English equivalent of Konkani proverb "kam (job) natilo (not having) achari (Carpenter) bhurganchi (Children's) kule (buttocks) tasto (files)" (When jobless, a Clueless carpenter takes to even filing (as if with a file) children's buttocks).


The rain has just stopped. In an organization where there is lot of monkey business, even when there is expectation of a heavy downpour in few hours, an inexperienced, inept Chairman of the company orders the supervisors to engage their workers to clear the street from rainwater with mops, repaint the street with traffic lines around the company, etc. instead of seeing that there is no business and one should push the right buttons..instead of this busy work. One can say, "When jobless, a clueless carpenter takes up the stupidest stuff -- funnily said as filing children's asses. The emphasis is on a clueless management decision of wiping up the rain water instead of investing efforts in better corrective action when your company is in ruins (does not have business and/or is near bankruptcy), usually you would scramble to get more business not get involved in meaningless jobs especially when you know there is non-stop rain during the rainy season.

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    When you write assess, do you mean asses in the American sense (i.e. bottoms)? The nearest expression I can think of is 'rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic' macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/american/… – Kate Bunting Dec 16 '19 at 16:03
  • yes asses = bottoms and "titanic" express is very close to the said phrase – AMN Dec 17 '19 at 4:29
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    @KateBunting But is not the Titanic example mostly used as a criticism of people who engage with the unimportant, when they should be addressing something far more serious? The Konkani proverb would seem to relate to people whose usual occupation is not available, attempting to continue with it in a ridiculous way. – WS2 Dec 21 '19 at 9:00
  • @Mari-Lou A Kule in konkani means tooshie. As WS2 put it, its just because one does not have any productive work which yields income does not mean one should go and do ludicrous jobs like thew saying goes that of filing someones ass aptly said for an oaf empty-suit (carpenter) thinking he is doing something meaningful. Btw there is no link to this sayings (of any of most i have ever posted previously too), much if not all are not documented as konkani, marathi being a second tier language (as they are regional) in a country of thousand of languages. – AMN Dec 21 '19 at 9:28
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    Does this answer your question? Any idiom similar to "Hunger wall"? – Edwin Ashworth Dec 24 '19 at 16:51

A phrase that describes this is busy work.

Busy work (also referred to as make-work and busywork) can refer to activity that is undertaken to pass time and stay busy but in and of itself has no actual value.

This wikipedia entry has a picture of mopping outdoors, just as the OP described. The caption reads

Chores such as mopping outdoors can be busy work.

Your sentence might read: The inept Chairman of the company orders the supervisors to find busy work for their workers.

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