Thursday, January 03, 2008

How to reply to New Year SMSes

The most exciting thing about the changeover from December 31 to January 1 is the flow of SMSes that accompanies it. Among the many text messages I received on New Year’s Day was the following, reproduced exactly as it appeared on my handset screen:

“I wish the SUN to WARM U, MOON to CHARM U, ANGEL so nothing can HARM U, LAUGHTER to CHEER U, True FRIENDS near U, & GOD to hear U.”

This message is problematic on many levels. First, the completely random use of capitalised letters. The pattern is okay until the “laughter to cheer you” bit, but after this why is “friends” capitalised whereas “true” is not? And what’s with the pariah treatment given to “near” and “hear”, though they serve more or less the same function as “warm”, “charm”, “harm” and “cheer”?

Also, how can laughter cheer u (you)? Shouldn’t it be the other way round – that is, something cheers you up and this in turn begets laughter. And how disrespectful is it to use an ampersand just before “God”? (Just asking - I don't know.)

However, what really brings a discordant note into the reading experience is that though this SMS is written in the broad style of a nursery-school poem, “warm” doesn’t rhyme with “charm” and “harm”. Is it so difficult to find words that sound alike? This greeting would have been so much more harmonious if it had read, for instance: “I want the Moon to charm you, minions to ‘Salaam’ you, Prozacs to becalm you, Egyptians to embalm you.” (In fact, this was the reply I sent.) It would have created a nice little melody inside the recipient’s mind and kept him entertained for the few seconds before he deleted it.

In other words, if you must use random verb arrangements that don’t mean anything, try to make them rhyme.

It’s much harder to deal with the relatively restrained SMSes, the ones that don’t say anything obviously absurd. For example: “Best wishes for a prosperous 2008 to you and your family!” I usually take the simple route of ignoring these wet blankets unless they happen to be personally addressed to me (as opposed to Send Alls), in which case I reply with a sinisterly terse, “And to you.”

But the most stimulating New Year SMSes are the ones that freely use words like “resplendent” and "bountiful" and make multiple references to flowers, rivers, sunshine and mountains. Such messages are excellent because they allow you to engage in complementary nonsense prose. For example, when someone writes "May blooming flowers be everywhere and may you be as tall as mountains", I immediately reply with something like: "May flowering bloomers dot each day of the magically munificent year ahead. May the mountains bring Mohammed to you and may all the rivers run resplendently. May effulgent sunshine shine all over your bountiful person."

I sent a few of these on the night of the 31st. The recipients were probably too drunk or stupid to read them through properly or understand the spirit in which they were written, and it’s possible that they blindly forwarded them to other people. So if you received one such, you know where it all began.


  1. may the gods always shine kindly on your parched soul
    Hope you have a good year!
    Ps: it could be worse. I got the lyrics to " forever young"

  2. I got a brilliant message this time. This one goes...
    "Thanks, Same to you!"

    Wonder why... I never sent him any message you see.

  3. I sent one of those "Wish you a Happy and prosperous New Year".But, I personally picked and chose a select few just randomly sending all. I know what an irritant it is! Now with so many plugins to scrap all in Orkut, another mode of invasion on all "friends" at once. Phew!

    I wonder how can "everyone" in the friends list be (un)equally important?!

  4. I hate those flowery, and generally stupid forwards. If someone at least sends a flowery message that is clearly meant only for me, and not their entire phonebook, then I don't mind them. Unfortunately, I don't have enough creativity to come up with funny responses like yours, and since my cell has [very] limited storage space for SMSs, all the forwards are instantly deleted.

    Besides, I don't see what the big deal about new year is. Birthdays are so much more special, because they actually mean that you've lived through another year.

  5. I forgot to ask, can I post a link to your blog on mine?

  6. May Buddha's everpresent laughter continue to bring cheer to your hollow withered bones. I almost sent that one back when someone sent me something involving gods and dogs and flowers.
    As opposed to my Happy new year dude. I sent my entire phonebook.

  7. That was the best post I ever read on SMSes :))

  8. I feel your pain. All those SMSes, and you never got the one wish you were really hoping for - "May your blog have ten thousand readers every day, and may everyone leave a comment!".

    Sigh, now you will have to wait a whole year and hope someone sends it at least next year ;)

  9. rofl :)

    One of those times when am extremely thankful that I live in a place where SMS isnt THE mode of communication. :))

    Egyptians embalming was an excellent touch. You just made that up? Cool!

  10. I forwarded a couple of your excellent messages to some of the people who had sent me the absurd new years greetings. Amazingly, none of them replied.

  11. God save us from our well-wishers:)

    Have a great year!

  12. Over the years I have practiced not sending people wishes and it seems to be paying off. Each year lesser people keep wishing me. By the time I hit 30, I think I would wake up to a new year when I don't have to wish people back. Oh, and no SMS's whatsoever this year, but then again, it is more of a pop culture in India.

  13. Jabberwock, I'm sorry to contradict you: 'warm' does rhyme with 'harm'. I'm a Malloo and I should know. And by coincidence, the word verification just now for this comment is Ibymon. I'd have preferred Kunjumon, but this will have to do.

  14. It would take me till 2008 December to type out these clever but long messages. My opposable thumbs are not very adept, due to age & the cold winter. Maybe I will send Jai's messages out as responses to the many bcc-ed new year email wishes (that other scourge of technology) one gets at this time of the year.

    I thought out here in the US SMSes aren't very popular, but looks like they can bring the telecom system down -

  15. — New Year is not about changing the dates but direction; it’s not about changing the calendar but commitment; it’s not about changing the actions but attitude. May each and every day of yours is renewed with lots of happiness and love.

  16. — May the bad times you faced in the year 2015 be your stepping stones to success and may you be blessed with many happy moments in 2016. Happy New Year.