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One Night @ the Call Center Paperback – 24 Apr 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Rupa & Co (24 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129108186
  • ISBN-13: 978-8129108180
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 441,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Love all his books. So easy to read.
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By Jaybeetee on 29 Jun 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A bit far fetched but a good light read
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
could have been better handled in the end. It's still a good read and you can resonate with the characters.
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Great book! I could completely picture the surroundings in Delhi, the homes, the families, life in New Delhi. I loved this book and the characters. It's a great book to read anywhere anytime. Would highly recommend if you want to escape your own life for a bit. Thumbs up Chetan!
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Amazon.com: 27 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Interesting insight into the tormented psyche of either Indian youth or the author - not sure which... 30 Jan 2008
By Robert Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This quick, engaging story about the problems in the lives of six call center workers in India, portrays the plight of young Indians who in their desire to move up the socioeconomic ladder, ironically find themselves exploited by a distant and uncaring American corporation and restricted by outdated cultural traditions.

I enjoyed the story and the writing style, although I thought the "phone call from God" plot twist toward the end was rendered with all the subtlety of a self-help book (I'm surprised God didn't number the "valuable life lessons" for our convenience).

Forgiving that, my main gripe with this book is that neither the characters nor the author seemed to quite grasp the aforementioned "valuable life lessons".

The reason I say this is that in the story, Americans are portrayed individually (as callers into the call center) as fearful, lazy, stupid, warmongers who unfairly enjoy a better lifestyle than Indians - and collectively (in the form of corporations) as the personification of evil, unfairness and oppression. And so, the characters' economic problems are blamed on the selfish, stupid Americans who oppress them. Fair enough - every story needs a bad guy.

But yet, even after God shows up on the scene and dispenses the aforementioned "valuable life lessons" (take responsibility for your own lives, stop blaming others, stop making excuses) Americans (and the boss, as a stand-in for the Americans) are still the scapegoat, and the characters use their newfound self-confidence and perspective on life to exact REVENGE!!!

Now, to me, vindictiveness (even coupled with the loftier goal of saving the call center) seems incongruent with psychological well being and a tip-off that maybe someone doesn't fully understand those "valuable life lessons". And so I actually considered at length that perhaps the author's true intention was to convey the self-defeating nature of blaming, complaining and not taking responsibility, by showing the characters' hypocrisy - how they suffered from an inferiority complex and psychologically projected their self-loathing onto America, their perceived oppressor. (After all, the very name of the protagonist with the most wounded inner child - "Vroom" - could be a symbolic reference to his materialistic nature and the conflicted way in which he simultaneously condemns and worships western culture).

But ... strangely enough I was left with the bizarre impression that the author himself was blind to the disconnect between the lessons the book extolls and its underlying whinyness and racism, which raises the disturbing question of whether the attitudes in the book were meant as those of the characters or of Indian youth - or worse, whether they are in fact the attitudes of the writer himself (I hope not).

So overall, I enjoyed the book for it's portrayal of the youth culture in India, but even more for the bizarre, psychological conflicts which it represents and which I'm still puzzling over.

... and as a final note, one last thing that I found disconcerting was that the setup for the story (While travelling I met someone who told me this story and it was so compelling that I had to meet the characters and turn it into my next novel)is an obvious copy of the setup in "Life of Pi" - which I imagine the author must have read, since it was a huge bestseller having to do with India.

and finally...

DISCLAIMER: If in fact the author's intention was to point out the hypocrisy of claiming to take responsibility for one's life while simultaneously plotting revenge against one's imagined oppressors, then TOUCHE'! - because with this book, he is then not blind to his own predjudices or merely pandering to the attitudes of the disaffected Indian youth market, but rather is holding a mirror to their face and challenging them to recognize how their own attitudes and predjudices may play a part in holding them back while and letting them know that by healing their own collective psyche they will be able to rise above whatever systemic conditions conspire to oppress them.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Mediocre piece of work 16 April 2008
By Annapurna Saripella - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Chetan's second book..One Night At the Call Center...is a mediocre piece of work. The narrative is very similar to his first book..Five Point Something. Chetan should stick to what he knows best and what he has experienced first hand. This book about call center lives is very superficial. The only thing you know is that the characters have call center jobs. But the rest of the story is about their personal problems and personal crisis..even that is so mundane. I was expecting something more in-depth about call center jobs.

The comments on Americans were lame and totally uncalled for. It's very juvenile and not expected from someone of Chetan's education and exposure. I am an Indian and have lived in the US for 13 years and recently moved back. I have seen more Indians since my coming back, to be rude, insensitive and disrespectful. They way some of them treat the maids and low paid workers is utterly shameful.

We are by far the most discriminatory society than any other. Which other nation discriminates among it's own people on the basis of religion, caste, state, language, dialect, sect and subsect, color of skin and gender? Why do obssess over a light skinned and light eyed female celebrity?

The book has taken a very flippant attitude towards the west. Calling them "fat, loud, thick and divorce all the time" was a demeaning dig at Americans. And that too in front of God. And God seems to be in agreement to those adjectives.

Chetan must be living in a make believe Indian world...in Hong Kong. It's time he saw a Bollywood movie or soap serial or a reality show or even listen to the news and find out how loud and unclear we are about everything.

Good luck with your next book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Awful book.. 25 Aug 2012
By Adithya - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I should say this book doesnt even deserve one star. Having read chethan bhagat 5 point someone i wanted to try his other works. 5 point someone was a good read But almost all other books have been a total disappointment. so i have decided not to touch any of his awful books anymore.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Starts good but then becomes boring with lame ending 12 Aug 2008
By ReadersRUs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This novel does give a glimpse of call center life. That is a new lifestyle in which mostly young Indian workers go to work in the night with 2 AM meetings; plush with money, exposed to opposite gender at night, indulge in amorous activities; are stressed out and angry at Americans who gave them the job in the first place. I don't know how much of that is true, but it is quite depressing.

The author's language attracts reader with its simplicity and contemporary nature. He does grip you for first 100 pages. After that it becomes boring. There is a dramatic event which brings a twist. But in my opinion, the author couldn't complete the novel in a realistic manner. Don't want to reveal what happens, but whatever happens is unrealistic and lame.

The attitude shown towards American is disheartening. The author portrays them as dumb and arrogant, which exposes his (and call center employees') lack of understanding about Americans. It is true that some people treat call center workers with disdain. It is also true that some people are clueless. But duh ... if someone is not cluless and happy with service why would one call a call center? "Gee I totally know how to operate my washing machine but I still want to spend time to talk to a call center agent".

Overall I love Chetan's style. It is easy reading and to some extent entertaining. I absolutely loved his first novel. So there is a good potential for him.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Interesting to read for its "view from the inside" 3 May 2007
By global music collector - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read this book with great curiosity because I'd heard about this novel for a long time (while it was unavailable in the USA) and I thought it would be interesting to read the perspective of some call center workers in India. I wasn't disappointed.

Their awareness of their low salaries (as compared to their American counterparts), the social differences between their culture and the USA, and the often-poor treatment they received from many of their customers (and their manager) was no surprise. Their day-to-day work issues were not unlike may others: fear of layoffs, incompetent managers taking credit for their work, pressure to increase their productivity, and technology breakdowns. And their struggles with some old-culture traditions -- like arranged marriages -- made the story more interesting.

I could have done without the intro and the ending to this novel -- which is an additional storyline that takes place in a conversation between the author and a female passenger. In my opinion, these intro and outro parts added nothing to the story and even made it a bit cheesy at the end.

All in all, I recommend it...it's a fast and entertaining read.
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