The airtel.in site – that looks impeccably professional at first sight – can seriously get on your nerves sometimes. Ok, I understand for a person with a flash memory (meaning, I forget everything in a flash), changing passwords every month is not a security option but a dumb idea. But just because I changed my airtel.in password sometime back and forgot the new password doesn’t mean Airtel can subject me to a mental torment, right? I need to pay my mobile bill, which is already a week overdue and the site is doing everything possible to stop me from paying it. Now, don’t ask me why I didn’t walk into an Airtel office to pay it. That’s a physical torment!

    So, for the record, here’s what happened. I went to the airtel.in site and entered my username (which, thankfully being my mobile number, is easy to remember) and password. It opened a pop-up asking me to enter my username/password again…yes, again! Now, this is not because I entered the wrong password the first time. It just happens to be Airtel’s standard login procedure – enter your username/password twice to prove that you aren’t lazy. So, I took up the challenge of proving that I’m not lazy and entered my username/password again…only to get a blank white screen staring blankly at me. Now, that’s not a very polite way of saying I failed the challenge right? I closed the window and logged in again. Now, it said, “Please open a new browser for new session“. Security reasons huh? Feeling glad that someone is taking my security seriously, I opened a new browser window and logged in again. It said again, “Please open a new browser for new session” and I said, “what the hell!”. It was a new browser window, after all. It took me a moment to understand that when they say ‘open a new browser’, they mean, ‘close all your existing browser windows and open a brand new browser window’. Now, don’t you think that’s a bit too haughty of Airtel? to make me close all my important browser windows – orkut, gmail, yahoomail and a couple of blogs (from where I was trying to steal ideas) – just to relogin to their site? Thankfully, they didn’t ask me to reinstall my browser or much worse, reinstall Windows or much much worse, buy a new PC each time I have to login to their site. Probably their security team is thinking of that right now.

    Anyway, I did what I was told – closed all my browser windows, opened a fresh browser and logged in again. To appreciate all my efforts, this time the blank screen was replaced by a rather polite ‘Authentication failed‘ screen. I closed the pop-up and logged in again. “Please open a new browser for new session“. Shucks! I forgot that!

    After repeating the above cycle for ‘n’ number of times (where n is a multiple of infinity), I finally got my password right. I heaved a sigh of relief (that almost startled the person sleeping..er sitting next to me) and proceeded to pay my bill. Did I succeed? No! This time it was “Payment not processed. Please try again later“. With a string of expletives – which, had I said louder would’ve gotten me out of my job without even a severance package – I was about to give up. However, the fact that I got so close to paying my bill encouraged me for a few more cycles. The result of my “try, try and try until you are tired” determination: the same blank screen that stared blankly at me during my first attempt. Back to screen one…er square one. I gave up there! I still haven’t paid my bill and hence, my mobile connection could get disconnected any moment (I can see my friends heaving a sigh of relief here…wonder why?).

    The infamous ‘Communication Error’ on the irctc.co.in had, long back, made me realise that having a PC and an Internet connection doesn’t make life any easier. Airtel only reaffirms that now. I can now see why my dad grinned when I told him I’ve started paying bills online. So much for me trying to appear internet-sauvy to him! :(

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