Dictionary, Shmictionary: Uncoined melody

Engraving of Noah Webster, from the frontispie...

Engraving of Noah Webster, from the frontispiece of Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, Revised and Enlarged (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).

There was a time,

When I’d use words liberally,

Hoping I’m getting them right by context.

You see: I’d read them somewhere.

It’s an old habit,

And habits die hard.

Now my favorite book is the dictionary:

Collins, Oxford, Websters etc.

As you like it,

As you know it,

As you expect it.

But mostly, as my text editor permits it.

—Linus Fernandes.


Zoltar’s Revenge: Tom’s First Day (Fiction)

In a reversal of Big, the Tom Hanks classic from the 80s, your adult self is suddenly locked in the body of a 12-year-old kid. How do you survive your first day back in school?

It  happened while he was sleeping.

He woke up, rising lightly from his bed and danced into the bathroom.

It was the mirror that made him aware of the changes in his physiognomy.

He was now his 12-year-old self.

A quick glance at the calendar; the year was 1958.

1958.1958. 1958.

“What the hell?” he yelled out.

The sharp tones of his mother echoed from the kitchen, “No swearing in this house, Tom. You know the rules. And why don’t you watch where you’re going if you don’t  want to stub your foot on the door step.”

He could not understand it. Yesterday, he had lain down to sleep , a fully-grown, slightly disappointed man in his mid-50s.

And today, he was back in his childhood.

What could have transpired? Was it just a dream? Or had he fallen through some time portal?

He did not believe in magic.

“But time portals, surely, that’s scientifically possible. They don’t just occur in fantasy genre movies.

They are part of most sci-fi movies as well.”

“Am I in a movie?” he thought aloud and then quickly dismissed the thought as soon as it occurred to him.

“Be rational. Be real. Think it through.”

But the sound of that dreaded school bus outside the window brought back all the chills and fears he felt for his left-behind school days.

“Oh, no!” The child in him cried—the minor in the adult in a minor’s body.


And he looked at the calendar again.

It was the 12th of September, 1958.

It was then he recalled his first day at school.

He never got there.

He dismounted the bus and walked all the way home, hiding out in the backyard until the school bus returned.

This continued for a good month, until the school principal called one day.

That is a tale for another day.


English: A 2010 Girardin MB-II school bus belo...

English: A 2010 Girardin MB-II school bus belonging to Boston Public Schools. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





Raghuram Rajan: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Raghuram Rajan

What he said:

“A 007 James Bond image is very dangerous for a central banker to have.”

Rajan added:

“…the RBI  is being managed well. I have spent a lot of time watching the system and thinking about it from my 2008 report to my stint as an adviser to the Prime Minister and as the chief economic adviser.
There are a lot of things I know can be done. I am trying to push to get those things done sooner rather than later. There is tremendous amount of work inside the RBI on doing things, not just by me but my predecessor, Dr Subbarao. I don’t want to take that James Bond (image). But, a banker on the move — I will take that.”

What he really meant:

“I’m licensed but not to kill. I cannot appear to be running the RBI like a bull in a chinaware shop. Everything has to be planned and methodical. Nothing should be left to chance. I cannot be unpredictable or appear to be so. My very demeanor and presence should reassure my constituents.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Bonds, equity, cash…I’ll take whatever image comes with that. You may even call me Goldfinger.”



Full Disclosure: Mad Scientist’s chip off the block

A mad scientist friend offers you a chip that would allow you to know what the people you’re talking to are thinking. The catch: you can’t turn it off. Do you accept the chip?


So you’re offering me a chip that lets me know what the people I’m talking to are thinking?

Would I want it, especially since it can never be turned off?

That sounds much like the premise behind a Canadian serial “The Listener” where Toby Logan is a paramedic who can hear people’s thoughts.

The Good Samaritan uses his “subsonic” abilities to help the local police solve crimes.

Man thinking on a train journey.

Man thinking on a train journey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As for me, I’d like to picture where and when this device would be useful.

With people I know and like, if I heard their unpalatable thoughts, well, I’d be put off,  probably unpleasantly surprised.

With perfect strangers, well, you don’t expect their thoughts to concern you and hence maybe I’d get an insight as to why they have those pained expressions on their countenances.

For people I know and dislike, well, it’d probably just be mere validation of my opinion of their opinion of me.

But, wait a second, what about me and my thoughts?

With all those external musings jostling for space in my overwrought brain, when would I have space and time to be with my own reflections?

Would I have to take to a solitary retreat to understand myself?

So , the answer’s no, Sir, I rather wouldn’t!



The Listener (TV series)

The Listener (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Julia Gillard: What she said, really meant and definitely didn’t

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Mulayam Singh Yadav: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

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