Friday, September 30, 2005

You naeka person!

Did you know that people in Indonesia have a word that means 'to take off your clothes in order to dance'? That there is a German word for the disappointment you feel when something you were apprehensive about didn't turn out as badly as it might have? And my favourite: the Malay word for 'combing one's hair in anger'. This man has gone and compiled a dictionary of the world's most apt words that describe really obscure and esoteric activities, emotions and events.

Even more hilarious are the alternative answers in Guardian's quiz on the book. For the Indonesian word neko-neko, which actually means... well take the quiz... one of the options they have invented ( I presume) is 'A woman who appears pretty when seen from behind but not from the front'. Unless there IS a word to describe just this in Indonesian, in which case they are the most brilliant race of earth.

I don't know if any Indian words make the list, but am certain that some Bengali ones would have been shoo-ins. Take the much-quoted 'naeka' for example. I don't think there is a word in any language of the world that encompasses all the nuances of this word that describes a coy, sometimes-scheming young woman who is very likely to flutter her eyelashes at men and speaks in a typical vocal intonation that can be extremely grating on the nerves. Or my grandmother's favourite 'dhankach', as in 'don't stand there like a dhankach', which essentially means a person who keeps lounging around foolishly and can't figure out how things are to be done and consequently gets on the nerves of the person who is rushing about doing things in their usual efficient way.

There are many, many more. Readers are welcome to pitch in. Till then, let me speak to my grandmother and get back.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Do I have to?

Blogger ennui has set in. Am trying to convince myself I still do want to blog, for even as I write my mind is turning off the whole thing and... I ... don't... know... if .... I... really... zzzz

Gosh, that last line sounds right out of a Barbara Cartland novel, in which the swooning heroine shows a marked partiality for ellipses, those much-misunderstood punctuation marks**. "My... Lord... Duke... I cannot conceive how... you ...can bestow... such an honour... upon one... so undeserving ... as... I" she goes before she swoons right into the arms of My Lord Duke, and has her lips and sweet upturned face smothered with ardent kisses.

As is apparent, I have been reading a lot of trash lately. Not Barbara Cartland, thank heavens, but her slightly more upmarket counterpart Georgette Heyer. Actually, she is quite a bit more upmarket, for a quick search tells me people have taken her seriously enough to write research papers on her. At least, her heroines are mostly spirited, almost hoydenish, and extremely bold creatures who never swoon. One thing they are not is 'missish' and to know the exact connotations of that word, one would have to familiarise oneself extensively with Ms Heyer's works, which is more than what I can expect my readers to do.

Can't bring myself to do more serious reading these days. Am telling myself it's just a phase and I'll turn back into my literary self but there's a horrible feeling deep inside that I'm turning into my mother who reads Sidney Sheldon at age 50 with great gusto. A common fear, I am told, as one approaches 30 -- that one is turning into one's mother. But seriously, though I haven't sunk as low as Sidney Sheldon, anything that needs more than one-tenth of my attention while reading is not being read. Hell, the only thing I'm doing these days with any amount of enthusiasm and animation is playing Minesweeper. My score is at an all-time high (141 seconds to complete the expert level) and constant efforts are being made to improve it.

Ok, so Minesweeper. My dedication to the game surprises me constantly, for I am totally those non-game types, I can't begin to understand why people would spend hours playing Bounce Ball on their mobile phones or Motoracer on their computers. But put me in front of a PC and watch me reach inexorably for that Minewseeper icon, in yet another effort to beat J K Rowling whose expert time is somewhere around 120, I believe. I write two lines of whatever crap story I am working on at the minute and play a game. I can't talk on the phone without clicking away simultaneously (and some of my best times have been achieved while this huge multi-tasking experiment is on) and I've been doing this for well nigh a year now. What it is about this game when worthier interests have been gleefully abandoned is something I'll have to figure out while I'm playing the next game. I have no doubt there are people who have better records but I don't think they can touch me on dedication.

P.S. Started playing Minesweeper even as I wrote this, prompting a long-suffering colleague, whom my click-clicking must drive crazy, to say 'They should give you a Loyal User Award, these Minesweeper people'. Ha! Anybody know of international tournaments, or anything? Can already see myself as Sania Mirza-type celebrity, including visions of interviewing self for the ol' paper.

** Lynne Truss, I have failed you, for despite your best efforts the right way to use them eludes me, too.