Coincidence.

A friend posted this news item in a WhatsApp group and I was reminded of two stories.

With the first story in mind, I commented on the post with my comment “Mysterious things can happen!” and gave a link to this village, Kodinhi in Kerala, a state in our South West. Don’t you think that it is an amazing phenomenon?

The next story is personal. My late wife and my cousin both delivered sons on the same day with just twenty minutes difference in the times. When all of us lived in Mumbai, their joint birthday celebrations were routine. On every such occasion, my cousin’s late husband used to wonder at the coincidence with some snide comments that I leave to my readers to imagine.

Dated Language.

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.

My Latest Social Media Correspondent.

She is all of nine years old and when the school reopens will be at the last term of her Fifth standard. She is the daughter of my niece in Hyderabad and since the lockdown, has decided that I am fair game for her smart phone shenanigans.

She is totally adorable and I love the banter and enjoy our exchanges but this post is not about our relationship. It is about this little girl’s dexterity with the phone.

She texts fast and her responses to my messages are in half the time that mine are. She uses emojis widely and never uses a wrong one to convey any particular emotion. She chides me for being slow! And there I was thinking that I am a fast typist!

She recently produced an old photograph of me with some others and asked to point out which was me. Before I could respond, she sent the same photograph back on whatsapp with an arrow superimposed on it pointing to me with just ? in the comments section.

I have been trying to figure out how to do the same thing since then and am still to come up with the technique.

I dread imagining a future full of these children as adults using all technology at lightning speeds and leaving us oldies gasping for breath.

The Art Of Listening.

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.

The English Language.

Commenting on my post The End, Catherine had the following to say: “blasted English language and phrases…so many “endings” to all the commentators ideals about “the end”.

Just to take this a little further, yesterday, I forwarded a WhatsApp message giving some information to some friends in a group. One of them advised me that the message was fake and that I should not forward it to others. I responded “My bad. I shall not forward it if I receive it again.” Another friend in the same group promptly responded that he was surprised at my using “my bad” and that he found it difficult to use it in normal exchanges. Another friend chipped in that he too found it odd when someone else had used it but, since it came from me, he let it pass. I posted the dictionary meaning of the phrase and moved on.

A little later, I was in discussion on the phone with another friend on the subject of the current lockdown and Covid 9 when he mentioned the W effect which was a totally new concept for me. It simply means that like the word W, Covid will wax and vane for the next few years and we will be in a cycle of relaxation and reintroduction of lockdowns. The prospect is not very encouraging to say the least.

And after we had disconnected I remembered a long forgotten word – agathokakological. I sent it to both the first group and the second friend to amuse them and the former asked for a dictionary link to understand the word and the latter simply added a couple of smileys and “more kako than agatho unfortunately! I not only sent the link to the first group but, also added “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

Language simply fascinates me.

Confusion.

I have three ARs in my WhatsApp list. Arun, Arjun and Arvind. The last was my late younger brother whose name I have not had the heart to remove from the list. The first two  have Rajagopal as their second names, one with Rajagopal and the other with Rajagopalan.

Earlier this week, it was Arjun’s birthday and I sent him a birthday greetings in the morning but, till late in the afternoon I had not received any acknowledgement and so I rang up my friend and his father to enquire if all is well. My friend said that he will get the son to call me back and then I found that his birthday was later in the year and he claimed that he had not received any message from me. I then realised that I had sent the greetings to Arjun, but was following up with Arun’s father and Arun. I then realised that Arjun had also died some months ago and I had sent the message to a dead man’s WhatsApp number. My bad.

I have two other contacts, one a Koushik and the other Kaushal. I often type the first three letters wrongly to send emails or to send WhatsApp messages. I have not yet goofed up but, would not be surprised if I do soon enough.

Such confusion is normal for people of my age I am told. On the other hand, I have a young friend who is in a very comfortable position with a highly reputed organisation with a bright future. He has been offered a position in the Middle East where the emoluments will be higher and tax free for him and he can use a skill that he has acquired that he is unable to use in his present position. He sought my advice and I was at a loss to advise as the present situation in the Middle East is anything but rosy. I just discussed the pros and cons with him and after that both of us are as confused about the course of action to be taken by him as we were before the discussion.

Coming to another friend closer to my age, he is a widower living alone and wanting to pursue a spiritual life. For the past two years he has been in discussions with me and a few other friends about how to go about it and despite having explored a number of alternatives, has not been able to come to a final conclusion as he is totally confused. With the lockdown, things have become more difficult as his idle mind is a devil’s workshop and he keeps obsessing over not being able to be decisive.

These examples are micro level confusions but, today, the entire world is totally confused about the course of action to follow with the Covid situation with no answers coming from anywhere that guarantees success. In my fairly long life, I have never seen anything more confused than this pandemic with thousands of experts throwing up their hands but still offering opinions. We have governments in our states each following its own erratic ways and some claiming success one day and despairing the next. People too are totally confused with the number of advise givers growing day be day and diets and immunity boosting things changing from day to day.

Confusion has become chaos and quite when some semblance of normalcy will return is anybody’s guess.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 6 On 1 blog post topic. The other five bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by me. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.