Would one ever believe that a word which probably means tasteless in Hindi could actually be the sweetest of the activities, a must for the success of a team, a society and more so a nation?
Fika is Swedish for coffee breaks meant for socialising, often accompanied with sumptuous sweets. It is a part of everyday culture in Sweden- be it schools, offices or even conferences. The time for Fika is generally pre-determined, often communicated beforehand to everyone involved and arrangements are made mostly close by. The break times can differ but the intention is always the same – to give time to people to discuss things out of their immediate work life and be able to create a bonhomie.
To be able to appreciate this custom more, let’s just pan our vision back to our lives here in India. We have always been a society in which one’s lives begins in schools. Schools with classes one after the other with lunch-break being the only break. The core methodology of learning is that of a tutor to pupils. It is never peer-to-peer and mostly not out of syllabus. For extracurricular, most schools have introduced an extra class where kids can select an activity they would want to pursue but again in a trainer to pupil model. We go through our entire school life mostly learning from teachers and getting to know very less of the thousands of our peers who we study with and without having gained from any of their experiences.
Similarly, in a workspace, the scenario differs depending on the industry we work in. In a service sector, there are no fixed timings for coffee breaks and are mostly based on individuals want & need when one wants to take that break. The conglomeration happens only mostly near the coffee machines while filling cups and once done, everybody is back to their tables, with their coffees. In a manufacturing setup, tea & coffee are mostly served at the work site itself.
One would find it hard to believe that this missing glue in our lives makes our society completely individually focussed. And our people very individualistic. A society where individual achievements are the core of our existence. A society where sycophancy and the urge to gain celebrity status triumphs any other feelings towards the society itself. Hardly would we hear people appreciating an entire team of people or company or community.
Even in sports, our choice of games and tea are based on our preference for individual players rather than a team which gels well. And same goes for our attitude at our workplace where we look for individual performers rather than a more cohesive team of not-so-great individuals.
As somebody in Sweden told me, the Fika is like the mortar between the bricks. It is the knot which keeps the weave together and makes it stronger.
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In Sweden, during Fika, it is a practice to spend time discussing mostly out of work topics or could be more personal in nature. Fika happens between classes in school, work breaks and even at conferences giving time to people to make their teams & relationships more integrated and humane.
With Fika, individuals develop with a key focus of being an excellent team player; societies develop with the focus of giving applause to the best team players and countries develop with the intention of being able to appreciate these societies and communities which knit the nation together.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NEWSD and NEWSD does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.