Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hi Honey

It was a typical lazy Sunday afternoon in Mumbai. Kids were busy playing games and chatting. I was catching up with cricket on TV. Wife was cursing the delayed monsoons while doing this and that. I was weighing important strategic moves. Should I go for the chilled beer straight away? Or should I first help her in the kitchen, promise a late night film and then casually open the fridge?

That’s when the door bell rang.

The guy was selling what he claimed was pure honey. “How can we believe it’s pure?” I heard my wife enquiring skeptically.

“We will take it out in front of your own eyes madam,” was his reply.

Good marketing skills, I thought. Previously someone had tried selling a product by addressing her as aunty. He was promptly shooed away.

It turned out that Administration department had given a contract to local guys to burn out the numerous bee-hives that had sprouted under the roof-top of our building. The honey was then being tapped in front of everyone ensuring quality. The entire building was then advised to shut their windows and 'operation honey' began. A few hours later we had pure honey delivered at our front door.

'It’s yummy’, the kids said. Far from feeling good I felt bad. Thousands and thousands of bees had literally been smoked out. Their houses were raged and put on fire. Within a few minutes they were now homeless in Mumbai. Bitterness crept in.

Life was never meant to be fair but this was really-really-REALLY unfair. The facts that I pulled out made me feel even sadder. It’s one thing to say, ‘hard work’ its quite another thing to break it down further and see what constitutes their hard work. Just sample this:

· Bees from the same hive visit about 225,000 flowers per day.
· One single bee usually visits between 50-1000 flowers a day, but can visit up to several thousand.
· Queens will lay almost 2000 eggs a day at a rate of 5 or 6 a minute. Between 175,000-200,000 eggs are laid per year.
· Just a single hive contains approximately 40-45,000 bees!
· During honey production periods, a bee's life span is about 6 weeks.
· Honeybees visit about 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey.
· A bee travels an average of 1600 round trips in order to produce one ounce of honey;
· To produce 2 pounds of honey, bees travel a distance equal to 4 times around the earth.

Then the bees too are divided into two groups. The field workers and the home workers. The field workers suck in the nectar from the flowers and do a mouth to mouth transfer of the nectar on to the home workers. The nectar which has up to 80% moisture/water is then dried out through a complex procedure and converted to honey. It requires hours and hours and hours and hours of hard work and plenty of patience.

After all this hard work what do the bees get in return? Nothing. Absolutely nothing!! Not only is their honey stolen but their house (actually the word hive disturbs the conscience the least) is also melted and used to make lipsticks and candles.

Now do you realsie why the kiss is chooo sweet and candle light dinners with your honey so romantic?

But are the bees alone in this tragedy? Does it not happen to people most of time around us. Haven’t we too felt like a bee a hundred times over during our professional career? Does the guy who works the hardest gets the raise or the promotion?Clearly, doing hard work is not enough. In life one must also know the trick of protecting ones hard work from evil eyes of co-workers and competitors. Many a times it is others who project the work you have done and get the reward that was due to you.

There is an air of defeatism in the teaching of Gita when it says, “Karm kiye jaa, phal ki ichha mat kar..’ This philosophy is OK as long as someone else does not take a piggy back ride on your hard work and claim success. Preventing others from taking advantage of your own hard work should also be part of ones strategy.

Compared to the sweet honey, I somehow felt that the bitter beer tasted better that Sunday afternoon.

What say honey?
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