It’s not to say that I’m surprised by the acceptance of KUMON from Malaysians. It does feel impressive to be able to compute basic arithmetics out of your head than reaching out for the pocket calculator. The thing I don’t understand is, how come no one had thought about coming up with an arithmetic program currently used by Bangladeshi?
Now, why am I impressed with the mental arithmetic fitness of a Bangladeshi immigrant worker? Because I think any of these Bangladeshi immigrant workers could count faster than the ‘black belt level’ KUMON disciples. For example, Ahmed (if you have read BOLEHLAND, you’ll know he’s my good friend) took me to a local restaurant for supper and I witnessed how the waiter tallied up our bill without using a calculator (English translation provided by Google):
Ahmed (waving to the waiter): Ooi! Mari sini. Kira. (Hey, come here! Count the bill.)
Waiter: Kira semua? (Tally up all?)
Ahmed: Ya. (Yup.)
Waiter (eyes rolled up in deep thought): Errr…uurrr….oona…..render….annchee…uuuu….errr…manga…ahh…dua puluh ringgit lima puluh sen semua. (Makes weird sounds….twenty five ringgit and fifty cents all)
Ahmed: Konfrim? (Confirm?)
Ahmed reached for his wallet, paid the amount and we dispersed. If that’s not an impressive display of mental arithmetic, then I don’t know what is!
P/S: Just to make things clear, Banglamon was the term given to me by Ahmed.