Long back, when one of my friends said that she got a job in call centre, her parents prayed god to protect her from neighbor’s jealous views (the ones with ‘blue double arrows’ that you see in ‘nazar suraksha kavach’ ad). A year later they were even more rigorously praying god to save her from the curses of the world.

We are used to talking irrespective of whether the opponents are listening or not. You can observe that in political meetings, religious satsangs, official presentations, classroom lectures, elderly advices, etc. We literally live to speak. You would have observed parents worrying about their child not speaking at age of just 10-12 months. We also enjoy listening. You would have observed that some are regarded as great orator. But you ask them about something, the orator had spoken, they would go blank. The business caught on it. There was a great set of people who wish to speak and there is a far greater mass who wish to listen. They developed ‘call centre market’ and related jobs.

When I asked my friends about their experience with call centre, as expected, no one gave back their experiences. Not that they didn’t had any experience, I understand that no one wanted to recall it from their subconscious mind. But what’s fun in having a mobile and not getting call centre calls?

In earlier days, call centre calls were rampant, that too in English. The girl / boy on the other end would speak in clear English about their product without understanding the English grasping capacity of the listener. My grandmother, who knew none of English, generally converses with the caller. She was in fact eager for their calls. She would adjust her hearing aid on one ear and casually hear from the other ear. She used to boast that she gets calls from metro cities.

I have registered for ‘Do not call’ facility, but they called and confirmed this so many times that I realized that I actually received call directly. Changing mobiles too do not stop these calls. I am telling this by experience. I get equal amount of call be it my Nokia / Samsung / LG mobile.

My cousin handled in a very different way. He used to give his mobile to his 3 year old, gibberish speaking daughter Harini, once he receives a call – especially if the caller is not a lady. Harini would always talk in Tamil, irrespective of the language she hear from other end. Once Harini complained of her playschool maid, to the call centre executive, for 15 minutes. She was nonstop. After a couple of months, fearing Harini, the calls actually stopped. Harini was a great ‘Do No Call’ device at her age.

Once I used to disconnect a number regularly. On a particular day, the call repeated for a couple of times. I disconnected first and then attended. Before anything else, the girl on the other end started shouting at me, “What do you think of yourself sir? One, you don’t attend the call. Two if you attend, you cut the call without allowing me to say anything. Three, you otherwise switch off the mobile. You are very bad customer”. Saying this, she slammed the phone down. I was stunned. I really till date do not know what product she sold. I was left with guilty feeling that I hurt her sentiments.

A neighbor of mine is a great guy. He has somehow managed to get some international toll free number. He would regularly dial to them and keep asking questions of various formats. I think Euro crash has to do something to his call to the toll free numbers in the EU. There are also a few who give missed call to call centre numbers. They should be analysed by renowned psychiatrists.

There are some call centres which you can never reach. Call centres of Railways, Police, your mobile network, ICICI bank, HDFC bank, etc. are a few worth mentioning. Once I somehow managed to get to HDFC number, explained my problems on the card on length. Then she announced that she belonged to Credit Card section and transferred to Debit Card section. I had to explain it all over again. But before I finished my lecture, his shift was over. That’s when I lost some of my little weight, which I never gained back.

If you actually call a call centre and get to talk to a human, then you are lucky. Handling Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) is also a skill. My friend actually interacts with the mechanical voice in the IVRS. Mostly he complains that the lady never listens to what he says and only asks to press some random number. I explained the whole system to him once. He shook his head as if he understood completely, but never stopped talked to that pre-recorded voice. Let him be in his wonderland fighting the pre-recording.

While we actually feel that we don’t like call centre calls, I feel that deep down the heart we like being disturbed by their calls. Because it is in these calls we show our power or anger, which we cannot show to boss / wife / friends.

Long live call centres and their calls to us.

Author : Vineet Mishra
Publishers : Alchemy
Borrowed : Vandana Karande, RCP, Mumbai

“ Vinu I am getting married ” is a fiction (atleast the author claims so) authored by my friend and colleague Vineet Mishra [the guy on right, in his standard pose] and published by Alchemy Publishers.

I really thought of not blogging on fictions, as the author as the full right on their imaginations and I have no right to comment on the imaginations. But then, Vineet wanted the review. Also, Vineet being my friend, I had to be more careful on not hurting his feelings.

To start with, Vandana one day was too excited about starting a book club in RIL, where like-minded people can share their experiences on various books they come across. While a few were daring to join the club, we identified that Vineet within our organization is already an author. He had written a book and was awaiting publication. Now, Vandana and I went to meet him, found him sipping coffee with his colleagues, pulled him out of the cafeteria in his block and generously allowed him to join the book club.

From Vineet we heard a lot about the intricacies of publication, marketing the book, profits, reviews, proof reading, etc. It is indeed a laborious work. But it is a great feeling to have your book on hand. Kudos to the effort. He has been felicitated within the company and outside too.

The book is dedicated to ‘Friendship’. The story is about a group of college guys. It is a typical college story. There are friends, fights, canteen / mess, drinks, late night parties, fence jumping, suicide, girlfriends, relations and well, a little education / exam too. Our hero is class topper. I felt it like a typical Tamil movie, where however casual the hero is, he gets good marks and best out of life.

Frankly, cannot deny relating it with ‘5.someone’; maybe because we all have read it earlier. The book has similar friends group; four as against 3 in ‘5.s’. Hero has got girlfriend and in this aspect a bit advanced. There is an affair instead of just kissing in ‘5.s’. There is a frantic search of heroine by hero, as against friends searching hero in ‘5.s’. The incidents are different but somehow feel relating to ‘5.s’. Had this book ‘Vinu’ been published before ‘5.s’, we could have had a movie with Aamir as hero Salman aka Vineet and Kareena as heroine Mallika. But, now we have to look for different casting. The book is enjoyable to read and took me in one go. However, the end was abrupt. There was no requirement of convincing the heroine, fight with villain, family feuds, etc. All incidences just fell in place and story ended with ‘happily ever after’.

The book is a small and handy publication with reasonable font; so it was easy to hold in hand and read. It is rightly priced and also available at reasonable rate in Flipkart. It also has got a lot of good reviews from the readers. You could just google and find them. An effort such as this has to be encouraged. Hence, you may please buy a copy.

Post book publication, Vineet has been doing a lot of work to catch further attention on the book. My humble request is that he needs to move ahead with his next book and publish it before people forget him.

All the best!

Dhirubhaism is authored by A G Krishnamurthy and published by Tata McGraw Hills. Dhirubhai’s son Mukesh D Ambani has written foreword to this book.
My colleague Vandana and I participated in an essay competition. She won second prize and was gifted two books, of which one was ‘Dhirubhaism’. It’s a little book for light reading. The font and spacing was great for easy reading. The book claims that it could be read in 90 minutes and yes, I actually read in a single evening. Not only that the content was little, the style of writing was also not boring.
The author goes ga-ga about Dhirubhai. No wrong, as Dhirubhai was anyway his boss and mentor. But he repeats more than several times about the company ‘Mudra Communications’ growing from a small firm of Rs. 35,000 to one of the 3 largest advertisement firm in just 9 years. He has used his book to tom-tom his company’s growth and it’s a bit irritating.

The author AGK is obviously a die-hard fan of Dhirubhai. Also AGK has worked personally with Dhirubhai. In 15 chapters, AGK brings out the various virtues / views of Dhirubhai that provides a better picture of Dhirubhai’s characteristics. AGK puts his point with real life cases that he recalls, while he worked with Dhirubhai. Anybody who admires Dhirubhai would love to read this book. But the book will not prompt you for a re-read. Neither there are any great quotes / incidents that you could quote in a writing / speech. Simple, light reading, little book.
My Verdict: Just read; Need not buy.

RAJNIs PUNCHtantra is a book authored by P C Balasubramanian along with Raja Krishnamoorthy and published by Oxygen Books. It costs INR 125.
The book is very simple and small. It has 30 statements delivered by Rajni in his various movies. This is mainly for Rajni’s fans. When I found this in the shelves of the book store, I was really hesitant to take and get it billed while others watch, as the Rajni jokes (mostly variants of earlier Chuck Norris jokes) are already in circulation vide sms and emails. But myself being fan, I could not resist.
Rajni’s punch statements are so famous and rampant that possible punch statements will start emanating in magazines before movie release. And he has his own way of delivering these statements on screen.
The book says that Rajni’s punch statements are truths that fit all and depicts them as value statements on business and life management. None of the 30 statements or the film from which it has been collected would be new to his fans.
The book is drafted as like Bhagavat Geeta. Rajni’s punch statement in Tamil, it’s meaning in English, a couple of paragraph of its relevance in business and then in life. They end with their own punch statements.
Frankly, the book is rubbish. The translations of Rajni’s statement to English are not catchy and the paragraphs on the relevancies are even more incoherent. After reading, I do not recall any of the parts of the book and that is bad. The book has not interested or impacted me. The photos of Rajni are in b&w and the print quality is bad. So there is no great content for a reader or good photos for Rajni’s fans. Since I have bought it, I will keep it in my library.
My Verdict: Don’t read; Don’t buy.
Translated from Vishnupuram Saravanan’s tamil poem, published in Ananda Vikatan:

You please walk!

Its the same street
Where you walk now
Witnessed a child died of crying
Without his mother and
Without half of his scalp.

You please walk!

Its the same building
Which you see is
Where a women liberator
Was devoured by four-five men
Without language barrier.

You please walk!

Its the same beach
Where you dip your leg
With cool smooth beautiful water
Where a nine month pregnant
While trying to escape by boat
Was shot and killed.

You please walk!

Its the same trench
Where a liberator stood
With his six month old son
Withered by the shelling.

You please walk!

Its the same place
Where you rest now
When once a refuge camp
Witnessed a old man die
Waiting in line for
Water and fishing net.

You please walk!

Tomorrow we can go to another spot.

We are now free
To visit any part of this country.

Its a tourist land.

To show you around and tell
I am left with just these kind of stories

I am helpless about it.

Original copy from Ananda Vikatan below: