lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The exact thingummy (8,7)

"This proves it, Mom. You have lost your marbles; not that you had many to start with," said my son, rather pityingly. "Watch it, kiddo. Half of the marbles you have got are mine." I replied amiably.

He had a point though. I was talking to inanimate things, again. My microwave oven had beeped its reminder to open the door and remove the dishes, and I'd said, "Cool it, cool it. I am coming."

I talk to gadgets. I plead with them if they are acting up. Come on, come on, I say as I wait for Mike to boot up. Aw, not again, I moan when Firefox and Guardian crosswords play out their saga of strife and my browser crashes. Come on baby, you can do it, I encourage my toaster to burn slices of bread to my son's peculiar specifications of toast.

I talk to food as I cook it. Hold it, hold it, I say to the mustard and cumin seeds as I go to fetch curry leaves to add to the seasoning. Burn baby, burn, I say as I roast corn or aubergines.

Of all the things that go wrong or throw tantrums, my BSNL broadband connection is the worst. I don't know why it fails. I can't call and find out since nobody answers the one eight hundred number. I can't even find out my usage details, because I can't log on to Data One, and the complaint I registered on the first day of this year hasn't been attended to, not to date.

I can and do perform white magic, though. Talking to gadgets helps. Mike obediently opens a Word document it's been claiming it can't open when I threaten it with bodily harm. Put out willya, always works with my printer, though it groans and grinds its way through the document I am trying to print. My cell-phone needs strong language to function. All my gadgets need mantras.

As gadgets go, the router we have for our broadband connection is the thing in need of the most hocus pocus. When I can't get online, no matter how fervently I wish to, the thing to do is to switch off, pretend I am an isolated single computer for a while and turn the switches back on again.

And then my router caught on to this pretense. Now I have to not only turn the switches off, but also unplug them - the router and its attendant big black thingummy. After a few minutes of being divorced from the plug points, it seems like my router kisses and makes up with the broadband connection and everything is fine again, until the next hiccup.

What are most gadgets called anyway? They are these generic doodad, thingamabob, thingamajig, whatchamacallit and so on descriptions, which are difficult and esoteric.

Of course, I know egg whisks and ice-cream scoops. I know nail files and cuticle trimmers. I even know a Philips head screwdriver from the regular one, though I never dated either.

It is easier to call a sphygmomanometer the blood pressure thingie. Theodolite might be a specific instrument, but I call it the surveyor's thingie. Seismographs and tachometers are something we don't have to be familiar with in daily life, thank goodness.

I know what that big black thingie I unplug and plug back into the socket to make my broadband connection come back to life is. I can't for the life of me remember what it is called, though.



Anonymous Rajesh said...

LOL. Did you ever play Starship Titanic? You get a PET, your own Personal Electronic Thingie right at the beginning of the game. Whachamacallit is a good enough name for most gadgets.

3:44 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Too right I did. That's one I game I managed to finish. I loved that parrot.

4:13 pm  
Anonymous badari narayanan said...

Why do you say "Cool it, cool it. I am coming," to the microwave? I thought a microwave was supposed to heat up things : )

Anyway, broadband is no better in Chennai. I leave the modem switched on and wait till the light indicating 'LAN Connected' burns. No use switching off and on. I just leave it on, sometimes it is a minute wait, sometimes as much as twenty minutes. Have not tried speaking to it yet. Must do sometime in the future.

12:40 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Badari- Just my little joke.

Twenty minutes? I mustn't complain about my connection then. But they do seem to have server problems regularly.

1:57 pm  
Blogger Speech is Golden said...

can't say 'me too'. engineers have to be boringly precise with their gadget names. but we are allowed to give it first names/pet names and the kind.

i haven't spoken much to my car, computer or router. but once in a while i do ask the microwave to be more patient or the mustard to not burst with excitement.

my friend (another engineer) calls his car "my first wife" - codename:Bitch. u should see him coax n threaten his blue magna on a cold morning, damn funny! i pity the girl who will be his real wife.

3:14 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ram-I call my computer Mike, but I don't have names for any other gadget. Bad names, yes, but not pet names.

5:39 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

Lali, I am having trouble believing this. You posted a title of a crossword clue and didn't bother to provide the solution.
Not everybody is as quick on the uptake as you, lady. Give us the answer, do.
We all talk to our gadgets though, you got that right.

11:27 pm  
Blogger tilotamma said...

Hey there are days when I can't even remember the word - charger...

12:57 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ash- Sorry, it seemed so obvious. Definite article.

Tilo- You mean a knight's steed? *winks*

8:34 am  
Blogger Priya said...

WOOW! I don't need to bother about such thingummies as I own none of the stuff you've written about! See how blissfully gainyya I still am :D But with you, I'm sure you emanate positive energy into all of them;) Carry on, babe.

12:27 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- You don't have gadgets misbehaving at you? Acting up? You lucky thing.

I probably emanate fear of obliteration into them. ;-)

1:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have a simple solution for those thingies that dont work....whack them hard at different places (literally)..and if they still dont work..shut the damn things down and call for professional

My son has a name for me...He tells me...Dad, you are obsolete!!
I am, I am

1:17 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Excellent advice, cobber. Will keep it in mind.

5:29 pm  
Anonymous Dipali said...

Our sons ought to be friends- they use the same definition of maternal insanity! I usually talk to the cobwebs on my ceiling, telling them that their time will come! And to assorted detritus around the house. I guess the Duchess'song could transmute well to appliances as well as sons and other males-
Speak roughly to your little boy And beat him when he sneezes
He only does it to annoy
Because he knows it teases.

I grew up thumping my father's tape recorder when it misbehaved- haven't beaten up the computer yet, though!
There was a time when our household equipment and car could sense that we were less broke than usual, and conk off requiring an immediate transfusion of funds.

11:54 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Dipali- Thumping things is usually effective but gadgets these days are so dainty a good whack will cost us more money than we want to spend for a moment's satisfaction of venting frustration. :-)

And you know, I always think of the Duchess' song, too. They only do it to annoy.

9:36 am  

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