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  • Yeh koi pagalpan to nahin

    Posted On September 11, 2000

    By Karan Thapar

    “Aap kya chahte hein? Yeh koi pagalpan to nahin?”

    “Nahin bhai sahab, yeh pagalpan nahin hai.” I replied before I banged down the phone. But by then, to tell you the truth, I was truly mad.

    It happened last week. I was watching KBC and for once paying close attention to the ads. Suddenly I noticed a commercial for a set of CDs called the Nostalgia Collection. Judging by the snatches they played it sounded tantalising. Admittedly it was what my sister Kiran calls elevator music but, quite frankly, I find that most uplifting. So, I rose to the occasion and decided to buy the CDs.

    Now that of course is what the ad is designed to make you want to do. Mine was therefore the desired response. But when I reached for the phone to ring the numbers given what followed was definitely not what I expected.

    I first tried the Delhi number. It’s 621 6363.

    “Hello”.

    “Ji ” came the answer.

    “Mein aap ka Nostalgia Collection khareedna chahta hoon.”

    “Bahut achi baat, zaroor kharideye” came the somewhat surprising though reassuring reply.

    “To mera order lijiye.”

    “Hum kyon lein?”

    “Kyon aap ka number TV pe diya tha.”

    “Humara number?”

    “Ji.”

    “Hold karein.”

    The phone switched to music. Not ‘Green Sleeves’ or “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’, which I’ve come to hate, but almost the smultz I like. Actually a sort Indian Clayderman playing Ilayaraja. Five minutes passed before a new voice took up the conversation. This time it was in English.

    “How can I help you Sir?” He sounded polished but that proved deceptive.

    “I’d like to order the Nostalgia Collection please. I’ve rung to find out what I have to do.”

    “How am I supposed to know? Try a shop or something.”

    I took a deep breath to contain my mounting irritation. Steadying my voice I started slowly. I explained in detail the advertisement I had just seen on television. I pointed out that I had rung the number given on the screen. Finally, I added that I was in fact responding precisely to the directions given.

    “Sir, I don’t know why our number has been given” the voice replied not a whit impressed by my explanation. “I know nothing about this. It’s probably a joke.”

    “Well, if it is it isn’t very funny.”

    “I agree” said the voice before it disconnected. And that was that.

    The next day I tried the Bombay number. That was the second number given. It’s 022 880 7047. Of course I should have known what to expect but being an optimist my hopes were buoyant.

    “Hello.”

    “Is that 022 880 7047?” I asked. I was anxious to establish I had rung the right place before I launched into my conversation.

    “Yes” came the reply.

    “I want to order the Nostalgia Collection. Last night on TV …..” But before I could continue I was interrupted.

    “Oh that” said the voice. “Yes, a few others have rung as well.”

    “Good” I said hugely relieved. This voice knew what I was talking about and I felt that things would work out satisfactorily. I explained what I wanted. By the time I finished I was confident of success.

    “Sorry Sir, but I can’t help.”

    “Why?”

    “Because we haven’t got the CDs.”

    “But you’re supposed to be the agents”.

    “According to TV Sir” the voice replied. “But we know nothing about it.”

    “So what should I do?” I pleaded helplessly. You know how it is, the more difficult some things become the more you seem to want them. My desperation was growing and I was determined not to give up.

    “One moment Sir”.

    This time there was no music just echoing silence. I waited forgetting that the phone tab was steadily mounting. It’s not cheap to ring Bombay during the day. Several minutes later a new voice took up the incomplete conversation. It spoke in Hindi.

    “Ha ji, aap ki kya farmaish?”

    Once again I explained, very carefully, with meticulous detail and admirable patience.

    “Do maheene ke baad phone karen” was the prompt reply.

    “Kyon?”

    “Ho sakta hei aapke CD tab mil jayen. Abhi to hein nahin.”

    By now my rage was almost uncontrollable. I felt I had been made a fool of.

    “To TV pe aapne ad kyon diya?” I shouted. “Aakhir aap bechte hein kya?”

    “Aap kya chahte hein? the man snorted back. “Yeh koi pagalpan to nahin?”

    Well, there’s one lesson to learn. Don’t believe everything you see or hear on TV and certainly not if it’s part of an advertisement. I’ve bought several music cassettes off the telly in London – including a terrific collection of James Galway on the flute – but it doesn’t work in India. Are you surprised?


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