Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do not take this call

Sunil K Poolani

BPO-Sutra: True Stories from India’s BPO & Call Centres
Compiled & Edited by Sudhindra Mokhasi
Rupa & Co
Price: 95; Pages: 384

This is one of the most outlandish, blasphemous and ludicrous books that I have received for review in so many years. Before getting into the nitty-gritty, some bit of background.
When the information gateway charted new roads into India, there came a nonsensical youth brigade that jumped on to that bandwagon; they could not talk or write in simple English, but talked in a lingo no one, not even the puppies they owned, deciphered. But there was money; easy money. And then the US, the snake pit of fast money due to conning the rest of the world till then, started losing jobs and those jobs came to India. And more money came into our yuppies’ pockets; easy, filthy money, to boot.
Now, our laadlas, started wearing Chanel T-shirts and expensive perfumes, flirted with “what the f**k-man” babes or dudes, talked jargons like “paradigm shifts”, holidayed in Pattaya; and displayed more attitude: scorn towards the have-nots.
Then came an ‘apostle’ for that breed, who could talk their lingo: Chetan Bhagat. He, and his publisher, smelled a great market here. And Bhagat wrote an all-time bore (what if it sold in thousands!): One Night @ the Call Centre. No one with a two-bit brain could go beyond two pages. But for the BPO crowd, and that includes my cousin sisters and nephews, this book was gospel, manna from heaven. Why not, it still sells; recession or no recession.
Okay, we have all heard lots of stories of this breed: how they worked their ass off at any hour of the day, how they doped, went for midnight binges, how they used to whiz around in their Bullets, how they changed sex partners like they use and dump stained… whatever.
So should not these raunchy, salacious stories be stored for posterity? Of course. So thought the publisher of this book. So did the compiler of this tome. (What I admired most about this ambitious volume is that the publisher priced this book, numbering nearly 400 pages, at a mere Rs. 95.) And no marks for guessing who wrote the endorsement blurb on the front cover: Bhagat.
Mokhasi, the compiler and ‘editor’, poor thing, thinks he has done a great service to mankind in getting this book out; a great contribution to world writing history. But the sad truth, somebody should tell him, is that he has no style, can’t write a line in that’s not in ungrammatical English. And, see, he claims that he was the vice-president of a top IT company and is now, a CEO of a company. Sometimes I am surprised how people climb up the ladder sans even a cretin’s intelligence level.
Now, the book. All the ‘stories’ in the book are basically hearsay and or told by Mokhasi’s friends to him. There is no point in ‘reviewing’ them as they do not fall into any class; it does not even have the quality of a grocery bill.
Most of the ‘stories’ are supposed to be funny, but they are absolutely gruesome; brew that with bad English (I could count 18 mistakes in one page, and almost every page has several of them), bad puns, uninteresting sexual innuendoes… you name what you can expect from a trash bin, you have them all here. It seems Mokhasi is in love with ‘!’ and you can find them in dozens after a sentence he makes, thinking he has just made a funny statement.
Final assessment: Yes, this book is unputdownable. You know why? Because it is immensely throwable. With a thud.
-- Deccan Herald / Sahara Time


R said...

A little abrasive I must say…
The critique has every right to write what he/she feels but look at the other side… atleast lot many ppl are getting opportunities to get their work published and I personally think readers aint foolish to go for tinny writing & even if some of them do its not necessary that every reader has to be perfervid..!!!
Light reads are good for a change..
But yes after reading the blog I have to admit that the blogger, Mr. Polani knows how to use words and how to attack with them with his erudite perceptiveness which made the blog an interesting read for me, though cant say the same for the author of the book…

UC said...

Hi Sunil
The Big Idea here seems to be the crowd-puller line: True stories from India's BPO & Call Centres. There's a sitting-duck dumb market in them words. Following the genre of that classic one "what they dont teach you at Harvard Business School", you can bet everyone who has anything to do with ITES will devour this book notwithstanding any review! Reminds me of a friend who wrote a one word review of a very popular American business bestseller - he just said "Dangerous!" and meant that book is for imbeciles - and you know what! To his dismay, people queued up to read it. Hmmm... if Slumdog Millionaire can be 'authentic Indian' any goddam thing can! Obama might order copies too ... I feel such books, if they're badly written, dont merit a review at all.
uma chandrasekaran

Nishant said...

While I haven't got a chance to read this book, I have come across a number of shoddy pieces of literature in the recent past. I am not exactly an authority to rubbish someone's effort, but then Indian literature has a certain benchmark of quality that should be met with always. Not just in terms of content, but also in terms of grammar and richness of text.
Chetan Bhagat's success in a certain genre (different views of his style notwithstanding) has spurred this desire in many a mind to toe his line - which, to my mind, is pretty cool, provided the book has class. The onus lies not only on the author, then, but also on the publisher, to give the reader some food for thought, or at least something to smile about.

Anonymous said...

I am amused. You are very scathing of the 400 bloody hundred pages. Question: Did you read them all?
Sadhvi Sharma (

homoscribus said...

I thought this review was trying to put down some people rather than a book or its purpose...It certainly is in bad taste to say the compilor 'claims' he was in some position... why else would he announce it to the world? He should have been that... and unless you can prove this, Sunil, you shouldnt have made this personal remark.

The book doesnt look much, definitely...but then why on the earth should you review it? Dont we have good books coming out in dozens?

What a waste of a review page I should say...

LP said...

You can be most acerbic at times.

To each his own. Everyone chooses his own means to make his bread and butter. Ok in this case Channel and Gucci? They were a 'happening' lot ..till recently at least. And the author saw good market value in trying to revive interest in the BPO community which probably was on the verge of becoming a bane.

I will take your word for it and not go anywhere near this one. Next time please review a book I may not want to throw in the trash!

Anonymous said...

Very severe critique; more than likely 'well deserved'. At the same time we can't all have an elevated taste in reading and writing. Look at this way - this book gives you ample material for you to lash out at it in sharp and clever words. Smile!

To respond to a comment here: while 'light reads are good for a change', shallow and poorly written ones are not.

priti aisola

Anonymous said...

Hi. Read you aritcle, 'Do not take this Call'. Though I spotted the book at a book shop a while ago, din't really bother to pick it up, when i read 'call centre'. Inspite of it, with all due respect, I found your article extremely critical. I did like your candid voice though. And yes, bad language can be quite infuriating. Besides, I'm not too fond of Chetan Bhagat either. Also, i'm gonna confess that your article made me curious. I think when I go to a book shop next, and spot this book, I'm going to atleast give it a glance, just to read some bad writing. Strange how the mind works.
Anyway, hope to read more in the coming days.
Best Regards
Nisha Joshi (

Anonymous said...

Excellent! Rupa is really one shitty publisher that publishes horrible books. The problem is our readers are so ignorant.
Oswald Pereira (

Anonymous said...

You are awesome! :-)
Thanks and Regards,
Shubham Gupta (