Saturday, December 21, 2013


This happened in the early 70s. I was visiting Calcutta and was wandering around College Street lookin for second hand book. I met somebody who started talking in Hindi which I could not understand. I could gather that he was a truck driver from Bombay and was pleased to see somebody from Bombay in that foreign place. I said I could not really understand him and wandered off. Then I ran into him again and it seemed interesting to me that I was able to communicate with somebody in a language that I did not know and continued to chatting. He said that he wanted to buy a watch, he knew the owner of a shop and wanted my help in buying it. He wanted me with him because he liked the watch I was wearing. On the way to the shop, we stopped for tea. He wanted to check how the watch would look on his hand and I put it on his hand. Suddenly he had a coughing fit, went out to spit and never came back.
No wonder that I am considered naive my many. It has not changed with age. More recently, I have been fascinated by this program of Arunachalam Muruganantham and wanted to initiate it in Guntur-Vijayawada area as a way of employment for some poor and better sanitary condition. Even after an year there is no progress even though a gentleman offered space in his work shop. Finally I wanted to approach Ramakrishna Mission rural development centre in Narendrapur which is doing wonderful work and wrote to a friendly monk. This is the reply " I had a bout of uncontrollable (but forcedly silent) laughter at your idea. this certianly will be HIGHLY INAPPROPRIATE
for Narendrapur. Dont talk to monks (except heretics like yours truly) regarding such outlandish schemes.

The main reason is that they will all be totally unco-operative. Secondly they'll start looking at you as if you were some kind of a NUT
(perhaps not so far from the truth though). Finally, they will be reassured that the natural occupational hazards for mathematicians
involve eccentricity and therefore in future will probably humour mine."

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