Archive for March, 2010

Cheaper Drugs Anyone?

Sunday, March 7th, 2010 March 7th, 2010 Praveen Bose

Ever tried bargaining at a drug store while shopping for medicines? Well, actually ceteris paribus the chemist should be able to a discount to customers.

A new stand-alone drug store that has come up near my place, and not from any new-age drug store chain, has put up a board outside announcing a ‘Flat 10 per cent off’ on everything sold.

An older drug store barely 10 metres from it, which it is trying to compete with, has nothing to worry. At least the propreitor Rakesh says that everytme someone asks him. The best part, the new comer is operated and run by the licence holder himself who has a Dip. in Pharma.

Rakesh scoffs at the new comer as a man with a death wish. Not that Rakesh will use any muscle power. He will continue as he has done for the past 10 years. Yes, continue paying off the inspectors and other officials from the various departments — sales tax, drugs, police (yes, the police too, both the crime and traffic), corporation officials and some others.

“Let him give the discounts, and pay off those guys, and survive. Forget making a profit,” said Rakesh with a smile. Rakesh, a seasoned guy who has been in the job of selling drugs right from the age of 15, has seen the in and out of the drugs business.

Yes, I can give drugs for less than the MRP. But, how will I then be able to make up for the costs incurred on paying the bribes.The original licence holder is paid a fee every month by Rakesh for using it to run his store. The licence holder used to run the store before finding it easier to “renting out” his licence.
It’s been barely a fortnight. I am watching the competition with interest. An educated, qualified chemist vs. a hard-nosed barely educated drug store operator.

War against emoticons

Friday, March 5th, 2010 March 5th, 2010 J Jagannath

Truth be told, “Frowning At Smileys” was the headline in my mind until a Daily Telegraph article ended with this bleak portentous line, “In the future Shakespearean tragedies would be rewritten in a series of downcast emoticons”. Thus, the headline, which, to the uninitiated, is derived from Martin Amis’ sublime book “War Against Cliches”. Be it on gTalk, the Google equivalent of Yahoo! Messenger or on sms, my florid sentences aimed at the cerebral cortex of the recipient fail to register until they are followed by a miniature version of a Halloween pumpkin with gamut of emotions pasted on it.

If you are reading this then I don’t think I really need to delve into how a colon followed by bracket or a semi-colon for that matter or a colon followed by ‘p’ are supposed to represent your current state of mind. Thanks to the smileys I am always skeptical if the irony or sarcasm in my words is being noticed at all by the person, usually those of fairer sex, on the other side. Thus, I follow it with a smiling emoticon to convey the hilarity intended. In short, during this virtual communication people are in a verbal Jacuzzi – a pool of warm, swirling water, relaxing yet constantly moving and challenging – but only if smileys are there in the water.

For every intelligent remark that I make online or on sms I make it a point to tag a smiley along or, even worse, an exclamation mark. In my earlier job my editor’s thumb-rule while editing is to avoid exclamation marks. Why? It’s like laughing at your joke, he said. What about people who use at least three exclamation marks to convey the gravity of situation? Author Terry Pratchett said that everyone of those has a diseased mind(!).

I am no Luddite, by the way. I dig YouTube, I tweet my movie watching schedules, I update my Facebook status every nine hours (mostly I am a quote hanger there), until recently my religious views on Facebook was ‘pro-piracy’. I almost qualify as a poster child to that new saw making rounds, “I am only popular on the Internet”. My problem with the smileys is that they are making me feel inferior. While I am trying to woo (or whatever you kids call wooing these days) that ‘new’ Facebook friend with my Kevlar-like grip, suspend your disbelief for a while, over English, I am almost sure that the words would ring hollow until there’s a smiley lurking around.

For the record, I have no problem against swimming in the alphabetical soup of tsk tsk or lol or hehe or rotfl. I know that’s like quitting drinking, but making an exception for beer and hard liquor (I am so tempted to use a smiley, preferably the wink one, here). But then, dealing with bigger evil is of more important. For now, I hope there is an Alcoholics Anonymous or sex-rehab (a certain Mr Woods would attest to it) equivalent for shedding the addictive habit of mine to use smileys. Smiley patches may be?