Showing posts from January, 2009

The origins of POSH

Normally I would not have wasted time writing on this kind of thing, but when I started to read the latest Clive Cussler Novel which opened up with the definition of POSH, I was intrigued for that word had already become part of my lexicon from early days. OK, so after reading the book, I wanted to check it out and check it out I did to realize that there is a real POSH world out there! So many hits - Google had thousands of hits on the word. Indeed, it was a pretty interesting trip with many Indian stop overs.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines Posh as "Smart and fashionable; exclusive”. Let us look at the interesting origins of the word.

The most elaborate version of the story associates the practice with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, which from 1842 to 1970 was the major steamship carrier of passengers and mail between England and India. The P. & O. route went through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. The cabins on the port side on the way to Indi…

Aim, please

It was in Singapore a few months ago that I saw a poor bee stuck on the urinal of an upscale mall. Of course the next thing to do was to aim at the poor bee, but what else is one supposed to do? Then I got a little perplexed, the bee was not falling off. I looked closer; it seemed stuck on the porcelain wall. I looked across to the next urinal; the pot had a bee as well. Finally it dawned on me that it was painted on and meant for a purpose.

Curiously, after I got back, I found a chain mail in the inbox with the same storyline. And I discovered that it was an age old practice, lasting until the 19th century, after which it was discontinued. Some others who had done years of study on this opined with great wisdom that the early inventor found a bee stuck in his creation and put a bit of extra glaze on it. The mayor’s handbook at Wigan UK confirms the point - The Town Hall building also boasts an intriguing facility of another kind, two Edwardian gents’ urinals. These have a small pictur…

At the gym

‘Not surprising’ said the young & pretty family doctor of ours - when I started to have problems with my lipids & TG’s & Cholesterol, and a chubby little tummy was starting to manifest itself. ‘You have to get more exercise, though things are not so bad yet’ she said. And thus I started getting pushed and prodded by my better half to exercise and ensure some longevity to this life. A family membership was promptly taken and I decided to ‘work out’ at the gym.

I was at first subjected to a good amount of ridicule by my second son who started by remarking that my shorts were too small and that my old tennis T shirts were too loose to be displayed in the open. Then the comment was that my trainers (I continued to call them canvas shoes to start with – we used to have brown canvas & white canvas shoes for gym & sports at school and the name stuck) were not of the latest types. I refused to listen to that or change my 10 year old trainers, they were Adidas and good. My …

Urdu and its origins

Often, when I see ‘Indian Idol’ I take notice of the complaints by the eminent judges that the contestant is not pronouncing the Urdu language properly. Javed Akhtar’s countenance changes, his brows wrinkle, his face takes on an indignant frown and he lets loose a tough sermon to the nervous singer in front.

I can imagine that Javed Bhai was severely lectured on this by his illustrious father the Urdu poet Jan Nisar Akhtar and his famous uncles and his grandfather, all of whom were great Urdu poets. I mean no disrespect to any of these people; I hold them all in greatest regard. However, I wanted to share with you all some details on how the language evolved, from its origins as a language meant to be spoken by the lowly soldiers in the Islamic ruler’s military. I have to make a comment here, which is..... It is after all a camp soldier’s language that morphed into the poet’s language. As a mixture of a number of languages, corrupted over time, could it ever have ‘a’ correct pronunciat…

Nambiar, Bose & Germany

Sometimes, in the course of searching for something, you come across something else that proves interesting. That is how I chanced across another very interesting person, one whom I have never heard of. When Independent India started young in 1947, Nehru had three Malayali’s serving key positions as ambassadors/high commissioners. One was VK Krishna Menon in the UK, the other was KM Panickkar in China and the third was ACN Nambiar in West Germany. ACN Nambiar was well known to the freedom fighter clan, but I doubt if anybody will even recollect anything about such a person, today. In many ways his work resulted in the ‘proverbial straw’ breaking the camels back when it comes to the British leaving India!! That will be better explained in an upcoming article on the Germany based Indisch legion during the WWII. Well, here was a man who hobnobbed with the elite in Europe, even though just a journalist. He was India’s link man in Germany and met often with people such as Himmler Hitler, G…

Head facing north

I was caught in a perplexing situation. We had moved into our California house and equipped it with all the furniture over two years ago…and some months later I started suffering from fitful sleep. Initially I attributed it to work pressure and ageing, also to eating a heavy dinner. In a previous visit to the Grand Canyon, we had purchased an American Indian dream catcher charm, but it did not help even though the ring and crow feathers adorn the walls above our heads. I started to check out what to do about the slight insomnia and difficulty staying awake on long drives…

Then arose a new dimension. When we visited a cousin recently, this chap illuminated us with some reasons as to which directions one must use in Vastu Shastra. He said that one should never have the head face North while sleeping. It troubled me no end, as I realized that our sleeping heads did indeed face North. He added that in Aryan civilization, the funeral pyre only faced north, not the living body, explaining fu…