A quiz you're guaranteed to fail

Updated: Jun 02, 2020, 07:35 IST | C Y Gopinath | Mumbai

Maybe you think you're well-travelled and worldly. I guarantee you won't get more than 3 out of these 12 questions right.

A twisted world map called Reagan's World captured America's ignorance and ego together
A twisted world map called Reagan's World captured America's ignorance and ego together

C Y GopinathOn one of my early trips to the United States, perhaps in the late 1980s, I was flying from San Antonio to Chicago in a United Airlines plane, two seats on either side of the aisle. Next to me was a personable young white American, whose name told me he was clearly from the upper end of American society. Something William Knuckleduster III, like a king.

At that time, it was a bit of a joke among many of us that most Americans were pleasantly surprised to discover that the world had many serious countries other than America, and with names like Madagascar, Eritrea and Thailand. A twisted map called Reagan's World captured America's ignorance and ego together. India hung like a tiny appendix between three countries named Our Oil (to the west), Godless Communists (to the north, comprising USSR) and Their China (different from Taiwan and Hong Kong, which was Our China).

When George W Bush heard that there was a city called Kathmandu in a little-known country called Nepal, his first words were, "Hey, they ripped that name off a Bob Seger song!" You can listen to it here: https://tinyurl.com/y7bbztf5

So it was with some cockiness that I told my co-passenger what a pity it was that Americans generally knew so little about the world. I humbly confessed that I probably knew more about his country than he knew about mine.

He cheerfully agreed. "Americans think the world consists of America," he said. We both laughed.

"And you?" he asked me.

"And me what?" I said.

"Do you know how many countries there are in Africa?"

Ermmm. . .I didn't have a clue. Do you?

I suspect most of us don't know much about other countries though we like to pretend a certain mastery of worldly trivia. In school, I knew already that Japan was the Land of the Rising Sun and Venice was the Queen of the Adriatic. By studying the names of the radio stations etched onto the tuning screen of our Murphy radio, I knew there were cities with exotic names like Lisbon, Brazzaville (capital of Congo), Tananarive (today Antananarivo, capital of Madagascar) and Leopoldville (Kinshasa today). I could tell you that there were no performing animals in Piccadilly Circus, which was in England. And I knew there was a Suriname toad.

I suspect an average Indian's map of the world might be every bit as interesting as Ronald Reagan's. We imagine our own countries are a little larger than they really are and countries we don't like much are smaller (except powerful countries like USA, Russia and China, which are all bigger). The average Indian might tell you with a smirk that though we're just one-third the size of the USA, we have four times their population.

But I still didn't know how many countries there were in Africa. I was not sure whether Kenya was in West Africa or Nigeria. I didn't know whether Egypt was a part of the Middle East or Africa.

Use the 12-question quiz below to test your own knowledge of the planet we live in. Each of them is a pet question to which once I didn't know the answer myself. The answers are at the end.

1. Which of these Indian cities is at the same latitude as Bangkok? A– Hyderabad; B– Chennai; C– Mumbai; D– Guwahati.
2. Which of these cities lies south of Mumbai in latitude? A– Kolkata; B– Bhopal; C– None of them; D– New Delhi.
3. Which has the largest land area of these four countries: India, China, Russia, Kazakhstan? A– Russia; B– India; C– Kazakhstan; D– India
4. Is Egypt in Africa or Asia? A– Africa; B– Neither. It's in the Middle East; C– Asia; D– Both
5. Which of these countries is furthest east, Egypt, Israel, or Turkey? A– Turkey; B– Israel; C– Egypt; D– Turkey and Egypt equally.
6. Which country other than India has two cities called Calcutta and Mumbai? A– United States; B– Suriname; C– Fiji; D– Bali.
7. Which Indian town does the equator pass through? A– Shajapur; B– Tirunelveli; C– No Indian city; D– Aruvikkara.
8. Mongolia is the second-largest landlocked country in the world. Which is the first? A– Ethiopia; B– Chad; C– Kazakhstan; D– Canada.
9. Which is the first place in the world to experience the New Year? A– Hokkaido; B– Kiribati; C– Baker Island; D– Nauru.
10. Which border of Iran does Syria touch? A– Western; B– Southern; C– It does not touch Iran; D– Eastern.
11. Which of the following countries is South Korea closest to? A– Taiwan; B– Thailand; C– Japan; D– Hong Kong.
12. How many countries are there in Africa? A– 76; B– 74; C– 37; D– 54.

1-B, 2-C, 3-A, 4–D, 5–C, 6–B, 7–C, 8–C, 9–B, 10–C, 11–C, 12–D.

Here, viewed from there. C Y Gopinath, in Bangkok, throws unique light and shadows on Mumbai, the city that raised him. You can reach him at cygopi@gmail.com Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper

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