As I got out from the bus and walked towards the entrance gate, I could feel something strange in air, but I could not make out, what it was. The terminal was crowded as usual, one wont find KSRTC Kochi in a pensive mood at 10:00 a.m. As I softly hummed a tune and walked towards the exit gate, I spotted a known face in the crowd. It was Jit. Jit was my colleague at my previous company DS solutions, which was a medical transcription solution provider. But what he was doing suprised me as he was carrying a tray which was strapped around his shoulder and had rows of idli arranged on it along with a small container which must have contained chutney. Jit was doing brisk business. Suddenly I heard a pair of voice shouting sharply at each other trying to outdo the other, and I realised one of the voice as belonging to Inod. Now Inod was also from my previous company, but along with the 2 teammanagers had left that company due to disaggrements with the management over some issues and had started another company and were supposed to be transcribing happily everafter, but i found him too, carrying a tray of idli (like Jit) as he was menacingly demanding the amount from the customer who after spotting a fly in the chutney was not willing to pay. I heard Inod rebuking the customer in his trademark style, "You should have fixed your eyes on the plate while eating and not on Bipasha Basu's poster on the opposite wall." After this he added, come on man, only pay the cost of idli (chutney was anyway free). Eventually, but grudginly the customer did pay the amount and left. Like Jit, Inod too did not notice me and quickly left for another spot where a new bus has arrived. As I surveyed my surroundings, I noticed there were also some other youngmen who had trays like Inod and Jit and roaming on the terminal occasionally raising their voice through the din shouting idliiii-chutneeey.
It had been around 6 months since I left Kochi and I could not fathom any reason why Kochi had developed idliphilia and moreover why were MT people doing this selling idli business, as their job was transcribing dictations of US and UK physicians. Luckily my former company was only about 20 minutes from the terminal and I thought it was better to go in there and check it out myself.
Luckily for me, Mr. Ose who was the CEO of my ex-company was in his office along with his manager Mr. Opez. He gave out a broad smile and a heavy handshake and said
Hi DK, how are you, so what brings you here, by the way, you have lost lot of hair man, you used to have such a fine crop of hair when you worked for us. Finishing this sentence he burst out into laughter.
Correct, 100% correct, chipped in Mr. Opez and also jumped into the laughing contest along with his boss, but could not outdo him.
As silence returned to the room, i said, Sir, I saw Jit in bus stand and i was shocked by what i saw.
Why were you shocked DK, tell me, was he begging or doing some sort of criminal/antisocial activity?
No sir, he was selling idlis at the bus stand.
So what is wrong with that? he asked.
Well sir, he is trained MT, he is supposed to be trascribing dictations and not selling idlis.
Okay DK, i will come to it, but first, I hear, you read lot of books, is it true?
Yeah I read when I get time, but mostly fiction.
Okay, then have you read 1nite@call center?
Yes I have read it.
What, you read it and then also you could not imbibe the principles from that book, very sorry to hear that, now listen to me;
In whole of this transcription business, ie callcenter, transcription center, even software sector, whom are we serving?
Yeah customers, but specifically it is foreign customers, Americans, Brits.....
What are we getting in return? Okay money is there, but it is not everything, are we getting respect? No a big no.
But sir, i tried to interfere.......
Listen, we are working hard, very hard, 24x7, but is our work being recognised there? No, the answer is no. Ask any American, they will say, oh yeah outsourcing, it is making our people unemployed. Ask them to compare, they will say, these indian MTs are okay, but not that good, lots of quality issues........
So you see DK "respect", we are not getting that from our work. And it was the main reason I decided to change over. I am very happy now and really did not find any difficulty in switching over. I have the trained people, training infrastructure, system administrator, so I just moved in for the kill.
But Sir, you had trained your staff for transcribing and not selling idli.
What is the difference? In transcription, you go after line count, here you go after idli. In transcription, the more line count you do, the more you earn, here the more you sell idli, the more you earn. You get my point.
I slowly nodded and asked, how do you mange?
Well you see, I have divided whole Kochi into 5 zones, each zone is headed by a system administrator who in our new setup is called IA(idli administrator). He has a company van at his disposal (with supply of idli and chutney) along with a team of IE(Idli executives). He has to see that each IE meets his target and also that idli is sold before the TAT (turn-around time), just like in medical transcription.
How is the pay?
Well you will be getting 50 p for each idli sold under target and 55 p for each sold above target. For eg Jit who is a senior IE has a daily target of 550 idlis. Upto 550 idlis, he will be getting 50 p per idli, but for the 551st idli, he will be getting 55 p.
As I started doing multiplication in my mind, he added, DK, you cannot judge everything in life by money alone.
By the way, DK, have you not noticed our logo?
Yes sir, many times.
Did you not see the blue colored idli in it, he added with his gleeming eyes and again burst out laughing along with his echo.
After the laughing episode was over he picked the phone and said, tell ekka to bring idlis for DK.
DK, do you know, this is a great business and now everyone is follwing my steps. Ectrum, N2, Aweonline, even those 2 copycats (referring to previous managers). I hear that their henchman (reffering to Inod who is a 6 footer) is always following Jit in order to whisk some customers away. You know, DK, Jit had the highest idli selling point for the last month.
I was starting to get bored and still could not understand how and why everybody were so much attracted towards idli (selling, buying and eating) when Ekka opened the door slightly, put his head inside and gave a toothy grin, but then there was also something strange in his smile too, but again I could not make it out. Then he said, ready 1, 2 and 3 saying which he opened the door completely and stepped aside and vanished from the room along with Mr. Ose and Mr. Opez. I saw hundreds and thousands of idli streaming in through the dooor filling the room at great speed. As I started to move my hands and legs to keep the idlis away from me, I suddenly had a falling sensation and then suddenly it was all over. I was lying on the floor of my room in Coimbatore, drenched in sweat.
EPILOGUE: What I saw in my Saturday night dream was a culmination of some events which took place during the week. First, I had brief skirmishes with my Team Lead over line count. Second, the fan in my room fell and hit the floor, on the way, smoothly caressing my hand, but luckily I did not suffer even a scratch (touchwood), resulting in a very disturbed sleep in a room without any ventilation. When I went to sleep, I was thinking about line count and how the managers presurize MTs to go after line count which may result in error (which is a dangerous thing, as it may affect the patient's health). I am writing this as I found the similarity between idli and line count funny and tempting and is not meant to offend anyone.