Monday, March 31, 2014

Out of the box

There is this old Tenali Raman story about how the King once told Tenali Raman to never show his face to the King again. TR, apparently, then wore a pot with two eye-holes over his face and came to court. The King, apparently, loved the new fashion in head-gear so much that he rescinded his order. Or, rather, as people choose to claim, it was TR's out of the box thinking (I thought it was more in the box..err..pot thinking) that captivated the King.

That, for me, was the first introduction to what people choose to call out of the box thinking. I must admit that I was not particularly impressed by TR's sagacity. I mean, here was his boss allowing him a long - nearly interminable - vacation and the idiot bends his brain to find a way to come back to office. Pure stupidity, it always seemed to me.

Of course, I must also admit that I could never really fathom these nuances. Thinking is such an alien thing to me that the entire damn exercise seems out of the box. So, what is all this thing about in the box thinking and out of the box thinking?

My brother, at school, offered me one example that, certainly, made more of an impression than TR. In a Hindi exam, he was asked to write five lines about the cow - in Hindi, of course. I would have been tempted to write, "Maybe I can manage the Hindi, but why all these zoology questions here?', provided I could have mustered enough knowledge of Hindi to do so. (I still do not know the Hindi word for zoology). My brother was never in a box, since he felt too claustrophobic in such confined spaces. So, his answer went, "Gaai ek animal hai; gaai do animal hai; gaai teen animal hai; gaai char animal hai; gaai paanch animal hai" - all in the Hindi alphabet, of course. He ended up getting half the marks for the question, losing the other half for not having used the Hindi word for 'animal', I think. THAT was good use of out of the box thinking.

In my family, though, the peak was hit by my cousin sister (female cousin, apparently, is the PROPER English but why should I limit myself because the British were not inventive enough?) in her kindergarten classes. She was faced with the question - Write "A to Z". Now, me, I would have stared at the blank sheet, doodled a bit, and generally whiled away the time worrying about the natural result of taking home a report card with a big zero in RED. (Yup - teachers did LOVE that red ink pen). Others of my ilk, but with a shade more knowledge, would have started laboriously on "A, B, C..." pausing to wonder about whether it was 'L' or 'N' that followed 'K' and how many 'n's should be attached to each other to make an 'm' and things like that. Not so my cousin. She buzzed through the test in half a sec after writing "A TO Z"! Now, beat THAT for out of the box thinking!

So, am I now convinced about the importance of out of the box thinking? Not really. After all, the only two instances where I admit the use have been at school. A School is a place where, presumably, children are taught to think. NOW, if I really do not know what use it is to think and, therefore, what need exists for people to learn to think, it seems a sort of circular argument to say, "Out of the box thinking is useful in a place where you are taught to think." Especially now, considering I have no intention of ever going back to school!

36 comments:

  1. Ha ha ha..I like Gaai ek animal hain. :P Did he spell animal in Hindi? Hilarious post. I don't know if I think out of the box, rather, I doubt if I think at all.

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    1. He did :) Otherwise he would have got, only one-third the marks :)

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  2. Ha Ha - They box your thinking and then ask you to think outside it.

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    1. Absolutely :) And I am not even convinced that you are taught to think :)

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  3. Bang on! First your creativity and thinking are completely strangulated and then you are asked to think out of the box. Wish people would invest a little more in understanding jargon instead of just splashing them around.

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    1. Ah! But this is the era of spraying around jargon - in all spheres of life - without a clue about the underlying concept :)

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  4. Every time I try out of the box thinking, I run around in circles :D

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    1. I have heard of squaring the circle - this must be circling the square :)

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  5. But I think out of the box always. Was nearly fired.
    :(

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    1. See - the ills of getting out of the box :)

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  6. Hah! Looks like creative / Out of the box thinking starts early in your family! Trust both your siblings are doing at least as spectacularly as adults as TR was back in his day!

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    1. They have not made spectacles of themselves Rickie! :) Doing fine though :)

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  7. Very creative! I am curious to know the teacher's reaction when she read the A to Z reply!

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    1. I really do not know, Shaivi :) Too busy laughing to inquire :) Maybe she got 4/26 of the total marks for having written 4 alphabets :)

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  8. I quite liked the solution your brother found out to that essay on cow: it runs in the family after all! As for Mr Tenali Ram, he should be expunged from the storybooks for his love of the office. I am sure you or I wouldn't have done that, come what may. Moral of the story (to me): Sometimes it pays to stay within the pot!.

    A thoroughly refreshing post!

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    1. At that time I was quite jealous of him - why couldn't I think of these options? :)

      Glad that we are on the same page re Tenali Raman :)

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  9. Writing "A to Z" is definitely out of the box I must say !!! Hilarious as always.. you must write about the 'big picture' too :D

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    1. Hahaha! NOW THAT is an idea :) Glad I have friends like you giving me prompts to write on :)

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  10. The A-Z is something I have heard before... but the ghai is really very funny. I can say this is out of box blog post from you!

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  11. Haha i just love out of box thinking and your cousin is very smart.

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    1. Yeah - these people gave me an inferiority complex when I was at school :)

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  12. Guess what! My 5 year old nephew just did exactly what your cousins sis... oops... female cousin did.. the teacher asked him to write 1 to 10.. he writes 1,2,10!!!

    :P

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    1. How are we going to put all these children back in the box? :)

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  13. Haha..i'm all for such out of box thinking..

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  14. Hahaha..Gaai ek animal hai..its really an out of the box thinking..

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  15. That was fun, Sureshji.
    High time our schools taughts kids to think not only out of the box, but think as though no box exists! :)
    They should award answers like a-z full marks :)

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    1. Oh! Yes! And then none will know how to read or write :)

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  16. Its a term used by managers today esp in IT to explain to an employee about why his long pending promotion never seemed to appear. ' you need to think out of the box' grrrrr !

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    1. I know - when you have nothing concrete to say, use these phrases

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    2. <3
      Now you know I thought out of the box and read your next post before reading this one!

      Going forward, you must use your lateral, out-of-the-box thinking to carpet-bomb the blogosphere with a holistic post on Jargon!

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    3. WHAT?? AND write in one post what I can spin over a hundred? :P

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