This is the third time this has happened to me. I open the Rome bus app (Roma Bus), click on the tab to check the route of a bus (it was the 32 this time) and a screen appears with a map of a large part of North-West Africa. Are there secret bus routes running down, for example, the border of Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Nigeria to a terminus near Lagos?
If there is bus of this kind what is its number: √13 ?
And what would it look like? Perhaps like this:
When I was in my twenties, I used to live in Bologna in a 6th floor flat together with 5 other people. The flat was on the outskirts of town and I remember you could see a football pitch, a roller hockey rink, the motorway, the railway and just beyond it the airport and all the planes landing. The biggest room in the flat had a huge window which looked over all this civic activity and at night if you turned the light off, and in particular if you put the right music on (I especially remember one instance when Bach’s St. Matthew’s passion was playing), and watched the cars, the trains and the planes, it felt like you were on a spaceship.
One Friday I was alone in the house. Perhaps it was on the eve of a holiday, everyone else had gone back to their homes. I was up till late reading. The book I was reading was Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris, which was made famous by the film adaptation which the great Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky made from it. Read more…
An armadillo having an impact on archeology
Forget your Emmies, your Tonies, your Grammies. Your Hammies, your Spammies, your Phishies, your Phonies – the best awards of all are the Ig Nobel Prizes! Read more…
I read a lot and when I don’t have a book, I find it hard to avoid reading any of the signs and labels in my vicinity. Sometimes I come across one which makes me pause.
Here are a few examples
I keep on walking past this hoarding half-way down via Giulia, in the one ugly spot on one of Rome’s most beautiful streets. I always wonder, “Is this Rome’s new traffic plan?” Because that’s what it says at the bottom: Rome – Traffic and Mobility Action Plan.
And I wonder “When is this going to start? It looks exciting. Am I ready for it? What is going to happen?” Read more…
This is something which I picked up in India once while interpreting for a rather unpleasant group of people. Luckily we had a very cheerful driver whose mood remained bright and sunny despite the black clouds which continued to settle inside his car.
I can’t remember his name, but I have come to think of him as Mr. Chatterjee, a name which conjures up his bubbling personality to me.
Once he turned up ten minutes late and the head of the delegation told me, “Ask him why the %$*! he’s late”. At which I said, “Mr. Chatterjee, is there any special reason why you are late?”
And Mr Chatterjee, wiggling his fingers and twinkling his head, with seeming glee, loudly exlaimed, “Oh! Communication Breakdown! Information Gap!”, a formula which I have taken to using myself as an excuse for almost anything. Read more…
The other day an article appeared in the New York Times about ethnic jokes in Dagestan. I am not sure how accurate a portrayal this was of life in Dagestan but some of the jokes were very funny.
An Avar is driving through Makhachkala with a Lakh in the passenger seat. Spotting a red light, he pumps the accelerator and speeds through it. “You just ran a red light!” the Lakh says. “Avars don’t stop for red lights,” the Avar explains, and speeds through another. In a few minutes, they come to a green light, and the Avar stops. “Why did you
stop?” the Lakh asks. “You can’t be too careful,” his friend says, “an Avar might be coming the other way.”
This post is for people who have already grown as old as they want to be. As a result they don’t react as positively to questions about their age as the five-year old in the poem and sometimes can become extremely glum.
Some people seem to go actively looking for this kind of reaction. They can then express their own glumness and start up a real glumfest. You can see walking glumfests every day on the streets, usually made up of two people so deeply enveloped in their dissatisfaction that they pay no attention to the world around them. If they did they might notice an interesting fact: the world is not really base-10.
We have fallen into the habit of counting things in tens. Perhaps because we have ten fingers – (although two of them are really weird). But there are lots of other possibilities. There are very few things in nature which actually divide into ten. Also we generally don’t use base-10 for anything to do with time. There were 10-day weeks in China and Ancient Egypt and the decimalist maniacs in the French Revolution also tried to introduce a 10 hour, 100 minute day, but most of us are used to 60 seconds, 60 minutes, 24 hours, 7 days and so on. So why is it that whenever we reach a multiple of ten in our age we feel it is a defining moment ? It is almost as if you become a different person when you reach 30, 40, 50 etc.
I think I have had an insight and I am going to share it with you: I believe our real ages are expressed using base-12 arithmetic. If you can’t remember what base-12 arithmetic is read this.
Recently, I came across an Indian astrology website. It was not something to get involved with unless one was willing to make an effort.
Here, for example, are some of the things you needed to do to make sure the future turned out right.
To ward off evil impact of malefic planets for smoothing your life perform astral remedies given below.
Offer one sweetened chapatti or bread to the birds daily for propitiating malefic Rahu. OR Offer some part of your income to some old age home.
Offer one plain chapatti or bread to a stray dog daily for appeasing malefic Ketu. OR Offer service or donation to orphanages.
Offer fresh water to birds daily for all malefic Venus.
Do five minute meditation daily in the morning for malefic Mars.
Offer water daily in the morning to the Sun for malefic Sun OR Service to the old aged persons or father in law.
Offer salted chapatti laced with mustered oil for malefic Saturn. OR Take care for poor and needy employees. Alternatively, you can offer some part of your breakfast (vegetarian) to birds and stray dogs daily as in case you are short of time for performing of these
Avoid the following colors: dark black, dark brown, dark steel grey, pink, sky blue and variegated in clothes, home, office for malefic Rahu, Ketu, Sun, Venus & Saturn.
Offer some yellow colored sweets to birds daily for malefic Jupiter
Offer some green food to the cow twice in a week for malefic Mercury
I was rather distressed by this. No problem dealing with the birds, I am surrounded by pigeons, seagulls, crows and sparrows, and I can certainly muster some oil, but where would I find a cow to give green food to? Actually it says the cow, so I probably need to buy one (or rent one two days a week) and where shall I keep it? – where my neighbours keep their bicycles?) Where would I find a stray dog to share my breakfast with on a daily basis.But, considering that another website “Free Astrological Predictions of the Future & More! ” listed the following days as bad for the coming month –
3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 20, 25, 27
- I decided that there was no point standing around aimlessly.
-and so I loaded a vehicle with mustered oil, green food, yellow sweets, sweetened, plain and salted chapattis and went straight out to distribute it to any birds, stray dogs and cows I could find.
This is a duck I encountered on Malta as it waited on one leg on dry land… Read more…