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The power(!) of education

The power(!) of education

Another of the granddad’s stories.

In a small town there lived a rich merchant. He had two employees – one, a highly educated one and the other uneducated, perhaps even illiterate.

However, the ding was that the uneducated one drew a much higher salary than the educated one. Now, like all educated folks out there, he felt bad about it. Initially, like a nice educated person, he tried to keep it to himself but then, the angst took over him. He confronted the merchant.

The merchant listened to him and said, “I’ll answer this at the right time.” The educated employee left.

Then one day, a cart passed by the merchant’s door. Merchant called the educated guy and asked him to see what was in the cart. The man left, asked the cart rider and came back, “Sir, he is carrying cotton.”

The merchant said, “Ok. Where is he taking it?”

The educated employee left, the cart had travelled farther by some distance so he went up to him and asked and again came back. “Sir, he is going to Sumerpur.”

“Ok,” said the merchant, “is it for sale?”

The educated guy went out again. The cart had gone further away, so he ran to the cart and asked him and came back.

“Yes sir, it is for sale.”

“What price?”

The educated guy looked at the merchant and then bolted out the door, ran again to the cart that had almost reached the next village and then came back, panting for breath. “Ten Rupees for the entire cart.”

The merchant thought for a while, and said, “Will he give it for seven?”

The educated guy ran again. The cart had crossed the next village. After an hour, he came back. “Sir, the best he will do is eight.”

The merchant thought for a moment and then said, “Never mind.”

After a while another cart passed by. The merchant called his uneducated employee and asked him, “See what is in there.”

The uneducated guy went out and came back, “Sir, he is carrying wheat. He is going to Gopalpur market to sell it. He says it is twelve Rupees for the entire cart but he will give it here for eight.”

The merchant looked at the educated guy and said, “Now you know why I pay him the higher salary?”

This story again was left without clear interpretations. With so much focus on education at my granddad’s place, I knew the message was not anti-education. This story, again, I have heard many times from granddad and mom.

Interpretations, again, to the grown ups.

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The stories we tell ourselves

The stories we tell ourselves

This is a story my maternal granddad told me years ago, and it was repeated to me quite a few times by mom as well, once, when as a little boy, I asked her if ghosts are real.

The story goes like this. A man was building a thatched roof for his house. Now, thatched roofs, chhappar in Hindi, are roofs made of dry grass, long strands of which are tied together on a criss cross skeleton of bamboo staffs tied together, held in place through strings. The stuff used is the long grass and bamboo readily available in villages and even the rope used is made by winding together these long blades of grass. (You hardly see chhappars these days).

So, while he was tying grass blades for his chhappar, a sly snake bit our man and slid away somewhere. The tough rustic village guy that our man was, he looked at the wound, winced and dismissed it as a thorn prick and went on building his roof. Finished, he jumped off, hoisted the roof on wooden pillars and lived happily. For a year.

Now, chhappars take all the harsh sun and rain but last some 3-4 years, so next year, it needed repairs. Our man climbed up and saw that one of the strings tying those grass blades together wasn’t a string but a dead snake. His eyebrows curled up as he paused for a second. And then, something hit his chest. He remembered. His jaw dropped, eyes opened wide, mouth dried up and heartbeats raced off. That goddamned thorn prick was not a thorn prick. This bloody snake had bit me! All the horrible images jumped in his mind and within minutes, he had a heart failure and died.

Mom’s answer to the ghost question was that ghosts are people seeing something totally normal and taking it to be dangerous, deadly supernatural, projecting their internal fears on it. Of course, it did not help me back then, especially as 7 year old about to go pissing at night in a toilet located outside the house with a mazaar just across the door under a huge neem tree. Or perhaps it did, but not for more than a couple trips.

Also, they never gave me a cut and dried interpretation, they left it to me. Will do the same now. To each, his own. Interpretation. Peace ho!

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Can you explain strategy simpler than this?

Can you explain strategy simpler than this?

Strategy – one word that fascinates everyone ranging from Chanakya to Amit Shah to McKinsey suits to everyone with a full belly and enough intellectual pretensions.

Confession – I too have been much enamoured by it, but have always struggled at articulating what strategy is. For the longest time, it lay in the, ‘I know it but can’t express it,’ zone which essentially is bullshit. I firmly believe the genius who said – if you cant explain it to a kid, you dont know it yet.

And then, it happened. Today morning. Suddenly the brainwave. And I feel I can explain what is strategy and what is tactics to a kid now. So, bring out the inner kid and here we are:

First check out this video:

Yes, the one, all of the 90’s kids would have seen hundred times and would have shown the younger ones as a sample of the cool things that existed back then.

Yes, you’ve watched it but pls do it again. Carefully. Just 7 minutes. For a lesson that takes people years (took me almost a decade!).

Now, see how Didi tackles mission ‘Mangoes from the tree’. Jugat lagani hogi. Yeh wali jugat.

So, this jugat is the strategy. Enough said. A five year old will understand.

And tactics? That’s easy now. The actions, the steps. Here we go.

So, strategy is the jugat and tactics is what you do to implement the jugat.

And now, as the great Sun Tzu said, “Tactics before strategy is the noise before defeat,” – everyone, pls don your strategic thinking hat, else Sun Tzu will be angry.

PS: Sun Tzu never said that – at least thats what internet says, but then, when has that stopped internet from attributing great oneliners to random legends. Bruce Lee still turns in his grave looking at great things in his name he never said.

PPS: Pls also share if you have a simpler articulation of strategy.

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