It was late at night that Kamli and Arihant bade goodbye to Hul and Meera, or ‘Rahul’ and Meera as the two now knew them as. They had had their dinner together and Meera had turned out to be a good cook apart from being a good homemaker. As the two sat on their auto ride back to M. Narayana Mansion, Arihant kept looking at Kamli as though he wanted to say something and the fact was not lost unto Kamli.
“What what, what?”
“Well Kamli, today had been perhaps a day we will both remember all our lives.”
“Yes, Rehan, we will.”
“Kamli, I find it strange but I have to tell you. I had gone to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Shillong a few days before our exams.”
“Well, I had asked God for something and I find it strange that we are now in Bangalore, which is a part of what I asked for.”
“So you asked for that? God, please take me to Bangalore...hehehe.”
“No, you fool, I asked for change, I asked that my life becomes an adventure, that I get to live my dreams and now, I have a job and am in a large metro with a friend who is more a brother than a friend.”
“Hmmm...Rehan, I see, and then you had a dream of Mazda and the darkness eating into the light. Where is all this leading?”
“Kamli, do you believe in ‘purpose’?
“Yes, for example, we are on this auto and if you think about it, our ride on this auto is just that...a present moment in an auto where we sit and talk, but we have a purpose. Our purpose is reaching home, which for the moment is M. Narayana mansion. So the purpose of the auto ride is home, but then that was not home a month ago. Do you see, Kamli, do you see...how things are dynamic but almost every act of ours has a ‘purpose’.”
“Yes, you are right, but what are you getting at?”
“Kamli, my dream of the light and darkness, our getting a job here in Bangalore, what’s the purpose?”
“Something or someone wants us to stay in Bangalore, is that what you want to say?”
“Yes, also if that someone wants us to stay in Bangalore, what is the purpose...?”
Their conversation was broken in between as the auto had reached M. Narayana.
“We are here, sir.” The auto driver knew his bit of English and had probably heard Kamli and Arihant talking and so had chosen to reply in the language which is common parlance for most educated Indians. Come to think of it, every region in this country has its own language and with the geographical diversity of this vast mass of land called India, every region wants to hold on to its own language, its own culture. English is a foreign language, but it solves one issue that crops up with every Indian who has their native tongue. It doesn’t impose another region’s language. To understand this, more people are happy speaking a foreign tongue because it doesn’t impose the superiority of a neighbouring region, or a region that is in the mainland; because it has been seen in history that the first step of attacking a kingdom in the past, had always been to change the language. Language had always been the first frontier. Thus, people or, the educated class consider English ineffective as a means of attack upon their own culture and language as it is spoken by a majority of the educated world. Thus, people in Assam would be happier speaking English than Bengali, if given a choice where Assamese doesn’t come into the equation. Similarly, a Tamil would rather adopt English than Hindi. It is not that they have anything against Bengali or Hindi, both beautiful languages on their own, but the simple reason that English is not imposed or supposed to be imposed since the days the English ruled most of the world is now in the distant past and all things ‘English’ are cemented in a small island yonder. It just makes things easier and thus, is preferred by all regions, unless you had a hidden motive to impose your own language.
“Sir, everything has a purpose...”
Hearing the auto driver speak about a topic the two of them had been having in supposed privacy surprised both Arihant and Kamli.
“Sometimes though, we never realise until it shows itself. My name is Ravi and I would be happy to be at your service should you need my auto as I live nearby and would come if called, if my auto is free.”
Arihant and Kamlesh looked at the auto driver as at someone they’d seen for the first time. Till then, he had been a brown shirt, but now they saw him with new eyes. He was portly, with a tummy that spoke of ample feeding. He had a moustache and glasses on his eyes, which gave the impression of education of some sort. Thus, the day had still not ended till then when they made yet another contact.
The two of them quickly kept their educational certificates and documents, including the offer letter in their almirah which had a lock and got ready to sleep after what had been a long day...
They would first be given a month’s V&A training as it was called, Voice & Accent training where they would be taught the American accent and the nitty gritties of business communication. They would be taught the American accent because both had been chosen for an American process called JPM-EFS or JP Morgan Electronic Financial Services which was a process that worked for the American bank JPMC or JP Morgan Chase. They didn’t have much knowledge of the process except that it was an inbound process and they would be receiving calls instead of making them. This sounded good to both of them and after a wait for a few days, the 1st of August dawned with Kamli making coffee for both of them. Kamli was superstitious to the fact that he would do things that worked the first time again if they had worked before, so like the morning of their interview, Kamli awoke first and made the coffee.
“What should we wear?”
“I looked at their dress code and we can wear casuals, Rehan.”
“That’s pretty cool isn’t it?
“Yes, but I think we should wear formals as it is our first day there.”
So, formals it was. Arihant decided to sport his best shirt, a dark blue Versace which looked formal without being too serious. He had managed to get the shirt in a sale for seized Customs goods and had got it at a bargain which he wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. Kamli wore the shirt he wore on the day of his interview, believing it would bring good luck again. Thus attired, the two made a journey to Convergys on an auto again. They entered the glass facade of Convergys to meet miss short skirt sitting on the same table at reception. This time, she smiled at them...
“Ah! So this is your first day, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is our first day and how have you been?” Volunteered Kamli, who, unknown to Arihant, had been thinking of her in solitude.
“I have been good, how have the two of you been?”
“Ah! Good. Please make your way to the training room, number 25 down the hall, but first let me grant you access.”
“Yes, we have these cards here which are given to every employee. You have to swipe them at different points in the building so that you will be granted access at different levels. We call them access cards and you will both be given yours soon.”
She led them to a door behind the reception desk and flashed a card tied to a blue string around her neck and the glass doors came unlocked. She proceeded to push them open and held on so that Kamli and Rehan followed. After which, the doors closed and they assumed that they were locked again. She led them to Room. 25 and they entered what would be their home for the next month during their V&A training.
“Your trainer will be here soon.”
In the room, Kamli and Arihant saw desks and seats evenly spaced out and on the wall facing the desks was a white sheet of what looked like paper but had to be tougher as on it was a picture of Convergys with the words; ‘WELCOME ON BOARD!” in a light that seemed to come out of a projector near the ceiling. The room had a rich look and the seats were comfortably cushioned.There were around fifteen other seats which were already occupied. So, they were the last to enter, but were lucky that the session had not started. After a wait that lasted a few minutes during which both Kamli and Rehan had managed to get seats adjacent to each other, the door opened.
The voice seemed to belong to a girl who was refreshingly beautiful, dressed in a short grey skirt and a coat which exemplified her assets. She was radiantly fair and had short hair cut in a style which complimented her face. Her eyes were brown, and as he looked at them, Arihant suddenly realised that she was the lady from the interview. The lady who had interviewed him and he came to terms with the fact that here he was sitting in a class facing a girl about whom he had had a lot of secret musings after their first meet.
“Welcome to Convergys and I will be your V&A trainer for the next month.”
Arihant was pleasantly surprised with emotions that bordered on euphoria at the fact that he would get to spend a month with his crush...”
“Let me first begin by letting you know that all of you have been selected for the same process, and it’s called JPMC or JPM-EFS as you have been already intimated. I will be your trainer for an initial period of a month after which you will be giving your tests and you have to clear them to be a part of the batch for the Process Training.”
Kamli and Arihant looked at each other and nodded, they were now in a corporate for real.
“I am Kanya. I mean that’s my name, my name is Kanya and that is how you will address me. No sirs and madams here in Convergys. That’s your first bit of knowledge. You will not call anyone by any title except by their first names. None of us have been knighted you see. Not yet anyway...”
That led to laugher and the whole batch lightened up at the fact that you were only supposed to call ‘knights’ by the title sir, which is ignored in our country and every senior or teacher is a ‘sir’ or a ‘madam’. Kanya then went on to distribute half a chart paper to each of the 17 trainees and they took it and kept it without knowing why.
“I want all of ya awl to fold the Chart papers in half and place them on your desks. But first, you will have to write your names on the front part of the paper in caps, so that anyone facing you can view them.”
They did as commanded and soon all the names were displayed in a manner that anyone facing them could read their names written on their chart papers by glancing at them. This struck Arihant as a very efficient manner of getting to know each trainee as remembering names is not very easy, especially 17 names. Thus, they themselves would know each other too, other than Kanya knowing their names just by looking at their charts kept at the front of their desks.
“Now that that’s done, let me tell you about your timings. You will report to work at 5:00pm every day. You all have been given American shifts so you will begin work at 5:00 which will go on till 2:00 am and you will all sign out at 2:00. Is that clear?”
It was naturally Kamli who had made the faux pas and when he saw everyone turn to look at him, he realised that he had made a big mistake...
“Oops, I am sorry! I meant, yes Kanya...”
Kanya seemed good natured and laughed out loud which relieved Kamli. She look at his chart and said; “That’s alright, Kamlesh.”
“Now, tell me where you are from, which college?”
“We are from St. Edmunds, Shillong!”
“Yes...me and my friend, Arihant!”
Arihant raised his hand to make his presence known and that was his first contact with Kanya, other than the interview, if you could count that as contact...
“I am Arihant, Kanya...”
Another day had just begun, promising a month of making new roads and building new bonds...