A Hair Raising Tale for a Beautiful mind



Sometimes contest themes just get in my hair. Continuously putting my grey cells to use coming up with ideas for an interesting post keeping with the contest topic is giving me grey hairs. You might have guessed it. The theme for this topic is hair problems. The greatest problem for me at this moment is writing something interesting about hair. But when cool tablets and mobile phones are at stake, wouldn't you be ready to literally pull your hair out to win? I hope the readers don’t find this attempt of mine to present a beautiful hair story too hare brained.

This is a story of my visit to this new town. My hair has grown long and I want to have a haircut. I am told that there are 3 barbers in town – Arvind, Balaji and Chandran. The people in town tell me that Chandran is the best barber. We all want nothing but the best, don’t we? So I decide if have a haircut, it has to be from Chandran only. But if I enter the barber shop; it would be rude to come out without a haircut in case Chandran is not there. So I have to determine beforehand whether Chandran is inside or not. Since the shop is open, at least one of them is definitely inside. Then the townsfolk tell me that if Arvind goes out, he always takes Balaji with him as he is nervous to go out alone. Now I had just read this Japanese best seller Devotion of Suspect X and had begun to believe mathematics can solve every problem. So I decide to apply mathematics to my hair problem. If you mathematically want to prove something is true, you assume it is false and then show that the assumption causes a contradiction.

So I assume Chandran is not inside. So if Arvind is not inside, Balaji is also not inside as Arvind never goes out without Balaji. So if he has gone out, he has taken Balaji also along with him. On the other hand if Arvind is not inside, Balaji must be inside as there are only 3 barbers and if the barber shop is open and neither Arvind nor Chandran is inside, Balaji has to be inside since he is the only one remaining. So we have 2 statements. If Arvind is not inside, Balaji is not inside. If Arvind is not inside, Balaji is inside. Balaji can’t be inside and outside at the same time unless he is an electron. And I am sure electrons don’t cut hair. So we have our contradiction and hence Chandran must be inside to avoid the contradiction. So I confidently stride in.

When I walk in, I find out that my mathematical intuition has indeed been right. Chandran is inside. Arvind and Balaji have apparently shifted to the next town 3 months back. So now the town has just one barber. Due to that there is a huge queue. I can see a board put up prominently. “By the order of the mayor, every male citizen shall get his hair cut once every 2 months. No man shall cut his own hair nor have his hair cut by anyone other than the town barber” As I wait in the queue I have lot of time on my hands. I am now pondering how the barber would be able to follow the mayor’s order. Either he does not cut his hair every 2 months, he cuts it himself or he gets it cut by someone other than the town barber. Either way he violates the mayor’s law. So the barber’s very existence itself is against the law. But without a barber the whole town itself would be going against the law. So being in this town itself did not seem lawful. So I decide to move on to the next town.

I now have two barbers to choose from: Balaji and Arvind. I decide to check them out. Arvind is a suave looking fellow with a neat cut. Balaji on the other hand looks shabby with improperly cut hair. I have no hesitation deciding who to get my hair cut from. Balaji does a great job as expected and that was the end of my hair problems.

So that is my beautiful hair story. The stories are based on 2 mathematical paradoxes, Carroll’s paradox and Russell’s paradox. But the beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Those who do not love math may not have found the story so beautiful. Nevertheless there have been hair problems in every sphere of life from time immemorial and beautiful stories of how they were overcome through human will and enterprise.

Tamil mythology has the story of a scholar Nakkeeran who had to face the wrath of God in order to stand up for his belief that hair in itself cannot have any fragrance. Jewish mythology has the hero Samson with his own share of hair trouble when his loved one betrays him to his enemies. Australia as a country had hare trouble when the hares brought in by westerners multiplied in large number becoming a serious pest. Indian politics on the other hand is having heir trouble with dynasties emerging in almost every political party. Even our sporting icon Sachin Tendulkar had his own hair trouble – the umpire Darrell Hair. The list is endless. But the point is that there are so many different types of hair trouble possible, each with its own unique solution, each one a fascinating story in itself.

There are hair troubles and then there are hair troubles. For literal hair troubles of more mundane nature, there is a simple solution –this Dove Hair Aware App. Just use this application and find the solution and you are done. You will have beautiful hair. But not the beautiful stories of triumph of human spirit over insurmountable odds! As they say you cannot have the cake and eat it too.

Picture credit : Barber picture

78 comments:

Subhorup Dasgupta said...

neat. invalidates my belief that contest posts tend to be more of a compromise than creative. loved the way you have put the topic in its place too. you have really had the cake and eaten it too.

TTT said...

what a post !!! blame it on my rusted grey cells ...still not able to figure out the tangle of ...balaji...chandran and Aravind ! Let me go back and try once more ;)

Yatin Khurana said...

:-|
Now that's not fair!! We too are competing

btw as always freaking awesome post and yeah I love maths and thus this post too
:-)

The Fool said...

Thanks, Subhorup. I try my best to do something creative and different within constraints of contest rules.

The Fool said...

@TTT - These guys Russell and Carroll are both mathematicians. So it will take some time to properly understand their logic. But I guess a general idea is enough to enjoy the post.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Yatin. You don't have to fear me. I am more famous for losing contests than winning them.

Ruchita said...

OMG!!! What an electrifying speed you have to write such an awesome post. Yesterday they declared the contest and today you have written such a beautiful post.

Love the maths you have involved in this post. This post is an example that contest post can be creative as well as interesting while advertising their product.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Ruchi.Was waiting for your comment.

Stan Szczesny said...

Bravo! I smiled the whole time, but I'm a math geek. I loved that you worked Lewis Carroll and Bertrand Russell into a post on hair.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Stan.

N.S.Kirti said...

Woah! i think by this time i must be getting used to the way you come up with such fantastic ideas all the time!! i was like- grinning like an idiot while i was reading this. my brother made me read Barbershop paradox when i was reading Alice in wonderland and i found it highly interesting.
I love this story, you associated math and hair problem so...BRILLIANTLY!! and not to forget the two paradoxes!!
ok i should stop here now, but i feel like going on and on on your story!! :D

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Kirti. I was actually wanting you to read as you are interested in Mathematics.

Elvira Lobo(Elli) said...

one of your best works:)

Antara said...

OH MY! I absolutely LOVVVED this. Math and creative writing - two very favourite parts of my life.
And reading this made me think - you should write a story (in first person) which gives an insight to a detective (or cryptographer) solving a code or mystery in this manner. With paradoxes and logical assumptions. Because I can see you do this fabulously!!!

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Elvira.

The Fool said...

Thanks, Antara. Interesting idea. This book Devotion of Suspect X is exactly that. You might like it.

debajyoti said...

it's always fun reading your posts. that was some analysis.

as i am not a knowledgeable person, i usually opt for my version of trial and error methods.

is this a contest post? in that case - all the best!! would love to see you win this one :).

DS said...

Trust TF to come up with such posts! What a connection, the paradox's... Loved the way how you treated a dull theme and converted it into an interesting one.

The Fool said...

Thanks Debajyothi. Trial and error is the best indeed when everything else fails. Yes it is a contest. Thanks for the wishes.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, DS. Finally you came around.

ashreyamom said...

what an imagination.. so in case u win, better give my hose address so i can use ur prizes.. :)

The Fool said...

Thanks ashreya. Sure do send me your address. Lol.

jaish_vats said...

Hi TF
What a splendid post!! Gosh! I have been trying to decipher the Chandran-Arvind-Balaji math and I have a couple of sparrows spinning around my head :) The line on the other hares and heirs was too good :)

Shesha Chaturvedi said...

paradox...maths...and u made hair problems look severe than those BIG Maths Problems.(i guess problems in real life are more complex, you can't cheat from others for the solution!
P.s.Math helps you scoring high :P
Wish you luck!!! Creative and different... :)
P.P.S. I never liked maths too much, confuses me, but it looks impressive!! :D

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot,Jayashree. I am sure lot of people are bamboozled by the math part. But the idea was not to really get into the depth of the maths problem. The idea was just to relate the hair problem to the maths problems to generate some laughs.

The Fool said...

@Shesha - Good to see you here again. Hope you followed the singer series to the end. And yes. Math does look impressive. My idea was only to make it look impressive and not really discuss math.

Shilpa Nair said...

Hahahaha! When I read 'maths' I was not very sure, as I am a 'mathophobic', but five sentences later, here I am reading it for the third time! That paragraph in the middle was so confusing, I pulled out some of my hair ;p
If this is a contest, I bet u will win.

The Fool said...

Thanks Shilpa. Don't worry. It was meant to be confusing.

DevendraDembla said...

Hi,

My Name is Devendra Dembla and I am Kinjal Darukhanawala’s publicist. Kinjal’s book Emotional Hangover is available on Flipkart. We would like to send across the book to you and would like to hear about the book from you.

Bhavana said...

You are brilliant. Absolutely brilliant! But I must confess I still did not understand your third para--how did u come to the conclusion Chandran is inside? No, please dont repeat that mathematical solution. Weak in my head or my hair.
Great Hairy story with hair-raising paras and twists. May it win you another heirloom for your website collection:)

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Bhavana. Actually the math is supposed to confuse. Actually it is not right also. It is just a fallacy in the mathematics of the time. It actually does not prove Chandran is inside though mathematically it might appear so. That is the trick.

The Fool said...

You can send it Devendra.

Saru Singhal said...

I don't love maths but I loved this story. Perfectly understood the dilemma of the barber and of hair. The introduction of Dove Hair App is done very neatly. All the best!

You have to win this contest. Performance my dear team member, performance...:) LOL...:)

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Saru. Nice to see you on my blog. One of the benefits of being your team member on IBL. Can you please influence the judges and win me this contest - at lightning speed !

Shesha Chaturvedi said...

Nope. haven't yet. Though i want to... blame it on my busy last month! will follow it up soon and will give my feedback too. :)

Diwakar Narayan said...

Amazingly written post TF..I have still not tried to write for any contest yet; however, looking at your entry, I must say even if I try to write any, I will fail badly. Give me some tips TF :-)

The Fool said...

Shesha - Really liked you comments on the singer series. So would like you to see it through to the end.

The Fool said...

Thanks Diwakar. Good to see you again on my blog. Try it Diwakar. Mine are not winning entries. I just like to look for a lateral approach to a topic and find it fun.

C. Suresh said...

Thank God I do not have hair TF! If I had had it to begin with I would not be left with any by the time I finished the post:) You have a genius for coming up with intriguing ideas for contests and the way you used hair and hare left me spell-bound.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, CS. I think the idea of pulling hair is cool. Wish I had used it in my post.

indu chhibber said...

You did tantalize my brain but i liked what i understood.All the best.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Indu.

subtlescribbler said...

hehe..hair triggering and hair raising at the same time. this is like i was sitting on a merry go round trying to figure out answers :O

but interesting though a little weird too. good luck :D


sarah

Afshan said...

Quite knowledge post !
liked :)

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot Sarah. Indeed maths can have that effect.

The Fool said...

Thanks Afshan.

Blogwati Gee said...

Ok, so you got some patents pending against you somewhere? Just when I thought what could a guy write on hair care, you infused it with a complexity that even we women can't argue with. Super weave! Good luck!

The Fool said...

Lol @ Blogwati Gee. Thanks for visiting my blog.

umashankar said...

Now, that was a hair-raising post to my feeble mind to whom the epitome of everything mathematical and scientific is a snake rolling in a circle with its tale tucked in the mouth, resembling the molecule of Mercedes Benzene...! No surprises that Kekulé is my all-time-favourite! You may replace him though.

The Fool said...

Lol @ umashankar. Mercedes Benzene! I have moved too far from science now little by little.

Ranjith (SRGF) | A light hearted talk said...

I am amazed by the way you have managed to bring mathematics into the story of your hair! All the best for the contest...

The Fool said...

Thanks Ranjith and best of luck to you too.

D.Nambiar said...

:D Good one.
I'm no math person, either, so couldn't see the beauty of that part of the post.
I like your style of writing so I did enjoy it on the whole. We all have hair problems so we can all identify with this one. :)

All the best for the contest.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, D.Nambiar.

Someone is Special said...

Once again TF is back with an awesome post.. Good Luck Bro!

Btw, I noticed that you have had won more contests after our conversation! Hmm wish you more luck bro!

Someone is Special

Ghazala Hossain said...

This is absorbing, all the best. Wonder why you call yourself The fool:))

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, SIS. Luck does seem to have turned my way all of a sudden in Indi contests.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot Ghazala. I have put an explanation of why I call myself 'The Fool' in the FAQ section of my blog.

Neha said...

You must be the only contestant who used complicated mathematical paradoxes to resolve hair problems. Very innovative post and good luck for the contest :)

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Neha. I always try to do something different and innovative. Entertaining the reader is more important to me than winning prizes.

panchalibolchi said...

TF...LOL!!
...Impressed with uniqueness of solution you offered to the so-called classical HAIR damage problem? Your mathematical solution gave rigorous jerks to my brain..Arghh... how I hate maths!!:((
I am glad I didn't miss this brilliant blog !!Very creative piece...!!
All the best for the contest!

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, panchalibolchi and welcome to my blog.

Uma said...

You are always a good story teller ! Thanks for dropping by my blog :)

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Uma.

buzzzzzzzzz... said...

an intelligent post..more than the story,, I love the paragraph that mentions different types of 'hair' troubles..

The Fool said...

Thanks Buzzzzz. Some people asked me to remove that. Glad I kept it.

Jasmeet Kukreja said...

ohh an informative post to know about different methodologies ... the black n white picture u added has given me smirk smile...hee hee

Rujuta Xavier said...

Great post! You reminded me of my maths class and all the methods to prove the riders! :)

All the best for the contest.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Rujuta.

Deepa said...

Unbelievably smart and witty! Loved the post TF. Needless to say, added your blog to my blog library!

The Fool said...

Thanks Deepa. Hope to see you more often.

Farila said...

LOL I love your sense of humor... Great reading today. BTW if they use your stories to teach mathematics, it would make it tough to remember.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Farida. I don't seem to remember any of my maths teachers ever telling stories.

Someone is Special said...

let luck be with you bro!

Someone is Special

The Fool said...

Thanks, SIS.

Uma said...

I never thought math and hair could be weaved into such a gripping tale, although in my experience the two do go together as math duds like me would have invariably pulled a hair or two while at it :-)
Lovely writing. I read your bride hunt series in one go and just loved it.
All the best for the contest!

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Uma. Lol. One does sometime have to pull one's hair to solve maths problems. Do hope to see you often at my blog.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Jasmeet. I somehow seem to have missed replying to your comment.

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