Saturday, September 24, 2011

I am Indian, hence I speak in an Indian accent

As if working in a call centre was not arduous enough, being an Indian in a UK based call centre is just doubly so. Yes, I am an Indian and I have an Indian accent. I am neither proud of it nor meek. Hey, honestly I cant help it OK? Lets face it...

Intoxicated as I may be as I write this entry, my feelings towards this attitude would stay undiminished.

Life is funny, someone named 'Srinivasan Elumalai Ramachandran' says "Can you put me on to someone in London please, I cant afford to waste time with you!!" The ironies of life! So much for the strict immigration rules, for all we know I would have had a legal entry into the UK and he didnt, but such are the laws of a call centre...!! But there is no shortage of sign posts in railway stations, buses, taxis you name it that reads: "You don't go to work knowing you'd be abused, neither do we." Well, HAHA ... you are far from being fair.

Whats painful for an immigrant (who is not really happy about it) like me, is when TV commercials boast that they care about their customers by having a "UK - BASED CALL CENTRE"... A call centre is a call centre is it not? To hell with the 'UK based' part of it.... Maybe its the outburst or the dissatisfaction people have had when they phone up to complain about services like BT, LoveFilm, British Gas, Virgin, O2, Vodafone, (and so on) and they have someone named Jack on the other side of the phone who says "Sorry Mrs.Looyis, we cannot able to deal with this right now, so please can you please call again tomorrow and you can able to speak to Jack, myself again. and I will sort this for you Mrs.Looyis." We have Mrs. Louise Thomas in utter dismay at the other end of this conversation. So to retain customers like this, it is fair that TV has the last 30 seconds of a minute long advert to reiterate the fact that the people of Britain will not encounter a situation which 'Mrs. Looyis' faced and will only speak to a guy with an English / Scottish / Irish / Welsh accent. Its a totally different thing, how an English man hates the remaining accents and make a complete mickey of the rest of the UK, claiming that his own accent is the purest and the most superior of all.

In a call centre, each day is an experience in itself... especially for a Non -Brit. Like the other day I had this call from a lady who had a pleasant voice but her mannerisms and political correctness went out of the window, too far for redemption. The following was the exact conversation.
Me: You are through to " " Vaishnavi speaking, can I have you reference number please?
Lady: [pause] Where are you from?
Me: How do you mean?
Lady: Where are you speaking from?
Me: [thinking that this is one of those calls] UK!?!!
Lady: Get me your supervisor, I cant understand a word of what you are saying!!!
Me: [pretty pissed off, but trying to help] {silence}

Lady: .... I dont have any reference number....
Me: Well, you just said it, i simple asked for your ref no, what do you not understand?
Lady: I dont have it
Me: WHy do you need the supervisor to tell that, you can tell me, can you not?
Lady: Oh You cheeky woman.....................!!!! %^&*()_ I will call again, you are not helpful..
Me: [raging] OH SURE!! Thank you, GOODBYE!!!

Well not all callers are as bad, but just one of these is enough to put you off dramatically. For someone who is quite soft spoken and clear about enunciating every word, this is not what I deserve. Surely not... I mean, to be fair she didnt even give me a chance to exhibit the fact that I am capable of helping her whatever her query was. She could be Mrs.Looyis, who knows!!!

There are callers who are so satisfied with my service that they thank me profusely. These are people who are not racial, not very particular about speaking to an english all the time. Maybe many dont realise that this world is now a Global village where whats important is the skillset you carry and whether you are capable of exhibiting this in a politically correct sense. It does not matter what you accent is for SATAN'S sake!!!!

All this cribbing is from a service provider's point of view, what about the time I would like some service for myself while i am in the UK? The call invariably gets connected to an Asian, majorly an Indian whose name would probably be Nagalakskmi who claims she is Nicole.....!!!!?????
There is an awkward hesitation when Nagalakshmi aka Nicole realises that its an Indian Accent from the UK and that she is caught..... slowly but steadily our Nicole tries to live up to her not so alleged British origins.....Well the point is, I am not very comfortable talking to a Nicole either... Half of me is tempted to go: "Hey are you not Nagalakshmi? Come on, tell me!" Its true that she tries ever so hard to sort my query for me.....and it is more than true that I dont have a trouble in she being Nagalakshmi or Nicole... But why do these people pick on something as trivial as accent.........................? It pains me.....!!!!

My friends from the different projects who are, for example African seem to be having a different attitude all together. His attitude has always been "Come on V, I couldnt be bothered about it.." I wish I had an attitude towards such calls...!! He openly tells the callers that he is from Africa and that this is a UK based call centre... If the company that recruited him has no second thoughts about his communication skills why THE HELLLLLLL do these people of Britain have?

Outsourcing is the lifeline of India's economy. Yes I am fully aware of that. What i am also aware of is the fact that the economies of US and UK is relying on India beyond redemption as the locals find these jobs to be derogatory to their dignity or simply, they are just lazy and over demanding. For the same price, US and UK could employ an office of 1000 Indians to do the job twice as well for peanuts. Lo and behold, these two countries have since been exceedingly role playing as a Happy Client to all out IT and ITES offices accross India. Do I blame them? No!! So many CIVIL Engineers and BIOCHEMISTRY students get employment opportunities in call centres, of course I am "SO HAPPY."..... !!!?!!!!! Well on the other hand, a lot of drop outs from colleges also have an easy source of money. A messed up biological clock, chronic sleep deprivation, diet...or the lack of it, and an apparent succesful career too. And as if this was normal, our drop outs gets promoted as team purely amazes me! Lets just say, I am not sure how I feel about it!!

Because I am away from India, it gives me a chance to look at it from a different perspective. I feel very strongly about India being self sufficient. India putting her foot down and saying NO to outsourcing, far fetched as this may sound...Something along the lines of setting up a planning commission where 2020 should mark the end of outsourcing in India. Although its true that this would put US and UK in a fix and they may hike the salaries of all our Nagalakshmis and woo them to stay back and be Nicoles...... Good or bad, this is a deadend and the longer we endure it, the tougher it is to be self sufficient. Before you know, Nagalaksmi will have an identity crisis and feel like an outsider in her own country nor is she going to be welcomed as Nicole anyway which she is not aware of. Little does she know the difference between an american and a brit where she desperately tries an american accent thinking she is being Nicole of Essex!!

Fact is, people are people wherever they are and information will be information whoever gives it. Why the bias, why this anger? When will we become civilised from the inside? Will we ever? It pains me, but I try to tell myself that this is how humans are. This is part of the evolutionary plan, after all... We are not superior beings, far from there! We will be the reason for our own extinction, I am sure!

It ends!!!


Sachi Mohanty said...

Way funny ...

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