lalita larking

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

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Location: Kolkata, India

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What do you know?

We think we know people. We do too; mostly. We can predict how our families, spouses and children, brothers and sisters will react to anything. We know what they might say in any given situation. But do we really know them?

Our innermost thoughts are our own. There are things even spouses might not know about us. We have habits, deep secrets or guilty pleasures that nobody knows about, and we generally prefer to keep it that way. They are secrets, after all.

But there are perfectly innocuous things about us too, that nobody knows and we don't mind disclosing. When WA tagged me and Neha asked me to consider myself tagged, I had a panicky few moments as I considered my deep dark secrets and guilty skeletons. Then I seized, with relief, on the fact that there are harmless things I can disclose about myself too.

Five things you may not know about me: that gives me an embarrassment of riches, actually.

Firstly, I can say that I love using idioms like 'an embarrassment of riches', and revel in starting a sentence with 'firstly'. But that is not exactly an unknown to my readers. An obsession with words and language is a tagline after all. What is not known is that I have trouble with words, and always mispronounce or misspell some, to my own chagrin and amusement of my husband.

It happens to most of us, I think. My sister used to have trouble spelling 'indignant' and a friend used to get confused about the spelling of 'extravagant'. Another once told me that what I wrote was touchy; she meant touching, I think. My own trouble is with 'supercilious' and I always end up pronouncing it as 'superlicious'. Perhaps this is because I don't have a superlic… umm, supercil… whatever, bone in me.

Secondly, I can admit that I have no sense of irony and sarcasm whatsoever and I had to learn it. I used to take things literally. Honest. When my father gave me Joy in the Morning, Jeeves, I read it in all seriousness, and remarked at lunch that it seemed a very sad book, the narrator was so tragically misunderstood and taken advantage of. My father contented himself with raised eyebrows, but a cousin had to be thumped on his back as he choked with laughter.

It is different now, and I enjoy Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt, Tom Sharpe, Bill Bryson and others. But I had to learn that not all books are grave and serious tomes that improved the mind and imparted wisdom. That there is wisdom and improvement of mind to be had from all these writers is another matter.

Thirdly, I can say that I don't like large public gatherings- galas, fetes and such. I get uncomfortable in large groups. In parties, not that I go to any these days, you will find me sitting in a corner watching everybody. But I was a pawn once, for an event sponsored by a Telugu association.

It was an anniversary or some such, and there was a festival. They had a huge grid drawn, and there were six young women who acted as pawns. Guests bet on a number, and the money went to a charity. There were six of us, moving up and down the grid as per the roll of dice. I don't know how many people bet on number five, but it won. The winning pawn, moi, was presented a sari by none other than NT Rama Rao; it wasn't an especially costly or lovely sari, but I wore it several years.

Fourthly, I can say that I have strange food habits. I don't add sugar to tea or coffee, and I don't eat sweets but these are just healthy habits. The strange habit is munching raw pulses. When I feel peckish, I eat a handful of raw Bengal gram. That actually tells you something else about me. I have a cast iron digestion.

Fifthly, I can say that I believe use of profanity only reveals a paucity of language skills and that we can express ourselves without resorting to references to bodily functions or blasphemy. If I am being nasty, I tend to refer to intellectual capacity rather than parentage. But though Missus Em is a decorous and sweet-spoken person, who doesn't use strong language, there are witnesses who will swear that she can cuss like a sailor.

This is something I have been told by reliable sources, like the Resident Mathematician and my doctors. Apparently, coming out of anaesthesia makes me swear at the nurses, doctors, and all and sundry. Since I have no memory of doing that, I prefer to think they are collectively pulling my leg.

Since what goes around comes around, I hereby tag two of my favourite bloggers, Rimi and Raj. Tag and you are it, people.

Cheers!

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raw Bengal gram? The mind boggles.

10:05 pm  
Anonymous dipali said...

Anaesthetised inhibitions! I remember coming round after my second caesarean delivery, wondering which stupid woman was yelling her head off in the recovery room. A little more consciousness, and to my utter chagrin I realised that the stupid woman was me. There's far more to us than even we can ever know.

11:24 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Anon- I know, it's a weird habit. I like the crunch.

Dipali- Et tu?

2:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is 'think know people'? (much mishtified)

3:12 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Anon- Sheesh! Forsooth and indeed too.

8:36 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

Sigh. Post something serious, Lali. How about Mandodari, if you are going to do the pancha kanya ? Or have a go at Kunti.

8:41 pm  
Anonymous Prophet of Doom said...

I can relate with the raw bengal gram .. weirdly enough, i belong to the same species .. only thing, im worse .. rice, any type of dal, bengal gram .. you name it ...

12:11 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Ash- No way. I am not doing the pancha kanya, and certainly not Kunti. I rather dislike her.

Ram- Ah, a kindred spirit. It's nice to know one is not alone in weirdness.

9:07 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

raw Bengal gram..mmm...yes i agree.

but you really shouldnt believe that the use of profanity only reveals a paucity of language skills. jibes and vulgarities referring to bodily functions etc are not meant to be taken literally. merely a universal expression of emotion - be it anger, joy, love, hatred or whatever else. i advise listening to adam sandler's 'uses of the word fuck' for further reference. its an enlightening audio clip.

there is a time for mocking somebody's intellect and a time for just heaping a lot of whatever comes out onto them. fortunately, or unfortunately, profanities are here to stay. plus, its so much fun sometimes!

11:11 am  
Anonymous Prophet of Doom said...

thanks, and do keep checking my blog for updates ... have made some recently ..

12:41 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Anon- I agree that profanity is here, and will be here. What is considered as profane or objectionable will change according to mores and times.

But you can needle, irritate, insult or outrage a person all without resorting to profanities and vulgarity. So, let's agree to differ.

Ram- I do check your blog, you know. Not that you post like clockwork, I must add. :-)

1:48 pm  

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