Is the shape of things predestined?
As I had written in this article in the past, we currently have a series of management training session in our office. Yesterday’s session was on “Customer Orientation”. The trainer was explaining the difference between value-added activities (VA) and non-value- added activities.
Value-added activities change the form, fit or function of a product or services. These are the things for which a customer is willing to pay.
Non-value-added activities do not add any value to the product or process. A customer would be unwilling to pay for such activities. In general, such activities generate waste.
Then Raj Aphale, the trainer, started talking about the extent to which people go to avoid waste. While giving examples, he mentioned how Japanese created square, actually cubic, watermelons to save storage space. Watermelons, which are normally spherical, waste a lot of space as they cannot be stacked well. In Japan, where the space is historically at a very high premium, they couldn’t afford to waste so much space in their compact refrigerators. So around 20 years ago, Japanese started growing cubic watermelons.
I was curious. I was mystified. How can watermelons be square? How could they do it? That too 20 years ago? Could they be using genetic engineering? Was it so advanced at that time? I didn’t think so. So as I normally do, I turned to Google and found a wealth of information. I actually found a complete page of instructions on how to grow square melons on www.instructables.com, a site dedicated to giving detailed instructions on many DIY projects. (If you haven’t seen this site, it’s worth a look. It can give you many useful, and sometimes esoteric projects.)
As you can see, a special box with hinged sides and a slit on the top is made. As the watermelon starts growing, it is inserted into the box through the slit. As it starts growing, its growth is automatically directed to fit the cubical box and the melon grows as a cube. Once it’s large enough, the sides are opened from the hinges and the melon is taken out. Simple, isn’t it. How once we know how something works, it becomes simple.
And here is a video about growing square watermelons.
And once the Japanese farmers knew it, they did not stop here. They made watermelons with different shapes.
They made pyramid shaped melons.
Shaped like a human head.
And even shaped like a heart.
I was looking at all these shapes of watermelons and suddenly it struck me. There is a great lesson for all of us here. If a watermelon, which is naturally round, can be shaped into so many myriad shapes, why can’t we shape ourselves, our nature and our future. Watermelon needs an external force to shape it, but we have all that we need, within ourselves. It’s up to us to change ourselves and our destiny and we can change it. “I am just like that”, is only an excuse not to take charge of our lives and shape it the way we want.