The definitive guide to South Asian lingo


5 0


In the days before photocopying a.k.a. Xeroxing and computers, mass printing/producing paper materials involved either carbon paper and a typewriter (many times over with a patient and accurate typist) or a cyclostyle machine. Headmasters and principals' offices in schools and colleges around the country buzzed with a familiar metal-meets-paper thwacking sound as dreaded exam papers were produced, under the watchful eye of a peon or administrative assistant (usually named something like Murugan or Philomena).

The process was thus:
1. Create the master stencil by using a pen with a little toothed wheel on it that perforates the paper creating small holes under the text. For really important exams (e.g. national boards like the ICSE) the governing body would splurge on the typewriter equivalent of the same, substituting poorly typeset text for poorly written text.
2. Fill the cyclostyle machine with printers ink, attach the master stencil (whose holes get filled with said ink), and start cranking.
3. Mostly legible copies of exam papers, syllabi, legal documents, ekc. (ekcetera) are spat out, with the illegible parts written over with a pen at a later time (sometimes during the exam when students raise the issue of not being able to read the question for whom an answer is being asked).

While a novel solution to a common academic and legal problem, the cyclostyle machine had some distinct...uhh, shortcomings - the process was messy (picture school peons with their hands & arms/uniforms covered in ink), imprecise (text would get smudged as the master stencil's holes wore out), and for some Godforsaken reason the process required the use of substandard copy paper which more closely resembled paper mache produced in an SUPW class than that befitting an important exam paper. Picture your pen puncturing a hole in a soft spot in the paper precisely on the elusive 'x' you just solved for in your final exam maths paper, or your pen's ink involuntarily blotting itself on your answer that explains the dagger scene in Macbeth.


Mr. Campbell: Muthu, I have finished the second term English Literature exam paper - please cyclostyle 64 copies so that we have 2 extra.
Peon: Saar wokay saar.
Peon (20 minutes later): Saar the stencil has started smudging ink, inondhu kodthaidhiya (are you giving me one more)?
Mr. Campbell: @#$%! No time to get the cyclostyle machine serviced from Shri Ganesha Printers (Pvt. Ltd.) in Hospet, I will get Nancy M'am to write another stencil paper.

Student 1: @#$%! My Parker pen blotted ink on top of my hech where I solved the equation, now I can't tell my 'h' from my 'X' (chi).
Student 2 (pulling the nib out of a freshly made hole in his paper): Saala kutha, stupid cyclostyle paper!

Added 2013-01-14 by Yain Maga