Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Educating Monkey. Not quite.

"Alice has saved £10 more than Becky. Becky has saved £3 more than Charlie. Altogether Alice, Becky and Charlie have saved £26.50. How much has Alice saved?"


"You have a minute"

"Are you alright?"

"How about this one? Ladybirds eat greenfly"


"On one bush, there are enough greenfly to feed 9 ladybirds for 4 hours. How long would the greenfly last if there were only 6 ladybirds? How many bushes would be needed to feed 36 ladybirds for 2 hours?"

"Hang on"

"1 minute"

"Aren't you too old to be taking the GRE?"

"45 seconds"

"Have you gone mad?"

"Try this one. Here is a pie chart which shows 64 cars that passed this way. The section that has Red cars - the angle is 45 degrees. How many red cars passed this way?"

"What is going on?"

"Wait, I got few ones here that you can give to kids you interview. Estimate the mass of a tennis ball"

"Most kids I interview don't get mass"

"How about this? Estimate the amount of water in a full kettle"

"I don't think I know the answer to that"

"Like you know everything else. Looks at these shapes and tell me which ones have the same perimeter"

"Enough. Out with it"

"Oh come on, do this one. There are 30 children in Mrs Patel’s Year 6 class. 8 of them are wearing glasses.12 of them are wearing a watch. 7 of them are wearing both glasses and a watch. How many are wearing neither glasses nor a watch?"

"Oh wait, I think I know what you are up to"

"Really? Glen is older than Florence.
Ahmed is older than Zara but younger than Florence.
Oliver is younger than Glen but older than Zara.
Yasmin is younger than Glen.
Ahmed is older than Oliver.
Florence is younger than Yasmin.
Which of these six friends is the youngest?"

"Confirmed. For some reason, you are going to take the GMAT"

"Please. Don't insult fifth graders. I will give you quadratic equations and a neat one on engineering drawing in a second"

"Fifth graders don't do quadratic equations or engineering drawing. Neither do people who take the GMAT but thats besides the point"

"Goes on to prove why you will never get to sixth grade in this country. Just like me. I will never pass this exam. And I am not exactly bad at Math"

"Lets not get too carried away. As far as I know, you haven't managed to prove a single theorem that matters regardless of umpteen years of research and training and what not"

"There's that, yes"

"But what exam is this?"

"11+ years. To get into sixth grade. I don't remember doing most of this before sixth grade."

"But why exactly are you trying to get into sixth grade?"

"I am not. But someone else needs to"



"Monkey is one year old"

"Exactly. So unlike you and me, it definitely has to get to sixth grade. Unless you have decided it needs no education"

"Wait. You are taking 11+ test because monkey has to do it in 10 years?"

"Well, not quite. I did try to do something useful"

"Such as?"

"Such as trying to find schools to put its name in. But then I got interested in how the system works and some website had last year's question paper"

"I see"

"But its good that we looked at it"


"Okay, I. At least we know now monkey is never going to get into sixth grade in this country. But what I am really interested in is what they teach in school after that"

"What else is there?"

"Well, there is always calculus I suppose"

"In seventh grade?"

"Why not? Maybe this is some new attempt at catching up with Asian kids"

"But Asian kids don't learn calculus in seventh grade"

"That's what we think but maybe we are ancient"

"We are ancient but I still don't think Asian kids learn calculus when they are 13"

"You don't know anything. Oh hang on!"

"What happened now?"

"I just thought of something. I am looking at the English paper. Go away"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In which one discovers why despite the general breakdown of civilisation, one suddenly feels an intense longing for land across the pond


"What happened now?"

"Filing US returns and just discovered those bastards at Chase have suddenly started charging me a $12 monthly service fee for nothing"


"I am going to call them now"

"Yeah, its the middle of the day for them"

"That doesn't mean anything. I might be on hold for ever"

"No, you won't. You are calling Chase, not Barclays"

So I call. In about 20 seconds I am speaking to a human being. I ask her about the fee. She explains that this is something new that they will charge me if I don't do a direct deposit of $500 a month or maintain a daily minimum balance of $1500.

"See, I don't live in the country and there is no way I am going to keep track of my minimum balance all the time. And I am not going to lose money by transferring a large amount from here"

"I understand ma'am but then we will have to charge you the fee"

"Hang on, I actually have a savings account with you"

"Yes, I can see that - it has around $2000 in it"

"Which earns me nothing and I don't ever use it. So this is what you do - close my savings account, transfer the money to my checking and then viola, you don't charge me this new service fee"

"Yes, I can help you with that"


"It will take a minute for me to close this. I just have to read you a couple of close of business statements and your account will be closed and the money transferred over"

MUTE. "Did you hear that? It will take her a whole minute to do what I just asked her to do" UNMUTE.

"That would be great, thanks"

20 seconds later I was done.

"I love America"

"Though they are bastards"

"Yes but they are nice to you"

"Now this is what you do. Call Barclays. Lets see how long this takes with them"

"First, their call centres won't be open at this time. Two, even if they were open by the time I get through to a human being, it will be abour 42 minutes. Then they will take about 15 minutes to validate I am who I say I am if I remember all the numbers I am supposed to remember. If not, they will ask me to go to a branch. Regardless, if this idiot on the line gets a little suspicious, he will lock my account out. If they actually manage to validate me, then I am sure that they won't let me close the account over the phone and will ask me to go to a branch. If I do go to a branch, they will demand 3 forms of identification in triplicate. Then they would want a letter from my employer. Or my landlord. Or both. At some point in this process, I will probably kill myself. Are you sure you want me to contine?"

"I don't see why not"

Friday, April 08, 2011

In which we decide Monkey should be born again

"Why would a question be intentionally left blank?"


"Q 17 is intentionally left blank or so it says. Why would anyone do that?"

"Maybe it isn't blank for some people"

"Like who?"

"Like I don't know. Blind people or something"

"You mean in Braille, q 17 is not left blank? But if they already know who is blind what is the point in the census?"

"Hmm...they don't know everything about everyone. You are confusing Google with Her Majesty's government"

"I see. What is your religion?"



"What is your religion?"

"Well, I am not sure. I am asking you"

"I am Hindu, I guess"


"What do you mean why?"

"Why are you Hindu? What aspect of the religion do you follow?"

"I don't need to do anything. I just identify myself as Hindu"

"How is it tied to your identity? What influence does it have on your life?"

"I have had a Hindu upbringing I guess. Like when I was a kid"

"It is in your upbringing? Like it shaped you types?"

"Thats a bit of a stretch but whatever"

"But by that definition one could argue your Jesuit school had a part in this upbringing"

"You want me to call myself a Jesuit?"

"Are you interested in young boys?"

"Not particularly"

"Then you can't call yourself one"

"Okay. So I remain Hindu"

"Wait, so if you are a Hindu, you are going to make monkey also Hindu?"

"No. I quite like Dawkins in this case. No religion for monkey"

"Because its too much effort to put religion into it?"

"Precisely. I can't be bothered"

"So no dragging it to Durga Pujo pandals?"

"Yep. But how did that come into this?"

"How else are you Hindu?"

"I told you. I don't have to do anything to be Hindu. Its sort of a no effort religion"

"I would have thought the no effort option is no religion"

"You didn't tell me that was an option"

"Well, it is an option in this form. Plus you were quite happy to give monkey no religion"

"Hmm. So you have no religion?"

"I did not say that. Not yet anyway. Though I am thinking I will listen to these british humanists types and put no religion since I can't think of anything I do that ties me to any religion"

"Yeah ok. If thats what you want. I don't see any contradiction in not being religious and putting down some religion you belong to"

"No? Its like calling myself vegetarian because I believe in not killing and eating animals. Or like all these people who call themselves feminists because its some sort of a fashion statement"

"You are asking for too much. Its totally ok to have a viewpoint and not do anything about it"

"Or do something contradictory"

"When did I contradict anything?"

"Fair enough. Hang on, I just realised we are looking at this from a very wrong angle"

"Let me remind you that I wasn't looking at anything"

"If you say so. We should look at it from how this will be used and play it accordingly"


"So they will use this to fund stuff?"

"Like languages"

"Yeah but since both our languages are well represented no thanks to you or me, that's alright"

"I guess"

"They fund schools I suppose. If we put no religion, they will fund secular schools. Thats good"

"Nonsense. I don't want secular schools"


"Have you seen the performance tables? Secular schools are no good"

"So you want them to fund more religious schools?"

"What I want them to do is to fund more Church of England schools so that we can send monkey there and not pay for private education"

"But hang on, monkey won't get in to one of these places. No priority"

"So what we should do is to make monkey a proper CoE person"

"So we put down CoE as her religion?"

"I don't see why not. It seems to be the most useful thing to do"

"We can also send it to nearby church on Sundays I guess. So that they know we aren't making this up"

"Yeah why not?"

"What if it grows up and becomes some fundamentalist?"

"No chance. This is not America. CoErs just grow up and develop a healthy disregard for religion. Which is a perfectly fine thing to be"

"So you are Hindu, I have no religion and monkey is CoE?"

"That sounds reasonable"