August 31, 2010

English is a funny language… (II)

It’s estival time. I wake up to the tweedle I’m used to at this time of the year. I rub my eyes, remove the rheum, pandiculate, accompanied by the normal oscitance that goes with it. I get up and look out the window. The sight is pulchritudinous! I thrum on the window sill and look back at the bed. I see my hubby fast asleep. I feel the urge to wake him up. And what better way, than to osculate! He smiles…and I know he’s awake now, alright.
Confused? That’s how English can be. There are pretty complex words for simple things/actions/words, you begin to imagine how difficult it’s gonna get if we all started speaking like this. The above para in ‘normal’ English would read something like this:

“It’s summer. I wake up to the chirping I’m used to at this time of the year. I rub my eyes, remove that dried thing near my eyes, stretch, accompanied by the normal yawn that goes with it. I get up and look out the window. The sight is beautiful! I drum idly on the window sill and look back at the bed. I see my hubby fast asleep. I feel the urge to wake him up. And what better way, than to kiss! He smiles…and I know he’s awake now, alright.”
(You be the judge…which one was better?)

Jokes apart, I’ve seen quite a few people write like this. And by ‘this’ I mean a “thesaurasized” version of what they had in mind. They feel that using high-funda English words in their narrative makes quite the ‘impression’. Frankly speaking, seeing such ‘attempts’ at seeming good at English disgusts me no end. These are the kind of people who (I believe) are ready with a thesaurus or MS Word at their disposal. Write a plain English word, “right click - synonyms - select”… and they think they’re good to go. Who are they trying to fool? I mean, especially when your friends/acquaintence know how good a vocab you actually have, or know your propensity towards books/reading…. I wonder. Anyways, seeing such articles/write-ups cracks me up and I have a good time reading those, especially when words have been used in contexts in which they are not usually used! (Sorry, can’t think of an example now!). Writing well is more than using complex/complicated words… it’s an art. Something that won’t stop at just knowing (or mugging up) diffcult words and their meanings. And yes, sometimes saadgi mein sundarta hai (there’s beauty in simplicity).

Another thing that amuses me is the Dictionary. Yes, it’s been a good friend of mine (and many more, I’m sure). We look up words we don’t know and it enlightens us. But on the flip side, the simplest of things appear most complicated. One of the things I occasionally do to amuse myself (when I’m bored) is to find the definitions of common English words (and yea, this began way before Aamir and Omi in ‘3 Idiots’ and the whole ‘machine’ definition thing). If you don’t believe me, sample a couple:

Eye - the organ of sight, in vertebrates typically one of a pair of spherical bodies contained in an orbit of the skull and in humans appearing externally as a dense, white, curved membrane, or sclera, surrounding a circular, colored portion, or iris, that is covered by a clear, curved membrane, or cornea, and in the center of which is an opening, or pupil, through which light passes to the retina.
Now you begin to wonder why poets and those in love sing praises of those pair of ‘organs’!

Walk - to advance or travel on foot at a moderate speed or pace; proceed by steps; move by advancing the feet alternately so that there is always one foot on the ground in bipedal locomotion and two or more feet on the ground in quadrupedal locomotion.
What an explanation! ;-) Kinda reminds me of manuals. Lol!

Try out more for yourself. There… one more thing you may do when you’re bored. :-P

English is a funny language… (I)

… and it gets funnier by the day! Most of us have come across forward e-mail messages or newpaper articles on why English is a funny language. Recently I happened to come across new words that have been coined, which only confirm that. Presenting to you a few words that are the result of man’s irresistable and insatiable tendency to make it ‘easier’ to communicate (read ‘coming up with new words that sound funny or are hard to remember’)!

Technology (and the internet, in specific) has forced Oxford Dictionary and the likes to come up with words for fairly regular technology-related occurences. Sample these (mostly conjugation of words):

Favicon – this is the small icon you see in the address bar of the browser while you’re accessing a site or while saving it in bookmarks/favouritizing it. The easiest means by which you can make out which site it is when you have a number of tabs open in a browser.

Freemium – anything from matrimonial sites to downloads (music/movies) and image/video hosting sites are based on it - basic features being free and advanced features being charged for!

Screenager – every household will probably have one now, i.e. a young person/teenager who spends a lot of time in front of the computer screen! (You and me included!)

Infomania – most common mania now - constantly checking and responding to email and text messages

Nonliner – someone who rarely or never uses the Internet, usually because they cannot access it (something we dread to be!)

Robocall – Tired of the pre-recorded messages you hear from Airtel, Vodafone and the others? This indicates an automated telephone call which delivers a recorded message. Next time you pick the phone and realize it’s one of “those” calls, you have a term for it now!

Blackburied – means being inundated and exhausted trying to be on top of all your email 24/7 with your handheld mobile device. For all you know, too much of this ‘berry’ could lead to the real ‘bury’!

In a totally unrelated context, check these other words out!

Baggravation - A feeling of annoyance and frustration at the airport when your baggage has not arrived but the other passengers' bags have. What about waiting for a delayed bus/train, I wonder....

Staycation and Daycation – if you guessed that it has something to do with a ‘vacation’, that’s right. In the first one you stay at home and relax (or maybe visit places close to home); the second one is a short one where the trip lasts one day (no overnight stay).

Decruitment – antonym of ‘recruitment’…yep, ‘laying off’.

Flexitarian - A vegetarian who sometimes eats meat or fish. Hmmmm…so how about non-vegetarians who sometimes eat veg. food? ;-D

Freemale – Though the word suggests something totally different (!), this one’s supposed to indicate a woman who is happy to stay single and independent so that she can do what she wants when she wants. (Who ever came up with this one!!... Some 'male' who didn't like it, I guess!)

Gastrosexuals – Move over metrosexuals and ubersexuals. Meet the gastrosexuals!... A new generation of men who see cooking more as a hobby than a household chore, and use their cooking skills to impress friends and potential partners. Who said that stomach is the way to a man’s heart only!

Sandwich generation - A generation of people who care for the needs of their children as well as those of their own elderly parents. Wonder why they even coined a term like this…it’s been the case, atleast in Asia, for a long while, but yea, this generation may soon be decreasing.

Noughties – If you were to say that World War I was in the 10s, World War II in the 40s, and so on and so forth… how would you talk about the Sept. 11 attacks? It was in the … Clueless? So this word! It refers to the years between 2000 and 2009 which contain a 'nought' (zero), in the same way as other decades are called the 'thirties', 'sixties', etc.
Care to coin more interesting words??

August 25, 2010

Onam Times

Another Onam has come and gone. And you also realize that there are a few things about it that remain fairly constant... 
  • The countdown that begins a month (or more!) in advance for those who can make it back home.
  • The disappointment and gloom felt by those who cannot make it back home (and the ensuing jealousy towards those in the above category). Have to be satisfied with Onam celebrations at place of work or study (if any held).
  • The highly skewed demand-supply situation as far as tickets (plane/train/bus) are concerned.
  • The maddening rush towards all the bus/train stations a couple of days before and after Onam.
  • The feeling of relief, comfort and happiness (all rolled into one) when you see your family at home.
  • Shopping! (and/or gifting)
  • The rise in prices of essential commodities and vegetables.
  • The phone calls and SMSs to wish your family and friends a ‘Happy Onam!’.
  • People in their new Onam attire (Onakkodi) visiting temples.
  • A couple of marriage invites, atleast (it is an auspicious time of the year).
  • Traffic blocks and increased congestion in the city/town areas.
  • Lack of parking spaces (in the run up to Onam).
  • Auto drivers charging higher rates; refusing to take people to some areas (basically, longer trips).
  • The rains
  • Onasadya and/or Payasam – made at home or parceled from a hotel/caterer
  • Visiting paternal/maternal family place and having a family get-together of sorts
  • Not to forget, ‘Onam Special’ programmes on TV! :
Movies -
  • Some, rightfully called, “Blockbuster” movies being aired
  • Movies being aired as “Super Hit”, though you already know that they are “super flops"
  • "Mini-screen-il aadyamayi” (First time on the mini screen) movies. And you begin to think that it’s being aired for the first time on ANY screen (mini or mega), because you’ve never heard of such a movie before and can’t even make them out from the trailors!
Interviews - A slew of interviews with politicians, film/serial actors, directors, singers, reality show winners… Topics mainly based in/around Onam of their childhood times OR how they will celebrate Onam this year. Sometimes a normal interview with a couple of questions on Onam. Now-a-days combination interviews are being done. Also one celebrity interviewing another celebrity.

Satires/spoofs/comedy - Mahabali’s visit to the Kerala of today (and his ‘shock’ at how things are!), political jabs, spoofs of famous Malayalam movies in an Onam/political/purely comical manner, parodies of popular Malayalam songs…

Musical programmes - Film songs regarding Onam, or old folk songs and the like

Documentary/Docu-drama - This kind was mostly shown on DD. It’s becoming less popular (ever since the private channels broke into the TV space)

Regular shows with an ‘Onam’ touch - The anchor(s) of the show, participants, judges, audience, etc. come in traditional attire; initial part of the show has talk about Onam; then the show progresses as normal; ends with Onam message and wishes

News -
  • News readers/anchors dressed traditionally
  • News about increased vegetable and commodity prices
  • News about Kerala’s over-dependence on neighbouring States for the vegetables, fruits, rice, milk, etc.
  • The mismanagement of/problems in Govt.-owned outlets during Onam sales
  • Onam special news – amusing/interesting things being done across Kerala for Onam
  • NRIs and NRKs celebrating Onam
  • BevCo outdid previous year’s sales for Onam period (!!)
I happened to see more news than I normally would (thanks to my dad, more on that in some other post).
Some news that caught my eye this Onam: 

Tharoor’s (third) wedding – THE marriage of the season. Enough and more of press coverage for the most-written-about-MP of recent times. It was indeed amusing and interesting to see Tharoor and Pushkar look like twenty-something year old lovebirds doing the three pheras, enjoying the Panchavadyam (with Tharoor whispering into Pushkar’s ears), the Guruvayoor visit, etc.

Concern for contaminated liqour – A news channel happened to show briefly about the concern some youth had regarding contaminated liquour from BevCo (Beverage Corporation, for those who MAY not know). It contained some particles or so, the news ran. And I thought – it doesn’t bother them what kind of fruits/vegetables/milk/meat/eggs they consume. These can be highly adulterated/contaminated/treated heavily with pesticides/the result of excessive use of hormones… And you eat it on a regular basis. But this fellow (who got featured in the news item) was concerned about contaminated alcohol. Hmmppphh!!

Increasing sales of liquour – Keralites (men mostly, and now women too apparently) and alcohol are inseparable for the most part. “It is easier for a Malayali to convince others that he does not drink tea than to convince them that he does not drink liquour!” said a Special Report on rising liquour consumption in Kerala (The Week, a couple of months back). I happened to hear a debate sort of, regarding this on TV this Onam, what with BevCo continuously breaking records every Onam season. Instead of examining why this is happening, what is encouraging alcoholism, etc. they were discussing the numbers, purely numbers. Is the increase in sales (amount) due to increasing price of liquour or due to increasing consumption itself? … Whatever.

World’s largest Pookalam (floral carpet) – ‘Snehapookalam’ (floral carpet for love/brotherhood) at Kozhikode became the world’s largest pookalam at an area of 17,622 sq.ft, completed in 3 hrs. The area was divided into 400 grids, and each team was assigned one grid to be laid out. 14,500 kg flowers, close to Rs. 6.75 lakhs…

Increasing trend for parceled Onam Sadya – As years go by, hoteliers and caterers seem to be laughing all the way to the bank. People prefer to buy a sadya rather than prepare one. Lack of time, lack of know-how (younger generation), nuclear families, convenience… reasons are many. If you’re ready to spend anywhere between Rs.125 – 175 (on an average) per head, you can have an Onasadya hassle-free. Hotels and caterers have already started the trend of opening and closing bookings (sometimes even weeks before Onam).
Pothole protest – We’ve heard of several creative ways of protesting against the presence of potholes on roads. Some youngsters decided that for Onam, putting a pookalam around them would convey the message!

Vanara bhojanashala – At a temple in Shasthamkotta (Kollam) every Onam the temple provides a sadya to the resident troupe of monkeys in the area. They even have a separate area meant for it in the temple premise (the bhojanashala). The monkeys know when (day/time) to come, apparently. They come, feast on the sadya laid out for them peacefully (unlike some human counterparts you usually get to see during wedding sadyas), and go away after the sumptuous lunch. How about that?!

August 19, 2010

Tidbits - # 1 - Finger bowl

Finger bowl

Often when we go to restaurants, we are presented with some water and lemon at the end of a meal... Yes, the Finger Bowl. You may wish to clean up the old-fashioned way. I mean, running water, soap, gargling – nothing can beat that, right?. But still you sit there and reluctantly dip your hands in the lukewarm/hot/cold water (with a wedge of lemon) in the bowl kept right in front of you. You do not want the waiters (or worse, those you accompany) to think of you as dumb and ignorant - that you didn’t realize what it was for. And I’m sure many of you have heard stories of people drinking from it because they didn’t realize its purpose (after all, some water and lemon)!

Anyway, I've always been curious. How did finger bowls come into existence? If you ask me, someone who was plain lazy, or rather who “did not want to be inconvenienced” invented it! As always, I Googled.

A finger bowl is a bowl of water, usually with lemon or flower petals, which is used for rinsing one's fingers in between courses in a multiple course meal. It is typically served before the dessert course, on a doily on top of the dessert plate. (Wikipedia)

And check out this one, just for laughs (and it's kinda gross too)!

But nothing regarding it’s “origin” turned up. Damn! No “elegant” or “charming” story to this almost common-place thing? But what I did come across was this write-up: How to Properly Use the Dining Table Finger Bowl Without Making a Splash. (A ‘how to’ for using a finger bowl?! This one’s gotta be interesting!). Excerpts (with my expert comments!):

"Although the finger bowl has all but vanished in current dining rooms, it may infrequently be found in the finest eating establishments. Certain enthusiasts of high cuisine have called for the resurrection of the finger bowl."
You gotta be kidding me. I know several places that cannot exactly be described as “finest eating establishments”, yet they give you the finger bowl. She must visit India! We Indians are pretty smart at adopting such things. “Resurrection”?? Don’t even get me started!

"Antique hunters may uncover finger bowls, as they search through collections of old china."
"Hunters"? “Uncover”? I didn’t realize we were discussing archaeology!

"The diner dips his fingers gently into the warm water to rinse them lightly. Splashing, swirling and swishing in the finger bowl are considered improper."
Ohhhhhh… I see. So you can do nothing that will actually help you clean your fingers? Hmmmmm… Waiter, where did you say the washroom was?! (Now that I look again, she did say 'dip and 'gently'.)

"The finger bowl is not intended as a bath or cleansing, but merely as a means of preparing the hands for the final courses of the meal."
“Preparing” the hands?

"What is the purpose of the finger bowl?
The idea is for the diner to clean his fingers, particularly after a sticky or messy meal, such as ribs, corn-on-the-cob, fried chicken or shellfish."
After a messy/sticky meal, eh? Ummmmm… does it not contradict with the previous sentence then? The “not intended as a bath or cleansing” bit?

"Today's diners understand the importance of hand washing before meals and even throughout the day. In particular, families stress this, to keep germs and sickness at bay. This practice of personal hygiene aims more at the prevention of infection and illness than at etiquette.

However, those with the most discerning palates may appreciate the mid-meal practice of the finger bowl. Because the fresh lemon and warm water may remove food residue, flavor and aromas from the fingers, diners may go on to enjoy the late courses of a meal without distraction."
Ah!…NOW she clarifies. Finger bowl – for etiquette only. Those who prefer hygiene may use the tap! :-D

P.S. The views expressed are those of the author (who prefers the tap any day). You may disagree!

August 18, 2010

The Walk

She got down from the bus and started walking. Everything was going as per plan. Buses were mostly very punctual these days, she mused. She checked her watch. There was enough time to spare. The Express was due in 20 minutes. She could walk at a comfortable pace and still not be late. As she finished this thought, it began to drizzle. Shucks! She did not have an umbrella. Oh well…Good thing. It rains for all auspicious occasions; Rains are supposed to be a good indication. Her mother had told her something of the sort. Nice.

As she kept walking, thoughts began plaguing her mind. There was nothing else she could do, was there? She was tired of this life… this existence. No one had time. Everyone was busy. A few who had tried talking to her, listening to her never really 'got' her. And this from people she thought knew her well and understood her (better than herself). Others called her crazy. That’s when it hit her. She was alone… all alone. Like an island in a sea of people, was it?

As she was walking listlessly she heard the temple bells ringing and chants in the air. Has to be from the temple around the corner. Did the Gods know? What were they trying to tell her? Somehow she was reminded of her mother. She did not complete that thought, when her cellphone began to ring. Ma calling… it said. A coincidence? Did she feel it too? Her mother started ranting about the maid, the rising price of vegetables, family gossip… She played along, feigning cheer. Her mother sensed that all was not well. Anything wrong beta? Nothing Ma, it’s just the work. I feel tired… she lied. Love you too Ma, tell Pa too… That’s what she told her last, just before she cut the call. She didn’t even realize that tears had started streaming down her face. Maybe it’s a good thing that she didn’t have an umbrella… A dog came towards her, from the other side of the road. It briefly hung around her, following her a bit. Did it know? Could it sense?

As she neared the temple, she saw a few beggars right outside - extending their palms, asking for alms. But one woman did not. She did not beg for alms, nor did she approach her. She just sat there, by the wall, staring at her intensely. Could she see it in her eyes? She cut her gaze as soon as she could manage, and walked past the temple quickly.

She must be running late now. She checked her watch again. 10 minutes more. She was almost there. She started rummaging through her bag. Where is my ID? That’s all she needed now. She didn’t pay attention while crossing the road – she was too engrossed with her bag. A truck sped by. She tossed and turned, like a piece of vegetable.

Not the ending she had planned … but an ending nevertheless.

August 17, 2010

Lift Behaviour

Lift – Also called elevators. Commonly referred to as ‘lift’ in India.

Lift behaviour
- Behaviour exhibited by the human species while waiting for, boarding, within and while leaving the lift

1. Impatience – Seen mostly while waiting for a lift. Subjects are often found frantically pressing the button, though they know well that it won’t increase the velocity of the lifts. In some (extreme) cases it may result in cursing/swearing; opting to use the stairs (if the building is not too tall); or may even manifest itself as point no. 2.

2. Looking at display – Something subjects do constantly waiting for/in the lift.
- Outside – looking at the display to see when the lift will finally reach their floor
- Within – looking at the display to see when they will reach the desired floor

3. Shuffling/Shifting – Observed when there are multiple lifts, usually accompanied by point 2. Subjects waiting for a lift keep shifting their position so as to rush into the one that opens (or could open) first.

4. Awkwardness – Exhibited by subjects who end up in the same lift. Caused due to uncertainty regarding where to look. This dilemma is compounded if the lift contains mirror(s). They either look up (refer to point 2) or look down (at their legs/shoes/the floor…). Looking at the watch, reading something, primping, checking others out, whistling/humming a song, making conversation, etc. are some other commonly seen activities.

5. Forgetfulness – Usually exhibited by those who enter the lift in a rush, while talking, or from a floor in between. They forget to press the button to the floor they intend to go. This may result in increased irritability (and waste of time), as the subject realizes that s/he has missed the floor of choice.

6. Anxiety – Exhibited by those who are wary of using lifts. Those who are accustomed to it may also show mild symptoms when they suspect that there are more people (or weight) than the capacity indicated as ‘ideal’ for the lift.

7. Irritation – Exhibited by some subjects when they realize that there is a lift operator to ‘accompany’ them. Also when they find others interrupting the closure of the lift, as they come in one's and two's and end up entering the lift and finally stalling time.

8. Confusion – Exhibited by subjects when they don’t know which floor they have to go to. (Often occurs when visiting a new building, say a shopping mall/flat; also when the levels indicated are confusing – UG, BF, GF, FF, 1, 2, etc. OR -2, -1, 0, 1, etc. These subjects would tend to disagree with those agreeing to point 7)

Note: This analysis is not exhaustive and is based on a limited study conducted by the researcher. 'Lift behaviour' can vary depending on the height of the building, kind of lift, kind of building, traffic, etc.

August 16, 2010

Childhood Stupidities

As children we’ve all done something really stupid or reckless. And as adults, we look back at those times and laugh about it. This post is about something like that - the top three stupid things I’ve done as a kid (or rather self-inflicted ‘accidents’)!

No. 1 – Age: Maybe 7 or 8 years old. Mom knows better.
When we were kids, dad used to make us watch a lot of sports – cricket, football, tennis, WWF (now WWE), boxing, golf, F1… It’s a shame that we didn’t take to it (at all!) inspite of watching it so much, or having a mother who was highly sporty in her younger days. (She was a kho-kho player who represented her school at district level several times and also won many sports events at school. Her teachers still remember her that way. Oh boy! What a contrast she and us are!!). But there was a very WWF-inspired moment in my life, a stupid one at that. It was a normal weekend morning as ever. Dad was having a half-day, I guess. My uncle was staying with us at that time. He was reading a newspaper or was in the bathroom or something. My mom was busy cutting my sister’s fingernails. They were sitting on this sofa next to the teapoy (which was rectangular and had this thick glass on top). I don’t remember whether she was done with me or I was awaiting my turn. I was running around and jumping about the sofa (living in a flat leaves with only so much space). And then I don’t know what got into me (Hulk Hogan?). I climbed onto the top of the sofa. And then I did it. I jumped … onto the teapoy! I surely must’ve been thinking of how WWF wrestlers climbed onto the ropes, at the corner of the ring, and then leapt onto their opponents who’ve been just knocked down by them. Craaaaassshh!! Mom screamed. My uncle came running. I couldn’t quite comprehend what had happened. When I looked around, I found myself stuck in the frame of the teapoy, glass scattered everywhere. Miraculously, I remained unscathed, though the shards of glass all around suggested otherwise. I was shaken (and stirred, might I add)… the gravity of it beginning to seep in. My mom was upset with me, of course, but more relieved that I was unharmed. That made for a fine story when dad returned for lunch that day.

No. 2 – Age: I guess 8 or 9.
Dad used to take us to a tunnel (those who’ve lived in the Gulf know what I’m talking about) a little away from our apartment to play football (as in, we’d kick around a ball). One night after such a game, we were on our way back. He was holding our hands, I guess. We reached a road and was about to cross it. I let go of his hand and ran. I was mid-way across the road, when a car came speeding. I had no clue what to do or what happened. The car screeched to a halt. I was safe! My father quickly ran towards me. He apologized to the driver. And then he beat me. I felt really bad… because he never beat us or hit us often. Only very rarely, if he was that upset. And then I realized I had given him enough reason to. I don’t remember now whether it was the ball that I was after, or I ran on my own whim. In any case, I got to listen to the ‘rules to follow before crossing a road’, all over again.

No. 3 – Age: I guess 10 or 11.
We used to have a great time when we cousins met together at our mom’s place. All of us kids in the world of make-believe, all day long. Our grandpa’s brother’s house was nearby, and some days we used to hangout over there. This third incident took place there. It was around evening time. We were kind of done for the day after the cycle-racing, playing ‘family’ and playing on the swing. A few of my uncles and aunts were sitting around in the verandah and catching up over each others’ (and many others’) lives. We kids were kind of dispersed, each doing what they pleased. And then I saw the coconut tree, with the money plant twining on it. I had a sudden fancy for climbing the tree. I don’t know what got into me (Tarzan?). I tugged at the plant to see if it would stay. Seemed strong enough. And then I began climbing upwards (like in Raavan; much like how rock-climbers climb huge mountains; minus the harness and safety measures here, of course!). And the inevitable happened. The plant gave way. And down I came, with a loud thud! I saw black… I couldn’t breathe. A pain shot through my back. I thought I was dying! I lie there like that for a few seconds. I managed to sit, and then slowly got up. Thanking God that I was alive, I slowly walked back to the house. Some of my uncles/aunts saw this from the verandah, but they had no clue how serious it was (or I felt it was). “Are you ok?”, they asked in jest. “Yes, no problem”, I managed to say with false bravado.

P.S. There are the stupidest things I did according to me (or as far as my memory takes me). I do realize that my parents may beg to differ!

August 13, 2010

(A)Musing - # 2

Products like fairness creams, lotions or moisturizers, hair dyes (?!) or colours, breakfast cereal, shampoos, etc. are becoming distinct - with 'For Men' and 'For Women' types available.

Products like footwear (chappals), watches, bags, jeans, trackpants, etc. are becoming unisex.

Amusing, isn't it?

(A)Musing - # 1


Washup, ooops! Wassup next?

August 12, 2010


STOP IT! But it didn’t. It never did.

The harder she tried, the more persistent it became. It never was an easy thing to tame – the thoughts (or the mind, whichever you prefer). She never did realize when it became a part of her natural being – this excessive obsession of thinking… too much, too often. No good comes of it, they told her. She knew as much! And yet… and yet, she could not help herself - the incessant train of thoughts barging across her mind tracks, sparing nothing in its way. She was fed up of it herself… the habit of ruminating the cud of thoughts that kept re-surfacing in her mind whenever it was disturbed. If only her will could stop the chatter that always ran in her head, if only it would clear her mind and make it blank like a clean slate, if only it stopped scrutinizing details back and forth, if only she could press some switch and turn it off… she would find some peace of mind.

Alas! It did not stop… It never did. But she hoped it would... some day...

August 11, 2010


AFAIK most of us are aware of acronyms. IMO (or IMHO), that's true. I thought so too. That's until I joined Infy and saw the BB. FYI, BB means Bulletin Board in Infy. (BTW, I see that I gave that one away. LOL!)

NOM to anyone, but this is crazy! ATM I am quite taken aback by what all can be 'acronymized' (if there can be such a word). So, JLT I thought - why not blog and make you go crazy too?

FYA - Find out what these acronyms mean and decipher my post completely. (It's simple. IOW - Google. HTH). But still DIY. You will enjoy it. I expect most of you might get to it ASAP. And I hope to see 'reactions' B4 EOD. TYT...I'm sure this has got you intrigued. FYK - Me too!

If you're pissed off by reading this message and are thinking "DND" or "MYOB"...NP. AFAIC, I'm enjoying every bit of it! And yea, TTYL. :-P (Of course, it's TBTILV)
To the others - LMK about it.

If you can get most of it on your own - WTG!! For the others who give up - I guess I will post it in Comments L8R on.
Hmmmm...TMI, yea? I think so too!
Anyway, BBL. HAND. TYVM and yea... YW! ... JK!
P.S. 1 - I've tried to keep the message as coherent as possible. HYA!
P.S. 2 - The title was just to get you interested. That's all. Maybe you said that after you read this post. Doesn't matter. :-D
P.S. 3 - What with all the shortforms (or "initialisms"), this is my shortest post! (So far!)

Shopping Woes

As strange as that may sound, that’s the case for me. Shopping and Woes? Shopping is supposed to be a ‘feel-good’ factor, right… Retail therapy?? If you want to even begin to comprehend my concerns or sentiments, you need to be above a certain size-range (or personally know such people). Ah, yes…Now you’re beginning to get it.

To whoever who says “size does not matter” – You gotta be kidding me! Have you tried shopping? For clothes? For footwear?? It’s a sad but true fact that many of the stores do not cater to ‘heavier’ or ‘bigger’ people (what those terms mean is completely subjective, I agree). Whenever I go shopping I face this problem (not like I am that huge) – whatever I like is not available in a size that fits me, and whatever is available in my size need not necessarily be to my liking. C’mon! What’s with these people? Can’t they make clothes and footwear for a wider size-range?

When I go shopping for (ready-made) clothes, the first thing I check is for size. What’s the point checking for prints or designs I like, only to find that they don’t have it in my size? Then comes the pain of trials. Yes, pain. Carry a few to the trial room and then see if it ‘fits’. If yes, good. If not, back to the racks. That’s part of shopping for anyone, you might say. But when you have fewer options, each rejection can be more disappointing. And the whole funda about sizes itself is boggling. I mean, they say S, M, L, XL, XXL, but by now you also know that one brand’s XL is L in another. So when you go for trial, thinking it fits you, you are surprised to note that that is not the case. Again, back to the racks. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a little particular about how a dress fits me either - it should not be tight. I mean, I see a lot of heavy women dress really awkardly – things bulging and bobbing… (*shudder*). I’d rather be never seen like that, thank you. And when I see women much heavier than me who’re pretty well-dressed, I think to myself  “where did SHE get clothes from?” and have this inexplicable urge to run upto them and ask “where do you shop?” ! (Of course, it’s just an urge, I really don’t do that!) Come to think of it, not finding dresses your size maybe a little motivational… to shed some weight (a silver lining in the dark cloud philosophy). But then, that’s not going to solve the problem entirely either.

I happened to visit aLL (Future Group’s answer to plus-size fashion). The variety was very limited, as must be the case with many such stores. (I agree that not all clothes look great on heavy people, but not all look bad either). It was actually funny. I first visited Pantaloons and tried on some kurtas. The size (XL) was pretty ok, but maybe the next size could be better. Since that’s all they had, I walked across to aLL (right opposite it). And the lowest size there was big for me. So, where does that leave me? In an ‘uncatered to’ between! If I were to really say, manufacturers are losing out on a huge opportunity (quite literally too) by leaving out a growing segment (the pun is hard to miss, huh?). It is plain to see that many people visit stores and leave them reluctantly only because they can’t find garments their size. And I’m surprised to note that all this while nobody has done anything about it. I’m not talking of opening ‘plus-sized’ stores that are poor cousins to stores who cater to ‘normal’ people. Only if all the Levis, Pepes, Wranglers, Provogues, Pantaloons, Fashion Bazaars and many more would just make/stock outfits in two-three bigger sizes, they’d see a significant difference in their sales. Happily for me, I did find a couple of kurtis that fit me in Lifestyle. (You see how they’re going to earn my loyalty now, can’t you?)

Footwear – ditto. Maybe, it gets worse than clothes. I walk into stores to see these small sandals and shoes that are meant for petite, nimble girls (or women). Hello? What about me? I have large feet (atleast compared to what women are ‘supposed’ to have) and shopping for footwear makes me feel like Big Foot! “I like this, but do you have a bigger size??”, I almost always plead to the salesman. “No”, pat comes the reply, with a sheepish grin. Sigh!

I’d always think to myself, if I were to EVER open a store that sold clothes or footwear, it would definitely have larger sizes. But I don’t see THAT happening. So here I am, waiting for someone out there to try.

(P.S. Believe it or not, people at the other end of the spectrum - those who are too thin, also have ‘shopping woes’. But, of course, I am not the apt person to comment!).

August 10, 2010

Food Fixation!

Those who serve you everyday know better about your food preferences – whether it be your own mother or… the bhaiyyas at the Food Courts of Infy!

Now there is this (breakfast) food that’s typical of Mangalore, called the Mangalore Buns or simply Buns. Of course, I did not know of such a thing until I came here (to Mangalore). One day I tried it out of curiosity (the menu said ‘Buns’ and I assumed it was the bun we usually see in bakeries and wanted to see what they served it with). And instead got this.

Pic courtesy Googling.

It was served with Sambhar and coconut chutney. Interesting. I tried it and absolutely liked it! It was only ever so slightly sweet, had a mild flavour because of the jeera and it must’ve been made of maida. (Upon googling now, I find that it usually has mashed bananas in it, though I don’t think they add it in the ones we get here). So, in effect, it means that whenever buns is on the menu (which is usually Tuesdays) I don’t even think twice about what I'm going to have for breakfast… And so also another person. The bhaiyya who serves! Lol. Initially I used to waste the Sambhar they gave along with it (because chutney is what I like having it with). Then once, I told him that I didn’t want it. The next time around he asked me, just to be sure. From then on, he never serves Sambhar for me when I order Buns.

Then he took it to the next level. If he’d even as much as see me coming from the billing counter towards the serving area/food counter, he’d be ready with a plate of buns. He’d check for my bill (to confirm) and hand over the plate to me. Today was the limit – as I approached the food counter, he gave me my plate of buns and only then did he collect the bill (to verify)!! And all I could do was give him a knowing grin.

I had this kind of experience at the Hyderabad DC (during training) as well. We were in the habit of ordering cornflakes regularly. There was a young fella there. Same case. He had to just see us approaching the counter, and he’d already be filling the bowl of flakes with milk.

Talk about being predictable! Anyway, it’s a nice feeling you know… A lil’ bit of a personal touch.

August 6, 2010

I Hate You!

This ‘hate story’ started a few weeks back. I have had no issues so far (or atleast it was manageable). But what can you do if deliberate effort is made to irritate you and you begin to lose your patience? What if the persistance begins to get on your nerves?? I tried my best to ignore. But, I simply give up! I hate you… ants!

Yes, ANTS… those tiny creatures you barely notice… until it begins to make your lives miserable, that is. My apologies to the crew of The Ant Bully (2006; animation movie directed by John A. Davis) because I don’t think that’s gonna change my view on them or make me like them. It began a few days after we began buying food at our place (in Mangalore). The ants began to 'make their presence felt'. Ants are attracted to anything sweet. Everybody knows that. So the sugar was kept safely in an air-tight container. Ha! Out of reach from their prying antennae! And so was anything sweet (obvious, isn’t it?). Then it occurred to me that ants are attracted to oil or oily stuff as well. So we ensured that the coconut oil would be stored in a sturdy bottle. Done! I believed that it would be the end to this ant tale. But, boy was I wrong!

We once bought Maggi (4 x 200g pack) and made two for the evening. So yea, two slabs remained. We left it (in the packet) outside, on the upturned drinking water can, and didn’t give it a second thought. What happened? You got that right – ant attack. We returned from office, only to find a trail of ants running from over the kitchen counter to the top of the water can. The packet was full of ants! Argghh. Made a mental note to self: Sweet, oily… and now, starchy stuff too. Don’t leave anything in this category outside. Fine! I thought that was the end of it. Apparently not. Whatever we bought, the ants would ‘find’ out. To the extent that they’d chew through the unopened packets (of mixture, biscuits and the like) kept in the cabinets and nibble on it (leaving those distinct small heaps of powder). The container with semolina was not closed properly and they did not spare that either! Bananas also figured on their radar (in fact, by this time a second kind of ant had appeared). One day we made chapathi and had one left over. We kept in a vessel, covered it with the lid and left it like that over-night. Checked it in the morning – no problemo… so did nothing about it. That day when we returned, we saw the ants marching their way into it and having a nice meal. Hmmmppphh! Where were they last night? Sleeping??! They can be constantly found in the kitchen dust-bin as well, rummaging the left-overs.

The ants are taking us to new levels of frugality and cleanliness! Now everytime we make something or buy something we’re forced to think – Will the ants get to it? Where can we store it? Should we keep it in the fridge? and so on. And I’m not one to quit… the battle is on!

August 5, 2010

Me Too!

How many times have you heard someone say/describe an incident/experience they’ve had and you go “me too!!”? These are not great things that have any significant impact whatsoever… but all those tiny instances that we come across as part of our daily living and, though we may not realize it, is fairly common. We discover these during conversations… Our “me too!” moments...

These are few of the instances that occur fairly often to me. If you’ve had the same, feel free to say “me too!”...

Waking up with a song in your head  – This happens to me quite often. I don’t know how or why, but some days when I wake up it’s like somebody has already turned on a tape-recorder inside my head – a song is just playing. It’s usually not a song I play often or even heard the night before. It could be random songs – just like that. These are mostly songs that I’ve not heard in a looong while, and I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I’m able to recall the lyrics (because I didn’t even know that I knew the song that much).

Waking up a few minutes before the alarm goes off – Yea. This one pisses me off! I’ve heard that our bodies are the best clocks we have (and I don’t need proof). This is a matter of everyday occurrence. I always wake up a few minutes prior to the alarm, and it irritates me no end. This is because when I open my eyes the first thing I do is to check the time and… Damn! I have 3 mintues to sleep!! Irritating, isn’t it?! If you think that it’s because I’ve a habit of waking up at a certain time everyday…it’s not that. I’ve tried and tested it myself. If you don’t believe me, try it out yourselves. Tell yourself you’ve to wake up at a certain time (and don’t forget to set the alarm, of course!). You’ll most probably find yourself awake before it goes off.
(Disclaimer: It may not hold true for everyone. Sleeping behaviour and pattern varies from person to person.)

Feeling sheepish when you wake up – This one is pretty common. Let’s say you’re sleeping where people are around (your home, a bus, hostel room, railway station/train, etc. etc.). When you wake up you instinctively look around to gauge the situation, see if people are noticing you, avoid eye contact with anybody for a few mintues…All because you feel slightly embarrassed that you look awkward right after you’ve woken up. And then you primp yourself – adjust your hair, pull your dress, etc. … Something to reassure you that you look ‘normal’.

Attending calls in between your sleep – You THINK that you can manage to answer a call in between your sleep. You take the phone and (with your eyes still shut) talk to that person. The person at the other end makes out from your broken voice that you were sleeping, and asks as much. “It’s ok”, you say. You THINK you’ve got what s/he said, all the while fighting sleep and trying to remain awake (let alone being attentive). Then you end the call and go back to sleep. When you wake up, all that you remember is someone called (maybe even that seems like a dream). If somebody asks you what the matter of the conversation was, you manage to give bits and pieces of information, nothing coherent. And things can get worse if somebody had called you with the intention of letting you know about something YOU had to do (because you have no clue what it is!). Happens, right?
(Tip for those who call and find out that the person at the other end has been sleeping: Don’t bother. Cut the call and inform later).

Ideas popping up at the wrong time – Most of the times you have ‘Eureka!’ moments when you’re in no position to jot them down somewhere. It could be those last few moments before you’re going to fall asleep (you're sure you won’t remember it when you wake up); or maybe you are standing in a bus that’s really stuffed, etc. You WANT to put it down somewhere, but cannot and begin to think of ways to commit it to memory or panick.

Starting to do something – You get up and go in some direction or somewhere. Half-way there you don’t even remember why you’re going there, or what is it that you wanted to accomplish. You think some, and can’t figure it out. Never mind, you say. You either go there anyway and do something (else), or just go back; only to be later reminded of what it was. By then, whatever it was cannot be done or won’t make a difference anymore.

Original or not? – This is when you write or say something (smart, witty, interesting, etc.) and then begin to think you’re very familiar with it. Maybe you read it somewhere; or someone told you? You’re not sure whether it’s something you came up with (on your own) or is actually somebody else’s influence. Anyway you’d like to believe it was your idea all the way! ;-)

August 4, 2010

Of Points and Corners

What’s common to starting a business venture, having a child, and building a home? Sure, it involves considerable thinking and planning (and pangs even!). But something, an urge, more fundamental that accompanies it? Naming. Naamkaran. Simple. ;-)

Most of us are aware of branding and brand names. Those who’ve done their MBA would’ve had classes on it and the importance of having a good name for your product/brand. It should be simple; possibly with two syllables; it should be easy to pronounce; should not have undesirable meaning in other languages; it could possibly convey what the business stands for or indirectly indicate it… Not that I’m going to give you branding gyaan or advice over here. For all these discussions on branding, naming and the like, you’ll find that for some it’s a much more simple affair.

Think about the shops/stores in your area or town. The big ones or the small. Many, you’d notice, are more concerned about running their business and making something out of it, rather than breaking their heads over fancy (and sometimes unpronounceable and seemingly meaningless) names for their shops. That’s the Points and Corners I’m talking about. It’s pretty simple right? Affix a ‘Point’ or a ‘Corner’ at the end of what you sell/do and voila! You have a name. Cloth Point, Stitch Point, Net Point, Cyber Point, Juice Point, Laundry Point… You see! Replace all these with ‘Corner’ too. You’ve another set of names that are good to go (not that these stores will be located near a corner as such). These are the most generic suffixes you’ll see for shop names. There are more. Some of them which I happened to notice are –

  • Point, Corner, Centre - Now you begin to wonder whether geometry and naming are connected!
  • Café - Doesn’t matter that you don’t sell anything related to food there, it’ll still be called a café. Talking of which, wonder who coined the term ‘Net Café’.
  • Shop - Can't get simpler than this!
  • Shoppe - It means ‘shop’ and is pronounced that way too (not shop-i or shop-ay), but I guess it gives it a classier touch!
  • Mart – of course, made famous by Wal-Mart (you see why they took a simple name)
  • Bazaar – made famous by Big Bazaar (ditto)
  • Mall - not 'moll' (those who've sat in MRS's class know what I'm talking about!)
I’m always on the look-out for such simple generic suffixes (or prefixes even). If you happen to come across some, let me know!

August 3, 2010

Do I Know You?

Yea, I often ask this question to myself (not aloud) - when I open a social networking site (Orkut, Facebook, LinkedIn…).

The other day I happened to be checking Orkut after a while. And I felt like I was back in 2004 (the year I joined Orkut). There were close to 10 friend requests. Barring one (who happened to be an old friend from school) the others were all strangers. You might ask me - What’s the big deal? Click on ‘no’ and forget it. Yea, I have been doing that all this while. (It has been like a ritual for me ever since I joined Orkut, you know). But there are these things, which if it occurs often/constantly, begins to get on your nerves!

I cannot fathom how people go about this “friendship gathering”. I mean, how do they narrow down on their ‘targets’? How do they go about searching for one, in the first place? Do they stumble on them by accident or do they search for them by certain criteria (interests, location,…)? What makes them think that some form of compliment; or trying to sound desperate; or even resorting to obscenity will win them “friends”? Someone please tell me, I’m completely lost!! (And it would also be interesting to get views from the other side.) I wish I had saved some of the hilarious, corny, mushy, and plain idiotic messages I have had the (mis)fortune of seeing (along with the requests I got). Ah, if only I’d known that I would be blogging about it some day! :-P I’ve been complimented on my smile, my beauty (??), my snaps (two albums containing nature pics are public) and my (“interesting”) profile as such. Thank you very much, but all that ain’t gonna get you nowhere!! And what bugs me THE most is that one sentence that seems to be passed around like it’s gonna make all the difference – “I want friendship with you.”… Uggghhhhhh!!!!! There was probably a time when I would’ve talked to total strangers online, if I thought they might be interesting; maybe returned a scrap or two…but I am over it now. Doesn’t make sense, you know.

Coming to the next category of ‘Do I know you?’. These are people who you are slightly (or a little more) familiar with. Could be your batchmates (other classes or branches); juniors or seniors at school/college; friends of friends (of friends…); friends of your sibling(s); cousins or relatives (who you probably don’t come across often); neighbours (or ex-neighbours); children of your parents’ colleagues; tuition-mates; etc. etc. (This list is quite endless, isn’t it!). Now, this is the category I’m undecided about. When I get friend requests from this category, I wonder - to add or to not add… that is the confusion! It’s not like I’ve talked much to them when I had a chance to (works both ways, by the way). But they send you a request nevertheless. And some also remind you how you know them. Isn’t it rude to reject them? Or is it ok? S/he didn’t really make an effort to connect in any way when there were opportunities, so why now? Networking, some may say. But I’m a skeptic about these things. I find it a little odd, to be frank. But, having said that, I have connected well with a few people this way. So I guess it goes both ways. But you’ll find that a majority tend to be people who add you and then forget all about it. Sometimes it’s their updates that may remind you that they’re on your friends list! (And maybe even the excess of that, which may start bothering you).

The third kind of ‘Do I know you?’ are relatives. I know I did mention them above. But the thing is, you know them by a certain name, or rather pet name. You don’t know their official name. They send you a request and you wonder who it is. Recently I got such a request from my cousin. He is all of 13 years of age and (thankfully) had mentioned his pet name (the name we all know him at home by) in brackets. Otherwise… there was nothing in his profile that suggested that I know him! He had this ‘muscle man’ pic in his profile and all. I would’ve rejected that request with no second thought, deciding it was the usual bit of ‘wanting friendship’ requests (had it not been for that name in the bracket!). But yea, there is the ‘mutual friends’ you can check out in the profile too (but you’ll soon give all that up and just click yes/no right at your homepage. I mean, who has the time or inclination to check out every requestor’s profile??). And then that got me thinking on another tangent. It’s true that all this 'social networking euphoria' has worn away for me. I’m no longer excited by friend requests and scraps and all that. But still, each generation is slowly getting acquainted to this online media (at even younger ages!). Very impressionable minds those...things may go wrong (and they do). That’s why we still have accidents and deaths due to online alluring. Hmmmmmmm…

Anyway, now I have some 400+ odd friends on Orkut and some 290+ odd on Facebook. (Not bragging about numbers here. I KNOW there are people who’ve got way waay more!). And I think it’s time I ‘weeded’ them (or atleast set different levels of privacy). I plan to, when I get a net connection. No offense to anyone, but I really don’t see why they should be in my list. I know it’s a way of passing time, getting to know about all the ‘action’ in other people’s lives and all that. But one thing we must all realize is that we’re, in turn, unwittingly letting them in, into our lives as well (and maybe you’re not comfortable with it). You really don’t think twice before posting stuff on your profile (pictures, taglines/status messages, etc.), do you? Most people are harmless and probably won’t mess around with any information they happen to come across. But… can you be sure? From now on, I know that I will think twice (or more) before adding people. No point adding people for the heck of it, right?

How about you?

August 2, 2010

The Truth

No. I am not referring to the Mammootty starrer. Far from it. I am talking about THE truth.

Something I saw on TV a couple of nights back got me thinking. It was this show called ‘The Moment of Truth’, of which Season 2 is currently being aired on Star World. Whatever I saw of the promos got me really intrigued and I wanted to check it out. It definitely promised to be scandalous, what with the participants being asked “increasingly personal and embarrassing questions to receive cash prizes”. The episode I saw happened to be that of an engaged couple (a first on the show), where questions would be asked alternatively to each of them.

Prior to the show, the participants would be asked 50 (personal) questions, while they were hooked onto a polygraph and they would answer these. The polygraph, obviously, is to verify the verity of the answers, but the particpants are never told how they fared. On the show they’d choose 21 questions of these 50, and the participants get to answer them on national television. For each level (with multiple questions) they clear successfully they get a cash prize, with upto $ 500,000 at stake. A wrong answer (where what you said and what the polygraph detects does not tally) means that game’s over. The show would also have family and/or friends of the participants when the drama would play out.

That’s it? All I have to do to get that much money is to tell the truth?”, you may think. Not so easy. That’s why you’ve got to watch the show! The episode I saw was indeed interesting. Since it involved an engaged couple, that meant their very relationship was at risk. Each level was more difficult that the preceeding one. It started with questions related to money, then moved on to those related to family and friends, and finally got into specifics about the two of them. They won $100,000 and (very wisely) decided to quit the show there (and not get into any more mess than they already had!). In any case, I thought they had enough going for a fight that could last quite a while!. The End? Not quite. The game show host had another (enticing) ‘offer’ for them. Answer another question on the polygraph (backstage) and for the right answer win $ 5,000 each. They were told the question right there, and they could decide whether to give it a shot or not. The question was simple (??) enough – Do you still want to get married? (!!!!) To my surprise the woman agreed, leaving her fiance with not much of a choice. He did too. What happened? She said a ‘yes’ and it turned out to be true. And him? He said a ‘no’ (and yea, that answer turned out to be true too). They might have won some money, but then…

Anyway, there was this line the host kept repeating throughout the show that was very relevant. "You can play further rounds… but at what cost?” Sure, you can win more money. All you need to do is say the truth (the absolute truth and nothing but the truth). But is it worth it? Yea, sure… the “truly truthful” out there may sit and scorn, and pass judgement on the others – Why should someone be so fearful of telling the truth, unless they’ve done or said things that are shameful?

But the truth is... no one can be completely truthful (how ironical!). You need not have to deliberately tell a lie. Not telling a truth is akin to lying, albeit it maybe called ‘hiding’. There are things you wouldn’t tell others because it may hurt them. There are things that, if made known, will ruin your peace of mind. There are some things you are better off not knowing as certain (you’d rather not know something and have some hope, than know for certain and feel miserable). Sometimes you “know” things are a certain way and you may not like it. Even though you “know” it, it feels a lot worse if someone gives those thoughts words, and thereby confirmation. Also, things change, people change, situations change. What was true once, may not hold good now. Some things are private - your innermost thoughts (or feelings). You probably wouldn’t trust telling it to anyone. We may also choose not to be completely truthful in our self-interest. And what is 'truth' anyway? Aren't all these perceptions? When it comes to facts and figures there is an absolute truth. But what about feelings? Those are subjective enough. Hell, even we're not sure of it sometimes, so how can you judge whether it's a truth or a lie?

Come to think of it, every day we decide about these things... even in the smallest of things we do. To say or not to say; to do or not to do... that is the question. Even when our conscience prods us "to do the right thing", we ask ourselves - at what cost? Some people are willing to get some money for the fact that they'd like to tell the truth (for a change!). Others don't want the money, nor the truth. Few will tell the truth, lead honest lives (atleast as honestly as humanly possible) and don't need money to motivate them.

But eventually when we look at it... We all lie. We all hide. No one can live peacefully by baring all. That is an absolute fact. And if anybody out there claims otherwise… what more proof!

Think about it.

God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please - you can never have both. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is no Truth. There is only the truth within each moment. ~ Ramana Maharshi (attributed)

[P. S. An Indian version of the show already aired last year, Sach ka Saamna. There were plans of a simliar show to be hosted by SRK, but guess that didn't take off.]