Monday, November 20, 2006

I am so ignorant, it's offensive

Last spring, I was sitting in an extremely busy cafeteria enjoying my coffee and the free NYT the Univeristy provides, when suddenly a guy with a vaguely eastern European accent approached me. He asked me if I was willing to participate in a survey, and since I had nothing to do, and feel bad for grad students who go about begging for subjects, I gladly agreed.

The guy took out a map of Europe, and a numerical legend of all the countries, and asked me to mark as many countries as I knew. And thats when it dawned up on me. I dont know as much as I thought I did about Europe. And I felt SO happy! It was wierd, because the expected reaction would have been of shame and guilt. I realised that somewhere down the road, I had prioritized, and made up my mind that knowing all the countries of Europe really isnt going to help me in my day to day life. If I need to know, all I would have to do is go to Google. So with a bright beaming smile, I marked what I knew, UK, Ireland, Italy, Sicily, France and Germany. I didn't even think any longer than that and handed the sheet to the guy with a big beaming smile.

The guy took one look at the sheet and his smile just vanished. He looked SO offended I thought he was going to bite my head off right there and then. But he controlled himself and asked me 'Where are you from?' 'India', I said.
'Oh, thats okay', says the guy (HEH?! what do you mean! I am thinking) 'I probably dont know that many Asian countries either'.

With that he went off to another table, and I went back to my coffee. I think he was offended just because I didn't mark his country on the map. (I still dont know what it is, and where it is on the map)

Months later, I came across an article in a Univ publication (thats what I do during my coffee NYT, USA today and random Univ publications strewn around the cafeteria..all free). The article was a survey of 25 grad students who were asked to mark the countries of Europe. I dont remember the exact figures now, but I clearly remember that there was one outlier who was thrown out of the study because that student had too few countries marked on the map.

I am 99.5% sure that was me.

BTW, in case that grad student comes up to you one day, please be prepared. I am inserting a nice little map of Europe for you.

1 comment:

ninkita said...

lol.. if it hadn't been for the hours we spent drawing maps one term in school when our history teacher was ill and we were too bored to do much else, i'd still not know where the baltic states are or where..
if someone gave me a map of south america, now.....that'd be interesting!