Monday, April 04, 2016


After this Hamsa met a number of twinkling nights and smiling days that needed to meet it. It walked to the crest of a hill and looked down. There lay a valley in front. The path ran through an encampment. Nearing it, Hamsa saw a sign board:

EFFICIENCY BAR: Passing through the hamlet Hamsa rested for a while on a mound at the foot of a tree and looked around.

Quite a few people were around. Many of them wore spectacles - others carried various instruments. Some carried large briefcases and moved from group to group. Through open windows and doors could be seen people peering at things or through things, sitting in various postures. A few were seated in groups around large tables poring over papers.

But the thing that most interested Hamsa was this: Quite a large number of persons were walking about - some straight, some in circles, some in figures of eight; some had watches and radios tied to their ankles and chests. It was these walkers that seemed to be the main concern of the colony, for each person who walked was being observed by ten others, directly and through various instruments. Others were jotting down things on paper, and yet others plotting on paper.

A gentleman was walking purposefully, a few yards away from Hamsa. - He walked in the usual way for a few yards, then he hopped on one foot for a few yards, then on the other, and on both feet. Six persons were closely observing him and making notes. One of the watchers was standing sufficiently close to Hamsa. He was looking at a watch and occasionally clicking it.

"Hmm,", said Hamsa, "excuse me."

"Shut up," said the watcher, and he clicked his watch. Then he turned round and asked, "What?"

"Excuse me," said Hamsa.

"Two words wasted," said the watcher.

"This business is interesting!" Hamsa said.

"Interesting is poetry. The question is, is it accurate enough," said the watcher, "that's the whole point."

"You are doing a wonderful job," said Hamsa.

"But the question is, is it producing results; Wonder does not produce results, you know!"

"Hmm, you are doing a most useful job, it seems" said Hamsa.

"Useful? Measured against what? Where is the base line, and then, useful to whom, oh, so many perambulators; useful! Thank you; at least that word might get us some grants to go on," he said. He was unbending a little.

"You are most efficient," remarked Hamsa, remembering the name of the camp.

"Most! Well, don't like the word. Anyway, thanks, what can I explain to you?" He beamed with smiles.

"This nice efficiency business of yours," Hamsa prompted, pointing around.

"Not much time - long story - stories waste time. It was long ago - some of us were traveling this way - God knows, why or what for, it is so long ago I have forgotten.

"round about this place some of us got tired and footsore. Then, someone said, it was our own fault, not knowing how to walk properly, efficiently. "It is foolish," he said, "to walk on these paths, until one thoroughly understands walking and all about it: How to do it quickly, efficiently, covering maximum distance in minimum time, minimum loss of energy and ergs, avoiding all avoidable wear, tear and footsore." One of us even proved that foot sores need not develop if we walked on our hand or head. Each idea had to be tested against controls. You see, 6 walking on their hands: how many develop foot sores in each group and hand sores in each group. Matching of controls had to be done. All looks simple enough, but this efficiency business breeds like the guinea-pig. You fellows think that this is all very simple - just walking anyhow like cattle - ah, that reminds me - walking on all fours has to be included, and subjected to Turkish Squares - you don't understand. It is a labour saving device: testing six groups of walkers with six methods of walking, all assessed in one lot. Then comes the business of observing the sores - far from simple - scores can be latent and patent and have diameters and contours and depths - we have now, special training for matchers, sore measurers and instrument devisers and so on.

"If you sit down and think about it, you will see what all this means: That sitting down gets you nowhere: We must be up and doing: we must walk in controlled conditions, that's it. 

"Luckily, last night we had a few recruits and one of them knows how to test 12 groups against 18 methods of walking - most interesting. They are at it now - Really, I must get going - I am split seconding the difference between walking and hopping. Good Lord! I have forgotten to bring a control for my watch, and now I must throw all these observations away," he moaned.

"Thank you, thank you," said Hamsa. "And now this journey of yours?"

"What journey? Good God, man - we still don't know how to walk efficiently in this park, here, and you want us to get into that madness of walking on the open road!" He clicked his watch - 'wasted 6 minutes, 45 seconds and 3 degrees.' he muttered; and entered 'contingency,' against the figures.

Deeply grateful for this knowledge Hamsa walked on - it just began counting its legs, was it 12 or 14 or 16, right or left - its feet dragged. But it literally flew when it lost count of counts.

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