phone number was incorrectly entered in the system, I could not activate my new phone number. Different customer support people kept giving different instructions (to the extent they blamed other departments for the mistake)
  3. Somehow, after I managed to activate, I could not make a payment because, I kept getting different errors. (I always paid my bills in time)
  4. Every two days I had to call the customer support for status and I would get a call from their IT team. The IT team would ask the same questions everytime
  5. Even after multiple escalations, no one responded. Had to make multiple calls and one fine day, got hold of a decent guy to whom I explained which “web services” were giving error. The problem got fixed after couple of days !

It took almost a month to fix such a simple issue. Took numerous e-mails, phone calls and too many people to fix such a small issue. For someone who has never made late payments for over 7 years and has multiple connections !

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The Renegade Reliance Communications

Reliance Communications Ltd. is an Indian Internet access and telecommunications company headquartered in Navi Mumbai, India. It provides CDMA, GSM mobile services, fixed line broadband and voice services, DTH depending upon the areas of operation. Wikipedia

This one even went to the extent of accusing me of fraud ! Again, I’m a customer of this company for over 8 years now. I purchased a pre-paid 3G SIM from them and was using in my tablet. I would purchase a plan every month over online and keep it charged. One fine day, I selected a plan, made the payment, but got a message that the recharge was not successful. The plan supported both phone and dongles. When I raised the issue with customer support, I was told that I am using the SIM in a “dongle” which is fraud and thus the recharge was denied ! Phone, email, chat, even Twitter channels kept telling me either that they will look into the matter, or they kept saying I was using it in a dongle.

The surprising thing was that I was using the same SIM and same plan earlier with no problems ! Even someone from their social media team contacted me and said they will look into it….but as suspected, nothing happened.

I found out a few days later, that the plan was no longer being offered. It clearly looked like a software error, for which the entire staff of Reliance tried to blame me, and that too also for about Rs. 500 (about USD 9). Time to move on…

2000px-ICICI_Bank_Logo.svg

The ICICI Bank’s Ghost Wealth Managers

This one is even more interesting. I’m a customer of ICICI bank for over 15 years now. I even have “so called” dedicated wealth managers. Recently, I needed to know details of two transactions that took place in 2008 and 2009. The day I raised a request, I was told it will be closed in 2 days. Then a few hours later, I got a call that it will be closed in 7 working days, which is OK. I was at-least given a timeframe that was reasonable.  The problem started after the wait period was over. After 7 days, the service request stauts was showing “closed”, and everytime I would call the customer support, the guy at the other end would apologize, ask for two more days, and promise to “personally inform” me after two days. Then they would not call. This went on for 3 or 4 times. Everytime I would call, a new guy would answer the phone and say the same thing, but would never call. I then wrote a mail to the ICICI bank team. I’m yet to receive a response !

ICICI-Prudential-Life-Insurance-Logo

The ICICI Insurance Broken Record

Finally, a classic case of “broken-record-customer-support”. I purchased a new term policy from ICICI online. I had undergone a small surgery on my hand to remove a tissue mass for which, neither I had any medical records, nor the hospital where the operation was performed could find any records (it’s common in India). The surgery was done 6-7 years ago. The insurer kept asking for the medical records, and I kept saying I don’t have it, neither the hospital has it, tell me an alternative.

In response, I got multiple phone calls and emails, all stating –

  1. Please get medical records
  2. Please get doctor’s prescription

This, despite asking what is an alternative. Naturally, I had to dump this insurer and went with another one.

Do tell me your fun story with these so called great organizations :-0

The logos used in this blog post are only to identify which companies i’m talking about. The trademarks (if any) and all corresponding rights, belong to the companies in their respective jurisdiction. They have been used only for illustration and easy identification.