A quick and gripping read, this is a well-rounded
book with a scope so wide that it leaves predecessors
like One Night @ The Call Centre trailing behind.
Narayan’s characters are penned with a disarming
candour and her prose peppered with wry humour.
Her sympathetic yet gritty gaze proffers a good
understanding of her characters. Whether it’s
the more cosmopolitan agents’ disdain of the
“vernacs”, the US-returned CEO’s aspirations
of big business in India Shining, the van-driver’s
resigned disgruntlement (he observes, “The Biggest
Big Boss travelled in a Mercedes Benz with a
white uniformed chauffeur who acted in the basement
like he belonged to a superior caste”), or the
slum-dwelling toilet-cleaner’s ordinary-yet-extraordinary
daily issues (she lives in a toilet-less hut
and manages to bathe once a week with great
difficulty — a chapter to look out for), Narayan’s
characters are believable and intriguing. Bangalore
Calling is a spirited effort well worth a read.
The Telegraph, Calcutta.
In its form, Bangalore Calling is something between a short story collection and a novel, a quality which works in its favour. Narayan sets the stories in and around one specific company, which lets her develop a rich, textured world that wouldn’t perhaps have fit into a single short story. But despite this novelistic wealth of detail, the pieces are brisk, gripping reads, and many end without tying up knots too neatly, preferring rather to leave the reader spinning ahead with the narrative.
The author deftly weaves through the social downsize of outsourcing. She looks critically at the displacement of vernacular languages; the premium attached to American accents and of course the invariable erosion of cultures that happens subtly over time. Each character in this book hence reflects the enormity of these changes...My favourite story is the one about Bitty who has come out of a modest middle class home; her father is an Ayurvedic doctor and mothers a housewife. Her interaction with the most happening trainer of Callus changes her life. She gets caught up in the merry-go-round of low- waist jeans, expensive perfumes, jewellery and malls. When the ride ends, she ends up with a crushing credit card bills. Her parent's attempt to to pay off her debt enrages her and she reaches that level of her life where she starts believing that her own parents are her biggest enemy and contemplates moving out. Will she be able to use her newly-acquired skills to survive life in the fast changing s of life? Read this book for the sheer pleasure of a burning topic of debate panning out into stories of human struggles and weaknesses. This book is a must-read.
The call centre industry has been in India for more than a decade, but it has taken us this long to fathom a decent book out of our experience. Brinda S. Narayan has done just that with an interlinked short story collection called Bangalore Calling. This is a book about how the new industry, born out of a need for the Western world to cut costs and offshore work to India, has externally affected the Indian landscape and internally affected the psyche of the Indian people.
Bangalore Calling is skilfully written and Narayan keeps the plot moving even as she illuminates the internal lives of characters. Minor incidents or an oddity from one story often come to the fore or are understood in a different light in another story, and this gives the book an organic sense of wholeness.
This is a piece of faked USofA in India,
and sure one of the fifteen stories within would
be a story one could relate with. Crisply written,
this is a book to be read and enjoyed, and one
which leaves you with something to mull on,
given that the call centre culture is spawning
a generation which is swiftly coming adrift
from Indian cultural moorings and eagerly adapting
Bangalore Calling has America's Uncle Sam
pointing a finger at you on the cover. But
don't be fooled, the book has been hailed
as a deeply researched and incisive novel
about call centres in India.
Indulge, The New Indian Express
Brinda S Narayan's debut novel takes a sensitive, insightful look into the schizophrenic world of Bengaluru BPOs. A staunch love for all things Indian coexists with stereoptypes about Indian quirks.
Marie Claire India, May 2011
After a long time I have read a book from an Indian author which delves into issues beyond - love life, BFFs, college issues etc. Bangalore Calling is a mature book which takes us through different socio economic strata’s. The author gives us a good view of people inside a call center & she does it in a way that you never get the “I-have-read-it” vibes...A worthy book, delving into contemporary corporate culture & issues. If you have worked in a call center you will find many things to relate with & people like me who have not worked in a call center will very easily relate to the corporate practices!!! I would say that it is one of the good books coming out from the shelf of Contemporary Indian Authors, a polished work.
The [BPO] industry's impact on the country's social and cultural fabric has caught the imagination of writers and filmmakers, alike. Brinda S Narayan's debut novel, "Bangalore Calling," is one such. The novel...realistically explores life in a call centre. The book traces the lives of 15 individuals working in Callus, a fictional call centre. Brinda has sketched diverse characters belonging to different backgrounds. And not one of them have it easy, not even the CEO.
Dial R for Reality, Hindu Metro Plus.
‘In this lively and deeply telling collection, the author transports us into an Alice in Wonderland Bangalore call centre training session in which students learn broad–“a” American English, imagine American cities and don take-home American names. They create an offshore piece of America. Bangalore Calling is more than a book; it is a powerful wake-up call to look sharp at the cultural core of global capitalism.’ – Arlie Hochschild, Professor Emeritus at U.C.Berkeley, author ofThe Managed Heart: The Commercialization of Human Feeling and co-editor of Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy
‘Entertaining and humane, Bangalore Calling is very much a book of our times. It is both a moving introduction to the strange world of the Bangalore call centre, and a reminder of the human and cultural costs of globalization.’ – Sam Miller, author of Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity and former BBC correspondent in India
Bangalore Calling is a book that must be
read by all with perceptions about the call
centres in our country and how they function.
The author’s prose is crisp and to the point.
She sure does not run in circles. Her plot is
tight and thankfully it does not get dramatic
at any point. The book is well-written for sure.
It will sure help clear minds and introduce
new perspectives. A great read for one.
All the story snippets are excellent. The
writing is top-notch, and I love the mature,
thoughtful approach that Brinda Narayan has
taken. I don’t know much about call centers,
but the author seems to have done enough research
to give the story setting a very authentic feel.
This book is a must-read for anyone interested
in life in Bangalore, and the booming call center
Linking 15 stories together, Brinda makes
you sit up and take notice. The stories are
about employees — agent, manager and cab driver
— and their hopes, the demands and the need
to make sense of everything at the same time.
For a young girl from a slum, working inside
a swank glass complex is stuff that dreams are
made of. That she's a toilet cleaner is beside
the point. For a van driver, switching from
devotional songs to Jimi Hendrix inside the
vehicle is unthinkable, but does he have a choice?
The book explores the impact of outsourcing
on people — be it superficial like a change
in the accent and language or a deeper one such
as the erosion of human and cultural values.
Realistic, this slice-of-life tale is interesting.
- The Hindu, Metroplus, Chennai
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