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Showing posts from 2009

English and its Indian makeover

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Introducing Hobson-Jobson and Hanklyn Janklyn

Just yesterday I was having a heated discussion with my sons. We were talking about the new movie ‘Avatar’ which we had gone to see. Now when I tried explaining that the word Avatar is actually Sanskrit, they were vehement in the argument that it was a very English word. After a while I gave up but was reminded of this article I had started some months ago, but had drifted away to other matters. Anyway this discussion and G 42’s recent blog stirred me up to complete this.

Some years ago, while in the UK, the Sunday Times provided a BBC audio CD together with the paper. It was a delightful lesson on punctuation, titled ‘Eats shoots & leaves’. The title of course is based on the fable where a panda bear comes to a hotel, eats food then shoots into the air and leaves. Upon being asked why it did it, it points to a wrongly punctuated dictionary entry – panda– large black & white bear like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leave…

A Pack of Cards

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Ramnath was a contented man; he had retired after a long career with the IAS, and it had been a no mean achievement surviving the bureaucratic minefields. He was back at his village in Pallavur – Palakkad, spending the remaining part of his life ruminating the past, reading religious texts and building up a new social circle. Parvathi his wife, took good care of her soul mate. It had been difficult times for her too, running around with her ‘transferable job’ husband.

The kids were married off to good families and well settled; Leela their elder daughter had become a pediatrician and married Dr Krishna, a brain surgeon. Now they were well settled in New York, though it had been a time since they visited their parents. Their son Venkat had his own outfit in Bombay. The old parents saw Venkat, Shyama & Vijay the grand child once every two years, when they came down for their summer holidays. It was the best part of their lives, being with their grandson, The grandparents doted on th…

The Burlington House Cartoon

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One among the uninitiated, that is, in the field of art & painting, like me, would but naturally, assume that I am talking about the stuff you see in magazines and newspapers. The cartoonists are very important in today’s society, they provide the irony laced with humor in a single frame, but then again there are the extended versions called stand up comedians who do it on the idiot box over a period of an hour or so. There are also some of these characters in certain big cities who even end up as politicians and become a general nuisance to society, but this is not about any of them.

So, this is not at all about any kind of cartoon, but a very famous person, who was after all, a regular genius, who possessed amongst other great talents the talent called artistry – thus one who also became a great painter. The man is Da Vinci. But then again, I will not write too much about his great talents in anatomy, dark medicine, Opus Dei, inventions, scientific activities and so on, but will…

The International Indian

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I must thank Shashi Tharoor for this. Not that I know him or anything. But like all of you, I know of him. Recently, thanks to the internet and the forward mail industry, I got a link from my wife to his speech at the TED forum. As I watched it, I must say I truly enjoyed it. Well, Tharoor is from Palakkad, my maternal hometown and though I disagree with what he said about R K Narayanan, I think he is a pretty neat guy, charming and all that, with a twinkle in his eyes, set to warm many a girl’s heart and a Hugh Grant style demeanor and a Brit accent to boot. But gals, unfortunately this is not about Tharoor or how to charm a woman. It is a little bit about the roaming Indian in the big wide bad world, something Tharoor reminded me of..

As I was writing this the spell check gave out its warnings – Narayanan was underlined red due to some enthusiastic chap at Microsoft (quite possibly an Indian whose code warnings red marked it as not being in the English dictionary) and suggested that…

The King's Railway

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The 50 something man who sat in the lavishly appointed waiting in the brand new train station, looked tired and haggard, but not beaten. He had been struggling to see his dream through for the last decade. Much of his time was spent in conceiving this project and bringing it to fruition, and the workload of handling the family and other responsibilities were bearing heavy on his shoulders. He had struggled, toiled and spent reams of paper corrrsponding with the new authorities of the land or what it was today. He had begged and cajoled with them and he had dug deep in augmenting the finances to complete the project. He thought wryly, sometimes, about how he, the king of the land, had to wait and beg permission from the new lords of the state - the British foriegner, to do something benifitting his own subjects.

The king was none other than the erstwhile maharajah of Cohin, Rama Varma XV. Soon the train arrived at the spanking new Cochin terminus, chugging along the shiny grey rails, a…

Behind the Veil

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Sometimes it is difficult to comprehend human nature. Like in this case that was recently reported from Iraq.It show how war brings out the worst in us, when people start to behave like animals and show their terrible sides.

A man was suspected of something (!!); however the local police were not able to get a hand on him. So they took away his sister named Dalal, all the way from Baghdad to distant Tikrit hoping that the brother would follow to get her out. There they jailed her incommunicado in a mainly men’s prison and soon enough, she was raped repeatedly.

The lady became pregnant and fearfully wrote to her brother, pleading for help. Dalal lived through the horrible days behind bars in Tikrit, hoping that her brother would at least now come to save her from her misery. She was also quite worried wondering how she would continue her life after release, and what her family would think.

Her brother requested police permission to meet her. Permission was granted. He came to the poli…

The Nomad

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And so here I am, in yet another place, after yet another move. Most people balk at moving from one house to another, let alone one state to the next. But our journey has been across vast distances, taking us to cultures differing widely and forcing our entire thought process and life style to be different. Thinking back, adaptation was the least of the worries, actually. Some days when I sit in great formal meetings arranged by some manager who has it in his action plan, teaching us how to adapt to multi and cross cultural working environments, I just smile, for I can assure you that not even one of those speakers or presenters have ever moved far from their city of birth, let alone countries, to know what it is really like for oneself, for ones family, for ones friends.

Starting from childhood, my life had been nomadic. Born in a remote estate region of North Malabar, I lived away from my parents who were in the British tea estates of Wyanad, where dad was a Doc. Lack of good school…