Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had
the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a
village moneylender. The moneylender , who was old and
ugly, fancied the farmer's beautiful daughter. So he
proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the
farmer's debt if he could marry his daughter. Both the
farmer and his daughter were horrified by the
So the cunning money-lender suggested that they let
Providence decide the matter. He told them that he
would put a black Pebble and a white pebble into an
empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one
pebble from the bag.
1) If she picked the black pebble, she would become
his wife and her father's debt would be forgiven.
2) If she picked the white pebble she need not marry
him and her father's debt would still be forgiven.
3) But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father
would be thrown into jail.
They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the
farmer's field. As they talked, the moneylender bent
over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the
sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two
Black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked
the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.
Now, imagine that you were standing in the field. What
would you have done if you were the girl? If you had
to advise her, what would you have told her?
Careful analysis would produce three possibilities: 1.
The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
2. The girl should show that there were two black
pebbles in the bag and expose the money-lender as a
3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice
herself in order to save her father from his debt and
Take a moment to ponder over the story. The above
story is used with the hope that it will make us
appreciate the difference between lateral and logical
The girl's dilemma cannot be solved with traditional
logical thinking. Think of the consequences if she
chooses the above logical answers.
What would you recommend to the girl to do?
Well, here is what she did ....
The girl put her hand into the moneybag and drew out a
pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it
fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately
became lost among all the other pebbles. "Oh, how
clumsy of me," she said. "But never mind, if you look
into the bag for the one that is left, you will be
able to tell which pebble I picked."
Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be
assumed that she had picked the white one. And since
the money-lender dared not admit his dishonesty, the
girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into
an extremely advantageous one.
MORAL OF THE STORY:
Most complex problems do have a solution. It is only
that we don't attempt to think.
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