Monday, October 19, 2009

Up against "What's up?"; please help! :(

Long back my parents would ask me to be more graceful in dealing with relatives, e.g., to ask them "tamey kem chho" [Gujarati for "How're you"?], though it literally means not "how", but "why are you?"! Isn't that offending, or at least a deeply existential query?

Plus, I used to find it pointless. I'd ask, "if someone's in a bad mood, would they actually say so? So what's the point?" And no, it wasn't me trying hyperrationalism! I truly used to feel that, and also find it insincere to ask. On top of it all, the expected reply would also be weird! "(badhuj) saaru chhe" = "(everything) is fine" [in response to "how are YOU?", and not "how is 'everything'?"!]. The problem is, to answer in terms of "I'm fine/good" is difficult due to weird connotations some words have come to take: "Hoon saaro chhun" = "I'm good", but it would be taken to mean "I'm a good person"! "Hoon barabar chhun" though translating as "I'm alright", sounds like "I'm correct"! "Hoon theek chhun" = "I'm alright", but comes off as dejected (not sufficiently ecstatic!), and hence, not apt.

But someone clever, recognizing the problem with greeting thus, added a leading question to "Kem chho?", viz., "Majaa maan?" = "Enjoying life?". Now, who has the balls to say, "What fun! Am effin preparing for PG entrance exams!" So you see, it's not only for effin that balls are required, but also to say effin!

I used to have same predicament asking "How are you?" and its Hindi version "Aap kaise hain?" See how the question's open ended, and could be as well grammatically correctly answered as "I'm like a lizard*" or "main chhipkali jaise hoon" [*my grammatically flawed attempt to get Stupidosaur to comment!].

But the most formidable mutant among the species of redundant questions is "What's up, dude?". I mean, on being asked the first time I was totally stumped! I was obviously not expected to answer if I felt "fine"! The question means "what's new in life?", and I'd say "nothing special, man. You only tell!" See, how I'd cleverly shift the onus of answering such philosophical questions to the tormentor (interrogator)! Though, my dirty mind could also think "whatever is *up*, shouldn't stay so if I've to keep up focus on studies!"

But honestly, I still don't know how to answer "what's up" aptly. :( Someone please help me!


  1. How are you, tame kem cho etc. are all greetings and not questions KP.

    However, being the technical guy you are, obviously I would expect you to take any sentence that ends with a question mark as a question :P

    Like when your gf / wife asks you - Do I look fat in this dress? That is not a question and please do not treat it as one :)

    Now, my response to such a question is always - "first class". Please analyse this answer as well so I can understand what I'm actually saying...

    Btw, even I face the problem everytime someone says - Wassup Dude? I have to look down to check whether it is showing :P he he...

  2., wassup is okay. But just yesterday, somebody asked me, "Hi...wassup?" and I muttered something incoherent.
    Its okay. Happens to the best of us ;)

  3. I answer what's up quite stupidly.. :P

    I just look up, and say,
    "ceiling" Or "Sky"

  4. to the how are you :
    when u say "great" even when u dont mean it, ur brain thinks oooh i am having fun, let me produce produce the reaction to having fun..and u feel great..and the other person thinks, aargh! if this person can feel great, then maybe i should feel great or good or whatever..and produces some brain chemicals accordingly..
    its just a verbal equivalent of a smile. you dont need a reason to smile. life itself is an excuse to smile. but we think we need a stimulus to smile, and it becomes easier to smile when someone else smiles..

    technically perhaps we dont need these lines, but we also dont need many other things in life..and yet we dont say no to it...

    as for whats up..i would talk about the sensex or cricket or something dumb on tv:D cant imagine what i would say on the personal context..if i started being honest, it would be about dirty diapers

    ps : couldnt post comment in ur experimental blog..

  5. Was it "What's up" or "Wazzup"? First time some body asked me that was through an SMS, and I thought over it for two days, searched for in the Oxford Dictionary my grandfather had gifted me, and reluctantly admitted my ignorance of it. At the end of it, I certainly was not fine, but wiser and was already on my way to Dudehood.

    What I find more interesting is the answer to my question, How are you?, for which one of the typical answer I have got is "Somehow... Not as good as you." (not an exact translation, hope you could visualize), for which my answer sometimes has been, "So bad eh? Why do you live?"

    Needless to say what my parent's response would have been!

  6. @Rakesh:

    Those doubts are very old. Like, when I was 12 or 13. At that time my World was largely confined to my school friends with whom I'd play cricket on everyday basis. And I never used ask them "How are you?" But with time I realized that these 'questions' were good devices to ease into a conversation, especially with those who we would be conversing after a long time, or those who we do not meet on a regular basis. But I could not accommodate this aspect of my 'evolution' 'cuz of lack of space as the post was published from my cell phone (I can publish posts only as long as 18 SMSes).

    But at least how are you has a coherent answer despite some grammatical flaws attached with the question as well as the answers involved, but "what's up" cannot be answered even on taking figurative as well as literal meanings! :( And that's why I truly wanted to know how it is to be answered.

    And thanks for your opposite gender-related tip. I will need all of them. You seem to be an expert in handling the fairer sex! ;) BTW, what do you say in response to am I looking fat in this dress? A somewhat clever female would definitely give you hell, if she feels you stressed too much on this dress, or if you wouldn't reassure her that she never looks fat! :P



    You've disappointed me! :( I was genuinely curious how 'what's up' is to be answered. What was your incoherent reply, BTW? It looks like it must have been interesting! ;)

    And the fact is, I'm not THE best when it comes to using slangs.

    @MGeek: Don't laugh! My dirty mind and what-should-not-be-up-if-I've-to-keep-up-focus-on-my-studies, are both divine creations! ;) But you didn't tell me how to answer that question. I was looking forward to you, to at least answer this. :(

    @Spark Star:

    That's not stupid! That's most intelligent! I'm very, very, very impressed if you actually answer that way!

    And if you'd read Rakesh's comment above (you must've read it, anyway I think), you'll discover one more characteristic difference between male and female thought-processes! :P or rather lack of it! Maybe that's why females have such lofty ideas, and males' are grounded in practicality. /:)

  7. @Wise Donkey:
    I honestly couldn't make out if your idea of brain chemicals or sarcastic or not, but it definitely made me smile.

    Kindly read my response to Rakesh above. It partly addresses what I think of 'How are you?'. And you're right to an extent, at least for me, sometimes only effort to smile while greeting someone makes me feel lighter. And essesially so, if I like that person.

    As regards my other blog, it's totally defunct. I was not expecting anyone to comment there. But anyway, commenting there was not restricted. Did you see a comments' field there as you see one on this blog below each post? If you could see it, and type in your comments and yet not get your comment published, then it is some problem beyond my comprehension, and literally for the Google God to attend to! :) But if you did not see such a comments' field, then you were required to click on the post's title to comment. Hope this helps.

    Thanks a lot for your comments, which I've really started enjoying and looking forward to. :)



    Fortunately, it was an oral question, so I had no difficulty understanding.

    How old is that incident of sms and your looking up in the dictionary? I'm curious!

    Did you get this answer "Somehow, not as fine as you" on multiple occasions from many people, or just one or two persons? If it is the former, then it's very shocking to me!

    'cuz as far as I could gather, in North Indian states, answering anything apart from 'fine' or one of its versions, would be considered social blasphemy of sorts! In that case, my ideas might have formed more on the basis of cultural conditioning.

    But if it is typically one or two people who answered in that manner, then I'm not sure, but it could be inferiority complex/insecurity or plain jealousy?

    And well, your straightforward response to that pathetic answer makes me sacred of you!

    And no, you need to tell what your parents had said! You are depriving me one seriously entertaining anecdote. You might seriously do a post on it!

    How do you answer what's up nowadays? I really need to know how it is to be answered, 'cuz it's become quite a common way of greeting nowadays! And you know, the worst part is, it's come in vogue since 1940's from Bugs Bunny!



  8. :d hmm i dont think i was sarcastic when it comes to brain chemicals..since to me thats the essense of life, God or whatever..

    when i dont have time to write everything, i skip the logical it might seem senseless to everyone else..i reserve my sarcasm for a different category..

    on the fat dress question..never ever say "u look fat", its more effective than hate me forever..when i want to be honest i will say, hmmm did u check ur weight or look in the mirror,
    or make a comment about the cotton shrinking..
    (maybe i will come up with apost..)

  9. Even though its a courtesy to be asked "How are you" in whatever language one could take, its somewhat senseless. But certain things are done irrelevant of these making sense; just because everyone does.

    But the "whats up" thing is the most irritating one of the lot. I just end up giving some weird answers if I am in a bad mood

  10. Hello Insignia!

    And finally officially welcome to the blog!

    Well in due course of time, I did realize that 'how are you?' indeed is a very good way to begin a conversation. My exchange with parents is very old, like, when I was 12 or 13!

    You could read my response to Rakesh above.

    But the most important point of this post was that at least I know how to answer how are you?, but not what's up, dude?, and to seek assistance in how to answer that!

    Please post in your good- as well as bad-mood responses to that question, so that I could shamelessly take inspiration from them! ;) I might give you due credit too, each time I use your idea(s). :)

    Thanks for taking time to read and comment!

    Take care.

  11. :-) Well. I dare not give those bad-mood responses here. I want to behave lady-like you see :-)

  12. Insignia,

    I'm trying to guess your unlady-like responses, which though potentially very interesting, I cannot press you into revealing. But what about the good mood-responses? :)

  13. Haaaahaaaaaaahaaa!!!!!!!! Long time no see. And I really really had to find THIS post to reconnect. Wonderful! Lovely satirical ironical post.

    I am in no mood to assess its deeper meanings, :) and I feel it will kill the mood. SO

    Good going 'dude'!


  14. Hello Tumultuous Suspension!

    What a great surprise was it to see you here! Sorry for the delayed response. Of course, this posts was not meant at all to send the readers spiralling down the philosophical path, but simply to know how one is to answer "what's up, dude?". And you seem to have finally done it for me! Yay!! So, "great going", is it? ;)



  15. Hiii Ketan,
    me and some of my frnds hv started an E-zine called Reader's Quotient, it is totally for a noble cause, i came across ur blog in my quest to search excellent writers for the e-zine, and felt worth to inquire if u shall be interested to come along with us.
    If yes pls contact us at

    waiting for ur revert

    regds sangeeta


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