I sent a message to a friend who had been of great help to me thanking him. The message read –
“Thank you. You are a brick.”
For my American friends and younger Indian friends, the Oxford English Dictionary defines Brick as: “British informal, dated, A generous, helpful, and reliable person.”. I have used this word often in the past without any problem.
Agreed it is dated but, so am I and my friend is of the same vintage too.
What leads me to writing this blog post however, is not to defend my datedness but the response that I got from my friend.
“I can appreciate your thanking me but, why do you also insult me at the same time?”
I was puzzled and rang him up to ask him what the problem was and was told that his message read as “Thank you. You are a prick.”
I explained to him what the message was and pacified him but, went to WhatsApp to check if I had indeed made a typo. I had not and so, I took a screen shot of the message and sent it to my friend.
He on reinvestigation found a one in a million chance of an opaque stain on the screen of his smart phone, exactly at the point where the lower loop of the brick appeared. He just cleaned up the screen and the message was not an insult anymore.
I wonder if I should simply stop using the word again in my communications.
As it happens so often in my life, two different sources sent me two different links to two different you tube offerings but, on the same subject on the same day. The first one is about a mother and the second about a wife.
Both appealed to me and also affected me deeply and I want to share it with my readers. Though both are presented by Indians, their messages are universal and applicable to all mothers and wives. I hope that these two videos touch my readers as much as they touched me.
The next one is from an older man who while presenting the poem is quite affected.
A friend, more or less a recluse preferring his own company or just a few close friends of long standing got enmeshed in an avoidable situation. His colleagues from the organisation where he used to work had formed a WhatsApp group and he was not even aware of it. Someone in that group suddenly woke up to the fact that he was still alive and posted a request for contact details from anyone who was in touch with him. One unsuspecting colleague gave the phone number and the problems for my friend started.
First the man who asked for the details called him and insisted on sharing details of his past connections and present where and what-abouts and spoke for more than half an hour. This call was followed by a few others in quick succession, all insisting on holding forth on nostalgia as well as updating to the present.
My friend was getting desperate as he simply wanted to be left alone. He finally had to tell the last caller to request people on the WhatsApp group not to disturb him and finally the calls stopped yesterday.
He called me this morning to share this misfortune with me. I suggested that his old colleagues were simply bored with the present status under lockdowns and were looking for listeners to converse with. He agreed but, asked me why choose him when he was not in touch with any of them for decades. I suggested that perhaps it was because he is a good listener and the callers had run out of people to call to have chats. He was calmed and we disconnected.
After the call was over, I realised that this conversation took all of 35 minutes of my time.
I patted myself on my back for being a good listener too.
A friend and ex colleague now retired from employment but, in his own start up business sent me this nice video this morning.
I responded with this truth: “The only decision that I make nowadays is whether to sleep or to read. For that I don’t need an MBA.” He responded with laughing emojis and that was that.
Ten minutes later, I got a phone call from a landline number. Since it was a landline number I answered only to be completely taken aback by a totally strange voice addressing me by my name and asking me to spare some time. Under the impression that it could be a tele-marketeer, I first demurred saying that I am retired and not in need of anything. He explained that he wanted to talk about one of my blog posts and that piqued my interest and I said that okay let us talk.
He said while searching for a Visiting Card maker, he saw a link to my blog post My New Visiting Card and that is what he wanted to talk about. On enquiring further he wanted to know what position I retired from and where I lived.
Being in a frivolous mood, I told him that I never had to work for a living and had always been in retirement but now, I have formalised it by getting these visiting cards made. His interest was now piqued and he wanted to know how without working for a living I had lived and I responded that I simply spent my father’s money. He wanted to know how old I was and when I told him that I was 77 he was quite taken aback and asked whether my father was still supporting me. I responded that I now spend my son’s money, he finally got the joke and pleaded me to enlighten him seriously. I requested him to go back to my blog and read the post on Ambition. He promptly did and called me back after a while and had a fairly intense chat and he has promised to come to meet me once the lockdown is lifted as he often visits Pune from Mumbai where he lives.
My Tuesday was made. As I write this, I am smiling at the memory of the two exchanges.
PS. The Ted Talk is very interesting and I recommend that my readers listen to it.
No, I have not invented a new word. Let me explain.
I placed an order online for a book with a local book seller in Pune just before the lockdown. I have been keen to read the book and so have been calling them up on and off to find out when they will send the book only to be told that it will be as soon the as the lockdown is lifted.
Many establishments have been allowed to open since the last few days and hoping that perhaps this establishment too would have opened, I called them again yesterday and after some investigation, the lady on the phone informed me that I should not worry and that the book will be sent to me after aatjun. I requested the lady a few times to be more clear blaming the poor quality of the phone line connection and she kept on repeating aatjun.
Please remember that this conversation is taking place in Hindi, and so in exasperation, I requested the lady to repeat the term in English and the mystery was solved. She meant “8th June”. Aat in Hindi is the numeral eight and pronounced June as Jun.