This is an email forward that is a sign of the times.

Last month, the UN conducted a worldwide poll.

The question was:

“Please give us your honest opinion on how to solve the shortage of
food in the rest of the world.”

The poll turned out to be a major screw-up:

• In Africa, participants didn’t know what “food” was.

• Eastern Europe didn’t know what “honest” meant.

• Western Europe didn’t know the word “shortage”.

• The Chinese didn’t know what “opinion” was.

• The Middle East inquired what “solve” meant.

• South America didn’t know the meaning of “please”.

• And in the US nobody knew what “the rest of the world” was.

19 responses to “A SIGN OF OUR TIMES

  1. Doc,

    This is an e-chestnut of considerable vintage. It would be interesting to see how many and what kind of responses you get.

  2. I have read this before but it never fails to make me smile, specially the line about the U.S.
    In India ofcourse we know well how to increase the shortage of food and that’s a question that should be asked to Indians! We are experts at hoarding! 🙂

  3. Funny! There was a line I heard once about the definition of “international news”: American gets run over by a car in Germany…or something like that 🙂

  4. Jackie:

    Is the car in question German or American? Or is it (heaven forbid!) Japanese? If the last, the news would have to be classified as something other than “international”. Any ideas?

  5. I agree with Nita.//In India ofcourse we know well how to increase the shortage of food and that’s a question that should be asked to Indians! We are experts at hoarding!// I remember once there was a rumour about scarcity of salt in Delhi and people started hoarding salt. Some people bought upto 10 kg salt for their family which led to artificial scarcity for a couple of days.

  6. It was a condescending joke told by Brits ABOUT ‘mercans, as I heard it. And I have to agree; many of us Americans are ignorant of the rest of the world 😦

  7. 🙂 u got me smiling
    prerna nita – the hoarding mentality comes from memories if i was not mistaken -of nehruvian and indira times when state control and control pricing lead to massive shortages – large scale hoarding by merchants and stiff laws like esma etc which were still ineffective so it is natural. Plus laws have always been for the common people not the biggies.
    we lived with a nehru rate of growth of 3.5 % wrongly ascribed as hindu rate of growth for 4 decades

    if u take it at a micro level all the points except the last one can be ascribed to indians too..
    1. for tribals of orissa
    2. for many politicians and bureaucrats
    3. for the people earning in crores
    4. for most aam admis
    5. for the dhaka mar economics of the govt like oil bonds and free tv /electricity and entitlements politics
    6. for many vehicular drivers

  8. Ah wouldn’t call it a major scrwe-up, they all did understand the give part.

  9. Prax, no doubt what you say is true. But mine was a light remark, supposed to be a joke. 🙂 Relevant today too, I have seen people rushing to buy potatoes minute they think the prices are going up. And I am talking of well to do people, but maybe of my generation. 🙂

  10. This reminds me of a story from Paris in the 70s. A friend I was staying with took me along on an errand to check out his parents’ magnificent apartment on Île Saint-Louis during their long absence on an assignment abroad. He opened a six feet high and two feet wide cupboard which was stacked from bottom to top with toilet paper rolls. It was a relic from some five years earlier when a shortage of the commodity had led to panic buying and hoarding by many Parisians!

  11. Vivek:
    Let nobody say that the French are full of it!

  12. Doc:

    Merde! 😉

  13. hahaha! I call hoarders pack-rats (Nita is right; must be a generational thing). My parents went thru terrible shortages in their lifetimes. Us, not so much. I live with a semi pack-rat and it drives me nuts. No, he doesn’t hoard toilet paper – we can just use large leaves nearby if it came to that.
    Now, toothpaste…that’s another matter. We have 3 years’ supply 🙂

  14. Jackie,

    I haven’t figured out your coordinates on the globe, but in India the traditional “toothbrush-cum-paste” (still widely used in rural areas and also to some extent in urban areas) is a daily fresh twig of *Azadirachta indica* or a few other plant species. You chew on the end with your molars until just the fibre remains. The ingredients of what you eliminate from the twig, automatically mixed with saliva, form the material that ensures oral hygiene. In fact some of these ingredients are also used in the preparation of some varieties of commercially sold dentifrice. The twig is single-use, and entirely biodegradable. And you don’t need to buy toothpaste separately.

  15. datoon for the layperson …right vivek?

  16. Prax: Yes — in Hindi. Other Indian languages have other words.

  17. Hi Vivek and others, and greetings from the Southern Appalachians – we live outside a rural community (BF is a park ranger) in essentially a temperate rain forest. The diversity of life is awesome!
    Locals have historically used sweet birch twigs (the original ‘wintergreen’) to “clean” their teeth. Although pleasant tasting, it does not compare to toothpaste. Would be interesting to compare with Azadirachta indica.
    We also have a well, so I need fluoride from toothpaste. Although an adopted feral redneck, dental hygiene is very important…you will have to pry my electric toothbrush and WaterPik out of my cold dead hands, man 🙂

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