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Monday, May 17, 2010

Chennai Airport ... Source of inferiority complex.

May be I should have named this article as "Improvement tips for Chennai Airport" to make it sound more constructive. But it does not matter as long as the airport development team is not going to read this blog.

Rule 1: Expand by a factor of X.
I think there has to be concept of space in the right sense among people who are developing infrastructure in India.

  • Increase the width of all the door by a factor of 3. People are squeezing in like rats to pass through most of the doors.
  • Increase the baggage belt length by a factor of 2 and width by a factor of 1.5.
  • Waiting area should be increased by a factor of three.

Rule 2: Slow and steady may win the race but baggage delivery is not a race.

The baggage conveyor belts (each of them) were probably built under 3 different contracts with no smooth handover between each other. By design the baggage belt would test the fragility of the items. I felt really bad when few LCD TVs on the belt were tumbling down from the 2 feet ramp that is absolutely redundant. It was a killing 50 minutes wait time before I could collect my baggages.

Other suggestions:

1. The 50 minute wait time could have been less killing had the mobile coverage with Data connectivity been stable. Seeing all the ads outside the airport of Uninor, Airtel, Reliance and Tatas, I am wondering if the telecom companies should focus more on quality of  networks than marketing the "Would be quality".

2. "Fast track" taxi service drivers should be trained not to take the literal meaning of the company name while driving. More importantly:

  • "Fast" conveys safe yet quick and not rash.
  • "Track"  - They are not driving in race tracks. 

My driver literally got both my shoulders squeezing with each other and teeth tittering when he decided to squeeze between a tanker and a bus rising his speed from 80 to 120 kmph when I was thinking there is only space for just an auto to go through.

I was thanking god that he did not design mankind with genitals between the shoulders and had it been that way there would have been a clear case of "accidental Laproscopic tubectomy / vasectomy" in a moving car. 

3. The walk to the taxi stand from the terminal is quite adventurous. I am not sure why there is no basic sense in the planners that all passengers with their trolleys would have to cross the road risking injury but more importantly causing a jam / delaying the traffic. Actually many airports like Delhi also share the same design and Chennai is not alone in this aspect.

4. Number of snack bars and variety has to be exponentially increased. In the whole of the airport I could not find a snack bar where I could buy a Horlicks or hot chocolate for my kids.

5. Interestingly I saw an option for leg massage in the motorised chair at Rs. 50/- for five minutes in Chennai airport. While I have not noticed this option in any other airports in India, I should say that few massage chairs are available in Changi airport free of cost to travellers. 

Rule 3: Not just love thy neighbour but learn from them too. BIAL - Its a classic case of poor planning and execution.
The next day on 16th May when I landed in Bangalore airport from Chennai with my family on Sunday night, we were very tired since the 9pm flight was delayed by an hour and Adityaa was running intermittent fever. Just as we landed much to the dismay and surprise we say a huge queue outside Bangalore airport all waiting for Taxi. It was an agonizing wait for 45 minutes till 11.45pm on a sunday night with 2 trolleys of luggage and both kids half asleep.

This wait for Taxi is becoming a regular feature in Bangalore airport as its nothing but poor planning of the highest order. Either the Taxi operators or the Bangalore airport operators should be heavily penalized for such lapses in planning or they should add more taxi operators to the existing list.

While none of the above issues are anything new and few of us having a travel dependent work life have been putting up with all this. Probably I was mentally tired and could not take it on the last 2 days, may be I was travelling and used to services of Changi Airport, may be I had higher expectations from Indian airports and just refused to accept the realistic quality. 

Should I add that where there was a government staff like security, customs etc, I found them to be increasingly courteous, professional and service delivered is quicker.

Chennai airport is under renovation and I just wish that they do better planning and execution than what is seen and observed now.

While I wish the development authority good luck, I am already planning my next domestic travel this week but I am filled with extreme sense of inferiority complex and sense of let down on infrastructure development in India.

May the quality of services perpetually increase along with the expectations!

Happy reading!  

PS; After about 4 weeks of vacation for wife and kids from me, it was nice to see the increasing noise levels and a messy house with play things strewn all over. I think I was thoroughly missing them and the noise level in the house. :) 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Conference call sickness (CCS)....blame it on Edison.

Disclaimer 1: Yeah! Its been some time since i blogged. The peace run is broken with this entry as I decided to resume blogging much to the relief of VORG (victims of Rags Gopalan)!.
I should say that the last few months has been quite a stressful period for multiple reasons but nothing too obvious. On the positive side, we moved into our own nest in the month of March and should say sort of settled down now, till we move again :).
Continuing on stress, one study highlights that over 70% of the death globally can be attributed to unmanaged stress... Though that's a startling stat, I don't know whats happening to the balance 30% :).
Without much research I identified one of the main reasons for the "unmanaged stress" in corporates / MNCs is "Internal Conference Calls"... Employees suffering from "Conference call sickness" really don't know how to manage this and feel really helpless on account of various factors....More importantly they dont even know that they suffer from it.
  1. The odd hours that the calls are scheduled invariably screwing your evening and social life since it is a "global" or a "regional" call.
  2. Calls invariably prolong beyond the normal "attention span" for an active brain to participate. Any call that's lasting more than 30 minutes is like "sound waves hitting dead brain cells"..
  3. The level of preparedness on the part of attendees are always baffling. Most of the calls are for information dissemination and not for decision making. They end up fixing the slot for the next call.
  4. The timely attendance by all the participants and the quality of voice are perennial problems...
I think if I am a CEO then instead of using a "Furlough" or "pink slipping" options I would run this scheme in the company... "Take a 25% voluntary pay cut and volunteers be exempt from attending any conference calls"... I am sure there shall be many takers. There has to be a fundamental shift in the way we communicate and smarter ways to share information. "Employee experience" and "Efficiency" shall and should shape the future communication trends within an enterprise.
I was also going through some article on circadian rhythm and the importance of living in alignment with nature. Check the image below. 

You can Google more about Circadian rhythms. But my understanding is as follows:

  • The circadian rhythms are controlled by our body's master clock or what is known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Using sleep as an example, our master clock receives information from the optic nerves about how much light is outside. As the SCN receives information that there is less light the brain is triggered to produce more melatonin so you can sleep. This is one of many reasons why people with trouble sleeping should not watch TV or use the computer before trying to go to sleep as they are too bright and too stimulating. 
  • From the image we can see regular changes in melatonin secretion, body temperature, vascular changes and bowel changes among others. For example, melatonin secretion starts around 9pm and ceases around 7:30am with our period of deepest sleep at 2am. This sets in place a natural sleep cycle for us as humans. For those of us who work late hours or third shift we are in direct contention with this natural cycle and this may lead to issues with sleep or other aspects of our health. 
  • We also see that our lowest body temperature is at 4:30am and our highest is at 7pm. This natural temperature variation allows for many processes in our body to function correctly, yet our temperature controlled environments may not always cater to allowing these functions to completely take place. 

You can check out related articles on the body cycle and how you need to take care of yourself @
But what is the point. Our ability to abuse our own body for our own demise is at unprecedented levels and unbelievable…only if you decide to take a step back and understand what is happening.
One of the main root causes of this over abuse is life style induced....our ability to insulate ourselves from nature. Shutting ourselves out from nature and living in an artificial environment ...essentially in a concrete jungles which is well lit and robs the basic difference between day and night. Life style based stress emantes basically in not recognizing the transition from a “photo sensitive enabled natural life style” to “electricity enabled insensitive lifestyle” and continues till we are addicted to this life style.


So, conveniently ignoring all the developments and progress made and also ignoring the basic premise that it really matters how we use the available conviniences instead of becoming addicted, my conclusion is discovery / invention of electricity is the root cause of all maladies. And Thomas Alva Edison is the reason behind all the stress related disorders including my “Conference Call sickness”.
So in true corporate style, let us blame it on Edison! :)

Yours Stressfully!

PS: An alternate perspective on today's India is "Blessed are those who are not receiving regular electricity supplies for they are the children of nature's god"...