Love In A Hot Climate

What is it about falling in love? Why does it invariably attract midgets, excess humidity, time machines, four-legged cows and Milton Friedman? There really has to be a simpler way to keep the species going. At the very least, let’s stop encouraging the disease. Please don’t read this story.

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In 1955, Milton Friedman was invited by the Indian Government to advise the Ministry of Finance on economic planning (which, as Galbraith pointed out, is like asking the Pope to recommend a good contraceptive). During his visit to Delhi, he produced a report. It was ignored at the time but is now considered something of a classic assessment of the post-Independence Indian economy.

I must confess that there is no mention of any time machine in Friedman’s original report; indeed, in Prof. Gary Dymski’s paper, Money as a `Time Machine’ in the New Financial World, the metaphor is credited to the economist Paul Davidson.

As regards Purushottam: there is a certain character type peculiar to post-colonial nations. He (and it is a `he’) haunts government offices, he is forever on the verge of success, he is congenitally optimistic, his entire life is a circus of circumstances, and he can often be spotted holding forth at tea stalls. The Indian novelist, G. V. Desani, reified this character in his magnum opus, All About H. Hatterr.

Desani aficionados will find Purushottam’s liberties with the English language rather familiar. Here is how H. Hatterr describes it:

I write rigmarole English, straining your goodly godly tongue, maybe: but friend, I forsook my Form, School and Head, while you stuck to yours, learning reading, `riting and `rithmetic.

Purushottam’s English is Desani-lite. It is not really “Indian English” (Anurag Mathur’s The Inscrutable Americans has some great examples of this variant).

I have no doubt that Dr. Friedman encountered a Purushottam or two during his trip to India. That’s just the way Karma works. Again, H. Hatterr:

As to Truth, the great generalization is, `Dam’ mysterious! Mum’s the word!’ As to Life, the locus classicus, `contrast‘!

This story is dedicated to G. V. Desani.