A desi take on corporate English

Do you use any of the terms below? I know I use many of them, but  I thought it would be fun to poke fun at the way we talk and write in a professional environment.

  1. Business casual: Explain this to me please. A collared shirt is “casual”. Now, add a man with a stick riding a horse and a 90 dollar price-tag. You now have “business casual”.
  2. Stakeholders: Is anyone physically holding a stake? Avoid this term unless you are in the business of supplying stakes to vampire-killers.
  3. Complimentary: Just call it a booby prize instead. Complimentary is a patronizing euphemism for minor frills that the client has already paid for, such as complimentary nuts with a 1000 dollar registration fee.
  4. Different timezones: This is usually a valid reason to miss a teleconference. India needs different timezones. We usually miss or are late for meetings, but this would give us a consistent excuse.
  5. Great men think alike: What a meaningless meme! Idiots think alike too. How else would you explain the Holocaust? The only reason to say “great men think alike” in a corporate setting is to steal credit for an idea.
  6. Leverage: Unless you lift heavy objects with a crowbar, you should not use leverage at work. Use “exploit” “bribe” or “blackmail”.
  7. Living document: You almost expect a living document to start flapping. Always keep a can of insecticide in your office. Spray anyone holding one.
  8. Moving forward: Moving forward, moving forward will not be necessary. Smart people will just use future tense. Now you decide.
  9. Networking: Something we are all expected to do, but which isn’t fun at all if you forget to bring your needle and thread.
  10. Office climate control: Air-conditioning controls temperature.  If you’re going to call it climate control there should at least be a monsoon setting.
  11. Season change: At any time of the year when someone says they have a cold, you should feign sympathy and say that it is due to season change. This is the polite yet uninterested answer.
  12. Testimonial: This one is unavoidable these days, I’m afraid. Ten years ago it was enough to tell someone that he or she was a good person. Now everyone expects a testimonial on Orkut or Linkedin.
  13. Witch-hunt: The use of this term in everyday conversation is unfortunate. Usually used in the search for a scape-goat. On a related note, I’m really glad we don’t use “bride-burning” idiomatically in India.
  14. Work-life balance: Whoever came up with work-life balance made sure both were distinct and that one came before the other.
  15. Turnkey solutions: If you use this unfortunate phrase make sure you leave out the “n” in the first word and that you just call it a typo.

Disclaimer: I’ve posted many of these on Twitter. This living document is a joke of course. My intention is not to offend anyone here, and the thoughts here are solely my own. Moving forward I hope to leverage existing synergies to create even sillier posts!

© Text, 2010-2012, Anirban


10 lines from Hindi movies that warn of imminent danger

I am no astologer and the following lines from Hindi movies may seem quite harmless, but they are ominous. If you’re unfortunate enough to say any one of these lines, you’ll suffer the consequences I mention.

  • Babuji, kya sheher ke saare log burre hote hain? (Dad, are all the people from the city evil?)

Two hours later: After a decade-long misunderstanding, your love-child sings a sappy song that brings you back together with your lover.

  • Daulat se sabh kuch kharida ja sakta hai (You can buy everything with money)

Two hours later: After losing your family in a natural disaster, going blind, and begging for forty years, you are reunited with your family on your death-bed. The same thing happens when you say main bhagwan nahin maanta… (I don’t believe in God…)

  • Itni raat gayi kahan ja rahi ho meri rani? (Where are you going so late in the night, my queen?)

Ten minutes later: The hero comes out of the woodwork and ends your diabolical laughing, lip-licking, and chest-scratching by beating the crap out of you.

  • Tu chinta mat kar, main teri school ki fees bhar doonga (Don’t worry… I’ll pay your school fees)

Two hours later: Your brother shoots you down like a dog on the street for not turning yourself in to the police.

  • Agar mujhe kuch ho gaya to meri biwi ko yeh chitti pouncha dena (If anything happens to me, make sure my  wife gets this letter)

Two hours later: Dressed in a white sari, your widow collects a gallantry award on your behalf during Republic Day.

  • Saab, hum unionwaale garib zaroor hain, lekin izzat se jeena chahte hain (Sir, the workers of this factory might be poor, but we’d like to live with dignity)

Two hours later: You son, Vijay, finds the factory-owner (who is actually the leader of a global smuggling ring) and avenges your death.

  • Chalo hum tum picnic pe chalte hain… (Let’s the two of us go on a picnic)

Two hours later: Your kid ends up hating you for what you did years ago on that stormy night. Often goes together with line 1.

  • Mere khilaf is gaon mein koi kuch nahin kar sakta (No one can do anything against me in this village)

Two hours later: The son of the farmer you murdered in broad daylight leads a peasant revolt and burns down the haveli you live in.

  • Main bhoot woot nahi manta (I don’t believe in ghosts)

Two hours later: You admit to your possessed wife that you killed your mistress, and then you die a gruesome death in the woods next to your haunted bungalow.

  • Mujhe nahin lagta tum zindagi mein kuch kar paoge (I don’t think you’ll ever achieve anything in life)

Two hours later: Your son proves that you are a royal idiot by becoming the most successful businessman, singer, sportsman, or patriot since Independence.

© 2010-2012, Anirban

Top 5 useless products that refuse to go away

It is almost Thanksgiving and that means list-making season is creeping up on us! Not to be outdone, I’ve thought of a list that I can contribute for the greater good. Friends, I now proudly present to you “Anirban’s Top 5 List of Useless Products That Refuse to Go Away”.

A word on why we need this list. There are some things that are just so unnatural that they should be banned in perpetuity. They have caused so much suffering to humanity, and yet greedy corporations continue to profit from them. Shockingly, as a testament to our collective idiocy, we continue to aid and abet these corporations in their immoral goals by putting up with them. We are the reason these useless things haven’t disappeared off of the face of the planet.

In compiling this list, my overriding goal has been to educate you. To make my list, an obnoxious product must be both current and widely-available. This automatically rules out novelty products such as Thanksgiving dinner soda which is repugnant, but not common. This also rules out Windows Vista because it is widely-available, but no longer current, since it has been replaced by the vastly-superior Windows 7.

Anyways, without further ado, here is my list, counted down from number 5.

5) Decaffeinated coffee and non-alcoholic beer

This one is a tie for fifth place. Studies have shown that lab animals don’t like the taste of either coffee or beer. Humans are not born with any sort of fondness for coffee or beer either. If you don’t believe me, put in an Ethiopia Sidamo or an India Pale Ale in a baby bottle and see what happens! (I am not suggesting you do this by the way).

It is true that we acquire tastes for coffee and beer, but the reason we drink them is because we are hooked on the chemicals in them. We get hooked on caffeine and alcohol and to drink decaffeinated coffee or non-alcoholic beer is about as fun as trying to swim in a dry river-bed!

4) Hotel-lobby wireless internet

This is not a product, but a service. However, to not include this in the list would be a travesty in itself. For those who have never stayed in a hotel room with advertised “free” internet-access in the lobby, let me explain. When you check in to a 250 dollar-a-night hotel room, the snobbish, clean-shaven concierge tells you that, a) there is free wireless internet access in the lobby and lounge area, and b) that he wants you to enjoy your stay. Both are shame-faced lies told with impunity.

There is no internet access in the lobby, only ten gullible people with laptops trying to log on to a non-existent network! What the hotel wants you to do is to give up, go to your room, and get the internet package that costs $14.99 per day plus taxes and convenience fee (or closer to $25.00 dollars).

3) Anti-glare coating for eyeglasses

I am not even sure that this product even actually exists. You go for your annual eye-exam and expect to dish out the co-pay plus a bit extra for new eyeglasses and contact lenses. The doctor insists that you get the anti-glare coating for your glasses. You think, “I have health insurance, how much can this cost me?” Well, after you’ve chosen the frame and the “optional-but-recommended” breakage insurance, the assistant bullies you into getting the anti-glare coating for your eyeglass lenses. You are given choices between different kinds of coating, but these are not really choices, because no matter what you say, you always end up with the most-expensive anti-glare coating. And of course, it is not covered by your insurance.

2) Reduced-fat bacon

What an abomination! It is one of those “neither-here-nor-there” products that would not exist, but for our sheer stupidity. Taste? Meh! Fat content? Still pretty high. The “honorable mention” for this one is “Tofu turkey”.

1)Paper toilet-seat cover

And the grand-prize winner is the paper toilet-seat cover. You see these things pretty much in every public restroom in the United States. Someone came up with the bright idea of marketing a tissue-paper seat cover to place over the toilet seat in the public stalls. Of course, the purpose here is not to protect you from the germs left behind by people before you, but to make you feel better about using the facilities after putting a flimsy, 0.01 mm thick piece of bath tissue that tears as you pull it from the dispenser, between your backside and the seat.

Seriously? I mean, SERIOUSLY?

© 2009-2011, Anirban