Friday, December 07, 2007

Advent Tapers, Autom, and Indian names

So, as asst. sacristan, it's my job to make sure we have a sufficient no. of Advent candles to last the entire season. Of course, as we were setting up the chapel for Advent last week, we realized that we had none on hand. I did some research, dashed across the Potomac to Pentagon Fashion Mall and picked up the last two Advent taper sets at Yankee Candle. I was hoping for more, but two sets is better than zero.

Two, however, won't last the entire season. (With daily prayers and Mass, we go through these fast!) So today, I called every Yankee Candle store in the area. Not one had any Advent sets on hand. No purple tapers either (only gold or red)! Their website says that new orders will simply not ship till after Christmas.

So, I turned to that trusted supplier of Catholic parishes: Autom. A lot of their Advent stuff is on backorder, but one set was listed in stock. I called the 800 number, and am immediately connected through to a live human, let's call him Dave. It's in stock, yes it will ship out, and should be here by the end of next week. When I give him my name (in the normal laborious fashion -- spelling each letter out, slowly. The real name, not Gashwin. It sounds a tad stranger to American ears.), he says, "is that an Indian name sir?" I was like, "Yeah! Very good!"

It's only then that I realized that I was talking to someone in India. I've used Autom for years. I had no idea they had outsourced their call-centers to an Indian company! The last time I spoke to an Autom rep (when I was in the parish in SC, so, oh about a year and a half ago), she was in Ohio. "Sir, aap Hindi boltey hain?" (Sir, do you speak Hindi?) Hahn bilkul! (Yes, of course!) So we chatted a bit in Hindi, I asked him what the weather was like in Delhi and so on. And complimented him on his fake American accent, which had me fooled. Normally, I can hear through the call-center-Amrikan-accent rather easily. "Besides, if I'd even had a clue that you were Indian, I'd have just said my name, in the proper desi way. Hindustan mein mera naam aisey bolta to log mazak karte!" (If I ever said my name in that way [the way I do here], people would laugh!)

Ah globalization!

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