February 21, 2020
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Janus Words, Culture Vulture, Arun Shourie and BS Bingo

Janus Words

Words named after the Roman god of gateways, who had faces on the front and back of his head. Such words are their own opposites. It’s not a phenomenon limited to English; ‘didh’ is Arabic for the category of words that also mean their opposites. Here are some of the most common.

Dust: When you dust your furniture, you remove dust. But when you dust your face with make up, you add fine powder. Not an order to be confused at home.

Cleave: Your butcher’s cleaver is a fearsome cutting tool. But when you cleave unto something, you are joining it.


Scan: Glance quickly at a document and you’re scanning it. But you’re also scanning it when you look at it closely. A good reply for when the boss asks you about the sales report.


Sanction: A punishment, such as the one tried by governments that didn’t like our Bomb. Not so weirdly—in the context of international geopolitics—it also means approval.


Screen: When you screen a movie, you’re showing it. But a roadside hedge screens your house from view.

culture vulture
The Upanishads Various

What One of the world’s greatest philosophical texts

Background Ancient India’s sages grappling with eternal questions of truth, self.

Global import International appreciation of Indian intellectual tradition began with its ‘discovery’ by western scholars.

The problem Very demanding on the reader’s intellect. Can be very hard to simplify, so accessibility is limited.

So you thought you knew all about
Arun Shourie

The 63-year-old journalist-turned- minister is now tackling the spate of IPO quibbles. But what’s the quibble below?

A. Captained the hockey team at St Stephen’s college, Delhi

B. A PhD in economics from Cornell, he worked with the World Bank

C. Quit the Bank for the Indian Express, where he wrote on the Bhagalpur blindings, female trafficking, fake ‘encounters’, Kuo oil deal...

D. Won the Magsaysay Award in ’82 for journalism, literature and creative arts.

E. The Union disinvestment minister since ’99.

Answer B. Shourie’s doctorate is from Syracuse University in upstate New York.

what is
BS Bingo
A game clearly invented by the terminally bored management type. At business meetings, note every instance of corporate windbaggery like ‘client focus’, ‘think out of the box’, ‘paradigm’ and ‘best practice’ on a modified bingo chart. Yell ‘bulls***!’ as soon as you fill a row. Or quietly chuckle. Either way it improves everyone’s attention span. The technologically inclined can also download BS Bingo programs.

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