The Attendant

There has been a deluge of visitors owing to peak production season. It started with the visit of a Middle-eastern trade-intermediary. Then an Australian came. A Swiss Trade partner is expected to visit middle of next week. Not to forget, the Mexicans are expected to arrive in two weeks’ time (“Mexican Delight”).

As most of the existing over-seas clients are being liaised by B, I am not called to attend these meetings. The customer is first taken to CEO’s chamber. The B and VP who would have arrived from the factory specifically for these meetings will wait for CEO’s call. After B and CEO join the meeting, it will go on for hours.

Intermittently, the CEO will call me on the intercom with various questions.

It does remind me of various comedy movies that I have seen. The comic-conman in the movie will use a dead phone to impress the visitor and the potential victim sitting in front of him. This scene never failed to produce laughter especially during Black and White movie era.

In the modern age, the same scene is written in a different way. The conman will call a number. A crony in the other end will receive the call. The conman will speak into the phone receiver and the crony will mutter a few laugh-evoking dialogues on the other end. The victim will give out the usual expression of having got impressed.

“I called a few minutes back…where were you?dont you realize the meeting is going on…you should be ready for back-up…tell me….when are the certification body visiting us”

Fact 1: Even if I was not on my desk, he could have reached my mobile phone to speak to me. But CEO is particular about talking on inter-com only. By mistake, I walked out of my cabin without seeking his assent to go to the wash room.

Fact 2: He very well knows that the certification body is visiting on next Monday.

“Remember we had discussed about company PQR the other day….how many tonnes of wheat starch are they producing?”

Fact 1: We never discussed about company PQR.

Fact 2: Wheat starch is not even remotely linked to our existing business.

Fact 3: I have no idea whatsoever on the volumes of Starch Industry. If he would like to show off in front of the American, he should do it alone. He need not call me on intercom and have a fake discussion to support his claim that he is expert on trends across various industries.

“when the certification body comes for audit, tell them that we would like to have the certificate as if it is renewed from the date it last expired (in august)… no…I wont accept your argument that we have changed to a new certification agency and they wont give certificate from retrospective effect….”

Fact 1: He would have accepted the Australian’s request without considering the practicability. After talking to me, he would have mentioned to the Australian proudly “I have spoken to my manager and we will get the certificate with the back date…don’t worry….your requirement will be fulfilled”

Fact 2: The previous agency which certified us was unrecognized and illegal. They were untraceable when we wanted to renew the certification.

“What are present prices being quoted by Chinese?”

Fact 1: The Chinese company clearly knew that we are a competitor to them.

Fact 2: The curt email received from them read “We can’t quote prices to you”

Fact 3: I can’t say Fact1 and Fact 2 on the intercom, as the CEO as per his usual habit would have switched on the speaker phone in his intercom equipment and the Australian visitor would be hearing the conversation.

The Conman scene may be an exaggeration, but what CEO does during a business meeting with the help of an inter-com is no less. The CEO uses a Phone-talk either to divert the issue that’s being discussed or to avoid taking a view on the matter or, most importantly, to show off in front of the visitor.

The inter-com buzzed one last time by late afternoon.


Fact 1: He does not expect any response. (This fact will replace all the facts posted under each dialogue).

Morning Star

The mornings have become colder than the normal this winter.

The wife feels a mild stress in the winter nights, thinking that she may not hear the mobile alarm ringing at 5.30 in the morning. Poor thing, she has to pack lunch for both Kids and has to make the younger kid take bath and dress up. The kids have to leave for school at 7.30am.

What happens is – invariably she gets up 30 minutes later than the alarm time which she sets up. Her argument is that once the alarm rings, she will be awake but would still like to continue to sleep in a semi-sleep and semi-awake state for a while before jump out of bed.

The elder kid is very duty conscious, so as soon as her mother calls her name affectionately, she gets up with no signs of grogginess due to abrupt awakening. Within no time, she is ready in her school uniform. The younger kid needs to be in sleep-inertia for about 10-15 minutes – just like the mother – before she enters the bathroom for brushing the teeth.

I suffer from Insomnia these days. Unusually, I remain awake till wee hours. Most of the nights either I sit in front of TV or read books or watch movies on my computer. Even after I go to bed, I don’t start sleeping immediately. Because of this, I tend to sleep extra in the morning forcing my wife to be on her own in her morning chores. The wife goes to the road-end to leave the kids in their respective school buses. On her way, she would pick-up milk packets. She would wake me up with coffee in her hands.

The day morosely starts with a bed-coffee. Morning coffee used to energize me before. Not any more. Coffee drinking has just become a habit. I do not completely enjoy the Coffee drinking experience.

The wife then will bring the newspapers to the bed. I shall look at the pages on the newspaper and will not read them. Just a quick browsing of headlines and I am done with it. The wife will try to have a small talk but my mind will not register anything.

By this time, I would have checked my emails on the mobile phone several times. Most of the days, there would be no mails in the morning time. Immediately, the mind will get into the worrying mode – why X customer did not reply to my offer yet? Why no more purchase enquiries from Canadian customer? Etc…This worry series will lead me to thinking about characters of my company…..will CEO just use me as a pawn to justify his failures? Will VP be laughing behind me on seeing my obstacles to good business? ….all unnecessary thinking…worrying….craving for intended outcomes….seeking only successful outcomes….

Is there any strength in seeking only successful outcomes? The strength lies in how we face the various outcomes – intended / unintended, positive / negative – with equal attitude. If one has seen only success all along, then he might not have any opportunity to get himself trained on how to face defeats and setbacks gracefully. The gracelessness leads men to be desperate without caring for fair means. The strength lies only in Grace with which we face life and its events.

Gracefulness is acquired from living with joy in the present and not losing oneself in thoughts constantly – in those thoughts which either make us feel guilty about the past or worry about the un-arrived future.

Mindfulness is a wonderful term used in Buddhism. I really like this word for its apt description of the state in which we all should live always. Consistent mindfulness practice leads us to the state of grace.

If I was mindful (and resultantly graceful ) – I would have slept at the same time as my loved ones. I would have woken up joyfully by the time my lovely kids walk out of home to go to school. I would have completely enjoyed the taste of coffee prepared my beloved wife (after brushing my teeth!).


I was afflicted with morning sullenness that day also. The expected Purchase order from Spain did not arrive on email the previous night. I was stressed out as to how I would explain this to CEO – who has been pressurizing me for more than a week now. Another new customer – the colour extracting company – did not grant me the meeting which I wanted that day. I was to leave for the meeting directly from home in the morning. The customer SMSed me at about 8am that he cannot see me. Ufff…I need to go to office only in the morning….this fact tired me instantly…..Wife asked “why do u always keep your face so stiff whenever you leave for office?” I did not reply her as I left home for office.

I entered the office not in a cheery disposition. The ants who saw me entering did not wish me. They pretended to be busy while noticing me entering the chamber. After keeping the lunch bag, I noticed that….a fax document lying on my clean desk….It was the PO which I expected to receive on email. It has come on fax. My heaviness flew out in seconds and I was feeling light……I took the fax document and came out…two ants wished me in Chorus – Congratulations sir!

Mexican Delight

A couple of months back; I had contacted a prospective Mexican customer. The customer showed interest in some of our products. After initial exchange of information, there was no much progress. Then one day, the customer requested for certain product samples to be couriered to their Brazilian subsidiary. After we had couriered the samples, the customer wrote one day that their General Manager is intending to pay a visit to our factory in March.

This development made CEO get overly excited. I noticed his excitement silently. This was bothering me also to some extent. When the customer was planning his itinerary, they sought our suggestions through emails. The CEO was chipping in with needless comments and ideas to me on how I should plan their visit, their movment from office to factory and dinners. On one occasion, when I suggested that the customer should catch an early morning flight to the city where our factory is situated, CEO protested and then suggested something which in my opinion was not very safe.

He said that the customer needs to be driven by road to the factory. The factory is located in about 6-7 hours drive from our office. With foreign visitors, that too on their first visit to India, it is always better to make them travel by plane. This will be quicker, safe and comfortable. That’s my view. When I aired it, the CEO needlessly became angry – “don’t talk like Stupid!” In a normal and formal conversation, this was unnecessary and insulting. I replied “please mind your language”. He kept his phone down abruptly.

Next day when I met him in the office, I got the feeling that he was not comfortable to face me. He did not mention anything on heated exchange of words the previous day.

His angry comment may have been a posturing, so that I remain subservient to him on these issues. He expects me to take instruction from him without giving any counter-opinions. What he expects is Blind Obedience! My calm but firm answering may have made him weak-kneed. What was the need to cut down the phone conversation? Either it may be to avoid further heated exchanges or may be to digest the shock that I objected to his undesirable verbal expression…..or the realization that I have seen through his secret plan of keeping me away from the customer when he visits India, thereby CEO gains more closeness with the Mexican customer.

While the customer was finalizing the itinerary, he asked the name of the executive who will be accompanying them during the flight to the factory. I sent out a mail to CEO asking him to advise me. He replied saying that how does it matter who accompany them and just tell them that things will be taken care of when they arrive here. This indifference also gave out a message to me. He does not want to give me an impression that he is too keen to travel with the customer.

The customer again sent a mail, asking firmly the name of the person who will travel with them and the hand phone number. CEO this time smilingly told me – “tell him I shall be flying with them and share my phone number with them”.

Although all along I knew this is what would be happening, still it made me feel sad. Contacting the customer, talking to them regularly, creating interest in our products, co-coordinating business – all this will be done by the Business Manager. But when it comes to entertain them, it will be CEO! I could not reconcile mentally to this gross injustice and abuse of authority.

I was drafting the mail to the customer and at the precise moment when I was typing the name of the executive (who would be accompanying them to the factory) as C.E……the intercom buzzed….the tea drinking director was on the other side. He politely asked me to come down to his chamber. The CEO also was sitting there in Director’s chamber as usual.

Director said “As it was you who has been liaising with this Mexican customer all along, I do feel that you should be receiving them the customer when they come here and also fly with them in the flight they take to go to the factory….it will allow you to spend quality time with them and understand them more….Mr.CEO, what do you say? Am I correct?”

CEO immediately nodded his head with full of enthusiasm. “Yes yes..That’s the right thing…..” and addressed me and said “arrange your flight tickets and inform the customer”.

I walked back to my chamber with a sense of gratitude on how events turned up finally. The events move on without anybody’s control. CEO’s high-handedness, my helplessness in dealing with the high-handedness, the customer’s strange insistence to know the name of the person, my sadness which delayed the sending of the email to the customer based on CEO’s original instruction…..everything seems just perfect now!