We all have to play the numbers game...


IT STARTS very early in life, when you have to remember the number of your house or class room at school.

You do not remember, how many times you became lost – but no doubt your parents have related the instances to you.
In fact, the numbers business started even earlier, when you were given a plastic wrist band in hospital at birth with an identity number, while you were still in your cot, but that is another story.
Little did we know at the time that during our lifetime, we would be given literally hundreds of numbers. Birthday and festive occasions are quickly learned. In the beginning, you expect the celebrations to last more than a day – one of my daughters used to drag out her birthday celebrations for a week when she was quite young.
You encounter numbers seriously when you receive your first watch, shortly after learning which is the right and the left hand... I bet you cannot remember, your mum tying a piece of cotton to a finger on your right hand just to remind you?
Your first school day is memorable with your mom delivering you in style to this new phase of your development. I recall my son telling me the next day, when I went to wake him up to go to school: “It’s okay mum, I went yesterday!”
You receive a number, when you are first picked for the foot ball or netball team. Nowadays, number-crunching comes much earlier in life with calculators and mobile phones – sometimes from the age of six years.
It seems today’s generations are destined to waste thousands of hours with a cell-phone stuck to their ears, not only endangering other motorists as they try to drive a vehicle at the same time as talking on their mobiles but also disturbing other people in restaurants, at tennis matches, in airport lounges... I could go on, but I’ll spare you.
Your ability with numbers will influence some of your choices in life. But even if you choose a career involving numbers, it seems that when the computer breaks down, most of the shop assistants have the utmost difficulty adding up a row of figures – on a couple of occasions, I have actually had to do it for them as I got tired of waiting for them to finish the columns.
We open a bank account and are issued with our own unique number as well as a special number code for the ATM card. Isn’t it embarrassing though, when you have two cards and use the wrong number, while a line of customers are waiting impatiently behind you?
In the Gulf region, in the early days, we became accustomed to explaining we lived in a house on a road or street with no name or house number. Today, the Dubai Municipality has almost completed a huge project to number all the roads/streets in the city.
However, we still tend to describe our location as “after the second traffic lights, take a left turn and then it is the third turning on the right”. Some of our visitors never make it despite long phone conversations and my husband has to perform rescue forays to retrieve them.
In the UK, motorists can spend a fortune on buying number plates which, by careful use of letters and numbers, create a personal name… using 5 as an S, the 8 as a B, 4 as an H and so on. Some results are nice and some are tacky or outright naughty.
In Dubai, motorists pay huge sums of money for some three-digit number plates, while single-digit numbers signify very senior members of the government and double digits usually denote VIPs associated with the government.
Paradoxically, many of us have no idea of the number of our car, for it somehow seems difficult to remember six digits, when you rarely have to use them. The same phenomenon goes for passport and driving licence.
Readers of TTN are concerned with travel departure and arrival times, length of journeys, hours less or more than GMT, numbers of seats available, fare costs, hotel room prices and travel budgets.
Income governs our lives to a certain extend. Should we go on vacation or stay at home? Purchase a large or small car? New vehicle or pre-used – the latter a wonderful description I came across in South Africa recently, much nicer description than second-hand.
Although we plan our activities according to monies available, we then take part in lotteries hoping that fortune will smile on us and boost our projected incomes, even though the chances are one in 14 million. Dubai Duty Free, Bahrain Duty Free and Abu Dhabi Duty Free offer much better odds in their raffle draws.
Then the clever ones among us invest in stocks and shares and spend many a happy or miserable time watching the Footsie or Dow Jones going up and down. I have a much simpler method of success... watch when the national ladies start buying gold in the souk – and do the same, they always know, when it is the right time to buy.
You have probably been glancing at your watch, while reading this article for there are meetings to attend, lunch breaks to take and children to pick up from school... it is time for me to go. Goodbye!

Speaking Out Jonna Simon