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This should come as a huge surprise to my Indian readers, as it did to me…

My wife and I are regulars at the excellent public libraries here in the Bay area. Using my daughter’s card, we can draw books and magazines, CDs and DVDs, not just the American ones but from a good, worldwide collection. The card, registered in Campbell, can draw from any of the libraries in the region. And you could return anything anywhere anytime in a drop box facility for which no card is needed; so somebody else too can return on your behalf. The system is largely computerized, user friendly and unfailing. If ever it falters, the staff fixes it immediately. Pure pleasure to experience!

One day I did a double take on seeing a magazine on the world section display, which looked like National Geographic but was in oriental hieroglyphic characters. And likewise Reader’s Digest next to it. These were Chinese versions of these world-renowned magazines. But strangely one read backwards—like Urdu—and the other regular.

See for yourself…

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I tried to enquire but met with blank stares or garbled explanation. One Chinese woman just giggled.

That’s when I thought of you, my American readers, and of floating the question here…