I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Thursday, April 06, 2006


The team has come up with an innovation which we hope is going to be very popular soon. All it needs is a little publicity.

My blog is singularly ill-suited for that purpose (cliched joke here about the three readers my blog receives), but I need this post for sending anonymous hat-tips to people and Desipundit. So, here goes. Warning: If you are sensitive to people poking harmless but politically incorrect fingers into traditional insitutions (like religion), do not read ahead.

First some facts:
1) Smiley (yellow button with two eyes and a smile) was invented by Harvey Ball in 1963. It was done for a morale-boosting campaign ordered by his boss. Spain brothers in Philadelphia popularised it by adding "Have a Happy Day" and printing tons of merchandise in 1970.

2) The internet smiley or emoticon :-) was devised by Scott Fahlman in 1982. This was done as the lack of verbal and visual cues in text messages/ mails can otherwise cause what were intended to be humorous, sarcastic, ironic, or otherwise non-100%-serious comments to be badly misinterpreted. Read this interesting history here, including a quote by Nabokov.

3) Overuse of smiley is mark of loserhood. That's not me, it's from The New Hacker's Dictionary.

4) Vaishnav Brahmins wear a vertical tika. To a casual observer, it can look from anything like a single stripe to three stripes (Adidas-like) next to each other. Instructions for the default option are here.

Now for the premise:
Some Vaishnav Brahmins are very particular about decorum. Having been Anglicised much before the rest of the cow-belt could catch up and just after the Bongs, they also have developed strict rules of conduct. Strict rules of conduct are observed especially carefully in workplaces. The biggest rule is "Render non-transactional all that can be thought to be impolite."* Allow me to explain.

Simple mails or sms-es which ask for help like, "Can you please forward me Mr. Mehta's address?" or "I can't log in to skype. Can you tell me how to do it without asking IT?" look very transactional. Especially if sent like this.

Can you please forward me Mr. Mehta's address?

Thanks and Regards,


cn u pls fwd me mehtas add? thx & rgds, dk2

This would make the recipient sit up in chair and curse you for not asking about the weather. Worse, the person might not want to help you out. Hence, the proper way of sending the mail is by making it non-transactional. There are two ways of doing it. One is by asking a personal question like "How are you?". The second is by inserting a smiley in the end.

How are you?
Can you please forward me Mr. Mehta's address?
Thanks and Regards, Dhoomketu

cn u pls fwd me mehtas add? thx & rgds, dk2 :-)

If you are feeling particularly non-transactional, you can do both.
Such feedback is disseminated to juniors the moment they join by Vaishnav Brahmins. Hence, we have come up with the ultimate smiley to respond to such mails. It's called a slimey and it looks like this. -:) Yes, it looks a little like the smiling Vaishnav Brahmin. Doh.
So, replies look like this:

Hi dhoomketu,

Am doing fine. -:)

Regards, XYZ

Next Steps:
Please popularise the emoticon. It can be the greatest Indian contribution to Geekdom.

Varun, who blogs here sends us this link. Now, even before the slimey becomes popular, we need to copyright it (sigh). -:) Any lawyers around?

* I can think of 4-5 other rules. But let me get to that after I can come up with the whole ten commandments


Blogger Varun Singh said...

Get a copyright quickly!

read this - http://www.despair.com/demotivators/frownonthis.html

Friday, April 07, 2006 1:57:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Thanks. -:)

Any lawyers out there who could help us copyright this?
Cheers. :-)

Friday, April 07, 2006 2:04:00 AM

Blogger Varun Singh said...

Cool :-)

~(:-) -- Pundit with choti. Naah.. now thats stretching it a bit too far :-D

Friday, April 07, 2006 4:47:00 PM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

That is cool, actually. I guess it would be going too far to call that a smiley. What can we call it?

Friday, April 07, 2006 8:47:00 PM

Blogger Varun Singh said...

Swam-ey ;-)

Saturday, April 08, 2006 1:45:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Swam-ey is good. A friend tells me even this smiley has been invented earlier.

Monday, April 10, 2006 7:27:00 AM


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