A friend of mine, who is a doctor in Thiruvananthapuram, called me the other day to tell this story. He recently built a house in one of the city suburbs. One day, a man who lives nearby, came and asked him why he still had no curtains on the windows.
“Doctor,” he said, “this is a beautiful, new house. But where are the curtains? You need curtains.”
Curtains, he said, would look nice on this new building. My friend told the man that he would call him after some time. The man gave my friend his address and left. A month later, my friend decided to put curtains and went in search of this man. But when he enquired in the locality, he was told that there was none who stitched curtains.
After a couple of days, the man again appeared before my friend. “Doctor, it seems you came searching for me.” My friend told him that he was indeed there but could not locate him. To this, the man replied, “True doctor, it is me and my brother who are doing this. I will bring him soon.”
And off he went. But a few days later, both were back. When the doctor gave the specifications for the curtains, they said they would return. They were true to their word but they brought with them an emaciated man. This man took the measurements and the curtains were ready in a week.
But what were the first two doing? Of course, we all know what they were doing. They did nothing. But they made money out of the poor tailor’s labour and sweat. And this is the latest and rapidly spreading “work culture” in every field of activity in Kerala.
Who on earth said you cannot catch fish without wetting your hands?
(The writer’s email: email@example.com)