Thursday, 30 December 2010

Life's paradoxes

A child longs to grow up quickly
For then the whole world can be fixed seamlessly
A grown up longs to turn back the clock
For then there is a whole new world to unlock

A student longs for that very first day at work
For there doing something meaningful is a perk
A working person longs to go back to student days
For there is fun and learning in lots of different ways

A small town dweller longs to move to the city
For then there can be found opportunities aplenty
A city dweller longs for a quiet small place
For then there is plenty of peace and solace

An ordinary man longs for the glittering world of fame and glory
For then of luxury, comfort and recognition there is a flurry
A famous person longs for those days of anonymity
For then solitude is really that welcome feeling of gaiety

Life is full of paradoxes
If everyone’s wishes were named boxes
It would be just a matter of making choices simple
To enter that elusive world of happiness eternal

Monday, 27 December 2010

Lo and behold, the new generation poets and linguists are here

In school, we have all learnt about great poets, their command over the language and their remarkable skill of using a very few words and yet conveying a wealth of meaning. We looked forward to the language classes where we were mesmerized by such literary geniuses as William Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge and R.L. Stevenson. The present day Wordsworth and Keats can now be spotted among the SMS generation. College kids lead this new wave of wizards who economize on words and they can be recognized by fingers flying at supersonic speeds on the keypads of their mobile phones. They don’t let the surroundings and company intimidate them. You can find them tapping away furiously on their mobile phones in restrooms, movie theaters, restaurants (where they manage to talk to their partners and also type at the same time) and public transport (with one hand holding on to support for dear life and the other hand typing away). U hv 2 c it 2 b’lieve it. Dis is a lingo dat sum hv bcum xperts @. Dey r quik n use sml vords. 2 b loyal 2 dis lingo, dey hv 2 vork @ it n pick da rite vords. Dis cums wid time. Sum vords rnt realy shrtnd by da lingo but dis is der uniq styl.

Then, there is the acronym bug that has bitten most of the IT world. This group has devised another innovative way of being sparing with words. They don’t want to waste email and virtual paper space on unnecessary words – and so you see mails where you can PFA the POC doc, commitment from colleagues that they will revert by COB or EOD depending on their work style and MOMs after meetings. BTW, these traits are IMHO unique to this group.

Use of acronyms in chat also needs a mention here. When you are going away from your machine for a while or want to avoid chatting with someone on IM, you inform the other person that you will BRB. When someone says something funny, you respond back with LOL. When you can’t go to office on some day, you inform everyone through a status message that you are WFH.

At the other end of the spectrum, the corporate world has introduced us to a new language “Management Speak”. This group possesses the unique skill of using powerful, multifaceted and convoluted sentences to convey a simple meaning. This is just so that the reader is blown away by the clever use of dynamic words and mesmerized by the powerful language. An example is the letter/mail sent to candidates informing them of their failure to get selected in job interview – “After unbiased observation of the skills you exhibited in the interviews and careful consideration by the various interview panels, we believe you bring in a very special skill set and diverse experience. However, we regret to inform you that your skill sets don’t match the requirements for our current job openings.” This art is predominantly seen in the middle and top management and the HR managers of every organization.

All those hours in school spent on learning Shakespeare and Mark Twain have not gone to waste after all. Our language teachers would be very happy that their continuous efforts to instill a deep appreciation of language have borne fruit.

For the uninitiated:
PFA – Please Find Attached, used when you are attaching a document in your mail. This was formerly the enclosures section.
POC – Proof of Concept, used for vetting out a concept to determine the feasibility of its implementation, the look before you leap concept
COB – Close of Business, generally used to postpone your deliverable to the last possible minute of the office closing hour.
EOD – End of Day, generally used when you want to postpone your deliverable to the last possible minute of the day.
BTW – By The Way, used to express your afterthoughts and generally to be a pain in the neck.
IMHO – In My Humble Opinion, used to express a strong opinion and cleverly hide behind the humility fa├žade.
BRB – Be Right Back, generally used to escape from something difficult, for example, when your boss calls you for a one-on-one meeting a.k.a. giving a dress down.
LOL – Lots of Laughs, used to express your delight at something funny
WFH – Working from Home

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Cup full of Wonders

Dressed in faded jeans and a worn red blouse
With a strong purpose I leave the house
Walking past the bakery and the bus station
I finally reach my favorite destination

Wrapped in layers of warm wool
I look around casually and feel quite cool
Sitting in a cozy corner near the warmth of a fire
For its warmth to take away the chill I aspire

Caught in the harshness of the cold breeze
I rub my hands to not let them freeze
Cutting through the throng trying to warm up
There comes the man with a steaming cup

With a nod and a smile, he walks away
Taking in the sweet aroma, I gently lift it from the tray
Drinking the first sip and slowly savoring the taste
I promise myself not to finish it in haste

Feeling the warm liquid trickling down my throat
In a cloud of happiness and optimism I float
Enjoying the last sip, courage and strength I get
To take on the world, I am now all set

Monday, 20 December 2010

What you see is what you get

Back in my childhood days in the eighties, Television was a luxury only the rich could afford. Good quality TVs were generally imported from Singapore which was the electronics haven in those days. Singapore flight passengers could be seen, surrounded by a minimum of 4-5 huge boxes, standing in long queues to clear customs at the airport. There were also the Desi brands – the Dyanoras and the Solidaires that were owned by people who couldn’t afford a trip to Singapore to get a international brand TV.

In my small hometown, there were only two TVs for the entire neighborhood and the Indian government controlled Doordarshan was the emperor of the TV world. TV antennas would literally reach the sky. We would be especially friendly with the kids from these houses in order to wheedle an invitation to watch some TV. Returning home from school, I would dump my school bag on the bed, quickly change out of the school uniform, drink the dreaded milk and gathering all other friends, run to meet my “TV friend” in the pretext of asking her to join us to play “Gilli-danda” or “Am I right?”. If we were lucky, we would get a glimpse of some interesting program on TV that would be switched on at all times in her house. Programs were telecast only for some part of the day. Chitrahaar – a half hour Hindi movie song program, Rangoli – theme based old Hindi movie songs, Quiz Time with the stylish Siddharth Basu and children’s programs like Street Hawk were my favorites. Picture and sound clarity were complete unknowns. We played guessing games on the song that was playing in Chitrahaar, the actors who were in that movie scene and India’s cricket score. When there was a major event, there would be a special TV telecast which meant more TV time. I remember going to my friend’s place to watch the last rites of singer Mohammed Rafi and a special program featuring his hit songs. I also distinctly remember going to my cousin’s friend’s place (we would dig up some link to get invited) to watch the live telecast of the last rites of Indira Gandhi.

We finally got a TV at home (bought from Singapore when we visited our uncle). Now, I could watch TV at home without having to come up with silly excuses to visit my friend. I liked some of the programs on TV but wasn’t a movie addict like all of my friends. Most of the movies that were telecast had way too much drama, crying and dramatic music for my liking. In the hope of seeing at least one of my friends outside their homes so we could play, I would go out only to be greeted by unusually quiet streets with hardly a soul venturing out of their house. The frequent power cuts and transmission problems were my saviors. I would pray for one of these, so that the kids would come out of their houses and we could have some fun.

Although power cuts and transmission interruptions were welcome during movie times, I cursed them at other times. In the middle of an interesting children’s program, the “Sorry for the Interruption” and “Rukhavat Ke Liye Khed Hain” message beaming continuously on a rainbow stripes background and a constant metallic squeaky noise was the most hated of all TV messages. A slight change in color of the background image or the squeaky noise would raise our hopes that transmission was back only to be dashed most of the times. To add to our woes, death of eminent personalities meant no TV programs on the mourning days. Although schools would declare a holiday, there was no TV to keep us entertained. The 9 O’ clock Hindi news closely followed by the English news were much awaited by the men in the family. Each of us had our favorite Hindi and English news readers – the dashing Uday Bir Saran Das, the smart and chic Neeti Raveendran and Gitanjali Iyer, the serious looking Salma Sultana, the Hindi newsreader with arched eyebrows (I forget her name). There was also the most famous mythological TV program of all times – Ramayan. Those days, there were no TRPs but I am pretty sure that none of the current programs has come anywhere close to the kind of viewership commanded by Ramayan.

Oh, I forgot to mention the best part – there was no fight over which program to watch as we had no choice. Those were the good old days of Doordarshan. What we saw was what we got.