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You Have -7- New Messages

You Have -7- New Messages

January 22, 2011

hai n wlcum to th NRI. hp u lyk dis stry abt frwd SMS n cn rd txtspk, evn if its rely anoyin.

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine switched to a new mobile service. As far as my quite limited cellphone needs are concerned - although the atrocious call centre service of my current option makes me wonder if it’s time for a change - I see most providers as more or less the same. For my friend, however, this new company was a hot ticket. They were offering 666 free text messages, or SMS, per day.

he sed “666 s so mny, can snd lts to frnds :)”. i sed “666 s th nmbr of th dvl, dnt u no???”

From the moment I first gave my number to someone in India, I disliked those forwarded SMS. I saw the phone as a communication tool, something with which you can speak to someone in another place or send them a quick personal message when you really need to (i.e. sporadically). Young India sees it quite differently: your mobile is a status symbol and a means of keeping in constant touch with friends. And it is preferable, even encouraged, to use txtspeak for every SMS.

ther wr sm msgs i had 2 read 2 or 3 tyms 2 gt der tru mng n it ws v anoyin

Yes, I’m a bit curmudgeonly when it comes to language. I think that using txtspeak on a regular basis reconfigures the language part of your brain for the worse and in a way that is difficult to overcome, and I am not a fan. oR oF wHeN pEoPlE sWiTcH bAcK aNd FoRtH bEtWeEn UpPeR AnD lOwEr CaSe (ThAnKs MaRiA fRaNcIs FoR rEmInDiNg Me Of ThEm). Or Messages That Put Every Word In Initial Caps To Make Them Seem More Wise And Meaningful, Usually Dispensing Some Cheap (Though Possibly Earnest) Sentiment. Those Ones Are The Worst.

i sps i shud b grtfl der s sum variety n da frwd SMS, bt dat dun mk dem ok

It is not only variety of language that is employed in these forwarded SMS, but also a variety of content. Most common are jokes, either in English or in Indian languages. Most of the ones I receive are in Malayalam and I have to take them to someone to decipher; occasionally, they are funny, but usually diverting at best.

Then there are the ones that provide general knowledge tidbits. Personally, I’d rather enrich my brain with punctuation and correct spelling than with little-known (or cared-about) facts.

The friendship ones are sweet, but sometimes a little bit sinister; for example, ‘The ball can escape from bat, the rat can escape from cat, but you cannot escape from... My Heart you are always my good friend. Our friendship will never end.’’ This came as a bit of a shock from someone I’d only met that day on the train.

As for the occasional dirty SMS jokes that circulate, the less said the better.

bt as u mayb no alredy, ther r 2 syds 2 evry stry

Pretty quickly, my technique for dealing with these forwarded SMS was to never give out my number, and for those that had it, to let them know that I wasn’t interested. Then, one day, I received a message that said something along the lines of ‘Never 4get ur Friends, even one SMS or one missed call in a while can brighten their day’, and the sentiment stuck with me. OK, yes, the mobile phone is a communication tool first and foremost, but what’s the harm in getting the odd silly or tacky word from a friend or acquaintance? They’re just being friendly and keeping the connection alive, and I have no obligation to reply, even if the message says I do. In a way, I should be honoured to be part of that person’s circle.

it wsnt lyk a whl wrld of 1da n joy opend up 4 me, bt afta dat i saw thngs diffrntly

So now, my buddy’s 666 SMS per day isn’t such an awful thing. He sends maybe two or three forwards out per day, I imagine to a list of over a hundred people, and some of them are actually quite funny. Who would’ve thought my devotion to necessity could turn around? Like so many things in India, forwarded SMS were something that I couldn’t stand in the beginning, but I’ve grown to accept and even love them in a way.

nw tht iv seen th lite, i jst hv 2 kp myself frm sndng SMS in txtspk! ... (pls cmmnt if u lykd dis stry, or giv misd cal to unsubscrb) ...


  • S g Rao
    S g Rao
    31.05.11 08:19 PM
    gr8 pst...
    In college, most of us use almost the same language in all our messages.
    Most of the message are in txtspeak and in hindi (or in kannada,i live in karnataka),also contain lots of smileys :-).

    The bad thing about it is i tend to use the same language in my notes,xam's & journals :-(.
  • Shalini
    31.05.11 06:17 PM

    Was introduced to your writing by Ashwin (who I guess you know through twitter). Been reading your takes on India and life here as viewed by you. They are really wonderful posts and this one is simply hilarious.

    The rat and cat sms got me completely rocking with laughter. But, this sms txtspk is a phenomenon peculiar to young mallus I think. I stay in chennai and I don't get bombarded with these kind of messages. Its particularly and extraordinarily corrupted in Kerala I think. I have a cousin who sometimes send me texts like the ones you have quoted here. It's quite a challenging exercise to understand them. I had a hard time trying to understand some of them.
  • Vinay
    26.03.11 09:58 AM
    Hey Barnaby
    Ur blogs r Ossum!hehe I love your take on Kerala and India as a whole. I forgot how many of those messages I used to get wen I was home..Some of them r quite clever.But I don't care much about "friendship messages" and hate especially those messages,in which we have to keep pressing down for an hour to read the twist in the story.
    That said, now far away from home, I kinda miss them.:( They defenitely bring a sense of warmth, wen you recieve them. Keep up the Great work!!
  • Barnaby Haszard Morris
    Barnaby Haszard Morris
    31.01.11 09:22 AM
    @A Singh - hiiiiiiiiiiii podaaaaaaa

    @Maria - yes! Thank you!

    @Alka - yep, any message that insists I forward it to others never gets forwarded.

    @Rishi - oh yeah man, totally. As I said, I've come to love these messages in a way.

    @Midhun - thank you :)
  • Midhun Manmadhan
    Midhun Manmadhan
    25.01.11 08:14 AM
    Perfect cartoon to go with the perfectly hilarious take on texting. Loved this !
  • Rishi B
    Rishi B
    25.01.11 06:35 AM
    Honestly, These SMSes are more of a reach out than something freaky or irritating... if like the SMS or the person, reply back a hi or a smiley
    and watch a conversation flourish

    else.. there's always a delete button...

    or a simple "STFU dude" would do the trick too
  • Alka
    24.01.11 10:44 AM
    If you are a true friend forward this to 8 friends...Hate such msgs.Earlier it used to be with e mails. We are an intrusive society. Privacy is considered snobbish..We love to intrude, disturb, comment and interfere...And most of all we have an opinion on
  • Maria
    24.01.11 07:23 AM
    Hoot! Hoot! Hoot! Barnaby you are the man! OMG, I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat (I hope this is the cat who grins all the time). Anyway that was my expression as I read your post :D

    The grin turned to chuckles at the sinister SMS about the rat, cat and friendship..hehehehe..

    This is going up on my FB wall right now! :) Keep em coming.
  • A Singh
    A Singh
    22.01.11 04:12 PM
    hiiiiiii....grt pst tho cudnt gt sum of ur lng wrds

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