Saturday, April 12, 2014

One Night @ The Call Center (Book) - Chetan Bhagat

Finally, finished 3rd book of Chetan Bhagat in a row and this one became the one that I could co-relate (big time) in reality as I actually worked inside a call center for couple of months that too in Gurgaon. We had a fantastic time working inside a call center about a decade back when I joined a US based consulting firm then which didn’t have an office in Gurgaon – we tied up with a call center for only two seats and had a blast working in the night. Even today I work with a US based consulting firm, not in a call centre but it’s a graveyard shift that ends precisely at 3 AM IST. The story may be a little over the top, farfetched especially for people who have no experience working in a call centre or who have no friends from that sector. But not for me as I have fairly good idea of how life goes inside one and we actually used to walkout to take brisk walks after dinner, even had couple of drinks (not regularly) but at times and even went on long drives (all in working hours). The fun didn’t end there – if I am not wrong, a couple of my friends actually learnt driving with the help of those cab drivers and the vehicle that’s most used were Toyota Qualis, so it didn’t actually sound like something impossible in the story to me. One more thing which I should mention and love doing even today is whenever I hang up a call with any vendor / client or consultant – it ends with a biggg byyyyeeee that I learnt from a friend who used to sit right behind me – although he was from a different company and process but I loved the way he used to say bye as if bidding bye to his girl friend – it used to go like “Alright Mr. Samson it was great talking to you, looking forward to your order, you have a good day! Byyyyyeeeeeee”.

The Book: The story of this one starts in a train journey between Kanpur and Delhi as Chetan Bhagat is travelling after the success of his first book “Five Point Someone”. He meets a beautiful girl while travelling in almost an empty train and she offers to tell him a story with a condition that he is going to make it his second book. It is almost based on the real characters and what they go through during the course of a night in Connexions call center where they all work. The story is written from the point of view of its protagonist Shyam who is an employee of Connexions with his five colleagues and each of them too have their own stories to tell. It keeps going into the flashbacks too and makes up for a very interesting read – no doubt about that – just like Chetan Bhagat’s other books. Unfortunately I have seen the movie based on this one so had a rough idea as how and where it’s going to go but the movie sucked big time, it was awful and I remember somehow I finished it. But the book is again very engaging and it was very tough for me to put it down, had to finish it in flat two days, and I just couldn’t resist the suspense. Shyam the protagonist is about to lose his long time girl friend Priyanka (another character) who is about to get married to Mr. Right working with Microsoft in US of A. Vroom is his colleague who gets cheated by their boss Bakshi – while he and Shyam work on a project and the boss takes the credit. Esha is another of their colleague from Chandigarh who wants to become a model and is struggling for the same, while Vroom has a crush on her. Radhika is married and has her own story of uncaring husband with troublesome mother in law. Plus there is this Sr Citizen - Military Uncle too – whose son and daughter in law have thrown him out of the house – who indeed wants to unite with them again and live with his Grandson (Shifted to USA). What happens with all of them in one troublesome night in the call center is the rest of the story – quite convincingly told, superbly engaging. If you are from up north or specifically Delhi / Gurgaon – it will take you on a visual journey back to the city, I could actually visualize almost all the roads, malls and places they go through and it was a kind of movie running inside my head as the story progresses.

The characters are all almost real and you will have no issues in associating with any or one of them for sure. The best part of the whole book is what the author tells you to do right at the start – I totally liked that, you’ve got to read the book to know what I am talking about here. I wonder how and what would be the reaction of a typical American be – if in case they read this book, I am sure they will be furious to read this one. The way they have openly screwed and criticized the Americans, but somehow I do not disagree with all that after working in the US Consulting Industry for almost a decade and a half myself. It is another of his book which I will highly recommend to all and will rate it very high myself – not that it’s a best seller hence we have to but even otherwise – it makes up for a superb read. If you haven’t read it – I will say go ahead and pick it up. You should know what a generation of young Indians goes through while working in a call center - day in - day out for their foreign clients.

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