Sunday, March 19, 2006

ar@bic numbers

Note: This is not a lesson in ar@bic numerals.

One of the makciks melayu went shopping at one of the local bazaars and she saw an item that she liked and the sign was for 10 riyals. She thought it was a good bargain, so she started picking one. When it was time to pay the seller, the seller asked for 15 riyals. She got mad, and said "But your sign says 10 riyals!"
"La(No), 15 riyals", the seller insisted.
"10" she said, pointing at the sign.
"La 10.. 15." and he proceeded to write the price in european numerals, a 1, and a 5.
Only then did she realize that the sign was written in ar@bic numerals.

You see, ar@bic numbers are totally different from european numerals, so sometimes we 'foreigners' get a little confused ..

As you can see, 1 and 9 looks 'normal', but Zero is just a dot.
The number 2 looks like it is written sideways, and so does 3, except it has a tail.
The 4 looks like a mirror image of the european 3, and the 5 looks like a zero.
The number 6 looks like a european 7, and the number 7 looks like the letter V, or the roman 5.
The number 8 looks like an A (without the bar in the middle, or an upside down V, if you like), which is how I remember it, i.e. A=8.
Confused yet? heh heh
I won't even go into their names, because I can only remember up to 5... :(
That means, if I go to a shop, I can only ask for up to 5 of each item.. tee hee.
When bargaining with a non-english speaking salesman, I usually resort to writing things down, either on paper, or in the air or I would use my fingers to sign. Some of the other makciks bring a calculator along to ease their haggling.

This confusion can be quite dangerous (to your wallet) when you're driving, coz a speed limit that looks like a 70, is actually a 65..
Most highways would have signages written in both european and ar@bic numbers/letters, so that 'foreigners' can understand them.

Another confusing thing is that, even though words are written and read from right to left, numbers, however, are written and read from left to right.
In the earlier days that I was here, I often got prices and phone numbers wrong, because I thought it was the other way 'round.

I think the ar@bic numbers are really pretty, though.. especially when you have a number that are nothing but 7's and 8's and with a few zeros thrown in.. it can create quite a pattern!

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