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Answering In Haste

While I was conducting a seminar on “How to make mathematics interesting” at Shimoga, an eighth standard boy asked me at the tea-break, “Uncle! You said that our brain sharpens while solving intelligent mathematical problems and once we build up the taste, it would be more interesting than watching TV. Isn’t it?” and without waiting for my affirmative head-nod, continued “Please help me solve a riddle. To wrap around the earth along the equator, we require 40,000 km length ribbon. To tie another ribbon around the same globe at one meter height, how much more length do we require? Is it more than thousand Km or less than 10 Km.?”

Without a second-thought I answered, “More than thousand kilometres”. He thoughtfully asked, “Suppose we tie the ribbon on an ant’s waist. What extra length we require to tie it’s waist one meter lose?”

Never answer in haste:

“I require some time to calculate” I said and proceeded to continue the next session. At the guest house in the evening I started working on the kid’s question: Suppose the radius of ant’s waist is ‘r’ meters, the required length of the ribbon would be 2Π r. To tie another ribbon with 1 meter difference, we require 2Π (r+1) meters. The difference would be 2Π (1) meters i.e. 6.3 approximately.

Suddenly I realised that I made a blunder. Whether we wrap the ribbon around earth or around waist of an ant... the difference would be the same 6.3 meters only. I recollected the mischievous smile on the faces of the kids when I was telling them “In the examination hall, don’t rush to answer immediately. You have two hours to write. Take two minutes to settle down. Take deep breath, close your eyes and let your tensions come down”.

I am now sure those lively naughty kids know the answer before asking me and just wanted to tease me. I remembered the Turkish proverb: “He bites his tongue who speaks in haste”. Many of us preach but not practice.

Riddle: If snail walks at 0.01 km per hour to go to its relative’s pit, how fast should it crawl back to its own pit to accomplish an average speed of 0.02 km per hour? Ten winners would be awarded a book on ‘developing intelligence’ basing on the brevity of the answer. Answer to the address below.


“Fortune knocks your door only once” says an old proverb. But unless a door (opportunity) is provided, how can luck knock it? Some people do not look for opportunities as they are always busy with problems and in the process of solving them, lose time, interest and enthusiasm in life. Successful people see opportunity in a problem. They also understand that many of the problems are self-made. Troubles arise in three ways.

By us for us:

A student, who could not reply to a question due to tension in an interview in spite of knowing the answer, should blame nobody but himself for not practicing public speaking and developing communication skills during his college days. A person creates his own problem of procrastination due to overweight and repents but never controls his food habits.

This type of problem includes fear, tension, insecurity feeling, laziness, lack of communication etc. These are not problems but our weaknesses that in turn create problems to us. A crisis may not be avoidable, but a weakness certainly can be fought upon and defeated. If this simple fact is known, half the battle is won.

By others to us:

When you want to say ‘no’ but say ‘yes’, sometimes it creates problems. A friend calls on a newly married couple without prior appointment, notices that the couple are about to go out for a movie, but still engages in conversation. The husband is unable to tell him to leave or at least about their programme. It is called “gentleman’s syndrome”. A person is said to be suffering from this disorder, when he wants to be good to everybody, works for their appreciation and seeks other’s approval for his deeds at the cost of his own unhappiness. Other examples of this syndrome are: Signing the surety bonds unwillingly, obeying other’s demands reluctantly etc.

By us to others:

A person misplaces an important file at the office. He comes home irritated and scolds his son for not keeping the room tidy. The sensitive son fails in the exam the next day. In another example, a person never sticks to his schedules and wastes others’ time. This category includes lack of time management, anger, selfishness etc which cause trouble to others but in many cases boomerang to create personal loss to us.