Much ado about the rat race : The Tribune India

Join Whatsapp Channel

Much ado about the rat race

Much ado about the rat race

Photo for representational purpose only. - iStock file photo



Shankar Gopalkrishnan

RIGHT from childhood, we are told to run fast, since we are in a rat race. Whether we are appearing in the Class X exams or climbing the corporate ladder, these are all mini-races within the bigger race. What makes it a rat race? There is an eloquent explanation: ‘It is the streak of competitiveness to win at all costs that makes it a rat race.’ It is aptly said: ‘Even if you manage to win a rat race, you will still be a rat!’

The irony is, we have never seen rats run a race. Unlike humans, with their penchant for one-upmanship, rats are team players. They work in groups, busily nibbling away at every obstacle.

I have grown up observing rats. In Mumbai, our building had an abundance of rodents. These rats were rotund; they fed on food that was generously discarded from the kitchen window. Many attempts were made to cement the building floor, fill the rat-holes and drive the rodents away. But they were tenacious creatures. It didn’t matter if the floor was made of concrete or granite. They still managed to tunnel their way in.

Thanks to the unending Metro construction, most Indian cities have been turned upside down. Can’t we think of an out-of-the-box solution to build underground Metro lines, using rats? All we need is an army of rats, and a Pied Piper to streamline their activity. In no time, all the underground tunnels, snaking through the entire city, will be ready!

A couple of years before the Covid-19 pandemic, my workplace was plagued by a rat menace, especially at night. We never saw these rats during the day. One fine day, my colleague stepped on a piece of yellow foam lying outside the meeting room — but he couldn’t move, for his foot was stuck, as though in Fevicol. He nearly fell down and tried to break the fall with his hands. Lo and behold, his palm got stuck on the ‘yellow foam’! A colleague rushed to his side, stepped on the same foam... and now he too was stuck! It was like the Yaksha Prashna story in the Mahabharata. You tried to help someone and fell victim to the same problem.

The scene was strangely comical, but you couldn’t laugh openly — after all, here were two colleagues flailing their hands and legs helplessly.

Eventually, we managed to separate them from the foam. The security guard was summoned. He informed us that the yellow foam, laced with glue, was meant to catch rats. The intent was clear — the rat would step on it and stay glued for life! Not a single rat fell for this trick. Herein lay yet another telling example of how humans make grandiose plans, build an elaborate trap but end up, like the proverbial silkworm, getting themselves entangled. As they say, ‘the best-laid plans of men and mice often go awry’!


Top News

NEET row: CBI takes over 5 more cases in multiple states; Mamata Banerjee writes to PM Modi

NEET row: CBI takes over 5 more cases in multiple states; Mamata Banerjee writes to PM Modi

Pradeep Singh Kharola takes additional charge of National Te...

Opposition hits back at PM Modi, claims ‘undeclared emergency’ existed under BJP’s rule

Opposition hits back at PM Modi, claims ‘undeclared emergency’ existed under BJP’s rule

'Let him be under no doubt: the INDIA Janbandhan will hold h...

11-year-old dies of head injury after toy train 'overturns' at Chandigarh mall

11-year-old dies of head injury after toy train 'overturns' at Elante mall in Chandigarh

Police have registered a case under relevant Sections of the...


Cities

View All