It was fun. It was participative. It was interactive. It allowed me to stay away from the computer (not entirely) for a day.
The workshop began at 9:30 am and we had our initial round of introductions-but with a twist. We were given 10 minutes to choose someone from the participants, get to know him better, and then assume his identity while introducing ourselves! Donning the identity of a stranger while introducing myself (as him) was a great novelty. I chose the guy sitting next to me (& vice versa) since we had already broken the ice . My partner was a man of few words and I really had to work hard to add bulk to my (actually his) personality! Stage fright is what afflicts me deep but I somehow managed to get through the work at hand before my partner began his part of the job. The bugger made me look like a hollow can with no identity! All forgiven!
The workshop was conducted by a guy named Sudhir and the way he carried himself was very impressive. We were 17 participants and three teams were formed based on our respective birthdays. My team had too many people and guess who had to be banished to another team to balance the headcount? Me, of course! I wasn't really happy about this manipulation since my original team had a pretty chick I hoped to get acquainted with better during the course of our teamwork. The divine conspiracy does it again!
There were a lot of events to accentuate the facets and nuances of a good team. The teams had to compete against each other and we had to suffer the ignominy of being the worst team in all (except 1, in which we were joint leaders) the events! We suffered the volley of insults with stoic grins! I'll recall two such events without going into a lengthy discourse on why they were conducted.
One event consisted of creating elephants out of newspapers, individually first and then as a team. As individuals, our elephants weren't too bad. Some tried a mix of folding and cutting the paper while I simply resorted to cutting. I'm glad to say my elephant was a remarkable replica of the real one, even though it had an overextended trunk- which was conveniently cut to size later. The team elephant proved to be a big embarrassment. One condition was that it had to be 3-dimentional, so my shortcut wouldn't apply here. Multiple ideas sprung up and each spawned a prototype half-built-and-then-abandoned elephant.
We couldn't arrive at a consensus and decided to rely on improvisations to break the deadlock. The folding and cutting began and so did the innovation. The body of our beloved elephant consisted of a hollow roll of paper. The hind-end was being folded when we realized we needed to stuff the stomach. We decided to do it by squeezing an earlier-abandoned elephant through its anus. Reverse child-birth! While the stuffing was being done, we realized the trunk of the 'baby' elephant could be used as the tail of the new one. So the trunk was kept dangling outside. To some, it looked too prominent for a tail, so why not reverse sides and flaunt the tail as the trunk, especially when we hadn't come up with any ideas for the fore-end? Sides were finally switched, although confusion lingered right till the end! So there we finally had a headless, limbless and tailless elephant. One of the guys sympathized with our severely debilitated pet and set about crafting legs for it. The limbs were created but couldn't be grafted to the underbelly. That's when we gave up. Our creature looked hideous and didn't even remotely resemble any life-form we had ever come across. In fact, many of our abandoned elephants looked better!
The other event involved creating a tower using straws and nothing else. And the tower had to stand for at least 30 seconds. I assumed the role of a challenger, shooting down all the ridiculous ideas my teammates came up with. They did finally zero-in on something that looked most unfeasible. Have you ever seen a tower with a broad apex and tapering base? Well, I'm sure there are enough of them but replicating such engineering marvels with straws is ridiculous. Our tower was never completed and whatever little we accomplished by way of experiments looked simply like what they originally were: straws strewn across! The winning team's tower was a beauty. It stood tall not just for the stipulated 30 seconds but for the rest of the workshop. It stooped, it tilted, but it never fell! Damn, what was wrong with us? Would our miseries ever come to an end?
Guess what, both the other teams were successful in the above-mentioned events. There were more events and more humiliation to follow. I couldn't help recalling participating in a similar workshop in August last year. My team (different from the current one) was the winner in all the events then. Consistency hadn't been lost, although we were on the wrong side of the outcome this time!