Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Guilty and Proud

One of the few good things about working in an Indian company is getting to hear people ruthlessly murder the queen’s language. The web is replete with resources on faux pas in English committed across the world but Indians have a beautiful way of doing it.
During the last three years I have had the privilege to witness some acts of barbaric treatment towards English. My top 5 are listed below:                                                       

1. India is a land of many cultures and hence many festivals. Some of these are actually beyond the comprehension of expats who often come to India in search of better challenges and fatter pay cheques. One such gentleman in my earlier company almost went through a convulsion one day when he enquired the reason for absenteeism at work. His secretary rolled up her best Tamil accent and told him – “Saar it’s Naag Panchami Saar. On this day we pour milk into a snake’s hole”. The poor expat never got over it. I hear that he has moved on and gone back to where he came from – A place where Snakes’ Holes are aren't tinkered with.

2. The number 2 slot goes to this wonderfully jovial gentleman - again from Chennai- who was always ready to help. A few consultants had visited our office from Japan and unfortunately chose him to find out where the washroom restroom was. Our dear friend shook his head in negative and educated the delegates – “Saar, we don’t have washrooms restroom in Indian offices. Not PHossible!”  The consultants were sure that they couldn’t wait to get back to Japan for a comfort break and tried to reason but our man stuck to his guns. A passerby intervened and helped the team – by then in visibly great discomfort – to find the loo. 

3. At times you don’t need to screw English by twisting it in your sentence; you can also ruin the essence of a communication by comprehending it in a totally different way. One lady I work with gave a new dimension all together to email communication. She shared a creative design with one of the senior managers and was asked to stick to the original creative (and therefore not make any changes while adapting). In response to this, she immediately wrote back a mail with an old creative (in the original layout) attached. Her mail read – Dear Ma’am, Original creative is stuck in the mail. Please do the needful

4. Just today, this lady (yes, the same one) did something which cracked me up (again). One of the cells in her weekly update sheet on branding initiatives at her location reads – “ 5 Finalised. Will be hanged by June 8”.  After overcoming an initial shock, I figured out that she was referring to 5 sites that had been finalized and the flex boards which had to be hoisted (in her words- hanged)

5. The fifth entry is not so much of an erroneous use of English but I like it for its intrinsic value. The IT helpdesk guy in my last organization was called Ram. Ram was fairly absent minded and usually incapable of handling work challenges - like fixing IT related problems - . I think all this made him despise the very nature of his name -  RAM ,which his computer literate mind deciphered as Random Access Memory ; a temporary and volatile memory in the computer. He might have visited an astrologer and told him of his state of mind and on his advice, changed his name to something more permanent – ROM (In computer parlance – Read Only Memory ,a permanent memory that resides in the computer)

So that’s my TOP 5. If you have more incidents like these to share, please add on. As for my take on consistent exploitation of English by us as a nation, I believe all this is intentional. Our forefathers who fought for the country’s independence deliberately planted this attribute in their DNA and passed it on to the generations that followed. The English may have ruled us for 100 years but we will screw their language for the next 500. Jai Hind!
(Image Courtesy:


  1. hahaha :D
    Keep 'em coming !!

  2. Lol!! Chennai is dominating over here.. btw it wasnt the secretary.. it was mr. satya.. "The Snake's hole" saga..

  3. @Snig: Ah.. I remember now! The Great Satya :D

  4. Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't ignore 'em! Satya and Rom have affected us in so many ways!
    Lets also take a moment to lament errors of redundancy.. I am ofcourse referring to the ever popular 'round circle' and 'repeat again'.
    Kill me! Until I'm dead.

  5. This is really amusing stuff. Let me stuck some attachments now, time to work.

  6. LOL! to be fair to Ram sir, the Japanese asked for the rest room. I think he was all the more vehement about not having one so that he could leave the Japanese impressed with our 'no rest' work ethics.

  7. Zeetal, my apologies for getting that one wrong. In fact it is truly a reflection of Ram sir's commitment to work :D I have made the required change in the post :)

  8. hahaha.. Good one. Very recently when I mentioned to a 'phoreigner' here that I 'passed out from my first uni in xyz year, she looked all worried and asked me- ' Did you visit a doc? What was the reason for your passing out?' Blah!


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