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Open & shut: The eyes have it

Why not give the benefit of the doubt to our law-makers who doze off — nay, appear to doze off — during discussions or meetings?

Rahul Gandhi appeared to have dozed off during a discussion in the Lok Sabha recently. His party promptly came to his defence. And Renuka Chowdhury, MP, said, “How can one sleep amidst so much of noise? We close our eyes to relax.”

An acquaintance narrated a story she came across while working for a software organisation. Her Indian company had bagged a prestigious order for a new system development project from a firm operating in Europe. To understand the client’s requirements in detail, Arun (name assumed), a software engineer, was deputed on three months’ on-site assignment to the client’s office in Europe.

The European company’s in-house software engineer would design the architecture (blueprint, in simple terms) for the new system they required. Arun had to take off from this blueprint, interact with various staff members, understand the firm’s operations first hand and feed sufficient information to his offshore team working in India, which would then develop the detailed solution.

The country that Arun landed in was lush green everywhere, the climate was blissful and the ambience of the office was breathtaking. The staff members were seated around one giant round table in an open office set-up. Laptops opened in front of each person every morning and closed at the end of office hours, virtually in a synchronised manner.

In his seat

After a day of warm-up and familiarisation, Arun was allotted a seat at the mammoth table. The seat directly opposite him was vacant. Arun called his office in India, sounding gung-ho about the ambience and hoping some European girl might be seated opposite him. But that was not to be.

The day after, the vacant seat was occupied by Stefan (again, name assumed), a European software engineer. Arun thought of picking up a conversation with Stefan, when he realised the latter had not opened his laptop, in sync with the others. Now, Arun watches Stefan very closely…

Stefan looks around the office for a couple of minutes and then slowly closes his eyes, with his right hand thumb and forefinger resting on his nose bridge. Does he pray before starting his work? Thirty minutes, and nothing changes. Perhaps, he meditates. One hour, two hours… no change. Coffee-break comes and yet Stefan is in the same pose. No one seems to be bothered about him and Arun doesn’t muster the courage to ask anyone what’s happening.

Lunch time, tea break – status quo prevails. At 6 p.m., the business hours end and employees file out. Stefan opens his eyes and walks out. Arun calls his office, pours his heart out and says he can’t work with someone right in front of him sleeping the whole day. “Hold on,” was the advice from Team India.

Day 2. Stefan arrives, doesn’t open his laptop and it’s just a repeat of Day 1. He closes his eyes… opens them only at 6 p.m. and walks out. How can an entire organisation not even take notice of him? A flabbergasted Arun feels he should report the matter to some higher official.

Come the next day. The management organises a high-level meeting and asks Arun also to join. As Arun enters the meeting room, he’s surprised to find Stefan seated in the front. ‘God! Why’s this dude here and will he sleep here too?’ run his thoughts.

To his shock, Stefan addresses the gathering for an hour, presenting the new system architecture he has designed. There is pin-drop silence. Arun is stunned at Stefan’s depth of knowledge and expertise. Everyone concur that what Stefan presented is the best.

Stefan explains that while working on the architecture that he designed, he faced problems in one particular segment. “I wasn’t satisfied with an initial solution I arrived at and craved to improve it. I wanted to hand over the best input from our side to Arun and his team to work on. So, for the last two days, I was pondering on this problem thinking, thinking, thinking and thinking. Finally I got the solution which I have presented before you.” There’s thunderous applause….

Why not give the benefit of the doubt to our law-makers who doze off — nay, appear to doze off — during discussions or meetings?

vishyvaidya@gmail.com

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:56:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/Open-amp-shut-The-eyes-have-it/article14545969.ece

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