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A humbling experience

December 18, 2012

There’s something about the ordinary, somewhat subliminal [without getting all psycho-physical] suggestive of seemingly ordinary, which sounds strange as soon as I try to say something about it: the human experience.  I found a suitable German word [for it] meaning something along the lines of concealed in familiarity, which is playing ‘on the tip of the tongue’ with me now.  All of this is a pretext to say that I enjoy, every now and then, living amongst strangers–speaking languages I don’t understand.  During one of these sojourns I happened to meet a gentleman who did tapasu in Himalayas some 50 years ago.  Given my fascination with conscious experience I asked him ‘what it is like?’

Crazy, complete breakdown of the boundary separating reality from whatever it is not, a trip lasting months, years; you wouldn’t go live all by yourself in a cave buried in snow if you care about living is how he seemed to describe the experience.  I told him, since I enjoy talking about myself, that I am writing a grammar [textbook that nobody wants to study] for a language [that many think everybody should learn].  I felt that he didn’t register the weight of it; so, when I got a chance to talk about myself again, I boiled it down: I’m good at math.

Oh, ya?

Needless to note, I didn’t like the sound of it.  As I was contemplating a counter befitting O’ya! I heard him tell me that it took me 15 min. to go to the railway station and that it took him 20 min. since he was really old.  How far is the station from the motel, he asked.  It didn’t take me long to realize that this was one of the those smart Alec questions: What do elephants do when it rains?

Have sex?

That’s what I thought not because my brain is infested with sex but because in the movies that I grew up watching I noticed a strong correlation between romancing and pouring rain.

Obviously I wasn’t amused when I found the answer: elephants get wet.

Compounded by all these wayward thoughts, I couldn’t bring myself to calculate the distance; and when he asked me, after few days, if I knew anything about equations and volunteered the even more humiliating info that that question was a 2 marks bit in one of his high school midterms or pop-quiz, I tried to find the distance traveled given the time it took me and the time it took him to travel the distance but to no avail.  Finally on the day I was checking out he told me, while twisting my right ear like a high school math teacher from a bygone era that he must have been, the answer, which made me want to drown myself in a 3 inch puddle I was looking at.  On the train back to my sister’s place I saw colimit [huddled with other low spatial frequency sightings of paddy fields spreading all the way to rocky mountains reaching up to the clouds carrying coded messages across the overarching skies] at a distance.

Wish me good luck as I befriend the twins (least common multiple, greatest common divisor; colimits / limits) in the 2 marks question smiling at me :-)

Happy Subrahmanyam Sashti!

From → Note to self

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