Thursday, April 29, 2010


My maid, who lives with us, often mispronounces English words. With the unexpected effect of hitting the nail on the head!

For instance, she says "China" instead of "channel" (her favourite TV 'China' being STAR PLUS, with its plethora of primetime tearjerking soaps). Maybe she's just being prophetic, CHANNELS in India are about the only thing that are not being MADE IN CHINA at the moment.

She also says "Anyplane" instead of "aeroplane". Again, it is an insightful comment on the aviation sector, especially since any number of airlines are now fighting it out for their piece of the sky.

But the one I just love is "TOPIC JAM" instead of "TRAFFIC JAM". It is almost poetic in its possibilities. Check this out:

Elder daughter sitting in front of a pile of books right before exams, wondering where to begin. TOPIC JAM.

Packed Staffroom at our college. Teachers talking in loud voices across the room at cross-purposes, everybody unable to hear anybody else. TOPIC JAM.

Fourth lecture after recess. Poor students yawning away at my Communications class, head already full of Accounts and Economics and Maths. TOPIC JAM.

Me racking my brains, stumped and struggling to come up with new names/lines for pens/financial services/just-about-anything for clients who seem to be insufferingly insatiable. TOPIC JAM.

Newspapers refusing to budge beyond the misadventures and misdemeanours and misappropriations of Lalit Modi, even though the IPL is history. TOPIC JAM.

Me gazing at "still working"/"loading"/"refreshing" monitor, cursing slow Internet traffic speed. TOPIC JAM.

Lovely phrase, is it not?

Monday, April 12, 2010


The Copy-Kitten (my younger daughter) is a bold little mite. She tries her loudest best to argue the pants off people ten times her size (and age), and her voice is the 'most-heard' (top-of-the-volume-charts) in the playground.

But two things scare her, especially at night. Especially when she's in her bed listening to her routine bedtime story, and she wants to go to the drawing room to get a new book. So I have to suspend my story-telling and accompany her - small hand gripped tightly in mine - to the bookshelves to pick out another book.

She's scared of Wee Willie Winky. You know, the fairy fella who looks in at windows and peeps through the locks, to see whether all the children are in bed by "eight o' clock" (That's for Brits, I've modified it to 11 o' clock). The Copy Kitten calls him Winky Willie and gets all round-eyed when the curtains blow in the night-time breeze. It just might be Winky Willie, she claims in a hushed voice.

But she is re-assured by my BIG-ness (age-wise and size-wise). From the pictures of the puny, pointy-eared Winky Willie in nursery rhyme books, she has deduced that her Maa will be more than a match for him.

What scares her more are AATANKWADIs (Terrorists - she pronounces the word in the Hindi way). Whenever there are noises of crackers bursting too loudly, she'll get all worried and plaintively ask whether there are Aatankwadis around. What do they do? Where do they come from? How can we save ourselves if they do come? How will we fight them? How will the police fight them? ....

I don't know where she learnt about terrorism. I don't know when and where terrorists will strike. And this not knowing makes my reassurances rather unconvincing, at least to myself.

The Winky Willies of fiction I can combat. But as for the aatankwadis, I feel as helpless as any four-year old. And angry, at this spoiling of innocence that is the legacy of our terror-riven world.