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