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Banbury Cross

a pillow for lost thoughts...

Post details: Bangalore to Washington

Bangalore to Washington

Receiving a call from a telemarketer is usually as entertaining as French kissing a jar of Dijon mustard. Especially when it happens late at night, as it sometimes does, which I attribute to poor understanding of the time zones calculus among the Bangalore Call Center staff. But I don't blame them. If your world view is based on an infinite slab of Bhatura flatbread supported by 4 strapping elephants, the very concept of a time zone must seem entirely implausible to you.

Over the years, I developed a peculiar line of defense against telemarketers: I start speaking Czech. In most cases, their next sentence is a short stump of apology and the whole business is over within 10 seconds. That is much quicker than explaining to them that I am presently not experiencing any interest in purchasing an extended warranty for my newly acquired bar of soap. Such naive approach tends to be misconstrued as an invitation to a salvo of supporting arguments and a vivid account of Nirvana-like peace of mind which the extended warranty brings about - an act which can drag on for long minutes.

Last evening something interesting happened. A phone rang. The moment I detected a telemarketer, I summarily dispensed an antidote - the sentence "Good Day. What can I do for you?" - rendered in perfect Czech, with a slight East Bohemian accent. The person on the other end of the line didn't flinch at the sound of a foreign tongue and went on to corroborate on my apparent need to purchase an unemployment insurance policy associated with my Bank of America credit card. Taken slightly aback, I resorted to reciting two verses from my favorite elementary school poem called "The Noon Witch". Without skipping a beat, the voice on the other end asked if I wanted to sign up for a free one month trial. I had generously glossed over certain impracticalities associated with test driving unemployment insurance and countered with an attempt to place the previously recited poem in the wider context of a budding Czech literature, trying to find a little breathing space in the suffocating milieu of the dying Austro-Hungarian empire.

The person on the other side took this as a sign of my lingering interest in the financial product line conjured up by the Bank of America's finest actuarial wizards and asked me to provide my address whereto the vaunted insurance package could be promptly dispatched. I suppressed a deep sigh and piled on a few more tidbits from the history of Czech poetry. Fortunately, before I exhausted a thinning deposit of my Czech literary trivia reservoir, the person on the other side got tired and finally muttered the liberating "Pardon" and hung up.

When I thought about it a moment later, it occurred to me that this is exactly how political debate meanders through Washington. Both Republicans and Democrats are merely playing their shtick, legions of ideological sound bites goose-stepping in front of impassive C-SPAN cameras, and they hardly ever pay attention to what the other side is saying. Heck, sometimes they don't even worry whether they are saying it in the same language. Partisans by deafinition.


Comment from: Audrey [Visitor]
Permalink 11/15/09 @ 08:40

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