More (of the Same) Representations of India

While shopping yesterday, one of my friends showed me a book that she described as hilarous. The book is a collection of sarcastic thank yous and is designed to poke fun at people/things/places that don’t always make sense. I will admit, most of them were pretty funny…until I stumbled accross this one:

In case you can’t read the text, it says: “Thank you…customer service guy in India who calls himself ‘Todd,’ thinking that will trick me into thinking he is actually in Omaha and not New Delhi. Nice try, ‘Todd.’ Hee hee…Yes, I’ll hold.”

I was really surprised to see this in the book. I never realized what a “joke” Indian call centers are to Americans. Part of the reason why I am so offended is because of the connection that the thank you has to The White Tiger. In the book the narrator says that his day really starts at 3 a.m. because all of his employees go home since that marks the end of the work day in the U.S. and he has to stay in the office to make sure there are no emergency calls. I cannot imagine working such difficult hours! I think that those working in the call centers deserve a lot more respect than they are given. They make many sacrifices in order to make American lives easier. I believe that Americans take many things for granted, especially how many people all over the world work to produce goods for the U.S and provide services to our country. Furthermore, I think that Americans need to consider the bigger picture – why is a man in India answering the call instead of a man in Omaha? What does this mean to Americans, businesses, Indians, and everyone else involved? Any thoughts on why customer service call centers in India are so funny to Americans?

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2 thoughts on “More (of the Same) Representations of India

  1. Well for some people it may be funny, but I feel like more people nowadays would be angry about some Indian “taking away jobs from hardworking Americans.” By this argument there is nothing we should be thanking Indians for by waking up late at night and helping us with customer service for a pittance when there are unemployed Americans who could be doing the same. In fact, my first paper for this class was in part about the anti-Indian sentiment that outsourcing has created in America, as seen in this political ad from 2 years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vdqUPIq9Nk

    And actually, when the NBC show “Outsourced” came out, many people were worried that bringing up the issue of outsourcing so frankly and in a comedic setting would make people even angrier. I don’t the TV sitcom caused such a reaction, and to get back to your question about why outsourcing centers in India are so funny to Americans, I don’t think it has anything to do with outsourcing, just Indians. Even the show’s jokes were for the most part focused on the fish-out-of-water nature of the protagonist, Todd, in his new setting of India. While I think the comedy matured a little as the plot developed, I remember the first few episodes relying largely on jokes about Indian accents and stereotypes.

  2. I agree that alot of people now are more upset about the jobs going to America. But we talked about this in a geography class I had and my professor would also make jokes about the call centers in India. For the same reason as this letter, because the Indians have to act like they are from the United States and try and put on an English accent. But what I don’t understand is why do they need to do that for us? Does it make a difference if they are in India or in Omaha? If they have a strong accent I realize it may be hard for people to understand them, but why hide the fact that they are in India when people already know that when you are talking to someone there is a chance they are really in India? I also don’t believe that people like to make jokes about the Indian outsourcing, but just like any other culture or race, they like to make jokes about the stereotypes.

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