Saturday, July 12, 2008

one night @ the call center : Chetan's version

Chetan Bhagat’s choice of contemporary topics in his novels is well known and in his second novel, One Night @ The Call Center, he explores the world of call centers in India. If Five Point Someone dealt about college going youth, this is about the professional class.

Gist of the story : Five people working at a call center and their struggle on that one night is the subject of the novel. Chetan’s tells the story as first person account by one of the 5 characters, Shyam. Characters he has chosen covers the different personalities – Shyam, who considers himself as a loser latest loss being his girl friend Priyanaka, Vroom, who dislikes his job but has no other way out, Radhika, a housewife, all the time worried about her mother-in-law’s nuisances, Esha, who dreams of becoming model someday, Priyanka, who does not get along with her mother well and Military Uncle, who has left his family. Connexions, the firm where they work is downsizing. Adding on to this is the office politics and their own problems. Now they have to face it all. After being briefed about prospects being fired, these people go to a lounge to relieve them of their tensions and while returning from there in Qualis they meet with an accident and this is the time when they receive a call from ‘God’. How do they survive after this, how they prevent themselves from being thrown out of Connexions and how do they find solutions to their own problems are best read in the book itself! This whole story is depicted as being told to Chetan by a girl in a train in which they are night @ the call center cover pageWhat’s hot: Book contains 38 chapters with 5 chapters dedicated to describing Shyam’s dates with Priyanka. These five chapters present the romantic angle of the story telling how love blooms and end for Shyam and Priyanka, which makes an interesting read. In this novel Chetan also tells the general public’s perception about call center professionals. Also told are the nuisances of call center training like American way of pronouncing same English letter differently depending on its position in the words and 35=10 rule, which says a thirty five year old American’s brain and IQ is the same as ten year old Indian’s mind. Vroom’s disgusting remarks about the ruling class in India may be echoed in every other Indian youth. Also, his frustrations also directed towards annoying American callers. Shyam’s struggle in his job and he who always caught in his manager Bakshi’s management theories represent the plight of many corporate employees.

What’s not: In the end, there is one part of the story where the call center agents call their American customers and say their systems are being attacked by viruses. To see find out whether the system is attacked by virus or not they are told to type = rand(200,99) in a blank MSWord file and press Enter. If lots of text is generated in the MS word file, they say it is a virus. Coming from a technical background and knowing that it is a bug in MSWord, I found this hard to digest. But, I see by 35=10 rule, this would be enough to create fears in the minds of Americans as Chetan proclaims.

It is a good read for the people who are in IT/ITES/BPO industry, as it represents the scenarios and minds of the employees in these industries very well and people usually like the books which they can relate to themselves quickly. If you are in IT/ITES/BPO industry and have not read the novel till now, it is time for you to pick up your copy.

Buy One Night at The Call Center here


  1. hey raveesh,

    u posting about a book which was released 3 years back :)

    I think ... the story is narrated by Shyam ... not by that girl in the train. She just gave idea to the author.

    Regarding the plot, I feel it was more a like Karan Johar movie ... and also with a little bit of supernatural stuffs which were hard to digest.

  2. Hi Shande,

    Thanks for the comments. Ya, 3 years after its release, that does not take away the charm from the book. Even there are readers who started reading the novel just now.

    Regarding narration, it is narrated by the girl in the train only - Page No.10 in the book says that. But Chetan tells us the story through Shyam. That is clear when I said "Chetan’s tells the story as first person account by one of the 5 characters, Shyam"




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