24 June 2017

This is why grocery shops are not my forte…

Sharmila and Natasha are in Dallas. I stayed back in Atlanta to take care of a few things – including visiting Nikita, who is in a college now for some summer course in North Carolina. Nikita, apparently is running low on some supplies – among which, is potato chips. Sharmila explained to me in great detail how to find out where the chips are in our grocery store and that I was to pick up a large bag if I could find one or a pre-packed box of smaller bags if I could find one.

I had the picture all worked out in my mind how a bag of chips would look like and how a box of chips would look like. There was going to be one of them and I was to pick it.

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men go pretty much the way Robert Burns had predicted. Moment I entered the grocery shop, I froze. Apparently, “look straight as you enter” is not a definitive instruction. Especially when there are multiple doors to enter and all oriented in different directions.

Eventually, I bumbled my way to the aisle that said “Potato Chips”. And my sharp eyes were looking for either a bag or a box of that particular variety of chips like a hungry hawk would be scouting for a dead rat from point blank range.

Aha! Found the bag!!

Alas, that moment of euphoria was quickly drowned by the next discovery I made.

Wait a minute! There is a box too next to it!!!

Now what do I do? The dratted grocery store had both kinds!! She never told me what to do if I found both. I have no idea how the priority order works for this algorithm.

And it is too early to wake her up in Dallas!!

Hmmmm…. I tell you – a grocery store and I – never have gotten along… and never will…

24 June 2017

Winding down the week with a classic from Mirza Ghalib

“Dard se mere hai tujhko beqaraari haae haae
Kya hua zalim teri ghaflat-ashiari haae haae
Tere dil mein gar na tha ashob-e-gham ka hausla
Tu ne phir kyun ki thi meri gham-gusari haae haae”

Roughly translated… and any help from experts in Urdu in refining this would be much appreciated…

“You seem to be oblivious to all my pains, Oh, my!
What an oppression of your total carelessness you inflict, Oh, my!!
If you did not have the strength to deal with the vagaries of pain
Why did you, once upon a time, offer sympathies for my pain, then?”

23 June 2017

A logic puzzle after a long time…

Found an interesting one from my friend Prodipta Chatterjee. Took me a few minutes till I realized that the trick is to not think of it as other problems of similar descriptions… Try it…

From a bag that has 26 bills (of three denominations – $1, $2 and $5), you pick out 20 of them blindfolded. You are guaranteed (probability = 1) that you will have at least one $1 bill AND two $2 bills and five $5 bills.

You have to solve for the following question: How much total money is there in the bag?

21 June 2017

Some very interesting and uncommon words…

Came across some interesting words. How many of these do you know?

1. I have a friend – Narayan Venkatasubramanyan – who was once invited to create one of those Sunday New York Times crosswords. I am sure you know a lot of people who are very good at solving them. Maybe you are one of them. What is the English word for somebody who is adept at creating or solving crossword puzzles?

2. You have heard of being addicted to alcohol, to smoking and all that. Did you know that you can get addicted to tea? In fact there is an English word which means somebody who is addicted to drinking tea. Do you know what that word is?

3. You must have seen that when people sign their signature, usually they put in a flourish at the end – a long line, a curved design, two dots and what have you. Earlier, it was put in to prevent forgery by putting some uniqueness in the signature. What is the English word that means that flourish you put at the end of a signature?

4. There is a single English word that means a striptease performer. What is it?

5. I need to research more to find out why it is so but there is an English word to describe all books printed before the year 1501. (Very early stages of printing). Have you heard of that word?