If full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?
People Like Us, with hectic 'urban professional' lives will nod sagely in agreement with that old school poem.
But, there's a tribe whose profession it is now, to simply stand and stare. I often pass a bunch of them on my way to work, standing on the Eastern Express Highway.
Thin, dark, wiry and sweating profusely - despite the 'free' caps on their heads - these are yet another by-product of our labour-surplus economy: Human Billboards.
OK, so what these young fellows actually do is hold up a placard - a dozen of them standing at 5 metre intervals. Mumbai's radio channels, which are currently fighting for supremacy in the morning listenership segment, seem to be the biggest patrons of this new 'medium'.
Yesterday it was 'Radio City' trying to attract car listenership to its morning program where Sunidhi Chauhan was apparently singing live. A couple of weeks ago it was 'Radio Mirchi' exhorting us to tune in to Bollywood stars like Kareena and Preity hosting their morning show.
I feel sorry for those 'human billboards', many of their placards drooping in direct proportion to the mercury rising as the day progresses. On the other hand, in the books of a slum-kid it's probably good money for 'doing nothing'. That kid could be standing crushing stones in a quarry, expending hard physical labour, and still earning far less.
No doubt there is a middleman who 'supplies' these boys and makes the lion's share of it though!
Stareway to Heaven
However, what's more intriguing to me is the rise and rise of these 'stand and stare' jobs. If you are a lower middle class type, with sub-optimal educational qualifications, your 'dream job' today would probably be with a security agency.
Don a uniform, a dull vacant, stare and stand in air conditioned comfort at the local mall. I'm not saying the job isn't necessary - at Vashi's Centre One it's amazing how many people are still wary of climbing onto escalators or doing so for the first time!
It's just that the job seems so boring, pointless and routine... But that, I guess is what 90% of jobs in this world are about.
So stand, and stare. No boughs, or sheep and cows, but I'll occasionally stare back from my car window - if that's any consolation.