I am not sure if this is a global thing, but the practice of writing stuff down on currency notes is rather widespread in India. If you are reading this post in India, check your wallet right now. I am sure that half the notes would have something scribbled on them.
The most common thing is the count of notes. Usually, when people are making stacks of 100 notes, they mark the count on the topmost note. In my wallet right now, I have 7, 49, 84 and 100 marked on notes. Another common thing is names and/or phone numbers.
But it is a rare note that is blessed by a poetic verse or a shopping list. I got this one as change a couple of days ago:
I didn’t even know there was such a deodorant on the market!
I have edited out the mobile number scribbled on the note. Also check out the serial number – a pretty good hand to hold while playing Liar’s Poker.
Now, what do you have in your wallet right now?
First of all: WTF, Norway?
Now, I am just guessing, but one or more of these had to be factors in the decision:
1. Award ceremony’s TV ratings were falling.
2. Nobel committee wanted to get photographed with Obama.
3. Obama is so handsome, the Committee wants to take him behind a middle school and get him pregnant [Ref].
4. Will award anyone who quotes Gandhi. Yeah, still making amends for that one.
5. Committee chairman’s daughter wanted Obama’s autograph.
6. Just making sure that America doesn’t start another war.
Readers, feel free to add your own.
Update (Oct 14): Not that there is anything new about it, but I was pretty much on the mark here. It was a variation of (1), (2), and (5) above.
“Bermuda Triangle to blame for crash?” screams a headline in Times of India, linked right at the front page. Full text and screen-shot below.
Bermuda, Miami, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico mark out a triangular region on the western part of the Atlantic. Also known as the Devil’s Triangle, this region has become notorious for the seemingly inexplicable disappearances of aircraft and surface-vessels.
There are theories galore “explaining” the disappearances but none that has been able to establish what happens conclusively. Some argue human error, others deliberate sabotage or powerful hurricanes. No merit in the innumerable scientific explanations offered. A sizeable section even pleads for alien abduction or other such paranormal activity beyond the scope of science. [TOI]
The red circle is practically inside the triangle, wouldn’t you say?
You might want to see the complete slideshow as well. This is the only twitter-related cartoon though.
Feel free to twitter about this.
Or, Are you listening to me, Gordon?
The Time magazine has put together the 2009 list of world’s 100 most influential people. The interesting thing about this annual feature is not just the people on the list, but that their profiles are written by other high-profile people. Sometimes, these other high-profile people are also on the same list, and their profiles are written by… I think you get the idea.
As expected, Barack Obama is on the list. And who has written his profile? None other than Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the country that has lectured the world about proper English for ages. Lets take a look:
Time and time again, people have talked of Barack Obama’s talent for listening. His real talent is for hearing what is actually said. [Time]
That was confusing, wasn’t it? Don’t worry, I looked it up. Here, the BBC explains the difference between hear and listen:
We use hear for sounds that come to our ears, without us necessarily trying to hear them! For example, ‘They heard a strange noise in the middle of the night.’
Listen is used to describe paying attention to sounds that are going on. For example, ‘Last night, I listened to my new Mariah Carey CD.’
So, you can hear something without wanting to, but you can only listen to something intentionally. [BBC]
According to Gordon Brown then, Barack Obama’s real talent does not lie in paying attention to people. It lies in unintentionally picking up the words that someone happens to be speaking in the vicinity. In other words, Barack Obama is a highly sensitive microphone.
Some Political Reactions
Indian National Congress: The chicken crossed the road to sign the nuclear deal despite all attempts to stop it. It is a great day for India and her chickens.
Bharatiya Janata Party: The chicken crossed the smooth, 4-lane road that was built when we were in power, and Congress has done nothing to improve it. Our IT vision will put every chicken on the information super-highway.
L. K. Advani (on twitter): The chkn Xed the road. LOL.
Varun Gandhi: I will cut that Son of a Hen down if he puts even a toe inside a Hindu’s home. Have you seen their names.. Murg Mussalam.. Scary!
Mayawati: The chicken crossed the road to join BSP. Millions more will follow.
Sonia Gandhi: If elected, I will not eat chicken curry.
Pramod Muthalik: Did you see that? The chicks are now crossing the road on their own! And not wearing anything at all! Indian culture is doomed.
Communist Parties: When we come to power, we will send that capitalist chicken back to where it came from – America. Such unilateral crossings by imperialist powers will not be tolerated.
Some Not-so-political Reactions
Ratan Tata: Did you see how unsafe that was? Soon, the chicken would be able to drive a Nano and cross the road safely.
BCCI: We are shifting the chicken to South Africa; roads are better over there.
Feel free to add your own.
I’ve tried to type most of the transcript, but it is a rush job. All errors are mine, naturally. Here it is, just for the heck of it.
JS: My guest tonight, he is co-chair of Infosys technologies Ltd. His new book is called Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation. Please welcome to the programme.. Nandan Nilekani.
JS: Thank you very much for joining us.
NN: Thank you for having me.
JS: The book is called… as worthy for a country of a billion people,
it’s super long. it is a super long book
NN: Yeah, it is long. But I think, you know, in a country as large and
complex as India, you need some time to write.. write everything.
JS: And there is a tremendous breadth. One of the thing that I thought was interesting is.. we’ve always viewed a country of a billion people as a detriment. It’s a burden on a country. You see it as an opportunity, it makes you more vibrant.
NN: Yes, that’s a big change. I think we saw population as a liability, now we see it as an asset. We saw it as a burden, now we see it as Human Capital. And India is going through its demographic dividend. When you have a lot of young people in the working age, that’s a very important time for any country.
JS: What’s the median age? Because it’s a shock.. the media age of India is what?
NN: Uh.. mid to late 20s.
JS: Have they got the show Gossip Girl over there yet? I think it would be very big.
NN: Ya, ya. I’ll tell them.
JS: You should tell them.
JS: The way we look at it in this country is.. we believe either India or China will be our new overlords. Ah.. make your case for India. Why do you think India would be a preferrable overlord for the United States, more than China?
NN: Well, I don’t know about that. But..
JS: Don’t.. don’t be modest. You will be our new overlord.
NN: I don’t think so. But I think India is really a.. it’s a country of a billion people.. it’s democratic, it’s having it’s big election next month with 700 million people voting. It’s a very diverse society, so it’s really a.. it’s a good country, you know. It won’t be an overlord, just a good country in the world.
JS: How can they wrangle 700 million votes? Is the voting process.. it’s
not one Tuesday in November, it’s over a month.
NN: It’s spread over 4 weeks. It starts on April 16th and it’s based entirely on electronic voting machines. Over a million voting machines all over the country. And it’s a huge spectacle.. it’s quite an exciting time in India right now.
JS: Now.. who do you.. lets say an electronic voting machine breaks down in India. Do you call someone in the United States.. at that point, to help you with it.. or..
NN: No, I think there are people locally who can fix it.
JS: But will you be able to understand them? That’s the question. Let me ask you this.. why not just.. why have the elections.. why not just take Barrack Obama? Can’t he just be the President of the World?
NN: Well, I guess you have to be somebody born there.
JS: Oh.. you [not clear]
JS: What do you think is the biggest detriment for India right now? What’s the thing that could be the biggest pitfall may be?
NN: I think the lack of education. Because we have a lot of young people who are not getting good schooling. And that’s going to be the difference between a demographic dividend or a demographic disaster. Getting the education right is going to be the key to the next 20 years.
JS: Do you look at America and as you guys are.. a burgeoning economy stepping into it from.. I guess a more socialist economy to a more capitalist economy.. do you look at us and think.. we are.. we want to go in that direction, or do you look at us and think we would not like to go in that direction? Are we a good example for you to move towards? What have to learned from us?
NN: Well, I think a great example on many counts. An open society, a democracy, a meritocracy.. you know.. all the creativity that you have. But on issues like how we manage global warming, how we manage pensions and health care.. I think there are ways in which we can do it differently as we become a richer nation.
JS: If you figure it out.. will you tell us.. because we would like to know.
NN: I’ll come right here and let you know.
JS: You.. in your business, when you were starting it, did it feel possible to you to transform India? Did India seem ungovernable at that point? Did it seem like you couldn’t transform it?
NN: Well, it was a difficult time and a lot of people tried to dissuade us from starting a company. They all said go to America. But we said we’ll stay in India and create a great company, and that’s what we set out to do in Infosys.
JS: They say that if you walk in Bangalore and if you say I am going to see Nandan, they.. people know you are.. Nandan.. like Madonna! In Bangalore.. which is.. I don’t know.. 3 million.. 2..
NN: Six million.
JS: Six million.. uh.. I was only counting half. But.. you are a great source of pride.. by doing that.. I mean it took a great deal of fortitude and guts to make that decision.
NN: Yeah, because when we.. we were 7 of us, and we started with nothing.. 250 dollars, and it was just a vision of what we could do that led us to do that.
JS: Now, where do you see the future of technology? Is that going to be.. to integrate that into education.. because the book is not just about technology.. it takes on from feudalism to secularism.. I mean it really.. the breadth of it is astonishing.
NN: Yeah.. I think technology is an important part. But, there is no substitute for good teachers, and teachers coming to work and stuff like that. So, technology is only an enabler. Fundamentally, you have to get the governance right to make education work.
JS: Now, you’re friends with.. uh.. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. And he wrote the book, The World is Flat, it’s about globalization. It turns out that’s your phrase!
NN: Well, it happened in my office in Bangalore when we talked about what was happening in the world. And I told him how the world was getting levelled with.. level playing field with technology, and that led him to.. inspired him to write the book, The World is Flat.
JS: When you saw his book come out with the title The World is Flat, did you think to yourself, may be I should walk across it and kick his ass for some royalties.. cross it and get some royalties back.
NN: No.. no.. no. I think he has been a great friend and, you know, he.. he really put me on the..
JS: Can I say something..?
JS: You are a very kind and lovely man. I welcome you as my new overlord.
NN: Thank you.
So, there you go. Nandan Nilekani is Jon Stewart’s new Overlord! As for you, dear reader, I am not going anywhere.