Thursday, April 21, 2005

Tech Support Caste- Khidakayas

The Onion has the new word of the moment - Khidakayas . The caste, "varna" or "jati" they talk about has been refered to elsewhere poignantly and memorably as the e-slave

Having been part of e-slavery operations in India not too long ago, I would have to admit that tech support personnel, call center executives, medical transcriptionists and the like are a sub-cultre or "varna" just like Onion says. A few years in the business and they morph into unrecognizable forms. To that extent they form a caste by evolution.

A large number of their tribe came to exist after the dot-com boom had ended and with that prospects of a career in the First World. The uber-slave more often than not is a prodigal returned home after years of working in the US and elsewhere around the world. I used to be an uber-slave once.

The client uses one such as myself as the conduit of information back and forth between on-site and off-shore teams. We may be bestowed with the appropriately vague title of "Project/Program Liaison" which in English translates to "Sundry Fix-It Person With Very High Work Releated Stress." Back in the day they did not install emergency defibrillators outside the war-room like some companies do now. Highly recommended for the older uber-slaves back in India.

I have even been asked to influence a man's wedding plans because he was putting dates in jeopardy as he readied to tie the knot. I am ashamed to admit that I tried - my excuse being I needed to keep my job. The man quit and HR had a very serious conversation with me on flagging team morale and employee attrition. What gives ?

The e-slave is well heeled, flush with cash, rents a nice place in the nice part of town, drives a Ford Ikon at least if not much better. For some odd reason more men than women have the ridiculous blonde streaked hair. I never got that one. Needless to say they know more about Americana and baseball trivia than someone like me. The neatest skill they have is the ability to turn that cute accent off and on at will.

There is something terribly schizoid about their life - about being Ramalingam by day and Ron by night, living in a virtual space and time zone. After a while we all lapse into Ron for ease and conformity and more than an identity is lost in the process.


buckwaasur said...

After a while we all lapse into Ron for ease and conformity and more than an identity is lost in the process

>>>wow...that was an awesome expression...:-)

rotfl @ the onion to come up with this stuff...:-))

Mindsurfer said...

About the losing identity bit, that is so so true. This profession probably causes the deepest work-related wounds.