Hindi Medium Not Allowed

Hindi Medium Not Allowed

A Story by Avinash

“Man! Your word power is better than most of our managers here, you should try working in a call center, all you need is to little bit work on your accent”..Salman spoke like a counselor after a long silence.

“But BPO’s have no Career”..I  had told the same thing to my girlfriend when she wanted to take my help in preparing a presentation on “Career in Business Process Outsourcing”.

“Anyways you are unlikely to get your salary as you did not meet your sales target, you better start looking for another job”.Salman passed on the cigarette and switched on the engine of his Pulsar 185cc bike.

He dropped me near Paradise Circle from there I took the bus to my place. This was my second job in last three months which could not get me a single rupee in the end.

Thanks to the money I had borrowed from my childhood friends I could still manage Gold Flake Cigarette thrice a day.  There was no hope of any SOS  from home as well “ You completed your education, now go on your own”….those were the words from my last conversation with my elder brother.

Next morning I woke up before anybody else and started for Somajhiguda, where the company was located. I had tailored a resume which had chucked out all elements of my long term interests like, Cancer Research, DNA Modeling and anything which would have showcased me anything less than an epitome of mediocrity.

After a long wait, my turn came and the person who was taking my interview appeared to have an unusual accent. Although I answered well but I was feeling uneasy in the company of differently sounding people and wrong colored hair . No matter how much you twist your tongue or how blonde you color your hair the fact is you are going to remain an Indian.

Cleared first round, then second and then third.  I never thought a person who could not speak a line of English 3 yrs back will end up in a place where he will have to interact only with Americans. At 8pm I was waiting to receive my offer letter. I was joined by an extremely gorgeous girl from Kerala, Gayatri, who too was waiting for the same reason. Despite her traditional cloths and small Sandal mark on her neck, I could vouch she had every bit of spunk. “Are you from North?”She asked ..I answered..”yes I am , how did you know”?..” Some of your  words go flat”..it was easy for her to guess my background as

her boyfriend also happened to be from the same part of the country.

Next day our training was to start or whatever that was.

It was August of 2008.

“So what is the most commonly heard term in  the business section of every news paper these days?”

The thin guy in a slick blazer was trying to sound as smooth as possible.

“Recession” I murmured and nobody else answered.

“Recession” he echoed that in quite loud voice and Gayatri smiled at me “ you seem to be bright”.

Then he went on length to explain how it will effect the BPO industry and since we are not a captive BPO we will sail the waters smoothly. Economics always made me yawn and that is what exactly I was doing for last couple of minutes. Then just to keep myself awake me and Gayatri started exchanging notes which he soon noticed and shouted “ What makes you pass on the notes when the director of the company is addressing you?”.  I had already made my first impression.

 

 

Next day our voice and accent training started with everyone formally introducing themselves. I could guess I was surrounded by outlaws, junkies, divorcees, potential cross dressers, frauds, beside others and then there was Babu. When we met over the lunch break we started sharing little bit of personal lives  as well like whether they are married or are in a relationship, that is when Babu got excited and threw the bomb when he quite proudly declared “ I am not married but I have had sex with a married woman”.

Well there were many to come. Another one was a Goldfinger lookalike who used to speak and walk in slow motion. He boasted that he is a millionaire businessman who exports Basmati rice all over the world and just to have a feel of professional life he has joined this BPO. He  mocked everyone who appeared inferior to him or did not make allegiance to his supremacy. I somehow got a hold on his passport by accident and flipped the pages. There was seal of only one country “ UAE”.

Obviously everyone was trying to hit on Gayatri from every corner and it was her good luck that she soon fell sick and stopped coming to training. And I felt happy when she came back with a news that she has got a Biotech job of interest in Bangalore. I was sad as well.

Now the real training started, about how to open your mouth, how to roll your tongue and how to speak with a puff. One guy Aslam’s mouth remained stuck open when the trainer asked him to put his four fingers there. I was already disgusted.

We had to do a role play on one occasion and I acted as Mad Daemon and for the first time my accent  impressed others as I could act much better than them. But when it came to speak on my behalf I turned out to be a very difficult animal to train.

I could not clear my first training along with another girl called, Rakshita both of us were the only ones straight out of college. Those all who passed already had spent considerable amount of time in similar kind of jobs. When Rakshita  came out of the meeting room she had tears in her eyes. I soon came to know that we both would be put into retraining with another group with less experience. That evening while we were  returning from office, she took my hands in hers and put her head on my shoulder and said she has a boyfriend who lives in Singapore and she misses him a lot . I was not feeling bad at all now in the company of a beautiful dusky southern girl who was showering all amorous niceties  to me. Only 3% of Mammals are known to be monogamous and I did not want to disagree with that statement and specially at that moment.

She stayed close to me for the rest of the retraining , so much so everybody started thinking that we were having an affair until she was introduced to guys who appeared more handsome and fun to her. But we both cleared the training this time. She hugged me “ without you I could not have cleared this”……I deserved at least a kiss..

Anyways our on call training started where we had to buddy up with top performers. There came Aslam Bhai, who was known for his bad mood. He warned me on the very first day “ If any of the Americans ask you to repeat your sentence I will throw you off the 7th Floor”. He had serious doubt on my non-BPO accent, but during this buddy up period none of them asked me to repeat my sentence and I  was not pushed off the 7th Floor. When I got my first salary of 5200, he asked me for a fruit and nut chocolate as Guru Dakshina but refused to take it when he came to know of the amount which I had received as salary. He was a good Muslim, who liked to train new hires so that he can put them on call in his place and he can offer Namaz on time.

I scored the highest among my batch and we were separated to different teams. Everyone was asked to choose a pseudo name. I chose Daniel after the late father of my girl friend.

We were supporting accounts and billing section of a leading Cable TV Network as customer service agents.

Next day I was on Floor and was being introduced to my new Team, Prashanth was the manager, his wife was a software engineer and was in US on an on site assignment.

Amit a friendly guy, the only person who appeared different from rest of not so bright team mates. Most of them seemed to be on the other side of the law. Serious flirting and purposefully made body contacts did not meet any objection.

My mental count down had already begun, and I started showing signs of frustration and disregard for the place and work. A girl who did not mind to be with anybody or everybody once asked..How do I look? “ Anybody can do and say anything to you. How does my opinion matter?” She cried in front of one of her suitors and one of them came looking for me . But the real confrontation happened in the cafeteria. But I did not apologize and remained firm on my opinion.

Soon I was most disliked outcaste but that did not effect my performance. My call metrics were on top except for the tone. They said I sound rude and sad. I could not deceive my soul for the work I was doing. I did not take leaves, even when I had strep throat “ This guy Sounds like Dumbshit”..once an African American lady exclaimed.

But the angst and rage of  Americans were quite obvious from their tones.

“ I wish Pakistan nukes India and you all are gone. You are stealing our jobs.”

“I know you are hiding in a bunker, somewhere  in an Indian slum, I will fly down there and will chop off your head”.

Profanities were like honey to ears, but I took them as payback for bad academics.

But things started to turn serious when one day a lady called to cancel her mothers account, “ But you are not allowed to cancel your mothers account as per company policy”..I was just reading a script… “ Please try to understand” I could hear a sob “ How the f**k you will understand that she committed suicide last night after loosing her job, may be her job went to you”.

I could feel the recession injected into my veins.

8 Months passed.

As per the pay term my salary was set to get double after 9 months as I was one of the best performers and used to get a lot of appreciations from the clients. On one such occasion the manager was so moved that he announced the appreciation I received over the central announcement system.

The next day I reached office at 5 PM. I was told there is problem with my ID. By that time my other colleagues had already started taking calls. I was just staring at my own reflection in the smoked glasses of the office.

Finally Prashanth asked me to meet senior manager Thomas. I went inside meeting room, the air condition was at much lower temperature than the rest of the building.

In some fifteen minutes, Thomas barged in, he was an anglo Indian, who had earlier worked for IBM. I had high opinions about him but we had rarely interacted.

“Well! Avinash, you know when a bullet hits your leg and the poison is spreading you have to cut that leg” He appeared pensive. Till now I was clueless.

“We have to let you go, it is a very hard decision, you were kind of pulling down rest of the team members, so you have to go.”

“ How things will appear on my profile?”…The first sentence I uttered since I entered this room.

“ We will mention that you are leaving because of personal reasons”. Thomas was not looking in my direction.

I gazed through the glassed wall at my other colleagues who were busy taking calls like any other day , one of them had just become a father. And everyday he used to pray to god before starting his work.

“ Well it is perfectly fine if I have to go, but if things happen to those who are running a family and have responsibilites, they should be given a fair chance to proove themselves.”

His expressions were confused. “Anyways I wont waste your time, please tell me where I have to submit my ID.”

He shook my hand "all the best for future”..I doubted sincerity of his words.

I came down to the ground floor, submitted my ID. While coming out the security guard stopped me saying as I do not have access I had to go out from the same area where people come for interview.

While passing through the HR corridor a notice caught my attention “Walk in -Hindi medium not allowed” I had missed this board the first time I had come here for the interview.


I found it as the only valid reason to be fired and a wry smile appeared on my face.

It was April of 2009 and I was one of the first in the list of 300 who were laid off that day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2013 Avinash


Author's Note

Avinash
A person Educated in Hindi medium /State language has reduced chances of employment as it is considered to be an inferior language despite being given status of " Official Language of India"

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Reviews

I have many impressions from this. Sadly, most are sorrowed impressions. I can not believe such a flowing, beautiful language as Hindi is frowned upon, that really shocked me. To me, it is a language of soft tones and beauty, I have always thought that. Your experiences shall no doubt be remembered for a lifetime and it shows the corporate scheme of things. The sign - well - selective processes exist in every culture...for each culture there becomes a division and not usually by the common man but the powers that be, a form of damn control, a ranking of sorts, pitiful. Though times were hard you seem to have held on to your usual light, my darling, and proved you can remain who you are through challenging times and until someone sees your spark. This educates as well as shows life at its most real...society dealt with by division for mass spent money. Damn it...how many lights are dimmed by such, it is unbelievable but I am glad you had some comfort in certain moments throughout and rise you surely have. Despite all those who said you would never or could not...yes...you rose ♥

Posted 5 Years Ago


Avinash

5 Years Ago

Your review brought one the most profound smiles on my face.
This comment has been deleted by the poster.
Ruth

5 Years Ago

Good...hang on to it...you have earned and own it xx
Sorry it is like this.. And being the official language, It's hard to believe it is considered inferior. But, hopefully things will be better soon, and Hindi medium will be accepted. It honestly makes no sense for it not to be.

Posted 6 Years Ago


I am beyond impressed by this story, not only because its quality, but the because the voice is genuine and raw. I also love how (without overtly saying so) it demonstrates the ever growing problems of Globalization and Capitalism. It also shows how racism affects not only individuals but entire communities and economies as a whole.

Posted 6 Years Ago


Avinash

6 Years Ago

Thanks for reading and penning your thoughts. It was an attempt to capture the times we live in .read more
I like the story. Sorry that happens or happened...I guess business is run in English medium...:)......

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Avinash

6 Years Ago

But China is proving it wrong :)
Sami Khalil

6 Years Ago

OK. You are welcome...:).................
This was well written and a good story. Some of the best telephone experiences I have had were with Indian people who had charming accents and were delightfully helpful..
I don't know exactly what the phrase"Hindi Medium" means and don't know why it would be a reason for fireing you.

Posted 6 Years Ago


Avinash

6 Years Ago

Thanks Marie. Hindi is national language of india but is looked down upon
Avinash

6 Years Ago

There are two type of education which people receive here one in English medium and another in Hindi.. read more
Very nyc story.. almost like a novel. And d title itself compels u 2 read. Also it hs an Indian rather South Indian feel 2 it. D part u described indians & firangs confused me of my own identity:-P:-D And d ending is d best. Very gud.

Posted 6 Years Ago



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Added on December 5, 2013
Last Updated on December 8, 2013

Author

Avinash
Avinash

Bangalore, Karnataka, India



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