Today Sesquiotica reached 100,000 page views since its inception a bit under 4 years ago. A hundred thousand? Ten myriads? That’s a lot, isn’t it? No… that’s a lakh.
Well, such is my lakh in life, allakhated perhaps by Lakhesis. Or perhaps chalk it up to good lakh, nothing inelakhtable. I find I have no lakh of readers – true, since many readers account for rather more than one page view each. But I would not call this a lakhluster performance. I would certainly rather have lakhs than bagels! Let’s lakh this in: if each page view were a cube of water 90 metres on a side, I would have enough water to fill Lakh Lomond. Had I a square kilometre for each view, I would have more land than there is in Ladakh. Surely this calls for a celebratory drop of lakher – no lakhtose tonight, but I won’t get shellakhed. The greater intoxication is from all these delakhtable words!
But do you know this word? Do you lakh it, with its lush lick to start with and its hard gravel landing at the back? Are you familiar with its common collakhations? It’s used often enough in Indian English – not just in its literal sense of “100,000” (giving it a base 10 lakharithm of 5) but in the plural in the same sort of general use as one might see for myriads and millions: “I have lakhs of rupees. I am a very rich man.” “I can give you lakhs of reasons to read this.” (You may feel justifiably relakhtant to embrace some of these assertions…)
The word lakh, which can be pronounced (in English) with the vowel of lock or that of lack, comes from Hindustani, which got it in turn from Sanskrit laksha “sign” (noun). Why have a single word for 100,000? It’s the South Asian numbering system: 100,000 is a lakh; 100,00,000 (yes, that’s right, 100,00,000) is a crore; 100,000,00,00,000 is a lakh crore (we’d call it a trillion – we being North Americans; some Europeans would call it a billion); and so it goes, stacking encores of crores and lakhs on crores, the zeroes in a 2,2,3 pattern all the way. (And never mind millionaires; in India, a rich person is a crorepati – someone who has a net worth of a crore or more of rupees.)
But I probably won’t reach a crore of page views. At my current rate, I may well reach a million before I turn 80. As long as I don’t get too lakhs about my writing.