It’s normally on Sundays, doing mostly nothing at home, that my mind often wanders to the past. Sometimes a particular song or even a phrase in a song can trigger a memory of a different time and images come rushing back, reminding you of what you did or what you saw. As I sat listening to music today, I started thinking about some of my tough times while living in Calicut.
You see I had joined this company called Aysha Infotech, based on the recommendation of my mom’s brother who had a friend working there. They company was setting up a call center in Calicut and I went for the interview, aced it and got selected to join up in the next 6 days. They had a client in the US who wanted us to do tele-marketing & collect leads for their electronic security systems. It seemed wonderful and all of us who joined were quite eager for work to start.
Only thing is, a 3 month training program, which included a month spent accent training under an African-American former army soldier, went to over 8 months. We all also had to pay Rs.25k to undergo their training. We were supposed to get paid from the 4th month onwards. On a side note, the American trainer, Coretta, was also the first person to teach me that Black people can be racist too! She has time & again made quite a few derogatory remarks about Indians and Indian women in particular. Oh well, c’est la vie!
Anyway, we didn’t get paid from the 4th month onwards. The company made quite a few bad choices and went bankcrupt even before they could get the show on the road. Banks rejected their high business loan proposals and would offer much smaller amounts. 7 months after joining, the employees (including me) protested outside and they finally agreed to pay us a month’s salary and then another half. That was the extent of my pay there. They had us doing research & trial runs in a dusty, open floor with noisy building construction happening right next to us. It was a miracle that none of us died to inhaling broken brick granuels!
I made a ton of friends, some who I will always hold dear to my heart, and we had a lot of fun. But we were broke. For a couple of months I lived on Rs.32 a day – three budget meals, two cups of tea / coffee (one was free, courtsey of the company) and to & fro bus fare. Imagine breakfast at Rs.4, lunch at Rs.10 & dinner Rs.12. Remember, this was 2002 and I can’t imagine getting breakfast for anything less than Rs. 15 now! We spent a lot of time at the beach and somehow or the other, we always managed to spare Rs.50 every Thursday to pool together and buy a couple of bottles of rum! Good times – imagine 14 guys in a lodging room, drinking & singing at the top of their lungs.
download the dark half online After 8 months there, we knew that it was as good as done & dusted. The 4th or 5th bank that they had approached had rejected their loan application and we employees wanted out. We demanded some payment back and I got a check for about Rs.8000, which I encashed immediately. Some others weren’t so lucky; most of them bounced. I said my finaly goodbyes to my friends there, settled my room rent to the very understanding owner of the lodge (who was a friend of a friend and who lowered the rates for us and didn’t kick us out onto the streets despite being 3 months behind on rent) and boarded a bus back home with two of my bags. I left the 3rd much bigger bag at my uncle’s and went to get it back 2 months later.
Within 2 weeks of me coming back home, I got laid up for a week with a high fever and no sooner was I back on my feet when I got the job at Aspin Wall. The dirt on that place is a blog post for another day but suffice to say, I think I was lucky that it wasn’t too bad for me at all.
Although a couple of us came this close (imagine your thumb & forefinger a couple of inches apart) to running away to Goa and working at the beach! That would have been an experience.