12 November 2019

Brevity being the soul of wit…

Over the last two decades, about twice a week, I have sent two sets of text messages to my wife, Sharmila. They have been invariably: “Boarded plane” and “Landed”.

With that one exception two years back when I was so frustrated with my flight delays that I had vented “Emplaned” and “Deplaned”. But otherwise, I have stuck to typing those few words consistently.

My wife, on the other hand, no doubt driven by the realization of the futility of spending more time conversing with me has had an interesting progression in the length of her responses. If progression was the word I was looking for. I reckon regression might have been more apt.

From full sentences of late 90s to this morning’s response, you can see … whatever “gression” it is.

Safe flight. Text me when you reach. Love you.
Safe flight. Love you.
Safe flight.

It is like I have gone from “Max 80 characters in SMS” to “No more letters for you” faster than my flights could decide how late they wanted to be!!

🙂 🙂

3 November 2019

Bengali Alert!!

Seeking Bengali captions for this… Here are some for starters..

১। “আটা”: ব্যাপারটা পুরো মেখে গেছে
২। “ইংরেজীতে চা আনতে বললাম বলে তুই…. “

5 October 2019

Deep thoughts

Last night, I was listening to Ataullah Khan’s rendition of “Idhar Zindagi Ka Janaza Uthega”. It is a beautiful poem written from the point of view of the man who realizes that the lady he loves is getting married to somebody else that night.

And I realized that most of the ghazals and qawwalis (or a large fraction of them at least) are about unrequited love.

In the Western world, it happens differently:
Man loves woman.
Woman does not return the love.
Man moves on to next woman.

But from the subcontinent I come from, it is like:
Man loves woman.
Woman does not return the love.
Man sits down to write a poem!!


7 September 2019

An extreme case of false precision?

Flying from Denver to Chicago this week, I noticed that the American Airlines flight was informing us about our altitude – in first decimal place of a foot!!! To put it in perspective, 0.3 feet is about 3.5 inches – think about the width of your palm.

What was the great need to put that level of precision? Certainly, that level of precision cannot be accurate. A airplane measures its altitude, if I understand correctly, by the pressure difference of the outside where it is and the ground pressure.

Admittedly, it is a little more complicated than that – it has to understand what the local pressure at ground level of various points on earth are – regardless, it is a fairly inexact process. This is not your Sonar or Lidar technology at work.

Not to mention that to maintain that height constantly, the airplane would have to bounce around a lot depending on what is there in the ground below – you know a ditch here and a curb there…

I was thinking of asking American Airlines about it but was afraid they might ask me to “Depress” some button to get the accurate altitude 🙂 🙂

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7 September 2019


This is what the display on my loaner Lexus car said. So I yelled at the brake that it was a complete failure in life and was a worthless piece of doodoo. But the engine would not still start.

Finally, I just “pressed” the brake and the engine growled to life immediately…

“Depress”? Why Depress? Why not just “Press”?

What was the pressing need Lexus felt to use the secondary meaning of the word “depress”? Language used by the car companies – now, that is something that is “depressing”

🙂 🙂

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23 August 2019

Chai Tea???

More than a year back I switched up from drinking coffee to drinking tea. None of the Indian style tea leaves soaked in boiling milk or boiling water in a sauce pan style. Just the “dip dip” style (which is what we called them when tea-bags made their entry into India in my early life). Ever since my switch up, it has been one confusion in mind after another.

I thought there was only one type of tea – you know the one that kind that comes from errrr… a tea plant. (If you have not guessed it that is why it is called “tea”). Then I learnt there is something called green tea. I always thought tea was black. Sure enough, there is something called black tea. Of course finding out that there is something called Earl Grey tea did not help matters.

But I really hit the roof when I found out there is something called “herbal tea”. That is where my biggest peeve lies. You CANNOT call whatever it is that you drink “herbal tea”. There is no tea in it. Call it by the name of the dried flower it is made of or whatever herbal leaves it has. It can have a lot of those esoteric stuff – but tea leaves it has none. By definition it is not tea. Calling dried flowers herbal “tea” is like calling chicken herbal “mutton”.

And this morning, early in the Skyclub, as I was looking for some tea, I was jolted out of my stupor when I saw something called “Chai Tea”. Chai Tea??? Chai is the original name of the plant where it comes from in China/India area. The English word for it is Tea. What do you mean Chai Tea? There is no Chai Tea. Chai IS Tea.

Can’t quite decide whether I like it or like like it, I guess!

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10 August 2019

That was a funny stewardess!!

We had an extremely funny stewardess on our Delta flight from Chicago to Atlanta last evening. Anna seemed to have a slight East European accent and she kept us entertained throughout the flight with various chit chats. Some of her announcements had us in splits. A few of them I had heard before but a few were unique (or at least first time for me).

Here are some that I can remember…

Initially, we were taking a little time to get everybody settled down and there was a long queue of people inside and outside the plane as people were sorting out their seats. Anna came on the PA system and went “People! People! People! We are not furniture shopping here. No need to spend time choosing your chairs. They are all the same. They are blue!”

Finally, after the doors were closed, she announced “The doors have been closed. We are ready to push out. If Atlanta is not in your travel plans… well, now it is!”

Sometime later, she went “Delta has four of the world’s best Atlanta based stewardesses”. And then she added “None of them are on this flight…”

During the safety instructions, she explained how to inflate and operate the safety vests. “And after you reach the shore, the vest is yours to keep”, she explained further!

After landing, she announced “Our pilots are excellent in flying airplanes. But they are terrible drivers. So, please stay seated with your seat belts on.”

The best was for the last. The plane slowly rolled up to the gate and then came to a halt. Usually there is a ding you hear after that and that means you are ready to get up and move around. However, in that split second of pregnant pause after the plane came to a halt, she came back on the PA system and with the grave voice of a court bailiff solemnly announced “All rise!”

Most of us stayed seated laughing our heads out.

Well done, Delta and Anna! That made the flight really enjoyable!