Saturday, November 19, 2011

We never insult Guests

Once a famous University invited a Guest speaker to give a lecture to its Senior Students.  The students had assembled in full numbers in anticipation of an excellent lecture.  Guest speaker was also encouraged by the full house and started his lecture in right earnest.  The lecture went on for about ten minutes.  The students could not make out what the guest speaker was trying to communicate.  There were some murmurs here and there and the atmosphere became uneasy.  One of the students in the last row got up and looked around.  He pulled out a curtain behind him and picked the curtain rod in his hand.  As the well built boy started coming down the gallery with the rod in his hand, the speaker started trembling and told the boy,  "Please stop. I will conclude my lecture".  The boy calmly told him, "Sir, Please continue the lecture.  I will not interfere.  We maintain highest traditions in this Institution.  We never insult guests.  I am only going in search of the Program Coordinator who has invited you here".  

In one of the classes the teacher was to cover a passage in Ramayana.  SriRama standing on the shores of Lanka looks at the Golden City of Ravana and tells Lakshmana:

अपि स्वर्नमयि लन्का न मे लक्ष्मण रोचते
जननि जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसि

Api swarnamayee Lanka na me Lakshmana rochate
Janani Janmabhoomischa swargaadapi gareeyasi

Lakshmana, This Lanka is a Golden City.  Even then I am not enthused by it.  Mother and Motherland are greater than even Heaven .

The teacher asked the students; "Who is greater than the mother?".  He expected the students to say "Motherland!".  That would give him the perfect footing for further expanding the lesson. All the students believed that Mother was the greatest in the world and were confused.  But one boy in the last bench got up and answered: "Teacher".  The teacher was slightly disappointed because he did not get the expected response.  But he also felt proud that he was recognised by the student.  He asked the student again: "Why?'.  Pat came the answer: "Mother can put only one child to sleep at a time, whereas the teacher can put the whole class to sleep at the same time".

In another class, a teacher asked a student to wake up a sleeping student, sitting next to him.  The student was known for being polite.  But this time he retorted,  "Why should I?  You put him to sleep.  You only wake him up".

One executive was suffering from over work and stress.  He was unable to sleep.  He went to consult a Doctor.  The doctor advised him to join an evening course and sit for an examination.  "Which course should I choose?",  the executive asked.  Doctor replied, "Join any damn course, that is not important.  What is important is that you go and sit in the class".

Another teacher found one girl fidgeting in the classroom.  Teacher was annoyed.  She told the girl, "Why are you fidgeting?  If you do not like my lecture you can go to sleep.  You know I do not object to that".  The girl replied,  "I know that Madam, and the whole class is thankful to you for not objecting.  But the girl next to me is snoring so heavily that I am unable to sleep".

Sleeping in a classroom or a meeting or a conference or even a concert is not uncommon.  It is also universal.  It is infectious as well.  Some top leaders are more known for sleeping in public meetings than their other accomplishments.  Just as the speaker has the right to speak, the listener has a right to sleep.  Once this rule is understood, both the speaker and listeners are at peace with each other.  This is all the more so if you are speaking in a after lunch session.  Otherwise one can attempt a dangerous trick.  Make friends with the Chef and ensure that the food is horrible so that the participants arrive half starved.

For sometime I was on training duties and was usually given post-lunch sessions.  Having been a victim myself on several such occasions, I was very indulgent with the trainees of both types.  Those who were sleeping and those who were unable to sleep.  I would always start my session with a general permission for any trainee to sleep.  Just like any sanction in a Bank, with conditions.  A bank sanction has many conditions running to several pages, but I had only two conditions.  Firstly, the sleeper should not snore; not because it disturbed me for I had trained myself to go on lecturing despite most of the trainees asleep, but because it would disturb the peaceful sleep of other trainees. Secondly, the sleeper should always keep his eyes open.  No need to be surprised.  Many people have perfected the art of sleeping with eyes wide open; whatever is being communicated will never reach them despite your best efforts.

Once I was in a Training program for Trainers, as a participant Trainer. All the speakers as well as participants were veterans;  those who had put trainees to sleep for years.  On the first day of the five day program half the participants were asleep.  During one of the breaks I told the fellow participants that a prize would be given to the participant who would remain awake throughout the program.  The number of sleepers kept on increasing despite this and would only marginally drop when a Senior Executive was the speaker.  By Friday afternoon, the fifth day, everyone except me had fallen asleep at one time or the other.  I managed to remain awake by asking some question, whether relevant or not, whenever there was an urge to sleep.  Unfortunately in the last session of the program I had also fallen asleep.  But fortunately, my fellow trainers were very considerate.  They woke me up from the deep sleep to announce that I should receive the prize for the distinction of being the last participant to fall asleep!


  1. I can empathize completely! I slept with eyes open in my social science class right through out school:-)

  2. Keshava,
    It seems yoiu are in a good mood. Publish the jokes in FB instead of in the blog. The blog is as "good" as your lecture. Do not write all joke at a time. Give a gap between jokes.- Pandu

  3. very humorous and factual.Thanks. you must also blog about sleeping in office.

  4. I remember those training sessions, Cool airconditioned classes and post lunch lecturing. Appropriate for a deep sleep.

  5. but you did not made me sleep why this selfhiness

  6. first half an hour of my class (post-lunch sesson especially) used to be with lot of humour and fun and the funny discussion used to be the solid base for the theme of the session. There would be jokes, but they were always part of the training session. I am happy to say that the trainees never slept in my class and they looked forward to post-lunch session with interest. That is why I never put you to sleep!

  7. Very humourously written. But it is reality. With passing age it is very difficult to resist sleeping as a trainee. Those faculty who downplay such incidents are only empathetic. Lakshminarayana K