Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Talking Pointlessly

 The speech (sic) that i'm going to "deliver" at in front of a bunch of jokers (better knows as "my class")

A very good morning to one and all. You all know who I am, so introductions are irrelevant, and at this moment there is only one “respected person” among us, so let me skip the formalities for now and instead get to the topic as fast as I can. Time is precious after all, and I don’t like wasting time. But before I actually introduce you people to the topic on which I am going to speak on, let me narrate you an interesting story here.

I have been to number of interviews till date, and let me tell you, I’m usually not very nervous before interviews. It is just a bunch of people who throw questions at me, and if I know the answer to the question I give the answer, and if I don’t then I say it. So far so good. Easy as anything. I’ve never been afraid of answering questions. But on one occasion, I did face an interview that really knocked the wind  out of me. As soon as I went in for the interview, the request from the interviewing bench was “Please tell us something about yourself”. I had not really expected something like this but somehow I managed to hide my discomfort and introduced myself. Then they said, “Well, you must have prepared for this interview, you must know quite a lot of things. And of course you have been selected for this interview because of your vast knowledge only. So please make light about the things that you know.” With dropped jaw, open mouth and a blank face, my expression must have been a sight to see because they were compelled to say, “Please don’t fret, just tell us a few things that you know. You have got 5 minutes. Speak whatever you want to.” Now, I’m not going into the details of what happened thereafter. All I can tell you is that, yes, I did manage to survive those tormenting 5 minutes. To make a long story short, that day I realised the hard way, how excruciating a situation it is when you are asked to speak on “anything you wish to”. Believe me, it’s so easy to write or speak on a given topic, but once you are given the responsibility of choosing the topic itself, you find you are in troubled waters.

Ok, let’s get back to what I was saying. Oh yes, the topic on which I’m going to speak today. You know I actually just remembered another interesting incident. Two years back, I, along with another 50 odd friends, some of them sitting right I front of me, participated in Youth Parliament Competition. In the national level competition, the guest of honour was a former Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. I’m not able to recall his name right now, but he told us about an interesting thing. He said that an important art that needs to be mastered by all legislators, may it be parliamentarians or members of state legislatures, is to answer questions without actually answering them. You all must have seen the proceedings of our parliament on Lok Sabha TV or some news channel. If you might have noticed, during the question hour, some very important questions of national importance are put forward by the opposition members. But when the minister stands up to answer it, it is just a garbage speech. After scathing comments on the government by the opposition, it is never possible for the minister to give a ‘to-the-point’ replies. In fact most questions raised in the parliament are such that the government might embarrass itself if it even tries to honestly answer what has been asked. So the best option out is to take the whole parliament, the national media, and the common man for a roller coaster ride by just beating around the bush and not even getting near to what actually has been asked. It actually works. If you can speak pointlessly, going on and on for more than an hour, you end up boring the listeners so much that they don’t care to notice that you actually didn’t say what you were supposed to say. Even on talk shows and debates on news channels, the high profile guests very deftly waste the whole news hour without giving the viewers any food for thought. But you all are well versed with these dramatics so I’m not wasting any more time describing it to you.

Now see, again I went off the hook, rambling on and on, completely forgetting that I’ve not even told you on what topic I’m going to speak today. Let me tell you, right from the day Ma’am mentioned about this speaking test, I was wondering about two things. Firstly, who on earth got this idea of speaking test in the first place. CBSE comes up with loads of bright ideas, but this seemed to be the least appreciable idea to me. Secondly, since the speaking test afterall has to take place, I was wondering on what topic I’m going to speak on. I had to keep in mind that I have to cover at least 2 minutes to ensure that I get enough marks in this, but speaking continuously for 2 minutes is not child’s play, and that’s why I was honestly a bit worried. And the bigger problem was the problem of plenty. I just couldn’t fix my mind on any particular topic to speak on. (In fact I was pondering over the choice of topic even late into yesterday night.)

So what I end up doing is giving this speech to you which I’d neither intended to nor I’d prepared for. And well, I actually didn’t have any topic in mind at all when I started speaking. But I think it would be very appropriate if say the topic of my speech is “The art of wasting time by talking pointlessly”. And what I have been doing for the last couple of minutes was nothing but giving you a practical example of it. Now since I have already covered much more than 2 minutes, I can safely assume the required marks are in my bag, and I do not need to continue wasting time anymore. There are many more of you who, I’d not say are eager to come over and speak, but whom ma’am would be very eager to listen to. So let me conclude here with a small piece of advice to all my friends – Speaking to masses is an art in itself, but wasting time by talking irrelevant things is actually a specialisation of that art, something that anyone aspiring to be a good speaker must master.

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