BPO and I

Survival of the fittest. A much quoted phrase by Herbert Spencer, which is erroneously attributed to Charles Darwin and blatantly used by Sir Rudyard Kipling, has become the maxim of the BPO industry. Business Process Outsourcing. An industry, which is the backbone of all the consumer oriented commodities. We all know about it.

This article is not to educate or vocally promote the BPO industry. God forbid! If I had that much brain and/or literary prowess, I would have become an author! It’s just an explanation about my presence in this field, which is highly incongruous to my basic expertise and the justification of my presence in the office day after tomorrow. I’m an Architect by qualification. I belong to the world of structures, sheer force, bending moments etc, which follow the laws laid by Newton and up to some extent, Pythagoras, Brahms and Schindler. The world of NPS and ACL is naturally as alien to me as chalk is to a mouse.

Being a repair architect, we experience a slack in business during monsoon. i.e. June to October. This is the time when you will find all the architects whooping around the town. For your regular architect a whoop consists of just a cup of coffee with low sugar or an occasional beer. My dad always called me a misfit. I was the only architect I know, who could really whoop it up! Anyway, in 2008, I was going through such a slack and decided to find a way to utilize my naturally over-fertile and now atrophied brain.

I was used to the wackiest of the jobs. From a tea shop attendant to a truck cleaner and then graduating to a professional photographer and then culminating to the exalted position of a structural designer and then blossoming to my dream job… Architect, licensed by the Council of Architecture, New Delhi. In accordance with The Indian Architect’s Act, 1972.

Like Huckleberry Finn, all the professions were same to me. After all, all I do is screw up! So, what does it matter anyway! Mark Twain would be proud of my goofiness!

I had some financial problems, so I decided to augment my income a bit and finalized to work in BPO industry. It was the easiest money possible. Apart from that, I also heard that BPO girls are like… You know what.! After all, in BPO everyone enjoys! Well, even I read a paperback copy of ‘A Night At A Call Center’! And, I knew that all BPO guys do is, work at night-which is actually nothing and they really enjoy it! Then they go for parties, which are always sponsored by the organization, etc. Well, one of my my friends worked in a BPO. Usually he used to come blind drunk at midnight. Eventually, he became a TL! With 36k salary! If he can make it, why can’t I! He also once got thrashed in a bar and got his jaw broken, but that’s besides the point. I decided to work in BPO industry for 6 months. They say that there’s nothing as permanent as a temporary arrangement. I, in my royal ignorance didn’t know this. I applied for a BPO. Which? Who knows! All were the same!

I went like a comet in my interview with Stream Global Services! I expected to be directly hired as a manager, based on my 10 year’s field experience. The HR manager, was unfit for his job and couldn’t evaluate talent when he saw. He hired me as a rookie and told that I have potentials. Ha! I knew that I will become a Team Manager in the first 6 months. Isn’t it normal? The industry, where only stupid kids work, which doesn’t even have a respectable standard… They would actually rejoice to find a real engineer amongst them! I was selected. I had to! I was hired as a Level One. I asked the HR. What’s a TL? She said Level Three. I smirked and told her. I’ll be L3 in 6 months. She looked at me reverently. Now I understand that what I thought reverence was actually pity. She was used to such crackpots, who were ready to conquer the world and came home because couldn’t find the right bus.

I went through the training, where most of the participants were half my age. Kids just out of college, eager to earn a quick buck in this lax and lazy industry. I was formally initiated into this industry by Ms. Jaya Abraham. A formidable woman with her memory tricks. Unfortunately, even I’m a fan of Larry O’rian and know what’s a memory trick. She tried to impress us by the theory of mnemonic and effectively tried to surprise us by asking our names and remembering it too. We were 80 something. She fooled everyone, but yours truly. I even know the Greek meaning of the word mnemonic! I know that she associated me with boxing because of my broken nose. Big deal! So, if she’s the best, who can stop me from being a big boss here?

Then I met Rajiv Mahna. An operations manager…. He shot a question at us newbies, with a poker face… ‘How many of you want to be TL in 6 months?’ I didn’t only raise my hand, but literally jumped. He smiled and explained us poor mortals the world of tenurity, IJP and how it’s literally impossible to be a TL before 6 years. Hogwash! He never knew Rakesh.

My first TL was Behram Lal. A kid of 20 something. I managed to impress him somehow and took my first call. Umm, I really would like to say that I was a whooping success etc, but let’s change the topic!

I learned it the hard way and concluded that Chetan Bhagat is a bastard, with due respect to his mother. No one goes to a disco when the tools are down! I just went for a tea break and my TL hauled me over coals!

I learned that punctuality is not only the politeness of princes, but also it affects your login hours. I learned the trick of cheating my managers, which I know that they deciphered, because even they were agent once. I spent one and a half years as L1 agent. No TL papers on horizon! But I learned discipline. I understood that any process is only as good as it’s leaders are. I was lucky. Just like my other vocations, I had the best teachers in market. Ah! My luck is my mistress! No one loves me like her! I couldn’t afford a tutor and have always had maestros for my continuous education. Till date.

Journeys have this beastly habit of continuation! Why the hell they want to continue? If I were a journey, I would stop at a certain point and call it a day. I mean, what really you want to prove? My journey, true to it’s beastly form, continued…

I found things about me, which were surprising! I was astonished that I’m still immature! The ruler Rakesh gave way to the subject.

I am a double graduate! Know about virtually everything! Am nothing? In this illuminating journey, I found many teachers. People, who invariably were younger than me and I was actually astonished at their acumen! Deepu, Roy, Gaurav, Gautam, Ganesh, Senthil, Sandy, Gulshan, Umesh, Guru, Hassan, Som… None of them older than me! I was humbled. I found that being an expert in one field doesn’t make you a legend in another. I was a fool!

I know. You still want to know if I became a TL. I did. Eventually. But, not in the first 6 months. It took a lot more. And a lot of hard work.

But I survived. Just because I’m fit? May be. May be I’m fit enough to learn. I was born as a student. I will die as a student. World is a great blackboard. The moving finger writes on. Having written, moves on. All your piety cannot lure it to cancel half a sentence, nor your tears can wash a single word of it.

Ah! I think that I understand it! Do I?

PS.. Am still searching for the bastard, who spread the rumor that BPO girls are loose. I have found them much fidel than the raw and brutal world.