12. The Conference
Boss: ...I take the pains to send the three of you all the way to Chennai to attend a conference but did even one of you care to tell me how it went?
Employee one: Sorry sir.
Boss: Don’t say ‘sorry sir’. Tell me how it went.
Employee Two: The train journey was really bad sir.
Employee One: Yes, to spend a whole day on a train is something I feel is equal to being kept in prison. I prefer night travel. Just get on the train and sleep. But in day time trains can be...
Employee Two: What was worse was the food we got on the train.
Employee One: Prison food describes it well.
Employee Two: Why do you compare everything with prison? Planning to go there?
Employee Three: Train food wasn’t so bad. The food at the conference was the worst. I was certainly expecting better food at a national mega conference. All we got was just ...just ...pure vegetarian! And for that we had to stand in a long-long queue.
Employee One: Again just like in prison!
Boss: Stop going on and on about things. When I ask you about the conference tell me of the conference.
Employee Two: The entrance to the conference hall looked like a broken down or under construction building. It reminded me of the sort of place gangsters usually meet rather than executives. But the hall itself was not bad. It was like a big film theatre.
Employee One: The hall was too dimly lit and the power supply kept failing. And even though it was big it wasn’t big enough. Many were left standing.
Employee Three: The place where they served lunch was even worse. It was too tiny to accommodate everyone. I found it terrible; stuffed in a room with two thousand three hundred others from different parts of the country, speaking different languages, all holding plates in front of them and trying to eat pure vegetarian food.
Boss (angry): I am asking about what was said in the conference you idiots. Stop going on and on about trains and food and the venue. It was a motivational conference. Did you feel good and motivated listening to it at all?
Employee One: Somewhat sir.
Boss: What do you mean somewhat?
Employee One: They had lined up too many speakers. They all had a lot to say. But as time was limited they were asked either to speak really fast or were made to stop in the middle of what they were saying.
Employee Two: Some made their presentation in the local language which we didn’t understand.
Employee Three: One of them was narrow minded sir. He didn’t consider what he was saying from all angles.
Boss: What do you mean?
Employee Three: He was a Chartered Accountant trying to motivate people to join the CA course. He showed a picture of an ice berg. He said that as of now the scope of practice available for Chartered Accountants is limited only to the extent of the tip of the ice berg seen above the water which itself is plenty. But by the time we qualify the opportunities available would be even more, almost equal to the size of the whole ice berg.
Boss: So? I think he is right. More and more opportunities and being opened up for Chartered Accountants these days. Sometimes I feel I shouldn’t have stopped practice.
Employee Three: He didn’t consider global worming sir! Do you know how fast the polar ice caps are melting? It takes too long to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. After all that what if there is no ice berg at all?
Boss (angry): It was supposed to be a good motivational Conference. I thought it would do you good. But did it? I don’t think so. I am the one who is the biggest fool here. I should have thought twice before sending you out to attend this conference.
Employee One: Actually sir, we discussed about this conference for an hour everyday for six days before you decided.
Boss: Oh, thank you for reminding me! We discussed so much about it yet you made nothing out of it.
Employee Three: I felt a lot motivated sir.
Boss: Don’t you say a thing. I heard enough from you. Do you even know the meaning of the word motivation?
Employee Three: Of course sir. The conference inspired me to do something and now I’m deeply involved in it.
Employee Three: Yes sir. I’ve even joined the online Agatha Christie fan club!
Boss: What are you saying? The conference inspired you to join Agatha Christie fan club? This was an executive conference. I’m sure they didn’t speak about Agatha Christie.
Employee Three: One of the speakers was saying something about how two people might see the same thing from different perspectives. He gave the example of how two people acted after they read the same book ‘The Pale Horse’ by Agatha Christie. I don’t remember what he said but the cover page of the book which was a part of his slide attracted me.
The first thing I did after we got out of the conference was find a book stall and buy ‘The Pale Horse’. Books don’t usually attract me but ‘The Pale Horse’ was so good that I bought two more of Agatha Christie. Those two were even better and I found myself falling in love with the queen of crime. Now I have taken membership in an online fan club and also ordered ten more books. To start with I was never a good reader but now I just can’t stay away from Christie.
If it isn’t motivation that changed me then what did? I can’t imagine what I’d have missed if I hadn’t attended this conference!!
-Ashok Sri Krishna