© Santosh Subramanian – Some rights reserved - Under Creative Commons

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dysphemism, Cacophemism & Swearing

What happens when somebody swears at you? From the time it hits your ears, through the message getting transmitted to your brain, the brain deciphering them and you understanding the message, the message getting registered in the encyclopedia called your memory; working like a neural network, continously assimilating information and learning from the day to day activities...

Pretty interesting thought - right? Well, I had somebody swear at me very badly (for what ever reasons that I dont want to mention here) that it would be my last {something} before I die. WOW! What if people had such powers like the old saints in the epics of the Indian civilization - that somebody could turn somebody into a rock, or a buffalo or whatever according to their whims & fancies.

I was initially angered, then pained and then saddened by what I heard and I thought that 'time', the super healer would take away that from my mind. But wait! There is a new emotion that started to play after this incident. The emotion called fear. An unprecedented fear have started gripping me in every activity that I do. I had never felt such a fear based on swearings before (Now, dont start thinking that I am so bad so that people are continously swearing at me... LOL - just being candid) like I felt this time.

I had had a very close brush with death in the year 2003 which was a rude awakening for me. I learned that all it takes is just a few seconds... irrespective of what ever fort or career or money or muscle power that you have built up in life. And this is probably the first time I am being sweared at - after that incident. It kind of makes me feel how vulnerable I am - when it comes to matters like my need to live, the need to support my family, the need to support my kid until she gets on her own feet... I realize that I am not able to drive confidently and every other minute I think of a truck coming crushing on to me. I don't feel confident of getting into the pool or the beach - though I am a decent swimmer... I don't even feel comfortable walking on the foot path!

It is a psychology thing - I understand; and may be the more amount of the perpetual healer (time) will get me out of this... In my mother tongue (
Malayalam) we say something like "Aram pattunna vaaku (അറം പറ്റുന്ന വാക്ക്)" and I used to brush off that out saying that it is just a 'mind thing'. And 'just a mind thing' can create so much of imbalance in a person's day to day life affecting everything in his/her life.

Words are very powerful - handle them with care.

A few research on wiki on
Swearing took me to the following words - Dysphemism and Cacophemism - hence the title

Monday, July 21, 2008

The story of a severed finger

“This is an imaginative Story. If there is a resemblance with somebody dead or alive, it is pure coincidental”
(I have to make this disclaimer to stay alive… LOL)

Sea-Queen is a modern city that has all the entrapments of a modern city & one that is suffering from a sudden spurt of economic growth. The difference between the haves and the have-nots, the increasing crime rates, roads brimming with both old & ultra-modern vehicles, the neo-urban crowd getting out of the air-conditioned offices, driving their priceless passions to the near-by discotheque or the club… Bang in the middle of the City, where the road is named in memory of the Father of the Nation, majestically stands the 8 floored “Trust Hospital”. One of the Star hospitals in the City, which only the financially upper crest in the society have access to.

It was a humid evening in the seaside city of Sea-Queen. Despite being the monsoon, there is no sight of any rain clouds & the sun had battered down the city the whole day. The Atul family is currently vacationing in the City meeting their extended family. Atul is an executive with an MNC based out of the USA, his wife Sindhu is an analyst with another MNC Bank and their daughter KunjiPennu is just 3. They are staying with Sindhu’s brother Njanja who works in the city & Sindhu’s sister was supposed to join them that evening. They all were waiting in the bye-pass junction at around 7:30 in the evening when that eventful incident happened! Sindhu decided to get out of the car & closed the door on her own left index finger causing a blackened & severed finger.

Thunder struck! Black clouds rolled in from nowhere! Lightning blazed out a couple of transformers! The world came to a stand still!!! Njanja went to a nearby juice store to get an ice cube so that the finger could be saved… Sindhu was grief-stricken by the horror of seeing her index finger…blackened by the blood clot, how would she write design documents any more? How would she do shopping? How would she travel in the sub-way? Ohh my God! That is when the idea struck Njanja – “Lets take Sindhu to the Trust Hospital” – he said. Atul was like… WHAT!!?? To the Trust Hospital? It is past 7:30 now & we would have to take her to the Emergency/Casuality then… But he held his thoughts. He already knew that good sense doesn’t prevail & listening skills was something both of them have not learned or mastered. He agreed – “Woookaaay…Let’s go then”. Even though he said OK, Atul knew that the challenge is on him now. 7:45 PM, City of Sea-Queen, Traffic situation, Gandhi Road… well the destined has to happen.

All the while Atul was wading through the traffic, he was thinking of an idea to save the embarrassment. You have the Trust Hospital on one side and 2 people who refuse to listen on the other… What will he do to save his face? While the question remained, he managed to get a paid parking space and the procession started – Sindhu with a blackened finger leading the procession and a group of 5 people following her to the Casuality of the Trust Hospital. Just then a gentle man who was profusely bleeding (he apparently met with an accident on his bike) was rushed to the Casuality with multiple injuries and they went past this procession.

Then Atul spotted his savior! Smiling at him was an ATM. The Green and White SBI with a Key hole smiling at him… He thought for a second…”Was ATM named as ‘Any Time Masquerade’”? He told Njanja that since Casuality is going to charge a fortune, he would quickly go to the ATM to draw some money… And he would be back before the doctor arrives… And he just scooted from the scene. He came back after a couple of minutes (well, more than a couple of minutes J) to evaluate the situation. He heard cries long before he reached the examination room… But was that a male voice? Did something happen to her voice? May be something to do with the nerves… Those stuff are more complicated than the voice control rooms… And what did he see!?

An elderly lady in a green gown looking at Sindhu’s fingers while a group of white gowned attending to the gentleman who was brought in after the accident. The lady just mentioned that there is nothing to be done except that if it pains, then take some pain killer tablets. Atul was so relieved that she did not say that – “It will take an hour for the psychiatrist to come…”… The procession turned back, this time silent, more due to a studied silence by everyone… just like a mourning procession.

The vacation was over; the Atul family flew back to the USA where they went to meet Sindhu’s cousins on a weekend. While having dinner, he asked – “Ohh wow! You are an ideal citizen. Even though you just had a short vacation, you did not forget to vote! That is inspiring!!”

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Questions from an innocent mind

I received this long question and answer as a forwaded email, so I am not sure who authored this. But who ever it is, it is a wonderful compilation. Some genuine thoughts into the foreign policies of the largest economy and their possible answers. As answered to a child by his/her Dad.

The ending is a bit absurd, though it is a very good read


Q: Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq ?
A: Because they had weapons of mass destruction honey.

Q: But the inspectors didn't find any weapons of mass destruction.
A: That's because the Iraqis were hiding them.

Q: And that's why we invaded Iraq ?
A: Yep. Invasions always work better than inspections.

Q: But after we invaded them, we STILL didn't find any weapons of mass destruction, did we?
A: That's because the weapons are so well hidden. Don't worry, we'll find something, probably right before the 2008 election.

Q: Why did Iraq want all those weapons of mass destruction?
A: To use them in a war, silly.

Q: I'm confused. If they had all those weapons that they planned to use in a war, then why didn't they use any of those weapons when we went to war with them?
A: Well, obviously they didn't want anyone to know they had those weapons, so they chose to die by the thousands rather than defend themselves.

Q: That doesn't make sense Daddy. Why would they choose to die if they had all those big weapons to fight us back with?
A: It's a different culture. It's not supposed to make sense.

Q: I don't know about you, but I don't think they had any of those weapons our government said they did.
A: Well, you know, it doesn't matter whether or not they had those weapons. We had another good reason to invade them anyway.

Q: And what was that?
A: Even if Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, which is another good reason to invade another country.

Q: Why? What does a cruel dictator do that makes it OK to invade his country?
A: Well, for one thing, he tortured his own people.

Q: Kind of like what they do in China?
A: Don't go comparing China to Iraq. China is a good economic competitor, where millions of people work for slave wages in sweatshops to make U.S. corporations richer.

Q: So if a country lets its people be exploited for American corporate gain, it's a good country, even if that country tortures people?
A: Right.

Q: Why were people in Iraq being tortured?
A: For political crimes, mostly, like criticizing the government. People who criticized the government in Iraq were sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Isn't that exactly what happens in China?
A: I told you, China is different.

Q: What's the difference between China and Iraq ?
A: Well, for one thing, Iraq was ruled by the Ba'ath party, while China is Communist.

Q: Didn't you once tell me Communists were bad?
A: No, just Cuban Communists are bad.

Q: How are the Cuban Communists bad?
A: Well, for one thing, people who criticize the government in Cuba are sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Like in Iraq?
A: Exactly.

Q: And like in China, too?
A: I told you, China's a good economic competitor. Cuba, on the other hand, is not.

Q: How come Cuba isn't a good economic competitor?
A: Well, you see, back in the early 1960s, our government passed some laws that made it illegal for Americans to trade or do any business with Cuba until they stopped being communists and started being capitalists like us.

Q: But if we got rid of those laws, opened up trade with Cuba, and started doing business with them, wouldn't that help the Cubans become capitalists?
A: Don't be a smart-ass.

Q: I didn't think I was being one.
A: Well, anyway, they also don't have freedom of religion in Cuba.

Q: Kind of like China and the Falun Gong movement?
A: I told you, stop saying bad things about China. Anyway, Saddam Hussein came to power through a military coup, so he's not really a legitimate leader anyway.

Q: What's a military coup?
A: That's when a military general takes over the government of a country by force, instead of holding free elections like we do in the United States.

Q: Didn't the ruler of Pakistan come to power by a military coup?
A: You mean General Pervez Musharraf? Uh, yeah, he did, but Pakistan is our friend.

Q: Why is Pakistan our friend if their leader is illegitimate?
A: I never said Pervez Musharraf was illegitimate.

Q: Didn't you just say a military general who comes to power by forcibly overthrowing the legitimate government of a nation is an illegitimate leader?
A: Only Saddam Hussein. Pervez Musharraf is our friend, because he helped us invade Afghanistan.

Q: Why did we invade Afghanistan?
A: Because of what they did to us on September 11th.

Q: What did Afghanistan do to us on September 11th?
A: Well, on September 11th, nineteen men, fifteen of them Saudi Arabians, hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings, killing over 3,000 Americans.

Q: So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?
A: Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of the Taliban.

Q: Aren't the Taliban those bad radical Islamics who chopped off people's heads and hands?
A: Yes, that's exactly who they were. Not only did they chop off people's heads and hands, but they oppressed women, too.

Q: Didn't the Bush administration give the Taliban 43 million dollars back in May of 2001?
A: Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job fighting drugs.

Q: Fighting drugs?
A: Yes, the Taliban were very helpful in stopping people from growing opium poppies.

Q: How did they do such a good job?
A: Simple. If people were caught growing opium poppies, the Taliban would have their hands and heads cut off.

Q: So, when the Taliban cut off people's heads and hands for growing flowers, that was OK, but not if they cut people's heads and hands off for other reasons?
A: Yes. It's OK with us if radical Islamic fundamentalists cut off people's hands for growing flowers, but it's cruel if they cut off people's hands for stealing bread.

Q: Don't they also cut off people's hands and heads in Saudi Arabia?
A: That's different. Afghanistan was ruled by a tyrannical patriarchy that oppressed women and forced them to wear burqas whenever they were in public, with death by stoning as the penalty for women who did not comply.

Q: Don't Saudi women have to wear burqas in public, too?
A: No, Saudi women merely wear a traditional Islamic body covering.

Q: What's the difference?
A: The traditional Islamic covering worn by Saudi women is a modest yet fashionable garment that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers. The burqa, on the other hand, is an evil tool of patriarchal oppression that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers.

Q: It sounds like the same thing with a different name.
A: Now, don't go comparing Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are our friends.

Q: But I thought you said 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia.
A: Yes, but they trained in Afghanistan.

Q: Who trained them?
A: A very bad man named Osama bin Laden.

Q: Was he from Afghanistan?
A: Uh, no, he was from Saudi Arabia too. But he was a bad man, a very bad man.

Q: I seem to recall he was our friend once.
A: Only when we helped him and the mujahadeen repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s.

Q: Who are the Soviets? Was that the Evil Communist Empire Ronald Reagan talked about?
A: There are no more Soviets. The Soviet Union broke up in 1990 or thereabouts, and now they have elections and capitalism like us. We call them Russians now.

Q: So the Soviets? I mean, the Russians? are now our friends?
A: Well, not really. You see, they were our friends for many years after they stopped being Soviets, but then they decided not to support our invasion of Iraq. So we're mad at them now. We're also mad at the French and the Germans because they didn't help us invade Iraq either.

Q: So the French and Germans are evil, too?
A: Not exactly evil, but just bad enough that we had to rename French fries and French toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast.

Q: Do we always rename foods whenever another country doesn't do what we want them to do?
A: No, we just do that to our friends. Our enemies, we invade.

Q: But wasn't Iraq one of our friends back in the 1980s?
A: Well, yeah. For a while.

Q: Was Saddam Hussein ruler of Iraq back then?
A: Yes, but at the time he was fighting against Iran , which made him our friend, temporarily.

Q: Why did that make him our friend?
A: Because at that time, Iran was our enemy.

Q: Isn't that when he gassed the Kurds?
A: Yeah, but since he was fighting against Iran at the time, we looked the other way, to show him we were his friend.

Q: So anyone who fights against one of our enemies automatically becomes our friend?
A: Most of the time, yes.

Q: And anyone who fights against one of our friends is automatically an enemy?
A: Sometimes that's true, too. However, if American corporations can profit by selling weapons to both sides at the same time, all the better.

Q: Why?
A: Because war is good for the economy, which means war is good for America Also, since God is on America 's side, anyone who opposes war is a godless un-American Communist. Do you understand now why we attacked Iraq?

Q: I think so. We attacked them because God wanted us to, right?
A: Yes.

Q: But how did we know God wanted us to attack Iraq?
A: Well, you see, God personally speaks to Bush and tells him what to do.

Q: So basically, what you're saying is that we attacked Iraq because Bush hears voices in his head?
A: Yes! You finally understand how the world works. Now close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, and go to sleep. Good night.


Though the ending was sarcastic, I think there is some truth in most of the dialogues...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I am awed!

I couldn't believe it when I heard that for the first time. And this is unfortunately true.

Darwin's thoery of evolution is not taught to the children in the US of A until they finish their highschool & later opt for life sciences for their higher studies! And why? Because the church, who 'used to' (not anymore) run a parallel government here, did not believe so; And wanted the children to believe that humans originated from Adam & Eve - according to the version in the Bible.

What a shame for the most advanced ecomony! Not the belief part, but the agenda in the whole educational system.

This is bringing in a paradigm shift for me because I believed that education will stem out most of the rots in the society. Now I am starting to think that ignorance is really a bliss, the more you know about it, the more painful it turns around to be. Even after taking into consideration of the whole drama that is going on in Kerala about the Social Science Text book of class 7, I feel we are still 'culturally' far ahead; And the religious morons hand in hand with caste politicians are effectively taking us backward!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

My Hate List & all about Jeevan

Tagging is the best thing that can happen to me now. The simple reason being that I have hit a mental block on blogging - too many thoughts, not one to blog about! And I realize that I have been tagged by Dhanya.

Thank you Dhanya. I am picking up the tag with my hate list. Well, I actually have a list of people whom I secretly hate [:)], but ain't that politically so incorrect? So I am now choosing to be a little hypocritical to have my hate list as a 'category' of people. And here we go...

Rank 1. Religious fanatics: - This is one kind of people whom I cannot stand & I am normally lucky to find some way out of having to speak to such people. According to me, religion & faith is something personal and one should not wear it on their sleeves. I have also discovered an effective way to having them to shut up - ask logical questions, pick up the threads & rapid fire. And never talk about your thoughts, just ask genuine questions... After a few minutes, they will start to realize that they have been trapped by their own words & will excuse themselves.

Rank 2. Child Molesters: - With no exception, such people should be shot at range - point blank. They are a disgrace to civilization and I believe that they don’t even qualify to be considered under human right acts – because they are inhuman. They don’t realize the extent of psychological damage that they bring into the minds of the young children which they carry through out their life times. Physical damage can be healed, psychological damage is more devastating

Rank 3. Eve Teasers: - For some reason, I just can't reason with such people. Such people get so charged up when somebody else treats their own siblings in a similar fashion. The question I ask to such people is - How is 'that girl' different from your sibling? Every girl in the world is somebody's sister or mother or wife or daughter. So treat everyone with the respect they deserve!

Rank 4. People with double standards: - When it is about somebody in my family, I need to be concerned about the upbringing, facilities & the pampering that I need to provide them, but when it comes to somebody else’s family, it is all because they already have too much & need to learn the harsh realities of life! I always wonder how people can so openly have double standards! At a common man’s life, this is very common while dealing with children in their high schools or colleges.

A good example is school commute. I knew a person who had a kid in the same class of mine & he used to drop his kid in the school in a car while he used to lecture to my dad about the need for children having to learn the harsh realities of life, indirectly pointing to my dad not to give me money for the line-bus, so that we have to walk the 2.5 kms to school (Fare to my school was 10 paise per head one side & petrol was 22 rupees per liter then… grrr) to face the ‘harsh reality’ of life!

On a larger canvas, this is one of the biggest problems the world is facing from the present largest economy. If not for its double standards, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, the Afghan war and many more to come could have been/can be avoided.

Rank 5. Caste Politicians: - This is another category of people whom, if I had a chance would have shot point blank. They have no clue on how they are poisoning the minds of generations after generations for the sake of their vote bank politics. It does not come to me as a surprise that they are against education because it is convenient that way. I will come back on education after passing on the hate baton!

I would like to hand over the baton to the following people:-

Arun - Surprise to you - Keep blogging ;)
Sangeetha - Like to see the hate list of this ever positive personality
Parameshwaran - Another ever positive personality

All about Jeevan, the Casteless
Now, coming back to education, I feel ashamed about what is presently happening in Kerala (The state that is ranked second in India - in terms of literacy – a whopping 92% literate against the country average of ~55%) on certain sections of the Social Science text book of class 7 – A chapter roughly translated as “Jeevan, the casteless”. I was keen listening to the hungama while I was vacationing there last month & wanted to read the trivial chapter in the text book. I, having personally read the book, could not find anything trivial there and in contradiction, the chapter promotes resilience & teaches the students to respect other’s faiths. I still have no clue on why it is being quoted as the government trying to promote communism & teaching the students to shy away from beliefs. What was most disturbing was that there were a group of churches in the Middle-Travancore area who read out a statement in their daily masses that “We should protect our religion even if it means blood shed”.

What a Shame!

I have attached the scan copies of the trivial chapters - It is in Malayalam and since it is already trivial, I am not taking the risk of doing a transalation :)