One FB update kinda encapsulates my first official tour to my home town:
– Electric Condition for tonight: Excellent
– Mobile Network Condition: Uisu (The closest translation would be “Dog’s Poop”)
My home town Churachandpur (aka Lamka), is the second largest town in Manipur in population, economic activities and infrastructure. Since childhood, electricity has been one abstaining necessities. Anything which I have come across in life has out-paced the progress and growth of electricity despite a 105 M Watt Hydro Project is just about 40KM away, commissioned way back in 1983 (The year I started schooling).
Coincidentally or incidentally, Idea’s network was down since the last two days. In all the few retail shops we visited, the vibe was just about customers not able to make call and hence it’s a bit difficult to really get feedbacks on the marketing aspects – how our products are performing vis-a-vis competition and what are consumers perception on our brands, etc. Some retailers have gone to the extent of refraining from selling Idea connections during those distress time. As a marketing guy, I could not help much on the technical aspects and hence I told them I’ll take it up with the network department once I go back and then conclude with some morale boosting spice “the organization has a huge plan for improving network in the coming days!”
After spreading ourselves across the length and breadth of Imphal, I asked the Area Manager to head towards my home town though the sun was still atop. I rationalized by doing some market visit on the way and it’ll also be better if the cab returns early to its base station as there was rumor of Bandh from that night. On the way, the manager and I were checking the network signals from time to time to find out the impacted areas of this fiasco. While both of us could hardly get network in the entire 60KM stretch, our driver (who use competition network) was receiving calls at every intervals, which bugged me more than the fact that he was speaking while driving…
As usual, the next day was just another typical “bandh” day and hence movement was restricted. However, I could catch up with few relatives and family friends who came to visit due to some family engagement. Post lunch, I was just hanging around for some general chit-chat. I decided to just take some feedback and asked them how many of them have Idea connections and what are their experiences. Since, Idea was not dominant, I was not expecting much from the crowd. However, I was surprised to know that about 50% of the 7/8 people were using Idea…but the ensuing comments were quite insightful –
On the positive and boring front – They were quite happy with Idea as the pricing is more competitive than others. And it was nice to hear for a marketing guy and infact they have more Idea connections in their household than competition. Either my kins were discount hunters or they were trying to make me feel comfortable…But fine with me.
On the other front –
First voice “Seems from the time you’ve joined North East, Idea connections have been going bad, otherwise it used to be quite good”…and goes the mass laughter
Another voice “I also use Idea, therefore I’m not able to talk to him for the past 2 days” pointing at another fellow mate…another volley of laughers…
The smart one “I’ve been and am a very good customer of Idea, you have to give me a free smart phone, I recharge 1 GB of data every month”…I cornered him “if you have still leftover from 1GB recharge in a month, I really doubt you are a good customers”…again the mass laughter…he tried to sanitize his stance by saying “I’m a married man, unlike youngsters, 1 GB ought to be a decent size for people like me”…laughter again though a bit listless by now…
That’s what my home town and folks are. We criticize but to generate laughter. We look for opportunity to laugh at every moment despite electricity and mobile network is still considered a luxury. I don’t seen more existential angst or sense of disappointments in them than people in more developed places.
These are moments which makes me think who define what “living a life” is…TO EACH HIS/HER OWN!!!