This is what happens when you try to be too clever.
A friend was fiddling with the messaging functions on a new iPhone, sent me some text and asked me whether I received it as an SMS on my 'hp' (meaning handphone or mobile phone) or as an e-mail.
Fond of not giving simple, straightforward replies, I did not send my response as just the mere 'hp' or 'phone' or 'sms' any other similar term referring to the cellular phone. I texted back 'Hewlett-Packard', intending to use its familiar 'HP' initials. My friend thought I meant the PC, and took it that I got the message as an e-mail.
It's like, to most people, ABBA may be the musical group from Sweden that made songs such as Mama Mia popular. But, to me, ABBA is the rhyming scheme of the first eight lines (octave) of a Petrachan sonnet.
As long ago as when the ABBA movie was having its first run, some colleagues on the night shift were in the company-provided transport on the way home. Philip Coorey began a discussion on the World Cup and Surinder Singh, sitting nearest to him, seemed keen on giving his views as well.
After a while, Surinder asked Philip: 'Which World Cup are you talking about?'
'The Cricket World Cup, of course,' replied Philip (a Sri Lankan), to which Surinder said: 'I thought you were talking about the Hockey World Cup!'
Almost in unison, the rest of us responded: 'We all thought you were talking about the Football World Cup!'
It gets worse for those of us who like to use several languages in the same sentence.
My friend, Jacob Idiculas, was once doing his usual round of sending huge drawings (building plans, for instance) for photocopying at Motion Smith's, then in Battery Road. On that particular day, he just wanted one copy each of the plans and told the Caucasian lady boss there so: 'One each, please.'
A few hours later, when he went to collect the copies, he was shocked when asked to fork out double what he had expected to pay. Then he discovered that the shop had made two copies each of the huge drawings.
'Didn't I say I wanted only one each?' Jacob asked the Caucasian lady.
'Yes, you did and that was what I told him,' she replied pointing to her Singaporean colleague, a Malay man, who did the copying of the documents.
'But, ma'am, you said 'two each',' he protested.
'No, I said...' and then she paused for a while and continued, much more slowy, '.... 'satu each'!' ('satu' means one in Malay), and apologised profusely.
One confusion can, of course, lead to another.
I get worried when I see the shorthand used by the wait staff on the order chit to the kitchen. Recently, I ordered barley water in a restaurant and on the chit the waiter had written 'bali'. I know we import water from neighbouring countries but Bali? That seems a bit far-fetched.
On another occasion, in the United States, my family and I were having breakfast and my wife ordered her favourite 'two eggs, sunnyside up'. The waitress wrote '2 up' on the slip she handed to the kitchen.
That taught me a lesson. I will never ever order 7-Up (the soft drink) for breakfast.
I prefer my eggs over-easy anyway.