Leaving America

August 1, 2012.

I arrived in the United States, wide-eyed and eager.

I entered a world of Fahrenheit’s, soft R’s, MM/DD formats, way too many choices in grocery stores, pounds, miles, gallons, miles per gallon (one of the first things the Indian in me did when I got my car was do a mileage conversion to km/l – 14, thank you very much), and toilet paper.

I hoped to learn new things and meet new people. I hoped to experience a new culture and make new friends. I hoped to get a good job and make money. I hoped to get a visa and settle down.

I’ve done most of those things.

It’s a known fact that the immigration system in the country is screwed up. To place the lives of thousands of potential immigrants who have not only studied here but have also worked and contributed as tax-paying members of society in the hands of a lottery with a grand prize of a work authorization visa, the chances of which are only marginally better than those of one actually winning a million dollar jackpot, is maddening.

I used to argue that the lottery system for picking H1B visas was probably the fairest, because a random number generator would be most unbiased in its selection of hopefuls to give them a chance in making a mark here.

What I said is probably true in terms of bias. The lottery system isn’t fair, however. It places the folks who’ve devoted years to study here in the same basket as those coming from other countries courtesy their companies that apply for visas in the tens of thousands, in effect gaming the system.

It doesn’t make sense. And it’s in need of a major overhaul.

Unfortunately though, that will have to be done without my lawful presence in the country.

July 4, 2017.

Independence Day in the United States.

It also happens to be exactly 3 years to the day that I came to Houston to work with my company. A happy coincidence.

It’s been a good five years in the country. But to quote Robert Plant in Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, “I’ve got to ramble.”

Tomorrow, I leave behind home, family, friends, and familiarity.

Tomorrow, I go back to home, family, friends, and familiarity.

It’s going to be scary. It’s going to be exciting.

It’s going to be worth it.

Goodbye for now, America.

Hello again, India.


Recently I’ve come across a spate of articles online denouncing La La Land and nitpicking for the sake of nitpicking on it, because it’s cool to hate on something which a large majority adores. I’ve seen complaints like the characters are shallow, Emma Stone can’t dance, Ryan Gosling’s voice is too reedy, the Los Angeles depicted in the film isn’t representative of today’s LA because it doesn’t have a single gay person in it, “BUT WHAT IS THE ENDING SUPPOSED TO MEAN?”, and the like. These complaints which don’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Maybe I’m biased. I wholeheartedly love the movie and have watched it thrice in a span of two months, unprecedented when it comes to my movie-watching habits. I think it has all the bearings of a modern day classic. And with the adulation that it’s been getting in the awards circle, clearly I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Let’s face it though, despite it being an outstanding film, I’m not 100% convinced that it’s deserving of 14 Oscar nominations. For example, I don’t think Ryan Gosling deserves a Best Actor nod, because though he was great, I don’t believe it was a performance worth nominating. Maybe it was a weak year for actors. Hell, it wasn’t even HIS best performance of the year (here’s looking at you, The Nice Guys, you criminally underrated gem). I am also ambivalent about Emma Stone’s performance in the film – I like her in every film I’ve seen of hers, and she knocks it out of the park during the last half hour or so from the audition scene onward, but I feel like she’s basically playing her character the same way she’s played it in a lot of her other films for a better part of this one.

Then again, maybe I’m just peeved that Amy Adams didn’t get nominated for Arrival. Emma Stone aside, damn it Meryl Streep, enough with your nominations already.

The Academy – film societies in general, really – loves films which allows it to pat itself on the back. And La La Land, in all its technicolor glory, does just that. Which is why even though I’ll be happy if the film does end up winning Best Picture at the Oscars tomorrow, there would be a small part of me wondering whether Damien Chazelle did in fact play it to his target audience – in this case, not the general public or the critics, but the folks giving out the awards.

Of Fake News and Other Pressing Issues

I am part of a few Whatsapp groups filled with family members who spam forwards, which can more often than not be classified into three broad categories: politics, adult jokes, and as is common among most family groups, hoaxes. I’m not sure how many years the Indian national anthem can be declared the best in the world by UNESCO, and how many times the photo of an Indian map inscribed on the trees lining a highway to Bhopal can be voted the best photo in the world. Footnotes like “No Photoshop, this is real!” do nothing but add credibility to the claim, right? Now the forwards have progressed to the likes of “The Obamas have moved to a rented apartment post presidency. They don’t own a house till date. Incredible example of integrity! The less said about Indian politicians the better.” I’m all for calling out corruption but this is ridiculous – the house the Obamas are currently leasing is worth well over 5 million dollars, and they have owned multiple properties. During the recent tiff between Panneerselvam and Sasikala in Tamil Nadu, a few members of my family praised Modi as the mastermind behind OPS growing a spine. Political gain notwithstanding, I was taken aback by how ludicrous such assertions were and how easily everyone seems to fall prey to them, given that there isn’t a iota of proof backing them up. These messages may be harmless. But since very few people fact check them, they end up inculcating a belief in rumors, lies and propaganda.

The problem is not just restricted to Whatsapp, though it does contribute in a large fashion to the spread of rumors. The President of the United States is fond of tweeting lies, which his team has coolly labeled “alternative facts” – something which they are also quite adept in propagating.

Sure, the Left is not above accusation when it comes to this. Trump never gave an interview to People magazine twenty years ago calling Republican voters the dumbest in the country who would eat up his lies. He isn’t stupid, that would be political suicide. But the implications of such rumors are far more significant when it comes directly from an institution such as the White House.

No, the crowds at Trump’s inauguration weren’t the largest in the history of presidential inaugurations. No, there weren’t millions of illegal voters who voted for the opposing candidate. No, the Bowling Green Massacre didn’t happen. And no, the murder rate isn’t the highest it’s been in close to 50 years. There is no evidence to back up such tall claims. But the damage is done – stuff like this has already been lapped up by scores of people, not just in America, but across the world.

There’s no denying that the President actively engages in wild conspiracy theories. When he gets called out, Trump ends up slamming the channels that disagree with him, calling them fake news. He still continues to claim the election was rigged against him, which is baffling considering that he won. He even picks out individuals and calls them out by name in tweet tirades. Ironic, considering that Melania’s core message as FLOTUS is attacking cyber bullying. To add fuel to the fire, one of Trump’s senior advisers recently went on the air to proclaim that the powers of the President “will not be questioned”, an Orwellian statement if there ever was one.

“Alternative facts” such as those perpetrated by the White House in the recent past, which apparently nobody is supposed to question, have led to strong support of the Muslim ban and people to shout at immigrants to “go back to your own country”. I had experienced this a few years back, when a drunk soccer fan at Penn State shouted the same at myself and a bunch of my friends, during the 2014 USA-Portugal FIFA World Cup game. This was a one-off incident, whereas Trump using phrases like “bad dudes” and “bad hombres” to describe Muslims and Mexicans has lent credence to a sense of bullying that seems to have become far more widespread at face value today. It seems to have fueled a sense of nationalistic pride bordering on jingoism in a good percentage of the American population. It seems to have become an epidemic.

Popular alt-right websites pick up rumors from uncorroborated sources and transmit them to all. Trump picks this up and tweets about it. Millions believe it and retweet it. This leads Trump to think that he’s right and the outlets from where he got said bit of news to think that they’re right. But just because two parties think they’re right doesn’t make it true. There was a good segment about this on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver this Sunday, aptly labeled “Trump vs Truth”.

No matter what Steve Bannon and his team have claimed, Breitbart is not news. No matter what Alex Jones and his team have claimed, Infowars is not news. No matter what the White House thinks, Sean Hannity and Piers Morgan are not political pundits. They are biased channels which only validate things that Trump believes, but do little to vindicate him. And the President placing blind belief in them could have severe repercussions for the country.

I’m speculating, but I do think that if the Democrats were in the White house right now and if something like the Russian hack had come to light, all hell would have broken loose. The current administration however seems to be facing one embarrassment after another, the culpability for which has been denied, deflected, dismissed, or actively lied about, leading to not much being done despite several calls for impeachment.

Trump clearly thrives on this chaotic 24-hour news cycle that he’s created for himself. Given all the media coverage that’s surrounding every little move made by the White House, rumor or otherwise, I’m afraid the world would have become desensitized if a major scandal does ever come to light. By then, it may just be a case of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Happy Valentine’s Day, I guess.

About Last Night

Years from now, kids would probably ask their parents “What were you doing the day Donald Trump got elected President?”. Parents may not remember what they were up to, but I think they would all agree that it was a strange twist in the tale, although maybe not hugely unexpected given how America refuses to trust Hillary.

One of the biggest things that may affect me about a Trump presidency is his stance on immigration, on which Trump has been both here and there. One day he would praise workers on their H1B, saying that they stimulate the US economy and that the country needs more of them, and the next he would say that he needs to  cut down on visa abuse and increase salary caps for the visa. Given that I had two attempts to get the H1 and went 0-2, it’s rather alarming. I do have one more attempt in the lottery, but as the Hamilton line goes, “I’m not throwing away my shot” wouldn’t apply here because the situation is not in my control.

The US Immigration system is crippling and is in massive need of an overhaul. Getting a work permit here seems to be a monumental task. Some may say insurmountable, however the thousands of workers who have a valid right to work here would disagree with the assessment. I’m not sure what he has in store for me but I’ll just have to wait and see. If nothing I may have to emigrate somewhere else. Canada and Australia – are either of you listening?

I don’t like the Donald. I don’t like his policies, his rhetoric, his capriciousness. I don’t appreciate how we takes to Twitter not just to mull foreign policy, but also to personally attack individuals who criticize him. I just don’t think he is Presidential. But I didn’t have a say in the matter when the country voted, and the only say I do have is me ruminating here about how the United States seemingly had a momentary lapse of reason, one that would affect the country and the world at large for four (or eight? *shudder*) years. But as long as he puts the Office before the Man, there may be a chance yet.

I think it’s a good time for me to start watching The West Wing.

Harry Potter, Rajinikanth and the Weight of Expectations

Having watched Kabali on the second day of its release and having read the latest Harry Potter book (its script format notwithstanding) within a week of its release, I decided to pen down my thoughts on the two. The reason I am clubbing the two into one post, although each is probably deserving of its own, is because they are both cultural phenomena. One about a Boy who Lived, the other about a Man who Lives. Both have captured the hearts of millions of people around the world, both are Thalaivars in their own right, both of whom I am a full fledged fan.

The similarities don’t end there. Both have Larger-Than-Life personalities – Rajinikanth, in all his films post Annamalai in 1992, seems to have developed his through his gait, iconic laugh, and all-round style in his films, which has found resonance with fans worldwide. By contrast, Harry, despite having friends by his side, always seems to have been portrayed as a lonely figure in the books, who seems to want nothing to do with the Larger-Than-Life personality that has been thrust upon him. Obviously, fans love HP for the themes of friendship, loyalty, courage, the triumph of good over evil and what not, so much so that when something new is announced pertaining to the boy wizard, there is an unparalleled level of hype generated. One could possibly make an argument that the hype is somewhat similar to that generated when a new Rajni film is announced, so maybe it’s not that unparalleled after all.

Kabali: I had never been more excited for a Thalaivar film than when I saw the first few images released officially when this film was announced. This was further bolstered in May of this year, when I stayed up at night to watch the teaser as soon as it dropped on YouTube. Whatever I may have said in a previous post, written in a fit of what can only be described as post-Thalaivar-padam-watching-euphoria, there is no denying that Lingaa was nothing short of a travesty. The story was boring, the supporting characters were awful, the climax was shit. There came a point where there’s only so much suspension of disbelief that one can perform, given that time and again you were watching a post 60 year old man play a 25 year old on screen. So for once, it was refreshing to see Rajni seem like he was playing his own age. Granted there was a sequence in the teaser in which he looked young, but the make up looked convincing enough that you could afford to suspend disbelief a little more. I had faith in Pa.Ranjith, who had made gritty realistic films in the past. Although he was inexperienced, I was glad Rajni took a chance with him rather than go to his familiar stable of directorial horses in the form of P. Vasu, Shankar and KS Ravikumar. It seemed to me that the hype level was justified. I was hopeful.

To tell you this movie is divisive is putting it mildly. I’m guessing people expected the Thalaivar with the Larger-Than-Life persona that he had cultivated over the last twenty years. What they got instead was a Thalaivar who had to showcase his acting chops after a long time. I was impressed, this was a Thalaivar I hadn’t seen in a while. I had missed him.

I thought Ranjith did a decent job given what he had. There were parts of the film that I loved, like the story – it wasn’t an all out revenge saga of a gangster – rather it was more of a gangster searching for his long-lost family; and parts of the film that I hated, like the editing which was all over the place.  Unfortunately, this film was never fully fleshed out as either a completely Ranjith film, which you expected to be more grounded in realism, or a full Rajni film, which you expected to be chock full with style. It was somewhere in between. And fans didn’t like that. They wanted the Thalaivar of yore, echoing back to his Annamalai, Baasha and Padaiyappa days. The fact remains that you might never get to see that Thalaivar again. The paradox of directing someone like Rajni today is that he has become so larger-than-life that it’s probably going to be very difficult to convince people that he is still capable of oozing style, as well as act in a good story.

This film could have been better, but I’m not complaining. First movie with D, so a little special.

HP and the Cursed Child: I grew up with Potter. I read the Philosopher’s Stone when I was 10 or 11 and there’s been no looking back – I devoured the rest of the books as and when they were released (once I caught up to the release schedule) and finished my last one in 2007, when I was 17 – the same age Harry, Ron and Hermione were by the end of the series. I would quote the books in conversation (“You wouldn’t know a joke if it danced naked in front of you wearing nothing but Dobby’s tea-cosy” – I still don’t know what a tea-cosy is). I loved the movies and watched all – barring Hallows part 2 – of them in the theater. To say I loved the series would be an understatement.

I am 25 now. I got to know of the play much after it was announced – I knew something was brewing from JKR as I was subscribed to the Pottermore email list some time back, but I didn’t bother finding out what – and had no idea there was a book launch surrounding the play. I was reminded of it when I had marked that I was “interested” in a Facebook event concerning the book launch on July 31 – Harry’s birthday. Undeterred by the fact that it was the script of the play written by someone else and not a novelization by JKR (which would have been infinitely cooler), I pre-ordered the book on Amazon, if nothing but to relive my childhood and the joy of owning a HP book again.

I didn’t have too many expectations prior to receiving the book. Once I got it in hand however, I was excited. It may not have been a HP novel in the true sense of the word but it was a new story by JKR! Marred by my corporate job, it took me three days to finish the book.

I hated it.

There are so many plotholes, so many questions raised, so many issues I have with the book. The new characters are downright boring, the returning characters are thoroughly different from the ones that I grew up with, the plot line as such is contrived and seems like it was such bad fan-fiction that I am stunned that JKR came up with this story. She has clearly taken a George Lucas route with this book and has come up with something pretty dreadful. Although at least Lucas had a good basis going for him with the prequel trilogy – exploring Vader’s past is a cool story in itself. There is really no reason for JKR to have come up with this. Granted, it may look great on stage with the effects and set changes (which seem infinite in number going by the script) – but special effects do not a good a story make.

Prior to reading the book, I was wondering who the “cursed child” in the title could be. After having read the book, which fails to answer the question concretely, I’ve come to the conclusion that I, as the reader, am the cursed child.

But that’s the problem with having created iconic characters such as Potter or having molded into such an iconic character as Rajni (I take the liberty of calling him a character as he has become one, playing pretty much the same person since the early 90s – sort of akin to Clint Eastwood in the Man with No Name trilogy). Whatever you try to do with them, it might not be the best a fan can expect.

Lol JK.

D and I were having a conversation yesterday about how JK Rowling “really messed up Harry’s love life” (her words not mine, though I tend to agree). Excerpts, paraphrased here and there for clarity:

D: Harry isn’t very romantic and needed a cool girlfriend, fine. But that track could have been so much better.

Me: The Harry-Ginny track felt forced even in the books. Ginny is cool and all, but it was quite random. And the movies…

D: Let’s not even get started on the movies. JKR suddenly gave it some thought, and decided to make Ginny cool all of a sudden. Adhukku munaadi avala loose maadhri portray pannirndha.

Me: “Oh, Harry needs a love interest. I can’t get him and Hermione together because that would be predictable. Ron basically needs some closure for his character because let’s face it, the movies effed him up. HEY! Hermione and him would be perfect! But that leaves Harry with nobody. Let’s face it, Cho is so severely one-dimensional and massively boring that she can’t sustain as a character.  So who do I pair Harry with… Oh wait, Ginny’s doing nothing, why not her.”

– JKR’s thought process

D: And also – “shit, do people like Ginny? She needs to be made cool somehow. Let’s get her to play Quidditch. That seems safe. Some obstacle irrukanume… Oh yeah, best friend’s sister. Perfect. Now love potion to kindle memories, and kiss.”

I’ve always had gripes about Harry and Ginny’s kaadhal kadhai. I grew to love Ginny’s character as the books progressed, but however cool she became later on, she just wasn’t an interesting character initially. JKR can very well say now that this was always her intention – to ensure that nobody (Harry included) paid attention to her and then suddenly, wham, she hits you with being an amazing person well into the series. Hints were dropped in the earlier books, sure, but the romance definitely felt contrived. And if there’s one thing the movies got wrong (apart from completely messing up Ron’s character, even though Rupert Grint was perfectly cast for the role), it was Ginny. Bonnie Wright, blah.


This past weekend was Aavani Avittam, a yearly tradition in which the poonal is changed to welcome a new year, which I have partaken in ever since I had my Upanayanam 16 years ago. To date, I have no idea what these words mean and I have never had the curiosity to find out – all I know is that they are Sanskrit. It’s come to a point where I go through the motions of changing the poonal only to satisfy my mother’s request. I remember a point in my life where I used to unerringly perform sandhyavandhanam (another word I don’t know the meaning of) on a daily basis, reciting mantrams, following along to the voice of an old vaadhyar from a cassette recorder in the pooja room at home. I recall him having a rather soothing, comforting sort of voice. The feeling the voice evoked is probably similar to how one would feel on listening to MS’s voice as she sang the Suprabhatham, the listening of which was another daily tradition early in the morning at home courtesy my grandfather. During Aavani in those young years my brother and I would recite the Gayatri Jabam 1008 times. This activity would usually fall on a weekday. In retrospect I’m surprised that I loathed school so much that I actually looked forward to performing this menial task for a couple of hours, typically the time it would take to chant 1008 times, just so I would be able to bunk a half day. This was also around the same time when I was fiercely vegetarian, to the point of reprimanding my brother and father for eating chicken (the extent of my family’s adventures with meat).

This past Saturday, I woke up at around 10 and spoke to my parents, and my mother asked if I had changed my poonal. I ended up doing so late in the afternoon, after a perfunctory chant of the Gayatri 108 times (hey, what’s in a zero right?), which happened following an age of dilly-dallying during which I accomplished my regular weekend activities of lazing around in bed, going for a swim, cooking (with onions, uh oh) and what not. Later in the evening I went for a tribute show to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and ended the day with some terrible chicken biryani. Oh how times have changed.

Remember when we were young.. We shone like the sun…

The Age of Complacency

Let me preface this post by saying that I think the web is a magnificent creation. I, like any person with access to the net, am wholly dependent on it for several of my daily activities. Heck, I would probably be out of a job without it. I wrote this solely because I wanted to express something about what I think is an adverse effect of being so dependent on it.

The Internet is a many-splendored thing. It’s both a gift and a curse – you have all the information in the world available at your fingertips; however it facilitates the loss of several things… Let’s look at a couple of cases to illustrate this point.

  • Story time! I studied for about a month, maybe longer, for my GRE examination. For the uninformed, a considerable chunk of the examination involves you proving to the American government that you are capable of substantial thought in the English language. This is rather hypocritical because it involves learning words that you can be assured will not come up in conversation with the average American. However I wasn’t complaining, as I appreciated an excuse to expand my (limited) vocabulary.
    Learning for the exam involved poring over word-list upon word-list, trying to recollect the meaning of every adjective or verb you would have ever encountered, stuff that you would probably be taking for granted – it’s a whole other story to coherently articulate the meaning of words like “coherent” and “articulate”. The Barron’s Big Book was pretty comprehensive, and covered a huge variety of words – imagine if you will, the little arrow going from the A to the Z in the Amazon logo. I learnt and re-learnt, and this exercise definitely improved my vocabulary. And it was fun! I enjoyed learning new words, going so far as to learning their origins and usages. For that, I am indebted to the Internet. I had a wide vocabulary at my fingertips.
    There’s an innate difference between the spoken word and the written one, the colloquialism of which is jarring. Today, one has a dictionary.com or a thesaurus.com to guide you into using bigger words than normal just to sound more erudite (thanks Barron’s!), something you couldn’t refer to a mere 20 years ago. It is reminiscent of the scene in Friends where Joey uses a thesaurus for every word in his recommendation letter to the NYC government to facilitate Chandler and Monica’s adoption (he goes so far as to signing it “Baby Kangaroo Tribbiani”, heh). Here’s a link for the interested (hey there’s something else you couldn’t do 20 years ago!).
  • In my first ever quiz (conducted for the Coimbatore Quiz Circle back in 2008), I had an “About the QM” column in which I had very succinctly said “Wikipedia is my religion and Jimmy Wales is God. \m/”, which was true at the time. I was fully dependent on Wikipedia as my knowledge bank, having graduated from newspapers and Malayala Manorama (ah, Young World School Quiz memories). Still am. I have read so much on that website that it has become an information overload. Have I retained what I have read? Some, maybe. Not a whole lot.
  • I was an avid reader a couple of years ago, during the era of dumb-phones and 256 kbps broadband connections. I would read at night, before falling asleep. I would read in the loo, to pass the time. Today I have a smartphone and I tend to browse Reddit for about 45 minutes before falling asleep, and tend to do the same in the loo. This is more a testament of a personal lack of willpower than anything else, but I figure the Internet and AT&T have some small part in enabling this. There’s also a personal urge to stay connected, so much so that it becomes crippling when I realize my network is down. It’s a dependency which I am not comfortable with, and I know that I am not the only one.

Technology has progressed to such an extent that today an inevitable sense of complacency tends to envelop the person. Before the advent of the Internet, one had to refer to a dictionary and an encyclopedia to learn more about things. One would make notes and highlight the words that s/he wants to look at, thus having a higher retention of the same. I still remember a massive copy of Webster’s English Dictionary that my father owned. This was an over 1000-page tome with a giant eagle in the front cover. I vividly recall going through the book, being extra careful as I was flipping the yellowing pages because I was afraid I might tear something. I recall finding several words which were highlighted in a fluorescent yellow-green color. I recall looking up the meaning of words like “arachnophobia” and a few words which (I hope!) any pre-pubescent boy would have gone through. I’m not sure where the book is now, although I know that I might probably never use it even if I knew since all the words I would ever need are available on the Internet. And being connected 24×7 makes it that much easier to sound more learned than usual. Also, I know that I can google anything to prove a point. Is this a bad thing?

Today’s generation has so much more access to information when compared to previous ones. Does this equate to them being smarter? No idea. But there is, undeniably, a  massive number of doctors, engineers, lawyers, artists, writers and what-have-you in the market today. I equate this in small measure to the “anybody with a digital camera considers himself a photographer” stereotype. I have never subscribed to that stereotype, as it does require a modicum of talent to become a photographer. However a digital camera is a good start on the road to become one. In a similar (but not the same) way the Internet enables several of the professions mentioned.

The inordinate number of people with talent out there has no doubt stagnated the market for it to become a cesspool of sorts. I ask again, is this a bad thing?

I do think the web is marvelous. I also wish, on a personal level, that I didn’t depend on it so much.

It remains to be seen what the future holds. I for one, am excited at the prospect of flying cars, sentient robots and the stuff that dreams (and sci-fi movies) are made of. Who knows, the future may see Webster’s dictionary and the (sadly defunct in print form) Encyclopedia Britannica come back in a big way. And that, would be cool.

This year, if nothing else, I resolve to get my reading habit back. Let’s see how that goes.

A week or so ago, my electricity company emailed me their newsletter for this month. Being slightly pedantic, I deleted the email forthwith because I wanted to keep my inbox free from spam (clean inboxes all the way!) and thought nothing else of it.

I received another email from them a day later with the same subject as the previous email. Curious to know why I received what I thought was the same email twice within two days, I opened it to read this:


After we sent your email yesterday we realized that we called you by the wrong name. Jesssica? You don’t even look like a Jesssica—and who spells Jesssica like that anyway?

We’re usually very good with names, which makes this even more embarrassing. Usually if we say a name three times out loud we’ll remember it for life.

Vidyuth, Vidyuth, Vidyuth. There, that should do it.

Sorry for the mix-up and any confusion,

Your 4Change Energy Team

I like such emails. It shows that at least one of the companies the services of which I use aren’t money grabbing global corporate megalomaniac machines, an assumption I tend to make if I receive only auto generated emails from them. So I’m just a teeny bit biased, but if the company goes out of its way to do something, however small it may be, which serves to tip people’s opinion in its favor then I’m all for it. Good on you 4Change Energy! A+ for customer relations.