Archive for February 2007

Life Process Outsourcing – a short story by Vikram Karve

February 21, 2007

LPO – LIFE PROCESS OUTSOURCING

( a fiction short story )

by

VIKRAM KARVE

 

 

 

 

 

On the morning of New Year’s Eve, while I am loafing on

Main Street

, in Pune, I meet an old friend of mine. 

“Hi!” I say. 

“Hi,” he says, “where to?” 

“Aimless loitering,” I say, “And you?” 

“I’m going to work.” 

“Work? This early? I thought your shift starts in the evening, or late at night. You work at a call center don’t you?” 

“Not now. I quit. I’m on my own now.” 

“On your own? What do you do?” 

“LPO.” 

“LPO? What’s that?” 

“Life Process Outsourcing.” 

“Life Process Outsourcing? Never heard of it!” 

“You’ve heard of Business Process Outsourcing haven’t you?” 

“BPO? Outsourcing non-core business activities and functions?” 

“Precisely. LPO is similar to BPO. There it’s Business Processes that are outsourced, here it’s Life Processes.” 

Life Processes? Outsourced?”  

“Why don’t you come along with me? I’ll show you.” 

Soon we are in his office. It looks like a mini call center. 

A young attractive girl welcomes us. “Meet Rita, my Manager,” my friend says, and introduces us. 

Rita looks distraught, and says to my friend, “I’m not feeling well. Must be viral fever.” 

“No problem. My friend here will stand in.” 

“What? I don’t have a clue about all this LPO thing!” I protest. 

“There’s nothing like learning on the job! Rita will show you.” 

“It’s simple,” Rita says, in a hurry. “See the console. You just press the appropriate switch and route the call to the appropriate person or agency.” And with these words she disappears. It’s the shortest training I have ever had in my life. 

And so I plunge into the world of Life Process Outsourcing; or LPO as they call it. 

It’s all very simple. Working people don’t seem to have time these days, but they have lots of money; especially those double income couples, IT nerds, MBA hot shots, finance wizards; just about everybody in the modern rat race. ‘Non-core Life Activities’, for which they neither have the inclination or the time – outsource them; so you can maximize your work-time to rake in the money and make a fast climb up the ladder of success. 

“My daughter’s puked in her school. They want someone to pick her up and take her home. I’m busy in a shoot and just can’t leave,” a creative ad agency type says. 

“Why don’t you tell your husband?” I say. 

“Are you crazy or something? I’m a single mother.” 

“Sorry ma’am. I didn’t know. My sympathies and condolences.” 

“Condolences? Who’s this? Is this LPO?” 

“Yes ma’am,” I say, press the button marked ‘children’ and transfer the call, hoping I have made the right choice. Maybe I should have pressed ‘doctor’. 

Nothing happens for the next few moments. I breathe a sigh of relief. 

A yuppie wants his grandmother to be taken to a movie. I press the ‘movies’ button. ‘Movies’ transfers the call back, “Hey, this is for movie tickets; try ‘escort services’. He wants the old hag escorted to the movies.” 

‘Escort Services’ are in high demand. These guys and girls, slogging in their offices minting money, want escort services for their kith and kin for various non-core family processes like shopping, movies, eating out, sight seeing, marriages, funerals, all types of functions; even going to art galleries, book fairs, exhibitions, zoos, museums or even a walk in the nearby garden. 

A father wants someone to read bedtime stories to his small son while he works late. A busy couple wants proxy stand-in ‘parents’ at the school PTA meeting. An investment banker rings up from
Singapore; he wants his mother to be taken to pray in a temple at a certain time on a specific day.
Someone wants his kids to be taken for a swim, brunch, a play and browsing books and music. 

 An IT project manager wants someone to motivate and pep-talk her husband, who’s been recently sacked, and is cribbing away at home demoralized. He desperately needs someone to talk to, unburden himself, but the wife is busy – she neither has the time nor the inclination to take a few days off to boost the morale of her depressed husband when there are deadlines to be met at work and so much is at stake. 

The things they want outsourced range from the mundane to the bizarre; life processes that one earlier enjoyed and took pride in doing or did as one’s sacred duty are considered ‘non-core life activities’ now-a-days by these highfalutin people. 

At the end of the day I feel illuminated on this novel concept of Life Process Outsourcing, and I am about to leave, when suddenly a call comes in. 

“LPO?” a man asks softly.  

“Yes, this is LPO. May I help you?” I say. 

“I’m speaking from

Frankfurt
Airport. I really don’t know if I can ask this?” he says nervously. 

“Please go ahead and feel free to ask anything you desire, Sir. We do everything.” 

“Everything?” 

“Yes, Sir. Anything and everything!” I say. 

“I don’t know how to say this. This is the first time I’m asking. You see, I am working 24/7 on an important project for the last few months. I’m globetrotting abroad and can’t make it there. Can you please arrange for someone suitable to take my wife out to the New Year’s Eve Dance?” 

I am taken aback but quickly recover, “Yes, Sir.” 

“Please send someone really good, an excellent dancer, and make sure she enjoys and has a good time. She loves dancing and I just haven’t had the time.” 

“Of course, Sir.” 

 “And I told you – I’ve been away abroad for quite some time now and I’ve got to stay out here till I complete the project.” 

“I know. Work takes top priority.” 

“My wife. She’s been lonely. She desperately needs some love. Do you have someone with a loving and caring nature who can give her some love? I just don’t have the time. You understand what I’m saying, don’t you?” 

I let the words sink in. This is one call I am not going to transfer. “Please give me the details, Sir,” I say softly into the mike. 

As I walk towards my destination with a spring in my step, I feel truly enlightened.  

Till this moment, I never knew that ‘love’ was a non-core life process worthy of outsourcing. 

Long Live Life Process Outsourcing! 

 

 

 

 

Life Process Outsourcing (LPO)(a fiction short story)by

VIKRAM KARVE

copyright 2006 Vikram Karve 

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com

 

 

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Me Too

February 15, 2007

ME TOO

(a short love story)

by

VIKRAM KARVE 

  

  

The moment I saw the e-mail I did two things. First I took a print-out of the mail, kept it in my purse and deleted the mail from my mailbox. Then I called the airlines and booked my ticket on the next flight to India. 

  

The e-mail contained a name and an address. That’s all – a name and an address. 

  

I cannot begin to describe the emotion I felt as I looked at the name. I had so many questions to ask him. Unanswered questions which were haunting me for the past so many years. 

  

  

It all began when my fiancé Anil suddenly broke off our engagement without any explanation. 

  

“Why?” I asked him totally shocked. 

  

“I can’t tell you,” he said. 

  

“You can’t dump me just like this. I’ve done nothing wrong,” I pleaded heartbroken. 

  

“I’m sorry, Rita. I can’t marry you,” he said trying to look away from my eyes. 

  

 “What do you mean you can’t marry me?” I shouted shaking him. 

  

He didn’t say anything, just remained silent, averting his eyes. 

  

“Is it someone else? What do you mean you can’t marry me? Actually you don’t want to marry me, isn’t it?” 

  

“Okay, you can think what you like. I don’t want to marry you.” 

  

“You have to give me an explanation. I am not going to accept being jilted like this.” 

  

“You have to accept it. Don’t delve too much.” 

  

“What do you mean ‘don’t delve too much’, you unscrupulous cheat?” I screamed in anger, taking hold of his collar. 

  

“Cool down,” he said pushing me away. “It’s you who tried to cheat me.” 

  

“I? Cheated you?” I said dumbfounded and furious. 

  

“You shouldn’t have tried to hide things from me,” he accused. 

  

“Hide what?” I asked. 

  

“That you are an adopted child,” he said. 

  

“Nonsense. Don’t talk rubbish. I’m not adopted!” I shouted in anger. 

  

“You are.” 

  

“Who told you?” 

  

“We got some matrimonial enquiries done.” 

  

“You spied on me,” I accused him, “to blackmail me, to humiliate me?” 

  

“Don’t worry. No one else knows. It’s a reliable and discreet investigation agency.”  

  

“It’s not true. I’m not adopted,” I said feeling shattered, numb, as if I had been pole-axed. 

  

“Why don’t you ask your parents?” Anil said as he walked away from my life, leaving me heartbroken, desolate and shattered. 

  

I never asked my parents, the only parents I knew. They were the one’s who loved me, gave me everything. I could not ask them; hurt them. I did not have the heart to. They did not say anything to me but I could see the sadness and a sense of guilt in their eyes, as they withered away having lost the will to live. I felt deeply anguished and helpless. 

  

My parents loved me, meant everything to me, and we carried on our lives as if nothing had happened, and I lovingly cared and looked after them till their very end; but deep down I felt terribly betrayed.  

  

Years passed. I relocated abroad past and immersed myself in my work. I tried to forget but I could never forget. One day I could bear it no longer. I decided to find out. And now I had. The investigation agency had done a good job. Confidential and discreet. For the first time I knew the name of my actual father. My biological natural father. And now I had to meet this man and ask him why he did it – abandon me to the world. 

  

I landed at Delhi airport in the very early hours of the morning. It was cold, the morning chill at once refreshing and invigorating, the driver drove fast and it took me six hours by taxi to reach the magnificent bungalow near Landour in Mussoorie. I checked the nameplate and briskly walked inside. There was a small crowd gathered in the porch. 

  

“What’s happening?” I asked a man in the crowd. 

  

“Bada Sahab is no more. He passed away this morning. He was so good to us,” he said with tears in his eyes. 

  

I pushed my way through. His lifeless body was lying on a white sheet bedecked with flowers, ready for the last rites. As I looked at his serene face, tears welled in my eyes. 

  

Suddenly I lost control of myself and cried uncontrollably, “I have become an orphan. An orphan!” 

  

“Me too!” a familiar voice said softly behind me. 

  

 I turned around and stared into Anil’s eyes. As comprehension began to dawn on me, Anil and I kept looking into each other’s eyes. In silence. A grotesque silence. A deafening silence.  

  

  

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright 2006 Vikram karve 

vikramkarve@sify.com

http://karve.wordpress.com

http://karve.rediffiland.com

  

MY NAME IS SHERRY

February 13, 2007

MY NAME IS SHERRY

ByVIKRAM KARVE 

 

My name is Sherry. I am a naughty young girl, I’m over seven months old and I live with my family in a lovely spacious bungalow surrounded by plenty of greenery.  

I wake up early in the morning, jump off my sofa, go to my father’s bed, rub my cold wet nose against his hand and give him a lick. He grunts and growls and opens his sleepy eyes, and the moment he sees me his face lights up and he lovingly caresses me and says, “Good Morning, Sherry,” and gets up from bed and opens the main door to let me jump out into the garden, do my ‘little job’ at my favorite place near the mango tree, generally dig in the soft morning mud a bit and sniff around to find out if there are any new morning smells, not forgetting to run and welcome the milkman the moment he comes on his cycle.  

When I return I find that my father is back in his bed and my mother is up and about. She pats and cuddles me and goes about her business making tea in the kitchen while I loiter around the house. She surreptitiously sneaks to the bedroom and slyly hands over a tidbit to my half sleeping father under the blanket when she thinks I am not looking. I pretend not to notice, as I do not want to spoil their fun. Earlier, when I was small and impatient, I used to snuffle out the tidbit from my father’s hand, but this spoilt his fun and he became grumpy, and now that I am a mature young girl well experienced in the ways of the human world I have realized that it is better to act dumb and let these humans think they are smarter than me. So I go outside, sit down and put on a look of anticipation towards the gate and pretend not to notice my mother hiding and peeping through the corner of the window and giggling to herself. 

The moment the newspaperman comes on his cycle and shouts ‘paper’, I rush to the gate and fetch the newspaper in my mouth, gripping it just right between my teeth, and hold it up to my horizontal father, who gets up, takes the paper from me and gives me the dog-biscuit he’s been hiding in his hand, as my mother, who has rushed behind me, watches me with loving pride in her eyes. My brother and my sister, who till now were fast asleep in the other room, call out my name, and as I dart between their beds wagging my tail, they both hug and cuddle me all over saying, “Good Morning, Sherry. Sherry is a good girl!”   Everyone is cheerful and happy and my day has begun!  I love my family, even though they are humans; and I love my house, my surroundings, the place I stay, the life I live – but before I tell you all that, let me tell you where I came from. 

My ‘birth-mother’ is a ferocious Doberman who lives in a bungalow in Kothrud and my ‘dog-father’ is unknown, though they suspect it may be the
Labrador next door (but the vet wanted proof, so in the column against breed he wrote ‘Doberman X’). I was a sickly weakling, hardly a month old, the only girl, last of the litter of eleven, and the owners were wondering what to do with me. Nine of my handsome brothers had already been selected and taken away, and the owners wanted to keep the tenth, the most beautiful and healthy of them all. They had kept me all alone separated from my ferocious Doberman mother who was growling menacingly in a cage nearby. No one wanted me and I could hear people whispering how ugly and weak I was and I wondered what fate lay in store for me. It hurt to be unwanted and when I heard people wanting to send me away to a farmhouse, or ‘dispose’ me of, I felt frightened when I wondered what was going to be my destiny.
 

One evening a few people came over and a gentle woman with kindness in her eyes looked at me, and on the spur of the moment lovingly picked me up, and the way she tenderly snuggled me I felt true love for the first time. This was my new mother. They got into a car and drove across Pune, past Aundh, across the river, till they reached a bungalow. The kind woman was wondering what her husband’s reaction would be. It was dark. I was scared and cuddled up snugly my mother’s arms to feel safer.  

Suddenly I found a tough-looking bearded man staring at me. Shivering with fear I looked back at him in terror as he extended his hands towards me. But the moment he held me in his large cozy hands, caressed me lovingly and put his finger tenderly in my mouth, I felt protected, loved, safe and secure. This was my new father and he had already decided my name – Sherry – the same name of his earlier canine ‘daughter’. [‘Sherry’ means ‘beloved’ – not the wine drink you are thinking about!]. 

“She was destined to come here,” my mother said. 

“Yes,” My father said feeding me warm milk. 

They made a nice warm bed for me in a basket and put it below theirs. And as I drifted into sleep, they both fondled me with their hands. I felt so wonderful and happy for the first time in my life. I had found my true home and my family. 

I am feeling quite sleepy now and I’ll end here and have a nap. If you want to know more about me, my delightfully mischievous life, and the naughty things I do, please let me know and I’ll tell you all about it!  

 

To be continued 

 

VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright 2006 Vikram Karve

 

vikramkarve@sify.com 

http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com 

http://karve.wordpress.com 

 

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February 13, 2007

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