Okay, so I went to the 3pm performance of ‘Call Cutta in a Box’ today and got a call from Santanu, a telemarketer in West Bengal. I found the experience to be profoundly disappointing. I had been excited about this experience ever since I made the arrangements to go to the ‘event’, but I left feeling empty… Something is nagging at me about my interaction with Santanu that I have not quite nailed but I will get to the bottom of it yet.
So what happened?
Well I arrived in an office on the 40th floor of the IDS tower (nice view) & got a call & had a mildly pleasant chat with a stranger in Kolkata – something I’m sure I have done many times before without knowing it. Santanu kept a lively banter going on his end to keep me ….entertained? Engaged? What?
He asked me questions about myself, sang a song, made me tea, drew a picture of what he thought I looked like, turned on a little fan stuck to the computer, showed me around his office …etc. etc. Did these actions make me feel closer to another human being? No, not particularly. It was the kind of intimacy that you might have with say a stranger on an airplane : brief, superficial, fun (depending on your mood) but ultimately empty. Don’t get me wrong I was responsive. I sang too, asked questions, told him about myself (felt no need to make things up), drew a bad picture of what I thought he looked like & generally cooperated… but nothing. Just this feeling of so?
Did I miss something?? Someone help me out here! All I could think about was that I paid for this chap to talk to me from across the sea & what does it amount to?
Since I was in the unique position of talking to a call center chap without the accompanying marketing script bullshit getting in the way I thought I’d asked him questions about things I really wanted to know about such as:
– what’s it like working in a call center?
– do they give you acting lessons & why?
– what’s your favorite international accent to learn?
– do you think its bizzare pretending to be someone & somewhere you’re not in order to sell people stuff?
– did the Rimini people write you a script ?
– did they ask you what you wanted to say to your calls? etc…etc..
Basically.. I was really curious about the whole situation and wanted to get behind the facade of it all. But Santanu just kept making me tea & giving me these little gifts … or were these the surprises that everyone keeps mentioning? To me they weren’t surprises just little devices to keep things moving along, fill in the time. And I guess that was the problem. He couldn’t or wouldn’t break out of his banter or the structure of the ‘performance’ established for him by the makers: Rimini Protocol. Ultimately to me it was a facade & nothing more. Sad. Is this what the Rimini folks want us to chew over?