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Last Updated: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Indian adventure on 380 a month
Kenny Rooney and friends
Ex-pat Kenny Rooney enjoys a night out in India
After travelling 5,000 miles from England to India, the last thing on Kenny Rooney's mind was finding love.

But on his first night out in Pune, which is 150 miles south east of Bombay, the 28-year-old met an Iranian girl, Sara Siddique, 23, and they have been inseparable ever since.

Mr Rooney is one of a handful of UK graduates who are being signed up to work in Indian call centres by recruitment firm Launch Offshore.

The history graduate, from Livingston near Edinburgh, quit his 21,000 a year job as a marketing campaign manager for Sky Television in April to work in an Indian call centre for 300,000 rupees a year, equivalent to 380 a month.

But he has found that because life in India is so much cheaper he can do his weekly shop, with added luxuries such as ice-cream and alcohol, and still has some change from 10.

He said: "The pace of life here is much slower, but people seem happier and are extremely friendly.

The money does not sound like very much, but life here is at least seven times cheaper
Kenny Rooney

"I went out on my first night here and met my girlfriend and lots of friends so I am never short of company."

Launch Offshore also arranged for his free accommodation in a two-bedroom apartment where he says he lives like a king.

Mr Rooney said: "The apartment is beautiful, the floors are marble and it has all mod cons including air conditioning.

"I share with another guy from the UK, so I have someone to talk to.

"The money does not sound like very much, but life here is at least seven times cheaper and the salary is equivalent to around 25,000 in the UK.

Psychometric tests

"I'm in charge of a team of 14 people and many of them trained as doctors and lawyers, but work in call centres because that is where the money is."

To get the job, Mr Rooney had to undergo a telephone interview with Launch Offshore and then another with his new boss in India.

I cannot see myself coming back to the UK any time in the near future
Kenny Rooney

He also underwent a series of psychometric tests to make sure he had the right temperament for the job.

He was then given contact numbers of UK workers already in India so he could he find out what it was like first hand.

He said: "I found this reassuring because I considered another job abroad, but was only given a hotmail address and I wasn't prepared to travel all that way with such a tenuous link."

The chief downside of his new life is the unsocial hours. He works in the evenings until the early hours of the morning, although he has weekends off.

Mr Rooney works for a telephone firm and his job entails trying to lure back customers who have cancelled their contracts and signed up with other companies.

"I was getting stale in my old job and wanted a new challenge.

"I'm really enjoying the job. I get up about midday, have a leisurely lunch and socialise. I then drive to work on a new motorbike I was able to buy for 200.

Humbling experience

"One thing I have noticed is that the locals are more likely to do what you tell them and are less likely to challenge you than in the UK, so this can be stifle people taking the initiative."

Mr Rooney, who has leant 10 words in Hindi, has also been touched by the kindness of locals, many of whom do not have much money.

He explained: "I was sitting outside enjoying the sun when a woman sat next to me and offered me some of her lunch. She obviously didn't have much money and it was a very humbling experience."

He added: "I have signed up for a year, but cannot see myself coming back to the UK any time in the near future."


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