Daily Anulom Vilom pranayama. Just SMS: INHALE to inhale, EXHALE to exhale, followed by RIGHT or LEFT to specify nostril. Just Re 1 per SMS. Rs 2 penalty for wrong step. For full list of exercises, reply MENU,” a customer showed us this message that he got from Airtel announcing the new service. When one replies to this message, the list that is sent by Airtel says: “Send 1 for push-ups, 2 for Kapalbhati, 3 for morning walk, 4 for jogging and 5 for cycling. No option to unsubscribe. More options soon.”The service pack has had mixed responses. People battling weight issues have found this a way to keep their wives and mothers misinformed that they are doing exercises, while they are actually sitting at home. A customer who weighs 120kg but whose fingers had diameter over 2cm, claims typing and sending messages like “PUSH UP 10 TIMES” and “PUSH DOWN 10 TIMES” repeatedly in the morning has brought the diameter down to 1cm. The weight has however gone to 125kg. “I now average 1000 push ups a day in comparison to the 20 per day earlier. My wife and kids are happy with this, and my tummy too is swelling with excitement,” he said.
Several ladies are dissatisfied with the subscription, because they feel the reality is different. “Having SMS subscriptions for stories of TV serials in case I missed watching them some day… it makes sense. But doing yoga and exercises without actually doing them, is stupid. I’d rather go to the park and do all of that myself,” a 32-year-old lady told us. She said her husband has sent requests to his telecom service provider to launch an SMS feature for helping wives in their household work as well.
Other service providers are also keenly following the success of the innovation, and plan to introduce it soon on their network. “We shall go one step ahead, and introduce Eat on SMS and Drink on SMS plans. Go to the Toilet on SMS is still under planning. And it is not because another company launched it, it’s been our philosophy to get all daily activities to our customers via SMS—it’s a revolution. Pizza on SMS and Cab on SMS are so obsolete now. This is the era of sleeping via SMS so that people can send SMSes and stay online all night without worrying about sleep,” said an official of another competing company, which is known to send cricket updates even on days matches are not played.
“We receive calls daily from agitated customers who get to read our Daily Jokes even if they didn’t subscribe for them. It is our way of recovering the losses that we incurred due to reducing call rates. Some of them complain of astrology and cricket updates. We see no issue in bothering them with daily exercise SMSes as well. Are our users so poor that they can’t pay Re 1 a day to beggars! Oh, this is not going to solve poverty in our country, ” said an Airtel representative, before telling us he needed to go to the gym.