Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Guy With the Weird Accent

When I was in my First Year in college, there was with me a guy named Rohit. He came from some small town somewhere, I forget which one exactly. The reason I knew him was because he was one of the guitarists in the college band, and I hung around with those people a lot. (Like any good groupie would!)

Now, Rohit didn’t speak much English. In fact, he couldn’t speak much English. He almost always spoke Hindi, with some Marathi and a smattering of English words thrown in. This, of course, meant that the two of us didn’t communicate much, and for a year we shared a ‘nod-in-acknowledgment-of-the-other’ relationship.

A year passed. I moved on the Second Year. He didn’t. I don’t know whether it was because he didn’t study enough or because he lacked the necessary English skills, but he didn’t clear his First Year exams. This meant he had to drop a year and give the exams again before he could proceed to the Second Year. With plenty of guitarists around, the band didn’t miss him much.

A year later, Rohit was back. Outwardly, he’d changed little. The tight, faded jeans and loose T-shirt were still the same. The stubbly look and the hollow cheeks hadn’t gone anywhere either. Nor had his skills with the guitar.

Then he opened his mouth to speak and my jaw dropped! He spoke in English! That wasn’t the biggest surprise! He spoke in English with a foreign accent! I asked him how that had come about. It was a simple story really.

When he found out that he was going to have a year free on his hands, he, like everyone else dropping a year does, sought employment in a call center. And they’d obviously put him through the necessary voice training and taught him how to speak with the accent. And since that was the way he had learned to speak English and that was practically the only English he had spoken in his life, it had stuck. Hence now he spoke English with the accent!

There were two other noteworthy points about the entire story. Firstly, the English he now spoke wasn’t anything close to perfect. There were still quite a few mistakes in it. But it was with a foreign accent!

And finally, the accent that he spoke in seemed rather queer to all of us. So we asked him which country the call center he was working in belonged to. And that’s when the final piece of the puzzle fell into place. It turned out that he’d worked in three call centers during the one year absence - one American, one British and one Australian! Poor guy!

17 comments:

Anna said...

ROTFL..
Poor poor rohit..
It must be funny to hear him..
lol...

Agarwaen Mormegil said...

hahahaha!!! poor guy. but made good bucks, it seems. foreign call centres give good shit as pay packages.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

eugh. Fake accents put me off completely.
But atleast his english skills have improved:D.

_ð!®†ß¤¥ said...

Just think what all he earned in that one year.. whilst u n I were busy pulling Cheepuk's leg...

Arnold said...

anna - trust me, it was!

aragorn - maybe it's just me but somehow the thought of shit in my pay package, "good" or otherwise doesnt seem very appealing! UGH!

megha - yea, i hate fake accents.. but then how exactly do u decide wht's fake? if i speak with a certain accent long enough and all the time, is it still fake?

facesmasher - u cant put a price on pulling cheepak's leg, dude!

Lakshmi said...

u'll know when an accent is fake....it would just sound weird and different from the regular accent people have (this is when the person's actually from the country)...but come to think of it the american accent isn't exactly nice to hear is it?

Freaky Chakra said...

a novel way to improve one's english skills & make money at that!

somebody advertise this in Bihar!

nina said...

wow...think how loaded he must have been at the end of the year!!!...lol...n the american accent sucks!!!...like the brit one!!!...whts worst is when peopl go and holiday in the states for just a month or two and come backw ith an accent that last for ages....but inconsistently....lol

Arnold said...

lakshmi, nina - i love the australian and french accents... which are ur favorite accents?

freaky chakra - hehe! the bihar idea sounds like the plan!

Lakshmi said...

how dare u insult the brit accent nina????? they can be swearing and still sound posh and sophisticated....frankly i like the indian accent (from the south to be exact)...very clear....

Arnold said...

lakshmi - ah! talk about jingoistic... but fair enough.. :)

Lakshmi said...

but it's true!!

Siddhu said...

Poor guy!

Sometimes I wonder what the point is of having non-english-medium schools, since all good jobs require a good grasp of English.

I've seen tamil medium students (back home) struggle with their exams. Not cuz they're dumb people, but cuz they can't suddenly learn english at the age of 17

Anna said...

Uhm.. Laksh.. I think nina meant she actually liked the british one...
Lol...
And //frankly i like the indian accent (from the south to be exact)//
Rotfl!!!

@arnold - sorry for trespassing your comments box and using it for conversation with Laksh..

Anyway, how's the situation? not been able to chat much, this week.. been busy.. been tired..

Arnold said...

siddhu - i quite agree with you.. all schools should be english medium.. with the local language taught as a second language..

anna - umm... go ahead.. it's a free service as of now.. college situ is somewht better!

Lakshmi said...

right.....sorry nina...was having another one of my mad/dim moments...this has been happening a lot in bangalore....i need to get back to my usual sarcastic, cynical self...or i'm just gonna die (my sudden inability to make a sarcastic comment on absolutely anything is killing me!!)
oh and thanks arnold....

Arnold said...

lakshmi - thanks for what again?