My Camera & My Chai: Maths, Flow Charts & Driving (1)

My Camera And My Chai
My Camera And My Chai

Ladies and Gentlemen, and Bald-Headed Countrymen, I shall now give you a slight discourse on how Indian mathematicians lost the edge in world mathematics. It is not due to their lack of ability. It is due to the fact that they could not face up to that insurmountable mathematical challenge – writing a mathematical equation, or set of equations, to describe driving in India.

This is a rather abstruse problem, and is impossible to cover in one lesson. Therefore, I crave your pardon, and urge you to follow me over the next few weeks as I steadily introduce the problem to the class, and steadily add in the complicating variables.

Shall we begin?

Screenshot 2015-07-10 18.59.23

It starts with the problem of defining how traffic flows in India. What you see above is the title slide. For this lesson, I shall only add one slide. You see, this is an issue that has to be approached slowly. Vey slowly, if you please.

So, how does traffic flow? We drive in the same direction as the British. So, in the chart below, you will see the traffic flow as shown on one side of the road.

It is supposed to flow from left to right. Writing an equation for this is remarkably simple. In the West, drivers who drive fast, and wish to overtake, shift to the fast lane and accelerate. When they pass the slow car, they cheerily wave goodbye and move on, after having expressed their happiness and joy at being the faster driver.

In India, overtaking can take place on both sides of a vehicle. This means, it can take place from the fast lane as well as the slow lane. Especially since some slow drivers insist on driving in the fast lane. They look at you with anger as you pass them. Much like the dog that lost its manger. So you see, there is already a complication.

Screenshot 2015-07-10 18.59.29

Now, what you have in the chart above is the following:

  1. Drivers driving on the correct side of the road, are shown in red.
  2. Now, you have a driver coming from the wrong side. Do you see the arrow?
  3. A cyclist, in green, suddenly darts across the road
  4. A motorcycle chap, comes (in blue) from the side and joins the flow
  5. The red chap on the left suddenly decides to take a U-turn and becomes yellow!
  6. Finally, a pedestrian (the electric blot) charges across the road

Indian mathematicians of old gave the world the numbering system and invented the zero. Then, as they progressed, they were asked to make a set of equations to describe the mathematics of traffic in India.

This took place in the Great World Mathematical and Traffic Conference in Gibraltar in 1036 ADGreat World Mathematical and Traffic Conference in Malta in 1869 AD.

They sat down through the generations, and the problem became thicker and thicker.

Finally, in the Great World Mathematical and Traffic Conference in Malta in 1869 AD, they gave up. They invited mathematicians from across the globe to come in.

The mathematicians came in, studied the problem, and withdrew to their own countries to write equations for the traffic flow in their own countries.

In the Great World Mathematical and Traffic Conference in Zambia in 1995 AD, Indian mathematicians were the only ones who did not have a solution to the conundrum that was posed in Great World Mathematical and Traffic Conference in Gibraltar of 1036 AD.

Their reputations busted, they withdrew. It was finished. Over. Done.

The mathematicians of Mongolia had won the prize for their country.

That, my friends, is the story of how India lost it’s reputation as a country for producing brilliant mathematicians.


  1. There is a newer (well, a bit newer than 1869, anyway) that could very well show promise in mathematically expressing your traffic problem: Chaos Theory. This field of mathematics studies the behaviour of a condition-sensitive dynamic system. Just the name, chaos, seems to describe your traffic problem.

  2. All I know is that the roads in India, and the driving, scare the living daylights out if me! When I visit, I feel I miss half the sights and culture, as I need to close my eyes to stop being scared of the drive!!!

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