Monday, October 27, 2008

License to Anagrammatize

All of us would have experienced some form of waiting in our lives be it the ticketing counter at a railway station or the waiting room in a clinic. What does one do when one is “in the process”?

Having spent my childhood in the still evolving India of the late 80s and early 90s, I had no access to mobile phones, leave alone iPods. So, I would be armed with a book whenever I was headed for an expected-to-be “queued” place including hospitals and passport offices. But, there were times when I was not adequately warned and so I would turn up at such places with absolutely nothing to do and lots of time to kill.

I do not possess the most important skills required in such situations
a) Sketching, drawing and other variations of this art-form (in fact in school I used to pray that art class get cancelled and we be allowed to go to the library instead)
b) Playing running-and-catching with other kids in the queue or waiting area (Games class was another one of those in school which I would strive to bunk)
c) Observing people (this is ongoing trouble as I am not even 1% a good listener and observer as a talker)

So in such tricky situations, I would rummage through my mother’s handbag and get a piece of paper and a pen and start writing. Usually, I would bite and chew the pen in an attempt to write a poem which would be very diligently transferred to my poetry book once I got back home. But, one can write only as much in such an environment, filled with people worried and grumbling and wanting to go home soon. I tried my hands at story writing as well, but realized soon enough that it is just not my forte.

Then was I introduced to this brilliant game in school. It was some form of Anagrams, but I fail to remember the name now. For instance, from the word “Anagrams”, I needed to make as many words as I could like gram, ran, sang etc. The catch was that I could use a letter in the word I formed only as many number of times as it was used in the root word.

And, so, in any queue, I would take a word from a poster around me, preferably a long one and preferably having an ‘S’ and start making words from it. The longer the size of the word, the more letters there were to choose from and hence the more the number of words I could arrive at. Also, if the word had an ‘S’ it just made it easier to make plurals of the same word like run, runs, bun, buns, rub, rubs etc. from a root word like “burns”.

As time went by, I made the game stricter for myself. First, I banned pluralized words from the resultant set. Then, I introduced another rule that allowed only words of size not less than four in the resultant set.

I also started playing different versions of the game with improvisations like:

A) Forming whole words or phrases from the root word
  1. Deliver -> Relived
  2. Update -> Tap Due
  3. Respond -> Ponders
  4. Industry -> Try usin' d

B) Extracting sub words from the root word which mean the same as the root
  1. Deceased -> Dead
  2. Hectare -> Acre (not exactly the same meaning, but such ‘anagrammatic license’ is allowed in my game :))
  3. Stripe -> Strip
  4. Strip -> Rip
This game comes in handy even now, when I sit in a class which I do not feel like listening to, when I am stuck in a lecture hall where I should not have been, when I am in a taxi in a sea of traffic. It calms down my nerves and helps me be at peace with a very shifty, pained and irritated ‘queue-world’ maybe because it involves a little bit of concentration and hence provides the required distraction, or maybe because it helps me live in my own world of words, a world I love so much.

12 comments:

மணிகண்டன் (Manikandan K S) said...

good one..really a useful way of spending time..very good variations of the game u developed..
i prefer observing people though :)

J a G z said...

interesting game; interesting to play with a pertner, not alone (in my case). I cannot amuse myself with something wen i know that im consciously forcing myself into it to avoid getting bored.
I wud simply go walk around. cannot stand in a queue. Wud reserve my place n then hv a chill walk in frequent intervals.
I like walking around a lot n thats my best way of passing time. Even in my room i cannot sit tight, will hv to keep locomoting myself, else my mind stops wrking :)
different people hv differtn ways u c :)

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

Yayyyyyy :) I played that game too. But seems your parents dared not leave you alone in the house.

kavity said...

@ Mani: Yeah, very evident from your blog post on the train journey from Blr to Chen

@ Jags: Do know about your love for walking and climbing trees as well :)

@ Banjo: :-)

J a G z said...

Climbing trees??? wher did this love arise from and how did u get to know of it ?

மணிகண்டன் (Manikandan K S) said...

@jags: did'nt we all witness your climibing skills in that ancient city of Hampi!

J a G z said...

sigh!! ull hv seen wat u shudnt hv

happy ull cudnt see much much more :)

kavity said...

@ Jagz: Though I have not seen much more, have heard quite a bit about your "monkey skills" in Germany from DNS :)

J a G z said...

'Monkey Skills' !!!!
DNS is saved as its nt the best time to mess up with her now.

The Corporate Idiot said...

Hmmm... interesting blog. I used to do something to kill my time, time to time; like trying to find out words with running alphas (cab, fed, rust so far), making ambigrams etc... Gosh, that gives me an theme for my next blog. BTW, I stumbled upon your blog, when I was looking for people who has similar interests. Clicked "Kannathi Muthamittal" and there you are

kavity said...

@the corporate idiot: hey that was an interetsing game! But, I sadly could not make more than one word to add to your list, which is 'ruts' (plural of rut, if that is really allowed :D). But, if we could really repeat these adjacent letters here, I could get high and feed.
Another version could be just trying to use letters as what they pronounce, in which case, I got, c bead (sea bead - which actually does make sense, not so arbit)
Thanks for these! Kept me and are keeping me engaged!

The Corporate Idiot said...

...Its interesting to know that you were also doing the same. Yes, when I couldnt find more words, I was thinking about having more than one character but should be adjacent alpha !!! Anyway, I am more interested in Ambigrams and Number plays (Su do Ku, for example). Will pose some ambigrams soon and let you know !!!