“Hi, My name is Kevin and I’m calling on behalf of Sprint Wireless. Your number has been selected to get a free cell phone.”
The voice at the other end answered, “Oh, is it? Where are you based, Kevin?” There was a very nasty emphasis on ‘Kevin’.
Edgily, I answered, “We’re based just out of Las Vegas.”
“Where? In a hut in Las Vegas?”
“Tell me, ‘Mr. Kevin’ do you live a hut in Las Vegas?”
I froze. He swore, uttered a racial comment and hung up.
That was my first day in the office. Two and a half years back.
I remember one more caller vividly. I was working as a Tech Support for Microsoft then.
He asked , “What’s your name?”
“Kevin” I replied.
He said, “Tell me your real name, Kevin?”
“Aay-aaph-an” He repeated.
“Correct”. I winced.
“It’s such a lovely name. I wonder why did you choose something as boring as ‘Kevin’.” There was an emphasis on Kevin this time as well.
“I am so happy that I am speaking with someone from India. I want to take this opportunity to apologise to you for what we are doing to your people and the rest of the world.”
“Er.. I don’t think you need to apologise. India is unaffected by the war on terror” I replied.
“You’re trying to be nice. But I know, deep down, you hate us. I am speaking on behalf of all the Americans. We’ve elected a stupid bigot for a President and trust me, we Americans are not hate mongers. And we do not support the ‘War’ on terror.” There was an emphasis on ‘War’ this time.
“Na Naah. You get me wrong. I don’t hate America. In fact, I love America and Indians look upto her.” I replied. If this wasn’t digressing enough, this guy had a poor knowledge of geography. Mumbai and Baghdad were miles apart.
“No Son, you misunderstand. You must the age of my grandson. Aren’t you 20 something?”
“I’m 23” I replied, wondering where was this leading.
“Britain tried to be the guardian of the World and it went broke. Now, America it trying to do the same and look where it got us. I wish they left people to lead their own lives. Sometimes, I feel that the world would've been a much better place without us.”
“I still stand by what I said. America is a nation the whole world looks upto.”
“I don’t know what the future will be but I am deeply distressed. This is not the first time I’m speaking with someone from India. But this may well be the last time so I am taking this opportunity to tell a fellow human that I am sorry for the misdeeds of my country. I have terminal cancer and the doctor has given me a few weeks to live. Do well in life and may God bless you.”
I managed to mumble some words of comfort but he had already hung up.