This qualifies as a fairy tale as this small boy was always happy. It would be hence worthwhile to take a journey into his magical homeland.
There lived this small boy in a nondescript town in a nondescript country. He lived with his parents and grandparents along with his six siblings in a small house.
No one had separate rooms in their house except his father and mother. Even that room was too small to be described even as a room. Probably the room never existed in the original plan and was only concocted out of sheer necessity.
Walls inside the house was an anathema even as an idea.
All of them slept in various parts of the house, a pattern had developed over the years, no one remembers who founded it if at all anyone took that trouble.
All of them took their dinner together; at the same time each day. Breakfast was in batches, out of necessity and lunch was carried from home.
In small uninsulated plastic containers. The lunch consisted of only one dish.
The household had a radio. It was turned on for news, songs and to follow the commentary if there was a sports event going on.
The working hours of the school was strange too. (In the first place the school was a standalone big building resembling more a medieval castle with a huge playground in the middle.) The school operated between 1000 hours and 1700 hours with a lunch break of one hour. The children usually finished their lunch in the first fifteen minutes and played for the remaining 45 minutes before resuming the afternoon session, sweaty and smelling.
After returning from school, the boy left almost immediately; back to the same playground.
Here his friends and he played a multitude of games.
In this town people actually played games.
In the sense, they were actually present, used their skills, limbs, ran, jumped, fell down, hurt themselves, got physical, burnt calories, torn their dresses (not so frequently) and returned home really physically tired when daylight faded.
Most of the games would be difficult to comprehend for today’s kids. (Then that is what a fairy tale is all about, right? – it stretched one’s imagination to visualize them and often would end up looking ridiculous) Here is how some of the games could be described.
There was one game in which two cylindrical wooden sticks were used. One was longer and the other shorter. The shorter one tapered off at both ends to a sharp point. The shorter piece was drag flicked from a starting point (a long depression in the ground). This was thrown back by the other player and later was generally scattered to all parts of the ground by the first player using the long stick. The rules were rather complicated. No manuals were available. Improvisation was the norm. A complicated scoring technique decided who was the winner at the end of the day. No written records were available. For some strange reason, the kids found the complicated game rather entertaining.
There was yet another in which a large group of boys ran around randomly all over the ground while one player threw a tennis ball on someone else’s back. If one happens to be close by, the contact of the ball on one’s back really hurt a lot. Sometimes the ball was soaked wet to impart greater pain. Anybody could pick the ball and hit anyone else. Strangely there was no winner at the end of the game. Ever. The soaking of the ball was akin to Messala riding his chariot with blades on the hub. But no one cared.
There were other impromptu games; Long jump in a make-do sand pit. High jump using boys of various height as targets to be cleared, instead of the traditional bar supported by two poles.
An almost non-describable game called tops.
Another one involving marbles.
The boy ended up playing almost all the games in the course of the evening and returned home totally exhausted and happy. It was an equivalent of taking part in a decathlon; each day of the year.
The game routine changed on the weekends. The boy was out the whole day; from morning till night. Lunch was often skipped.
As was mentioned earlier, the evening full of games culminated in an almost strange event of full family dining together.
Every single day.
Studying pattern and the terrifying event that is known as exams in today’s contemporary world passed by without as much as causing a ripple on the serenity of home and life.
I have been attending workshops and training sessions over the period of 30 years of my working.
From the initial days of flip charts and white boards to the current powerpoints and multimedia – I can say I have seen them all.
Few things have changed but most have not. As a compulsive observer of human behavior, I have categorized the classroom into the following, well, categories!
The Poor Presenter:(PP)
He/she is the only person who is alert throughout the day of the presentation. Having done the drill several numbers of times he/she might probably do it blindfolded. Either the presenter is really passionate about the contents he/she is delivering or is a consummate actor, though I tend to believe the latter is true.
The presentations are usually textbookish, with hardly any link to what actually happens on a shop floor.
It is more like “If you ride on a two wheeler, the chances are that it is a scooter” – How do you find fault with that logic? But what value addition does it add to a problem that you face every day?
Barring few, most have served on production lines in the past and it is difficult to believe that they believe everything they say.
Now to the motley crew that is the audience. The following categories may not be the final exhaustive list, you are free to add another type that you have identified that I missed out. Only one thing is common. Not one of them would stay in the room if they were given a choice.
The Surreptitious Mobile Type:(SMT)
This specimen is most prevalent in today’s scenario. They did not exist when I started out in the pre-mobile era. They keep their mobile on silent mode. The mobiles are usually held below the desk, or on the side of the note pad, on the table, where they keep fiddling with it. They check news, messages, notifications, mails, tweets and endless diversions that are available. They adroitly distribute their time between carefully devoting their full attention to their mobile and falsely looking interested in the lecture. In order to not arouse any suspicion, they periodically make notes on their note pads. None of which will make any sense to them when they read it a few days later.
The Blatant Mobile Types:(BMT)
Same as before. The only difference is they can get away due to their position. This type is usually the higher hierarchy or the clever ones who occupy the rear of the hall. In case the seating positions are pre-decided, then the lucky ones who are seated at the back. The second category of the rear benchers will have to be on the alert as sometimes the poor presenter tends to walk around the room while giving the lecture.
The Questioning Type:
This type gives the poor presenter an orgasm. This type can further be divided into three sub-categories.
First is The Genuine Questioning Type:(GQT)
This person has an urge to ask questions. On any topic. And almost on each slide. The questions can be challenging, demanding, interesting and sometimes outright ridiculous. But question he will. Sometimes the poor presenter will not understand his question. He will be asked to repeat his question.
There has never been a case in the recorded history, where the poor presenter has replied “I do not know”.
With his back against the wall, under relentless questioning from this type, he usually resorts to the time-tested escape route “ we have to look more deeply to your site specific conditions before we can reach a conclusion”.
This questioning type is unusually energetic and even after such a snub rebounds with another question two slides later.
Second is The question To Impress Type:(QTIT)
This person has no interest in the answer. His job is over when the question has been asked. His audience is not the poor presenter, but his superior who is present in the room. He even looks at his boss while asking the questions. He never bothers with the answer given. He will look at the poor presenter with an unwavering gaze with periodical nodding of his head and when the answer is delivered, will curtly say “OK” and bend down to write something on his notepad.
He is not so active like the genuine questioning type; he usually asks four or five questions over the entire day.
The poor presenter is happy with this type as he is easier to deal with.
And the third is The Tangential Type:(TT)
No one understands what he is asking. To the unassuming public, it sounds like “explain the chemical reaction between hydro chloric acid and sodium salt” to a lecturer teaching the fundamentals of English grammar.
The poor presenter usually asks him to explain his question once or twice. With each round in trying to make it more lucid, it gets murkier.
Finally it is left to the senior most person present to diffuse it politically by saying something along the following lines “I think it is better that you approach him after the lecture to have a detailed discussion one on one”
The rest of the room sighs with relief. The poor presenter is usually petrified at the proposed round of the discussion, but it never comes to pass. The tangential type withdraws into his shell after this and most of the time forgets to pursue the proposal. This type normally has one or two questions per day.
Next on the list is The Wise Ones:
This type has to offer explanations and modified views and simpler versions (in their pigment of imagination) of what is being presented.
This category has two sub-types.
The first is The Explaining Type:(ET1)
This type answers a question (by any of the three categories mentioned above) before the faculty can. They have this compulsion to answer any questions. They never ask questions. They know everything ! At the end of their answer ,the faculty finds it easier to skip answering and move on, though the tendency in the faculty to challenge his answer is fairly high.
But they feel it is not worth pursuing.
The second type is The Elaborating Type:(ET2)
This type waits for the faculty to finish answering.
Then they start “If I can add a little to what you said…” and they ramble on assuming they are making it much simpler and honestly believing that they are offering a more lucid explanation than what was said by the presenter. Most of the times it is pure balderdash. But they are so full of themselves to realize this.
The last category is The Neutral Agents:(NA)
These are a peach. They have this brilliant capacity to just merge into a crowd. No one notices them, they never run the risk of being singled out by the lecturer to offer a viewpoint. They never ask a question. They don’t make a sound. They are like ghosts. The only time they move is to get a coffee or a snack. Silently they finish most of their regular day’s work without anyone noticing. They are the only ones who are usually the freshest when the day ends. They are the darlings of the top management too. They can be selected for any course ranging from Advanced statistical techniques to safety regulations to communication effectiveness!
Roman emperors are usually known for all the wrong reasons. Excess of wine, women, debauchery and the likes. Last week I was watching Tiberius' Leadership with a young boy. This being a scene very close to my heart I was explaining the subtle qualities of a great emperor to the young lad. Much to my delight he liked them as much as I did. The whole film is a treat anyway. Watch from 02.00 minutes How he stretches the hand for the baton, and just raises his eyebrow when the aide places the baton on a cushion a few centimeters away from the emperor. And how the aide corrects it with just the right amount of concern on his countenance. And later when he nonchalantly asks Who is this man, riding beside you? The counsel answers "He saved my life" "Is that all you know of him ?" - all while surveying the crowd with a devious grin and not even looking at the counsel. Top class. I do not recall all the Oscars awarded to the film, but I would have given this actor an Oscar for this part alone!