Once upon a time, life was so simple.

Silly me used to wake up first thing in the morning, go to work, and flog myself there. Over lunch, my secretary would order me something to munch on, or I would go home, or to a lunch engagement, or to the salon to have my nails and hair done. After work - whenever I wrapped up for the day - I would go to a dinner, or a reception, or hang out with friends, or stay at home, where friends and family would visit. There were things to do, people to meet. My life was FULL. Too full in fact. My mother used to complain that I treated my house like a hotel. I would only sleep there. And of course, throw my clothes all over the place, for them to be washed and ironed and ready for me to get into when I showed up to change from casual to formal to casual to dinner to reception to silly to holiday to vacation to silly gear.

And then. There was silence. No work. No calls. No visitors. No friends. No family. No secretary. No colleauges. No employees. No dinners. No receptions. No clothes. No salons. No nails. No hair. No nothing. No late nights out. No waking up in the morning to rush to work. No pressure. No stress. Just the four empty walls of my self-exile. To tell you the truth. I loved the silence. I embraced it and enjoyed the no life life. Does this make sense?

And now.. I am starting to feel restless in this surreal existence. Life continued with and without me. People moved on. People got married. People had children. And people died. A lot of people died. Richard died. Vinitha died. And Eman died. People I sat and laughed with died. People I dined and whined with died. Basically, life just goes on and on and on ... whether we are there or not. And today, just today, I so want to be there. I so want to be in the rat race. So want to interact with people. So want to get really angry and really happy - to have my heart beat so fast, and to laugh from deep inside. And I want to cry. Cry over something real and not a hurtful memory or something that happened in my past. And I want to be happy and full of pride, not because of a distant pre-historic achievement - but for something today and now.

And what do I get? Kayak, Cheap Tickets and Visa. Well, not exactly Kayak, because they have been the only people with decency to call me and follow up with me. For two days those people (note - I am remaining calm here and not calling anyone names) have been playing ping pong with me. I booked a ticket online for a summer trip .. and while they have charged my credit card, they haven't sent me a confirmation and the message I recieved on my computer while booking said that the transaction had failed. Cheap Tickets (the name CHEAP should have rang serious alarm bells in my head) say they don't have a booking. Kayak say they don't charge people and are the sort of Google for airline bookings. The bank says to wait for a few days to discover the mystery charge or to call the merchant, who should call them to drop the charges, yet they cannot disclose to me who the merchant is although yesterday they told me it was Kayak; I now discover it is in fact Cheap Tickets, who even have a ticket locator number, which they haven't given me because the reservation did not go through maam. Yet, Cheap Tickets is telling me to call Visa and ask them to drop the charges; Visa says the merchant should call them; Cheap Tickets call Visa who ask them to ask me to call them; I call them and they ask me to call the Cheap Tickets to ask them to call them; Cheap Tickets want me to do the three-way call and I tell them I am not good with threesomes you motherfuckers just sort out this fucking mess I got myself into when I entered the fucking digits which make up my fucking credit card onto your fucking site. And you are asking me for threesomes?

Sigh! I have been on the phone and on hold since 8am. It is now 3.40pm here. I have changed the phone twice, because their batteries run out. I have had no food. I have done no work. I have been sitting and listening to this annoying music on the phone while the monkeys in the sweat shops of Bangalore, Maurtitius and Manila sort it out amongst themselves. All those services have outsourcing sources. Why do I call them monkeys? Because they are paid peanuts, the poor things. They have a list of responses they can reply, which are restricted to "Can I put you on hold maam?", "Can you hold on while I verify that maan?", "Thank you for waiting maam?" and "I totally understand maam!" - that last sentiment I applaud you for and I am so sure you do. Just as much as I would know what it means to live and work in a cubicle and cycle to work everyday, deal with people suffering from anal repentive withdrawal, who are travelling around the world making full use of the services of a website called Cheap Tickets, which sells tickets the prices of some amount to the full annual salary of those 'customer service' experts.

The Manila lady has just come on the line to tell me that the Bangalore man doesn't understand what she wants. She added: "Can I put you on hold maam?"
I quickly responded "Yes, please."

For some reason the annoying music has a more calming effect on my nerves than their sharpness and professionalism.

It is now 3.46pm. The clouds are heavy in the sky. There was no sun today. But it isn't raining. When it rains, I hope that I am done with my phone adventure for today and out on the street soaking in the acidity and dirt spitted at me from the skies!


programmer craig said...

I can relate to this post. After I got divorced a few years ago, I pretty much cut all ties to my past life except for family members. I even quit my job and took a low stress consulting position, and moved to another city. Now I wish I hadn't been so... drastic. It's a lot easier to get things out of your life than it is to get them back!

Sorry you had a problem with Cheap Tickets. I've used that site 3 or 4 times and haven't had a problem, but maybe they've gone downhill since then. I used Expedia last time, and they were great.

SillyBahrainiGirl said...

I usually book through Expedia and Travelocity - with no problems at all. Sigh! I wish this can be sorted out soon .. as prices are hitting the roof!

Sorry to hear about your forced exile. I joke about mine. I willingly relocated to be with my better half - who is completing his higher studies while I piss about online and act homesick :)

SillyBahrainiGirl said...

OK .. I do get homesick - very, simply because the Arab world is warm, human emotions are raw and real, and interactions are from the heart.

I feel miserable here mostly because of the lack of that depth and warmth in human interactions.

And most of all, I miss my family and friends :)

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