The world of bouncers

The world of bouncers

When Shashi Tharoor tweeted a new 29-letter word ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ to announce his new book, it not only caught the attention of the literati but also had the common man, including yours truly, literally stumped for words wondering — forget its meaning or pronunciation — whether such a word existed at all, in the first place, in the dictionary.

But there are words — may not be so bombastic — in common usage with which we may not be familiar till we face a situation or enter into a conversation with someone who uses them. This gets us scurrying to our library to check their existence and update our vocabulary and even attempt using them at the first available opportunity. 

My English teacher in school would ensure all her students picked up one new word from the dictionary each day, understood its meaning, learnt its spelling and pronunciation and attempt using it in day-to-day life to improve our command over the language. But even after following such a strict regimen in daily life, some words still spring a surprise when encountered.

Some years ago, in one of the branches of a public sector bank where I was working, a high profile and well-respected customer stepped in for a credit facility to help his vagabond son set up a small business and be on his own. From his emotional outburst, all that we could infer was that his son ate and slept well, had a well-built physique but fared badly on the academic front. For such a person, elders at home would traditionally recommend discontinuing studies and gifting a pair of buffaloes to graze the fields, I thought aloud.

My reverie was broken with the customer lamenting that his son wanted to become a ‘bouncer’ for besides the attractive compensation in monetary terms, it offered a host of unimaginable perks and privileges and a special status to boot. Apart from globe-trotting, the job held out the rare prospect of getting a chance to ‘rub’ shoulders with the who’s who in any industry.

I blinked, for the only ‘bouncer’ I was familiar with then, was the short-pitched delivery sent down by a pace-bowler to unsettle the batsman at the striker’s end in the game of cricket. I later learnt that bouncers are persons employed in discotheque or similar places to prevent troublemakers and anti-social elements from creating a nuisance in the premises or are hired by celebrities as their personal guard. Our ‘friend’ had been identified by a recruitment agency providing such services to their elite clientele. This ‘bouncer’ simply had me bowled over!