Of Cormorants and Managers

Ministhy Dileep | March 24,2011 12:54 pm IST

Lets Make a Cup of Tea.
With cardamom, a touch of basil, and ginger.

Something right from Simple Abundance, that best seller from Sarah Ban Breathnach*. And you may please loosen that shoe that pinches your toes, the tie that threatens to cut off your air-supply, and simply dump yourself into that plush chair. And yes sir, you may smoke. After all, as the saying goes, it doesn't matter whether you drown yourself in six-feet or six-inches. Right, pal? Now lets discuss management. Hey, don't you log off. Please try the tea, first.


You remember the tomes of Xeroxes, articles, patently stolen copyrighted material that we had to devour for our daily reading at BSchool? While worming my way through such a tome, I had once upon a time, encountered a seriously funny analogy. Of the Cormorant and the Manager.**


The Cormorant happens to be the only bird among vertebrates, trained to catch fish. Its because its very greedy for fish, very efficient in its job and easily trained. The fisherman puts an ingenious ring around its thin neck, and lets it dive into the water. It will unerringly come up with the mackeral. It cannot swallow the fish because of the ring on its neck. Now the fisherman will grin evilly, squeeze the neck and make it regurgitate the fish. The bird then happily dives for another, and the cycle is repeated. The Cormorant's uniqueness has been deviously exploited. The human life too (read a Manager's life too) can very easily parallel the Cormorant's.


Man, if you have finished that cup of tea and burnt your fingers on your stub, lets ponder on that one. Did you enjoy your day today? Or felt increasingly driven, chained, ringed-on-the-neck, made to dive, catch the measly smelly fish, made to regurgitate all those stupid reports, and finally missed your lunch? Oh, you had that pizza instead - the one with hot capsicum (which incidentally is from Peru) that burnt the living daylights out of your stomach lining. And what about all those feathers, ruffled and pecked-at by other Cormorant colleagues, fighting over your piece of herring?


Did you read anything other than the MIT technology Review or the summarized HBR? Apart from the cursory look at the Business News on Sexual Harassment policies, the Reliance post-card offer, the Bangladesh border disputes, and of course, Virender Sehwag? Do you happen to realize that your human/ original/ personal self (assuming you still have one, after being in this profession) feels increasingly marginalized, frustrated, ignored, intimidated by the Cormorant that you have become?


Of course, you say, I still take home the bacon (make that a piece of half torn mackerel called ESOPS). It simply adds to your waistline. The right brain shrivels due to lack of nourishment. And, Cormorants with no originality or right brain-growth will soon become old and die. At forty.


And your obituary will read:
Placed on day zero - three offers. Was a loyal son of the Cormorants Inc. Missed awfully by the fish. May his soul dive in peace.


More tea, brother? Or mulled wine, instead? Do you know, how they make mulled wine? (You don't want to know - Oh, I forgot - the weekly report to be compiled/project deadline to be met/ booking that ticket to Timbuktoo where the client is waiting with teeth-bared/ the audit of the Production team) Yep, the Mulled wine*** might as well wait - I think good souls are treated with wine and spiced beef in heaven. Maybe then, you might explore that fascinating process of flavors and smells and tastes - after St. Peter gives you your new-id, to hang around the neck.


And for your information, Cormorants are arrogant beasts (birds). They are so awfully proud of their credit cards and Opel Astras that they forget that other beings exist too. The fools who read, who potter around, who simply live. The loonies who take time off to have a foot soak, who don't relax by sun tanning on that expensive cruise liner with the cell and laptop on, who don't dive for fish, who also have right brains that are enviably sleek.


"Manhood, learning, gentleness, virtue, youth
Liberality, and such like
The spice and salt that season a man****


Shakespeare wrote this of the other guy - who was not a Cormorant. And hey, non-Cormorant women fall in love with that sort of guy - who has entertaining conversation, time to take his kid out to the zoo, and one who, at least two days a week, reaches home by ten p.m. And yes, he hates wearing rings around his neck. He says that it is too precious to be on lease, all day long.


Now ponder on that, this Valentine. And, boss, pay my bill. Though Cormorants usually don't enjoy basil tea.



* Sarah Ban Breathnach, "Simple Abundance", Classic, Best Seller. (www.simpleabundance.com)
** On the Realization of Human Potential: A Path with a Heart: Herbert A.Shepard et al, (ed), Columbia University, 1984
*** The East India Company Book of Spices, Anthony Wild, 1998: Mulled wine- with cinnamon, dried ginger, cloves, orange peel, white sugar and red wine. Die imagining or still better-attain nirvana, tasting.
**** Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida

Keep watching this space for more in this series... 


Ministhy S. is PG (PM&IR) from XLRI-Jamshedpur, and currently, an IAS officer working in the UP cadre. She has written five books - 'Unequal Equations', 'Learning with Tippy Tortoise: Tales for Kids', 'Happy Birthday: Poems for Kids' and a novel published by Dronequill Publishers, Bangalore....