A pre-historic business case study in the village of Noh-mi-taal

A foreigner came to the village of Noh-mi-taal, where the inhabitants have never seen metal before. The foreigner promptly took out three bars of metal and magnanimously chose three inhabitants to each receive a bar. The names of the three fortunate inhabitants were Noklu, Sumklu and Kludin.

They of course, were very happy to have received this beautiful shiny gift from the kind foreigner, and brought their respective bars home to show their wives. After a while, Noklu got bored with this gift that cannot be eaten and does nothing. Suffice to say, he was not so enamoured by his gift. As it was heavy enough, his wife decided to use it as a weight to prop the door open as that night it was hot and humid.

Sumklu also brought his bar home to his wife. “What is it?” asked his wife. “I don’t know, but it was given, so I took” said Sumklu. Together, they perused the bar of metal, scratching their heads until the sun had gone down and they realised that they had missed their supper. “This bar is useless!” said Sumklu and threw it into the fireplace. The next day, Sumklu and his wife woke up to a puddle of shiny liquid that was already beginning to harden into a disk. “Hey”, said Sumklu to his wife, “it’s turning into a flat something –what should we do with it?” As it was so much prettier and shinier than their clay plates, they decided to use it as a plate and bring it out to use when the guests come over.

One such guest was Kludin, who came over to Sumklu’s house the next day for a meal, and to discuss their shared fortune of the bars. When his meal was brought to him, it was arranged on the metal plate. “So Sumklu, what have you done with your bar? I bumped into Noklu this morning and he said it’s so heavy that it makes a good doorstop. Have you figured out what to do with it?” “Well, you’re looking at it!” Sumklu puffed up with pride. Kludin pushed his food to the side and realised that he had been eating from a very shiny plate. “Why, that’s wonderful! How did you do it?” Sumklu proceeded to tell Kludin what happened the night before with the fire. Kludin nodded his head, trying not to show too much excitement to Sumklu at this discovery. “Surely, everyone would want a little piece of this shiny thing!” he thought to himself.

Now Kludin also had five goats to his name, neither of them fat, but generous enough to be the envy of the village. That evening, he tugged the rope leash of his littlest goat and brought it to Noklu. When he arrived, Noklu was in the process of propping his door with the bar, as the evenings do get hot and humid a lot in the village of Noh-mi-taal. “Noklu”, said Kludin. “I will give you this, my littlest goat in exchange for your bar. I have used my bar as you have, to prop my door open, but I would like to have your bar to keep the door to the back of my house open as well. Please, will you consider?” Noklu looked at Kludin in amazement. “Your house must be very stuffy to offer me a goat for such a trivial bar. Very well, I accept”, continued Noklu, thinking Kludin must indeed be mad, not very bright or both.

The next day, Kludin paid another visit to Sumklu, this time with three medium-sized goats in tow. “Sumklu, I have come to offer you my three goats for your shiny plate”, said Kludin with a straight face. “Yes”, replied Sumklu suspiciously. “I have heard of your exchange with Noklu, and he said you must be a stupid man indeed”. Kludin looked at Sumklu straight in the eyes and said, “Well, do you wish to exchange or not?”

Now Sumklu’s suspicion was indeed raised even further, that there is more to this story than Kludin was willing to divulge. However, faced with the tempting offer of three healthy medium-sized goats, and the fact that he knew not what else to do with his shiny plate other than impressing guests by serving food on it, he promptly decided to accept the offer.

Kludin rushed home with his loot, so unbelievably happy that he managed to trade with Noklu and Sumklu. At home, he proceeded to build the biggest and hottest fire he could manage and melted the bar that he got from Noklu, the shiny plate he got from Sumklu, and of course, his own bar. While waiting for the fire to melt the metal, Kludin built several moulds made out of clay. Once the metal was all melted, he poured it into the moulds.

When evening came, Kludin was terribly exhausted from his hard labour, but went to bed grinning from ear to ear. The villagers had a special name for that kind of grin on Kludin’s face, a grin not unlike a cat that got its cream. That special name for that special grin was called, ‘grinsen’.

The next day, Kludin went to the village center, where the women gathered and sometimes, sold the corn that they planted by the side of their houses for extra income. Kludin was carrying a sack, which he laid out open on the ground. Once he started arranging the contents of the sack, the crowd of women gathered around him. A sound not unlike the clucking of chickens rose louder and louder from the group of women as they exclaimed in awe at the sight of these shiny objects.

“What are these beautiful shiny things, Kludin?” asked one of the women. Kludin waited until all of the women were silent and slowly replied, “They have no purpose except for beauty, but if you wear them around your neck, on your ears, on your head, around your wrists, around your ankles, I assure you that they will make a woman look even more beautiful!” All the women started to chatter excitedly, many of them offering their ears of corn, their fat goats, even their houses for Kludin’s wares.

Yet another evening fell as Kludin sorted out which offers he would accept for his wares and which he would not. Kludin went home to his wife a very happy man.



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