Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Communication (s)Kills

I recently realised that communicating your ideas to others is harder than it looks (er..allow me to rephrase that). Because it is a dying art that tends to be under-estimated I suck at it. It wasn't like some sudden big flash, though. In fact, this realization actually happened in parts. It all started with...

Sentence formation

Someone on the road randomly asked me what the 3 areas I'm most weak at, were. (Hmm..that doesn't sound right)

Someone on the road randomly asked me what were the 3 areas I'm most weak in. (No)

Someone, randomly, on the road, asked me if I could list areas of my weakness, choosing the top 3. (Dude?)

Someone on the road asked me why I was in the top 3 weaklings every week. (Really? Wtf?!)

The moment I wrote the first among those sentences, I wondered - "Did I frame that sentence correctly?". The answer was a much debatable no. As you can see, it took me many attempts to realise what I was doing wrong. Know what it is? That's right-- indirect speech. Indirect speech always makes the sentence complicated to understand, said I. (Oh, crap. That was passive voice Passive voice, that was) But anyway, you got the point I was making, right?

Consider its direct counter-part, direct speech (Omg a pun). I'd suggest always preferring this. It's much simpler to comprehend. Consider the same sentence in direct speech--

Someone on the road: "Wazza?"
(Direct speech pwns indirect speech)

Much better. As I sauntered across the streets all puffed up by my new found secret to idea conveying-ness, something happened. Something I wasn't prepared for. Something that made me so conscious of what I said, that I lost control over my...

Brain-to-mouth Filter

Often, you'll find yourself in a situation wherein you need to weigh your words before letting them out. In other words, you need to make wise use of your so called brain-mouth filter. Consider incidents wherein what you were about to say and what you actually said were completely different things, and eventually ended up landing you into trouble. More often than not, what happens is that while you're considering what to say, the listener has nothing to do but to stare at your blank face. And he/she perceives you to some sort of an advanced species of moron. Case in point?

Exhibit A:

(Friend on the street, surprised to see me approaching college from the side opposite the usual one)
"Hi! How come this side?"

"Well, actually I was late and was running so fast that I overshot the main gate, and by the time I could slow down, I had already travelled an extra 200 meters, and now I'm going back" (No, dude, say something more feasible. Anything. Atleast she won't think you're some weirdo)

"Um. Just buying some..stuff.." (No. Too vague. Be a little more precise)


"Oh, ok then... (Weirdo)"

So I decided to just go with the flow. Apparently, Unrestrained talk + Negative IQ = Bad combination. Who knew? In short, I realised that sometimes, the opposite happens. You need to be able to back up whatever rubbish you utter, just in case. Coz some people can give you a run for your money. I present to you:

Exhibit B:

"Hey! That neon lamp is so cool"

"Yeah. It actually works on a super-collider nano particle technology. They use the negative free energy of plasma-neurotic electrons to achieve nearly five times the amplification of light intensity"

"But then it would consume about 1000 watts of power, right? Considering the bipolar nature of the mid-west region..."

At this juncture, it is wise to just shut up, as the listener has clearly shown that he can match you in intellectual bullshit. But, nooo. You have to try to go one up and dig your own grave, don't you?

(Me, ideally)
"Yeah, I thought you wouldn't realise"

(Me, actually)
"No, dude. It actually uses the quasi-inter-stellar rays from dwarf stars and black holes. So in the alternate dimension, it would consume only about 0.3 kilo joules per nano second"

"But that's actually more, right?"


This was too much. So I resigned myself to failure. (Does that even make sense?) Anyways, I quickly realised that what I was doing wrong was choosing the wrong medium for communication. Face-to-face? Not for me. Text-based? Now, there's a thought.

Enter, Text messaging.
[Text messaging enters]

Text message - m here..ssup! hwz thngz n al (w8..iz dis my lyn?)
Me - Dude, I can't understand you at all.

Txt - its k..cuz ul gt used 2 it..
Me - Eh? I don't want to learn a new language. And how am I supposed to know if 'bt' means bat, bet, bit, bot or but?

Txt - z..u wnt t old englsh lang? thr s sme thng cald dxnry..
Me - There is? Oh this is pretty cool. It can even predict what I want to say! Neat!

Text - Does this dress make me look fat?
[Curtain falls]

So, apparently, some guy was nice enough to solve two problems at once -- illegible text and poor speed. Nifty, I thought. But this joy was also short lived, as I soon came to know about the perils of using the predictive text mode. Or, what I like to call...


T-Pain, short for T9 Pain, is what you get when you grow accustomed to the T9 mode, and slowly realise its many quirks. There's a reason it's called Predictive Text, and not Text Prediction. It only works about forty percent of the time. The other sixty could either annoy you to death, or send the reader into coma, or both, depending on who reads the message first. Although most of the time the message is garbled rubbish, some words could alter the meaning drastically.

There's nothing more I want. I have you...

(T9 version)
There's noughog nope I want. I hate you...

The news will tell you that most breakups happen via text messages. What the news won't tell you is why. Now you know. But that was just a tame example. Sometimes, even the phrase 'unforeseen consequences' seems to merely pale in comparison.

Hey..what's up? :)

(T9 version)

See? Told ya. So what next? Logically, I thought that I ought to take advantage of the medium a little. Think. Proof-read. Don't jump the gun, look before you leap types. So I plan, cross-discuss, weigh the pros against the cons, and only then send a message. That was until the day of..

The Delayed Compliment

[At 11 am]
(To self)
Hey, she's wearing a nice top. Maybe I should let her know. Girls like compliments. might be pretty awkward though. Ok, let's chuck the idea.

[At 3 pm]
Maybe I should tell her. What's the worst thing that could happen? Hmm..then again, even if I don't, what's the worst thing that could happen? Atleast I can avoid an awkward moment. Best to steer clear.

[At 9 pm]
Oh, what the heck. I'll just text her.

[Message delivered at 1 am]
hey...nice top :) :)

[Reply at 1:01]
er..i'm not wearing one (Weirdo)

Just great. Now I had a few seconds to think of a good recovery line. Anything to ameliorate the situation. But I really suck at those. All my previous attempts have been sorely disastrous. And that's an understatement. That's when I stumbled upon..

The Funny Joke

Yes, not just any joke. A funny joke. The explicit use of the adjective emphasizes that you can't just say anything and pass it off as a wisecrack. Free messages have spawned millions of horrid 'forwards'. Ranging from lame to downright annoying. Some of them come with much fanfare, but always have a standard closing section. A typical 'joke' would read like this:

JoKe Of ThE YeAr!! (Opening section)
.         (Formatting)
Man before interview : "May I come in, sir?"          (The "joke")

Interviewer : "Wait, plz"

Man : "75 kg, sir!"
.                (More formatting, so that it looks like the best part is yet to come)
Gud nit! :P                 (Standard conclusion)

So with everyone's head muddled by things like that, it's really hard to come up with a genuinely good joke. And if you're under pressure? Well, God save you. But here's a helpful hint - Do NOT try to get inspired by them. EVER. The best you could probably come up with would be something like:

[Reply at 1:03]

lolz j/k
me 2..v shd ttly hng out 2gthr..w8..nt hng out as in hng out 2 dry..cuz thts whr i hng my m nt wearng thm ryt nw..i bt u do tht 2..dnt u?
ps-w8 as in wait..nt weight..coz tht wud b 75..nd ttly lyk nt mk ny snse..ryt? lol
gud n8 :P

(Holy %@#&)

I'd say that there is simply no good way to communicate, more or less. (Hmm..that doesn't sound right)

There's probably no good way to communicate, I'd guess. (No)

I'd surmise, more or less, that an effective way of communication is unfounded, as of the present scenario. (Dude?)

I'm surprised that more is effectively less, for I have found in many a contemplation -D' Adairo. (Really? Wtf?!)

I rest my case.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tales From The Yeast

(Continued from Genesis. First post in series- On Electricity)

As Ovi and Mushy slowly got accustomed to life underwater, they decided that it was time to start a family. They soon had a baby boy, and they named him Pikachu (don't ask). They had other kids, too, who were named Spongebob, Patrick and Squidward (their life was soon made into a TV show). But Pikachu was the most mischievous of the lot. Like the other day, when he put the bathtub in the freezer, making a gigantic ice-cube, and then sliced off a huge chunk using his brother's hacksaw blade, shaped it using a lathe machine, and released it to the surface, where a ship accidentally hit the 'iceberg' and then sank to the bottom. (It's called the Titanic or something, I'll look it up later)

In those days, people were highly superstitious. As the Dark Ages began, people thought that it was some Black Magic, and began to get scared. But one wise man soon told them that it was just another major oil spill by the good folks over at BP. In any case, the conditions had become inhabitable (not to mention Pikachu was still randomly electrocuting people in the water once in a while 'by mistake') So Ovi and Mushy made a decision to travel East, chiefly because they'd heard of the rich cultural heritage of that region.

As they swam to the surface, they saw an old witch sitting with a few occult paraphernalia. Before their eyes could adjust to the sun, the witch spoke shrilly.

"I know why you have come here. And I also know the solution to your problem. I have with me two pills, (now also available as vials) of different potions. Take the blue pill, and you will feel anew, entering into a world like never before. Take the red pill, and your old world will be restored, like nothing happened. The choice is yours."

As they were pondering upon which form of medication to take, one of them had a genuine doubt.

"That's okay, but who are you?", he inquired sincerely.

"Me? I am Lord Voldemort", he thundered. And lightninged.

Which witch which was weird for 2 reasons.

Firstly, if Voldemort was a witch, then she should have been Queen Voldemort or something. But if he was Lord Voldemort, then he should have been a wizard. But even if he were one, he wouldn't be very good at it. And why is that, you ask? That's simply because (and this is the second point) --

Voldemort was a moron.

Yes, there are many reason as to why he turned evil, but he was still a moronic Dark Lord (there, I inadvertently put rest to his doubtful gender). Well, to begin with, his childhood was riddled with negativity. He used to fail miserably at pretty much everything he did. Especially spelling. Heck, he couldn't even spell his own name right. (see also - Tom Marvolo Riddle)

Then he saw all these people around him performing miraculous spells, and he really wanted to try it too. So on his eleventh birthday, his mother got him the gift he'd always dreamed of -- P. C. Sorcar's 101 Magic Tricks (Now with 3 new tricks!)

He practised religiously for months, and finally mustered enough courage to perform his first magic show in public. His first trick was the classic (he himself tried to do it) 'pull the rabbit out of the hat' trick. He took out his hat, wand at the ready, and nervously uttered the magic words --

[baby voice] "Abba-kadabby"
Nothing happened. So he tried again.

The rabbit, still inside the hat, took it as an insult and refused to come out.

By now the rabbit was really annoyed. He came out, slapped him, and went back in. (Or maybe he used "Doofus Slap-acus". I'm really not too sure)

This was too much for the rabbit, who committed suicide.

But everyone thought that the magic trick was intended to kill the rabbit, so they were under the impression that Voldemort had just invented the Killing Curse. Eventually he became so famous for it, that people urged him to take part in the annual May-Tricks event. On the day he decided to give in, his life took an abrupt turn. For, on that very day, the administrators of the event discovered something shocking.

[Somewhere in the 2x2 Matrix]

"Someone has hacked into the Matrix!", Ron exclaimed.

"I know! Mutating algorithms, Brute force, Chanel-5 force, nothing seems to be working. I think he has used some advanced sorting technique", Hermione shuddered.

"I really dunno what we can do. We need someone to help us. But who?", Harry wondered.

Just as he finished his sentence, Fox the faux Fawkes (who was actually a phoenix) swooped in (sporting coolers and a bandana) and dropped a ragged black object.

"The Sorting Hat! The only known sorting algorithm in O(1)!", Hermione screamed in joy, using the Hat to sort out the mess. "Now all we have to do is crack the password. It seems to have been encrypted with RSA or something." But that didn't prove to be much of a hurdle as she successfully managed to unlock it using ALoHoMoRa v1.3.

They tried to track the IP of the intruder, and soon traced it back to a laptop somewhere in the London station.

"He is planning to leave the city by train. We have to catch him before he escapes!", moaned a concerned Hermione.

"But there are 39 platforms, and only 4 of us. How can we possibly find him by ourselves?", Ron asked, puzzled.

"That's ok. We'll split up. Each of you take one-fourth of the platforms and begin searching", said Harry, in a decisive tone.

So each one was allotted 39/4 platforms. Or 9 and 3/4 in mixed fraction form. Harry saw that there was a wall in the middle of platforms 9 and 10. So he began sprinting towards it. As he approached the wall at high speed, instead of smashing directly into it, something magical happened--

He smashed directly into it.

He fell down, still reeling from the sharp pain in his head. He felt his forehead and sensed that it had started bleeding. So he started crying copiously at his boo-boo. At the same time, Fox the faux Fawkes (who was actually a phoenix) swooped in and started crying too, the tears falling on Harry's cut. And the wound started healing due to its healing powers. But because he was a fake phoenix, the wound didn't heal properly, and left a lightning-shaped scar.

While this scene was unfolding, somewhere in a remote ice-cream parlour, there was a hooded figure eating a Death By Chocolate. What was this Death-Eater plotting? What could Harry and the others do now? Stay tuned, as the saga continues...

[Actually, I'm all out of ideas and have no clue on how to take this story further. Please post your ideas (no matter how wacky or crazy) and I will try to incorporate all of them and carry this forward along those lines (AND give you due credit, too. Yay!)]

(Oh, and a big thank you to Tejus and Kanan, whose blogs have given me a ton of inspiration for my posts. Do check their's out as well, they're both better than mine :O)

Update: Click here to read the next post!

Friday, February 4, 2011


There I was, standing in the middle of the road, when it hit me. The bike, that is. The next few seconds were a blur. Although I vaguely remember watching a pale blue object as it flew across the sky in a graceful arc, landing with a dull thud on the freshly paved street. Oh, and the bike lay sprawled on the sidewalk about fifty feet from where the aforementioned girl-in-blue fell.

I had been knocked off my footing, and was lying with my face splat on the ground. Through the corner of my eye I could see her make an unsuccessful attempt to scramble herself onto her feet. I made an earnest effort to get up as well, but it was much too tedious for my aching limbs, and I collapsed to the ground almost instantly.

It was surprising to note that none of the onlookers even bothered to help. But I soon managed to ascribe the elementary lack of a Good Samaritan spirit to the fact that there wasn’t a single soul around, save for an old man in poor clothing. Technically, though, he couldn’t really be called an onlooker. Why? Well, I suppose that it’d help if I retraced my steps first.


It all started this morning. The moment I woke up to the mellifluous twittering of the birds, and the warmth of the sun’s rays gently caressing my face, I knew that something would go terribly wrong. Clairvoyance. ESP, if you will. I got dressed and left for the mall, an outing that was brought about following a chance encounter with an old friend the previous week. As I proceeded to hail a cab, I felt a strange tingling sensation in my ribs. Moments later, all the cabs seem to be plying from top to bottom, a very queer phenomenon. That’s when my IQ-riddled brain helped me sense that I had fallen to the ground.

I dusted myself off, and noticed that I was not the sole observer of the vertical taxi syndrome. A petite lass lay motionless on the floor, wondering what forces of nature could have conspired to cause such a mystical occurrence. Evidently, she happened to bump into me. As I leaned over to help her up, the glint of her hazel eyes told me that something greatly distressed her.

“Are you alright?”, I asked.

“Oh it’s nothing, really. This kind of thing happens to me all the time”, she giggled.

“Haha, ok. I thought you seemed pretty upset. Anything I can help you with?”

“Well now that you mention it, I do have to pick up my dad’s body from the hospital. And I could really use a helping hand. Would you come with me? Pretty please?”

At first, I found it fairly strange that a girl whose father had passed away could remain so calm about it. At the same time, I really didn’t want another errand on my hands. Plus, I was already getting late for the mall. But it would be grossly immoral of me to desert her in her exigency. Which meant that I really couldn’t say ‘no’ either. So I did what I felt would be best, even though I knew I was going to regret it. I lied. Through my teeth.

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. I really wouldn’t mind accompanying you. In fact, I was on my way to the hospital myself. I have this fever, you see--”

“You have a beaver?! That’s so cute!”

“No, actually I said that I have a fever--”

“It’s ok, you can show me your beaver later. First, we have to go the hospital”

And she yanked me along before I could explain myself. On our hasty way towards the hospital, I nearly got run over by a truck. Thrice. Once we got inside, she feverishly heckled one of the nurses. The poor nurse seemed to be more than eager to divulge information about the location of the morgue at the prospect of being free from her clutches. And we stormed off towards the morgue.

Sitting by the entrance to the room was an old man, probably in his sixties, in patchy threads and sporting a pair of shades. We inquired about the body.

“Er, I’m looking for the body of Mr. Carl Evans”, said the girl. Her name was Christie, as I’d learnt en route. “Can you help us?”

“Only if you help me, too” he demanded.

“What do you mean?”, I interjected.

“I mean to say that, in return, it would be really nice if you could help me get back home. It’s just a couple of blocks away, right across the street. You see, a blind man can only travel so far by himself”

“If that’s the case, then how, pray, would you be able to help us?”, I asked, skeptically.

“Well, I have the keys to the register. Nicked ‘em”, he said, brandishing his teeth whilst clutching the key-ring.

“Seems fair”, I thought aloud, grabbing the keys from his hand, and unlocking the desk right beside him. I rummaged through the papers, and soon realized that it was a bunch of worthless junk. “You tricked us! There is no name-register in here”, I grumbled.

“Oh, I see”, he said, which I, for one, found pretty annoying – given that he couldn’t see. “Maybe they moved it someplace else. Did you try the patient-display system? I hear they’ve installed it on almost all corridors”

And sure enough, there was a large colour screen gleaming right in front of us. I face-palmed myself and searched the database. “Cool, they’ve even arranged it in an alphabetical order. What was your dad’s name again?”

“Carl. Carl Evans”, she replied.

“Oh, I ‘C’” the old man grinned. I clenched my teeth in exasperation, and then proceeded to skim through the names of people beginning with a C.

“303-A”, I announced. And we skipped over to the allotted cabinet. I held my breath and slid out the cold body, still in its bag, and Christie helped me lug it outside.

“I’m sorry, but how did he die?”, I asked.

“I dunno. Probably drunk-drove off into the lake or something”

“Oh, I sea”, the old man smirked. I stopped short at the point of giving him a fistful, flush in the groins.

As we heaved the body out, some sort of sensor on the door beeped. And alarms started ringing all over. None of us had expected this. I had to think quickly, and we decided to make a run for it. As we turned round the corner, we crashed into a stretcher trolley, and careened off towards the ledge, and into the glass pane.

Now picture a scene from an action movie, wherein an old man and a young girl are saved by a suave hero with an understated air of calm, and the trio come crashing down from the second floor of a hospital, stacked on a bed-on-wheels, miraculously landing with fullest poise neatly in the midst of a dozen awestruck bystanders on the road.

And that’s exactly what didn’t happen. Numerous shards of glass hurtled downwards, shimmering in the light and tinkling onto the ground. Amidst the chaos that ensued, Christie and I were tossed into an alley, as the body bag bounced and came to a halt nearby, while the bed veered off into the distance, carrying the old man with it.

As I tried to recover from the shock, Christie received a text message that seemed to greatly relieve her.

“It’s my mom. She asked whether I’ve picked up my dad’s toddy from the Lofty Skull yet. I guess I probably didn’t hear her right. Can you believe that?”, she tittered, pleasantly amused. “But thanks for your help anyways. Bye!” And she tottered off happily, leaving me still gaping in bewilderment.

I began to trudge slowly, reflecting on the day’s surreal occurrences, when my eyes suddenly caught a glimpse of the bed from the hospital, toppled over sideways, and the old man trying to cross the road without much luck. Too shocked to speak, I helped him without uttering a word. And it was in the middle of this road that the bike smashed into me.

And that’s why he couldn’t technically be called an onlooker. Because he couldn’t look! Come to think of it, I have no idea how he managed to dodge the accident and escape unscathed anyway. I looked up to the spot where I last saw him. He was gone. When I came to, I hobbled over to help the girl, visibly in pain, get back up. As she turned over, I was taken aback to see her face. It was Christie.

“Oh, hi. Are you alright? Look I’m really, really sorry--”, I stammered.

“Lorry? No, silly. I came in a bike. That one, over there, see?”, she said, quizzically, pointing to where the mangled remains of her bike lay.

“Umm. Ok. I really wish I could do something to make up for what I’ve done. At the very least, allow me pay for your medical expenses—“

“You noticed my lenses? Cool! Don’t they make me look pretty?”, she asked, gazing at me intently.

“Yes, you really do have pretty eyes”, I fumbled, digging into my pockets to take out my wallet. But I was unable to find it. After conducting a second thorough examination, I managed to pull out a crumpled up piece of paper from one of them. As I turned it over, I saw that it had three words hastily scrawled upon it. I was equally amused and appalled as I read what they said – Optical Implants Corporation. Or, acronymically --