Singapore Diaries I: Shopping

December 31, 2005

Yes, I know that I’ve been back in India for two weeks already. In my defense, I’ve been trying to write other posts, but writer’s block and all that means I’ve decided to just get the Singapore posts over and done with, and hopefully I’ll be able to kickstart myself on the others.

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Red Underpants and the Breasts of Power

December 6, 2005

Singapore newspapers are like Mid-Day. On steriods. They start at 40 pages, and weigh about a kilo, and look as if they’ve been written by earnest and well-meaning twelve year old students.

Check out this dreamlike prose, from a The New Paper article on an awards ceremony.

Superstitions and lucky charms were abound as the stars crossed their fingers for a chance to go home with one of the blown-glass trophies.
Bryan, 34, credited his Best Comedy Performer and Top Ten Most Popular Male Artiste wins to his red underwear.
He even yanked out the top part of his red underwear from underneath his pants to show reporters backstage.
A gleeful Bryan said: “My fengshui adviser called me up this morning to tell me that I must wear red underwear because red is my lucky colour today. So I rushed down to Hereen to specially buy a pair. He also said I should visit someone in the east, so I went all the way back to the east to my sister’s home, changed into the red underwear, before heading here (to MediaCorp).”

Meanwhile, Yifeng thought her red hair- which she had dyed just that morning- could have brought her luck.
And of course, Kym helped too.
“I’ve never won anything in my life, not in any contest whatsoever, but Kym came to me this morning, and grabbed my breasts saying that she was passing all her ‘power’ to me,” said Yifeng.
“I must really thank her. If not for her deliberately playing bimbo all the time, how can I show off my smarts?”.

Data Mining or Dumb Luck?

December 1, 2005

I got this SMS from Airtel today:

Dear customer, Congrats! In appreciation of your long-standing association,we have actvd ISD facility without any additional deposit, w.e.f 23-Nov-05. Thank you

I wish Airtel wouldn’t use SMS-ese in their offficial messages. It’s irritating. But that aside, I’m thrilled I’ve finally got ISD without having to shell out a deposit. I’m on a peculiar plan- it’s a postpaid plan meant for salaried people, but the Airtel sales office offered it to IIMB students. The problem with that is that to activate long distance calls to landlines, or international calls to any phone, you had to deposit your salary slip. Without a salary slip, you had to deposit ten thousand rupees. Ouch.

Anyway, their customer sercive centre calls me every two months or so and tries to sell me an add-on service. I usually decline, but when the call centre would ask if there’s something I’d rather have instead, I used to tell them how irritating it was not to have an ISD facility. Now, they’ve given it to me just for sticking on for fifteen months.

What is now intriguing me is- did they give this freebie to everyone who’s been on for fifteen months, and has paid bills (very substantial bills indeed at one point of time) promptly? Or, did the customer service rep actually flag the fact that I wanted ISD, enter it into their CRM package, which decided that I would like an ISD facility best when it went through the records and saw that I had been on the same connection for fifteen months. What’s more- is Airtel’s data mining smart enough to figure out that if the bulk of someone’s bill comes from national long distance calls, (s)he might be an even juicier prospect for international long distance?

I’m not too sure. Their Karnataka database was pathetic six months ago- the Airtel centre didn’t know how much I had on deposit, how long I’d had roaming, or how long I’d had my connection. My request to terminate roaming vanished into the ether, and I finally did it myself online when they revamped their website (which now works really well). Still, six months is a long time, and maybe they’ve refined their CRM a lot since then.

Does anybody know if this zero deposit on ISD has been offered to more people than me, or about Airtel’s CRM in general? Comment or drop me a line, please.