Once upon a time in a faraway land of Mismanagia, a powerful king called Ful O’Crap issued a royal COMMMUNIQUE, stating that he’d like to have Purple Quail in Honeysuckle Sauce for dinner on his 67th birthday.
‘This is our wish and command,’ the king bellowed, ‘that it should be fabulously tasty. If it is not, we shall have the head of the royal cook on a platter!’
The whole royal kitchen scrambled to cater to the King’s wishes. The problem was, nobody had heard of the Purple Quail before! So they sat around a ROUNDTABLE eating donuts and falafel. After a lot of bickering, screaming and debating – in other words, BRAINSTORMING – not one had even the slightest clue if such feathered creatures even existed on God’s good earth!
So the head cook, desperate to save his life, thought of a STRATEGY. He took the sous-cook aside – one of his cronies – and asked him to ‘inform’ the roundtable that the Purple Quail indeed existed and nested in the Red Marshes. ‘Let us put our heads together and execute this, my TACTIC,’ the head cook whispered into the ears of the sous cook, ‘for if we fail, my head shall roll, even with yours! But if we succeed, we will be exalted by the King – you and I.’
Now, the Red Marshes were a hundred leagues to the east as the quail flies – a nasty place full of blood-sucking butterflies and quicksand that bred venomous snails. No hunter in his right mind would venture there. Finally, after a lot of searching, they found a hunter who was willing to go to the Red Marshes for an exorbitant 100,000 guineas. ‘One more condition,’ he said. ‘I need at least two collaborators to go with me.’ But no other man volunteered to go on such a perilous mission, so the head cook was hard pressed to find two companions for him.
So they issued a PRESS RELEASE that announced a trick contest aimed at a target audience that comprised of all male subjects in the entire kingdom, aged 18 to 40. It was distributed regionally by the red-haired MEDIA RELATIONS manager, who was hopping mad to have been assigned this chore on a Saturday afternoon – to mention nothing of her enduring a lengthy press release approval process that included the nod of the king’s barber, head-matron, chemist, gardener and the royal horse – who was a habitual naysayer and very difficult to appease.
Anyways, the release was edited smartly and was headlined, ‘Winners of Royal Contest to be Sent On Wild Goose Chase’.
The lucky winners of the mock contest – which received massive COVERAGE plus a whopping 43,598 Likes on FazeBook in just under five hours – turned out to be a butcher and a potter. When they learned of their prize, they both protested, ‘Nay! But we are not skilled in the art of the bow and arrow, so we cannot go!’
So they were ordered to receive a crash course by the hunter in what was effectively a BRIEFING. As soon as they were ready, the head cook summoned them and ordered: ‘I commission you three to embark upon this vital mission this very second!’
So the mission of the three came to be termed as the SECONDMENT.
The secondees walked for four days until they reached the Red Marshes, and thereafter wandered inside its gloomy wilderness in circles. Here, they were bitten viciously by beetles, Trojans and worms. Still, there was no sight of the Purple Quail – only ordinary white ones. They were about to give up, weary of body and soul – and return, when the hunter chanced upon a book entitled, ‘How to Say No When You Actually Want to Say Yes.’ Then, he hit upon an idea.
‘Listen,’ he told his two compatriots. ‘Am I not your team leader? Let us, therefore, take collective counsel and agree on the manner we may deceive the head cook. There is only way to appease Ful O’Crap and save our miserable souls!’ he explained. And so he drew a MESSAGE HOUSE in the sand and crafted SUPPORTING MESSAGES. Then, they hunted down a dozen white quail and headed back home.
Next, the potter took the birds and immersed them for two days in drums of purple dye in the inner chamber of his workshop. That happened in the nick of time – for the King’s birthday was on the following day! The potter took the colored birds to the royal kitchen and handed them over to the head cook.
The latter examined the delivery and remarked that the birds had a strange look.
‘But don’t you recognize the characteristic bill of the Purple Quail?’ the potter asked, with an air of contempt.
‘Of course, I do,’ replied the head cook with a dismissing wave of hand, since he did not want to appear ignorant. ‘It’s just that this quail here has a strange bill, don’t you think?’
‘May be this one has,’ the potter replied, ‘but the rest of them are 100% BILLABLE!’’
‘Oh yes, they are billable! I will proceed to cook now. Only I know the secret ingredients to the royal recipe of Purple Quail in Honeysuckle Sauce. So clear off, all of you, and let me cook in peace,’ he shouted.
But an hour later, they found the head cook dead. They found the pot boiling unattended, and the expired body of the royal cook besides it. The fumes of the purple dye had choked him.
‘Hurry!’ The kitchen staff said, ‘Salvage the precious quail!’ But too late – it was ruined!
Now the entire problem fell upon the shoulders of the sous-cook. Desperate – as the birthday feast was just hours away – and anxious over the looming deadline – he summoned the hunter, potter and the butcher once more and warned them of dire consequences if they were not able to provide him with more Purple Quail.
‘But, sire!’ protested the trio, ‘what you ask is nigh impossible. Such a tight turnaround for such a deliverable! The Red Marshes are a four-day commute away!’
‘Silence! I care not how it is done! Just do it!’ screamed the sous-chef.
Afraid for their lives, the three repeated what they had done earlier. The hunter shot down white quails in the nearby forest and took them to the potter, who they found sitting outside his house.
‘What ails thee?’ they asked him. To which the potter replied, ‘I have suddenly just realized that I have run out of purple dye!’
So the potter and the butcher wept, lamenting, ‘Are we not in a situation that’s precariously dire?’
‘Why cry fowl, you two?,’ asked the hunter. ‘Why be dire when we can turn dyer – you both are unlettered in the principles of CRISIS MANAGEMENT. We will use blue dye in the place of purple. Not a soul will know the difference. This is called resource ALLOCATION.’
And so they dyed the birds blue. The sous-chef was delighted and cooked them. He added a lot of mint sauce to improve the fragrance. When the hour of celebration arrived, the dish was brought in by the hands of the royal attendant and was placed before the King. On the king’s lap, was his one year old grandson.
Standing before the him, the attendant suddenly was overcome by stage fright.
‘PITCH IT, you incompetent fool! What are you waiting for?’ the monarch thundered.
Now, the attendant was Indian. So he replied in Hindi. The king, of course, did not understand a word. Therefore he screamed, ‘Who has the TRANSLATION to what this nincompoop is saying?’
Tickled by the vibrations of his grandpa’s belly, the infant prince made loud baby sounds as he tugged at the long royal gray beard, ‘Goo, goo, google!’
The entire assembly fell silent and looked upon the young prince on the king’s lap. The proud grand-dad beamed at the baby’s first words. ‘Hohoho, Whoever has heard of Google? Kids nowadays!’
Later, they translated the Hindi for him and said: ‘Your Highness. Permit your slaves to present you birthday meal.’
The king was immensely pleased. ‘This was the best Purple Quail in Honeysuckle Sauce I’ve ever had!’ he said licking his fingers.
He congratulated the lot and gave them very high marks in their PERFORMANCE REVIEW. The sous-chef was immensely pleased, and elevated the hunter, butcher and potter for their fine work.