Abracadabra

For a short while, I taught English at school in a small village in Estonia.  There wasn’t much to do in the off-hours, so I often took walks through the surrounding countryside, which I enjoyed.  One day I passed a small store on a back road.  I went inside to take a look. There wasn’t much merchandise in the store.  A woman sat silently behind a counter – I had learned that the locals never felt the need to make small talk.  To justify my presence in there, I chose a few small stationery items to purchase and put them on the counter.  Suddenly I heard a soft clicking and whizzing.  To my amazement, the woman was using an abacus to total the bill.  I felt a small thrill watching one being used in a commercial transaction. 

I thought the abacus was a museum-piece, but M. who is Japanese, has told me she has seen them used in Japan.

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