Friday, October 23, 2015

A Math in Real Life Story

“When am I ever going to use this in life?” was a question that Professor Kashyap would long to hear from someone in the new batch of students every year. He almost always caught it being mumbled within the first week of his session. In his experience, it was the most asked question with respect to Mathematics, right after the one that asked you to calculate the value of x.

His class today did not disappoint, and he was glad to have found the opportunity to address this whispered wisecrack while attempting a question of Time, Speed and Distance – Two cars, A and B, are going around on a circular racing track. If cars A and B are moving at constant speeds of 70 km/hour and 45 km/hour respectively, and the track is 1.2 km long, how many times did car A overtake car B in 20 minutes?

“Did I ever tell you the story of how I married my wife”, he asked as he turned around from the board and placed the piece of chalk on his table.

It was the onset of summer in 1967. For months, Gulshan had been fantasizing about applying gulal on Savitri’s face and then slowly gliding his hand over to fill color in the parting of her hair. He thought it would be quite dramatic to marry her like that – like a “hero”. The thought of swirling phuljhadi’s in the air with his lady love by his side had been given up months ago when he could not gather the courage to seek her hand in marriage in the October that went by. He was not going to let this opportunity go.

And so he got up from his bed, and ran towards the spot where people from his village had set up the Holi bonfire a few hours ago. Savitri had been waiting while the rest of the villagers had left, and thankfully so. The fire had still not completely died out. Raman, the local priest’s son and Gulshan’s best friend, was nowhere to be seen. What use were his lessons in wedding mantras if he couldn’t make it in time for his debut performance?

Not wanting to waste any time, Gulshan held Savitri’s hand and started running around the unexpectedly large circumference of the bonfire while reciting the Gayatri Mantra. It was not a verse meant for the occasion, but running in silence did not seem ceremonial enough.

Soon, they saw a silhouette running towards them from a distance. Scared that someone from Savitri’s family had found out about the plan and was approaching to stop them, Gulshan ran with all his might, letting go of his lady’s hand in the sudden spurt of adrenaline – as if running around the fire seven times all by himself would consummate the marriage.

As both ran around the fire as if following each other, while keeping their gaze fixed on the approaching figure, it was soon evident that the guest was Raman.

“Why are the both of you running”, asked Raman.

“We thought you must’ve slept off. So we’re completing our wedding phera’s.”

“I’m late because I was checking Savitri’s birth chart, and I must tell you that...”

“Later, Ghonchu. Just start with the verses already!”

Vakra-tunda Mahakay…” And, the couple ran till the verses ran out.

“So what were you saying about her birth chart last night”, Gulshan asked Raman the following day.

“Nevermind that.”

“No, tell me.”

“She’s Manglik.”


“And you’re not. So, you are going to die soon.”

“Are you fucking stupid?” Apparently, there was something synonymous to the f-word even in the India of 1967.

“I only state what the Vedas say.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. The Vedas don’t say any such thing.”

“They do. You’re free to not believe me if you don’t want to. It was my duty to tell you.”

“Why the hell did you have to bring this up and mess with my head then! Is there no way to avoid this?”

“Apparently, the lady has to marry another person before she marries the love of her life. This way, the first husband, who for all practical purposes is either a tree or a dog, takes the curse of death for having married a Manglik, and the second husband is saved from the curse.”

“Okay, um, wait… Are you sure we got married last night? I mean, I would like to believe that we did. But you know how we were both running around the fire separately, and would that tantamount to not being married?”

“I recited the verses perfectly, and in all honesty, the verses and the phera’s are all that matter to consummate the marriage. Everything else is just symbolic of things that I’m supposed to study in the next few months. You know how I’m not a full pundit yet, right?”

“So you’re saying that the phera’s were legitimate enough to consider us married? I don’t even know the number of times we went around in circles!”

“How can you not know that? Can’t you fucking count to seven? I thought you were studying Mathematics. Evidently, you’ve bunked classes to meet her every day. ”

“It was your job as a pundit, you idiot! And you came late. I just knew that I had to circumambulate around the fire.”

“For every seven phera’s, there is a marriage. So, if the both of you took fewer than seven rounds, you’re still not married. And if you took more, I haven’t yet studied what the repercussions are.”

“Wait. We can calculate the number of times we went around the fire. It’ll probably take some realistic assumptions, but it’s not impossible to calculate.”

And soon, Gulshan ran to the spot of the fire to calculate the circumference that they ran over last night. He knew that he was at a speed of not over nine kilometers an hour. He made Savitri run around the circumference again to calculate her speed. Raman said it takes him five minutes to recite those verses, and Gulshan knew that they had not been running for over a minute before he the pundit arrived at the scene.

All the necessary facts were soon compiled and Gulshan had the answer.

“I ran a total of thirty-six times, while Savitri ran twenty-three. With a margin of error of about ten per cent, I can confidently say that we both ran a minimum of twenty-one times.”

“So, you were married thrice last night”, said Raman, delighted.

“Thanks, I could so not calculate that. And what are you grinning about, you moron? This means our marriage was successful, and I’m soon going to die.”

“But you married her thrice. So by that logic, only one-third of you must die.”


“I mean, you could get paralyzed in a third of your body. Let’s just hope it’s the middle third.”


“Yeah. If the top third gets paralyzed, your brain will die, and the one-third paralysis wouldn’t be any different from dying completely. And if the bottom third gets paralyzed, I’m assuming you’ll go inactive in your crotch, which will just make the whole point of getting married futile.”

“Why do I even call you my friend?”

“Relax. I think you needn’t worry as much now. Maybe, the first time, she married the dog in you, like all Manglik’s are supposed to. And then she married you, as a person, twice. So, I hope the dog inside of you will die, and you will come out a better person… Wah! The dog in you will die. I must use this line somewhere when I’m old enough to give sermons after the Sunderkand Paath at the temple.”

Professor Kashyap, a man of age sixty-eight was still alive – hale and hearty. All thirds of his body were intact, and he was known to be a thorough gentleman.

“So, that, my children, is how Time, Speed and Distance helped me find out if I was married to my wife or not. And, if I was going to die early from a curse, or live long enough to narrate this story today.”

“We can also use the track history function on the GPS enabled FitBit fitness band to track the number of rounds we would have taken during our phera’s. It’s much easier”, remarked Karan.

“Good luck wearing a fitness band to your wedding.”

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  1. @@@@@ !!! Finally a legitimate reason to study math.

    1. Haha. Marriage is the biggest motivator in life, is it? Haha.

  2. Hahaha! Who wouldn't want to study math now?! :D
    @@@@@ :D

    1. Haha. Thanks, Pooja! Have you been a Math lover through school and college? :)

  3. Bwahahaha!! Pure genius! How, how on Earth could one make Math funny? Like ah boss! Loved it! :)
    @@@@@^raise to infinity

    1. Thanks, Richa. You had to find it funny, you Math and Science person.

  4. Ahhh! This was amazing!!! :D
    Hopefully, someday Math will help me out too! xP


  5. A man's girth is too taken into account. And x could one day be used to figure out the heel of bride's sandal that she wore during the pheras. Alas,the only thing that is worth teaching in school comes after marriage and neatly evaded in schools.
    On a side note,I have always hated maths. As soon as I had learned the right amount of change that'd be returned upon making a purchase,I shut my ears to any other tricks maths had to teach.

  6. Hahahaha. So, that's why they taught us speed and distance problems! But I will only be completely convinced of the utility of Mathematics if you can write a similarly enlightening post about the use of calculus in real life. XD

    1. Damn! Never understood calculus enough to be able to make up a story around it. Or can I? *thinks*

  7. These equivalent individuals were shown math in our government funded schools. pre calc 11

  8. You write a very good story. Math in the story is very rare. You are good for the writing and story telling skills. You did very well. I am a flooring contractor providing the flooring contractors Miami services at very reasonable price. You should hire us and we will let you know our proficiency.

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If you had 5 Jalebis, how many would you give me for writing this post?

None = You don't deserve any >:O
@ = Soggy and stale! :(
@@ = Stale! :|
@@@ = I'll need a samosa to digest this with! :P
@@@@ = Sweet and Crisp! :)
@@@@@ = I'm opening you a Halwai Shop! :D