Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Frequently unasked questions.

I had planned to return home early and take my wife along to a wedding reception. Driving back from office, I bumped into a friend; we got chatting and catching up on old times and all that, and I reached home slightly - very slightly- later than I had promised. And what do you think wife asked me when I got in? “Why are you so late?”

As I settled down on the sofa to remove my shoes, I reminded myself to be careful. This was a situation that required delicate and adroit handling. On too many occasions, I had messed up the knot while untying the lace, and had to go through considerable agony the next morning while untangling it. The lace safely untied, I then pondered over the question that wife had asked me.

Life, I mused, was not about finding the right answers. It was all about asking the right questions. History is replete with stories of generals and philosophers who managed to have stunning insights merely by asking the right questions.

If Henry Ford had suffered from marketing myopia and had asked himself, “How can I make horse carriages run faster” we would still be going around in jutkas, and wading through tons of horse shit. Instead he asked, “How can I get people from Point A to Point B, faster and with more convenience?” and produced the motor car and we are breathing in tons of Nitrous oxide.

If Thomas Alva Edison had asked himself, “How can I make better candles?” instead of “How can I use electricity to produce light?” we would all be watching television in candlelight. Why, if Edison had asked the wrong question, the Ford Fiestas and Ford Ikons, would be fitted with head lamps made of candles (even if Henry Ford had asked the right question in the preceding para). Pretty messy it would have been.

And, believe me, if Gandhi had asked himself, “How can I make the British rule us better?” rather than “How do I make them get the hell out of India?” we would have had A.R.Rehman coming up with remix versions of “God save the Queen” instead of “Vande Matram”. The effect would have been completely different.

Abe Lincoln stressed the importance of the right question, when he said, “Don’t ask if God is on our side; instead ask if we are on God’s side”. Paraphrasing this a century later, John F Kennedy said, “Ask not what the country can do for you; ask what I can do with Marilyn Monroe?”

So, the whole thing is about asking the right question. Instead of the silly, inane question, ‘Why are you late?”, if wife had asked herself, “Now that my dear husband is home, what are the ways in which I can delight him?” she would have found some terrific answers. Much happiness would have resulted at home. The world would have been a much better place to inhabit.


Vee Cee said...

now why would you assume that it is the desire of wives everywhere to actually fill the home with much happiness. ;)
it's been nice knowing everyone!!!!

Anonymous said...

I bet if your wife were to ask you “Now that my dear husband is home, what are the ways in which I can delight him?”, you would be left wondering, "what did I screw up now to deserve such sarcasm from her?"


Usha said...

:) and I agree totally. I am not too sure how romantic it would have been watching television by candlelight but I am pretty horrified at ARRR's version of God save the queen. Thank god for the right questions these people asked! did I manage to stay away from these posts for a month now?

Sunita Venkatachalam said...

At eac paragraph (aka question) i found myself laughing harder and harder. The best is tied between ARR's God save the queen and "we would all be watching television in candlelight."

Ending my day at office with a smile!

Raj said...

vee cee : once they start asking the right questions, they will be nicer, believe me. Same with the husbands ( in case I am accused of beign sexist)

mp, if wife wanted to be sarcastic, she would have asked, 'why are you so early?"

usha, welcome back. Imagine ARR with his outstretchec arms and looking at the sky and singing. "God save the Queen".

poppins : Good to be praised at the end of the day. Thanks

Anonymous said...

LOL! LOL! I wish I could stop laughing! Thanks Raj for this wonderful write-up!

Raj said...

mysorean, thanks. or should I say LOT!LOT!