An encounter with the definition of efficiency

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In a dysfunctional country like India, there are some people who still manage to make it functional through their sheer hard work and intelligence.

Like you, I have often wondered what keeps this corrupt, lazy, inefficient BUT GREAT country going. And, I think it must lie in the honest, day-to-day work practices of millions of Indians who work for a pittance but deliver.

If the Mayura Bhuvaneshwari hotel in Hampi was pretty, the people who ran it could not call for an auto or make a booking for me on the day-long Hampi tourist tour. But it made them no difference, they were simply so polite.

Meet Pramod. Manager, bearer, cook, travel fixer, handyman all rolled into one at the Majali beach resort in Karwar. I persuaded a reluctant auto driver at the Karwar bus station to take me a hotel on the beach and he brought me to Majali beach resort.

And right from checking me in, to carrying my bags, to ensuring that the room was spotlessly clean, Pramod simply did everything.

The stunning beauty of the L-shaped resort was enhanced by Pramod and the three ladies who worked with him – efficiently and effortlessly.

Having arrived in the afternoon, I soon set off for a walk on the stunning beach just opposite the resort. Majali is actually a fishing village and is used as a take-off point for the fishermen whom I saw fixing their nets as the rain came down.

The fishermen also used the beach and the water from the sea as their very private loo – unconcerned by their nakedness – a task they must have performed over the generations.

When I mentioned this to Pramod with some amusement, his agony was visible. “What to do sir!” was the comment that escaped his lips.

To me it didn’t matter, but there were a couple of women, techie guests present at Majali and they weren’t amused by the discussion Pramod and me were having in the dining room.

When it was time to leave for the Karwar bus stand, Pramod’s appointed auto driver reached bang on time to pick me up bang on time. Not only that, the driver came prepared with change for a thousand rupees that I needed.

In my dictionary, that’s efficiency defined.

I will be seeing Pramod and Majali again.

PS: The only issue with the stunning Majali beach hotel is that you can’t consume alcohol there. I’m wondering whether it’s time for me to take some of my heavy-drinking Delhi friends to Majali.


Kya aapke pass pant nahin hain? Don’t you have a pair of pants?

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After the train journeys, I took the bus — from Kamalapur to Hospet (Rs. 10), then from Hospet to Hubli (Rs. 113)  and onwards to Karwar (Rs. 150) before taking off for Madgaon in Goa – the crossing from Karnataka into Goa is quite special on a single, narrow road.

And on the first, long bus ride I met Narasimhan (N from here on). He was the efficient conductor of the Hospet-Hubli bus, giving people tickets on the ride from Hospet to Hubli.  In his twenties, the conductor showed considerable interest in my camera and the pictures I had taken.

BTW, the window seat next to the door (where I sat with N) through the journey is the best to take pictures. And given that the Karnataka roadways bus had a speed governor installed, it was the best possible location to take pictures.

We chatted in between his duties. N was scrupulous in issuing tickets and did his job quite effortlessly.

He was curious about me so I told him that I was a journalist – a reporter. That seemed to satisfy me. N also wanted to know where I was from – Delhi was the answer I gave him; again he was quite satisfied.

After we had attained a certain level of confidence in our conversations, he asked me a serious question: “Kya aapke paas pant nahin hain? Don’t you possess a pair of pants”

I wasn’t really surprised at the question given that no one else on the bus or elsewhere was wearing shorts (my uniform through most of July).

I told him that shorts were cool to wear in the hot weather and he should try them as well. N said that the khaki trousers were part of his uniform. Accepted, but I asked him that don’t you wear a lungi at home? Yes, but that was at home, he said.

It was simple curiosity that’s all. N was unfazed by me plying him with all kinds of questions. He answered all in good humour – suggesting pictures that I should take along the journey.

I may have looked like a bit of a freak to him, but it didn’t bother him in the least.

The acceptance of diversity came easily to N.