Answers aren’t solutions

‘C’mon Ramesh, this is a CET question as old as you!’

‘Hey, it took me under 3 minutes! Just 3 minutes!’

‘I’ve got this as SMS and mail forwards a dozen times before! And cracked it the first and third time!’

Wow, I’m impressed! Looks like most of the world’s superior 2% are on this blog! The first one off the block was my nephew. How I wish it ran in the family!

Okay, now for the rest of you stagnating at the bottom of the pyramid, here’s the answer: 143542.

‘Oh, no! I hate trigonometry!’

‘Missed by just one digit! Which means I’m 99% there, right?’

‘Umm…that’s easy. Just didn’t give it enough time!’

For those of you who are now saying that, here’s a rider- 143542 is the answer, but that’s still not the solution, my friends!

Answer? Solution? What’s the difference, you ask.

I’ve no idea! But I’m qualified to talk about it for two hours, provided you promise not to ask me any doubts at the end of it.

This is how things went two hours ago.

‘Listen to me, will you?’ my wife had insisted. ‘It’s not just any lawyer. He’s Agarwal & Agarwal- the best in town. He has separated couples, broken up families, and evicted not just tenants, but house owners from their own houses.’

But I was sceptical. How can someone who calls himself Agarwal & Agarwal when he’s just one, solve my problem of one too many? I remember asking him about it years ago.

‘Mr. Rames, one iz just an indivisual, but two iz a kompany. Mr. Agarwal is a lonely lawyer, but M/s Agarwal & Agarwal iz a bizchy pfirm,’ he had said then.

I wondered if he’d look at me as Ramesh & Ramesh and apply company laws on me.

‘Look,’ I had told my wife, ‘courts can settle disputes, can’t solve them. A verdict can’t solve the religious disharmony in our society, can it? Neither can it bring back the love between couples. Nor make a family reunite. The answer to a headache is a painkiller, but the solution for it might lie in easing constipation. Answers are quick fix half-measures that are perhaps best for that moment, while solutions are permanent, holistic and ideal. It’s much like that old thing about giving a man a fish to eat versus teaching him to catch a fish.’

I had gone on and on for two hours, and hadn’t noticed that she had left for her kitty lunch. Strangely, I hadn’t felt stupid sitting there alone, talking to an imaginary gathering.

Did I say alone? Yes, of course, alone! Hadn’t heard my Inner Voice right through that discourse. No surprise actually, because I had been reading from a draft that my Inner Voice was planning to post on my blog, next.

You know what my problem with my Inner Voice is? I don’t understand much of what it says- Like all this answer-solution stuff.


No, that wasn’t realisation, enlightenment or a bright idea striking. That was the doorbell. It was my younger son, back from his school function for which he had gone dressed as – who else- Chacha Nehru. At the door he looked more like Bechara Nehru. Bandhgala, khula. Cap, a mere mop. Laal gulaab, gul.

Before I come back to my Bacha Nehru, here’s a tip for all you lazy parents: If you hate those special days when school asks your kid to come dressed as someone or something, then Chacha Nehru is your saviour. He’s a one-size-fit-all character for all those days. No great make-up, no elaborate costumes, no professional help required. He’s a 2-minute ready-to-deliver recipe for all occasions. Namaste, I’m your Chacha Nehru. I wish all of you a very happy whatever. Deliver, bow and exit.

One statutory warning: Don’t expect your kid to win a prize ever. His competition is Santoshi Maa with cardboard hands and accessories, Christ with thermocol cross on his back, Raavan with those cut-out heads, Caesar on tricycle turned chariot, and the likes. Our Chacha stands no chance.

And, don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that Gandhi is a far simpler character. Try getting your kid bald or reach him to school half-naked! Man, that could turn any parent into a Godse!

Chacha Nehru has been our standard answer to anything that school has thrown at us- right through my first son’s primary until this, my second son’s last outing.

‘What happened, Mohit?’ I asked him at the door.

‘Acha, the topic was History’s Evil Men,’ he replied calmly.

‘So?’ I asked, nervous about the political ramification my Evil Nehru might cause in the parliament.

‘Nothing!’ he said nonchalantly. ‘I ripped my buttons off, threw away the rose and told the audience that I was an unruly MP. And here’s the first prize for the first time!’

Answer? Or solution? Am I supposed to feel proud or ashamed, as a parent?

Here are the last two lines of my Inner Voice’s draft that I was reading earlier:

‘At the end of it all, answers and solutions don’t matter. As scriptures tell us, it is the effort that you put in and not the result, that matters. If your effort is 100%, then the result is just academic or, as some say, destiny.’

Celebrate the means and enjoy the effort; make the end insignificant. Point there? Don’t know, but here’s a cute film to show that.

Psst…Also here’s the solution to the math problem:

A + B + C = UVWXYZ

A x B = UV

A x C = WX

(A + C) x B = ZY (Reversed, it’s YZ)


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