Sunday, November 11, 2007


Numbers - one of the most fascinating discoveries (or is it an invention?) of mankind. A bedrock of industrialisation and now, computerization - numbers have been a part and parcel of everyone's life. The appeal of numbers lie in their clear cut logic and unambiguity at any stage, be it an equipment, any business or dare I say, any entrance exam. The lure of numbers was too much to resist for me. Mathematics, being my favorite subject back in school and college - I was just enthralled by various tricks that numbers played - from algebra to calculus and geometry, the variety was immense and sometimes mind-boggling. I just loved numbers - till, let's say one week back :).

That was when I started for the United States of America (weird...USA or just US sounds much better!). As part of my job/career, I was bound to visit the US at some point of time (sooner rather than later). Anyways, official formalities done, had reached the airport to check-in. This is where I was struck by US's fascination for numbers (and I would list down the encounters I had in the past one week).

- Jet Airways check-in asked me for the address I would be staying in the US. I gave them the address. They asked for the zipcode - I told them I don't remember it and asked them whether they are gonna post me anything (like free vouchers etc. :P)? They replied back, 'Sorry sir, but the US authorities require us to fill the zipcode in our system - mandatory'. I mean they had my whole address - why did they need a zipcode (which, by the way is a five-digit number)?

- Passport number - I understand a fetish for this number, it's mandatory in any country. No complaints.

- SSN Number - a universal number in the US. Even if you wanna register for a walk in the park, you need a SSN. Hotel check-in, purchasing a mobile phone, leasing an apartment, opening a bank account - everywhere and anywhere. The worst part is, they need atleast a month before they can issue a SSN. A 'month' - in the seemingly most advanced nation in the world; beats me.

- Credit score - You need a credit card, loan, utility connection, retail purchase card - you need to have a credit score; everything and anything with the financial world in the US is connected to the credit score. 'You have to build a credit score' is the most common reply I get when I enquire about any of the financial products. Why should I build a credit score as if I was born just two minutes back? I already have a credit standing somewhere else. I feel, I am just paying for your inefficiency for not able to retreive that information.

Having said that, I can understand the sheer efficiency that one can generate when as a personality you are just confined to four numbers - SSN, Credit Score, Passport number and the Zipcode. Especially, the SSN. And this is where I guess, the logic of numbers and hence efficiency of computerization kicks in. I can imagine a software programmer rubbing his hands in glee if he could identify every person in the US by a primary key (SSN). He can put this SSN in a million other tables as a foreign key and just link any table to the main table (a.SSN=b.SSN) and cull out any information [Whoa! That by the way is the maximum amount of knowledge I have about databases :)].

There is a price to pay for efficiency - and I guess I don't have a choice!

P.S -

1) I haven't yet applied for a driving license - unfortunately, they compulsorily require a SSN. So, one month hence - I will be identified not by one but two numbers.

2) India has tried to replicate this system of unique identification with PAN. The reason it failed miserably is primarily because of two reasons - bureaucracy (which essentially means lack of responsibility) and two, a unique number should be issued when a person is born, not when he turns 18, which is when he can replicate his personality multi-fold :).

3) I digress but just couldn't help it - What is it with the fairer sex dressed in red? - All of them look pretty (rather I say...hmm..awesome) :). Not that I am complaining - I am only indicating :D.

4) Will be in the US for some time now. Fingers crossed, 24x7 connectivity might just increase my frequency of blogging.

5) Apart from the usual pics of 'At Statue of Liberty', 'At the White house', 'At Times Square', 'At Niagara Falls' etc etc., I do have some specific and unique plans. Will keep you updated on that. And nope, I am not into the usual IT guy cycle (work in US for 2 years - marry someone - come back to the US for sometime (or settle here) - and go back to India to settle) - (what's wrong with the IT guy cycle - nothing wrong as such, but seems more of a parasitic and generic way of living for me) - been here, done this, hopefully something different next :).

6) I know what you are thinking right now - 'Your P.S should have been another blog!'. Yes, I agree (in the US, you say 'I appreciate it' - dude, why should you appreciate me ya?; beats me again!) - but just couldn't help the digression :). The entire 'Me' or 'You' just reduced to a number - maannnn, strange country :)!

1 comment:

r harsha vardhana said...

mama america na majaka....vallantha "vp"lu e duniya lo akkeda leru.........