I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Every once in a while, I visit this blog and wonder: Is the Argumentative Indian a myth?

Or perhaps we are all too politically correct to respond when a motion is thrown open in the house. The great Indian political debate largely appears to veer between two extremes. There is either peace and quiet and the gentle snores of those who fell asleep while listening to the other speaker; or there are items of footwear being hurled all over the place.

I’m not about to hurl a shoe, figuratively speaking, of course, but while the world and its colleague are happier elsewhere playing with a ping-pong ball, I may as well take the floor and deliver a harangue for both sides of the motion. And the motion is


This house believes that it is time to move forward with the times, especially when it comes to office timings.


To be perfectly honest, I can’t think of too many arguments for the motion. This could be because I’m not really a morning person. (I mean some are born owls, some achieve owlishness…and you know how that one ends.) But there certainly is one argument which appeals to many people, if I go by overheard conversations.

In this harried age of Covey’s quadrants and time-management mantras, an hour saved can translate into so much—a visit to the gym, driving lessons, salsa lessons, doing someone’s homework, watching a play, drinking two pegs more than usual, or just sitting and listening to the sounds of silence. And all of these (except perhaps the two pegs which might cause cirrhosis of the liver and what not) will undoubtedly improve the quality of your life. And not getting stuck in traffic snarls on a daily basis would probably sweeten tempers all around.

But, any motion that is proposed will inevitably have someone to oppose it. And these are some of the practical considerations that have been overheard. (Given my great respect for freedom of speech and the need to remain anonymous, I’ll just describe the people rather than name them.)

Concerned mother: Well, this timing sounds lovely, but I would have to change my child’s school.

Harrassed car-owner who can’t drive: I can be ready to leave by seven-thirty, but my driver refuses to come before 9.10.

Domestic worrier: My cook simply will not come early in the morning. And you know how difficult it is to get decent help these days.

And last but not least:

Aggrieved colleague: Abbe hum soyenge kab and jagenge kab?

Different people, different concerns. Oh, I have no doubt that if there was a decree, people would buckle down and adjust and figure out how to get to the office by 8.30. That’s the best part about practical problems; there’s bound to be some kind of solution. But I have a concern that’s a little impractical, a little idealistic and therefore perhaps, a little difficult to resolve.

It’s like this—to earn my salary righteously, I have to work for eight and a half hours a day (minus thirty minutes for lunch and another twenty minutes for assorted coffee breaks), five days a week. That’s what it says on paper. But sometimes, it just isn’t enough to earn a salary. Sometimes, it takes more than twelve hours a day, seven days a week to do a job to satisfaction. And having spent more than two years in this company, I know for a fact that there are a good many people working here, who believe that it ain’t worth doing, if it ain’t worth doing well.

And there will always be times, when the job at hand is one whose deadline went by yesterday (or, on one memorable occasion, the previous month). At times like that, don’t you agree that it would be a pretty bad idea to have an egg-timer in one’s brain going ping at five?

At the end of the day, I guess one of the reasons I’ve loved working in this place is because it’s mostly been quite different from the universally caricatured jailhouse-like offices. And because I’ve never felt like I was stuck in the monotony of a nine-to-five job.

Delirium, once Delight

About this blog

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.