It was quite a sight. A sight that is not a regular one at that. You can see a parade of cars. A convoy of jeeps. A bevvy of bikes. But then, what do you do when you are walking down a road and you see a set of donkeys walking by. In big city Mumbai!
First the eyebrows arch. Then seeing the number, the mouth goes open. But the sight of them all being deployed to carry construction material gets the mouth to stay open. 
As an city dweller who has been part of the technology revolution, the mobile phone is phished out from the pocket and a couple of snaps result. The sight of construction workmen with harnesses, helmets walking in near formation with a set of donkeys was something that the camera could barely manage to capture. 
Growing up in a smaller city, the sight of donkeys carrying sack loads of clothes to the laundry was common.  These days the donkeys with four legs are a rarity. 
As the donkeys walk by, there are a set of people having the tea break from work. Fashionable. Young. Creative folks, perhaps. At the local tea stall.  They sit and watch the donkeys pass.  They watch the donkeys unmindful of the pair of eyes that are watching them watch the donkeys. Erudite people. One of them asks, with a pronounced drag of a half done cigarette. “What is the collective noun for donkeys”?
A discussion ensues. Pride. Convocation. Army. It continues. They laugh. Giggle. One of them offers to look up Google. But then, the cigarette is done. Last  droplets of tea to wash down the conversation flows down their alimentary canals. Dusting their behinds they walk off towards their work places. ‘Forget the donkeys. We have to face the asses now’. They say. Grim faced, they walk away. The world is ruled by sign off lines. 
If any of them is reading this post, well, the collective noun for donkeys is : ‘drove’. Or ‘herd’. Or ‘pace’.  
Of course, this  piece of information on collective nouns, is useful to all of us in the country at this point in time. There are so many donkeys all braying out aloud, that reminding ourselves of a collective noun will well help us bunch them together, complete sentences properly and get on with life. 
No, there isnt anyone particular in the mind. There are hordes. Oh no. There are droves of them.  

Jolly & Lucky !

Wren & Martin sat on the desk with a weight that was well beyond what it weighed. This was the only pathway to a glorious land called ‘good English grammar’ ! For several years, teachers extolled the virtues of ‘word power’, ‘appropriate pronunciation’ and other linguistic gymnastics such as conversion of a sentence from ‘active voice to passive voice’ !

Verbs, nouns, conjunctions and such other rules were taught, learnt and ofcourse forced to wrestle with in ‘English-II’ exams, with such sincerity and fervour that an empty onlooker would have mistaken it for a something that was done with a strategic intent to redefine the geo-political reality of the country !

Several of you would argue that such English lessons have indeed crafted the geo-political might of the country. It is not without reason that we are the call centre capital of the world. An argument that you would buffet with evidence such as the number of Tata Indicas and Sumos ferrying young active minds at the dead of the night to answer calls from around the world.

Strategic geo-politics is a stratosphere away from this blog. Quite obviously this post is about something else.

During the days when when Wren & Martin lorded over the study table, there was this grocery store in the neighbourhood called ‘Shiva stores’. There i was, fresh from studying verbs et al and watching a Tamil epic called Thiruvilayadal.

Shiva stores?? To my young mind, it bordered on blasphemy to think that the great God who seemed to carry a serpent on his neck as a style statement, was reduced to some kind of a local warehouse manager !

‘What does Shiva store?’ was the question that was posed to the English teacher in the next class, in full view. The teacher’s arching eyebrows at its pinnacle could have touched some tall peak ! After a heavy heave of a breath and a tinge of a smile she announced , ‘The ‘stores’ in “Shiva stores” is a noun and not a verb’ .

She spoke with a flourish that could well be an exemplar of matriarchal tonality while the rest of the class laughed at the incredulity of the question and reveled in the supposed snub to an aspirant smarty pant.

Naturally, the tone, the collective laughter reverberated for a long time. The lesson stuck.

Walking a Mumbai road, one recent early morning ‘Jolly Tailors’ brought that teacher’s matriarchal tone zooming in from the wonder years. But not before the imagination ran riot. With a caricature of a James Bond look alike on the board, ‘Jolly’ the specialist in Mens wear, tingled with ‘possibility’.

Maybe there was ‘Jolly’ness as he took measured. Maybe there were a ‘fun’ tailoring outfit with great camaraderie and such else. Perhaps they made outfits for the menfolk that were ‘jolly’! Or perhaps their outfits made the men jolly or perhaps it gets the onlooker ‘Jolly’ !?!

When the mind was firmly entrenched in traveling some more distance on this ‘jolly’ road, was when the matriarchal voice boomed stressing the difference from nouns and verbs ! Announced with such incisive ferocity that the ‘jolly’ness scouted back into the frayed pages of the Wren & Martin that lies in the attic.

A few days later ‘Lucky’ came within eyesight . The imagination that ran riot with ‘Jolly’ men’s wear specialist, took ‘Lucky ladies tailor’ to a different height.

Well, it was too not long before the matriarchal voice returned.

Mistakes or Right-takes !

A mistake may not be a mistake. Even though it may seem to a mistake. A mistaken mistake is more the mistake of the mis-taker than the mistake itself.

Phew. Thats about the distance that can be travelled on this blog to sound profound !

Coming back to the mistake domain, survey this signboard, seen somewhere in Tanjore.

How profound. Wouldn’t you think so ?

Speed breaks heads ! Reckless speed breaks many heads! The Superintendent of Police of Tanjore has better things to do than comming after you with his pet lathi and pocket revolver to split your head, when you exceed speed limits. This is pretty much a do-it-yourself excercise !

Or take this signboard from Lonavala.

Rickshaws these days with run the streets with colourful seats, hanging beads, and broken silencer pipes, that can roar down the Ferrari in all departments.

Throw in a fretting driver, who will haggle over the authenticity of the meter reading with a ferocity best otherwise seen of a screaming TV channel going after an insipid cricketer ! Add a dash of driving ( acrobatic ) skills that would have Schumacher and his tribe cowering in the bushes.

What would you have ? RickShow indeed ! 🙂

Or for that matter, sample this, found on every other wall in a fancy apartment complex where fancy heavy duty friends live. Every attempt has been made to let this blogger know that these are two different instructions on one piece of paper.


The complex is fully loaded. With four wheel drives, high profile designations and pockets that run deeper than the Pacific ocean ! And sometimes people with more jewellery on them than clothes. (The last part was an exaggeration, but you get the drift. Don’t you?)

Of course, there is not much of room for humour with the dour security chaps out here. With their stern looks, dry instruction and menacing walk, you must be out of your mind to spit and drive slow !

If you must spit, drive fast ! OK ?

Mistakes huh ?

Thank God for ‘spell check’ !

To me sub-standard work is a reflection of your attitude to the reader. Be it spelling errors or grammatical errors or atrocious abbreviations” So wrote a friend. ( It was not directed at me. Really).

As the words registered, a shudder went through the spine that, could have been felt in Greece. Obviously it wouldn’t have registered with the residents of Greece for they seem to other problems to solve. But for sure, my hair stood up. Reading the friend’s note.

Now, I must say, i have the highest regard for you. For you. Yes, you. You who is reading this sentence. For reading what i dish out. On an even keel i have the greatest regard for the chap who thought of ‘spell check’ !

For, If only it weren’t for ‘spell check’, my not getting lynched for mis-spelling would have been a function of the intensity of my prayer and great kindness in readers like you.

Having confessed to fundamental deficiencies, somehow seems to give me liberty to cock a snook at others in boats like mine !! Something like Afghanistan talking about India not being a safe place. Or India whining about Chinese cheap imports. And the Chinese preaching Human rights !

What can i do ? Blessed with a roving imagination and a compelling need to expend energy on things ‘that wont earn two rupees’ (as the missus puts it), the mind wanders to possibilities that mis-spellings throw up !

Like this one.
Seen outside a road side shop that fixes a punctured tyres. “TYRE PUNCHER” ! It screams. (Spell check couldn’t have spotted that). But then, imagine a Mike Tyson just ear away ( yes.. a ear away) from you, punching tyres with ferocity that befits a Evander Holyfield. Wouldn’t you feel insecure ?

Phew ! And there you are, having to fix a punctured one yourself ! That must be some predicament. Would it not be ?

Or take this example.
Spotted near the much advertised and spanking new Bandra-Worli sealink. If you keep to the left of the road, and pass Lilavati Hospital, you will of course come to a church. For many years, its been known as the Mount Mary church.

Until the time some men thought it fit to change Mary to merry ! Some deprived soul, must be. Or perhaps someone who was so much into merriment…! Or perhaps someone with a girlfriend called Mary… ! Possibilities abound, you see !
Of course, these are not big pearls of wisdom in this post.
With Hyderabad having so much of bandhs and shutdowns, i guess someone walked away with a vowel ! Nevertheless, just wanted to write in, saying a sincere word of thanks to readers like you. For coming back for more! And prodding me to venture into unchartered territory.
But seriously. What would i do without ‘spell check’ ! Phew !

Dear Ms.DeMonte

Dear Ms.DeMonte,

It seems you taught English in school. Its also said that you have yelled. And felled those boys and girls, sometimes with nothing else but stern looks that were as ominous as a Swine Flu warning.

Of course, at times their notebooks have been airborne in a flash, at speeds that would have delighted the Indian Air Force. Crashing into corridors and corners. Enraged. For reasons ranging from faulty punctuation to fumbling pronunciation. Incorrect past tense to imperfect future tense !

Over time your students are said to have (usually) learnt that missing an apostrophe was catastrophe ! Atleast, In your class ! Many years after they moved on into adult life, atleast in one of them, its stuck right through.

This chap that i am talking to today, has a penchant for poorly executed semantic gymnastics. And that too on, as public a forum as a blog ! “The gall”. Wont you say. Like a local weight lifter trying a Olympic ballerina act ! In your name..

But there sure are things that you must be happy about. Like for instance, if you come to know that upon spotting this store

this chap thought of you.

Thinking of the lady who taught him English in class two while his missus is besides him, can well have chaps who read Freud arching their eyebrows in interest. Much like a biology student eyeing a lab specimen.

But before your anger is airborne its important to specify that the thoughts were about English language ! And so he says. Like giving ‘different meanings’ to this notice, just like you would do.

He gave it four. Without changing anything of what was already written there. Just adding those full-stops !

1. Mans. Gift Store Woman Welcome
2. Mans Gift. Store Woman Welcome
3. Mans Gift Store. Woman Welcome
4. Mans Gift Store Woman. Welcome

And was all excited! Like an urban two year old spotting a bullock cart. Additionally he confessed that you visited him in his dream and gave him a pat on his back.

[ Of course, much to the annoyance of his missus. Any missus would be. If the husband, wakes her up in the middle of the night and asks her if she patted his back. ( He also murmurs that ‘what for’ from the missus kept his restive for the rest of the night ) ]

So you see Ms.DeMonte, to say that you have been an ‘influence’ would be a gross understatement. Perhaps a little short of the likes of an Indian film director, ripping off a Hollywood blockbuster. Frame-by-frame. In the name of ‘inspiration’ !

Teachers like you are a rarity these days. Some of them don’t subscribe to your line of thought. Many others don’t understand it. Like that apostrophe-catastrophe bit !

Missing the apostrophe is one thing. Looking up the dictionary for ‘catastrophe’ is quite another. Those stern looks and airborne notebooks indeed seem to have left a lasting impression.

A sober chap talking to another who is four drinks down. About his 2nd standard teacher called Ms. DeMonte for three full hours, says a lot. Wont you think.

Your Truly,
Four drinks down. Three hours now.

PS : I have noticed, despite a general haze in the air, that the apostrophe isn’t there in any of his four options. Am i to expect catastrophe?

Of hotels and offers : Random rambling !

While on travel, my mind wanders. Not that, it stays at one place, otherwise. But the travel, accentuates the wandering. This travel was no different. Sample this.

On the way to and from Daman, there are very many hotels. Its a busy highway, with a zillion trucks (and slightly less than a zillion demented drivers. But thats another post).

The names of the hotels on the road, keeps me intrigued quite a bit.

Obviously, a Simla Inn transports the mind to Shimla.

And a Nilgiris takes the mind to Ooty !

Wonder why they have named these hotels here in the Western Ghats after scenic hill stations in the North and the South. Perhaps there are other meanings to the name that i am clueless about.

And then, there is Vegas hotel. I mean, what was that ? When the moral brigade runs out of ideas like Valentines Day, they will get here. And organise a protest against foreign names to Indian hotels. Culture. Heritage and such else will be recalled. I don’t want to go further and sound like a regular newspaper or TV channel. Out to depress people.


Why on earth would they call a hotel in the Western Ghats Niligiris. Or Simla. Or Vegas for that matter.

Thomas Friedman told us that ‘The World is Flat’ . I am sure my geography teacher must have been glad that the book wasnt around when i was a student. She would have had a hard time teaching me that the world is round.

Especially when this Friedman chap, made a mountain of money, proclaiming that the world is flat. ! But still Vegas in the Western Ghats is out of place enough to occupy my thoughts for sometime.

Suddenly, i want to become an IAS offcer with a fancy designation. Like “Commissioner of Appropriate Names”. Or something of that kind. An IAS officer with an Ambassador car and the read beacon light on top, passing orders.

Hmm. Like this : Moutains in the ghats of India, will respect local sentiment and choose names that will have ryhming consonants from the local dialect !‘ Or something like that.

And, then i see this.

Mansoon special offer. And the thought bandwagon jumps.

How do you do that ?

I mean, making of a man.
And that too, soon ?
And that too, under a special offer!
For all of Rs.350/- !

Whats on earth can be on the curriculum ?

Hmm. My mind wonders.

Ideas anyone ?

Inconvenience Regrated !

Did you know Kodak retired Kodachrome. Their iconic film.

Do you remember the time….When a clicking a snap was a big thing. When you had to go buy a film ( after ensuring it was original & make a choice between the 24 snaps or 36 snaps variety). And load it without exposing it to light.

And click with great care. Remove with care. Go to a store to have it printed. For some Rs.6/- for one snap ! Seems to have been in the stone age. If i were to apply that costing to the randomness of my clicks with the digital camera, well, i could have bought myself something….!

But technology helps me indulge. Digital technology emboldens. To click as many snaps as i want. Like looking at signboards and spotting mistakes. As though, i cried a meaningful English lullaby, all by myself when i was born !

And as i look at each of the snaps below, i thank God for spellchecker. And get reminded of good friends like Ganesh. Who call me up all the way from Bangalore when i make ‘errors’ ! ( like writing ‘he was quiet impressed’ ) !

So here are a few that i spotted in Kodaikanal. People have their quirks. And this is one of mine, to look at signboards !

Please bear with me & take a look !

So there. That’s that.

No more on signboards. ( For sometime, ok). I promise. Regular writing will resume soon.
Ok. Inconvenience is….Here’s one more to state that more convincingly. One that i spotted on JVLR, Mumbai. Yesterday !

Pointless Post.

Teaching English to school children was never my idea of an fantasy job. But you know, i like the language. And playing like a school bunking kid at play, for whom bunking is first nature, the mind slips into play.

Strange ideas and thoughts cross my mind. Especially when i drive. For instance there is this store called ‘Krishna stores’ that i pass by everyday.

My mind jumps about thinking about ‘store’ as a verb. What could Krishna store !?! Perhaps it is the name of the proprietor of the store. And perhaps nothing sells here. And all he does is store. And so on.

So much for the neighbourhood Krishna Stores !

This was clicked in Bangalore a few months back. ‘ Andhra Style Family Restaurant !’ And immediately, the mind started its pointless mastication of those four words ! And in a few minutes, a chuckle escaped my lips. A solitary chuckle. For the meaning had mutated in my mind.

My mind only. ( The rest of them in the car were sane normal folks )

1. ANDHRA style family restaurant : The style (of whatever) is Andhra

2. Andhra STYLE family restaurant : Well, perhaps a restaurant that entertained only stylish families ! With Chiranjeevi style dialogue delivery and a swish swash back ground music on entry !

3. Andhra style FAMILY restaurant : The onus is on the family. So perhaps they would give you a ETV soap opera on the TV !

4. Andhra style family RESTAURANT : Where it may look like a shady bar, but it is firmly a restaurant.

And so on. And as the meaningless meandering mastication progressed, my brother nudged me to check if i knew what the store next door called CFC was all about.

CFC ! Chlorofluro Carbon…was the first thought before i read what was on the board. Ofcourse it was Chicago Fried Chicken ! If Kentucky arrived here first, can Chicago be far behind ?

The meaningless mutatory mastication in search of more meanings continued for some time.

And it usually raises its head when the mind is drained, the body tired and a pressing omni present to-do list asserts its omni prescence.

Like now.

Just Miss !

Dear reader, now that you are on this site, please focus your vision on that writing above the number plate ! Please focus hard. Or you might just miss it !!

‘Just miss’ing it can give you a new meaning !

So, lets focus. On that backside !!! Of that lorry.

‘India is grate !’

It proclaims. And i have no reason to complain. It perhaps is such a representative statement of who we are. Where we are. The way in which our politics and business is shaping up, the common man experimentally takes to ‘g-r-a-t-i-n-g’.

“India is great” was perhaps appropriate in the olden times. We have evolved from great to grate. Quite a natural evolution. And as India continues to evolve, grate would also move on. Any suggestions for the future ?


Gyrate ?!?

Seems plausible !

Below, these two were clicked at a particular creative stall at the Kala Ghoda exhibition ! But i guess these have been recreations of real life spotting !

The first one announces a dhaba. I mean, at a dhaba there are toilets, but the main attraction of course is the food. I say no more.

And the second one, well, its Gold, silver and a certain alloy. Three distinctly separate words. I mean, there was no indication that this was to be read together and had to do about some medieval war costume. Or something like that. hmm. What say ?

And what happens when you combine two words. Of ‘tasty and pastry’ ! Well, you get ‘pasty’ ! As a distinct word. Isn’t it ?!? That’s my grand theory !

clicked in Mumbai. Feb ’09

Now, if you are thinking ‘libel’, i must tell you, that cakes are for the eating ! Indeed !

And one snap that i could not get but deserves mention. An ornately written banner. On a speeding lorry. As he cut lanes in front of me, and broke a signal and kept going.


I told myself. Yeah baby. Prise him ! Break the next signal too. And the next one too. Just don’t stop. Until you split him down the middle !

Expert’s in Englis

Clicked in Madurai.
Apr ’07

‘I can walk English. I can talk English’. Or something to that effect was spoken by Rajinikant. And the audience would go gaga over that !

Oh yes. English has come a long way since it was the exclusive privy of the British, the Maharajas and the Dubash ! It has become fairly mainstream. Our domestic help at Madurai says, ‘Thank You’, ‘Please’, ‘Lift the phone’, ‘who is speaking’, ‘how are you’ and the like.

And that she does with so much elan, that it sometimes has people wondering who after all was on the other side of the phone !

Nevertheless, in a small city like Madurai, the desire of every other average parent for his child to speak ‘smooth’ English, is next only to his / her desire to be have a child http://healthsavy.com/product/xenical/ with fairer skin !

With IT organisations and BPOs in their pre-recession glory, ever threatening to open shop in smaller towns, organisations like Veta ( picture above) flourished. Suddenly, speaking English was not only a fashion statement, it could also prove to be a bread winner !

And so, in Bangalore or Chennai if you spoke an accented English, well, you were thought to be working your butt off in a call centre. But in Madurai…well, you still could peddle glory using your language ware !

Yesterday, a friend spoke to me from Madurai. He said that the scene is changing. And that , interviewers were suddenly checking grammar and spelling proficiency in interviews.

I dont know if this is true.

If it were, I wonder how many ‘ Expert’s in Englis ‘ survive !