I’m just back from dinner with a few friends of mine, among them Anand Ramachandran and Salil Tripathi. They shared a couple of superb anecdotes that, with their permission, I’m reproducing here. The first is about when Anand’s dad, in the good old days when ISD calls cost a bomb and you had to scream into the phone, was spelling out ‘America’ to a friend.
The Friend: What did you say? Can you spell it out?
Anand’s Dad: America, da. A for Apple…
The Friend: A for Apple.
Anand’s Dad: M for Mother…
The Friend: What, what? M for what?
At this point, Salil told us a story about how he had to spell his name out for somebody.
Salil: My name is Salil Tripathi.
Somebody: Sorry? How do you spell that?
Salil: Salil. S for Singapore…
Somebody: How do you spell Singapore?
The possibilities are endless, you will note.
Update: Reader Seshagiri Sattiraju writes in:
I faced the opposite situation. Someone told me a word on the phone and I tried to spell it out for him
Me: Is it B as in Bombay?
Other Person: Not sure what B stands for…
Well, it could also stand for Mumbai, I guess.