Scheming at its peak.

In USA, Cable TV companies are notorious for their shady and shocking hidden charges. However all such practices seemed very minor when compared with Cable services TV in Chennai, India. The scheming that is going on in Chennai was really shocking.

The “SET-TOP-BOX” racket. This is a gadget that scrambles/de-scrambles TV signals. Using this box, cable broadcasters control your subscriptions, a Conditional Access System. Yes the same we find in most homes in the USA. What’s the problem here? In the US the Box is bundled with the deal and charges for box are small and are silently hidden. Subscribers are not asked to pay a huge down payment for this “made in China” gadget. Cable TV companies collect a small amount as rent for these receivers. You will find this some where low down in the monthly bill.

In Chennai, a set top box is required to watch channels like Discovery, CNN, or ESPN etc. Just like any other cable package here too the subscription packages are called Gold, Plastic and Clay etc. The highest package that brings in every satellite beam on the Indian Subcontinent is priced at Rs.205 + Basic Cable [Rs100.] + Tax = Rs.320. There are also sport packages for about Rs.32/Month, but the catch is you got to pay in full for a year. The Sun TV, Moon TV, winner TV Loser TV and other Tamil TV’s fall under Basic Cable that can be received without a Set top Box. If you read between the lines you will find how public is schemed in Chennai Area.

Order in which people are schemed:

Scheming number 1: Subscribers are forced to buy a set top box. Cost - Rs.4500 [about $100]. Cable companies will not rent this for you. They make sure no one else also rents it. There is no place in Chennai where you could rent this box. If you want to watch certain so called premium channels you need to shell out Rs4500 + Subscription + etc.

Scheming number 2: The monthly subscriptions are due on 5th of every month. They don’t mail you a bill. The amount is collected door to door by the cable guy. If the cable guy does not show up for collection, you get to face the consequences of missed payment. The service will be disconnected on 6th without any notice, and it will cost you Rs.200 to resume your service. It is your responsibility to keep track of the Cable guy and his whereabouts. The plight of senior citizens multiplies. Bottom line, Customers are being taken for ride at every given opportunity.

Scheming number 3: These pay channels comes with on the air Advertisements and commercials. Meaning, you pay the nose-bleeding amount not only to watch your favorite program, but you also need to pay and watch Jothika promote Heart-oil, or “Big B” sell milk chocolates. Often during cricket matches, the 6 ball an over rule is reduced to a 5 or 4 ball an over. The broadcasters make sure that viewing pleasure is as horrible as possible. While watching staring Tom Cruise on HBO India, appearance of “Big B via commercials” would be much more than that of Tom Cruise’s in the screen play.

Scheming number 4 : The scheming reaches it heights here, say you travel about 30 miles out of Chennai, close to Chegalpatu, you don’t need a set top box. Everything is available on regular cable. In fact entire India watches TV without this box. Chennai is the only city that has stupid set top boxes. Why? God only knows or may be may be someone interested should have imported these boxes in bulk and now they are trying to push it to the people.

I really don’t know what is the point in having a boasting media in Chennai?. When I was Chennai I saw a leading magazine, busy publishing a stale 19th century 3D photo concept and were feeling really proud about it. It is a pity that there is no soul yet in the press to rescue people from this day light corporate theft.

The set top box was introduced based on various projections; today not even 50% of the projections have been achieved. Many in Chennai decided to stick on to basic cables. Been reading various Blogs based out of Chennai for long time now and I have never come across anyone discussing this issue. Some might have, but who knows may be most could afford this money or really don’t care for TV. But visiting from another country I feel this issue is worth a discussion. People are being ripped right royally. Serious Bloggers should take up public awareness issues
instead of “I am using gopal palpodi” or “I ride a Segway to work” or “Blowing second line bagpipe harmony for existing press”.

There are people who do try to take up social issues on their Blogs, but we need more. Remember Blogs here in the west have the power to change the course of an election. It is about time for spending at least 10k of data a week for this purpose. People in Chennai face “heat”, “no water cry”, “and ridiculous traffic” and now add this - “Set Top Box racket”.


Whew..do not want to waste time.

My Blog lost few entries yesterday; I was cleaning the template code, but messed it up and should have deleted something somewhere. I can trace it and get it from the backup but what the heck nothing is lost and not worth my time, instead I wrote another one. For 5 outsider + 45 self-comments a day this should do.

Indian team is in Sri Lanka, Greg Chappell on his first international assignment with this team. Team India managed to win their first practice game. Dhoni played in the middle order while Laxman opened the innings for India. In spite of mediocre performances the only reason I see “Laxman” in this tour is - it is being played in “Sri Lanka” [wink]. Surprise! Kaif got some runs. Nice to see some runs from the middle order. On the bowling department everyone expect Nehra were in good rhythm. Hopefully this form continues when the real game begins.

I never wrote about the ashes. The English after the hyped session beginning went down drain like a dead mouse. Aussies are still the world champs, this time their bowlers came good at the party. Been hearing radio commentary through BBC, the lineup has few Australians also, the commentary was fantastic and was like watching the game live.

When watching the games on ESPN, The intolerable commentator award goes to Michel Holding. His English accent seems to be worse than Sukwinder Singh rendering Veerapandiya Kataboomban dialogues. I wish someone on Sky-Sports gifts him a Tofel CD. Also someone should tell Mr. Holding that in a tournament involving more than 2 teams, the losers in finals are called “Runners up”. He takes the microphone during the award presentation and does a one hell of a standup comedy show. He bluntly calls the runners as losers, and makes sure he quotes this at least 10 times, - “politically incorrect”. His English commentary needs English subtitles. He often complains about player behavior etc, Irony is I have seen him misbehave with umpire in Chepauk, Chennai. If I remember right in 1983 when the West Indies team toured India [6th Test - Gavasker - 236*]. Holding was given LBW [of Kapil Dev], but he just stood there on the pitch and showed finger at the umpire. I kind of remember crowed booing at him when he walked out. Players seem to forget the past.

Gangully is gone into a denial mode. He has recently told that he is not on the Edge. [Duh!] 3 slips and an out swing will find the edge automatically. Poor guy! Gangs take the ESPN Job 


Back Home!

Back to DC on Sunday
Back to Work on Monday


Few Chennai Clicks!



My Musician Friends Praveen & Prasanna.

School [MCCHS] Reunion at GRT Hotels, T.Nagar Chennai

Mahesh, Last time I met him was around the 90s.

Vivek and RajaGopal



Power play.

Marcus Trescothick struck a commanding 104 as England won the opening match of the NatWest Challenge against Australia by nine wickets at Headingley. The English beat Australians easily. Hayden, Ponting failed to score [Again!].

In the current England squad “Flintoff would be the only player who would make it to Baggy green selection on merit “–this comment was made by an Aussie and today he would be thinking about those words. The Australian pride seems to have downward “slide”.

The new One-day rules are in place. The fielding limitations were increased to 20 overs. The first ten will be compulsory while the next 2 sets [set of 5 overs each] will be fielding captain’s choice. This will be called as “power-play”. Regular umpires will draw an imaginary circle to denote the commencement of such power plays while Billy Dancer Bowden will build a small house [oodu katuvar] to denote the commencement.

Next rule, other than carrying the sponsor’s drinks the 12th man gets to play. He can be asked to bat or bowl replacing an another player, meaning a selected players gets the boot in the middle of the game. Beware “Gangully saab”. PIO cardholder “Vikram Solanki” was the first player to be capped as a substitute. Aussies substitution was more calculated and complex. Still they lost the game badly is another story. The use of 'powerplays’ and 12th man substitution failed to have any significance in their first appearance in an international match.

Due to the gruesome Bomb blasts in London, status about next games in the tournament are unknown. EBC will meet to discuss London one-dayers.


“A Classical Adventure"

Yesterday I got a copy of the Tamil Maiyam’s “Thiruvasagam” [Composed and Orchestrated] by Ilayaraja, with - The Budapest Symphony Orchestra and Music Conducted by Laszlo Kovacs.Mixed and Mastered by Richard King [has recorded many Grammy winning productions].The CD available in Chennai does not contain the DVD. Only the Audio CD that was priced at Rs.150.This also includes a printed copy of verses/Lyrics of all the 6 Tracks. A simple package with logos of the Co-sponsors. All the tracks expect one, has been rendered by Ilayaraja himself.

Rather than calling it an album, I would call it as a “Classical Adventure”. More than a pleasure, music in this will be an experience. Any musical review on this will sound childish. This form of music has never been heard by Tamil folks till now. Frankly I really don’t know to review this or have the capacity to review such collections. Also as of now I really doubt if anyone could or would. Yes there will be many calling it ”outstanding” “excellent”, but all these superficial words used to glorify film music does not matter here.

In this “Classical Adventure” as of now best that I experienced would be the background arrangements, why? Only thing I was able to follow with my minimal western classical knowledge. The quality of the performance and the recording is simply fantastic. Scores set by Maestro are mind blowing and mind boggling, even sets non-western classical ears would appreciate it right away. The flow of music, sound timbre creates goose bumps in many musical phrases. In order to feel nuances in the composition it is better to hear using headphones or by using a serious music system that caters them properly.

As Mr. Sujatha told me, it does require proper mood to hear this work. Understanding the Tamil language would add sugar to the pie. I wish Mr. Sujatha translates the verses to Tamil spoken by lesser mortals like myself. I am kind of sure now that Europe would take serious note on this musical work and may be it is time to change their opinions on Indian composers writing western classical music.

Finally, this Classical Crossover or an Experience or an Adventure idea has opened a new department in the music side of my brain. It is just matter of time and I am sure many more would get inspired for such works and the future would thank Maestro Ilayaraja for this. GO GET THE CD
"திருவாசகத்துக்கு உருகாதார் ஒரு வாசகத்துக்கும் உருகார்"

Ps:I hope that people do not circulate bootleg MP3 copies and/or try to acquirer such bootleg versions, nothing more would dishonor this effort.

Ps2: I personally know Mr. Shanker Kumar & Mr. Sridhar Seetharam and many other NRI friends who have worked hard to collected funds and have contributed for this release. But it was kind of surprising to me that it never got mentioned. I know these guys would not mind, however from outside I feel when there are about 6 logos of the Co-sponsors bright and clear, Tamil Maiyam could have mentioned about NRI contributions towards the work. May be the US version contains proper credits. CD marketed by WelGate group based out of Chennai;