Ajit Chaudhuri – August 2010
One of the requirements of a life in the development sector is the ability to sit through long and boring meetings. In my early years, I had the God-given gift of being able to sleep with my eyes wide open, scoring goals in world cup finals and acknowledging the cheers of crowds while people around me pontificated endlessly. This, combined with an inventory of three semi-intelligent things to say in case some dickhead suddenly went ‘So, Chaudhuri, what are your views on this?’ ensured survival. Later, when I moved up the food chain, I simply cut out attending meetings from my work profile. Things that go round come around, they say, and I am being punished for past misdemeanours by now having to a) attend more meetings (profile building, my bosses call it), and b) contribute to the discussion, i.e. no more sleeping.
This is where Bullshit Bingo comes in! For those of you who are uninitiated, the rules are that you prepare a list of 25 commonly used terms, put them 5 by 5 in a table as above in different orders, and then share these with like-minded participants to the meeting. When a speaker uses one of the terms, you cross it on your table. When you complete a column, row or diagonal of crosses, you get up and say something pre-ordained – it’s supposed to be a loud ‘BULLSHIT’ but, as that may not be appropriate to profile building or contribution, it can be something lighter like ‘I deeply regret my inability to agree with that last contention!’ Ditto with a full house! Needless to add, participants are not allowed to use any of the terms until after someone else.
Playing BB increases concentration powers and enables one to listen carefully to the most mundane of discussions. Be warned, though, that this requires the presence of somewhat like-minded participants to the meeting.
How does one identify them? Remember that ‘many a dumb blonde is actually a smart brunette’ and look for grey beards, khadi attire, and conspicuous commitment to poverty alleviation – these are invariably pointers to the most enthusiastic participants to BB. Stay away from the visiting card flashers, those who introduce themselves with their position (thank you, designation inflation!), and those who inform others of their presence at the pre-lunch post-tea session only because of multiple commitments and busy schedules.
Have a good game, oops sorry, meeting!