Trip to Agra from Delhi

It’s weekend and time to make the most of seeing what I can whilst I’m in India: Renu, her brother and friends showed me some of the sights of Delhi last night which was fantastic, and today I went to Agra (a 3 hour drive from Delhi by car) to see the Taj Mahal and Red Fort. The opulence of the Taj was pretty excessive, a total contrast to its surroundings.

More on 02 & CPW

More on the Carphone Warehouse and the lovely o2…having given up trying to find an o2 contact number, and no longer having the patience to hunt through the Carphone Warehouse site, I phoned their sales line…

Me: Can I have the number for customer services please
Sales: I don’t have that. I can transfer you
Me: What? You don’t have…oh, ok then.


Person on customer service line: “Your number, name and address please”
Me: [address]
CS: No, that’s not the address we have for you.
Me: You send bills to it
CS: We’re not the billing department.
Me: Ah. Of course. That makes sense. Maybe you have [this old address]
CS: You’re speaking to [name], how can I help.
Me: I’m trying to call India , and I can’t
CS: Ah. You need to speak to customer services
Me: Errrr? Who are you then?
CS: Customer care
Me: Eh? And the difference is…?
CC: We just deal with general enquiries
Me: [boggling at “general enquiries”: wtf do you do all day?] Ooooooh-kay. Can you transfer me?


Real CC: O2 customer services.
Me: I’m trying to call India and I can’t – the call won’t go through.
O2CS: [name, number & address please]
Me: [blah, again]
O2CS: Ah. You can’t make international calls from the UK
Me: What? Why not?
O2CS: Err…its the way the account is set up
Me: Well, change that then please.
O2CS: Let me just check

[insert crap hold music here]

O2CS: Ok. You need to wait about 1.5 hours…so at 11am , switch your phone off then switch it back on again and it should work
Me: Oh. Great. Bye. [hangup] Brill. Good job its not an emergency…

02 vs Usability

Have you ever tried getting a contact number for o2 from their website – its really easy. All you have to do is…

  1. go to
  2. hunt for a “contact us” button
  3. There isn’t one. Think for a bit, and try Help
  4. Wonder why they need a mobile number before you can see any help info
  5. Type in the telephone number
  6. Be amazed at the complete lack of apparent customisation
  7. Wonder what Jakob Neilsen would think of 10 small, fairly random text links and a search box as a help section
  8. Find “Telephone Us” link second from bottom. Hurrah!
  9. Begin reading telephone us page. It talks about how to find help information on the website.
  10. Go back, and make sure you clicked on the “Telephone us” link, and not the “give me unhelpful information about the awfulness of our site usability and how to search for things we haven’t linked properly”
  11. Nope. It’s the same page. Read down the page.
  12. Wonder why they titled the page “Telephone us”, and not just “Fuck off. You’ve already paid, so we don’t care anymore.”
  13. Swear and swear and swear.

Now, wasn’t that easy?

the Empress of China

I travelled 4000km to discover that the Empress of China was seriously hot and spicy (to quote the hotel’s marketing material)…

After declining the offer to replace chopsticks with cutlery (force of habit) I remembered I was dining on my own. No problem. I placed an order of varied dishes preceded by a glass of Grover’s Vineyard India Blanc de Blanc, intent on trying some local produce. Ten minutes later a waiter came over to ask if I was ready to look at/order the main course yet. First look of horror: what was the appetiser banquet I’d just ordered then? First waiter to the rescue: full order already taken. Phew.

A side dish of fried lettuce was placed on the table, in preparation for the forthcoming starter I thought. Five minutes later and the untouched side dish went. Good job I was enjoying my book really.

Had the most delicious deep fried fish fillets in batter with a hot n’ sweet chilli sauce for starter – too big to provoke any argument from the chopsticks too. For main course, I chose a bucket of garlic fried rice and a barrel of braised mushrooms and asparagus in hot ginger chilli sauce with another glass of India’s finest. When asked if I’d like yet another glass, I couldn’t quite get my lips around “D’ya-think-I’m-an-alkie?-If-I’d-wanted-a-litre-of-wine-to-myself-I’d-have-ordered-a bottle, -wouldn’t -I?” so I opted for “yes please”.

Secretly pleased that I’d managed not to eat the huge quantity of food in front of me, I joked with the waiter, “there’s a meal for four here”. “No, only two” he replied, “minimum portion served is for two persons”.

Second look of horror slightly eased by the 3 grains of rice remaining in the bottom of the barrel.

I thought I might offend the local hospitality if I declined to look at the dessert menu. Not so. The third look of horror was the waiter’s. I didn’t order a dessert after all but favoured martyrdom*.

*martyrdom consists of eating pastries saved since breakfast in the solitude of your room.

New year…

…same dozy Keith – slept in this morning (what a great start to a new working year). Anyhow. Enough boringness. I’m hoping there’ll be a whole slew of entries, and some photographs – even a gallery – from Lou who’s currently in India! Keep ’em peeled for more info from the horse’s mouth…so to speak.