Archive for January 2011

Etymology of “Uncle”

January 16, 2011

Etymology: It is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.

The word “Uncle” was originally coined by native speakers of an island called Britan in the 13th century. They just conceived this word to refer a male member of the family. No way would the native speakers have predicted the indiscriminate and variegated usage of the word “Uncle” in India in the 21st century. Perhaps “Uncle” is one word that has served as an elixir, a tree of knowledge, for the Indian youth.

Buddha had his Bodhi tree to attain enlightenment…but the Indian kids have the word “Uncle” to attain enlightenment.

Let me explain why…When the teenagers world over are confused about their identity (if they are men or kids), the Indian teenagers never face such identity crises. Coz we rely on our neighboring kids to solve the identity problem. We know we are no more kids and we are adults right when the neighbor kids start calling us “Uncle”. Till that day, we were being called as “Anna”, “Bhaiyya”, “Annaiya”,”Cheta” etc. But I got to be honest. It’s never easy to hear being addressed as “Uncle” for the first time. We infact give the kids 5 bucks and tell them not to call us uncle. But we can only postpone the inevitable until the kids realize they find joy in seeing us mad and seething in anger rather than buying candies for 5 rupees. But I got to credit the kids. Though they call the boys as uncle, they are wise to never address a girl as aunty. My sister is still an “akka” though she is 3 years over the “Uncleing/Auntying” age.

"Unclicized"

"Unclicized"

The word “Uncle” is also a special word. The reason being, the word can be used to address someone in an affectionate as well as a derogatory term. For example:

Addressing a stranger: “Uncle what’s the time?” – General courteous way

Addressing a Cop: “Uncle what’s the time?” – Soooo derogatory that the cop may arrest you on false charges and make sure you are getting hanged by the neck until dead!!! (And I don’t think there is any KuttiChuvarite youth in the city who wouldn’t have called a Cop as uncle from a distance of atleast 137 metres and ran away before the Cops’ brain realizes what just happened and made an attempt to catch the KuttiChuvarite.)

We will not turn until you stop calling us "Uncle"

We will not turn until you stop calling us "Uncle"

The subtle sarcasm that can be achieved from the word “Uncle” is quite evident for people in Tamil Nadu. To explain to an outsider, “Pimps are called “Uncle”…and so are the cops.”

We love this word so much that we call our First Prime Minister of Independent India as “Uncle” Nehru.

Uncle Nehru

Uncle Nehru

Btw, Wouldn’t it be logical to celebrate Uncle Nehru’s anniversary as “Uncles’ Day” instead of “Childrens’ Day”???

We celebrate Dr. Radhakrishnan’s anniversary as Teachers’ Day since he was a Teacher. So logically speaking, Nehru’s anniversary should be “Uncles Day” since he was an Uncle!!!!

Critical and Original Thinkining apart,  the most favourite Uncle of the whole of India for an entire generation, until a while after the Indian economy opened up, was..

Bole Mere Lips...I Love Uncle Chips!!!

Bole Mere Lips...I Love Uncle Chips!!!

War of the (old) Worlds!!!

January 3, 2011

Before i start putting mokkai again for a whole new year, let me wish you all a very happy new year. The other day I was reading a novel “Paandimaadevi” about the Pandya king Rajasimha who lived in 900 A.D. Though the novel wasn’t as good as “Ponniyin Selvan” or “Sivagamiyin Sabatham”, it described the war between Pandyas and Cholas to an imaginable extent. But since my imagination isn’t something that I can control, I got a lot of questions about the war in the olden days. I couldn’t help but think that the warring Kings had to agree on innumerable aspects of the war before fighting over their disagreements.

Here are some of the questions I have in mind on the list of aspects that the kings had to agree before going into war:

1. Decide the place of War: Without proper communication channels in those days, how do they agree on where to fight? WHat would have happenned if Pandavas turned out in “Hasthinapura” near Chromepet in Chennai instead of the “Hasthinapura” in Uttar pradesh? Did they have war grounds specifically built? How do they decide which king’s war ground to fight? Didn’t one king have the unfair advantage of fighting in home turf with support from his home crowd? Can they fight in a neutral place? How could a 3rd king allow his ground for a bloody battle between two different kings?

Good! We all found the right place

Good! We all found the right place

2. Time of war: How could they agree on what day and time to start the war? What if one king wants to start the war at 9.00 AM and the other king is say kumbakarna, who likes to sleep well into the day? What if one king is there in the battlefield waiting and the other king and his men come an hour late? If they don’t agree on war start times, did they fight over it too? But this seems to me like an infinite loop.

You guys are 2 hours late. I don't like to be kept waiting!!!

You guys are 2 hours late. I don't like to be kept waiting!!!

3. Tea Break, Lunch Break & EOD: How did the warring soldiers and kings decide the time for tea breaks, lunch break and end of day? Indians need a tea break at 11 AM and 4 PM without which their complete system would collapse. What if one king likes to have an early lunch at 11.30 while the other king wants to go for lunch at 1 PM? When two soldiers are fighting, if one soldier is about to kill the other soldier when that soldier calls a tea break, will he be allowed to go? When he comes from tea break, do they assume the same positions before the break and he still gets killed? Do they just stop fighting each other at the turn of 6’o clock and go back to their camps?

It's lunch break folks!!!

It's lunch break folks!!!

4. Public Holidays: What if the king and soldiers of one country want to observe a religious holiday on one of the war days and the other king doesn’t have it as a holiday in his calendar? Do they all just sit and chat till the holiday is over? Won’t the other king consider this as a productivity loss and how would he justify the cost to his people back home?

Look!! No one has turned out. I told you it is a holiday for them today!!

Look!! No one has turned out. I told you it is a holiday for them today!!

Boy its got to be tough to plan a war in the good old days!!ANyway, if any of you could answer these questions for me, I’d be glad to take you out to lunch at a restaurant of your choice.


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