“To…..my one particular ex-boss. My life when I was working for him was living hell, and was probably the worst phase of my life. I used to wonder why this is happening to me. Now I know. Without that experience I could not have done this book. Thank you Mr.Ex-boss for making me suffer.”
This appears in the acknowledgements page of the book and from then on I was hooked. Having had my share of bad bosses I knew I would surely relate to a guy who suffered with one.
The book begins in a novel fashion. The author meets an absolutely stunning lady in a train journey. She says she could tell him a story if he promises to make it his next book and he should narrate it in first person, as one of the characters in the story. Of the six protagonist of the story (three guys and three girls), the author chooses to narrate it through the eyes of Shyam because he says, “I found him the most similar to me as a person”
As I read the story, I felt in many ways Shyam could have been me, especially in his complete lack of assertiveness. He lets his mean and stupid boss walk all over him. The rest of the characters include Vroom, who hates his job but does it only because it is good money. Military Uncle, an old man who fell out with his son and does this job for sustenance. The very beautiful Esha who aspires to become a model. Priyanka, who is Shyam’s ex-girlfriend and has a very dominating mother, Radhika who married the man she loved but also got a bad mother-in-law in the bargain.
The whole story takes place on one memorable night at their call center in India. Since their customers are based in the US, these call centers operate during the night. The job pays well, but is rather mind-numbing. You are required to read out the responses from a pre-written script. Even your name is changed to something which Americans can pronounce easily.
This call center is in the verge of getting down sized. The bad boss takes the credit for work done by his subordinates and gets himself placed in Boston while more that 40% of the employees are going to be fired. At this juncture, they get a call from god. No, that was not a typo, they get a call from GOD. He helps them introspect and discover what they really want in life. The rest of the story is how they save the call center and get even with their nasty boss.
The solutions are rather simplistic. Made me wonder if it is really a book for grown-ups. Maybe it is reflective of the generation whose story the book tells. People who have been rudely shoved from their Mills & Boons and thrust into a larger than life adult world. You can see some of those confusions in the characters of the book. Like, Priyanka who is upset that her fiancé hid the fact that he was bald but seems to have no qualms about the affair she had with Shyam. Esha, who sleeps with an agent who promises a modeling contract in exchange.
There is an interesting twist at the end of the book. Remember the stunning lady in the train who is narrating this story to the author. It turns out to be none other then……………… no, you guessed it wrong. On second thoughts, I should not break this to you. Read the book 🙂
There is so much of Chetan Bhagat in Shyam and at the end of it all you come to like him. He is an OK writer, but appears to be a reeeeeally cool guy.