Hold on, please

Though Pandya has settled into a rhythm, the pace of calls slackens around 4 p.m. He recalls his brief brush with fame: "Recently, BJP leader and actor Smriti Irani (BJP Mahila Morcha President) had called for some numbers. I have even spoken to Narendra Modi when he was just a karyakarta. I am sure he won't remember but I do." Pandya also remembers the grim period after the earthquake. "I still remember taking a lot of distress calls from across the state even months after the earthquake."

Around 4.30 p.m., a caller from Vadodara tests his patience with a third consecutive call. "It is weird. Sometimes, a person calls up eight times for the same piece of information. It's difficult to handle seven phone lines but I tackle tough calls with namrata (humility) or pass the line to my boss," Pandya says.

Over a quick tea break, Pandya checks some websites—he trades in stocks too. He is clearly fascinated by numbers. "Now is a time to cut your losses and sit tight for the market to bounce back," he says. Having studied only till class 10, he is now doing his bachelors in arts.

"I like Gujarati and Math but have trouble with English. Though I have picked up some functional sentences in English, I cannot speak it fluently. My wife is a PhD and is a professor at a local B.Ed college. So I do sometimes feel the need to upgrade myself, which is why I plan to finish my studies."

Since many national leaders are visiting Gujarat to campaign, the phones at the karyalaya have not stopped ringing for days. As the night wears on, the number of calls pick up. Pandya has to make additional phone calls to connect to the office secretary about an ensuing rally and has to arrange for refreshments after a press meet. "My schedule is usually fixed but since this is an important time for the party, I stay here late till 10 p.m."

... contd.

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