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A Man or a Woman?

Continuing on the subject of spam mail, Saumya Balsari says she should be addressed as a woman or a man, but not both.

india Updated: Oct 01, 2005 17:39 IST

I must be either a man or a woman, but not both. That should surely be self-evident. Clearly, it is not so in the email world. If you haven't already guessed, I'm referring to spam in the Inbox again (to continue where I left off last week). I seem to be androgynous in email post (Royal Mail does not send letters addressed to me as Mr. and Ms. Balsari on the same envelope).

I'll get to the distressing point without the frills. Someone out there thinks I need both penile and breast enlargements, but doesn't come and say so directly. I receive emails instead. If I did indeed order the product being offered, I think (perhaps understandably?) that I would look like a freak, but the sender of the email evidently does not care about such things as well being (or unforeseen problems with dress size). I have been urged for months to consider both "enhancements" simultaneously - a sort of two for the price of one (but not buy one, get one free) deal. The senders of the mails have different names each time, a fact that has, over time, given me agrophobia, i.e. made me rather anxious and reluctant to step out of the house.

Why are there so many people out there wanting to change the way I look? I have this feeling somebody's watching me…and it's not Jacko. And I simply don't understand why someone called Lena Russel writing about the wonders of Viagra to someone called Cynthia Lopez, thinks a cc to me would be necessary. Or that someone called Stuart (he is quite a good-looking chap in the enclosed pic) should ask me to consider mixing Cialis with alcohol "without any harm".

Yes, I have turned paranoid, and it is affecting my relationship with the English language. As soon as I see new mail in the Inbox, my eagle eyes pounce and hit the delete button before it has a chance to live. Some words will just never read the same again. The age of innocence is lost forever. Here is a (by no means definitive) list of nouns now turned dubious: stamina, performance, manhood, packaging, patches, energy, gains, results, success. Adjectives: powerful, discreet, natural, realistic. Verbs: experience, improve, increase, surprise. The most important (and annoyingly repetitive) substantive of them all: miracle. I need a miracle to make these mails stop.

Newsflash: I have just received a new mail as I write. Someone called Shenna writing to someone called Stuart informs me, "Everything can be in the same place". This is puzzling, indeed. Perhaps I had better accept the offer of a free DVD.

(Saumya Balsari is the author of the comic novel 'The Cambridge Curry Club', and wrote a play for Kali Theatre Company's Futures last year. She has worked as a freelance journalist in London, and is currently writing a second novel.)

First Published: Oct 01, 2005 00:00 IST