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29 September 2008

Riddle 2

Two railway stations A and B are 100 miles apart. One train starts from A at 8.17 in the morning and goes towards B at a speed of 60 miles per hour. Another train starts from B at 9.42 in the morning on the same day and goes towards A at a speed of 84 Kilometers per hour. Given that 1 mile = 1.8 Kilometers, which train is nearest to A when they meet?

23 September 2008

Changing Habits

Adi, (Short for Aditya) my son, has a very bad habit of losing things.
He is currently in class 4. Never a day passes when Adi has not lost something in the school. It could be an eraser, a sharpener, scale, book, pencils..., you name it he has lost them all.
Every time he loses something our reaction has been the same. Shout at him, continuously probe why he lost it (leading to his cooking up some fantastic story...), exhorting him to be careful in future and finally replacing the lost item.
I have a feeling that if I had encashed the value of all the things that he lost, probably I could have reduced my home loan by a notch...(Of course I am kidding)
The whole effort used to stress us out and put the poor child under a lot of pressure..
The other day he had a book fair in his school. He wanted 15o rupees to buy a book.
I told him that I will go with him the next day and help him choose the book. But he was adament that he wanted to buy the book that day itself. I hiked my offer. I told him that if he agrees to wait for another day, I will personally come and buy him books worth 500 rupees. I told him of the benefits of delayed gratification and how it will help him in future...
All to no avail. The kid clung to 'I want to buy it today' like he was glued to it. Tenacious kid.
So I end up giving him 15o rupees.
In the evening I come home and ask him to show me the book.
He says he lost 100 rupees. So he couldn't buy the book. What about the remaining 5o rupees? Since he was not buying the book anyway, he spent the whole of it in the canteen, he says.
I lose my cool and shout at him. I tell him that he wont get any more books. I remind him that I had told him not to take the money to school that morning and that he did not listen to me. I am all 'I told you so's.
The child retires to a corner and sulks.
Next day morning, I suddenly realize that I am fighting a losing battle. By shouting at him, while I am telling him what he is doing wrong, I am not giving him any suggestions for improvements. And probably shouting was not helping any way.
I decide to change my approach. I think that being proactive could be the better way.
I call my son. "Yesterday I gave you 150 rupees and you lost it. Since you have taken money from me, I need to get something in return".
The kid is immdiately on the defensive. "What should I give you?" he asks
"You need to promise me that you will develop two good habits. One, you will develop the habit of being careful with your thing and not losing them. Even if you lose things, you should give your level best to trace it back. And two, you should develop the habit of 'delayed gratification'. If you get some good thing today and a better thing tomorrow, you must choose the 'tomorrow' rather than 'today' if you have an option."
The kid know when he is outclassed. "Okay", he says albeit without much conviction.
In return I make this promise. "In case you do not lose anything for a week, I will buy you a book of your choice. For every instance of 'delayed gratification' behaviour demonstrated by you, I will buy you a book of your choice."
He is happy but has a minor modificaiton. "For one of them above, you must give me some other gift. What about a transformer if I demonstrate 'Delayed Gratification'?"
We sign off on dotted line.

09 September 2008

A Riddle

This riddle was told by Isac Asimov.
Reading all these sci fi books, I used to feel intellectual. With my high IQ, I used to think that I could crack all the riddles that there is (well except for those created by Einstien!).
My arrogance lasted till I visited my hair dresser the other day.
Working on my hair, he said, "Let me ask you a riddle?"
I nodded in assent.
"It is about midnight on a very dark and rainy day. There is thunder and lightning all over, with very poor visibility. A father is driving his son back home from a party. Unfortunately, the headlights of the car suddenly conk off.
Father is driving fast to escape this thunder showers. Suddenly he hits an uprooted tree lying on the road.
There is minimal damage to the car and father but son is injured. The panicking father immediately took him to a nearby hospital which wears a deserted look in this night of horrors.
The child is immediately taken to the emergency room and is made to lie down on a couch.
Except for the father and the child, the room is occupied by an old lady nurse.
And Silence.
Soon the night duty doctor arrives. The doc takes a look at the child and exclaims, " My son,Oh my god, what happened to my son?"
How is this possible?" asked the barber, "The child is obviously the man's. But then how can the doc make this claim?"

I didn't have an answer. Do you?

07 September 2008

Story of Ramu and the Caretaker

Let me tell you a story.
There was this mango orchard, very near where Ramu was staying. Full of ripe mangoes, you know.
The mali who used to guard the orchard had a hawk eye and Ramu was never allowed to pluck any mangoes from the orachard. Once or twice Ramu had successfully plucked the mangoes before being caught by the hawkish mali. Countless times Ramu tried to pluck mangoes without any success.
One day mali called Ramu.
"I have been watching you. You are a good boy. For a long time you have not thrown stones at my mangoes. You behave very well. I will make you an offer. I will give you any number of mangoes you want whenever you want. I will also ask all the malis in this village to give you mangoes when you wish. All free of cost", said mali
Ramu couldn't believe his ears. Mangoes till eternity! Seemingly without any cost. There has to be some flipside.
"What is the flipside? What do I have to give up?" He asked.
"You should not throw stones at my mangoes in future", replied mali.
"That is all?" asked Ramu.
"That is all", replied mali
"What if I throw stones at mangoes?" Ramu asked.
"Immediately you will stop receiving mangoes", mali informed
"Let me think about it. I will talk to you tomorrow" said Ramu
Ramu had a mind trained to look for loopholes. That night he sliced and diced mali's offer in his mind for any loopholes. The only cost for him in this seemingly most favourable arrangement was that he had to give up throwing stones at mangoes. Eventhough he hadn't thrown stones at the mangoes and had no intention of throwing stones in future, mali should have some ulterior motives in offering this sweet deal, decided Ramu.
Next day, he met mali.
"I can't give up the right to throw stones at mangoes", Ramu told him.
Mali was surprised. "You haven't thrown a stone at the mangoes for a long time", he told Ramu, "Beside, why do you want to throw stones when you are getting free mangoes?" he asked.
"What if Badmash Shyamu, throws stones at mangoes? Then I will also need to throw stones?"
"OK, I will modify my offer. If I catch you throwing stones at any time, then you can tell me your reason for doing that. I will reserve the right to react in anyway I like based on your argument. Is that fine? This is the best offer that I can make. Remember, this is heavily loaded in your favour. Some may say that you are getting mangoes for nothing." mali concluded.
Ramu decided to accept this generous offer. When he told his friends of this offer, some were very happy but some remained sceptical.
"Suppose mangoes stop growing in mali's farm?" asked doubting Dabbu.
"Then I can get mangoes from other malis. I am not tied only to this mali" Ramu told him.
"What was mali's exact words?" continued Dabbu "probably there will be something in the fine print."
"This is the fine print" Ramu told him.
"I don't believe it, I think that mali has somehow taken advantage of you" persisted Dabbu
Confused Chetan butted in. "Assume that you start getting mangoes. You will alter your lifestyle to fit this flow of mangoes. Then one day, Shyamu will throw a stone at the mangoes, you will retaliate and the mali will stop the supply of mangoes. Then what will happen to your altered lifestyle. You will be left with no mangoes and a number of mango receipes".
"But currently also I have no mangoes and a lot of recipes. So the situation then will not get worse than the current scenario. Moreover, I am also growing up and there is less likelyhood of my throwing stones at mangoes any way." responded Ramu.
Confused Chetan was confused and did not know how to respond.

Does it sound like the story of India's nuclear deal? Here we have got a deal of a lifetime offering significant future opportunities, and the political parties like BJP and left are trying to pick holes in a hermetically sealed deal. The views of Left parties you can understand, they and their friends in China do not care for India to prosper. Also single handedly they have no chance to come to power. It is not the case with BJP. It claims to be a responsible opposition party. It is in power in different states. One day it is expected to come to power in the centre. For them to talk the way they are doing is downright irresponsible and callous to say the least. Their NSA, Brijesh Mishra is totally for the deal. The Bhishma Pithama of the party, Vajpayee is maintaining the most eloquent silence. Doesn't it say something?

I am reminded of the following joke that I heard some time back.

There was once a very highly successful lawyer, who was regularly criticised by his less accomplished rival. His friend asked him how he maintained his calm amidst this constant diatribe against him.
"Let me tell you a story" said the successful lawyer, "Once there was a dog which started barking and continued to bark whenever the moon came out." he paused
His friends waited for him to continue the story.
"Then what happened?" friends could no longer hold their curiosity.
"The moon kept on shining" said the lawyer.