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Builder Ranjan: Do you realise that you are putting a lot of lives at danger for the sake of one life? Not even one life, just one tree.
Chandu Chacha: A tree is very much a precious living thing.
Builder Ranjan: Be practical Chacha. You cannot convince me with emotional arguments. We will re-plant it elsewhere if the tree is so important to you.
Chandu Chacha: Either you did not go to school or you did not understand probability. Which one is more likely to happen? Someone dying quickly in a fire or someone dying a slow extended death through breathing this polluted air?
Builder Ranjan: Frankly, I don’t care about how these people die. All I want is for my building to pass the fire safety regulations. And I will not get it till I can prove it to these morons that the fire engine is capable of reaching the building complex in less than 10 minutes of the alarm ringing. That is all that I care about. And that tree of yours is standing right in the middle of the only road that is wide enough to allow the fire engine to pass through.
Chandu: You just told me to be practical didn’t you? The road is 25 feet wide at the narrowest curve near the tree. I know the width of their fire engine. It is no more than 20 feet.
Builder Ranjan: They let you enter the fire station and measure the width of their fire engine?
Chandu: Don’t digress when I have you cornered
Ranjan: I will bring up this point in the next review meeting.
Ranjan: You were not practical enough Chacha. The fire engine can pass through the road with the tree standing there. But, because of the tree, it has to navigate the curve at such a slow speed that it will never reach the apartment complex in less than 10 minutes. The only solution is to cut the tree so that fire engine can navigate the curve faster and reach in time. Not to mention that the margin of 5 feet difference between the road width and the fire engine width is too low if there are firemen are standing on the side of the engine.
Chandu: They have firemen who are five feet wide? I would be worried for my safety if such obese firemen come to rescue me from a fire.
Ranjan: Make all the jokes you want Chacha. You have two days before they come with the bulldozer to raze the tree down.
Ranjan: What is it now Chacha? I hope you have a good reason to delay proceedings now.
Chandu: This is my nephew Kailash, he is giving IIT entrance exams this year
Ranjan: Do you need help for his tuition fees Chacha?
Chandu: Don’t be stupid. He is here to prove to you that the fire engine can navigate the curve at a speed fast enough to reach the apartment complex in less than 10 minutes.
Ranjan: What the?
Kailash: Yes uncle, I have revised my curvilinear motion mechanics syllabus yesterday itself. The road has a bend of 94.3 degrees with an average friction coefficient of 0.34 without potholes. The weight of the fire engine is 765 kgs when unloaded and it goes upto 980 kgs when fully loaded with water and on a full tank of petrol. If the road is slightly elevated on the outer edge of the curve by 2.3 degrees, the fire engine can navigate the curve with a speed upto 30 kmph without any danger of hitting the tree.
Ranjan: Don’t tell me they let you enter the fire engine and let you measure the weight of the fire engine.
Chacha: Don’t digress when we have you cornered.
Ranjan: Did you factor in the weight of the five foot wide firemen in the fire engine?
Kailash: Yes presence of heavier firemen on the engine will only increase the friction between the tires and the road and this will offset the margin lost due to increase in weight of the truck. Not to mention that the friction coefficient of the road will only increase when potholes appear giving the fire engine a greater margin to work with. I mean, the fire engine may topple over because of the pothole but it will definitely not skid enough to hit the tree trunk.
Ranjan: There will be no potholes appearing on the roads. I have built the best quality roads.
Chacha: Don’t digress when we have you cornered.
Ranjan: I will bring this up in the next review meeting.
Ranjan: You know Chacha, you will always be a narrow minded activist who cannot see the big picture and practical limitations. You never factored the height of the engine into your calculations. This time, I went into the fire station and measured the height of the fire engine myself. It is much higher than the height from which the lower branches of the tree hang. It breaks my heart too but I don’t think you can save a major part of the tree Chacha.
Chacha: You know, you need not go to the fire station to measure the fire engine dimensions. The specifications of the engine are available online.
Ranjan: Look who is digressing now
Chacha: I tell you, you are trying to cut the hole to fit the pegs here. Why do they need to bring an entire fire engine near the building to extinguish the fire?
Ranjan: What are you suggesting now?
Chacha: I will personally finance a local fire-fighting water storage unit near the apartment complex that can be filled by the fire men and sprayed within 10 minutes.
Ranjan: You will never be a practical man Chacha. I will bring this up in the next review meeting. But remember, all the expenses of the local water storage tank will be borne by you personally.
Chacha (walks out of the office, takes out his phone and speaks): Haan Kailash beta, apni mumy ko bolna ki apartment ke paani ka problem solve ho jayega
The above piece was written as part of a session at Write Club on 30th April, 2016. The theme was to write a few scenes of a play. We were told to make sure that the story involves someone (or something) in mortal danger. I found the beautiful tree next to our venue to be particularly inspiring.
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