Spice Up Yours
A cellular phone is more or less the norm for the people of today. You can’t throw a brick around Bangalore without knocking off somebody’s cellphone, crushing the teeny lil thing and eventually getting sued for a helluvalotta money. It is the cultural norm and a workplace necessity; the default gadget of popular askance. When people ask ME whether I have a mobile phone, however, I get to answer “yes” as well as “no” without compromising on my honesty. I have a mobile phone, yes, but I have been using the service of Spice Telecom.
Now Spice is a special service available only in select areas of Punjab and Karnataka. So many of you may not be aware of the connection per se. Even fewer would have looked up the history behind the brand. It was originally designed by the British ruling class before India gained her independence, as part of their ‘divide and rule‘ strategy. I am sure that the historical account I am giving here is not entirely correct, owing mostly to the fact that I am making stuff up as I type along.
The original plan was to provide Spice connections to all the freedom fighters and their supporters. Once they have the connections established, the seeds of scorn and distrust would automatically get embedded, sooner or later…
One party would try calling another and get a voice recording saying “The number you are trying to call is currently busy. Kindly try after some time.” They’d hit redial and get the message “Please check the number you have dialled. The number does not exist”. They’d hit redial again and hear a new random message that goes – “The Spice subscriber you are trying to reach has caller ID and has decided to ignore you.” While half the people would go crazy and shoot themselves, the other half would be so angered at each other for shunning their calls that they’d forget the whole struggle for freedom and succumb to internal conflicts.
At least that was the original plan. The project got so delayed that the British rule had been long overcome by the time Spice set up office in India. Today, Spice attempts to live like a normal service provider. Their original purpose has been long forgotten by the masses. Even historians are scratching their head about the last couple of paragraphs.
I have been using their service for the past three years now, and it’s about time I took out the sim-card and danced the Bossa Nova on it with metallic-spiked shoes.
But lest you think I have nothing nice to say about Spice, let me clarify a few things… Despite the fact that I can’t make a call after 6 p.m. without trying a number at least 20 times; and the fact that I was thinking of learning how to climb trees so that I can stay connected long enough to finish a phonecall; and the fact that the last time I, or anyone I know, was able to reach the Spice Telecom customer support was on June 3rd, 2007, when someone accidentally picked up the call and talked rubbish for about 30 seconds before getting cut off; despite all these factors, I tried to stick with spice… I really did.
Now, WHY did I try? At one point, it had economical schemes, and that counted high on the charts back when I was still in college. And soon, a lot of people knew me only through that number, +919844364074, and since giving up the sim-card here would mean giving up the number as well, it seemed prudent to give Spice some time to redeem itself.
But Spice continued to taunt me with its incessant and relentless degradation. Some of the people I give my number to don’t even bother noting it down once they realize it is a Spice connection. They reason that they could have better luck by passing a note to a random stranger and asking him to relay it until it reaches a Hamish Joy… somewhere.
Once I tried going to a store to get my mobile recharged….
Me: I’d like to recharge my phone….
Store owner: Ok, sir. What’s your connection?
S.O.: Spice??? Why did you go for that, sir? It is the worst connection ever….
Me: Hmm… do you have the recharge card or no?
S.O.: No, sir. We don’t keep Spice here.
Me: Know anyplace around where I can get…
S.O.: No, sir. No good store would keep Spice.
That was pretty bizzare. I walked out… The owner actually followed me a bit, continuing his tirade…
S.O.: Spice is the worst company in the world…
Me: (Starting a slow run) Emm… Ok….
Now, truth be told, I have to admit that there have been times when I was pleasantly surprised by the reception offered by Spice, but too few too late, it had to go…
The last straw was their new service called “Spice Missed Call Alerts“… a new paid service offered by the company which enables you to get SMS alerts regarding all the calls attempted to your cellphone while your phone is (perceived to be) ‘switched off‘ or ‘out of coverage area‘… which basically means they are getting YOU to pay for their incompetencies and inadequacies.
I thought about this and sobered up. Hell, if Spice starts to charge me for its incompetencies, I’ll be bankrupt before dawn. I had to get out of this. I asked around… Taking a new card seemed to be the most popular method. And so, here I am… brand new SIM card in my phone… brand new grin on my face… and brand new bills coming to wipe my silly grin off…
I shall still retain my Spice card for another two weeks… until The Official Ceremony Of Throwing The SIMCard In The Middle Of The Ocean And Dancing Around.
As of now, it is too early to crib about my new connection at +919886775074. Hopefully, I won’t have to crib about it too much… Maybe I should look up the history of Vodafone just to make sure…