For a long time, whenever I was called on my mobile, the caller would hear a dignified ‘trrng, trrng’ not unlike a landline connection. I, on my part would hear a strident tinkling. And I had no complaints with both the sounds.
But, one fine day I was shocked to hear my son remonstrating, “Mom, what is this new music I hear from your mobile when I call you up? Do you know they charge you for it?” I protested, “What music? I never asked for it. Must be some promotional gimmick.” and left it at that. After a few days, my sister-in-law called me up and I was a bit late in picking it up. When she heard my ‘hello’ she said, “I heard ‘Krishna nee begane baaro’”. I was totally nonplussed. “What are you talking about? When did you hear it? Was it Hariharan or Balamurali? On TV or on radio?” She explained, “Why, on your mobile of course” I said, “Good God! Is that thing still on? I never asked for it.” She said, “I thought it was your own voice recording”. After she signed off, I ran to my landline and dialed my mobile number. Yes, there it was. It was neither of my favorite singers nor was the song tuned in the traditional ‘raga’ laid down by the original composer. It was a totally different version rendered in a high pitched female voice! I am not a hater of music. But you have to credit me with bit of taste. This was a tune improvised by a highly creative music (mis)director for some Kannada movie. Hearing it was a totally painful exercise and unwittingly I was subjecting my callers to this weird aural torture.
Deciding to put an end to this, I rang up the helpline. After crossing so many hurdles such as, “Press 1 for this, Press 2 for this etc”, I finally managed to reach a human voice on the line. I blasted her in Kannada (nothing like your mother tongue when you want to let go a tirade). I told her, “Who wanted this stupid sangeetha (music)! Who asked you to put it on my mobile? Who authorized you to do it?” One advantage these call centers have is they can always pass the buck. She gave me a number to contact assuring me that it was a toll free one. She also begged me, “Madam, please don’t refer to it as ‘*# sangeetha’. They are called ‘welcome tunes’”
I tried the number. Got the reply, “This number does not exist” Then I tried to SMS. “Your request could not be processed as it was an invalid one.” I tried different numbers 3-4 times, every time getting the reply, “Invalid request”. Instead I got a message, “You have been charged Rs 10 and the welcome tune has been extended for 30 more days.”! And they sent me a fresh lot of tunes to choose from. I did not respond. But, since there was a number on it, I thought I had finally nailed them down. I texted, “I don’t want any tune.” Promptly came the return message carrying 5 tunes all starting with “I don’t want…..” and asking me to choose one of them! I also noticed that in my eagerness to get rid of the obnoxious tune, I had forgotten which number was toll free and which one was not and I was being merrily charged Rs 6 for every call and my credit balance had come down like the Twin towers of New York.
In total frustration, I gave up. Now till they, whoever is the provider of the infernal ‘welcome tune’, decide to stop the service to me, I am afraid the callers to my mobile will have to suffer the tinny, screeching of ‘Krishna nee begane….”. If it would discourage any, I want it to keep off the continuous stream of advertisers and service providers who keep calling me everyday at all hours.