Archive for August, 2009

Sick transit on a glorious Monday (sic)

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Well, you’re about to do it again – waste a few minutes of your apparently-not-so-precious time reading the tripe that I put out. Hey, hey, just kidding! Get the mouse pointer away from the back button!!

‘Tis the season folks – of swine flu, that is. If you’ve had to depart from one of India’s airports during the past week, you’ve doubtless seen the upsurge in the number of people wanting to look like “The Phantom”. So it was last Monday when I headed out on a manic itinerary that took 36 hours to get me from BLR to BOS. The airport was awash with masks of all shapes, sizes and hues. It really was quite a tall order to not get caught up in the hysteria, to eschew all human contact altogether and aim for the security line only when no one else is in sight. All this of course, only to sit in a confined space with no ventilation for the better part of two days. Still, I can’t complain – with countless episodes of “The Simpsons” to keep me busy and a super-skinny flu-free and kid-free dude next to me, my seemingly interminable hours of airborne existence were thankfully uneventful.  This weekend, I get to go through the rigmarole in reverse – SFO to BLR. Hope Emirates has reloaded its video collection for the long haul. Swine flu, enjoy your day in the sun. As they said in the (real) old days  – sic transit gloria mundi.

The real find of the trip for me has been Google Voice. Prior to the trip, I was stoked about handing out my Google Voice number to all and sundry and have cool stuff like voicemail available on the cloud, as is de rigueur these days. Little did I realize the comic possibilities of transcribed voicemail messages. The good QA folks at Google haven’t really given this baby a spin with Indian voices, accents and names, I can tell. I may be Guru to you folks. However, Google prefers, for reasons best left unexamined, to call me Andrew, Joe or Lou. In one message, I got a pretty edgy moniker as “Group”. But in the next message, I was brought crashing back to earth when Goog called me a “Girl”.  Pretty humiliating, I can tell you – being rechristened a “Girl” by a nameless (but not voiceless) computer.  

ROTFL? You bet! Here’s an example to get you rolling: I didn’t quite get the drift when, at the end of a long message, a friend seemed to say : There is a little pork I’m going to try and place next to the house. When are you coming over to defend our house?”. Ominous. What’s with the pork, I thought and why place it next to the house when the house needs defending? Live free or die sounds good on a number plate, but I didn’t sign up for this porcine defense. Later, I heard the voicemail on the Google Voice website, where the message was a far more benign: “There is a poker game planned tonight in Raj’s house. When are you coming over to Jatinder’s house?” Go figure…


I encourage all my friends to call and call often – and if you’re Indian, Chinese, German, French, Bulgarian, Russian – or in any way blessed with an exotic accent, please, do leave a message. Please.

So folks, If you aren’t on Google voice, you have to sign up quick – before the spoilsports at Google fine-tune, “improve” and take the fun out of transcription.

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