Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Land of Math

That would be India where I spent Thanksgiving. A South American asks for the price of an ice cream cone in broken English: how much? The local vendor answers: 87 Rupees. What? 87. Um, what?, this time with some hand sign. The vendor says, 100 minus one three. Universal language of Math triumphs, and someone gets to enjoy the ice cream.

India is also a land of awful ringtones. They don't let any old film song die. And it is the land of walls. Houses walled in, dirty streets and the world walled out. Owners zealously wall in their world of mansions and domestic help, every inch of their property, and just outside, the town streets are incongruously small, too small for their cars even. It is also the land where visitors and locals alike are driven to shake their heads and start with their prescription: "What India needs is ..."

ps: From what I hear, the people of Mumbai are back to their lives and its usual frenetic beat. So, kudos to them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

87 rupees, that's expensive! The last I was around I am sure I could have gotten it for under 20. Has so much changed in so little time?

(I tried to make a joke about the weakening dollar, but got confused. I guess a weak dollar has nothing to do with things being more expensive in India now than they were a few years ago?)

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May be it was 13, and the vendor said 100 minus eight seven. I was jetlagged and just retained the "formula" he used. :)

-- metoo

8:02 PM  
Blogger L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

wont it be easier to show 87 than to show arithmetic using sign language :)

ps: this time we the people of India dont want to get back to our "usual" lives without first making sure that the govt and everybody else is doing their best to stop terrorists from striking in future

5:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The British colonialists were loathe to employ Hindus. But when it came to counting, they found that Hindus could in a few hours accomplish what would take Europeans days to figure out. And so started the practice of hiring Hindu accountants who were then sent to far-flung reaches of the Empire.

2:50 PM  

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