Published in The Tribune on 9th Feb, 2011
Those Indians who claim that they are not afflicted by the last-minute syndrome are probably fibbing. We have to admit that we always tend to put off things until the alarm bells start ringing loud and clear.
While the rest of the world habitually takes stock of the task at hand, plans for it, sleeps over it and then executes it, we relax and relax and then press the accelerator in breathtaking fashion.
Whether it’s an exam, a meeting, or a train journey, we postpone our preparation till it is time to press the panic button. The fact that we still manage to score when it counts and actually catch most trains indicates that we are extremely capable people.
Examples abound in each sphere of endeavour. When a bag has to be packed for a trip beginning early the following morning, we tend to pack it late at night. When a test or interview is upon us, we begin cramming with just hours to go.
When a rendezvous is to be kept, we laze around for an inordinately long time and then rush to make it, minutes past the anointed time, with some solid excuses at the ready.
One of the most innovative excuses that I heard at a meeting from a late-joiner was that he had been waylaid by the media for a byte since a film star had recently shifted into his apartment-block.
My wife is one who specialises in the art of utilising the ‘last minute’ most effectively. She is always running late for everything but somehow manages to tackle her responsibilities in the nick of time and never seems to annoy anyone, except sometimes, me! I sometimes wonder if such tendencies are hereditary, but I have managed to avoid asking her that question till today.
A few years ago, an upcoming seminar had the organisers in a real tizzy, for they hadn’t tied up either the sponsorship details, or the chief guest or even the venue, and they had just a week in hand. Speakers had not been informed. Cards were still to be printed and distributed. Even the list of invitees hadn’t been drawn up. All that the organising team was sure of was the seminar’s topic- ‘How to be more organised.’
With a major crisis looming large, they burnt the midnight oil and worked tirelessly. Hours before the morning of event they had everything in the bag. There was nothing left to do. They trooped into the seminar hall and decided to catch some sleep.
So sleepy were they that none of them noticed the arrival of the Chief Guest until he was waking them up. The media was clicking away as they rubbed their eyes and the guests were rolling with laughter.
The ‘last-minute’ may thus not be a very reliable option, but it can certainly be a rib-tickling one.