Crazy English

English is a Phunny(funny) language said the Big B in one of his iconic movies. It is funny indeed. How else will you explain the madness of the language. u in cut/but is pronounced as ə/ಅ/अ whereas u in put is pronounced ʊ/ಉ/उ. But u is pronounced u/ಯೂ/यू in other places like confuse and refuse. H is silent in honest and hour but not silent in height and hall.

French isn’t so irregular proudly declared my French teacher in the introductory class. But since English has now become the de-facto International language, knowing the language well has become an essential skill for success, no matter how irregular/funny it is. Club that with the fact that good English is associated with elitism in most parts of the World.

I have had the fortune of learning the language from a very early age, courtesy my “convent” school education. Especially when you have people around you who speak the language well, it comes naturally and I learnt the language from usage rather than learning grammar rules. So I never realised how difficult it must be for an adult to learn it as a foreign language.

Every grammatical concept has more exceptions than rules. Not only is the same alphabet pronounced differently, same set of sounds may be spelt differently(fair,fare). Same spelling may mean different things(fair as in skin complexion, fair as in just, gathering/mela as in village fair). Sometimes same word may mean opposite things( “Oversight” means “supervision”, “an oversight” means “not noticing something”). Although it is Anglo-saxon in origin, it has words derived from latin, greek, french and some even from Sanskrit. Add to it, the British conquered half the World and borrowed words from almost every language in the World. I am not even talking about making plurals, past tense, nouns being verbed and I can go on and on.

Only much later I realised that If I had to learn this language using language rules, I would have gone nuts.

You are what you eat

You are what you eat

But it is exactly this quality of the language that gives us the opportunity to play around with it. Who doesn’t love those puns,fun and silliness of the it. Here is some more interesting things about the language I had found on the net sometime.

  • There is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
  • Ship by truck, and send cargo by ship?
  • Have noses that run and feet that smell?
  • Park on driveways and drive on parkways?
  • When a house burns up, it burns down.
  • You fill in a form by filling it out, and an alarm clock goes off by going on.
  • When the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.
  • And why, when I wind up my watch, I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it?
  • Is cheese the plural of choose?
  • In what language do people recite at a play, and play at a recital?
  • Sweetmeats are candies, while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

Enjoy the silliness of the language and hope you have more such strangeness/awesomeness to share. This post comes as I am waiting for the book ‘English Bites’ by Manish Gupta to arrive at my doorstep.

 

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The Redeemers – Book Review

The_Redeemers

The Redeemers – cover

The author Suresh Taneja is a chartered accountant by profession.His first book came out in 2010 and this is an improved version of the book. This one specifically targets youth and children. The author intends to create awareness among the young minds of India to take up an active role in the nation-building and fight the vices of corruption and malpractice.

The Reedemers is an optimistic tale of four kids who are on vacation when they see the ugly side of India. They come face-to-face with the corruption and malpractices that are common knowledge in our country. Instead of getting disheartened or finding of ways to leave the country(these have the means to do so), they decide to take action. And within a span of few years time, the situation gets reversed. Rs. 1 = $100(I know a little hard to believe in the current situation), India gives aid to US and you find an India that really shines. The G4(as the kids are known) relive their memories years later in 2030 in Washington and recount the story of transformation to their kids. The introductory page says Imagined by ‘Suresh Taneja’ but some day I hope that becomes true.

For now, the book and approach sound too rosy and over-simplistic. But since this is meant to get kids excited to work towards making India a better place, take action, take responsibility the story makes sense. What I would have liked to see is some struggle encountered by the kids and they coming out stronger and better. Also, including a few more characters in the book; probably someone who came from a diverse background, that would have made it more convincing. After all it takes whole of the country and lot of different kind of people to bring in a revolution. A little more thought into characterisation and this could have been a ‘Rang De Basanti’

A novel approach to tackle problems plaguing India.

Title: The Redeemers
Author: Suresh Taneja
Publisher: Frog/Leadstart publishers
Pages: 229
Price: Rs.145

Chanakya’s New Manifesto – Book Review

The author, Pavan K. Varma, is an alumnus of St Stephen’s College, Delhi, where he studied history and took a degree in law from Delhi University. He is at present India’s Ambassador in Bhutan. Prior to this he has worn many hats and held many important positions. He has been press secretary to the President of India, official spokesman of the Foreign Office, and director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

He has authored many bestselling books including  Ghalib: The Man, The Times; Krishna: The Playful Divine; The Great Indian Middle Class; Being Indian: The truth about why the 21st century will be India’s; Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity and When Loss is Gain. He has also translated works of Gulzar, Kaifi Azmi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee into English.

Pavan Varma is hailed as one of the greatest social commentators of contemporary India. I had missed reading his previous works, so when I came across a chance to read his book “Chankya’s New Manifesto” through Blogadda I grabbed the opportunity.

The book aims to apply the Chanakya’s strategy (Chanakya neeti ) to the woes of contemporary India. What would Chanakya do if confronted with the various crises that beset contemporary India? forms the basis of this book. “Chanakya (c. 270-380 BCE) was classical India’s greatest thinker and teacher. Through his unparalleled ability to devise result-oriented military, political and administrative strategy, he overthrew one king, crowned another and paved the way for the establishment of India’s first great empire. His seminal work, the Arthashashtra, arguably the world’s first comprehensive treatise on statecraft and governance, was written approximately two thousand years before Machiavelli’s The Prince.”[From the book]

History is testimony to the results of Chanakya’s strategy and not utilizing such a great resource as his work can only be termed a crime. His work is relevant and also most required today when The Time called the most important man of our country an under-achiever, when we start everyday with news of a new scam, most of our leaders tainted and trust in the system is at its lowest. An urgent action is needed on our leaders’ part and an equal need for others to question the system, to ask for answers, to ask the right questions and debate on the right ways of bringing about a change and infuse a fresh lease of life into our system and country to really make it a Shining India.

Pavan Varma’s book has taken the first step towards that change. In his book, divided in five parts, he has analysed the current situation in detail and provided the solutions that he thinks can be used to overcome these problems. The five parts he has focused on are

  1. Governance
  2. Democracy
  3. Corruption
  4. Security (of the country from external threats )
  5. Inclusive society

The best part about the book is that there is great focus how can the situation be remedied instead of just detailed problem analysis.  Plus, the points are not dry theory or wishful thinking but practical implementable, and workable solutions. His rich experience shows in the analysis and the solutions devised. However, neither the content nor the language overwhelms the reader and in fact the book is quite a light read in spite of the topic at hand.  The book made me run to Google plenty of times to get the facts, to verify something, to counter a theory or to defend my counter-views. And, for me, any book which can make you think in such a manner is a winner. He provides his perspective on the important issues and even when you don’t agree you’ll find the views and theories quite intriguing. The book makes you think deeply on all the issues.

Anybody who thinks about being a part of social change, changing the status-quo, interested in current politics, interested in statesmanship or knowing the art of statecraft and governance should read this book.  Also, anybody who wants to read a great piece of non-fiction with practical outlook should pick a copy of the book. Not for casual readers though. Be ready to rack your brains if you want to read the book and some amount of patience is required to understand what is written if you aren’t very familiar with the ways of governance.

Final Verdict: 8/10

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Book details:

 Name: Chanakya’s New Manifesto: To Resolve the Crisis within India

Author: Pavan K Varma

Publisher: Aleph Book Company(2013)

No. of pages: 248

 

RIP – Mukul Deva – Book Review

RIP - Mukul Deva

RIP – Mukul Deva

The author, Mukul Deva, is an alumnus of La Martiniere College, Lucknow, the National Defence Academy, Pune, and the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. Mukul was commissioned in the Sikh Light Infantry of the Indian Army in 1981. After an eventful Army tenure, which included a decade of operational service in India and overseas, he turned to corporate battlefield and then to writing. Mukul is acknowledged as India’s literary storm trooper and one of the pioneers of the Indian thriller novel.

The story is of a team of ex-special Forces officers called as K-Team, headed by Colonel Krishna Athawale, who see the plight of the country and rally to protect the country from the enemies. Only this time the enemies are within the country. They call themselves R.I.P – Resurgent Indian Patriots – The Self-appointed guardians of a nation seething with anger at the endless scams and scandals rocking its very foundation. Vigilantes who vow to stop corrupt politicians and colluding civil servants. Even if it means killing them.

There are other characters like Raghav Bhagat, Vinod Bedi, Reena Bhagat, Payal and a couple of young boys whose fate is also deeply affected by the RIPs operations and the outcomes.

This one surely is a thriller. Through out the book, I was on edge trying to gauge how this would end. Would it be a Rang De Basanti or a Wednesday? The romantic angle in between adds to the story and provides a nice break from all the tension of the killings and chase. One thing that is very evident from the book is the author’s pride in being an ex-army man.

As far as the story is concerned a very timely story and well-developed one. Only a little Bollywoodish at times when our heroes walk unscathed every time and the villains get unlucky every time. And some loopholes like chalk markings on the target’s car- how did they manage to do that and the target is known to change cars randomly, how do they know which car to mark?. Nonetheless it is a great tale of how the corrupt political class and bureaucratic machinery use the system for personal benefits  and rob the nation in broad daylight. I am sure many people will associate with the story as with the recent public sentiment that mob justice is the only way of the current situation in our country.

I was a little worried of the misuse with all the details of security arrangements/layout/weapons provided in the book. But when I read the author’s note( I read it in the end) that these details are deliberately vague/incomplete/inaccurate to avoid the misuse(intentional or otherwise), I was relieved.

A gripping tale of resurgent patriots doing their bit to protect the nation. A must read for all interested in thrillers.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Reviews Program. for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Tick-Tock We’re 30 – Book Review

Tick-tock we're 30

Tick-tock we’re 30

This is a novel by Milan Vohra from the Indian Mills & Boon fame. The first sign that writing was going to play an important part in Milan Vohra’s life was when she frequently found herself slipping into the back rows of the English honours lectures, while doing her degree in Economics. She juggles an advertising consultancy and looking after family by day and writes by night. One of her stories won a Harlequin contest and made her India’s first Mills & Boon author. Her book, The Love Asana, became so popular they’re now translating it into several Indian languages and taking it global too. She lives in Bengaluru, India, in a lovely red-brick home with her husband and two children.

Turning thirty can be scary. What if that comes with extra tension of making up a fake-new boyfriend for a reunion, falling head over heels with an old sort-of-boyfriend, seeing your best friend flirting with him and meeting your ex-boyfriend who says he still loves you. That is the story of “Tick-Tock We’re 30” and much more. It is about Lara’s upcoming thirtieth birthday party when the whole SN gang is coming together for a reunion and celebrating the event “OTWT- Oh Teri! We’re Thirty!’ as Sita, one of the gang members, likes to call it . It is a pact that they had all made back then to meet when all of them turned thirty. But that isn’t the only pact that was made then, Lara and Nishad had a pact too, a pact to marry each other if neither of them were hitched by the time they turned thirty.

But Lara doesn’t want to give Nishad the pleasure of knowing that Ranndeep, her boyfriend then, a hunky pro-racer, was wrong for her. So she convinces Perzaan to play her boyfriend’s role for the reunion week. This cute bartender cum male model, Perzaan, has to go through a make-over to look like a banker but can he act out of his character? He can but a week is a long time esp. when you are hanging out with all those friends for all 24 hours.

It is a light-read with lot of drama and comedy. Simple language with believable characters. It is like a guessing game of who ends with who and how. The reunion reminds you of the college days and makes you forget they are thirty something’s or about to be turning thirty. The author is successful in bringing out the whackiness of all the characters and string a story around that to make perfect matches at the end of it.

As Nishad says in the novel, ‘Interesting, isn’t it, how someone is always utterly attractive to someone else? For every male tree frog, there is a female tree frog whose dry skin and warts and bulging eyes are the most divine.’. But humans are a little more complex as they don’t readily accept those feelings or sometimes don’t even know those feelings exist. This is a story of such realisations. An interesting end is what makes the novel appealing only it could have been a little less lengthy without losing the flavor. An entertaining read for sure!

Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013

New Start for a New Year. Happy New Year 2013 to everyone! Hope you had a blast sending off 2012 and welcoming 2013 🙂

Indian Quills Reading Challenge is an attempt to create a database of reviews for books by Indian authors. With the Indian literary scene buzzing with activity, 2013 looks like a promising year for both desi readers and writers.

I am committing to read & review at least 20 Books under this challenge in 2013. Wish me luck!!

Thanks Reshmy for letting me know of the challenge 🙂

Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013

Indian Quills Reading Challenge 2013