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About Amit Varma

Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.

My Friend Sancho

My first book, My Friend Sancho, was published in May 2009, and went on to become the biggest selling debut novel released that year in India. It is a contemporary love story set in Mumbai, and had earlier been longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008. To learn more about the book, click here.

If you're interested, do join the Facebook group for My Friend Sancho

Click here for more about my publisher, Hachette India.

My posts on India Uncut about My Friend Sancho can be found here.

Bastiat Prize 2007 Winner

Recent entries

All Your Base

Munna Kumar Sharma, the national secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha, has said about Aamir Khan: If not move to Pakistan,…

It Strikes Me That…

... an essay about a selfie is itself a selfie of sorts. I wonder here, what would be more narcissistic…

The Image of the Country

So how has the government reacted to Aamir Khan’s recent comments about the growing intolerance in India? Rediff reports: The…

Sex With The Doors Open

Surely by now you have read all about Anil Thakraney’s interview of Pahlaj Nihalani, the chief of the censor board:…

The Sleeping Man Festival

This is surely the headline of the day: Rat climbs on sleeping man, takes selfie! I have friends who would…

10 March, 2012


Jonah Lehrer writes in Wired:

Here’s a brain teaser: Your task is to move a single line so that the false arithmetic statement below becomes true.


Did you get it? In this case, the solution is rather obvious – you should move the first “I” to the right side of the “V,” so that the statement now reads: VI = III + III. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people (92 percent) quickly solve this problem, as it requires a standard problem-solving approach in which only the answer is altered. What’s perhaps a bit more surprising is that nearly 90 percent of patients with brain damage to the prefrontal lobes — this leaves them with severe attentional deficits, unable to control their mental spotlight — are also able to find the answer.

Here’s a much more challenging equation to fix:


In this case, only 43 percent of normal subjects were able to solve the problem. Most stared at the Roman numerals for a few minutes and then surrendered. The patients who couldn’t pay attention, however, had an 82 percent success rate. What accounts for this bizarre result?

The piece is titled ‘Why Being Sleepy and Drunk Are Great for Creativity’, and is about “the unexpected benefits of not being able to focus.” (The next time your loved one asks you to pay attention, just snap back at her that you’re busy being creative.) That might just explain absent-minded geniuses—their absent-mindedness is part of the reason they’re geniuses, and not some regrettable offshoot of their abilities.

Um, what was I saying?

Posted by Amit Varma in Miscellaneous

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