Monday, February 2, 2009

THE PING-PONG-BALL EXPERIMENT

You might have heard about this experiment, this story. I hadn't.

Last night, while having our dinner at a restaurant, a friend of mine narrated it to me. And, I was not only fascinated, but also felt unburdened. Inspired.

It seems, some laid-back fellow, or a restless kindergarten kid, one day, just decided to try this experiment. No one exactly knows, who it really was. Well, that's immaterial. What is worth noting, is the way this lazy, crazy idea caught on the imagination of the world ... For a whole two months, till the experiment concluded. This was how it was carried out.

This laid-back scientist, or the kid, would throw a tiny, frail Ping Pong ball into the Lake Victoria, the birthplace of river Nile - the longest river in the world. The quest is to find out whether this tiny, delicate stuff could survive the cruelest test: of making it to the other end, the capital city of Egypt, Cairo - about four-thousand miles down on the North. And, if it could, how long it would take for the little ball to conclude the expedition ... and, very importantly, to chronicle this saga of survival against all the imaginable tests and challenges. May be to learn something from all this. Just may be.

Maybe, because, lazy fellows and learning are two odd balls!

It took two months for the little Ping Pong to complete the expedition. It had to survive the hardest of the hardest rocks and boulders; it had to escape from being getting swallowed by the deadliest papyrus reeds that threatened from the sides of river; the little frail thing had to survive at least nine merciless waterfalls; then, there were the tests of the harsh weather, the lonely nights, the hunger, the fear and despondency ... The little fellow had to pass all these endurance-tests ... before emerging as a winner.

And, some one reported this experiment to a TV station ... Rest is a fascinating story of how the world sat glued to the idiot box, to check the progress of the Pygmy sailor ... The helicopters hovered over him to capture his gutsy journey, the TV stations showed the exact location he had made it to on a particular day, and at a particular time ... The elderly, young and the kids would debate on him. "Would he survive?" ... "What if?" ...

Finally, on 31st December, 1999, when the battered-but-not-beaten Ping Pong landed in Cairo, the world received him with hurrahs and hosannas. A little kindergarten kid lifted him to the delightedly tearful eyes of the world!

The small, frail Ping Pong ball had survived! He was the winner ... one who never gave up!

He had ascended up majestically with the gigantic waves, and descended down gracefully with the steep falls; he had valiantly bounced back after each cruel blow, and cleverly maneuvered out of every harsh tentacle. He had rolled on and on like a baby, and floated on and on like a butterfly ... And, in the end, he had stood out - there, under the spotlight - like a real, heavyweight champion!

This was the great Ping-Pong-Ball experiment. The story my friend narrated to me over the dinner, last night. I was as fascinated, and as glued, as the world had been when the little hero had compelled the world to sit up, and take notice of him.

"Just a small hole, a dent, would have destroyed all his chances," my friend explained to me. "Remember, just a tiny opening."

He was telling me this story - to dispel my gloom, to inspire me to survive ... against all my tests, and all my odds. "Success and dignified living is all about being pliable ... and making ourselves invulnerable to the so called harsh tests of life - the rocks and boulders, the waves and waterfalls, the reeds and loneliness ... Yes, it is about flowing down our rivers - our four-thousand-miles-long voyages - like a frail, little Ping Pong ...

And, yes, all along, not letting ourselves to be bogged down - by any thing, any one, any time ... Never!

Ever!


GERALD D'CUNHA

2 comments:

Girish said...

Even the Gold has to pass through an acid before it gives a right kind of sparkle. Yes, turmoils are there and we have to face it. I believe all ordinary man should learn to combat the pressure situation or do extraordinary things which in turn make them an extraordinary person.

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Thanks Girish for the comment.
I agree with you when you say:
"Ordinary men should learn to combat the pressure situation or do extraordinary things which in turn make them extraordinary persons ..."

The Ping-Pong-Ball that we all are. Rather can be!

Regards,

GERRY