Redland Green School

RGS Bristol

Outstanding Example of Year 8 Creative English Writing

Indian Story by Year 8 Student

I hurry down my road to where my motorbike is parked. It's 8:26 PM and I'm most certainly going to be late for work. "Arnav, where are you going?" My Grandpa strides up behind me, making me jump. "Work," I mumble as I mount my motorbike. His disgusted face is the same as usual. He wants me to quit, that's certainly clear. Every morning at breakfast, instead of thanking me for my hard work and steady income, he tells me to quit. "It's not a traditional, respectable job," he rambles to me. That's where he's mistaken. Call centre jobs are considered honourable jobs. Being able to speak English and knowing about tech stuff doesn't come easily. I wave to Grandpa and ride off, possibly a little above the speed limit.        

It's dusk at the moment and all of Mumbai is shut away. I love this journey usually as I'm out of the house by 7:50 and can go at my own leisurely pace. Smells from the streets waft around me. They're nice smells, from the festival earlier today. Soon the night time period will kick in and not a soul will sleep. The beautiful houses and the colossal boats in the port pass me by. Gulls swoop overhead and I get a great view of the sunset over the sea. But not today's journey.

 I've now got less than 40 minutes to get to work and my boss hates us being late. He bosses us around like we're much dumber than him when actually, he can't speak a word of English. It's surprising he hasn't bothered to learn considering he works for BT. To ensure I'm not late, I cut through the city and take a short cut through the slums. I don't like the slums because everyone there thinks I'm selfish because I won't give them money. I live with my parents, grandparent and two siblings, all of whom are unemployed except my father who's a rickshaw driver so it isn't like I've loads to spare. Nevertheless, I turn my motorbike away from the port and into the slums.

 At once, chaos surrounds me. People are chasing after me, running, shouting. Roads become narrow streets and alleyways. Rickshaws and cars become charging men and screaming children. People jump out the way from my motorbike, others try to block my way. I'm used to the hustle and bustle of central Mumbai, but I'll never be used to the hustle and bustle of when you first enter the slums.

 I exit the chaos swiftly and head to outskirts. This is the most depressing place of all. It's mostly quiet but a wailing sound can usually be heard  over the whistle of my engine. People lying on the side of the road stare at me. They just stare blankly, not asking for anything, just watching. These are the people I feel sorry for. I start to go faster. By now, probably well over the speed limit. My eyes follow the road until I notice an old man. Unlike the other people along this stretch, he stands up. I turn my head and look at him. He meets my stare and panic comes over him. He points ahead of me, to the road.

 "Gāya," he yells to me with all his might. Cow. I spin my head just in time to see a cow standing in the middle of the road. The cow is sacred in the Hindu religion and if I harm it, goodness knows what will happen to me. I swerve just in time and pass the cow by with no harm done. I don't think it liked the petrol smell though. The old man sinks back down to the ground, not smiling or happy but satisfied.

 I can see my work building up ahead of me, its bright lights shining on the people below who just look like silhouettes from here. Darsh, my best friend and work college, will be one of those silhouettes waiting outside the call centre. Any second, they'll be let in and it's essential I'm there too or my boss with most likely fire me.

 I speed up. Faster and faster I motor down the road. Adrenaline and dread fill me up and swallow me like a hungry beast. Some terrified birds sore up from the ground as I rev my engine. Finally, I make it to work at 8:59, 1 minute to spare. I park my motorbike and join Darsh outside the door.

 "Hello Arnav, it is good to be seeing you," he says in English. We do that sometimes to practice. I've never said so but I actually think I'm a bit better at English than him.

"Very good to see you Darsh," I reply smugly.

 "Show off," he says in Hindi and laughs.

 The glass doors off the call centre open suddenly. Standing in front of us is Mr Jhadav, my boss. He lets us in then gets us straight to work as this is a prime time for calling. It's roughly 3:30 PM in Britain at the moment so a lot of calls are coming in. The customers are very pushy at this time as well. As usual there's the posh man who thinks his broadband is broken when he hasn't even switched his laptop on. Then there's the racist person who thinks that because of where I'm from, I can't help them fix their computer. People like this take up my time for nearly two hours. Then I get a call from a genuinely broken broadband owner who is extremely polite. I answer the call as usual and expect an angry voice.

"Hello, my name is Archie, how can I help you?" I ask. Mr Jhadav thinks that having British sounding names makes us easier to talk to. I don't really see the logic behind it and it doesn't work.

 "Hello there," an old man with a soft, frail voice whispers. "I seem to be having problems with my BT Home Hub so would you please help me." As I listen to the old man and instruct him on what to do, I check my emails for tasks set by Mr Jhadav on the computer in front of me. I've become quite good at multi tasking through this job. I can talk and type, talk and read and talk and watch the festival lights flash, knowing I'm missing out.

 Even though I'm not very religious, I do enjoy going to festivals like Ganesha Chaturthi that's going on at the moment. My favourite celebration has to be Christmas though, which luckily for me is celebrated by a lot of people in Mumbai, as is Good Friday.

For our 15 minute food break at 12:30, me and Darsh eat at the only place we can get to; the call centre sandwich shop. I order a tomato, lettuce and cheese sandwich and Darsh gets a tuna bap. We sit there munching our western snacks and gossiping about customers. We get back to our seats just in time to hear an announcement Mr Jhadav is making.

 "We've just received word from the head office of BT that there's a new offer of a larger broadband package being reduced." He says excitedly. "Everyone call the people listed on the emails I've just sent you who all have the smaller package and offer them the larger one." I sigh and open up the email. Advertising things to people who clearly don't want it is the worst part of this job. I imagine my brother and sister out having fun and my parents and grandparent sleeping peacefully. Either sounds like a luxury at this point as my eyes are barely staying open.

 At 3:00 AM, the phone calls stop coming in and the music from the city centre stops playing. Now I know that Britain and Mumbai are asleep. I can't sleep though. Mr Jhadav is paying us good money (good enough to buy my motorbike anyway) and he isn't just going to let us sleep. He keeps us as busy as ever with email sending and script modification. Apparently, saying 'hi' which is slang for hello is now considered more approachable and is easier to get the conversation going. Also, saying 'how can I help you?' is considered too robotic it's been decided so we now say 'what can I do for you?'.

By 6:00, the end of my shift, I'm so tired I've resorted to coffee, one western thing I never thought I'd go along with. Turns out it works wonders if you're trying to stay awake for 8 hours.

 I get home to find my entire family sitting at the kitchen table, listening to my siblings' account of the night before. They hadn't been up long so I got almost the full story. They went to a temple in the centre of Mumbai to witness and take part in the Pranapratishhtha ritual. Then they walk around, dancing and trying to find the best Ganesh statue.

 I listen with envy as that used to be what us three would all do together. I may have the best job in terms of money but it's at a bad time if I want to be able to go to the festivals and celebrations.

My grandpa notices my discomfort and opens his mouth to say something. At first I think it's going to be him, once again, telling why my job is bad. But then he changes his mind says

"It's vital to have a good job when you're young, otherwise you have to rely on Grandson for money." I know he means me mostly but it was also him saying thank you, in his own way, for having a job. I give him a smile and reply

"Let's hope my Grandson doesn't mind as much as yours."