Absolute nothingness

Why WordPress is not so bad – (an actual error message when I was trying to refresh the Dashboard)

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Why Windows is crazy – (an actual error message when I was just sitting in front of the laptop that runs on Windows XP)

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And here’s something for you since I’m out of ideas for today. Give me a witty Calvinesque one-liner for the picture below –

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What do you get out of it? In short, nothing. C’mon, be a sport, let your imaginations run wild. Who knows, you could be the next Bill Watterson!

In other news, Prose and Verse is finally updated after God knows how long!

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Open Letter

Dear Losers Users of the English Language,

Greetings, from the humble Apostrophe. Hope this letter finds you in good linguistic health.

I’m writing this to bring to your attention the gross injustice and pain that you’re causing me by misusing me in your written communications, not to mention sheer negligence when you skip writing me in a fit of laziness and/or ignorance.

Let me give you some background on my antecedants.

I’m a punctuation mark. I look like a single quotation mark, but that’s exactly where the similarity ends. I’m used under two broad conditions –

1. When you’re so lazy that you omit writing down certain letters. Example, don’t (where you omitted the ‘o’ of ‘not’), you’re (where you omitted the ‘a’ of ‘are’) and the likes.

2. When you want to talk about things you own, or in clearer terms, possess. Example, ‘This is John’s umbrella’ – I denote that the umbrella belongs to John.

Now to the things that cause me untold agony. It seems that a lot of you have absolutely no idea how and when to use me. Or more specifically, when not to use me. See, I’m a beautiful punctuation mark bringing a lot of meaning into your otherwise mundane words and I would expect atleast a cursory knowledge of my usage before you take it upon yourself to murder English grammar in cold blood with your humungous ignorance.

You do not use me for denoting a plural. No, you don’t. If you’re eating bananas, its “bananas” you should be writing, not “banana’s”!

You do not use me with possessive pronouns – like “hers”, “his”, “yours”, “its”. Especially “its”! The only time you use me as “it’s” is when you’re leaving out the “i” of “is” in “it is”. Capiche?

You do not use me with an “s” when the noun you’re referring to is already plural. There are no “kings’s crowns”, it’s just “kings’ crowns”.

And for the umpteenth time, “you’re” is not the same as “your”. If you do not realize that, you have no business conversing in English, please revert to using sign language, which honestly suits you best.

These are just some of the cases I have mentioned here. For more information, please take some time to read through the umpteen sites that have been opened in my name (bless their souls!), for my correct usage.

If you think I’m being unduly rude in this matter, please understand that it’s because of ages of gross misuse perpetrated by you and your fellow people and I’ve now officially run out of patience and hence am completely justified in using the language I deem fit to address you.

I do hope you appreciate my importance in the written language. If this kind of misuse does not stop, there will come a day when my friends and I will become extinct from this beautiful language and you all would have evolved backwards into using sign language (or maybe just grunts and groans like a regular troll) and drawing pictures on caves.

Thank you for your time and patience, and hope to see you soon in your writings – ofcourse, in the right place, for the right purpose!

Punctuationally yours,
apostrophe.png
(Signed: Apostrophe)

What’s up, Doc?

I had an argument with a friend the other day. On doctors and the etiquette one has to maintain when speaking to one. My friend was of the very fierce opinion that one should not question a doctor. My first response was something on the lines of ‘What the..’. And so, she and I thought we should ask a bigger audience on what’s the ok and not-so-ok things to ask (or not to ask?) a doctor.

Let me give you her argument and mine – obviously, mine will sound more convincing since this is my blog and she’s lazy enough never to have had one.

I believe in questioning. Not interrogating or cross-questioning, mind you, just pure questions to know what the heck is the problem with my health. One of the banes of being an educated person is that one will find it hard to accept something eyes closed. If I’m being prescribed a certain medicine, I’d like to know why and how it will cure me. If I’m being put on an antibiotic course for a common cold, I’d like to know why. Because it’s my body and my health that’s in the picture.

And I hate assumptions. If the doctor doesn’t say anything about a diet restriction, I cannot assume that I can eat normally. If the doctor doesn’t mention the side effects of a certain medicine or procedure, I cannot assume there won’t be any. I ask. I ask if I need to avoid certain foods or if I should be taking a painkiller. And for the world of me, I don’t see anything wrong with it!

My friend disagrees completely. She thinks that every question I ask of the doctor reflects my inability to accept the doctor, gives an impression that I don’t trust the doctor! After the ususal ‘Oh my God’ and ‘What the hell is wrong with you? How can you think that?’, I tried explaining to her that one can never never never assume anything when it comes to medical treatments. But no, it’s not like that apparently. If the doctor doesnt voluntarily (I repeat, VOLUNTARILY) give you any information, you have no right to ask about it. If you don’t have to know, the doctor won’t tell you. If the doctor tells you something, that’s all you know and all you need to know. To me, that’s absurd!

Her thumb rule? No questions to the doctor and speak only when you’re spoken to. She even went one step further and said that a doctor has every right to be irritated with me if I ask too many questions!! Again, WTH?!

So, blog-readers, help us out. Please to let us know how you deal with your doctors. Does it show lack of trust if I ask my doctor questions regarding my treatment? Is it ok to make assumptions if the doctor doesn’t give me the information upfront? And if there’s a doctor reading this, does it irk you when patients ask you questions about treatments and medicines? How much information is a patient entitled to regarding his/her treatment?

Let me know you opinions in the comment space, please!

Words on paper

What do the following have in common?

. A fundamentalist in Pakistan
. A girl on an island
. A girl living amid windy poplars
. A sex worker in South India
. A doomed civilization
. A tree and a sleeping woman
. Snow in a Turkish city

If you guessed it right, bravo! may you be blessed with that which is dearest to your heart.

And if you didn’t, well, they’re all on my bookshelf, people! Every single one of them. I’ve set right the book draught that had afflicted my household, with no new covers in over a month. And a spouse, who has finally resigned to the fact that his wifey is a leeeetle touched in the head when it comes to books, helps a helluva lot. This festive season, instead of jewellery and new dresses, I went for books. And I do not regret it one bit.

Back to the titles. I’ve finally bought Mohsin Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist – it was pending for so long, it actually started to hurt at some point. It’s still wrapped in its original cellophane and I’m having second thoughts about unwrapping it – quite like a gift wrapped Christmas present that begs to be opened, but once opened the surprise of what’s inside is lost. I’ve decided to let it be for the time being, to enjoy the vision of an unopnened book on my bookshelf, a promise of something interesting even if my entire life decided to get boring one fine day. It’s like having a handy bag for an earthquake or a flood with basic necessities for survival.

Reading the PDF format of a book is not quite like reading the real thing – so I bought the next two installments of L.M.Montogomery’s Anne series – Anne of the Island and Anne of Windy Poplars. The print and the binding is a lot like those non-detailed books we used to have in junior school and the memories it brings back are amazing (Nicholas Nickleby, Tom Sawyer, remember?). Can’t wait to catch up with Anne!

‘The Autobiography of a Sex Worker’, by Nalini Jameela was another title I wanted to check out. Apart from the reviews I read, the idea itself was very challenging – the life of a sex worker, that too an autobiography. We’ve seen a lot of these on TV, yes, but reading a book I’m guessing would bring a bit more of a perspective on these persecuted section of society. So, let me see how this one goes (shouldn’t take long, given the book is pretty light compared to most).

I bought my first Bach (‘Curious Lives’). Enough said, eh? If you feel I should’ve checked out the Jonathan Livingston Seagull series first, please do drop a line – for some books, there’s a method to the reading and I don’t want to mess up the experience for myself.

You read Murakami once, rest assured you will go back for more. If the cost doesn’t make you hesitate (the most expensive one in Crosswords was around 490 bucks), you do find a lot of titles these days. Or maybe the titles were always there and I never noticed it! ‘Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman‘ is a collection of his short stories and I must say, I’m taken – hook, line and sinker! This is the one I’ve started with and the more I read, the more ways I find of enjoying Murakami – as a reader, as someone who dreams of writing and of late, as a blogger!

The most recent author I’ve discovered (for myself, ofcourse!) is Orhan Pamuk. ‘My name is Red‘ was an awesome joyride, with all the elements one looks for in a book – mystery, lots of history and ofcourse, the story. So when I saw four copies of a pristine cover reading ‘Snow’ stacked up in the bookstore, I couldn’t resist. ‘Snow‘ is also set in Istanbul and that’s the only thing I know about it till now. If ‘My name is Red’ is anything to go by, I think I’ll enjoy this one too. Pamuk’s latest release is ‘Other Colors‘, a collection of stories and essays, but I’m keeping that for another day at the bookshop (read: so I can remain in my house and not get kicked out).

Quick question now: what the heck am I doing, sitting here in front of my laptop when I have unread books in the house?!

Yeah, you’re right – this doesn’t help my blog one bit. But looks like one does not care. One has books, you see. So one need not care. About anything. Not even a Monday!

To write or not to write

Something’s wrong with me.

There, I said it. A lot of you must have been thinking the same ever since you set mouse on my blog, I know. But why am I realizing it so late? Because November 8th was my blog’s second birthday and I knowingly missed it because I was too lazy to write anything up. Not that I’m tired of milestones (definitely not that, ‘coz I so totally am not!), but something’s happening around me that just doesn’t want me to write. So what do I do? Analyze what makes me write and what makes me feel like tearing up this blog if I could –

What makes me write –

– Impending deadlines at work which will cost me my job if I slipped
– Lots of work at home which needs to be taken care of
– Absolutely nothing interesting happening around me
– Lack of motivation
– A broadband connection that refuses to work when most needed
– When there is no electricity at home and the emergency lamp doesn’t work
– When there is no electricity at home, the emergency lamp doesn’t work, I’m out of candles and the laptop’s battery is dying

What makes me not write –

– No or less work at work
– No or less work at home
– Basically just lots of free time on my hands
– Things happen, like blog birthdays and Diwali
– Friends, colleagues and blog-readers ‘requesting’ me to write
– I sit in front of the laptop, notepad open, fingers poised to type out my magnum opus
– New movies are released which I would love to rip apart without even seeing just because it has Shahrukh Khan looking like an 80yr old man with a 6 pack abs.

See what I mean? Now do I dare give you all false hopes that I will scribble something less nonsensical next time?

Something’s wrong with me.

P.S: Other Me says ‘Hey!’. Other Me also says if I don’t write anything on Prose and Verse soon, she’ll kick my backside to oblivion and take over my life completely. I have to admit, I’m tempted to have someone takeover my life.

P.P.S: Happy Second Birthday, Thought Process! Wish you many more such milestons, and may you bring lots of fame and money to your blog author.

Her side of the story

The boredom was seeping into her very bones. She had time to kill, but the creative being that she was, she couldn’t think of a novel way to kill. The idiot box was no good, neither was the crummy-stupid-Im-a-laptop-but-Im-pretty-useless box. She saw the world moving by, the joyous multitude of words and sentences flowing on their blogs and she felt a vague emptiness in her own. Like an old piece of newspaper, left to the elements, yellowing paper with letters fading and edges tearing. Answering her friends and colleagues was becoming an ache – ‘No, I haven’t updated it in a month.’, ‘Yeah, I know I should. But I don’t get time!’. After a point, the lies came easily enough. Time was not a problem, it never was and it never will be. But such is the thing called life where priorities change and a little bit of virtual space marked with a URL gets pushed down to the last in favor of jobs, household work and grocery shopping.

Then in a moment of absolute fed-up-ness, she decided enough was enough. She opened her trusted notepad and let her fingers do the talking. She was going to give no excuses, no ‘Im back for good and will stay around forever’ announcements that she might have to renege on – just the plain truth. Which was? That she was too busy to set her mind free. That she couldn’t afford a wandering meandering creative mind when there was logical work to do. That her she missed the only recreation she truly enjoyed and she hoped she didn’t have to stop doing it, even for a little while. That she hoped her readers would understand (like they’ve done a million times already).

Back to regular progamming, folks! 🙂

It’s crazier than I thought, this thing about bringing a blog back to life. I had to pause two minutes at the login console of WordPress because I couldn’t remember my password. And then another 2 minutes trying to figure out where to post from. And then the endless wondering if someone would actually drop by (tough chance, since I’m presumed dead these days). But you know what? It’s all worth it.

I’m completely out of interesting things to write about, not to mention crib, complain, fret and rant about. The Pakistan Emergency thing’s been beaten to death and I’m not into politics anyway. I haven’t been on any vacations, haven’t had strange people come over and ask me if I’m Aishwarya Rai (that’s interesting, isn’t it?), haven’t been to any wedding or birthday party to pass comments on the people and their choice of clothes – nothing! Absolutely nothing. So what’s the next best thing to write about? Useless stuff, ofcourse. So here goes…

(This is something that’s been rotting in my drafts folder for quite some time now. Rotten stuff stink. Beware.)

Words never stop amazing me. A colleague who knows this pinged me this little Wiki bit on one of my favorite topics – Word Play!

Called ‘Homophonous Phrases’, this is a classic example of the beauty of this thing called Language. Forget highrises, bridges over oceans and sending Man to the Moon, one of the truest proofs for the evolution of mankind can be found in languages.

I read recently that the pace of language extinction exceeds the pace of species extinction. Can you imagine that? Extinction! Somehow I’m not surprised because I could have my own part to play in this. The Telugu I speak/understand is probably 1/10th of what my Grandma can. What she knows and understands will be a fraction of what her ancestors knew! It’s evident, isn’t it? Caught in this mad rush called life, we’re slowly losing our very ability to be diverse in our tongues. 50 or 100 years from now, we would talk about most languages the way we talk today about Sanskrit or Latin – used more ceremoniously than colloqially.

Well, what can we do about the whole thing? Maybe make an effort once in a while to learn a little bit more of our respective mother tongues and delay their extinction, if not prevent it altogether. Reminds me of a one minute film by Vijay Prabhakaran (which I first read about here) which portrayed this in a painfully beautiful way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVH1vufsSoI

What hit home hardest was these lines – “Languages die the way many people do at home, in silence, attended by loved ones straining to make idle conversation” (Jack Hitt, NYT)

   

  
Glad I’m back or not? Hmmm?