sunday sounds

The final cut: Songs that never say goodbye

A long-time columnist bows out.

All good things must come to an end.

This trite truism pertains to everything from a honeymoon to an ice cream cone. The good times eventually do stop rolling.

And such a day has come for Sunday Sounds. Or at least, for my part as your weekly curator, host, evangelist, pracharak, deewana, companion and guide through the sensational music of South Asia and the desi diaspora.

Since the early days of this digital daily I have been granted a free licence to indulge my love of music while hiding behind the mask of a columnist. Such an opportunity is a rare and great gift and one for which I will always be indebted to the editors of Scroll.in.

For two-and-a-half years I have tried to excite readers with the fantastic musical heritage of this region while also promoting the work of musicians of South Asian origin around the world.

Though I have but scratched the surface of this rich endowment, the time has come for me to hand over the excavation to others.

To all the readers of this column I say thank you for coming along for the ride. It has been a privilege to share the fun and grooves with you each week. I will miss being part of your weekend but alas, other projects (some much-delayed) await my attention.

For my last column, I have selected some old favourites from across the Sunday Sounds world. I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I have had putting them in front of you.

Nashenas
Choon Nay Ba Nawa Amad

Play

Mohammad Sadiq Fitrat is one of the great living voices in Afghanistan. Known ironically as "Nashenas" or The Unknown One, he has been enthralling audiences for more than half a century. His commanding voice is sonorous and instantly recognisable. Throughout his career, Nashenas has sung Pashtun and Persian folk songs, ghazals and Hindi film songs, which he fell in love with as a child in Raj-era India.

In a majestic performance, Nashenas pays a moving homage to Jalaluddin Rumi, perhaps the most revered and admired Sufi poet in history. Rumi was born in Balkh, in what is now northern Afghanistan, before heading Westwards to Turkey.

The ecstatic chants of “Allah Hu” toward the end of this composition bring to mind Jazz great John Coltrane’s repetition of “A Love Supreme” in the eponymous musical and spiritual tour de force.

AR Rahman
Kadhalenum Thervezhudhi

Play

That I was unable to penetrate the great publicity wall that surrounds AR Rahman, India's famed composer, singer and musician who's also an international face thanks to work on the soundtrack of the movie Slumdog Millionaire and remains one of my few Sunday Sounds frustrations.

While nearly everything Rahman has composed is delightful and worthy of serious attention, I am particularly partial to the scores he has made for Tamil movies. This track from the 1999 movie Kadhalar Dhinam (Valentine's Day) is vintage Rahman – melodious, beautifully layered and as colourful as a Kanchipuram sari. I listen to this song at least once a week just to remember what happiness feels like.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Je Tu Rab Nu Manan

Play

Get a load of the instrumental intro that opens this masterpiece from Pakistan qawwal Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. There is enough funk and groove packed into this much-abridged alaap, or opening section (the original cassette version continues for several minutes) to resurrect original soul brother James Brown from the grave.

"Before you make up with God, make up with your lover."

This simple and profound advice is served up in an exciting confection of qawwali hand claps, snappy drumming and Khan's soaring vocals. This is about as close to heaven most of us will get in this life.

Purna Das Baul
Golemal Golemale

Play


Bob Dylan may not have visited India (yet) but he once fancied himself the Baul of America. And on one of his most humorous album covers, for John Wesley Harding, Dylan posed with Purna Das Baul and a fellow Bengali companion. Such is the adventurous spirit of India’s best-known and best-loved Baul. His music is filled with love and longing and there is always that cheeky trace of a smile on his face.

Amanat Ali
Inshaji Utho

Play

From the very moment I heard this song, on a cheap cassette in a bazaar in Rawalpindi, it has remained in my personal top ten. The mood of this song of fate, resignation, acceptance and futility, by the handsome scion of the Patiala gharana, Amanat Ali Khan, is absolutely haunting.

It is said that soon after recording and performing this song, perhaps his most popular, Amanat Ali died. His loss at the age of just 52 left a huge gap in the cultural space of Pakistan. Though his son and brother carried forward the torch, he was a truly unique and gifted artist whose reputation continues to shine down through the decades.

Kishore Kumar
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna

Play

How credible would a final playlist be without this evergreen classic of Kishore da? And as the lyrics of the famous song go:

Chalte, chalte,
mere yeh geet yaad rakhna,
kabhi alvida na kehna.

Never say goodbye.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Putting the patient first - insights for hospitals to meet customer service expectations

These emerging solutions are a fine balance between technology and the human touch.

As customers become more vocal and assertive of their needs, their expectations are changing across industries. Consequently, customer service has gone from being a hygiene factor to actively influencing the customer’s choice of product or service. This trend is also being seen in the healthcare segment. Today good healthcare service is no longer defined by just qualified doctors and the quality of medical treatment offered. The overall ambience, convenience, hospitality and the warmth and friendliness of staff is becoming a crucial way for hospitals to differentiate themselves.

A study by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions in fact indicates that good patient experience is also excellent from a profitability point of view. The study, conducted in the US, analyzed the impact of hospital ratings by patients on overall margins and return on assets. It revealed that hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability. For instance, hospitals with ‘excellent’ consumer assessment scores between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with ‘low’ scores.

This clearly indicates that good customer service in hospitals boosts loyalty and goodwill as well as financial performance. Many healthcare service providers are thus putting their efforts behind: understanding constantly evolving customer expectations, solving long-standing problems in hospital management (such as long check-out times) and proactively offering a better experience by leveraging technology and human interface.

The evolving patient

Healthcare service customers, who comprise both the patient and his or her family and friends, are more exposed today to high standards of service across industries. As a result, hospitals are putting patient care right on top of their priorities. An example of this in action can be seen in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. In July 2015, the hospital launched a ‘Smart OPD’ system — an integrated mobile health system under which the entire medical ecosystem of the hospital was brought together on a digital app. Patients could use the app to book/reschedule doctor’s appointments and doctors could use it to access a patient’s medical history, write prescriptions and schedule appointments. To further aid the process, IT assistants were provided to help those uncomfortable with technology.

The need for such initiatives and the evolving nature of patient care were among the central themes of the recently concluded Abbott Hospital Leadership Summit. The speakers included pundits from marketing and customer relations along with leaders in the healthcare space.

Among them was the illustrious speaker Larry Hochman, a globally recognised name in customer service. According to Mr. Hochman, who has worked with British Airways and Air Miles, patients are rapidly evolving from passive recipients of treatment to active consumers who are evaluating their overall experience with a hospital on social media and creating a ‘word-of-mouth’ economy. He talks about this in the video below.

Play

As the video says, with social media and other public platforms being available today to share experiences, hospitals need to ensure that every customer walks away with a good experience.

The promise gap

In his address, Mr. Hochman also spoke at length about the ‘promise gap’ — the difference between what a company promises to deliver and what it actually delivers. In the video given below, he explains the concept in detail. As the gap grows wider, the potential for customer dissatisfaction increases.

Play

So how do hospitals differentiate themselves with this evolved set of customers? How do they ensure that the promise gap remains small? “You can create a unique value only through relationships, because that is something that is not manufactured. It is about people, it’s a human thing,” says Mr. Hochman in the video below.

Play

As Mr. Hochman and others in the discussion panel point out, the key to delivering a good customer experience is to instil a culture of empathy and hospitality across the organisation. Whether it is small things like smiling at patients, educating them at every step about their illness or listening to them to understand their fears, every action needs to be geared towards making the customer feel that they made the correct decision by getting treated at that hospital. This is also why, Dr. Nandkumar Jairam, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia, talked about the need for hospitals to train and hire people with soft skills and qualities such as empathy and the ability to listen.

Striking the balance

Bridging the promise gap also involves a balance between technology and the human touch. Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, who also spoke at the event, wrote about the example of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health Hospitals. He writes that their team of surgeons typically performs about 900 procedures a month which is equivalent to what most U.S. university hospitals do in a year. The hospitals employ cutting edge technology and other simple innovations to improve efficiency and patient care.

The insights gained from Narayana’s model show that while technology increases efficiency of processes, what really makes a difference to customers are the human touch-points. As Mr. Hochman says, “Human touch points matter more because there are less and less of them today and are therefore crucial to the whole customer experience.”

Play

By putting customers at the core of their thinking, many hospitals have been able to apply innovative solutions to solve age old problems. For example, Max Healthcare, introduced paramedics on motorcycles to circumvent heavy traffic and respond faster to critical emergencies. While ambulances reach 30 minutes after a call, the motorcycles reach in just 17 minutes. In the first three months, two lives were saved because of this customer-centric innovation.

Hospitals are also looking at data and consumer research to identify consumer pain points. Rajit Mehta, the MD and CEO of Max Healthcare Institute, who was a panelist at the summit, spoke of the importance of data to understand patient needs. His organisation used consumer research to identify three critical areas that needed work - discharge and admission processes for IPD patients and wait-time for OPD patients. To improve wait-time, they incentivised people to book appointments online. They also installed digital kiosks where customers could punch in their details to get an appointment quickly.

These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.