Sunday, November 21, 2004

Make me proud

I just got off a customer service call to SBC. I've been hearing about people getting someone in India on calling the customer service, but this was the first time I got connected to India. The support person I got was courteous and eager to help. Initially I couldn't place the accent, however there were tell-tale signs like excessive us of words like "ma'am", and "wonderful"; his asking me if he could use my first name; and then pronouncing it correctly. I've heard people say that men in India talk to women who call for support slightingly. I didn't find any trace of derision.

He solved my problem that just involved rebooting the router and modem. Before hanging up I had to ask where he was from. He said something complicated to the affect, "This is the international support for SBC and it is located in India." I wanted to ask him more about his personal experience, but refrained because I didn't want to get him in trouble. My knowledge of the atmosphere in call centers is limited to what I saw in the movie "Hyderabad Blues 2." He asked me if I would care to review the call. I said I was really happy from the support he provided and gave him 5 out of 5.

I think outsourcing is good for the Indian economy. And I don’t think it is as bad for the US. We buy American brand names in India so it only makes sense that they buy what we are better at. It works both ways. This is obviously a simplistic view since I don’t understand the economics of it all. Some Indians I talked to were happy that Bush won because Kerry alleged to pass laws to penalize companies for outsourcing.

At my previous job I really liked my company's CEO. He would come to my cubicle every other day and ask me about how I was doing. The way the way he cared about every employee was highly commendable. However, he lost my respect the day I heard him say that Indians were rude on support calls. I also lost interest in the job and soon got laid off.

I tend to get defensive when anyone says something bad about India. I try not to take offense at some comments that are a result of plain ignorance. I find it funny when people ask me how to make Indian curry and they always get confused when say there is no such thing as Indian curry. I get irritiated when people (Indian or American) use phrases like - "so how's you parking karma  ?" My understanding of karma  is that it is your dharma  to do good deeds or karma  to achieve moksha . I wonder how it applies to something as mundane as parking. If you yield to pedestrians and other cars, you accrue good parking karma  and are blessed with parking spots?

I wish I was cool about it like my dad. When faced with questions such as whether we traveled on elephants in India, he nonchalantly responds "of course, and when I want to talk to someone we both climb on poles and shout to each other."

I felt sorry for the people working in call centers on reading an article about how they have to work during Diwali. I, myself, was stuck at work in the evening on Diwali. I kept getting production issues to solve. It was really frustrating and I just walked out at 7 pm. I was still late for the Diwali potluck we had arranged. My contribution was raita (main course was delegated to the married ones) which I quickly made while everyone was drinking. We started with games like Taboo, and as people got drunk we switched to gambling, in keeping with tradition. We played blackjack and poker in which I broke even. I must have earned good gambling karma  last year.

The more I read ur blog the more I feel that my thinking is almost the same as urs. I hate some American Desis who bad mouth about India to their American counterparts. Good that u r still Indian!!
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