Tag Archives: Wordplay

We are Indian, and so is our English!

Only in India will you see ‘only’ as emphasis at the end of a sentence. This is one thing that the rest of the world will never get only. We are a quirky lot that way. Seriously, you will freak out if we told you how much we look forward to freaking out. A man can tell his wife he’s stepping out to catch a fag – or that he’d like to make a quick stop at the booth for an STD – and she won’t bat an eyelid.

It’s all been a part of our growing up. We give tests at the time we should be taking them, and we spend hours mugging in their preparation. Yes, in India, mugging is something only “good students” do. Unfortunately, it won’t help them when they’re being mugged by the “bad students.” One thing I guarantee you, however: whether you’re in India or in the US, mugging will almost always be followed by an eventful passing out.

An Indian student I know was perplexed when his friend asked him for a rubber to uh, “do” what he had to do. Understandably so. It’s counter-intuitive for an Indian to imagine how a rubber could be used to do, when its purpose – as we’ve always known it – is to in fact, undo. You could well argue that a rubber used for prevention is better than one used for cure – but come on now, don’t you wish rubbers in  the US could do the magic that Indian rubbers do – erase your mistakes?

Unlike your Lady fingers, you don’t want to discover our Lady fingers in a sinfully delectable Tiramisu – unless Tiramisu to you is Gumbo. In any case, our vegetarianism isn’t just limited to Gumbos – even our jokes could be veg. or non-veg. And mind you, we take our royal heritage seriously. Fun, sleep, bathroom all come to us.

We will ask you for your goodname, and introduce ourselves as “Myself, Goodname Surname.” We will be very eager to meet you – because you Goras are much cooler than us Indians (or at least so we all believe). In fact, we will even go so far as to do jugaad, take the long-cut, travel out of station, and even bring along a tiffin for you. And in case we cannot contain our excitement for too long, we might just ask to prepone our meeting.

Well, by now you must think we have mangled the English language beyond recognition. But alas, even when it comes to doing something wrong, we don’t quite get it right – Indian English is considered one of the official and recognized dialects of English. Most, if not all terms above have legal usage. No apologies, we’re Indian – and so is our English. What to do? We are like that only!


Afterthought: I have a theory Indians invented the mathematical postfix notation “za”. As in, “two one za two; two two za four.” Unfortunately, some ignorant killjoy told me that it is actually “two ones are two; two twos are four.” I shall reserve my verdict till the fact has been verified. What a shame!

Edited 141209

If you liked this post, you could read my piece on Marathi English on the MacMillan Dictionary blog.

A Market on the Drug

What nature set out to do, the pharma companies took upon themselves to upgrade. And understandably so – it must be hard to run a business on just the finite supply of official diseases nature has to offer. Medicines to cure diseases are so 60’s, as are vitamins to prevent them. That leaves drug companies no choice but to do what they’ve become so adept at – invent diseases! Come on now, don’t even question its ethics – advertising has always invented the need for commodities one could completely do without.  Why not extend that idea to creating diseases? Say, for instance, Apulchritis” – the condition of not being stunning, drop-dead gorgeous.

I must confess, upon being told of the existence of cosmetic drugs, my ever fainéant mind was quite thankful in anticipation of the twenty potentially saved minutes. Imagine, you swallow this tiny pill, and the blush, lip color, mascara etc. magically appear on your face.  Of course, all in a perfect blend so it looks like you never quite wore it to begin with. It’s another story that this isn’t exactly what cosmetic drugs mean. In fact, they promise something even bigger. Mascara is apparently for losers – so what if one can make it appear magically on one’s lashes? The real deal lies in enhancing them [sic] lashes themselves. And while we’re at it, let us tighten up that skin as well. Because if you’re too smart to subscribe to what we (want you to) think, the least we could do is make you feel miserable for having “inadequate” lashes, or a non-20-year-old skin when you are 67.

Oh, of course it’s all tested and proven! Well, uh, kind of – did you not look at the before/after pictures that has transformed so many suckers clients? I’ve always wondered if these before/after pictures actually allude to before/after Photoshop®. But that’s for me to wonder and them to no – for them to deny, that is.

I don’t exaggerate when I say pharmas are the world’s next superheroes. They don’t let tinpot agencies like the FDA get in the way of their creativity. Oh don’t get me wrong – it’s not like the FDA is ethical uptight about such innovations. But well, their approval is required, and they are answerable to authorities themselves. So instead of bothering the poor agency with incessant appeals for drug-approval, why not invent a way to get around them? Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Neutraceuticals – you know, that “stuff”, which isn’t quite a medicine (since medicines need FDA approval), but it’s a very “necessary” dietary supplement to prevent any “disease” the drug might have cured? Yes, any disease. Even marginal weight gain.

I have always appreciated genuine creativity. I have nothing against the genius of these inventors, nor will I stand in the way of fools suckers their clientele.  But dear pharmas, while you are at it, would you humor the woes of a small blogger and come up with a solution for small things that annoy much? Here’s her wishlist:

Aspirit: Asprin’s little cousin; completely eliminates hangovers.

Pedolacrytinnitol: Shuts off the adult tympanum to the shrill whine of a child once the frequency reaches that of F#. Recommended daily use for mommies, occasional one time use for air travelers.

Macromemory Plus: Enables one to still remember the big things after making sure the tiny details are taken care of. This is for those out there who remember to pack the phone charger and camera batteries, but leave the phone/camera behind. You know who you are. (Unrelated: There might be some husbands out there who want to try this out.)

Micromemory Minus: Selectively erases any painful memories – or for that matter happy memories that might make the present painful. Yes, they did make a movie to this effect. But I assure you the pill will be better – it won’t have Jim Carrey.

Flavorridex: There are some dishes that otherwise taste phenomenal, but for the presence of one atrocious dominating flavor. Yes, that annoying bay leaf or some overwhelming cardamom in an otherwise harmless dessert. Take Flavorridex, and you may savor the delicacy with your choice of the unflavor. Available in various non-flavors.

Irony Plus: Helps reduce or eradicate sarchasm. Especially when it’s you the sarcasm is directed at.

There, that’s a start. I refer you to the imaginative readers for more gems.

March Past

march-past /mɑrtʃˌpæst, -pɑst/ n. A wake-up call to stalling tax-filers that April is almost here.

Usage: The amateur procrastinator files his taxes at March-past. The seasoned one still has the luxury of a couple weeks before parading to the post office.

Root: march-past

To the Express(ive)ly Challenged

Dear Unspecified-designation Middle Manager with an MBA,

This post is dedicated to you. I hope you’re up for some object-oriented knowledge transfermy two cents on the phrases you overuse and abuse. I have no doubt that you have the bandwidth to process it.

There was a time your ludicrous flowery language brightened my day. But at the end of the day, there’s only so much Jargon Lotto (nee Buzzword Bingo) one can enjoy. Needless to say, this calls for a paradigm shift. Going forward, we need an action plan to revisit these phrases and downsize them.

From your side, you will have to be a bit proactive and push the envelope. Perhaps you should start thinking outside the box. But on second thoughts – if you want to be original, the best practice is to just stay put and think inside the box. Every other manager, his team and their mothers-in-law are busy thinking outside it.

Let me help you understand – originality is no rocket science. For that matter, even rocket science is not really rocket science – it’s aerospace engineering. But more on that another day. At this point, we need to remain goal-oriented and result-focused. For now, I’m even willing to pretend the two are not redundant.

If you leverage your skill-set smartly, you could actually come up with a grade-A synergy. And why, if we ever find ourselves on the same page, you could even explain to me what the hell that means.

While we are at it, there’s another thing we need to transition into – we need to stop verbing nouns. Especially nouns which don’t exist. For instance, you do not incent people. You pay them. It’s extremely annoying. Let me translation that for you – it really annoyances me.

You could use any method you deem best. You could parachute in with fellow managers, do some blue sky thinking, or even resort to old-fashioned brainstorming. Be informed that the lattermost might require a brain. I do not recommend thought showers, however. It might set our readers thinking on lines that have nothing to do with the real sense of the term. Too late, looks like they already are.

I’m certain you have noticed by now how ridiculous I’ve been sounding. Well, that’s how you sound 24/7. Don’t think any more. Just go ahead and pull the trigger. Else I will. The aftermath could be discussed during post-mortem.

We’ll touch base soon for a performance measurement. Don’t ping me, I’ll ping you. If you have anything to say about this, I’ll take it offline.

Edited 031609

Present Tense

present tense /prěz’ənt tɛns/ adj. Anxious about whether the gift you plan to give your sweetheart would be appreciated enough.

Usage: Crap. It’s that You-don’t-love-me-enough Day again. Always makes me present tense; I must love her at least $100 more this year.

Root: present tense

I put this up on Twitter the other day, and Naren came up with a very nice rejoinder. I’ve added Usage, Root and the IPA pronunciation:

gift rapping /gɪft ræpɪŋ/ n. Delivering a sharp blow with the knuckles to one’s beloved’s head for a pathetic present.

Usage: Crap, it’s the usual cheap fake diamond ring again. Honey, could you come here when you have a minute? There’s some gift rapping to do and I’d like you to be present.

Root: gift wrapping


That’s Cryptic + Stringamajig. If you aren’t into cryptics but are curious, there are a lot of good sites on the web on how to solve cryptic crosswords. If it doesn’t hold your interest, there’s always Stringamajig. Of course, you could do both; nothing would delight me more.


  1. Back off in burning platform (11)
  2. Smash a lot of rhinos (5)
  3. Jealousy of minister, nothing less (4)



Below is a set of six words. You need to string them together in one whacky sentence – or a profound one, if you wish. There’s no word limit. But if you want to break it up into more sentences, you do have a word limit of 15.

Flippant, Kiwi, Apprehend, Mortgage, Bang, Harpoon.

-Verbs could be used in any tense, mood and form.

-If a word has multiple meanings / parts of speech, you are free to use any.

May the whackiest sentence win. Well, there’s no winner – at least not yet. Just have fun with words.

Edited to add: The cryptic has been solved by catcharun. The answers appear in the comments. If you still want to give it a sincere shot – and I say you should – do not read the comments just yet. If you crack it, please state the answers in your comment; I’ll gladly take your word for it. -g


hyperbloge /haɪˈpɜrbləgi/ n. A constant added to any mundane incident to give it optimal drama to blog about.

Usage: Why don’t you blog about your conversation with the pharmacist? A little hyperbloge and you should be good.

Root: hyperbole