Hi! You don't look too good. Is something bothering you?

"I complained to my boss about Hemant yesterday."

"Why did you do that? Do you have a problem with him?

"You know that I've had a beef with him for a long time."

"You've had beef? Do you parents know?"

"I didn't say I ate beef. I said that I had a beef with Hemant. When you have 'beef with' someone, you ..."

"You probably have a complaint against the person."

'That's right! The expression could also mean 'grudge'. You are itching for a fight or an argument."

"I see. Well, in that case, your next door neighbour has a beef with you."

"I hope that was just an example. Otherwise, I'll..."

"It was an example, that's all. I don't think your new neighbour would recognise you even if he saw you."

"That's true! In most universities, students have beef with teachers."

"And I'm sure teachers have beef with the students as well."

"You're probably right. 'Beef with' is mostly used in informal contexts.

Also, we..."

"What did your boss say when you complained against Hemant?"

"He said I was at fault."

"What?"

"That was my reaction as well. Apparently, Hemant had already complained about me, and he..."

"Is Hemant related to your boss?"

"I don't really know. But they are pretty close. According to Sharma, the two are in cahoots with..."

"In what? What did you say?

"C..a..h..o..o..t..s. The 'a' is pronounced like the 'a' in 'china', and the'oo' like the 'oo' in 'pool' and 'cool'."

"So, the word is pronounced ke-HOOTS with the stress on the second syllable."

"Very good! That's exactly how the word is pronounced."

"But what does it mean?

"When you are 'in cahoots with someone', you are conspiring with another person. You are scheming or plotting with someone to get something."

"An expression with a very negative meaning!"

"You could say that. The two individuals are up to no good."

"I've been told that the Principal is in cahoots with the dealer who supplies our school with computers."

"I understand that some of our Ministers are in cahoots with organised crime."

"Given the kind of politicians we have, the news shouldn't surprise anyone.

What are you going to do about Hemant?"

"I really don't know. I seem to have fouled my own nest by complaining to the boss about him."

"Fouled your own nest? What does it mean?"

"When you foul your own nest, you end up harming or hurting yourself."

"I see. It's not surprising that Yuktha wasn't promoted. She fouled her own nest by spreading wild rumours about her boss."

"Uday complains that his wife doesn't respect him. He fouled his own nest by constantly making fun of her in front of others. And now, she..."

"Now, she has beef with him!"

* * *

"A woman in love can't be reasonable - or she probably wouldn't be in love." -

Mae West

S. UPENDRAN supendran@gmail.com