“Hey, there’s a call from Gordon Shenoy from Loan Origination Team. Please attend ASAP.”, Gauri said this to me on my cell @ almost 23:00. I was on my way to my desk, from 4th floor of this peaceful-looking-glassy-structure. Had moved almost 2 floor downstairs towards my desk. And the call from Gauri started my journey upwards again. Had reached 4th Floor into the Loan Origination Team. Enquired for Gordon and Originators said there is no one Gordon on this side of Floor. I was asked to check on the otherside of the floor, which was just the other side of the glass pane. Move out of the door, enter the other door and enquire for Gordon. The Originators just keep watching at everyone’s faces around and keep asking, “who is Gordon.?” As I move 3 aisles northwards and enquire for Gordon, the originators point me to a huge-man-justifying-the-name-Gordon.
I was behind him and found him on Phone with a prospect, who would close a deal with him for a Mortgage. Almost 5 minutes passed and Gordon finishes his call. Turns to face the IT Engineer, who was waiting for him and not-making-a-noise-silently-exclaims, “Jayant, good to see you here.” We exchanged pleasantaries and I didn’t forget my job, after meeting an well-known-person. He had some issues with his mailbox and I fixed that. “See ya someday.!” were my words as I moved back to my desk.
I was on 4th job of my work career in less than 3 years @ Adventity BPO India Pvt. Ltd. Employed by a man-power company, I was representing Wipro @ Adventity. We were a team of probably 10 engineers. Gauri was a sort of Team-Lead cum Analyst for our role. It was a BPO cum KPO that used to run all-round-the-clock. Mornings start with Domestic Processes and evenings start with International Processes. We had the flexibility of working in rotating shifts – 7:00 to 16:00, 14:00 to 23:00, 22:00 to 7:00. Pickup a moment and almost 1800 employees are working in the entire building. It was time for me to rest for about 30 minutes @ 5 30 am when most of the Mortgage Process Employees wrap up their day. Some celebrate, some regret about losing a sale – but they just move on towards their so-called-good-night-moment.
Gordon was passing by the reception, when he saw me relaxing with a newspaper. He stopped by and asked, “wanna join me as am walking back to my home.?” Bored after a heavy working day, asked him to wait for a moment while I relieve myself from the shift by clicking the Out-Time button on the Employee Portal of Wipro. Rushed back to the reception, Gordon was waiting for me. We both walked towards the Security Post, which was almost 10 metres away from Main Building. We are thoroughly checked by the Security Officers, including those Detectors passing by your Body.
As we stepped out of the Security Posts, Gordon says,”kaisa hai yaar, we are meeting after a long time.!” I confirmed myself that Gordon Shenoy is back now to Govindraj Shenoy. The Loan-Originator’s Job gives you a good incentive as well as a cool-looking-pseudo-name, since you have to deal with the Americans. Swami becomes Sean, Amarjeet-Kaur becomes Alice, Vinod becomes Vincent and Dinesh becomes Donald. Govindraj was staying at Almedia Road in Thane West with his family of mom, dad and a elder sister. Almedia Road is a 15 minute walk from my Place. And Almedia Road is a 30 minute walk from our workplace. As we walked towards the Home, we started talking about various things about Thane. We separated at Almedia Road and exchanged a good-bye script. I started my journey back towards my Home thinking about Govindraj.
I had met him first in 2004 and today it is 2006 – September. Went back to my initial days when I was hunting for my first job. It was May 2004, and I was done with my mechie-exams. While waiting for my results, I got a thought of earning some quick bucks. BPOs and Call-Centres were a booming thing in those days. And I too looked for a similar job. Hunting through the newspapers was my routine. I wanted to know where such call-centres are available to join and start earning the so-called-moolah. I never got any clue where a call-centre was. Suddenly a known-person helped me with an address and asked me to appear for an interview. He asked me to carry a copy of resume and mention his name on top Right Corner. He gave me a general idea of what the business is and what are the work timings. I was shocked to know that I have to start my day @ 02:00 am and remain on till 11:00 am. My parents were not so open to this shift, neither was me. How can my first job be of such a weird-graveyard-shift? That known one pushed me a bit more with his list of Pros and trying to fight the Cons I had on my mind. Finally I made up my mind, I would appear this interview since I had no obligation of joining them if I was selected. Let’s see what their selection criteria is. I even had a curiosity of what a call-centre would be.
I was provided with an address to Wipro Spectramind, in Hiranandani Gardens – Powai. Hiranandani Gardens is like a heaven in the city. You get the feeling heritage-London Towers as soon as you enter this residential-cum-commercial township. One of the costliest-project of Mumbai. Till date, you fall in a different category if you own a apartment in Hiranandani Gardens. I was advised to reach there by 09:00 am. Selected a fine day, to start my journey to Wipro Spectramind with all sorts of Documents – 3-4 copies of my resume, a set of all original documents (birth certificate, academic certificates, me photographs etc.) And their photocopies. I didn’t want to miss this opportunity if I was selected. Reached by 08:30 am to Pizza Hut – one of the finest pizzeria, which marks the start of Hiranandani Gardens. Had to enquire for Spectramind, and surprisingly no one knew. People suggested me to keep walking further and enquire again. I got another thought, this seems to be a terrorist-like-business, done with high security and in an unknown place. Assumed, probably that’s the reason why they want us to work in Night. I moved further and could feel the greatness of the London-like-township. As I walked, I passed by those new names – Valencia, Evita, Tivoli… Reached the one and only mall of Hiranandani Gardens – Galleria. It’s not a mall technically, but almost all of your home-needs to food-court is available there. Found some of those BPOites – with the regular “cutting-chai” and “sutta”. I now think, BPOites can be easily identified. Their typical Jeanswear, the long or short goatee, some even have the piercings or those chunky accessories or wristbands. Most of them are found with “suttas” – the typical word used for cigarettes all over the Mumbai. Non-smokers may be found, very rare, with a “cutting chai” and bouncing their identity cards as it was an yo-yo. Bouncing their identity cards probably shows aggression that one has against his day / process / company he works for.
I enquired them for Wipro Spectramind and they says it just the next lane’s corner – above Dmart Store. I could locate that easily. I was happy to see a lot of Wiproites around with the “sutta” between 2 fingers and “cutting chai”. Completed the formalities at the security post and proceeded towards the elevator to reach 4th floor. I thought I was lucky to not to carry any CD or Floppies as they were not allowed in those premises as per some ISO norms. Reach the 4th floor, come out of the elevator and there I see a big glass path with name embossed on it in those colors – Wipro Spectramind. The Wipro security does its own round of checks and guides you to main reception where others are waiting for their Hosts. I was made to wear those yo-yo like Visitor Pass. You feel like an employee of that firm, at least for a moment. You recollect, you are still a visitor, when you read the contents – Dos and Don’ts on the pass. We were about 6, waiting on reception. Sitting on the super-soft-sofa and watching the happenings there. Employees were coming in and moving out, swiping their yo-yo-like-cards to register in-time and out-time. Some were moving out with coffee-in-paper-cups for a break. No one was seen speaking in a language, other than English. I had to note each actions minutely, coz I had a thought – “I will have to behave the same way as soon as am an employee of this BPO.”
We were 4 boys and 2 girls. All seemed to be a newbie, except for one gal – who seemed to be highly experienced in the BPO industry. I had to observe her as well, after all I was going to be an employee of this company. Whatt-e-confidence she had. Each move was so sharp. Despite of high heels, there was very less noise of the heels tapping on the ceramic floor. No fumbling while walking. Had the so called right-American-attitude. She opened this big handbag (might be filled with millions of non-sense stuffs) and pulled out the plastic folder of documents. I had to look back shyly at myself. I was holding a 2 page resume, stapled at top-left-corner and no plastic folder to hold it. Was sitting next to this heavy-boi. No idea who he was. I wasn’t ready to talk to anyone, unless they strike a conversation. Peeped into his resume, and found he had a better one than me – had highlighting with various shades of black at various points, lot of styling in terms of Italics, Bold etc. Again had a look at my resume, felt it inferior for a couple of moments. Struck to my mind, believe in yourself – I then found my resume the best. Had to boost up my confidence up to that girl – after all I have to work in that company daily and interact with them and match up to their wavelength.
There comes a lady by almost 09:30 asking, “who all are here for first time?” As soon as she walked up on reception, the first thought struck was, she walked into office at almost 09:10 am. Did she take so much time to refresh herself and start with her responsibilities? We all raised hands. We all were asked to submit our resume and to follow her to a conference room. Her confidence was also equally good when compared with that girl on reception – waiting for her interview. We entered the Conference Room and everyone’s face was a bit illuminated with mild smiles. That’s when we exchanged smiles for the first time. Technically calculating 6 candidates giving smiles to other 5, that makes it to 30 smiles exchanged in one minute. We were asked to sip-in water, if wanted, and be prepared for the various rounds we had to face in coming 2 hours. There started by her. The first question was – how many of you are open to night shift? We all nodded yes. There comes the second question – how many of you are post graduates? There was one girl and one boy. I had nothing to raise hand for. Third question – how many of you are not graduates.? I finally got a chance to raise my hand, and it was me alone. There was the boomerang hurled on my sky-high-dreams. “I am sorry, but you will have to leave since we need minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree. You may try next time.”, were the next words from the lady. I had to pick up my stuff and move out saying a good-bye. Moved to security post, handed over the yo-yo-like-visitor-pass. Moved out of the Spectra Building.
Reached on the ground level, had a look here and there. The place was seemingly very nice. But, what next.? High hopes of getting a job in a call-centre / BPO got crashed. Was thinking about an alternative. Checked here and there but couldn’t find anything hope. Walked a bit ahead and approached some more “sutta”+”cutting” wallah guys. Asked one of them – “do you know any call centres here?” They had a looked at me and asked how about Wipro Spectramind? I had to say – “am rejected because of less qualification.!” They asked me to go straight on the High Street and enter the last building – “Zenta is another option if you wanna give a try.?” I had no other option, started moving to High Street. I didn’t want to go fast and sweat more – it was already May.
Ended up reaching to the building and had to pass through all the same formalities of Security. This time I found about 50 people waiting – a combination of boys and girls. Luckily the front row of chairs, in waiting room, were empty. Pulled a chair and tried to adjust myself. Just a minute had passed and there came a lady, “who all are here for the first time?” I had to raise my hand. She took away my resume and asked me to keep waiting. Back in five minutes, she asked any 10 to follow her. I didn’t want to lose the opportunity and didn’t want to waste time. I too moved with few of them. Entered the Conference Room. She collected everyone’s resume and was giving a moment at everyone’s qualification. She again pointed out to me – “you aren’t a graduate?” I had to say a NO. She says, “we actually are looking out for graduates in first place.” It striked to me and I replied back – “what if I have abilities that of an graduate.?” She didn’t argue much and asked us again to sip-in water, if required and be prepared for the various rounds. She started, “hi everyone, hope you are not nervous today. Let’s start with the first round where you will be given a topic. Think patiently about 5 minutes and each one of you will be required to speak for at least 2 minutes, excluding your introduction. Ready.?” Everyone was still watching everyone’s face. No smiles exchanged this time. Reluctantly everyone said YES. “Good. So your topic for the day is, If I would die tomorrow…”. I was already dead. I never expected such a weird topic to be presented when you are interviewed for the job. Everyone started introducing themselves and speaking about the topic. It was finally my round. I introduced myself and when I was asked to start the presentation, I turned back to that lady and replied, “I can’t think that I would die tomorrow. I don’t wanna die so early. I wouldn’t speak on this.” She had to say, “it’s okay.!” with a smile. And we were then waiting for the results. She declared that everyone was rejected since she didn’t find what she was looking for. All moved out.
I was again walking down the High Street with no offer letter. Found a coin-box and called up home to inform my momma, am rejected everywhere and am coming back to home. Just wanted to ensure lunch is ready for me when I reach home. As soon as I was approaching the Dmart Store, I saw that heavy-boi. He too was walking. Passed by him and he said, “hi, you are still here? U left Wipro office almost by 10 am.?” I replied back, “had been to Zenta and got rejected there as well. By the way, congratulations. You got selected at Wipro.” He says, “no I am not. Got rejected at third round. So walking down back to home. Not in a mood to attend any other interviews for now.” I asked him where does he stay and he said Thane. And I got a small feeling in my mind – you have a company to keep yaaking-yaaking till Thane. Or may be learn some more tricks for BPO industry from him? He himself mentioned that he wants to walk till Kanjur Marg station instead of public transport. He just took away my words. While walking, he asked me for my name. “Jayant Khona, how about your’s?” “Govindraj.” This much was enough to start the yaaking-yaaking…. We soon reached to Kanjur Marg station and were waiting for the train. There came the train and somehow we got separated while boarding the train. I tried to search a bit for him, but no success. Had to travel all the time watching others. Got down at Thane and while I was walking on Platform No. 1 from Last Boggie of the train to exit of station, which was located towards the first Boggie of the train. He tapped on my shoulder, “we got separated when the man pushed me aside to get into the train.” I always walk to my home from the Railway station. As we were approaching towards the exit, I recollected – I have to learn some more BPO tricks from him. Turned to him and asked, “so what’s next.? Where are you planning to give an interview.?” He says, “no plans so far. Though u can keep my cell number and we can be in touch.” I quickly pulled out a bus ticket from my Pocket, and asked for a pen which was quickly accessible in the pocket of his shirt. Noted his number and he said goodbye as he had to go to other side in an auto. I walked back home, lunch was ready, exchanged my story to mom n dad n sis. No one was depressed with my rejections and momma says, “you got an experience to learn something more.” I too agreed to this.
We never met after this date and I never called up on his cell. And today we met for the second time. It was the start of the month and I was deputed for the 22:00-07:00 shift for the entire month. It became almost a regular activity to walk towards home with him. Some days were an exception though, as I had to wait for my reporting stuffs or issues discussions with my team and managers. End of the month, I was transferred to 09:00 to 17:00 shift, which normally ends at 18:30.. 😉 I had no track of Gordon, a.k.a. Govindraj Shenoy. After a couple of months when I was back in the graveyard shift, I realized that he is no more working here. He left the Loan Origination process and the BPO as well. Wasn’t a depressing moment for me as I strongly believe, people keep moving ahead in life and you have to keep adjusting yourself with new ones that start digging a place for you in their heart and brains. I too moved ahead from there and left the Wipro Job to join as an IBM Representative for a bigger brand – ABN AMRO N.V.
My work place now changed from Thane to Lower Parel in May 2007. The-Mumbai-Local became my one and only vehicle to commute to office. Though I still had to work in different shifts. On one such evening, I was moving back to my home after completing 14:00-23:00 shift in the-Mumbai-Local. I was about to get down the Train on Thane Station, when I spotted this hefty-boi also waiting to
get off the Train. Though it was almost 00:45, he spotted me clearly and said, “kaisa hai.? Good to see you after a long time.” and I replied back, “Yes Govind, it’s a real longtime since we last met. No one knew when you moved out of Mortgage Loans Origination. What’s happening with you these days?” and he says that he has got back to his core-education. He was an Bachelor in Architect and has started a consultancy. on that very late hour of the day, I didn’t ask him more about the details as we both wanted to rush to our home. Let’s see when do I meet him next and more importantly how do we meet again..???