This article belongs to Sweet Grace column.

Tamil, one of the 15 major languages of India, has borrowed many words from other languages, Sanskrit and English, in particular. These have been accepted with slight changes here and there. But one English word  - ADJUSTMENT- has stuck to the younger generation without any shift whatever but with a new meaning - Put up or change over  to the new situation.


This is an all purpose word, too, which could be used in any kind of predicament as if it is a magic wand.


To quote some examples:  An young wife complains to her husband about the  unkind criticism  of his mother towards her.  The son can't take sides.  Wanting to keep both sides happy, he would say, " Do some adjustment with her, my pet; everything will be all right then." 


Another type of charge a housewife will  bring forth is about the tantrums of her house maid. Being a realist, the husband would advise her saying,  "Adjust with her sweet;  you know maids are hard to come by these days.  A little adjustment, that's all…"  He is well aware that if the maid is given the marching order, he would have to do at least half the cleaning work in the kitchen.  See how, ‘adjustment' saves him?


The phrase is quite popular with college boys and girls.  They do a lot of ‘adjustments' among themselves while cutting classes. "Don't tell my Mummy, eh?" one warns another at the cinema counter.  "If you don't adjust, I'll tell your mother that you are flirting with 3 boys." 


"ACCEPTED," cries Candy, the other girl at the same counter in full agreement.


The disease has spread among school kids, too, if they  happen to live in a close knit colony.  One day,  while playing cricket, the boys  broke a couple of window panes,  which came jingling down in hundred odd pieces.  Any normal nine year olds would have tossed the bat and run away completely out of sight.  But not the ‘ Adjustment' based whiz kids. They walked into the affected flat and pleaded with the lady of the house.  "Aunty, aunty, sorry aunty.  Some Adjustment, Aunty please." 


"We will also do some adjustment in our pocket money, Aunty. Please, don't tell Secretary uncle, aunty."


Absolutely moved, Aunty agrees to adjust.  The pocket money adjustment never materializes, of course.


The Train Ticket Examiners, known as TTEs, are experts in adjustments. They always allow inside Reserved compartments more passengers than the capacity.  "They are emergency travellers, friends. Do some adjustment, please.  How about squeezing in in your seats?"


The taxi drivers in my city don't ask for any adjustment fare.  They are goody goody men and collect the fare shown on the meter.  But not the famous auto rickshaw drivers.  In the first place, they never flag the meter and settle, after extensive negotiations, for a tidy sum to travel just some 5 kilometers.  At the destination, they would always extend the right hand while the left caresses the left ear, "Some adjustments, Sir.  You know the cost of living is racing against time. So, adjustment becomes inescapable…"  And  there, you part with an extra five rupee note.


Come to think of it, all of us have to do some kind of ‘adjustments' with someone or the other around us, some time or the other whether the place is the office or  residence.  It's a daily occurrence too. Some educationists call it ‘compromise'  Without compromising  over some issue or the other, we just cannot survive on this Earth.  I think, ‘adjustment' is a more diplomatic word.  Do you agree?       


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                                                                  Israel Jayakaran [Sweet grace]