Posts Tagged ‘communication tool’

Love in the time of technology

June 2, 2014

There was a time when palm leaves
And birds, too, were used
To communicate between lovers
And ensure that their souls fused.

The post and telegraph service
Improved this somewhat:
One could be in touch with the Other,
Heart could call to heart.

But now it is the techno-age,
The age of “keep-in-touch”:
To keep separated and sundered hearts
From missing each other too much.

She can quietly text him;
Await his return SMS;
In the silence of words that fly
Their loneliness grows less.

Can she call him? Can he call her?
Can they exchange some words?
Can she hear him? Can he hear her?
Or–just static, screeching birds?

It’s said,by ancients, that love
Is conveyed through the eyes:
But if they’re talking into a phone
Depending on sight would not be wise.

Video calls, then, are the answer!
Of each other they can have their fill.
The thorny of the part of the rose will come
Along with the internet bill!

Oral Communication…aka Gossip! Chennai, 260214

March 4, 2014

gossip 260214

Under the preceptors’ eyes….I found this scene intriguing on several levels. The Shankaracharyas look on at life today. The younger of the two men has the outward appearance of the traditional Tamil Brahmin…the “kudumi”, the sacred ash and sandalwood smeared on the forehead, the “anga vastram” on the chest…the older has his hair cut the modern way, and is wearing a shirt. But the age-old oral tradition goes on…the “karna parampara” of “you speak, I listen, and information is communicated”. It’s less charitably referred to as gossip! Chennai, 260214.

The Missed Call

January 27, 2014

I don’t know if any other countries are as innovative as India is, when it comes to “lateral application” of technology. One of these lateral applications is that wonderful


in the field of mobile communication…the Missed Call (MC).

In a country where every paise is squeezed for what it can yield, it was inevitable that the MC itself became a medium of communication. Almost as fast as the mobile service providers announced different plans, Indians have found a way of utilizing the ancient concept of zero to them.

How a zero? Let’s assume that when a call is made and received, it registers as one call. So, if the call is not completed, it does not register as a call, and is a zero on the mobile service provider’s billing. But in India, it works in other ways, even as a zero.

My first demonstration of the MC came when the plumber arrived at home to look at the pipes. His assistant needed to go to the terrace to check on the main pipes leading from the water tanks, and was told, “Go up to the terrace and if you find everything is OK there, give me a missed call”. Sure enough, the plumber disconnected his call from his helper, after the second ring..and the message had been passed, without a paisa having been spent on either side.

Over the years, I’ve also used the MC as a way of communication. I get on a bus at Bangalore, and want to tell my friend in Mysore that the bus is on its way…one MC. I’m to go downstairs and need to know when my friend is coming, so that I know when to go and wait…a MC from her.

A couple I know also uses the MC as a means of apparent non-communication, which is actually a method of communication. If someone calls at their home and wants to contact the husband, the wife gives her spouse a MC. The husband, noting the quick ending of the call, knows that someone has called (he usually knows who’s expected.) The wife apologizes to the visitor, “He’s not picking up his call”…and the husband now knows what to expect, and whether to come home to meet the person, or wait and avoid him.

But until a couple of days back, I didn’t know that MCs were also an accepted way of doing business, too. I switched on my TV and idly surfed through channels, and paused, out of curiosity, on one of those tv sales channels…and there it was…”Please give a MC on XXXX no, and we’ll call you back (and sell you this overpriced article that you don’t need…that subtext did not appear on the screen.)” went the text at the bottom of the screen. (And sell you this overpriced article that you don’t need…that subtext did not appear on the screen.) Open acceptance of the MC as a business communication method!

My washing machine service engineer also informs me that rather than send texts to his boss, he just “gives a MC” as soon as he reaches the next customer’s place. That’s jugaad in business practices! The only thing I couldn’t work out is, how his boss would know if he genuinely wanted to talk..and the service engineer clarified that, too. “My boss has another number, and when I call on that, he’ll pick up.”

I wonder if there are other applications of the MC, and I’d like to know what, and how. We Indians are masters of the art of Not Paying For Something! And this, when most of us have mobile usage plans that include free messaging!

Saying no…

May 26, 2011

I’ve been having conversations with a couple of friends; one is waiting for a response on the personal front, and another, on the professional front. And a feature that strikes me as common to both these processes of waiting is the way a “no” is communicated.

A “yes” response to anything means, always, that there WILL be a response. The person calls or communicates, and makes it clear that what you are asking for is of interest to them (whether it is a position in their organization, a role in their lives, a plan of action, or anything else)…and that the process of engagement can go on, at the very least. But saying no..comes in different forms.

One way, of course, is to call back the other person, tell them that you considered their proposal for whatever it was, and you don’t see it working for you. This, again, is clear-cut and leaves no room for misinterpretation. Disappointment, perhaps, but that’s someone one has to deal with.

The other way is that of silence. The other person just does not call back. “Silence is consent” goes the old saw, but in this instance, silence is an implicit refusal.

The silence could be because of two things.

One, the person is still considering the proposal, and is yet unable to come to a decision. Unwilling to communicate a final “no”, the person lets the communication hang, hoping that clarity will arrive, and a clear-cut decision can later be conveyed.

But it’s the second scenario that I’m talking about here…where the person decides on a “no”, but lets the silence convey that decision, rather than communicate that decision actively.

I find this “lack of response is a response” reaction very difficult to take, and very difficult to understand. Surely, if someone has take the trouble to ask me something, I should expend equal time and effort to communicate my “no”, and also, perhaps, explain why I’ve reached the decision?

Companies, especially, seem to do this all the time. If you are applying for a job, they will respond only if the response is positive. They do not feel it worth their time to take the time and effort to send a negative response. The person asking for a job or an interview is left to have it slowly sink in that the company is not interested, and start looking elsewhere.

After talking to several people, however, I’ve come to realize that the decision not to communicate a “no”, however, is not just a simple lack of consideration for the other fact, it often is an active consideration for the feelings of the other person. “Why should I return an often hurting negative answer, when the silence can speak the message better, and softer?” seems to be the reasoning behind this.

Another reason, especially in relationships, could be an anger that does not even permit a response. If you are asking if there is something wrong, the other person is angry that you don’t even seem to know what is wrong…and feels that there is no use of even communicating a “no, things are not OK” response to you. They feel that they might as well just remain quiet and let things lapse.

This kind of “negative response” is something that I, personally, would not like at all. Surely, if I am applying for a job with you, or asking you if something is wrong in our friendship, or want to know if you can do something for me….it would be far easier for me to deal with a clear reply, that tells me where I stand (whatever it is, is not possible, or cannot be done), rather than leave me in a fog of mystification….and the troubling thought that maybe the person has just forgotten to respond, and that it is not a “no” after all (yes, that’s happened enough number of times to make it, always, a distinct possibility.)

However, I do know enough people who find this kind of “no answer” to be enough of an answer, and who are quite happy to have this way of being told that what they are asking for will not happen. They feel that they are spared the confrontation with the failure of their efforts.

Personally, though, I would much rather have both the courtesy of a response, and the unambiguity of it, rather than be kept in the penumbra between hope and despair…when my rational mind may be telling me that it’s a “no” but my emotional mind hopes that a positive response may yet be forthcoming.

One area where this kind of negative response operates all the time is when one is hiring domestic help, at least, in India. The maid may feel that the timings you ask for don’t suit, the salary is not enough..or any other reason. But the only way you’ll know about the “no” is when the person does not turn up for work. After a day or two of absence, the message does, indeed, sink in that it’s a no!

Even here, I wonder why the person who has, after all, come to you because she wants a job with you, cannot come back, express her dissatisfaction at whatever stipulation it is, and ask for a different time, more money, or whatever? Why this lackadaisical passing on?

Another scenario is when I am waiting for a mechanic or a service person to come for a scheduled visit. Often, this guy knows that he cannot make it on the day. But he will not communicate that (often, rightfully, fearing an irate response!) and leaves me to wait the entire day, with other chores piling up…and calling up the next day, when I am about to leave the house to do those piled-up jobs, to ask if he can come over!

I guess there will always be two schools of that holds that a lack of response IS a valid enough message, and the other (to which I belong) that says, a no must be communicated as clearly as a yes. I at least have the comfort that the other person respected me enough to take the time and effort to communicate the refusal, and I’m also happy that the other person took the time to consider what I said seriously, before refusing.

Well, “yes”es are also not always communicated clearly …but that’s another story!

I do NOT check my Yahoo id regularly!

March 5, 2008

Dear LJ friends…

Please don’t send email to my Yahoo id. I check it very rarely, and even more rarely now that BSNL is putting me through a crapola time with the connection. I just managed to get online and decided to check my Yahoo id and found one wedding invitation, one dinner invitation, and the phone no. of someone who wants to meet with me and must be wondering why on earth I am not calling.

So please…use my gmail id for all communication. I am almost weaned off my dataone id, too, uzliss as it is.

English….foreign language or desi communication tool?

May 18, 2007

One of my colleagues on Metroblogs posted some bloopers which Oxford Concise Dictionary have allegedly made….I still haven’t seen them for myself…but a reader, commenting on this entry, has asked why the poster can’t post in Kannada.

And to this reader, I ask …why are you READING the English post?

When are we going to stop regarding English as a “foreign” language and look at it as the valuable link tool it really is, to allow people with many mother tongues to communicate? Yes, the origin is foreign, but it’s no less useful because of that. We are actually lucky to know, so well, a language which is, whether we like it or not, turning into a world language. Perhaps what put this tool into our hands was oppression and subjugation…but we do have it now, and should use it.

It’s all very well for the politicians to make a big hoo-ha about a foreign language usurping our culture, heritage, and local languages…but show me a politician who sends his children to Kannada medium schools!

Indians have a big advantage in the world forum with their knowledge of English. By all means let us foster our Indian languages too, but let us recognize the usefulness of English (and its wide prevalence!) in our country, too.