Saturday, September 29, 2012


When you've lived 14 years in a country like Singapore, you get used to a certain (read alarmingly high) level of efficiency. It's so very different from the Indian way of doing things, aka the adjust maadi and chalta hai yaar way. I try not to be too cynical of the Indian way because it's great at times, but it does piss me off when Indian organisations operating here make no effort to catch up in terms of efficiency. It bugs me more because when non-Indians complain about such things, I feel like I should rise to the defense but I really have no case.

For some stuff in life, you have alternatives. But for others, you don't. Atta is top of the list. I don't have any source of atta around where I live and so we have to make that trip to Little India once in a few months to lug back atta, rajma, paneer and masalas. All that changed when I came across a website for ordering all the Indian groceries I wanted and more! I could not believe my eyes. Here, in front of me, was a seemingly functional website, where I could just click on the items I wanted and they would deliver it to my doorstop. Like real. (You will understand my amazement when I tell you that recently we ordered dinner using the website of a very popular Indian restaurant, and in spite of getting a confirmation SMS and an email, the food did not arrive. When we called, we were told that their records did not show any order. If these guys ran Pizza Hut or McDonalds, it would shut down within the hour.)

So with trembling fingers, and a heart that was beating fast with a mixture of hope and amazement, I placed the order (minimum $80 for free delivery). I received the confirmation email that the delivery would be made the next day, but from my experience with such emails, they don't mean anything in the Indian world. Add to the fact that the payment terms were cash or cheque upon delivery, I had little hope of the stuff making it to my doorstep. Ever.

The next morning, I received a call from them to tell me that they would deliver within the next hour or so.

[So the website was functional! 10 points!]

Frankly speaking, I'd had no hope, so I'd been out with Xena, lunching with a few friends when they called. I told them that I might not be home so fast and asked them if they could deliver a little later. They said their delivery zones and timings were fixed and asked me if it was safe to keep the stuff outside my door if I was not at home. I said ok, and only after hanging up did I realise that we had not discussed how I would pay them if they simply left the stuff outside my door.

[So they trusted the customer to make the payment later? Wow. 10 points!]

Anyway, I managed to be home by the time they said they'd deliver.

[They delivered on time! 10 points!]

After the delivery guy left, I checked the items and realised there was a mistake with the most critical item of all -- my precious atta!

[Wrong item delivered! Minus 20 points!]

So I called up their customer service hotline.

[No annoying automated service! No annoying music! A live human picked up! Within two rings! 40 points!]

"Hi, I'd ordered Pillsbury atta but some Aashirwad atta was delivered to me instead."

"You don't want the Aashirwad atta?"

[Duh! For annoying an already annoyed customer, minus 10 points!]

"No, I want my Pillsbury atta."

"You want your Pillsbury atta... Hmmm... Ok ma'am, we will make the replacement delivery on Thursday."

"Great, thanks!"

[No one came on Thursday. Minus 20 points.]

I called them on Friday. The hotline rerouted to some mobile number and the guy told me he was outside and would call me back within half an hour.

[Two hours. Nobody called. Minus 20 points.]

I was beginning to get really annoyed. The 5-kg bag of Aashirwad atta was lying on the kitchen counter, mocking me. Saying "Use me!"

I called the hotline again.

"Hi, this is about the atta exchange. You said you'd call me back in half an hour. It's been almost two hours and I didn't get any call."

There was a pause and then he spoke. His exact words were (I kid you not):

"Oh. Ma'am, I was just thinking about you."

[Ok fine, 10 points for the originality of the excuse and another 10 for making me laugh out loud.]


Technofun said...

GOLD.... you lucky there is delivery service... we travel 15 miles to get our Atta :P

Bubblegum.... said...

I guess those home deliveries in India (Atleast Ahmedabad and Mumbai) are super fast and super efficient!! It is a boon for people working in Mumbai, travelling across the cities to be home!

Arun said...

I guess not to buy any shares in this fish delivery service :) back in hometown.

Angelsera said...

hhahaha, somehow its gonna b v hard for me to move back to SG for the reason that in UAE u dont really have to go anywhere; everything gets delivered and all stores and supermarkets (big and small) keep Indian stuff.
Delivery is usually within 15 mins. I have called so often while cooking for dhania and mirchi :) They dont complain even if they have to deliver just 1 dir worth mirchi.
One of the few perk of this place

starbreez said...

!!! Don't tell me you found … LIMCA!

ak said...

you made me laugh
but hey complete the story

roses said...

Brilliant stuff!

Kanan said...

Did you get the atta at the end? How much was the points count? I lost track of it mid way in the post. :P

mythalez said...

I am curious, how did you pay them for the initial delivery?

And there's nothing seriously wrong with Aashirwad Atta :P

And finally, what is the score?

Meenakshy said...

Ashirwad atta is better then pillsbury.. try it and you will add 10 points for their choice :)

Divya said...

i too vote for Ashirvad atta.
try it!

Sandhya said...

aah!! I am guessing that the name of the store begins with 'S'. By the way, Aashirwad aata is quite good. Try it.

Arun said...

Everybody is giving you aashirwaad!

Prasoon Gupta said...

Hehe :)
You must be going "ashirwaad aata salesmen n saleswomen all of them" seeing the comments here :)

Bivas said...

Actually Aashirwaad is quite good...but brands are a matter of personal choice :-)
Waise this post reminded me of the new Tata Docomo Ads they are running on TV! 'Hate Adhuri Kahaniyan'

Aakhir kya hua Atta Kaa?

On another note, there are a few Indian websites who deliver stuff (including groceries) at the doorsteps and they can give Flipkart a run for their money! Indian systems are improving for sure.

Bivas said...

I remember the time you posted about the Thums-Up availability at a restaurant and then got a cratefull...
Is baar kahin poore saal kaa supply naa bhej den pillsbury kaa :D

DJ said...

@Bivas--- very true... Even I was thinking the same... thums up then... Atta now :)...

Update us Sayesha :)

Geomon said...

Where I live(heartland of Germany, less than 0.5% population is Indian), we are spoilt for choice. We have our Asian store(bang at the centre) which has everything from Pilsbury to Ashirwad, pickles...whatever u want. Then we have the online system, which everyone prefers coz its free home delivery and you dont have to lug the 10 kg pack. Then we also have cheap supermarkets where you get Indian groceries at 15-20% cheaper prices. I don't think I had these many choices where I live in Delhi. Khan market is closest(2km) to my place, and you can get stares if you try buying atta there.

Karan Aylawadi said...

so much for wanting the desired atta (I hardly know the difference between the two) + 10 points / atta girl ;)

Vini said...

Ashirwad's the way to go. If it's still mocking you from the kitchen top, maybe there's some karmic reason :-p

Tejal said...

Hahahah..came back to your blog after a long long feels like catching up with an old friend..

And I too vote for Aashirwaad Aata..Goood Atta..! Should've tried na! :P

I'm hoping to read your reply to the poor guy after he made his little confession there :)

Sudeep said...

Sayesha, sach sach batao how much they are paying you for Pillsbury promotion? :P

Finally did you get it delivered or not? Fantastic title, I read 'atta is top of the list' and scrolled up and went ahhhh!