Publisher: Ballantine Books (May 1, 2007)
Author: Chetan Bhagat
I was splashing my hands helplessly in the sea. I can’t even swim in a pond, let
alone in the Indian Ocean. While I was in the water, my boss Bakshi was in a
boat next to me. He was pushing my head down in the water. I saw Priyanka
drifting away in a lifeboat. I screamed as Bakshi used both his hands to keep my
head submerged. Salt water was filling my mouth and nostrils when I heard loud
beeps in the distance.
My nightmare ended as my cellphone alarm rang hard in my left ear and I woke
up to its “Last Christmas” ring tone. The ring tone was a gift from Shefali, my new
semi-girlfriend. I squinted through a half-shut eye to see 8:32 p.m. surrounded by
little bells flashing on the screen.
“Damn,” I said and jumped out of bed.
I would have loved to analyze my dream and its significance in my insignificant
life, but I had to get dressed for work.
“Man, the Qualis will be here in twenty minutes,” I thought, digging matter out of
my eye. Qualis was the make of car that picked us all up individually and drove us
together to the center. I was still tired, but afraid of staying in bed any longer in
case I was late. Besides, there was a serious risk of Bakshi making a comeback
in my dreams.
By the way, I am Shyam Mehra, or Sam Marcy as they call me at my workplace,
the Connections call center in Gurgaon. American tongues have trouble saying my
real name and prefer Sam. If you want, you can give me another name, too. I
really don’t care.
Anyway, I’m a call-center agent. There are hundreds of thousands, probably
millions of agents like me. But this total pain-in-the neck author chose me, of all
the agents in the country. He met me and told me to help him with his second
book. In fact, he pretty much wanted me to write the book for him. I declined,
saying I can’t even write my own CV, so there was no way I could write a whole
book. I explained to him how my promotion to the position of team leader had
been postponed for one year because my manager Bakshi had told me I don’t
have the “required skills set” yet. In my review, Bakshi wrote that I was “not a go-
getter.” I don’t even know what “go-getter” means, so I guess I’m definitely not
But this author said he didn’t care. He had promised someone he’d write this
story so I’d better cooperate or he would keep on pestering me. I tried my best to
wriggle out of it, but he wouldn’t let go. I finally relented and that’s why I’m stuck
with this assignment, while you are stuck with me.
I also want to give you one more warning. My English is not that great—actually,
nothing about me is great. So, if you’re looking for something sophisticated and
highbrow, then I suggest you read another book with plenty of long words. I know
only one big word: “management.” But we’ll get to that later. I told the author
about my limited English. However, he said big emotions don’t come from big
words, so I had no choice but to do the job. I hate authors.
Now let’s get back to the story. If you remember, I had just woken up.
There was a noise in the living room. Some relatives were in town to attend a
family wedding. My neighbor was getting married to his cousin . . . er, sorry, I’m a
bit groggy, my cousin was getting married to his neighbor. But I had to work, so I
couldn’t go to the wedding. It didn’t matter, though, all marriages are the same,
more or less.
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