Friday, February 18, 2011

Jargon Idiolecture


Why is that Lawyers and Accountants speak a strange language?

Had a bad day with my lawyer today and it was my auditor yesterday. No, nothing wrong with them – its just I cant understand the weird language they speak.

It seems that most professionals (like lawyers, accountants, doctors, engineers..) are to blame for developing a complex vocabulary entirely or themselves. Partly, I suppose, to give themselves an resourceful way of talking to each other and partly to sound intelligent but then they forget that the rest of the world hasn't really seen their odd glossary of terms… yet we have their inexplicable jargon imposed on us.

To their timeless credit, lawyers and accountants especially have developed an industry based almost entirely on their own language that only their fellow brethren can comprehend - with lengthy unpunctuated sentences, bizarre unenglish terms and over formal lingo. Needless to say, this means we have to pay them (or law/finance book publishers) simply to decipher what exactly each of them is saying!

Well, the point here is that it's incredibly refreshing to see some brands that are brave enough to realize that simple communication has a much broader appeal, and is genuinely more practical. You should never have to read anything more than once. And speaking in an strange, multifarious or formal tone of voice will not guarantee you project yourself as more gifted or erudite than your competitors.

The evidence is out there and it still feels new, but it's basic common sense – talk as people talk. Explain complex issues as you would to your pal at the pub, and it'll make far more sense than if you try to jargonise and embellish what you're saying with fancy terms.

Anyway, gotta scoot now. Gotta run some ideas up my laptop before my client’s personal assistant locks diaries with me. Hope this didn’t sound too jargonish to you!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Flirting Classes From St.Valentine!


Celebrating Valentine's Day in the New World!

Valentine's Day is just a day away but I want St. Valentine to come back. The world needs some serious love help if the recent claim proves correct that half of all men, especially the American kind have forgotten how to flirt. After all, the thing about the global village is that whatever happens in the "developed" world eventually reaches the "developing" world, in which if you hadn't noticed it - we in India happen to be.

Geographical borders no longer prevent anything - from Viagra, iPhone, iPad to a noxious bacterium - from leaping across seas, mountains and continents and taking root in climates where they might not otherwise flourish. Trends, fashions and fancies also reach us in due course, and when they do we're often not quite ready for them.

Take feminism for example. North Americans first awoke to this dogma in the early '60s. It grew organically from the frustrations of the post-war housewife, trapped in her suburban home with only a few new-fangled household gadgets and a horde of children to keep her company. The urge to break free from these confines took time to dawn on these women-as well as on the men who used to blow a kiss to them from the driveway before backing out the family station-wagon and heading for another day at the factory or office.

As the ideology of women's liberation gradually spread out, inspired by the writings and minds of leading women academics, writers and social activists of those days, it eventually reached the kitchens of millions of American housewives.

Today, Americans talk of a post-feminist society and men know all too well the cost of ignoring gender equality. One topical example is the fact the former President of the United States had to vigorously fight for his political life because of a sexual indiscretion that, during the pre-feminist era, would hardly have registered on the political Geiger counter.

When feminism finally arrived in India during the 1980s through a few middle class Indian academics, Indian women had spoken about it before then but it seemed, at first, like an alien concept. And in many ways it was and still is to many Indians, both women and men besides the political right wing Hindu and Muslim outfits.

Indians had not, and have not, lived through the various birth stages of this new way of thinking, and we received it here like a FedEx package that had gone astray with all the assembly instructions intact. We sort of know what to do with the contents; it's just that we're still not quite sure how to put the damn thing together. I know many Indians would disagree but it’s an undeniable fact.

So it was with keen interest that I learned some University researchers in the US have shown that 50 percent of all American men no longer know how to flirt with women. Flirting, the study claims, is a dying art because men are wary that it might lead to accusations of sexual harassment. Apparently social scientists have noted a same trend in other parts of western hemisphere.

One wonders how long it will be before this phenomenon fully engulfs our country - if it ever will. Indians unlike their American and European counterparts seem much less inclined to succumb to new social conventions when it comes to women.

We still live in a traditional, macho society and most of our men have a sky high self-esteem (whether they deserve it or not) that is still quite full-bodied and intact. Ask women, especially single Indian women who try to go out socially in a club or bar, how often men hit on them. It's virtually impossible for a woman to sit alone at a pub in our country without some macho ego in a slick suit or a pair of tight jeans offering to buy her a drink and take her home.

The thing about flirting - and this is what Indian men just don't seem to understand - is that it's not meant to be a method of extracting sex from a woman alone. Flirting is about letting a woman know that you're attracted to her, not just for sexual reasons, but because you find her interesting.

Women will always be suspicious of flirts as long as the primary motive is selfish. Until men everywhere understand that sex is not the only thing women have to offer, women will just make if difficult for men and if they have to scare you in the process, so they will definitely. So come back St. Valentine and make us all celebrate a happy Valentines Day.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

February's Essential Reading - Blast from the Past

9 Awesome Books to Read from the 90s I guess!

Strip Tease - CARL HIAASEN
This may have been a really awful movie to remember, except for Demi Moore's title act for which she was apparently paid $12.5 million but the book by Carl Hiaasen on which it was based, is one helluva fun. With a snappy story line of corrupt politicians, vain TV reporters, grumble cops and a heroine to good to be true, Striptease is a virtual teaser, especially its hard-edged satire on American politicians. Incidentally, Striptease the movie was a colossal box office and critical failure and also won the Golden Raspberry Award for the 1996's Worst Picture of the Year.

Fullalove - GORDON BURN
A tender sentimental title, an innocent photograph of a cuddly toy puppy and you would think it to be a rosy children's novel. But just after a few pages of reading and it's clear Burn's no hold's barred tale of a blacked-out tabloid hero who covers serial killings and child snatchings is the last thing you would want your kids to snuggle up next to their beds. Burn, who was also an award-winning columnist for Esquire and Rolling Stone, conjures up a veritable blood bath with Norman Miller, the hero criss-crossing crash sites, visiting hospitals and mass murderers. By the time, you reach the end, you are a drained-out, sensitized zombie yourself, Read "Happy like Murderers" too, also by Burn if you like this one.

Vurt - JEFF NOON
Too beautiful for bikers, too harsh for hippies wrote the New Statesman when Noon's debut hit the Sci-Fi markets in 1994. And it sure hit hard. Vurt was not only voted the science fiction novel of the year but also won the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke award. No achievement this, when you compare the fact that Noon was competing against the usual Sci-Fi biggies like Gibson and Asimov. Vurt is a Sci-Fi surprise, no gang-bang Star war adventure but a move down to earth setting in near future Manchester and a plot that creeps up to a superb climax. If you haven't read it until now, go grab it even if you don't like menacing Aliens and organic galaxies.

Bombay Talkie - AMEENA MEER
When we think of life in India, two clichés come to mind. The first of chicken tikka, snake charmers, bullock carts and women in colorful saris, the second is the bleeding image of a growing densely populated country trying to come in terms with BPOs, atom bombs, Aids and corruption. Ameena Meer's bold debut blows the lid of these stereotypes with a insiders look of wannabe twenty some thing Indians struggling to make it big in a brave new world where east meets west with interesting consequences. Meer's debut packs enough ethnic zing, sexual tension and local flavors to make “Bombay Talkie" a fabulous read.

Fishboy - MARK RICHARD
For a start, Mark Richard's best selling Fishboy sounds a tad boring especially its tedious long beginning that stretches the limits. Your patience is soon rewarded as it slowly turns into a dazzling roller coaster with enough imaginative twists and turns that keeps you spellbound to the finish. With bizarre characters like the lead fish boy, fish wives, seafarers, nuclear submarines and beautiful mermaids for company, Richard builds a intoxicating fantasy that is surreal, dark and good fun to read. P.S: Here's a small nugget you may love to know - Mark Richard was screenwriter for 2008's American war drama film "Stop Loss" directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry) which starred Ryan Phillippe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Sleepeasy - TM WRIGHT
The premise is simple. Hero Harry Briggs is searching for his pregnant wife who is suddenly missing but is rumored to be happy and living in Silver lake. The surprise however, is that Harry Briggs is a dead man and Silver lake is a state of mind. With such a noirish ghostliness attached to it, Wright has enough fun as Harry frantically searches for his wife with just a revolver trench coat in a world that obeys no laws except the supernatural and nothing is perfect. A waking dream of a novel, Sleepeasy may not be your ideal horror read, but it sure is a delight. From the award winning author of the internationally best selling " A Manhattan Ghost Story" which is soon to be made into a movie.

Kolynsky Heights - LIONEL DAVIDSON
With shades of Clive Cussler's "Vixen 03 ", critically acclaimed Davidson's Kolynsky Heights is one of those old fashioned, spy themed, fine action adventures that you don't read these days. With an serpentine plot that stretches from a secret lab in ice cold Siberia to Oxford and a hero as suave as James Bond, the no-nonsense narrative motors along nicely at overdrive speed and regular bursts of neat action. Keeps you pre-occupied till its shattering and satisfying climax. If you like this, I would recommend the award winning and equally popular "A Long Way to Shiloh" and "The Chelsea Murders"

Slowness - MILAN KUNDERA
The author of the best selling "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", Milan Kundera has been one of the most fascinating writers of our century and with Slowness, he proved he was indeed one of the very best. His critics may not really agree but Slowness, is actually a fast paced philosophical tale of loss and human tragedy. Heavy stuff about two centuries linked together by the theme of seduction, about nobles and sex put across with a delightful lightness and grace, which only Kundera can muster. It's an altogether different question about the title, which of course, is ironic.

Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow - PETER HOEG
A delightful and superb novel that made Hoeg, a house hold name in literary circles. And why not indeed. A moody murder thriller, steeped in an cold Nordic interior, Hoeg builds the tempo sublimely and pulls it off efficiently with his elegant prose and wonderfull characterizations. For some, it may be a bit modish, privy to contemporary crime fiction and a predictable plot may too obviously haunt its pages, but this is a splendid novel that sets the mind dreaming and these days, too few books do that. In 1997, this book was also made into a pleasant little movie - "Smilla's Sense of Snow" starring Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne, Robert Loggia, Jim Broadbent, Richard Harris and Tom Wilkinson.
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