Saturday, April 20, 2013


A Story


Once, when I was explaining the finer points of ISO Quality Management System, a bright young engineering student asked me: How can we achieve continual improvement?

“By continuous learning or, to use jargon, continual learning.

“But why do we need continual learning?

“To control Entropy.

Entropy? What is entropy?

“The opposite of Negentropy,” I answered.

“Can you tell me what is Negentropy?” she persisted.

“Okay. I will tell you a story that will answer all your questions, I said.

And so I told her this story.

A Teaching Story
Retold By

Once upon a time there was a young hat seller who used to roam around the country from town to town selling hats for a living.

On one summer afternoon, while travelling from one city to another, he felt very exhausted. 

He was so tired that he decided to take a nap in the forest.

He found a mango tree with lots of branches and cool shade. 

Placing his bag of hats beside him the hat seller went to sleep.

When he woke up after a refreshing nap, he found that there were no hats in his bag.

Bewildered, he exclaimed to himself, “What bad luck. Of all the people, why did the thieves have to rob me?”

Suddenly he looked up and noticed that the mango tree was full of monkeys wearing all his colourful hats.

He could not believe his eyes. 

Yes, all the monkeys were wearing his hats.

He yelled at the monkeys.

The monkeys screamed back at him.

He made faces at the monkeys.

In response the monkeys made the same funny faces back at him.

He threw a stone at the monkeys.

In response the monkeys showered him with raw mangoes.

“Oh my God, how do I get my hats back?” the hat seller wondered.

He pondered for some time but could not find a solution to his predicament.

Finding no answer, he got so frustrated that he took off his own hat and threw it on the ground.

To his surprise, all the monkeys also threw their hats to the ground.

The hat seller did not waste a second. 

He hurriedly collected all the hats and went on his way to the next town.

Fifty years later, the grandson of the same hat-seller was passing through the same jungle. 

The grandson had continued the family business of selling hats.  

After walking all afternoon he was very fatigued and tired.

He found a nice mango tree with lots of branches and cool shade.

So he decided to rest a while and soon was fast asleep.

A few hours later, when he woke up, he realized that all the hats from his bag had vanished.

He started searching for the missing hats.

Then he looked up.

To his surprise he found some monkeys sitting on the mango tree wearing his hats.

At first he was confused.

He was at a loss not knowing what to do. 

Suddenly, he remembered the story his grandfather used to tell him about the monkeys and the hats.

“I know how to fool these monkeys,” he said to himself, “I will make them imitate me and very soon I will get all my hats back.”

He waved at the monkeys and the monkeys waved back at him.

He blew his nose and the monkeys blew their noses.

He started dancing and the monkeys also danced.

He pulled his ears and the monkeys pulled their ears.

He raised his hands and the monkeys raised their hands.

Then, he threw his hat on the ground expecting all the monkeys to do likewise.

But instead, one monkey jumped down from the mango tree and walked up to him. 

Then, looking into the young man’s eyes, the monkey said, Do you think only you had a grandfather?

Had a laugh? 

Liked the story?

Now, Dear Reader, you please tell me what is the meaning of Entropy?

Still clueless?

Read the story once more - in fact, keep reading the story again and again till comprehension dawns on you.

It is simple. 

This teaching story emphasizes the importance of continual learning and continuous improvement.

Unless you keep learning you will soon become obsolescent and then you will be rendered obsolete. 

Entropy is a measure of uncertainty. 

Entropy is the extent of your ignorance.

If you don't keep learning, your entropy (ignorance) will keep increasing and you will become more and more clueless relative to your outside world.

That is what a law of thermodynamics says:


So, Dear Reader, keep learning and do not let entropy overpower you into ignorance. 

If you stop continual learning you may land up becoming a clueless clot.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 

No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013. All Rights Reserved

Did you like reading this story?
I am sure you will like all the 27 stories in my book  COCKTAIL an anthology of Short Fiction.
To order your COCKTAIL please click any of the links below:

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Foodie Book:  Appetite for a Stroll
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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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