Hi! If you make a wish while blowing the candles on your birthday cake, your wish comes true within a year and, hey, the candles are supposed to be blown off in one breath — it brings good luck. Also, make sure that you don’t tell your wish to anyone. Remember the saying ‘tell a wish lose a wish.’ Well! This is what the superstition is….

It was the early Greeks who started this custom of placing the candles on the birthday cake — this they believed pleased the goddess of moon, Artemis. There is another interesting story — there are some historians who say that the people in the ancient times believed that the smoke of the candles carried the wishes of the people to the skies, where the Gods lived and this is why they placed the candles on the cake and blew them. Yet, another theory talks of the custom originating in Germany where people used to place a large candle at the centre of the cake to symbolise ‘the light of life’.

You know what! Stop thinking about all this superstitious nonsense and attack on that scrumptious – lip smacking – mouthwatering cake. What say?

Apurba, a reader, has a question for me:

What is the difference between ‘ex, former and veteran’ and how are these three to be used?

Apurba, most of the dictionaries say that both ‘ex’ and ‘former’ are each other’s synonyms, that is, you could use ‘ex’ in place of ‘former’ and vice versa. However, ‘ex’ is more immediate; whereas ‘former’ could be many numbers back.


Dr A P J Abdul Kalam is the ex president of the country. (This means immediate past, before Mrs Pratibha Patil.) Dr S Radhakrishnan was the former president of the country. (This means one of the presidents.)

The word ‘veteran’ has no connection with ‘ex’ or ‘former’; it simply means a person who has a lot of experience.


The novice (beginner) politician was no match to the veteran (expert, practised) politician. Another query from Sushant: What are the meanings of to ‘to sweat like a pig’ and ‘to eat like a horse’? ‘To sweat like a pig’ means to sweat or perspire profusely (heavily). Example: The man pushed the cart so hard that he started sweating like a pig. ‘To eat like a horse’ refers to a person who eats a lot. Example: In his youth, he could eat like a horse, but now he is reduced to eating like a bird (to eat very little). Bye for now. Keep smiling…

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