Saturday, January 14, 2006

Being King

My childhood friend Himadri's grandfather (God bless his departed soul) would cackle in glee to read how math can rock your world

His favorite line used to be "If you don't know Math you cannot be King". Given his erudition, "know" implied a deep, intimate knowledge of the subject not a passing acquaintance. You had to be able to churn numbers in your head, come up with "elegant" solutions to math problems and not merely use grunt force to "solve" them.

You had to discern patterns in numbers when it was not obvious and discover math where it was least expected. Math had to be your consuming preoccupation .Above all you had to be head over heels in love with the subject. Like a lover you had to pine and long to know every last secret, overcome all obstacles in the way to truly "knowing" the beloved.

We made it to good engineering schools, after going through the ordeal by fire that the entrance exams were. If grandpa had been in unconditional love with Math, we were merely flirting. The relationship was casual, no strings attached and one that came to an end upon graduation.

As for being "King", while grandpa may have been much poorer than us in the material sense, it was not because he lacked what it took as is probably the case with us.

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