A student of Aloha Learning Centre Kumara Park Bangalore, Jahnavi Chabria was featured in the latest issue of the TIMEOUT Magazine.
Jahnavi Chabria, Seven Years, Abacus Enthusiast
Jahnavi Chabria wouldn’t be able to claim being as adept as the expert mathematicians from the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Chinese civilisations. But when it comes to performing complicated calculations on that intriguingly meditative system of counting off numbers with a frame-like matrix of coloured beads, Chabria is very close to being a champ. Say, 72 minus 50, plus 26, 46 removed, and after a flurry of fingertips, pat follows the reply: two.
The sums aren’t the biggest problem for young Chabria – the difficulty, evidently, was in handling the pairs of adult eyes that examine her every move. On the day we visited her, no less than six such sets of oculi remained transfixed on the child, expectant of her sealing a claim to being the next Ramanujam, Shakuntala Devi, or perhaps even a John Forbes Nash. Chabria began learning the abacus at the centre called Abacus Learning of Higher Arithmetic (ALOHA) about a year ago. “I’m able to raise my hand in school and answer,” she said, apparently struck by a sudden bout of embarrassment.
Her first standard class at Sophia High School is being introduced to basic addition in mathematics, while she’s already reached the stage of studying multiplication tables on the abacus in her extra-curricular classes. “I get full marks and one star in each test,” she said.
The abacus’s return to popularity is spoken of in light of its supposed ability to improve concentration levels in children. When presented with a series of numbers to calculate, Chabria visualises the beads in her head and comes up with an answer, by dint of sheer practice. “I feel that other children in my class should also learn the abacus,” she said. “It makes maths easier.”