Monthly Archives: January 2015

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How does a wordsmith work ?

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Winter in a predominantly tropical city like Calcutta restrict outdoor activities for me. So, I thought of narrating not a very typical day in my life. A wordsmith work is more like a craftsmen and a craftsman’s life does not vary much even if you go thousands of years back. A technician needs many tools and machines, a craftsman’s tools are simple and ancient : words, chisel, brush, potter’s wheel, knife and so on.

2 years back I wrote a diary – Daily Diary of a Freelancer.

Let us see what did I do today

I translated some 700 words into Bengali in the morning. The translation was related to a medical report. Then I helped some clients getting some 6000 words worked in six languages spread in all the continents. I wrote couple of marketing letters – an assorted salad like and sent to various leads.

Wrote a short summary of a foreign language learning programme and had this sent to a DTP team for design.  One of the languages was Greek and then watched a 40 min documentary on ancient Greece in youtube  – the age of Pericles and that reminded me reading a book by HDF Kitto entitled The Greeks. It also reminded me that our Rennessiance Club meetings are little like Greek Symposium by design where one meets, eats and discusses – not about stocks and trades, vacancies and profiteering, office-woes or celebrity gossip, mobile update or facebook victories.

I prepared a dish after reading this in a blog post where the author teaches how to fry a sliced aubergine and then preparing a paste made up of yoghurt, pepper, cardamom, fenugreek and aeostifedia. It tasted great.

Finished and proofed the translation and delivered. Client, a Briton acknowledged with a terse ‘thank you’ and then wrote a blog post. Read two wikipedia entries : Themistocles and  and Sophocles – whom the documentary mentioned. I learnt from the ancient thinkers that greatness is so ephemeral that a nation can sink to rank mediocrity within a generation.

Followed up with some previous projects and alerted a client that our delivery will be delayed 24 hours due to reasons I cannot control. Client solaced me and comforted by this, I thought of watching another report on Geopolitics which tells how geography is, one sense destiny. The same report told me why Russia from Czars till today wants to expand because in the East, between the last frontier and Moscow there lies no natural barrier and only plains. The only natural obstacles are winter and fatigue of enemy troops. Both proved fatal for Napoleon and Hitler’s armies.

Then made a call to a friend who is a co-presenter in a workshop for translators on 17th January – Job, Career and minor global fame being a translator or interpreter workshop. He told me that one of his friends need some voice recording in Bengali and then called a studio owner here – a small business and they started conversing.

Checked with a friend’s friend who had access to some fine illustrators and sent an inquiry to that effect. The illustration is needed for a book I had long written but not published formally – The Calcutta Culture Glossary  and waiting for reply

As it became evening, the air became chilling and drank some tea and thought of watching another 40 mins movie. Napoleon and the defeat in Russia kept my mood sombre and Darjeeling Tea also could not lift it up. So watched The Adventure of Napoleons of Sherlock Holmes and got delighted (once again) by the great tablecloth trick by the great detective and the great actor who played the role – Jeremy Brett.

The detective in London stimulated me and I thought of again attempting a long pending translation from Bengali to English and progressed considerably. After 1000 words completed, I felt tired and feet became colder. Resigned myself to the bed and checked the mail box to see that except some harmless promotion and received, there is nothing.

I conclude : my work-life, in a general sense is exceptionally boring. I am trying to inject some steroid of excitement into it using association of ideas and through a make belief of work.





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How does a corporation work ?

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It is incredible but most of the people who work in a large corporation do not know how does a corporation work. TCS, a major Indian IT corporation has announced and went into ‘terminating’ employees. The matter has reached Court. Our mainstream media is busy with the news.

Our task is not to join the debate but the duty is to ask something which will help us better to know what is happening, why and what are the possible future configuration.

The best image that will help us to start our attempt to understanding is the story of 4 blind persons and reporting back about an elephant.

1st Blind : Considers corporation as a configuration (an animate object) which has manifested because of certain conditions of space and time, will remain and then will change into another configuration.

2nd Blind : A corporation (tusk of an elephant) is like a valuable jewel and this needs to be protected from internal and external threats. For this service, these set of people demand various powers and privileges. One of this is to decide who is needed, who is not needed, who is worthy and who is not worthy. In short, they are the administrators.

3rd Blind :  They consider corporation (belly of the elephant) as something which needs to be filled-in. They gather money, trade know-how,  get clients, negotiate with vendors, deceive clients but with the sole and singular objective of feeding the belly. They are the sales force. They sell and they buy (to sell).

4th Blind: They consider corporation ( as the rear of the elephant) as something that needs to be needing continuous clean-up, re-work. They also cannot do any of the other things by natural temperament. They are the largest in terms of numbers in a corporation.  The more 3rd blind fill-in, the work increases proportionately for this group.

A corporation’s normal working mode is a tacit agreement between all 4 blinds that they are blind or have impairment.

There are following malfunction modes and their gross manifestations are detailed below

 1st Blind : Due to hierarchy, 1st blind group faces threat from 2nd and 3rd and or their combination. They simply leave. So when you see in a corporation that such people are leaving and they invariably do so in silence, you may conclude that there is a conflict with 2nd group or the organizational ship is sinking. The 1st group sensed it.

2nd Blind  : They face threats from 1st and mostly from 3rd. 3rd people (the sales and traders) argue that these people are simply there and no external and internal threats exist. This comes as a ‘hot money’ effect. If you see tremendous turmoil and loud fights, you can conclude that 2nd people are fighting an internecine war or 3rd group is inciting it or combination. This can continue for a very long time.

3rd blind : Their threat comes from 2nd and 4th group. They enter into truce with 2nd group, fund a faction in 2nd or fund promising ambitious ones in 4th category.  They generally avoid great fights as this creates turmoil and hinders the process of filling the belly of the organizational elephant.

4th blind : This category is largest in number but least focused.  They remain separate and since they are manipulated by 3rd and their front and side view completely closed due to the large elephantine organization and the incessant work issuing forth, they even do not sense that the elephant is no longer an elephant but is morphing into a different animal and instead of a stately gait might have acquired the habit of kicking. They only leave when the kick actually forces them to change co-ordinate.

The Full Picture 

Backed by my own experience in working in the elephantine organization and from countless number of hearing from others, here is the full picture :

A corporation (French : couer meaning body/tangible) is an organic engine with head, arms, belly and legs. The head thinks where is the food and directs the arm. The arm  goes with the help of the legs and gathers the food. The food is now sent inside the belly which nourishes all the other parts of the body – head, arms, legs and itself.

The interesting question is ask when a corporation does not work. It does not work when the following happens :

a) There is no head function. The organization is a brainless body.

b) There is head but no arm. The organization cannot  gather nourishment. It cannot even drive a threat like a fly away. The head in course of time gets physically damaged.

c) The belly, without a head and a arm thinks wrongly that there is no point sending nourishment to other parts and appropriates all. The result is indigestion, bloating and cessation of the process of digestion itself.

d) The arm fights but does not satisfy the belly. In course, arms go weak.

e) The legs refuse to carry the head, belly and arm. It conspires with the belly to carry belly only and not arms and head. The corporate body falls down on the belly and rots.

***********************************************************************This model of corporation can be easily extended to family, community, nation and international entities. This model holds true from a nation of bacteria to an inter-galactic  nation of aliens.