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Friday, June 5, 2015

The Fiefdoms And The Chieftains!

He was right royally amused by what happened—not only by the reactions, but more by the deep-rooted feeling of a rather inexplicable insecurity embedded in them.

He was new to the city and was trying to gather as much information as possible about the local traditions, customs, linguistic-cultural characteristics and other significant happenings. That day while rummaging through the newspapers, he came to know about an important event taking place in the city. Deciding not to miss it he told his assistant to find out how his office could participate in the proceedings.

The assistant immediately opined that Mr B…was very well known to the concerned organizers and so that person should be the right channel to go through. He knew Mr B… well enough to understand that he was one of the integral parts of the office. “Okay…” he said, “Tell him to arrange.”

After some time, Mr B…called him.
“Hello sir…I came to know you wanted to participate in the event. I…”
“Oh yes! Please arrange it then.”
“…I am very well known to all of the organizers. They depend on me for everything…”
“Good. Then there is no problem at all. Please make the arrangements.”
“…For years I have been the only intermediary between this office and them. Once I tell them they never fail us…”
He decided to listen through. He understood exactly what that person desired of him—that he should have contacted Mr B…directly and first-hand for that job. Why go through the assistant…why not he was wise enough to realize that! And of course…eventually that particular affair proved to be a tremendous success.

Within a short time in the office he could identify quite a few self-styled ‘influential’ representatives of the office for the outside world. He willingly recognized their ‘influence’ so that work went on smoothly and in a coordinated way. Anyway, he was not a local and being new with hardly any personal contacts he had no other options. Not that he did not try a ‘direct approach’ and to build new work relationships. In fact, he developed quite a few satisfying ones and wanted to expand on that by directing other co-workers to open a new directory enlisting all important personalities of the city in all fields of activities with their contact information. That never happened.

He knew exactly why. Mr A…was the most important ingredient of the office dealing almost daily with all happenings in the city that essentially involved key people in power. He was so obsessed with his ‘influence’ that he never gave up anything to others, monopolised all tasks and stuck to these even if he failed to complete some on time. His ‘contacts’ were fiercely guarded and he commanded most of the office people who owed unconditional allegiance to him for their sustenance. Therefore, thanks to the influential As or Bs or Cs that particular assignment never managed to see the light of day. Initially, he himself did try to get some key contact information from Mr A…and realized his mistake as on some excuse or other the required information was never given.

He did not regret what he confronted; neither did it impair his work. In fact this experience was not at all new to him. He was never a local in any place in his life. In his childhood days his family moved from town to town, because his father was employed by the government and transfers were regular. Being a local one could pursue something and prosper eventually by virtue of the continuity and the authenticity of ‘belonging’. For him his acquired expertise in a certain activity in a certain place ended the moment he was out and gone. So often he analysed it himself, ‘If you are not a local, you miss out on many things—nobody takes you seriously enough to continue with you. And if you do not speak the local language then it is the worst. You are fated to remain a stranger even after spending most part of your career there.’

It was the flip side of this phenomenon that never failed to amuse him. Irrespective of the power or limelight or prosperity or monopoly they continue to enjoy the locals suffered from a constant sense of insecurity. They would compulsively want to hold on to their ‘fiefdoms’ eternally lest someone ‘worthy or superior’ from the outside world came in and robbed them out of their ‘assured’ existence. ‘They never try to advise you too much; they never try to help you too much; they never try to introduce you to important circles too much; at times they try to shut you off completely fearing you have already attained some attention. All this due to their embedded sense of insecurity,’ he mused so often.


At times he felt furious, at times frustrated and at times he felt almost helpless. However, there was always a way out. And, despite all the power blocks one could still succeed in one’s pursuit, he told himself. It was more of amusement than regrets, he decided. 
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