One of the benefits of traveling is the chance to discover new radio stations. During a recent trip some friends and I picked up a mostly-English-language India-interest FM signal on the rental car receiver. The broadcasts we heard while driving around included some great Bollywood show-tune music, off-the-wall commercial advertisements, and funny listener call-ins.

At one point a little girl phoned to pose a riddle, one which works best when pronounced with a Hindi-background accent:

"Six teacups on my head. One fell down. How many left?"

(Spoiler warning! --- solution follows)

The announcer tried, but couldn't get the child to explain the puzzle; whatever he guessed, she replied, "No!" One of my comrades speculated that the girl was too young to actually understand it. The trick is a meta-linguistic one: if the victim says "Five?" then the riddler says, "Wrong --- only one left my head!"; if the victim says "One?" then the response is "Wrong --- five are left!"

Hmmm ... perhaps the joke is related to the classic, "Do you like that button?" asked while pointing to a fastener on somebody's shirt. If s/he says "Yes" then you tear the button off and hand it over; if "No" then you tear the button off and throw it away ...

(see also SemioticArsenal (20 Nov 2003), UndeadTrafficIncident (20 Mar 2004), EarlyMorningPhoneIn (21 Dec 2004), ...)

TopicHumor - TopicLanguage - TopicPersonalHistory - 2005-01-14

(correlates: FreeTrial, UndeadTrafficIncident, BowelsOfTheEarth, ...)