Lunch Break

The greater part of my lunch break is spent opening heavy doors and climbing up and down tedious flights of stairs. On Thursday, during lunch, as I was about to open one such door, it swung open, seemingly on its own…and what followed was a moment of doubt and resolution. Please don’t accuse me of unnecessary exaggeration…I let our authors practise that art…I’m just trying to put a harrowing experience in words! Coming back to the door, I stopped in my stride to fathom the mystery behind its opening. My dear friend Yajnaseni (Jogu, in popular jargon) was also equally suspicious. Within a fraction of a second a figure emerged into sight…none other than our CEO Mr Govil, engaged in an animated phone conversation. I don’t need to explain to you that he had graciously opened the door for the ladies to pass. Well, I’m not writing this post in the middle of the night to furnish proofs of Mr Govil’s adherence to the haloed institution of chivalry. The best part of this encounter, I’m yet to disclose. After the customary nods and smiles were exchanged, Mr Govil turned to me, knitted his brows and said, ‘Soumitri, you owe us’! Immediately my world was hit by a giant wave of tsunami and I saw it disintegrating in front of my own eyes…’I owe the company money…!’ Dark images surfaced in front of my eyes…I saw myself, in handcuffs, being whisked away by the cops to some godforsaken prison…and there…I saw the conclusion of my potentially eventful life…Well, in my imagination I had already climbed on to the police jeep when Mr Govil chose to complete his unfinished sentence. ‘You owe us a blog post.’ Without wasting a minute I got off the police jeep and reclaimed my life. The bulbs in our office had never shone with such zeal as they did at that moment. I knew what he was talking about. I was supposed to write about the School NSM 2008 in Goa.


With that lengthy introduction I now embark upon my original task.


The School Editorial is a great Pantheon of magicians (editors, as they are popularly known as), who can perform any kind of miracle at any given moment. The miracles, of course, come in the shape of beautifully crafted books, which are brought out in frenzied conditions. This year, we travelled to Goa to celebrate our miracles and let our babies bask in the sun and the sand (it’s a different matter altogether that the sunshine was sabotaged by the rain)


As we occupied our seats on the train, the party began. The train chugged along, gradually leaving Delhi and NCR far behind. It was a great start to three days of fun and frolic. We had our priorities in place. We were equipped with all the ingredients for the perfect picture. Rohit Sir and Naveen Sir ensured that there was never a dull moment. Kundan and Amit ensured that our jaws didn’t get a minute’s respite. Few kind souls ran back to back movie shows to ensure that no one sulks for the lack of entertainment. And the bubbly heartily supported all these enterprises.


The Konkan landscape offered a kaleidoscopic view of verdant fields, sprightly brooks, truant streams and hills and hillocks of various shapes and sizes. The quaint little stations without a speck of dirt left us awestruck (though we did our bit by scattering a few cigarette stubs here and there to make them appear more real).


From Mudgaon station our hotel was about 35 km away (don’t expect me to write down the name of the hotel…an editor is supposed to know all the difficult spellings but I don’t know this one). A short bus ride got us there. We enthusiastically occupied our respective state-of-the-art rooms. The dinner was awesome. For the next three days we were slaves to the Danish pastries and the fish cooked in Goan style. They acted as the perfect anti-stress potion.


We used to start our day very early, with a quick breakfast and stumble into the conference room, feeling groggy and sighing at the kind of injustice that we had fallen prey to. The conference provided the editors an excellent platform to unveil their books. The sales guys gained necessary information about the products that they would have to sell in the market. The day’s work was followed by crazy evenings replete with music, dancing, amazing jigs, rush of adrenaline and overflowing spirits (it’s the human spirit, this time). If that wasn’t enough, some of us would wrap up the day by rushing to the beach, rolling in the sand and braving the rain for another session of music and bonhomie. After all this some inspired souls felt motivated enough to visit the casino to nourish their penchant for disaster.


We all had great fun during those three days. However, the fun wasn’t always restricted to the booze, food, parties or presentations. An NSM is about people and their spirit. They make the occasion special. On the first day I came across many unknown faces from different corners of the country. At the end of the three days, all those faces had become familiar to me. We speak to our sales guys so many times over the phone, mutually pestering each other for something or the other. We also spend a lot of time dwelling upon each other’s limitations. Unfortunately, most of us wouldn’t even recognise each other in a crowd of faces. They are faceless entities to us, with whom we often share a volatile relationship. To them we are strangers. Our interaction is restricted to telephonic conversations and exchange of emails. The NSM presents an opportunity to all of us to connect names and voices with faces and look beyond the realm of mutual professional interest.


During my first NSM in 2007, I had no idea that so many people were a part of our organisation and Pearson Education was not just about the handful of faces one came across every day in office. Let alone the sales guys, we don’t even interact with our colleagues from other departments and on other floors on a regular basis in the Delhi office itself.


Goa allowed us to break all barriers and rise beyond our day-to-day dissatisfactions and frustrations. Smiles were exchanged, friendships were struck and acquaintances were made. Great ideas floated around. Our platter was always full. From books and strategies to clothes and spouses – we discussed practically everything. They say, ‘A lot can happen over a cup of coffee’. I have reservations against this statement. I can tell, from personal experience that a humble cup of coffee often fails to live up to popular expectations in many situations. You may agree or disagree. But we all agree that, ‘A lot does happen over an NSM…’


Soumitri – school editorial



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This blog is for all employees of Pearson in India . We hope to share updates - both personal and professional - from the worlds of education and publishing.