This blogpost is a contribution from Mr.Broca: an article he had written in the year 1992:

Wait friends! You won’t find this word in any dictionary! I’ll explain what it means. ‘Lifafa’ in Hindi means ‘a paper bag’ – the usual ones made from newspapers or magazines etc. ‘Logy’ means the art of gaining knowledge from these ‘lifafas’ which we normally throw away after using whatever is packed in it – be they ‘tandoori rotis’ from a ‘dhaba’ or bread from the corner booth or ‘fish-pakoras’ from a fast food joint!1

A few days ago, my Mummy purchased ‘Rakhis’2 from a seller in Sector 22 market. They were packed in a lifafa. I have the habit of collecting odds & ends, bits of information etc from various sources. So my ‘karamchand’ish eye3 fell on that lifafa. You’ll be surprised to know that that piece of paper proved to be a mine of information. It contained the following items:

  • A column on really jocular jokes
  • A crossword puzzle for children
  • Snoopy and Dennis-the-menace cartoons
  • A funny little poem called ‘a silly fellow’
  • A humourous piece on ‘kitty-parties’
  • Do’s and Dont’s for persons suffering from acne
  • Useful tips for tired eyes, tired legs, kitchen queries etc.
  • How to make a doll from stalks of corn
  • Knowledge bank.

After reading the contents of that ‘lucky’ lifafa I have gained a lot of knowledge on various topics. Do you want to know what I liked best?
Well – the knowledge bank. I am reproducing that portion of the lifafa for your comments:

“Language is essentially a means of communication through words. There are around 5000 different languages spoken in different countries of the world today.4 In India alone the number of languages along with their dialect comes to 845. Of these 15 are recognised constitutionally.

Every language has a set of letters. By joining these letters in a required order we get words. Do you know which language has of the world has the greatest number of words? It is English with 7,90,000 words. Of these about 4,50,000 are regular words and 3,00,000 are technical terms. According to the linguists no one uses more than 60,000 of these in a life-time of writing and speaking. Although more than 4,00,00,000 people throughout the world speak English, its not the most widely used language. The most widely used language is Mandarin or Northern Chinese which is spoken by about 6,75,000,000 people.

The English word which has the maximum number of meanings is the word ‘set’. It has 58 meanings as a noun, 126 meanings as a verb and 10 meanings as a participle adjective.5

See how even a lifafa can be educative! Let us all henceforth read such lifafas before throwing them. Long live lifafas – long live ‘lifafa’logists.

PS: The idea of this article came from a lifafa which I have carefully preserved. Its possible that when you sell this magazine to the ‘raddiwala’6 some enterprising person may make a small lifafa from this very page and you may read this article after some time when you buy ‘moongfali’7 in it. In case you come across it, do let me know. Thanks!

Footnotes are explained in the first comment to this post.


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