Monday, November 13, 2017


I have never understood why we are so unjust to some words. I mean, look, we have words meaning practically the same thing and one word we sort of consider embrace like a long-lost friend and the other we twitch our skirts away and walk around as though it is a turd lying on your primrose path.

Take this word 'parsimony' for example. You have that other word 'frugal' which means about the same thing. But call someone 'frugal' and he preens as though he has been given the Nobel Prize for literature. Or, more to the point, the top award for conservation. Frugal seems to indicate the sort of chap who abhors waste and uses his resources carefully to the best effect.

Parsimony, on the other hand, is the poor cousin. To call someone parsimonious is to accuse him of being the sort of chap that becomes the butt of jokes. Somewhat like that kanjoos father and son. (WHAT? THAT word - kanjoos - has not yet entered ANY English dictionary? How remiss of them!) The son is proud of having run after a bus all the way home and saved twenty bucks and the father chides him for not having run after a cab thereby saving two hundred. THAT sort of chap gets called parsimonious. (Come to think of it, kanjoos is a much better word - easier on the typing fingers.)

In other words, when you are frugal, you are the sort of person who does not waste food on your plate. When you are parsimonious, you are the sort of chap who thinks that a slice of bread is too rich a dinner and saves half of it for breakfast. How totally unjust to poor old parsimony.

Though, I suppose, that parsimony will still have the last laugh. Frugal has been basking in praise all this while but, alas, good things do not last...even for words. We have now entered an era when frugal will face the music.

There is a saying in Tamil. It is ideal to have Kuber (the Lord of Wealth) and Sudama (the byword for poverty) possess equal wealth; it is difficult to convert ALL the Sudamas of the world to Kuber; so, we decided to convert Kuber into another Sudama. That was a colorful way of making fun of the idea that, if bringing the poor at par with the rich is the ideal and enriching the poor is difficult, it serves just as well to impoverish the rich.

AND, thus, since giving parsimony a good reputation is tough, we have decided to convert frugal into another bad word.

Vive le EMIs!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Dogged by the discerning

Into everyone's life some rain must fall. The problem, though, is that when it comes to my life it falls continuously and with all the fury of a Bombay monsoon. This particular occasion, though, I intend shedding copious tears about how little appreciated I am.

You know, everybody seems to have a crowd of people who are not too discerning and, if discerning, not too nitpicking about their efforts. Probably, in childhood, when they bleated, "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" there was a chorus of people telling them and their parents, "He is the future Mohammed Rafi." When they started on A for Apple, they were the next Salman Rushdie or Chetan Bhagat as per choice. When they first got their crayons and the walls squirmed with the fear of their attentions, Picasso could take their correspondence course. When they...hmmm, you got the point? OK.

Comes to me, though, I seem to be surrounded by the most nitpicking of critics every single time. I mean, I sing a film song and out comes my audience with "On that third line, you should use the soft 'Ri'" I was not even aware that I was using ANY 'Ri', regardless of its texture but...and, no information about whether, but for that 'Ri', whatever it meant, the singing was pleasant or not. These chaps, though, count as the best of the lot, believe me. There are those who clutch their ears and run as though someone was pouring hot oil into them. Somewhere in between are the guys who egg me on to sing and then start vociferously chatting with the others as though to drown out the braying of...forget it, I am sure you know the animal which brays. So much for encouragement.

And then I start writing. Here, at last, I thought I may not fare too badly. I happily share my writing and..."In that third line in the fourth para, there is an unnecessary comma." AND, of course, not a word about how it was otherwise. THAT, of course, was from a discerning reader who actually bothered to get back to me. Else...even a stone sinks into the water after causing ripples.

You know, it beats me how I manage to find all these people and ONLY them. The ones with so fine-tuned a taste that a 'Ri' of the wrong texture or a misplaced comma completely ruins their day. Somewhat like that Princess in the fairy tale who lay down atop some 20 mattresses and tossed and turned all night, unable to sleep, because a single solitary pea under that whole stack was irritating her sensitive skin. I could do with a little less discernment in my audience but, what can I say, if you went only by MY audience, you'd think that only animals could have any lesser discernment.

What was THAT? I have had my share of people praising me? Even those who comment DO comment, they do not ignore? I should learn to count my blessings? So, when was the last YOU counted YOUR blessings? Ah...I thought so. You are currently too busy counting your curses that you have not yet got around to it? Exactly! THAT's the way with me as well.

Anyway, I am still waiting for some uncritical admiration...and it is still raining!