SMS wise!

Being of the 60s vintage I along with many others like me have the unique privilege of exposure to relatively uncomplicated simple communications methods and modern state of the art means. I am referring to ‘snail mail’ with blue inlands, telegrams, money orders and long distance phone calls made from post offices all courtesy good old Post and Telegraph department. Many today’s youth will probably not know what the last two even mean!

I was introduced to a unique feature ‘SMS’ with my first cell phone. It seemed rather like an instantaneous wireless letter. But I soon realized the catch. Every message had an upper limit on the number of characters (150 by my service provider). Exceed it and I was charged for 2 or 3 or more depending on how eloquent I was! Before I realized it I was paying exorbitant mobile bills without talking much.

That’s when I further explored this wonder world. With plenty of help from my younger friends, I soon got the hang of SMS lingo. By simply removing all vowels from my text, I could enter more words and send more information (that should be info)! One can also maximize characters by just removing spaces between words. English teachers must shudder at this language, which bears a pale resemblance to our British legacy. All unnecessary alphabets were simply done away with. Forget long words, even short ones were further shortened as in you became u and ok became k. Then there were these emoticons, which so beautifully conveyed all I felt.

Today my inbox is full of web links, ring tones, picture messages, jokes, news alerts, cricket score and stock updates, advertisements etc, some by choice but mostly unwanted. TV channels and newspaers often conduct polls and audience opinion through SMS. The tool is so powerful that it can have political and criminal implications.

I am told that the first ‘text message only’ book about a business executive who travels throughout Europe and India has been published by a Finnish author this year. My search revealed the existance of the world’s ‘first transl8it! dxNRE & glosRE’ (dictionary & glossary) , a comprehensive SMS and text lingo book. There is also a website dedicated to this new language!

This has spawned a specialised message writing career for those not wanting the well beaten track.. There are speed typing contests for SMS and but getting maximum info into 150 characters can also be a great challenge. Relevant organisers must think about this one!

Need I + NEtng? wot r u w8tng 4? git out yor fone & stA n tuch w yor fRnds & foes. snd DIS msg 2 10 prsnz 2 brng gud luk 2 U & me. 🙂 msgN.CU L8R.

Phew! And that’s less than 150 characters!

My essay on this new communication technique first appeared at :


Nani’s nuska for dry cough

Winter or summer weather is most unpredictable these days. It often gives rise to nagging dry cough in children as well as adults. Pollution only adds to the woes . Here is formula handed down my family that I have found extremely effective. Obviously it is not a substitute for a visit to a doctor or medications. Those allergic to any ingredients, please use discretion.

Roast 10 whole cloves on a gas flame using tongs.

Similarly roast 10 whole cardamoms.

When cool, pound the two together to a fine powder.

Mix in about 4 tsp of honey. Honey made from ‘jambhool’ is most effective, else any variety will do.

The sweet n spicy potion is ready! Store in a tightly closed jar.

Consume 1/8 tsp at a time, three times a day.



Thanks all of you for participating in our last poll . 75% of the viewers thought that India could be a superpower in five years time. That’s great! Its wonderful to see that we are not getting bogged down by political bickering and public apathy…

We now have another poll.
Select what you think the first picture on the column on the right is….
I shall post the correct answer on 16 October 2007. Hint: the picture relates to something that’s a part of our daily lives and yet we don’t realise!

So be sure to check back here two weeks later!


Citizen Journalists

The advent of electronic media has revolutionised the manner in which information or news is disseminated. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to sources for news- there is a plethora of languages, business and investigative channels to choose from. This is not counting our regular entertainment channels!

All media now have the added feature called ‘citizen journalist’. The word play changes depending on the publishing house but the aim is the same, getting citizens to participate. The aim apparently is to bring out hidden aspects in society both good and bad. So does that mean we are better informed than before? Do we really know more about all strata of our society? That we can find inspiration in activities of someone besides the regular ‘high flier’ achievers?

Individuals who permit themselves to be featured for an article are people from everyday walks of life who are obviously are doing something that others find inspiring. However most of such citizen contributions too are subject to various editor ‘constraints’! And I am not referring to grammatical errors or a badly presented article. Some have even been known to back track on ideas discussed and approved ideas. IS this ethical journalism?

But then, the times when pen was mightier than the sword are long over. The movie ‘Page 3’ is symbolic of the rot in our system. Many papers are known to be driven by sales and advertising goals with articles being put in to fill spaces!

Where does that leave people whose achievements need to be highlighted? Again we can take advantage of technological developments, I am referring to the Internet ofcourse. Blogging offers us complete freedom to present our thoughts our ideas, our inspiration to the world. What’s better is we get comments and can actually make the article come alive with virtual discussions. Agreed that the reach of a blog may definitely not be as wide as that of an established house but then once read, the paper is consigned to the trashcan. Virtual archives allow the piece to be read again and again and again.

So then should we stop being ‘citizen journalists’? Should we stop taking an interest in our society if there is no one to transmit our message?

No. We must never give up. There are always alternatives. It is just a question of looking for them. Blogging is only one option. Speaking about the idea at social get-togethers is one more way of informally spreading our message. Join discussion forums and groups both real and virtual. So do not depend on messengers. Become one yourself.



Our state was exactly like that of a fish out of water on the day we were cut off from the World Wide Web. Being married to a fighter pilot meant living in remote areas of India. Places where even a journey by air involved 2 or three flight changes, clear and instant STD connections were something to rejoice, newspapers delivered to us were anywhere between 1-3 days old (you see it depended on the arrival of the flights) and so on and so forth. However we happily accepted all these and even more difficulties without any cribs.

After settling down in Pune and we have voraciously accepted all that modern technology and economic progress has to offer. I am referring to malls, mobile phones, multiplexes, specialty food hotels and most of all, the Internet. Merely having a fast processor and a 80GB hard disk was not enough any more. We wanted always on, fast and cheap connections to the cyber world. This magical tool has a tremendous control on our lives.

We had made the transition from dial up to broadband connectivity and were satisfied with the new offering. Disaster struck on Thursday afternoon when my husband was unable to connect to the cyber world. Now this does happen once in a while and he dismissed it as such preferring to enjoy his restorative afternoon cuppa listening to music. Another attempt half an hour later gave similar results. There was some restlessness but we were in a generous mood and were hopeful of the problem sorting itself out. He caught up with his afternoon sleep, a time usually taken up with watching stock market closing, reading various news, message boards, and tracking various interests, all on the Internet of course. Sleep seemed such a waste of time when there was so much to learn.

By 5. 30 PM, we still remained cut off. Now I too had joined the worry group since it was my time on the computer. I usually checked my mail, browsed through health and sci-fi pages of my favourite news channel website and chatted with relatives abroad. We had yet to graduate to the web cam but it was high on our list of wants!! We had already made a couple of complaints to customer care. Just then it began to rain.

We rationalized by saying the water must have got into the cables somewhere. There was no reason for rain in November and we blamed just about every body for it- the polluted environment, global warming, the PMC even the chief minister!! To top it all, the lights went off. I was actually glad, since now we could not use the PC anyway. These made us even more restless since we could neither read or write now. (You see we have not installed an inverter in memory of our stay in Assam where we have lived without power for 3 days at a stretch.)

Instead we decided to go out for a drive. The traffic was more than usually undisciplined since the signals were not functioning! Just reemphasized my husband’s arguments for a SOHO (small office, home office). We returned by 10 PM. Luckily power supply was restored and we made a beeline for the PC. Still no luck.

Something was really wrong. My husband wrote down his blog posts and read up a book he had downloaded from the net on the comp. I used the time to read “The Google Story” by David Vise. Some more calls to customer care gave us the standard call center replies, which was very frustrating. We caught up with televisions soaps, which was staple viewing not too long ago. There Bahu had become the Saas, B&B (Bold and Beautiful) was more like H&H (haggard and hopeless) and Friends was still fun in its nth rerun! We called it a day with the hope that our life would be normal the next day.

As I made our morning tea there was still bad news. No Internet. There was so much to check up on- western markets had closed and those in the east were just opening. We caught up with all the days’ newspapers, reading each one from end to end after a really long time. Then it was the turn of magazines and catching up with other administrative jobs. It was surprising that I still found interesting things in the papers despite surfing so widely daily. The joy of reading printed words (generally referred to as ‘hard copy’) is great and cannot be compared to reading on the monitor. Not dependant on power and can be transported everywhere. Trivial things became major irritants as decibel levels rose at home. We tried to call the local official- very conveniently (for him) his phone was switched off. I guess he must have had several calls from people like us! We took heart that many others also remained cut off from the World Wide Web!

At the gym, my thoughts in between every set were of modems, overhead/underground cables, wireless connectivity and latest ‘mashup’ technology (which I read of the day before in the newspaper!). There, I got a call saying that the problem had been rectified. A call home indicated otherwise. We contemplated going to the local office with a dharna! It was close to noon and we still remained cut off. It was the last day to pay some of our bills, how were we to do it now? I had to finalize travel plans for our holiday. This was becoming intolerable. We made an attempt with our old dial up and took care of the urgent points. This was an expensive service so we needed our broadband. We got through the service provider and gave him quite an earful. He tried to pacify us and we had really no choice but to wait. The verbal outburst did help to relieve the stress though!

Afternoon turned towards evening and we had become fatalistic by now. I debated going to the local net café, to get my now overdue dose of virtual adrenalin! That’s when we were able to log on! Hurray!! We were on the information highway once again. It was only 24 hours but it seemed like so much more and each of us fought for time on the comp.

This made me realize how easily we had traded our recreational time for time on the Internet! I decided to go ahead with plans made the earlier day of getting out the carom board, squash rackets and Uno cards! Just like we must beware of smoking, alcohol, tobacco addiction, we must be alert for yet another potential culprit. Withdrawal symptoms set in very fast leading to anger, frustration, sleeplessness and depression.
Take time out; rediscover simple joys!

This experience of ours was first printed in The Statesman, Kolkata on 04 Mar 2007


Hail India

Lord Ganesha has brought all round cheer to our nation this year.
We have won the 20 20 Cup.
Sensex has scaled its all time high.
The rupee too is becoming stronger.

Wonderful. Lets all celebrate.
But how does it make a difference to my daily life?
Will my monthly expenditure reduce?
Will the traffic reduce?

Yes probably to the first, but only over a period of time.
Nah! Even with petrol at over 50 rupees a litre there are hundreds of new vehicles coming on roads every day. We cannot dream of walking a few hundred metres to save petrol. And car pools? How can we show off our own vehicles then?

Still, its good for our morale!
Till then Hail India! Long live the young men in blue! Long live the bulls!


Home managers

My take on the job of housewife has been selected on the site
None of us has any training for this and those who have jobs are expected to manage both fronts- home and office. This is a huge challenge that none of us realise yet meet it very unconsciously but effectively.

Newfangled terms coined to replace the word ‘housewife’ truly encompass the gist of the job.

Click here to read more:


Its our turn now…

This was an essay written by my daughter about 8 years ago and the words still carry an important message hence the inclusion.

Nana , Nani , Dadi Dada are all words which bring feelings of love , wisdom and security in us . We always love to spend time with our grandparents , listen to them narrate their experiences and share our joys and sorrows with them. Their influence on our lives and character will stay for a long time.

As we grow older we become more and more involved with our studies and friends and may not be able to sped as much time as before with them. They too have to face various problems associated with old age. At such a time we must make it a point to be there for them. There are some unfortunate grandparents who do have their families and have to live in an old peoples home . If we can go and spend some time regularly with such senior citizens then we will surely be able to bring some joy to their lives.

Here are a few things that we can do for and with our grandparents:

1. Walk and talk a lot with them.
2. Run minor errands for them.
3. Rearrange their room keeping medicines ,water ,torch etc at arms length from the bed.
4. Write letters or help with bank work.
5. Make a bulletin board to pin up things to remember.
6. Ask them to take up your home work – not do it!!
7. Play indoor games or cards with them.
8. Iron clothes for them.

These are just a few things that I have thought of. I’m sure you can think of many more to show your grandparents how special they are to you.

Its our turn to be there for our parents and grandparents as they grow old. However do leave the choice of the kind of help needed to them.


Ganesha in our Lives

The Ganesha festival is currently being celebrated all over the country albeit with some minor regional differences. The entire period of 10 odd days is filled with intense joy and happiness. In Maharashtra, the cities dress up and light up to transform themselves almost into a fairyland.

Here is popular sms doing the rounds currently:
Lord Ganapati says, “Care for your head. Wear a Helmet. Not everyone gets a replacement like me!”

All those going around without one, do you get the point?


Puneri Tadka!

Just read an article in the newspaper depicting idiosyncrasies of Puneri’s.
Here is my own take:

Try praising any individual to any true Puneite and one always gets a derisive response, “Oh him” (or her as the case maybe), “I know him, he was in my school and always got the poorest marks” or some other dark aspect in the person’s life he would surely not want to include in his resume!

Shopping at any of Marathi shops reveals the ‘Take it or leave it’ attitude of salespersons. Try asking for something else but you may as well have asked for the moon. “Do you want this or not?” is a question you have to answer first. Some veterans have even been known to tell customers to try elsewhere!

The Peshwa’s have long gone but their traditions continue. The afternoon siesta is a must for shops so if you need something urgently after 1 PM then just too bad. You’ll have to wait till 4.30 PM before the shop reopens. No signs of any market progress here methinks!

No article about Pune can be complete without any reference to the rickshaws! Brangelina too could not resist a ride in one of these famed vehicles! But very sensibly they made sure to travel at daytime. Try asking for a ride after 8PM and every ricksha driver worth his salt will refuse a potential customer if it means having to go in a direction opposite to where he lives. Yet the same driver in his avatar as ‘rickshawale kaka’ who ferries school children is the most loveable and dependable person. I have personally seen many treating their group of kids to ice creams or cake on the final day of school academic years! Jekyll and Hyde?

Pune is soon becoming famous for its eating joints, top of the line, street side fare and everything in between, all full up with a long queue outside waiting for their turn at the gastronomic delights. Make a trip to the vegetable market and you will find hardly find space to put in a foot, everyone apparently stocking up for unforeseen difficulties! There are several providers who deliver freshly chopped vegetables straight to your doorsteps. Lets not forget the ubiquitous dabbawalas. In short food in all forms raw to cooked is brisk business here. My only question, in the above scenario how much food does an average Puneri really consume? No wonder the tekdi’s and yoga groups are a big hit here!

That’s sizzling Pune for you, love it or leave it!