Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Adventures of Ms Commuterix


Para-sailing? Bungee jumping? Rock climbing? Trekking? Skiing? River rafting? Para-gliding?

If these are what your idea of adventure is; which of course I am sure is expensive in terms of time and money, then read along to find a sport more adventurous than any of the above. You would be jealous if I say Ms Commuterix( New term coined for a female commuter - copyright held by Insignia) gets an adrenalin rush going on an adventure each day.

So hear it from the horse's mouth. This is what Ms Commuterix has to say...

I don't have any better word than "adventure" to describe the journey on the mass transport system - metropolitan bus service. They say a country's progress is determined by how efficient the mass transit system is. As such, all major cities in India boast of a good connectivity. People are being advised to take the public transport - the metro rail and bus to commute. They are called the most efficient and convenient way to travel, yeah it is......if taken with a pinch of salt, sugar and any other favourite spice of yours to give it the sweet but salty and a tangy experience!

It begins with the basic job of finding the right bus. Its not easy as they claim - Buses available at regular intervals and all those. You have to pray that the bus has not left yet; no - its not that you are late in arriving to the bus stop. Its just that most times, the bus is either very early or too late but never on time. Poor them, what would they do? With all these traffic, newly planned one-way and no-way rules which change frequently as our government; coupled with infrastructure development - flyovers, underpass, sky bridge and subways to ease traffic congestion. Hoping that the bus has not left already, one waits at the stop amidst loud jarring honking, traffic at peak hour when the two-wheels use the footpath/side-walks as substitute to regular roads so that they can zoom without delay; without any concern for the folks using the footpaths; while you keep walking to and fro as each bus stops to see if you can take the bus. Other disturbances like people rushing helter-skelter, chaotic, to reach their destination on time.

Even if you are on time for the bus, you might miss it for many other reasons. The bus stopped behind a couple of other buses, you didn't either notice it or by the time you noticed, the bus moved away. Sometimes, the bus does not have a proper name board - the destination mentioned is not legible. Or the bus stopped 300 metres away from the designated stop and by the time you run carrying your bags and stuff; as if you are practicing for Olympics, the driver takes off. I have always observed that such drivers get a wicked pleasure in seeing people run behind the bus and rushing in while breathing hard. Or sometimes simply the driver decides in all his authority NOT to stop at this particular stop. After all, its HIS bus!!

For people who regularly commute at a particular time like office-goers would choose to travel by same bus each day. It might be pretty easy for them if they share a good rapport with driver or conductor. A friendly chat each day with them would ensure that you don't miss the bus.

Alright, after undergoing any one of the above ordeal, I manage to hop onto a bus. There are more amusing experiences waiting in there. Push your way through only to find the men folks having occupied the entire bus, with maybe some space left for ladies to stick in. You find the seats reserved for women(4 seats on each side) has been occupied by ignorant men. So you reach them by straining you way jostling and pushing around and then ask them politely to vacate the seat. Its a nightmare. This is what one can hear - "Why? I cant". "Its not a Ladies seat". You show them the signboard and they ignore. Ask the conductor to help you, he either tells them to vacate for the sake of it which is ignored or he too walks away unheard. Few people indulge in wicked things like scraping out the notice that says "Ladies". They confront women who ask them to vacate, in fact bully them in such a way that it makes the lady who is asking for her right to actually think if she has done anything wrong.

I came across an amusing incident when a guy who didn't know the local language was asked to vacate the ladies seat. The bus co-incidentally had the signboard in local language but there was a pictorial representation with it. He picked up a fight when asked to vacate and was stubborn to say it was not a Ladies seat.

Men are very inconsiderate. There are women too who are more inconsiderate than men. No pity to offer a seat if someone is sick, lame, old or pregnant. They continue to sit like a lifeless rock. So having discovered that asking to vacate wont make any difference but would create a uncomfortable scene, I generally stick to the safe-zone and remain standing.

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One can come across several interesting characters while on the bus. A passenger who stands by the foot board and dons the role of a conductor and throws instructions to people on the bus as if he is the appointed one. There's the guy who has opted to switch on the speaker of his cellphone while hearing to music. Radio-Jockey or is it Phone Jockey? Community service. So everyone has no other choice but to listen to his choice of music. And then the teenage college girls who laugh out loud to any silly jokes to grab attention. The girl in salwar who has lost track of where she is and doesn't mind whispering sweet-nothings to her boyfriend on phone while middle-aged women stare at her in horror and then continue with their gossips. Elderly gentlemen who complain how world has changed for bad and how youngsters lack discipline and respect.

With all these, the bus driver swearing at the car driver who overtook him and the conductor hastily pushes past you and way through the crowded bus to have a friendly chat with his female commuters while ignoring the constant plead of a commuter to return the remaining money that he is supposed to give back. As I witness this silently oblivious to the conversation around me, yeah with my iPod on volume loud enough to mute things around me, the driver realizes that he is approaching a speed breaker or just late enough to avoid a pothole, one finds thrown off balance.

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And lo! hands emerge from nowhere to help you stand balanced only to linger around trying to steady you for longer than required. When you want to turn around and say "Thank you, I am fine.", you realize there's no point actually trying to confront as he would have disappeared among the crowd of men. Just as you thought its going to be fine, a fight is picked up by a lady who feels a guy behind her is standing too close and the guy confronting her to "buy a car and commute by car" if she is finding it tough to commute in a crowded bus.

If you are lucky that day, you do manage to get a place to sit only to be vacated when a lady with a kid hops on at the next stop. Even if you retain the seat, just pray that your rest of the journey is uneventful. Probably it might turn out to be bad one if in case a guy chooses to sit beside you and has tough time to keep his hands idle!!

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It requires lots of patience to remain calm while giving a go-by to the wailing child or an old man looking for a seat - ladies seat always; thereby, whatever remaining seats that is spared after being hijacked by guys is also gone.

And after hanging on for your life and your mood, with all these ruckus; you'll find yourself jubilant and satisfied to have finished this adventure!!!

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ravishing Beauty

Sluggish Saturday noon and I was lazying around outside. This beauty was basking in the sun and I could not help but admire it. Look at its red and the flaming yellow merging with the white.

It started moving and I followed it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ingilees or English?

Its been some time since I wrote a thing on English.

Recently the SC ruled out a verdict against the Government of Karnataka that parents had the right to choose the medium of instruction they want their kids to be educated in. Its been a issue for quite a while, while they want to promote local language, certain pro-activists wrongly assume that avoiding English as a medium of instruction can promote their language. Does it ever work that way?

How silly the thought is! Most of the law-abiding citizens who pay their tax regularly, get their money working for some MNCs where English is the language. The government gets its fund from taxes paid by these MNCs, foreign establishments; which uses English and only English. How come that they want the money but not the language that has helped many people find a job. Karnataka's software and service exports would be 44% of the country's total IT and back-end services. The software and back-office services were around $17 billion in 2007-2008.

Why cant the so-called academicians and patrons devise methods that could promote the language without rooting out the other. This is not about embracing a foreign language, but about fighting right. How many of these so called protectionists would be ready to send their kids to a non-English medium schools? Probe and one would know, their kids are safely snugged in a prestigious English-medium schools. Ask them to admit their kids in a school which has no English as its medium and they would back off.

There are so many young people from rural areas who struggle to find a decent job because of their lack of knowledge in English. If they really want to promote the language of their choice, what they have to do is first create equal job opportunities for the people without any bias.

That's one side of the story. But think this way - English has been already mutilated and murdered by us - so what big deal huh?

Ask a South Indian to spell Mango. He would go - Yam Yay Yen Gee Uoh
Or the neighbour who hails from UP is busy with Sadee 'selecsion' for her daughter.
Why cant we 'simbly' ignore this topic and search for some other 'oobtion'?
A Kannada-speaking uncle's son is a 'compooter' engineer in the Bay area with 'Waracallu' (That's Oracle Inc.)
A Tamil-speaking guy will 'bose' for a photo.
And a Bengali will find the 'breej' blowing from the sea very humid.

A receipt (which has to be pronounced as if its RECIT) is a receiPt (the 'p' pronounced magnanimously)
A plumber is a 'plumBer' (Isn't that supposed to be pronounced as in PLUMMER?)

Its an 'Honor' to be invited. (The fact that 'H' is to be silence is ignored)

We are very generous, isn't it? and our generosity amplifies this way too by pronouncing the letters that ought to be silenced.

Its not only with the pronunciation but with the orthography too.
We use the words in literal translation of our vernacular.

So 'chup-chupke' becomes 'simp-simply'. And there's 'Like That Only'.
People always say 'I am visiting my native' and never 'I am visiting my native town'.
'Native' means 'innate', 'elemental', 'domestic'.

Who cares when to use 'the' and when not to use it? How does it matter if I am watching TV or if 'I am watching the TV'? Or if I am on phone or on 'the phone'?

Oh yes, it doesn't matter even a silly with our liberal misuse of conjunctions and prepositions.

Why do we 'travel in the bus'? Instead of 'travel by bus'?
And its always 'waiting for someone' instead of 'waiting on someone'!

And yes, the apostrophe. My favorite - especially while using as a pronoun.
We tend to do something when not required. This is what exactly happens with our cute apostrophe.

Our's is a small flat down the road - or is it

'Ours is a small flat down the road'. ?

So, we have bruised the English enough, without our knowledge. The protectionists are only trying to bury it huh?

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"May its Soul Rest in Piece....Err...Peace"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hail!! Navigators

Few of the Cars which I enjoyed (not driving them but being a navigator) - Pontiac G6, Pontiac Vibe, Ford Mustang, Chevy Impala, BMW 3 series, Mercury Milan, Toyota RAV4, Mazda....... a couple more in the list.

Being a car freak, I coaxed constantly my dear friend Satish to change cars that was rented every 2 weeks. Geeeeeee :-D

Being a navigator is more strenuous than being a driver. You know why?

Got to be always alert so that even if the driver snoozes away; the navigator can wake the driver up.

Don't believe me? It happened with me. Here's what it is.

We use to have night out each day in Las Vegas; roaming around; Me enjoying the neon and the architecture and the casinos while the guys ogled at ahem..ahem...the gals; and one day as usual when we were driving back to the hotel at 6 AM after a tiring night, Satish(our dear friend) actually zzzzzzzz'd off at a signal on The Strip!!!!

It was a spur of a moment and we realized what was happening only when we saw him remain still without any sort of responses even after the light went green. I had to knock him off and say "GO!" I can still recall the shocked reactions on the faces of others and his sudden "Oh!" reaction just being waken up from his reverie.

Navigators are also very very indispensable when you have to find a way. Hmm, this reminds me of a situation one day - at 9 PM when I and Satish got lost on US-101. We missed our EXIT. Had to go on for more than 10 miles to get the exit and then again, missing it. How helpful I was to him - to read a miniature map that we got for free at the car rentals. Struggled to read the map, somehow managed to give him directions and got hold of the EXIT - this time we took it right, though it took1 hour late to reach our destination while cruising 20 miles more.

Few may argue that there was always GPS, so why a navigator? Navigators are required to feed in the destination to GPS and to read from them. Yet, there are times when GPS go wrong - which it did numerous times with us. Getting into LA downtown was cumbersome as GPS always pointed to a wrong free way exit which made us go round and round of the LA's Financial District. GPS couldn't get us directions when we ventured to Big Basin Redwoods State Park either.

It requires a lion's heart to endure a drive when driven by a person who has just learnt driving. My friend wanted to drive when we went on a holiday from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I was a navigator then - sitting alert throughout my journey pointing to him time to time whenever he was on the verge of jumping lanes. I sat all night awake - alert...Phew!!!!

After all that, he still managed to jump lanes as he took the exit onto the ramp; guess what? We were just 200 metres away from home. It was 1st January. The Highway Patrol stopped us. He didn't have a license. The cops let us free after some initial query. That was a real close call. I still don't know even to this day what it was that we could come clean! Maybe as it was New Year's Day, they were casual. Was it luck? prayer? Don't know.

Another time, I and Satish were coming back after lunch. Both of us got into an argument of having to preserve our Indian-ness and other patriotic things. He being careless as always, started driving the wrong way. You see, he was over whelmed and filled with patriotism that he started driving as he drove in India. As a navigator, I should have been alert. I forgot too. And we realized our folly only when a queer driver who was coming in opposite direction gave a stare and had to stop; as we had occupied the road. Oh my!!

Oh yeah, before I sign off, navigators have lots of added advantage. They can enjoy the drive without having to concentrate on the road, look at beautiful visuals, click pictures, turn around, look behind; while drivers cant take that freedom!

So if you have been a navigator, thumbs up!!! We are half-drivers.

The car which I really miss now is my friend's own BMW 320. It was bought just brand new and I would just sink in its luxury - enjoying the drive and the soft music and the CAR!!!. Here it is!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Coffee and Popcorn

Are those who are never satisfied with things in life.
Are those whose best skill is the art of complaining.
are the one who torpedo innocent co-living creatures and end up being the most advanced form of life on earth.

OK, enough of human bashing. I too belong to the same species of Homo Sapiens. Yeah, they have reached this status after much hard-work, smartness and presence of mind. So

Are those who are smart, intelligent species who have made world a better place to live.
Are those who can find fun and joy even in the most difficult of situations.
Are those who never give up and go on in life.

Why am I being philosophical? I am sleepy, anyway no one would mind me blabbering. As such, very very few are gonna read my blog - (Mano, AS, Vivek, Gautam who has been irregular these days....., don't know why. Yeah these four; I am sure because they post their thoughts, maybe there are others who can bear my ramblings....GOK - That's God Only Knows) Most number of times by who? ME of course! Admiring the beauty of my topic, the choice of words from my uber cool dictionary of limited words.

Well, I was occupied with something else. And lo, from deep down my memory archive, I dusted a couple of pages, cached it to the main memory of my brain - RAM as they call and now I am doing a write process to my disk again. This is what happens, if you work day in and out.

Pinky, Geeta, Vasundhara, Swetha, Gracy,.......List goes on....
Hritik, Shahid, Aamir, Kunal.........List can go on here......
Hyde, Wasabi, chocolate, Vixen..............

"Hey are you done with Pinky?"
"No, I want Pinky tonight. I will release tomorrow".

Now, before your ever-creative mind can assume anything at all, these are the conversations people have at work. Now what sort of work place is that? Well, you see this is called as hitting at the right place. The names I quoted above are all names given to servers(computers) in the test data centre. The choice of names varied; it was always a hit. This sort of naming really coaxed people to work well. Talk about "a employee-friendly work place".

Yeah, otherwise people are anyways boring. Boring people constitute a boring environment. The entire system is boring, so are the catalysts and the sub-systems. IPL is soon going to end. Elections ended. With the two great Indian Tamasha coming to a closure, what would people do to spice up their life?

Well, our News channels will get something to keep the viewers onto the edge of their sofas, couch, chair..whatever. All news is Breaking News. All News is Exclusive. So there would be non-stop Tamasha, and the Saas-Bahu, Revisionary Women serials. By the way, are they still on air? These ones ought to be banned, gets onto women folk so much that it becomes part of their life, hindering their normal activities. You get what I say...

Men folks insist they watch IPL matches. They want data, match statistics, details as to how the match was won, what did Madira Bedi bak-bak about, more importantly how she looked and what she wore. Else, they feel left out during lunch and coffee breaks with their male counterparts at work, as if they have just dropped down from Mars. Women want to watch the tele-serials; they want to know if the Bahu took revenge of her Saas's evil way, what was the jewelery worn, the Saree colour as they have to ape the same the next day to work. Else, they are left out of the bandwagon.

Black coffee and Popcorn. Hmm, good enough to pep you up. Try it for yourself.

Enough, I am getting back to my work.

Monday, May 11, 2009

ZooZoos - stars of IPL

I have been tuning onto Set MAX everyday during IPL matches. No, I am not one among the 1 billion cricket crazy fans. So why IPL? Its during the IPL matches that the latest Vodafone's ZooZoos advertisements are aired between breaks. I am crazy about them, they make me go ga-ga; to jump around with joy.

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Indian advertisement has come a long way. Well, there are quite few senseless ones - like the Clinic Plus shampoo. The cricket coach asks the girl's mother "What if her hair gets damaged?" What the heck!!! I wonder where have all these creative media person vanished? But this particular piece is brilliant, hits the nail at the right spot.

These little characters with a large head, tiny limbs and a huge belly laughing out captures the audience. I would bet there would be not one person who does not like it. They are called ZooZoos, they are so lovable, cute and charming; innocent folks laughing and making fun, naive and simple. The concepts are so brilliant that they perfectly compliment to the service/product they are advertising about.

These ZooZoos are the star in their own right. A great success amongst many advertisements which features celebrities, extravagant settings; yet fail to capture the audience. This fine piece with just ZooZoos, bland and simple backdrop but brilliant concept has captured every one's heart. Be it the ZooZoo teasing a crocodile with a fish(Missed Call service) or the one in which a ZooZoo shares its shower with another(Chota Credit).

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And mind you, ZooZoos are not animation, but real life professional ballet dancers who were made to wear body suits. The supposedly animated look was an illusion that was created to be intentional.

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This advertisement is a perfect example of communicating the technicality of the product in a consumer-friendly manner. The crux here was the ability to communicate effectively with an unconventional idea and it struck gold.

Weekend Getaway to Ooty

Last weekend being 3 days off, gave a chance to explore Ooty. Well, it was not Ooty alone, explored Bandipur and Mudumalai reserve forests too.

The drive was enjoyable, very good roads, the Bangalore-Mysore State Highway and then later, The TamilNadu State Highway. There were some glitches, I ended up looking for hotel at the last moment. A probable good Samaritan offered an agent's number and this guy assured me that I would get a comfortable room for 2000 Rs and taxes. Once reached, realized that it was all a hoax and had to cough up double the amount and they didn't give the receipt; the service was pathetic.

Otherwise, the trip was awesome. The weather was excellent. Drive was picturesque. Saw most places and had loads of fun. Visited the usual tourist spots - Ooty lake, Coonoor, Doddabetta, Botanical Garden, Rose Garden, Pykara Lake, Pine Forest and others. Ooty is a lot commercialized now; that's the sad part. But the police personnel were very helpful. They treat their visitors with respect and ever-helpful.

One thing that fascinated me was the Thread Garden. It is aesthetic and innovative creation of artificial garden of plants and flowers, all hand-woven embroidery. No use of needles, it took 50 skilled expert women and 12 years to complete it.

Flowers and Plants hand woven by thread

Another place which I was we-struck was Fern Hill Palace. Its a palace built by the Maharajah of Mysore and is now converted to hotel by Welcome group. Had breakfast there, yummy and sumptuous.

Fern Hill Palace

The Government Museum was in a pathetic state. It was closed, when we opted to have a look, the care taker was reluctant to guide us. The place was in a demolished state and few of the century old statues were left outside in the rain and the sun.

One of the few centuries old statue left outside the museum.

The drive back to Bangalore was awesome with beautiful tea estate, lot of breath-taking views.

Few of the snaps from the album

Spotted a deer at the Bandipur forest reserve. The deer was composed and unmindful of the vehicles passing by

Passing through Mudumalai forest reserve

Ooty Lake

One of the tunnel of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. I had to zoom my camera to 100% to get this shot. I was astonished at the result; taken from an ordinary point and shoot camera. Taken from a cliff about 7-10 kms away.

Coonoor Station and the Nilgiri Mountain Rail, declared UNESCO world heritage

Tea estate and the tea factory in the distance on the cliff

A scenic view

Another breath-taking view on the way back

Langoors at the Mudumalai forest. They were ready to pose.

A child and a parent elephants passing very close to the road in Mudumalai


Hmm.....back to the grind now :-D

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Credit Card Nuisances and Non-acceptance

I got my first Credit card 3 months after I started working. It was a Gold card. I was very happy with it, flaunted it to my friends. Was proud about it. Alas! as everyone else, I learnt it the hard way.

I have 2 issues which I think is not unique to me alone.


I always believe that its all in your hands to handle stuff. One cant really blame anyone else but you. I have had more than 1 credit card; its never been a problem for me to use them prudentially. I am a spendthrift, yet I have always paid my bills on time. You know; the bills - i.e. exact amount that you swiped for; which is negligible but other exorbitant fee like interest, service charge, hidden charges and all other blah..blah...blah...

One particular Indian bank really does this well. Today morning, I get an alert on my cell phone

"Dear Customer, effective 06 May 2009, the cash limit on your XXXXX Bank Credit Card xxxx007 will be Rs 0 and the total credit limit will be Rs.. XXXXX/-"

I did not care as I cut the card into 4 pieces and threw it away long time ago. The account was still active though. This particular bank has been doing dubious stuffs; and I have always taken it. They would charge extra amount and quote it as defaulter fine and so on.

One more instance2 years ago - I received 2 credit cards from the bank at different intervals. It was attached with a Congratulatory message - "As you are our privileged customer....blah..blah..blah....we are offering you an extra card....."

I called them to enquire why they sent the card as it was nothing special. As such, the account and the credit limit is still the same. This was something like an Add-on card. Whats the hoopla about it? I asked them why didn't they intimate me before sending and why didn't they have the courtesy to ask me if I would require it?

Phat comes the reply from the customer service executive - "We called you ma'am. You approved it and hence we sent it".
I asked when was the call date and to which number I was contacted.

He mentioned "21st August 2006, Ph number 91xxxxxxxxxx". (My cell phone)

The truth was that I was not in India at the mentioned date and I had got my phone service suspended during my absence in India.

I thought enough of this and never really used those 2 cards. Recently I got a mail from the credit card department that as my card was inactive, they are going to suspend it. What big deal! Go do it!

Yeah, so after all these nasty experiences, I decided to confront them today after I received this message. The executive told me that they review the payment history regularly and it is bank's policy. They have decided to nullify my cash limit but my credit limit remains the same. He also added that this would get affected only if I used the card to withdraw cash.

Even though I did not use the card anymore, I wanted to know the solid motive behind it. I persisted and said "I might want to withdraw cash during emergency. And moreover, I have been holding the card for almost 4 years now. Was there any payment delay from my side? Whats exactly the reason? You guys did not even intimate before deciding on this. Do you only review credit and payment history to strip off privileges? You have never increased my credit limit while other banks have done it"

Having said this, I asked them to cancel my account and the card. Anyways, I learnt the hard way of having these cards and their nuisances. They charge huge interest and all other nonsensical changes.

The executive has sent my case for review and to see if my cash limit will be revoked - in spite of me being adamant to cancel the card.


Due to the recent market downturn, lay-offs and in these times of credit crunch, everyone prefers hard cash. If you are someone who prefer plastic when it comes to spending; it might leave you fuming when you figure out that the restaurants, lounge bars, malls, don't accept credit cards anymore; flashing your card would rather leave you embarrassed.

Otherwise also, there are these so called technical glitches, power failures, phone lines down and so on. Aren't they supposed to intimate as soon the patrons walk in rather than put them in an awkward position later?

Talking about one such experience, when it was time to pay the bill at a coffee shop, the waiter came back with my card and said "Its barred madam". It was so embarrassing. He said it loud enough for everyone to hear. I immediately called the card's customer care and they assured me that the card was fine from my end. It ought to be that the swiping machine was probably malfunctioning

I had to pay through cash later.

Maybe, these new rules and updates are due to recession!! They want to save themselves from paying tax as much as possible as card transactions mean that the money is routed through bank, making if accountable for tax.

PS : My ethical sense has restricted me from quoting the bank's name but I am very disappointed with them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

F7 anyone?

The triip was varyy intersinf...

This is how a sentence would be if there were no Spell Check feature. But there's cons attached to any stuff you take right? This spell check sometimes beats you up dead.

Official mails which are copied to important people, and you are careful to choose right words, and do a thorough check to make sure everything is correct.
You use this deadly tool; which is supposed to correct your spelling errors but in turn turns the table. You become a laughing stock. Few mails here just to prove that.

An engineer had to send a reminder mail to his team mates reminding them of the team meeting. So after composing and spell check, this is what we got to read -

"Mating starts in 5 minutes in 4th floor conference room"

Spell check of the line "The ESX issue is still pending" suggested thus

"The SEX issue is still pending"

By the way, for the uninitiated; ESX is an enterprise-level virtualization product offered by VMware, Inc.

Another blunder that we laughed out loud was a mail from a colleague. It was to suggest we can sit around and discuss; which when we received was thus -

"We can shit around and discuss....."

I am not sure if this was a result of spell check or human error.

So next time after your F7 and before clicking the "Send" button, make double sure if the spellings are what you really want it to be.