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Fitting a Square Peg into a Round Hole: Resilience and Jugaad

Recently, my friend Manish Jain asked me to write some reflections about the relationship between resilience and jugaad, a Hindi term for ingenuity, an invitation to the imagination to play and invent new solutions using whatever is right in front of you.

It brought to mind for me a scene in the movie Apollo 13, when the NASA engineers realize that they have to construct a carbon dioxide filter using only materials available on the spacecraft—and that they’ve got a mismatch between, literally, a square peg and a round hole. They dump a mass of random material on the table, and the lead engineer says, “The people upstairs handed us this one and we gotta come through. We gotta find a way to make this [square cartridge] fit into the hole for this [round cartridge] using nothing but that [materials on the table].”

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