Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Science, Maths and History

Added by popular demand - ze cartoon. :P

My company publishes books for kids in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. Now a book for a specific subject is edited in a certain way. For each subject, you liaise with a different curriculum specialist in the Ministry. There are syllabuses, strict rules that you have to learn and follow, and certain styles you have to familiarise yourself with. Even author idiosyncrasies can be vastly different. Even though we studied the same subjects in school, when it comes to conceptualising, writing and editing a book on it, it's not easy. It takes time to get used to editing books on a particular subject. Which is why for an editor, the switch from one subject to another is often not an easy one.

I'd been working on science books and a science magazine in my company for almost four years now. Recently, I took on the lead of a new department that is supposed to publish books for all subjects. When my publishing manager presented the proposal to me, I accepted it immediately. It was a great challenge for me and a timely career move too. I was very excited. However, when I realised that the first batch of the books under me include 40 maths titles, I tried not to freak out but to take it as a challenge.

So over the last few weeks, I have been studying the syllabus, the history and other details about each project. But somehow, I felt inadequate. Worse, I have two brand new editors under me whom I have to train from scratch. I have trained tons of editors for science, but maths just didn't seem to be my cup of tea. I felt like I needed some training myself before I trained the editors under me.

Then I heard that one of my colleagues R was holding a maths content editing training session for the newbies this week. I jumped at the chance and signed up. Now R is the ultimate guru of primary maths in my company with years and years of experience. The two of us are amongst the 'company dinosaurs' - people who stay on beyond the average 2-year shelf life of an editor working with curriculum publishing.

When R saw my name in the list, she gave me a call, "Sayesha, Why on EARTH have YOU signed up for this?" So I told her why I really needed it.

The session was going great, and she had some really funny slides with editing boo-boos, that were a source of much laughter in the training room. Suddenly something familiar popped up on her slide. It was a rough sketch of some silly cartoon, drawn just below a question. I was trying to figure out where I had seen it before when R announced, "Oh by the way, the copyright of this cartoon belongs to Sayesha."


Of course!

I'd drawn that cartoon! At least three years ago!

And suddenly it all came back to me.

Flashback - 2003

R - "Sayesha, I need a second opinion on this maths question my author wrote. Read this and tell me what your interpretation is."

We often show each other our work to avoid ambiguity and get a fresh pair of eyes to look at the questions to see if they make sense. Since our target audience comprises mainly kids, the questions can't afford to be confusing in any way. They have to be crystal clear to the point of sometimes being moronically obvious.

So I read the question and burst out laughing.

I forgot the exact words but the question went something like this:

Rafael has a fish tank that measures 40 cm x 20 cm x 20 cm. Through evaporation he loses 1 cm in height each week. How much water each week does he need to add to refill the tank?

R (watches me laugh) - "Aha! I knew it."

Me - "Well, let me sketch out what my interpretation is."

So I drew a cartoon of a boy standing under the sun. His hands and legs (and even his hair) were evaporating. The sun was over his head, laughing devilishly.

We had a good laugh over it, the question was rephrased and the incident forgotten. We have a lot of such incidents happening in the office for us to remember them. Some time ago, I had two instances that I still remember. In the first, which I refer to as the 'bald moon' incident, one of my editors received proofs with the words 'The moon has no hair.' instead of 'The moon has no air.' In the second incident, also known as the 'roast beef' incident, the sentence 'Methane is also produced when cows burp.' had magically transformed into 'Methane is also produced when cows burn'.

We can't do without such fun things happening every now and then. In fact, these incidents keep us editors alive and laughing. But then we have too many of these happening for us to remember all of them.

Back to the present.

So when R announced to the trainees that I had drawn that cartoon, I was totally taken aback. I could not believe that she had preserved the silly cartoon from years ago and had been using it in her training sessions all this years. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face for the rest of the session.

In fact, I was so touched, I was thinking about it in the bus and smiling. I know it's a very silly thing to be so happy over, but I can't help it.

Sometimes, someone brings back a little piece of your own past that you yourself had forgotten, and totally makes your day.


Sudeep said...


2nd gold of my blog-life at Sayeshas' :)

Sudeep said...

chalo post-legth scrolling se gold toh milta hain :D

i think i need to sign up with R too coz i need help in primary maths for a test..

btw, tht question was funny..

aur tune yeh post jaldi mein ya tension mein type kiya kya? .. just a thought

Sayesha said...

Haan haan, training attend kar phir meri team join kar le, bahut maza aayega! :D

//aur tune yeh post jaldi mein ya tension mein type kiya kya? .. just a thought

Hehehe! I know what you're talking about. Tera comment padhkar I checked and discovered like FIVE typos! Sheesh! :p

adi said...

SILVER.. Apun ki to chandi ho gayi..:))

Princesse said...


*rushes off to read the post now before sayesha bhai gives her a look of disapproval*

Princesse said...

Lovely post! :) Totally agree - nothing beats the feeling of someone bringing a piece of your past back to ya.. sweet..

p.s. hey cutie, abhi bhi ek typo hai... dhoondh leyna :)

Abhishek said...

finally i commented in the top 10.

Sometimes, someone brings back a little piece of your own past that you yourself had forgotten, and totally makes your day.

thats true with me.....

satish said...

where is the cartoon? we know that you have the copy-right and if even we stole it we would give due acknowledgement to you(why the hell am i writing 'we all these times??), just as R did.

kel tamashek said...

hahah, publish the cartoon here!

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Bhai tussi to genius ho! Tussi gyaani ho, vidhwaan ho, balwaan ho... yahaan tak ke mai to kehta hun ke :D

True, very true... sometimes these things just make your day!

Archana said...

Oh I thought you would have posted the cartoon too :-(!

LOL at the question in its original format though :-D!

Getting back nice references to the forgotten past when you are least expecting it feels sooooooo good :-)! I totally empathize with your all day smile :-)!

The Pirate said...

//a little piece of your own past

wah wah.. kya khoob khaha... bhai ka koi muqabala nahi...

dev said...

//Sometimes, someone brings back a little piece of your own past that you yourself had forgotten, and totally makes your day.

Talk about coincidences... something similar happened to me on the way to my cubicle today. And to read this sentence tnite on ur blog, made my day again. :)

Btw, saw Munnabhai last nite, rocking!
Shall I say this post also reminds me of Pal pal pal pal... har pal :)

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The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

haan re cartoon scan kyu nai kiya? it's cute when such things happen, yes. nice.

qsg said...

Adorable story, girl! :))

Funny funny incident also! hahahaha...

Best of luck with editing math!

PizzaDude said...

Quite curious about the cartoon. Hee Hee..

Iday said...

Still trying to find time for Munnabhai :(

I agree with ur last line.
These are the incidents that stick a huge glee on ur face for a long time :D

The Smiling Girl said...

Never thought, i would agree with lajjo.. lekin haan re.. u shud\'ve scanned that cartoon no???

And I liked the last line.. acha hain as usual...

Di said...

yeah..its a cliche..but its the little things that make a difference na... :-)

Bhaarat said...

This is what NEKI KAR DARIYAA MEIN DAAL. Keep up your spontaneous creativity. BTW, that kid in cartoon is me of yester years.

Sudeep said...

tere ko na vinamrata se bolta hu mujhe baksh de.. tere team mein toh iss bhole-bhale ki durgati ho jaayegi


haan.. i mean i remember ur it is ok with typos post lekin iss baar muzhe nazar aagaye.. sorry for pointing out

satish said...

okk! gud!!

ans is: 400 cc

with the assumption that the dimensions are given in 'length x width x height' format.

okk, guys! u dont have to be impressed. its just that i am naturally gifted at solving math problems and there is absolutely nuthing in this world called magic. :D

Shreemoyee said...

Love the drawing :)

satish said...

okk!! its 800 cc actually!!

kya sayesha, even u cudnt figure out the mistake??!! cheyy!!

shekhar said...

Kya baat hai...aap editor saahiba hone ke saath saath cartoons bhi banaate ho ?? Multi-talented Sayesha !!! :)

Sayesha said...


Bronze cancelled! Pehle medal liya phir padhne ja rahe ho? Grrr :@

ps: Bach gayi jo tere medal aur comment ke beech mein koi aur nahin aaya, chal le le apna bronze tu bhi kya yaar karegi bhai ki dariyadili :P

/p.s. hey cutie, abhi bhi ek typo hai... dhoondh leyna :)

Apun ka kaam dhandha nahin hai jo baithkae typo dhoondhega? Bolna hai toh bol de, warna bhaav mat kha! :/


Chal chal chipka diya caroon bhi. Ab khush? :D

Did :)

Kya kehta hai tu? Huh huh huh? Bol na bol na! Teri durgati hone wali hai beta, bol na! :D

I posted the cartoon last night. Photocopied the qn at work yesterday to upload :)

Thank you ji. Waise bhi muqable hoga toh bhai baja dalegi us muqable ki :D

Whatta song yaar! I am obsessed! :D

#Ipanema Girl,
Laga diya cartoon bhi :)

Thanks :)

Well you can see it now :)

You still haven't watched it?? :O

#Smiling Girl,
The cartoon's there now :)

Yeah :)

Hahaha! Tu aisa dikhta tha? :D

Vinamrata aur tu?? Hahahaaha! Subah subah hansa diya! :D

//sorry for pointing out

Sorry mat bol yaar, apun ro dega! :D

Oye naturally gifted 400 cc wale rickshaw! Zyada uchhal mat! This qn has no answer! It's the boy that lost height, not the water level, don't you see? :D

Thanks :)

Oye oopar padh teri kya waat lageli hai :D

Thank you thank you :)
Haan yaar... apun ka job hi aisa hai, sab kuchh karna padta hai :)

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...


fundoo hai

Nirwa said...


Nirwa said...

And such a cute fotuuuuuuuuuuuu!! hahaha!

Sudeep said...

vinamrata aur main n rona aur tu.. he he .. mujhe bhi subah subah hasa diya :D

suraj mamu ko daat bhi bana diye.. lol


Hi Sayesha,

Im Hotwinter and Im back.
Read this post of urs....its nice
to see your past.

When u said u've changed ur area of work from Science to All SUbjects, then I was remined of the film "Page 3" where Konkona Sen Sharma was offered Criminal division from Page 3 by her boss.

Iday said...

//You still haven't watched it?? :O
haan yaar :((

The Lonely Traveller said...

This post reminds me of a particular Friends episode when Phoebe gives Ross back his "ScienceBoy" magazine which he had created for school projects.
I loved the expression on his face.

sakhi said...

//Sometimes, someone brings back a little piece of your own past that you yourself had forgotten, and totally makes your day.

Well said!! absolutely true :)

mysorean said...

[Repeat Sakhi's comment here]