The mad econometrician at Mumbai airport

Of Statistics, Shakespeare and Superman

Hmmm, how do I fit this…a sine wave like movement on the ACF…is that spike on the PACF…so will it be an ARIMA (p, d, q)…Auto-Regressive or Moving Average? I was in the statistical trance promised by Messrs Box and Jenkins and pottering about nicely, even ecstatically in my econometric world when “Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiijoy!!!!” A shriek so maddeningly intense and sugary split into my stochastic thoughts that Box’s ARIMA lay in tatters in a shattered box. Upset at my reverie and my train of thoughts broken, I looked around to the source of the outlier in the otherwise quietly buzzing airport and found myself staring at a young mother shrieking at her 1 year old so that she could take a pic…”no no nooooooooo maankey (Bengali confirmed with 95% confidence, said my uber cool statistical instinct) look this way betaaaaaaaaaaa (red and white bangles, data validation, 100% Bengali). Kii holo?” She asked looking back to another young woman who could only be her sister.

Both sisters were dressed identically in shorts (not that I have anything against them, but such logarithmic compressions are not always suitable on all kinds of data, you know) and ganjis. Now with Bijoy having left his indelible mark in the form of ummm….now how do I put it…concentrated level of fat depositions on his mom’s tummy, the ganji was looking a bit weird on her. But what was more maddening than the ganji was her rush to capture every moment of what I could only assume to be Bijoy’s first plane ride on the camera and whatsapp it to the world. An exception to the law of Diminishing Marginal Utility- that’s what’s whatsapp..the more you send stuff on it, even more do you want to send. However, the funniest part of this full drama was Bijoy’s father. The man had typical IT/Banking/ Consultancy professional looks. Now this professional refused to look daddy’s part- even for whatsapp….tch,tch, what is the world coming to. The consultants cannot even take off their bored expressions for a prize photo with Bijoy! The man continued to hold the mite stiffly, rather like holding a bouquet, with complete zero expression with the mother dancing around in a mad ecstasy of first flight in Papa’s arms- breaking news. Even as Papa refused to change expressions, I looked back to see where maasi had gone missing.

Maasi was just completing the paper work. While checking in, she was checking out as to which young men at the airport were checking her out. As she approached let-me-whatsapp-you-momma, the I-can’t-and-won’t-change-my-expression papa, if anything, became even more pan-faced. Two of this crowd is too much for him, I thought triumphantly, my mad mind searching for an explanation for this statistical deviation. Just then, “Biiiiiiiiiijjjooooooooooooooy” came in a shriek from yet one more quarter. Oh no, I thought with a sinking heart. A third sister? From the crowd, emerged, predictably a third ganji, though this was not a ganji…it was a sleeveless shirt on a much older woman who could only be Bijoy’s grand shriek-mother…Both the girls hurried to rush and hush their mother that such shrieking is a public disgrace. As grandma emerged more completely from the crowd, I saw that she too was carrying a mobile in camera mode, wearing a sleeveless shirt and …thank you God…full length jeans. This kind of a specimen that is 63, wears jeans and clicks photos faster than you can say whatsapp, has sunglasses perched on her hair, absolutely no clue about how weird she is looking and has a grandson named not Vivaan, or Ansh…but humble Vijay..was such an outlier that the computed value of these vital statistics was waaaaaay more than any critical Indian value- and the null of normality, as supported by Jarque and Bera, came crashing down around my ears.

If complete annihilation of my knowledge of statistics was not enough, my linguistic and grammatical tools were also to be tried and tested. “He is haangry???” asked grandmother taking me back to the moot question as to bhy…pardon me…why verbs were created in the first place. The verb normally comes after the subject in a statement “He is hungry” and is supposed to go to the first place for a question “Is he hungry?” But to use the statement as a question only by changing the tone “He is hungry???” is a classic that would have put most of Shakespeare to shame. End of the day, language is about communication, Wren and Martin be damned. By now, pan-face had donned a look of complete resignation with the three women descending on him and the mite with varied pitches and decibels of joy and clicks and movements.

The little one was dressed in a Superman’s dress. Even as he struggled and got away from Mr. Resignation and Mrs. Ecstasy, the hot maasi and the loud grandma, he gurgled and suddenly, very loudly, shrieked his own name “Biiiiiiiiiiiijooooooooy”! Oh, a logical, genetic and conditioned extension of the past. My job too was done. Auto-regressive, I decided.


5 thoughts on “The mad econometrician at Mumbai airport

  1. i loved reading this post!!! 🙂 you somehow put my thoughts into words!!! (trust me, i have come across weirder people at the airport! )

    (p.s – got your blog’s link from Vinod Patil-your student at SIBM) He keeps raving about your blog . now i know why!! :)Being a blogger myself, have a lot to learn from you madam 🙂


    • Hi Vidya!
      Glad to know that you too bump into weird people all the time 🙂 And would love to read ur blogs too..if u could direct me to your site…looking forward to a lot of fun exchanges and correspondence 🙂


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