Insults

•13/11/2009 • 4 Comments

These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.
 

The exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor:
She said, “If you were my husband I’d give you poison.”
He said, “If you were my wife, I’d drink it.”

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or venereal disease.”
“That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”
 

“He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”  – Winston Churchill
 

“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” Clarence Darrow
 

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

“Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time  reading it.” – Moses Hadas
 

“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” – Mark Twain

“He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends..” –  Oscar Wilde

“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend…. if you have one.” – George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second… if there is one.” – Winston Churchill, in response.
 

“I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.” – Stephen Bishop

“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” – John Bright
 

“I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing  trivial.” – Irvin S. Cobb

“He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in  others.” – Samuel Johnson

“He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.” – Paul Keating

“In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.” – Charles, Count Talleyrand
 

“He loves nature in spite of what it did to him.” – Forrest Tucker
 

“Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on  it?” – Mark Twain

“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” –  Mae West  
 

 

“Some  cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde

“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts.. . for support rather than illumination. ” – Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
 

“He has Van Gogh’s ear for music.” – Billy Wilder

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it..” –  Groucho Marx

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1000 Marbles

•29/07/2009 • 6 Comments

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the basement shack with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it…

I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whoever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles”.

I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say. “Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital.”

He continued, “Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities.” And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.”

“You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.” “Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.

Now stick with me Tom, I’m getting to the important part.”

“It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.”

“So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them in a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.”

“I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.”

“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.”

“It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band.

73 Old Man, this is K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!” You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.”

“What brought this on?” she asked with a smile.

“Oh, nothing special, it’s just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.”

Received by email. Attributed to Jeffrey Davis.

Indian bureaucracy worst in Asia

•28/06/2009 • 1 Comment

The Times of India reports in June 2009

QUOTE

Indian bureaucracy worst in Asia

 Singapore: Singapore’s civil servants are the most efficient among their Asian peers, a business survey on 12 economies released on Wednesday showed, but they tend to clam up unhelpfully when things go wrong.

India’s “suffocating bureaucracy” was ranked the least-efficient by the survey, which said working with the country’s civil servants was a “slow and painful” process. “They are a power centre in their own right at both the national and state levels, and are extremely resistant to reform that affects them or the way they go about their duties,” the report said.

UNQUOTE

I have had some opportunities  to ‘train’ Indian bureaucrats.

I addressed nearly 50 of them on ‘Leadership’ at the HCM-Rajasthan Institute of Public Administration at Jaipur. I am a trainer, not without credentials and can hold my audience. From the word ‘Go’, however, without so much as having heard me or let me start, I had them telling me why private sector models would not work in the government.

After hearing them go on for a few minutes, I quietly started packing my materials. When I was asked what I was doing, I told my ‘learners’ that since they had made up their minds that what I was yet to say would not work for them, I would not waste my time. That quietened them down and they let me go on and finish what I had come to say.

In that batch was the incredible Bhaskar Ghose with whom I had an enthralling conversation. He wore his greatness with an uncharacteristic humility. He went on to become Secretary – Information and Broadcasting and Director of Doordarshan.

OPINION

Many of our bureaucrats have absolutely no role clarity or accountability whatsoever. They have ready and glib excuses for everything that goes wrong. They are power hungry, resistant to change and more interested in the size of their bungalows and offices. Their families and they monopolize the use of the government’s incredible resources, including, but not limited to, scholarships for education at the best institutions in the world. I am not even beginning to talk about corruption.

There is the occasional maverick that wants to deliver. The collective weight of the powers that be comes down heavily and punishes any such pretenses.

They claim to be poorly compensated but considering that they deliver so little, they are certainly over paid. There is an unholy nexus between them and their political masters and together, they have been milking India dry since independence. They live in an isolated world of their own and have completely insulated themselves from the man who pays the taxes and their salaries – the common man. Most public ‘servants’ subconsciously believe that they are the masters and act accordingly.

It is not that they lack talent. But the talent is not used for the purpose for which they are employed.

Contributing to their lack of results is the government’s policy of transferring them every couple of years. No one is allowed to develop roots or bonds. This breeds indifference and causes them to develop a very short-term mentality.

There is also the laughable, self-serving and self-propagated belief that they can lead any department of the government and worse still, any public sector industry. They can not run a government well but are credited omniscient management skils. It is believed that they can make and market anything for a profit. And that is why public sector industries that do not have a monopoly are doing as badly as the government. Many that have a monopoly are doing badly too. Those of the rest of us that study long hours to learn management are wasting our time and money learning something that one can pick up just by passing the UPSC IAS exam.

There are too many layers in the hierarchy making decision making almost impossible. Nobody can make a decision but anybody can stall it! And  decision does not mean execution. That is another story altogether!

There is a definite pecking order within the IAS and the year in which they pass out (1999 batch, for example) pretty much determines who is to be respected and who will be ordered around. 

The government needs to curtail recruitment for the next few years and create a system of accountability.

There needs to be far more business in government and far less government in business.

Their rating as the worst bureaucracy in Asia is well deserved. Barring a few completely backward countries, they could vie for the post of the worst in the world.

Thank God for the occasional Bhaskar Ghose. Men and women of his ilk keep the country going, inspite of it all.

Service of water on airlines / Baroda Airport Lounge

•22/06/2009 • Leave a Comment

Here is an email I sent to Mr. Naresh Goyal, Chairman Jet Airways. The action they took on it is at the end.

Dear Mr. Goyal,

I have deep personal admiration for you for creating a world-class airline in India

Your whole business model has been to be different and to raise the bar and make it difficult for your competitors to catch up. That you did so when all you had to compete with was the measly Indian Airlines makes this whole exercise all the more worthy of admiration.

Over the years, I have become a Platinum member and only travel Jet Premiere.

Jet Konnect

It is therefore with dismay and even disappointment that I now notice a trend in Jet Airways to try hard to be the same as everyone else. It seems that members of your team would like to obliterate the differentiation that Jet Airways has worked so hard to create over its decades long course through the Indian and now international skies.

 Here is a recent comment card that I filled out

Flight no.             2601

Date                     14/06/2009

Seat no.               16D

Flight from NEW DELHI to BARODA

100237373(Platinum)

COMMENT ON – (In-flight service), (Others-konnect)

COMMENT

Same aircraft (slow ATR)

Same high fares

Same crew

Same passengers (executives, business owners)

Same full flight

 Have you become so poor that you will not serve a snack, tea, coffee or even water on board without charging us separately?

I am thirsty but I will not submit to the swindle… what a mindless decision!

And you will find my platinum status disappearing very shortly.

I never imagined that you would stoop to the level of cheating your passengers thus.

Please, immediately fire the ass who originally came up with this idea and the asses who agreed to it. They have lost you more money and passengers than you have gained and you are now the lowest flying airline, far below even Indian Airlines.

As you can see I was incensed. Your fares are high because you enjoy a monopoly over the Baroda skies and I have never complained. But when the frequency of the flights is just one per day and you leave passengers with no choice of Class except this exceptionally ill-thought out Konnect, something is terribly wrong. You have commoditized your own selves! I could see the conflict and derision amongst my fellow passengers on this flight. Your crew that most passengers look upon with admiration was receiving the stick for no fault of theirs.

I have decided that I will now go by price rather than service (or lack of it) in my choice of carrier. There is no reason for me to be loyal to you any longer. I am sure that you will lose a large number of passengers like myself.

One other thing. Even the poorest of Indians serves water to their guests. It is our culture. If you prefer that I carry an empty bottle through security and fill it up in the lounge, I will do so. And of course, I shall carry my own snacks on board. I am willing to travel Premiere with you but I will not submit myself to being ‘cheated’.

The Jet Baroda lounge

In case you did not know it, let me say that this was once the best lounge in the country. Neat and clean, hot snacks made after you ordered them, outstanding service and the best cup of masala tea that one could hope for.

It is now worse than a pig sty.

You have changed the contractor who puts some clowns wearing ties on the frontline. The lounge is dirty. The food is not replenished. Perish the thought of hot snacks and masala tea. The sandwiches have no butter.

The worst lounge in town and I would be ashamed to put my name on it.

Well, Mr. Goyal, the ball is now in your court.

There is the choice to join the airlines that behave like state transport buses that take to the sky and sell water and food. There is no evidence that they are making money.

I would choose to be different from the others and continue my class act.

Please save me the trouble of reading a form reply. I will change my mind only if you change this strategy.

Thanks and regards,

Parimal N. Gandhi

Actions taken

I received an immediate acknowledgement of my email. That same afternoon, Mr. Gaurang Shetty called me and went to great pains to explain the airline’s point of view to me. It all boils down to commercial necessity. He promised to thoroughly investigate the Baroda airport lounge. He also assured me that drinking water would not be charged for on board Konnect aircraft.  He also agreed to look into the suggestion of allowing the passenger to pay for the meal during the ticketing process.

How do I feel about all this? What I appreciate is the speed with which I received a response to my complaint. It mollified me somewhat.

I would still like not to be charged separately for my meals and beverages. Baroda being a small and cost-conscious town, low cost flights are probably more viable than multiple-frill premium services. I will havr to find alternative ways to travel the way I would like to.

Be different. Be treated different. Be the same? Don’t expect to be terated different!

Of course, nothing has changed on the ground so far but I am optimistic that it will.

Update as on 28-06-09

The correspondence continues. I have further form emails from various managers promising to ‘look into it’. 

Jet Airways frontliners are very defensive about this whole ‘Konnect’ concept. Their interactions with their passengers have changed from posititve to negative. Another difficulty is lounge access. Platinum class passengers have enjoyed lounge access for years and do not appreciate having to sit in the general area.

The worst of American airlines will serve you a beverage on board.  Not much point calling someone a ‘guest’ and extracting money for water.

Andrew Symonds, racial attacks on Indians, the ugly Australian and Indian education

•06/06/2009 • Leave a Comment

I believe that all these are connected.

Australia is a beautiful country with many wonderful people. I have met some and lived with them. What follows does not apply to all Australians.

All is not well down under! The seamy side is showing.

Symbolic of the rot is Andrew Symonds, an abusive, loud-mouthed, uncouth alcoholic who ought not to be allowed into the spectator stands of the ‘gentleman’s’ game, much less the pitch. Not much was made of his detestable sledging of a rookie player in the IPLII final.

His captain, Ricky Ponting, is only slightly better in that he is more subtle. When faced with teams with equal or greater firepower, he stoops to using every possible unsporting tactic, including excessive appealing resulting in umpires like Steve Bucknor buckling under the pressure and complaining to pliant match referees who deliver doubtful, partial and one-sided disciplinary actions as in the Indian team’s 2008 tour of Australia.

In this context, one can also quote Indian players in the Kolkata Knight riders team being referred to as ‘You bloody Indians’ during IPL 2009 or the rift caused by the Australian coach of the Indian Cricket team leading to its ignominious exit from the One-day World Cup in the West Indies.  

Such players should not be members of any team in IPL, no matter if they are match-winners. They set a poor example to the younger generation of players and spectators for whom cricketers are heroes and role models.

If this is the kind of hooliganism that goes on on the field, can there be too much difference on the streets of Australian cities?

The lumpen illiterate youth who see students coming in from India and getting a higher education in ‘their’ educational institutions feel jealous and vent their anger on our students who may be traveling alone and unprotected at night. Indians tend to be non-violent and being in a foreign country do not want trouble. They do not know the legal system and have no desire to get embroiled in litigation. Most of them do not complain when such incidents occur. What has come out recently is thus probably only the tip of the iceberg.

What is even more intolerable is the attitude of the Australian police. They assaulted a peaceful protest rally. So much for their democratic credentials. One of the police chiefs said that Indian students should not carry iPods and wear expensive watches, thus provoking these assaults. In other words, the victim is to be blamed. By the same logic, if an Australian girl wearing a bikini on an Indian beach were to be raped, she would be the one at fault. The Australian High Commissioner says that racism is everywhere. These high-ranking officials need to hang their heads in shame for the way their compatriots treat guests and apologize to the Indian public who can teach them a thing or three about hospitality. Poor Indians may be but we do not attack our guests, rob, and maim them in this way. Quite obviously, the security and law and order situation in Australia leaves a lot to be desired. Bullies and thugs rule the streets.

In the case of the Indian team’s 2008 cricket tour,  better sense prevailed within Cricket Australia once the Australians realized the disastrous economic consequences of pursuing their foolhardy path of confrontation with the Indian Cricket team. Undoubtedly, a threat to the Australian pocket will help them to realize the need to protect their Indian guests.

It is said that there are nearly 100,000 Indian students in Australia and they contribute $ 2 Billion to the Australian economy. Can you imagine how much good that kind of money would do to the Indian education system?  Indian parents need to reexamine their craze for ‘foreign’ education. It would be far better to pay a capitation fee to a good Indian college and encourage education in India. They would also not be putting their children at risk. 

The Indian governement needs to come out with a travel advisory cautioning Indians traveling to Australia for any purpose whatsoever.

The Australians will possibly see sense and enact and implement some tough laws.  Indian education will be better off receiving some of the funding diverted from foreign shores and our younger generation can go around freely in their own country wearing iPods, expensive watches and whatever else students today like to sport.

A win-win situation all around.

Some further reading.

An alien in ‘health-care’ land – In the wonderland of United States medicine

•03/06/2009 • Leave a Comment

I have had some amazing experiences with doctors in the USA and I am eternally grateful to those wonderful human beings and professionals for their healing and life saving efforts as well as contributions to me and mine. As I relate these experiences, I am so grateful that these shining exceptions came into my life and adopted me. The words that follow do not apply to them. I know that they and the members of their staff are outstanding exceptions to what I write below.

I believe that most US citizens and residents are the victims of a systematic scam perpetrated upon them by a large number of insurance and pharmaceutical companies, doctors, other medical professionals and pharmacies working in tandem.

Let me tell you what led me to this belief.

Having spent almost 50 years in another country, being cared for by medical professionals who are members of my family, I am somewhat spoilt, and perhaps innocent about the ways of this ‘brave new world’.

My wife works for an organisation and so we have health ‘benefits’. The fundamental benefit seems to be that we do not have to stand in line to have a sum of approximately $ 75 deducted from every one of her paychecks to receive these ‘benefits’.

My saga begins with problems with my eyes and a pain in my shoulders. I called an individual who is designated as my ‘Primary Care Physician’, let us call him Dr. PCP.

The woman that answered the phone asked me if I was a new patient. I confessed to being one such. Then, I was asked what insurance I was on, rather than what my problem was. I said that my carrier was AvMed. This did not soften her attitude any. She put me on hold several times during the conversation. I was unable to get an appointment with the one supposed to ‘care’ for nearly a week. I could only be seen during the period Monday to Friday. In other words, I had to take off from my working hours to make the appointment. Doctors have yet to learn to work when their patients don’t.

On the appointed day and hour, after spending half an hour looking for the doctor’s office, we called them, only to find that they had moved some time ago to a new location. The receptionist had taken down my insurance information since I was a new patient but had omitted to tell me the new address or offer me directions. Neither the AvMed directory nor website had the new address.   Since I was late for my appointment, I would have to wait for an ‘opening’. The doctor’s office was beautiful, but the reception area was bereft of a TV set, coffee or water fountain. There were several magazines.

I was not deprived of human company however. Plenty of people were waiting to be seen. Periodically a name would be called and a relieved person would spring out of their chair and run for the door for fear of losing their chance.

 A wait of one hour is normal and to be expected in medical establishments, even if you have an appointment, I was told. The time of appointment is the time you are expected to arrive and meet the receptionist. Know well that the doctor will not see you then. Each of my visits to a doctor’s office has taken up at least half a working day.

 A name was announced and I could not recognize it as being mine. Since my name is arguably the most famous human name in world history and was the title of a movie that won several Academy awards, I expect a reasonably close interpretation or rendition of it. I mistakenly expect people to have learnt it during school. When that unintelligible name was called again, I decided that this might just be my opening and if it was not my name, I could always come back and sit down. The chart showed my name and I crawled through my ‘opening’.

No, that young woman was not the doctor. She unsmilingly took my blood pressure, weight, height and pulse. She noted down my symptoms with complete detachment and departed saying, ‘He will be with you shortly’. In the meantime, I found out that the rest room was spic and span and even fragrant.

By and by, the doctor arrived and examined me thoroughly. He promised to refer me to an eye specialist and offered me all possible help. He asked me to exercise my arms to reduce the shoulder pain. He was unhurried, solicitous and charming. I wondered what he had done in life to be punished with staff like this. I informed him that I conduct management training and offered him all my help at no cost. He promised that we would ‘sit down’ some day. Three months later, the opportune day is yet to arrive. Most people do not know that they have a problem till something blows a gasket, I suppose.

I have two kinds of eye problems. Glaucoma and corneal opacity. Because of this dual problem, I need a corneal super-specialist and a glaucoma super-specialist. These doctors see no cases other than ones in their super-specialty.

Armed with advice from the doctors I have mentioned in the first paragraph, I found a corneal super-specialist who was in the AvMed provider directory and website. His business office steadfastly told me that they did not take AvMed. I called AvMed, who asked me to use the magic words ‘Primary Plus’. This whole process took nearly a week. I used the mantra and the doors swung open into a large, mostly tightly run, efficient and friendly organisation. Doctors respond to messages on the same day, are cheerful and uplifting and patiently answer all questions.

A laser surgery was the best alternative and the insurance company promptly refused to pay for it. After an alternative surgery costing four times more was proposed to them, they asked the doctor’s office to send the bill to them. The business office did not call me back with this news the same day and I could not schedule myself for the surgery which takes place only twice a month, thereby wasting a precious three weeks.

Whether the bill will be paid or not, remains to be seen. Three weeks after the surgery, they sent my wife a document wherein she was to certify that I was not covered by any other insurance.

I did undergo the surgery. More time was spent on signing documents, than the surgery itself. I signed away most of my rights. For example, legal problems with this doctor will go for arbitration and not a jury trial (Juries consist of patients!). If I die on the operating chair, my living will, if any, will be ignored and I will be resuscitated or put on a life-support system and dropped off at the nearest hospital. I do not know whether Dr. PCP will be there signing referrals.

Irrelevant as this may be, I am slowly recovering from the surgery which was quick and painless.

One of the ‘drugs’ I use is Muro 128 ointment, manufactured by Bausch and Lomb. The tube contains 3.5 grams of medication and costs nearly $20. Its 3.5 grams include inactive ingredients: water, lanolin, petroleum jelly and mineral oil. The active ingredient is 0.1525 grams of Sodium Chloride. Also knows as common salt. Talk about profiteering.

Pharmaceutical companies here must make incredible profits, since their profit margins are unchecked. So do retailers or pharmacies, since they can sell any medicines at any price they like. The same medicines are available in many other countries at a small fraction of the cost.

After much research, I have concluded that there is no board certified Glaucoma super-specialist accepting AvMed or Primary Plus in the Tampa Bay area. In private conversations, other doctors have told me that this insurance company is notoriously slow in making payments and they prefer not to work with them.

Did you forget that I have pain in my shoulders and arms?

A friendly doctor and her spouse, a one-time orthopedic surgeon (Yes, two of the first paragraph doctors), suggested that I had probably developed rotator cuff tendonitis, but that I needed to undergo an MRI to rule out anything else.

 Dr. PCP being the funnel, I called and asked for a referral and got one for a plain, vanilla flavored X-ray! A note on the referral said, ‘An X-ray is needed before I can order an MRI’. Another wasted half a day. Two days later, I was told that the X-ray was negative but Dr. PCP would need to send me to an orthopedic surgeon since only he could ask for an MRI. Wonder why that was not done in the first place?

The shoulder pain continued.

This new worthy is a Dr. Richard Gray. I called immediately to schedule an appointment, It was almost 5.00 PM. I was asked to hold, she hung up the phone on me and when I called right back, I got the answering service.

The shoulder pain continued.

I called again the next day and found out that this able professional only worked twice a week in our town. I was offered a date and I requested that I be given a moment to check my schedule. I was promptly cut off. Now, the foregoing saga may have given you the impression that all I do, all day, all through my life, is seek health-care. I am sorry but I do pursue a profession to put bread on the table and sometimes it calls for travel. For the next two weeks I could not give Dr. Gray an appointment. So, I called back and got my appointment on a day two weeks later. This receptionist was trained in the same school as Dr. PCP’s rece[tionist. She got all my insurance data but left it to me to discover where they were located. When I asked, she gave me the street address but when I asked for the nearest intersection or some landmark, she hung up.

Three months into the pain, I managed to meet the doctor. But he did not take care of the pain and fortunately for me I came back to India and after 8 weeks of physiotherapy, I am as good as new.

 I, at least, am not surprised that there are so many lawsuits and so many judges and juries willing to award millions of dollars in damages against the health-care profession. I know that I would, if a half decent case were to be presented to me.

Perhaps most patients do not have similar experiences and I am unfortunate in having them.

For the sake of all US citizens, who are decent and hard working people, I sincerely hope so.

Eli Lilly service willy nilly

•02/06/2009 • Leave a Comment

I am diabetic and carry around an insulin pen. The brand is Humapen Ergo and I purchased it in India from Eli Lilly. Once prescribed insulin, a diabetic uses a considerable amount of this very expensive drug in his life-time.

On a recent trip to the USA, I found that after injecting myself, when I pulled the pen tip out of my body, most of the insulin was coming out of the pen tip. In other words, I was not getting treated and I was wasting precious medicine.

No problem, I thought. Eli Liily is a large multinational pharma company and one phone call should be all it would take to solve my problem.

I was being impractical and unduly optimistic.

I called the help-line who did not even ask me what the problem was. They told me that this product was Canadian and bounced me to the Canadian help-line. They were equally uninterested and gave me the number for their India help-line which did not pick up.

I found out that there is no way to email Eli Lilly USA. There is a compliance line and I lodged a complaint with them in early May 2009. No one has responded. I was delighted to find that the Indian web site has a link on which you can email them. The delight was premature. My complaint there also has not received the courtesy of a response.

This is my plan of action.

I will be sending this email to all my doctors requesting them to prescribe other brands of Insulin to their patients.

I will mention this as a case in every training program and every presentation that I make on Customer Service.

I will also ask my physician to switch me to insulin from either Biocon and Novo Nordisk.

No point putting money in the pocket of this company. It is only interested in my money and not in my health. It does not have the basic courtesy that is due to paying customers.