Thursday, November 16, 2006

A bit of security

Renu had just moved in to Bangalore to join her new job. These days, the first thing one would do after shifting her location is to get a cell phone connection; even before finding a house to settle in. Thank God, most of the service providers gave out corporate connections which made the task of getting a new connection much easier. Also the corporate connection would save her from giving huge deposits to activate STD facility to call back home and a company letter to surrogate local address proof.

The company had a representative of a famous mobile phone service provider visiting their campus every afternoon to assist people take new connections. Renu was more than happy when she came to know about this. The very next day she joined her company Renu went and saw the sales representative and enquired about the formalities of taking a new connection.

The ever obliging sales guy replied with a pleasant smile on his face. “Madam, please give me your passport size photograph, a copy of your company ID card, a photo copy of your credit card; both sides, a cancelled check leaf of your salary account, your address proof or company letter and your pay slip. Your connection will be activated tomorrow itself.”

‘Hey, isn’t he asking a bit too much of a requirement? Especially copy of both sides of my credit card and a cancelled check leaf of my salary account! Anyone who is seeing the copy of my credit card can note down the card number and the CVV number and do online transactions using that and in the check leaf, my account number and bank name are there, which are like confidential information. Also you don’t know who all see these photocopies.’ Having thought about this, she decided to ask the sales guy.

“Why do you want copies of both sides of my credit card and a cancelled check leaf?”

“Those are required madam.”

“But why? They are confidential information and can’t be shared.”

The sales guy’s face started to change. Bit annoyed, he handed over one pamphlet to Renu. He also showed a few photocopies of both sides of credit card given by some employees of her company. Some of them haven’t even darkened the CVV number on the back side of their credit card!

The following were written under various plans offered by the provider.

Documents Required
1. One passport size photograph
2. A photocopy of the ID card
3. Photocopy of the credit card for SI (both side) OR cancelled check leaf for ECS
4. Local address proof or company letter
5. Pay slip photocopy for STD, ISD and Roaming facilities

She started asking doubts one by one and that’s when things started to unfold.

Credit card photocopy shall be asked when one wants her bill to be credited to her credit card and it also serves the purpose of signature verification. Whereas a cancelled check leaf shall be asked when one wants to enable auto debit of her bills from her bank account and it also serves the purpose of signature verification. By having these details, the cell phone service providers mitigate the risk. On inquiring further, she got to know that the signature verification can be done by giving photocopies of her driving license or passport. By not choosing her bill to be auto debited from her account or credited to her credit card and with a refundable deposit of Rs. 400 she can even do away with the cancelled check and photocopies of credit card!

She gave one passport size photo, a photocopy of her ID card, a photo copy of her license, a company letter as she hasn’t taken a house yet and a deposit of Rs. 400 to take the connection. She gave a copy of her offer letter in lieu of salary slip. She wondered what she would do with those people who have already submitted their credit card and bank account details.

Most of the times, we just need to inquire a bit more.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


We call her akka.
As I write this, I am trying to recollect her name. After a while I realized that I didn't know it because I haven't asked her that anytime. Oh man, our maid, she has been cleaning our house and washing our clothes for about six months now and still I haven't asked her name! On second thoughts, it shouldn't come as a surprise to me as I hardly know the name of our maid while I was at Mumbai and that too in spite of my stint of about two years there. Probably I wouldn't have asked her name too!
We called her baai.

When we came to Bangalore and got bumped into our current house, we were looking for a person who would keep our house nice and clean. We were more than happy when akka, who used to clean the house for its previous inhabitants, agreed to continue the post.

Akka, like many other akkas who work in various houses of the IT city Bangalore (Those who read this post after November 1st, read it as Bengaluru), is also from Tamil Nadu. Most of them have come to Bangalore for a living and usually go back to their native once or twice a year. Many of them have settled with family in one of those shady alleys of Bangalore. In semblance, bai like many other bais who work in various houses of the economic capital of India, Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay), comes from Bangladesh.

Many a times I have felt that they are the most underpaid group. I guess their wages range from 200 – 400 for a one bedroom house a month. Most of them work in four to six houses and earn around 1000 – 3000 bucks a month, well set to meet all the expenses of their families including food, clothes, children's education and all such. Sometimes I wonder how they manage it out in the costliest city of India! Hmmm… everyone is happy with their own means...