Monday, May 23, 2005

Technical Problems

Whenever an editor uses the term 'technical problems' to explain erratic delays, linguistic bloopers, missing punctuations and wrongly captioned photographs, you can be safely assured that there is more to it than meets the eye.

At best, it can be a genuine problem involving machines that require lubrication or software that suddenly decided to wobble. Or at worse, it can be one of those reasons that drives editors round the bend and turning them into raving lunatics.

But conspiracy theories being one of the latest in pseudo-scientific studies, it is but natural that 'technical problems' become fair game to these dubious theorists and scientists. Explanations can range from the involvement of the abominable Yeti or aliens from Alpha Centauri, wrong configurations in some distant constellation, bad placement of furniture to the Flying Dutchman making an onshore visit.

'Technical problems', as we all know, is the perfect term for any unforeseen emergencies of the unsavoury kind. The phrase is not meant to be, but has certainly become a 'euphemism' for absolutely anything we can think of.

It has become a general excuse that can be latched onto any mishap whose explanation cannot immediately be made available. It is easy and precise, and gives the impression of a genuine calamity without actually giving anything away. Besides, there are few people who would actually ask for a full technical explanation because people, by and large, do not like to appear ignorant. They'd much rather smile and offer consolation, and hopefully dig for an explanation through innuendo. Sometimes it works and at other times, it remains as engrossing as a debate with a stone-wall.

However, there are times when there is actually no plausible explanation for a 'technical problem', and in such cases, the term actually helps in identifying and sorting out possible problem areas. It becomes a rallying point to get something done and fast. And in such cases, it can actually be a very helpful term because it provides a springboard for corrective action.

Lastly, no personal pronoun was used or abused in writing this column.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Looking at the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort

no one heard the wailing of metal over marble
that afternoon, the masonry of agony
was too persuasive in its percussion
for ears to intrude and decipher its pain.

the worn-out workers, too, seemed unaware
of the plaintive cries the palpitating walls made
as their hands toiled and hammered
at this ashen-faced monument

to imperial anguish.

slow patricide was how the story unfolded
eventually, and the river became a witness
to the slaughtering that took place,
while shaking the earth from his axis

the chasm like river had its own version
of what happened, and the crying calligraphies
on the walls simply digressed into poetry
to explain this mournful mausoleum’s demise

into an imperial anecdote.