A call centre in India is the perfect vantage point from which to view life in Britain today.
Mrs V P K Singh, who has been taking calls in Bangalore for many years, has passed on this scholarly and insightful article about the UK:
The first thing that strikes one on visiting Britain is the sheer vibrant energy and colour on the teeming streets of her cities. Everywhere you look, the crowds are rushing hither and thither with packages. They are all going to the post office to return the unsuitable goods they ordered by phone from the mail-order companies. The packages are like large padded envelopes and those who carry them are called “Jiffy wallahs”.
Sacred cars wander about the streets at will and the people are so devoted to these cars that they pay large sums of money every year in the belief that this will prevent evil befalling them.
Britain is a land of contrasts where the old rubs shoulders with the new. Although it is advanced in many ways, it still has not shaken off the old caste system. There are still the untouchables who have no star button on their telephone and therefore no chance of making progress in life.
When making a telephone call, the British make a point of mentioning their caste, so, for example, they will begin a conversation with the word “high” – sometimes represented as “hi”. Members of the higher castes can be identified by their customer reference numbers.
Although there is great poverty and hardship, the people have an impressive dignity. Even those who may have to subsist on as little as 300 catalogues a year accept their lot with a calm resignation. This is based on their strong belief that they always have a number of options; there is always a choice of buttons to press. In Britain, however lowly a man may be, he knows his call is important to somebody.
When a girl reaches the age of 18 it is not uncommon for her parents to arrange car insurance for her with a company she has never met. This even happens with members of the educated classes. In most cases, the girl obeys without protest and dutifully takes on this lifetime commitment to premiums.
One is always aware of the strong spiritual element in British life. The numerous religions are a vital part of the culture. Everywhere you see the holy men who somehow manage to perform incredible feats of endurance, such as hanging on the telephone for as long as 40 minutes, listening to the ringing tone.
The basis of most religions is the notion that, in our life on this earth, we are “held in a queue”, but if we are patient and stoical, sooner or later a “representative” will be with us – probably in an afterlife.
Worshippers of the cruel and unforgiving god Vivaldi believe that in our lives all our calls may be recorded, then after our death – or expiry date, as it is known – these calls will be used to train future generations, so that, in a very real sense, we achieve immortality.
To me, one of the most attractive religions of that country is the one which says you may do whatever you please in this life because, whenever you choose to, you can have all your sins consolidated on one card and they will be gradually forgiven.
So this is Britain, with its centuries-old traditions, where the months and seasons are still measured out in direct debits, where families are held together by their respect for the household insurance premium, where every moment is “a particularly busy time”, where customs are valued and the ordinary people have a simple faith in 0800 and a fatalistic acceptance of the customer reference number that life has dealt them.
I am now going to read this back to you to see that everything is correct.
Now, is there anything else I can help you with today?