We’re Talkin’ Accents, Mate!

One of the good things about being the normal guy, leading the normal life is that we get to learn quite a lot of things; starting with, how to imitate accents – predominantly those of English speakers – and to make them sound even funnier than they actually are. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Back in those days when I worked in a Medical Knowledge Processes Outsourcing company (yada, it’s just another BPO. I spiced it up for presentation) – my voice-trainer was the first person who introduced me to the exact nuances of the accents of the American version of English. Before that, I was fascinated by the accents of three people – Hollywood actors, P Chidambaram (former Indian Finance Minister, Home Minister and a politician of the Congress order) and Ricky Ponting, the Aussie cricketer.

Of these three people, I could manage to understand the words of the politician. Yeah, just the words, because most of the time, we don’t really understand what the politician speaks, right?

Hollywood actors were somewhat okay with me. I mean, I got used to watching a hell lot of movies and made it a point never to enable the sub-titles ๐Ÿ˜‰ This trained me well in understanding what the actors spoke, unless the scene was of the sensuous type – where whispers blurred the words and besides, the scenes distract us and the focus kinda shifts!! ๐Ÿ˜›

The third guy, Ricky Ponting, was an enigma. I still don’t really know if Ravi Shastri, when posing questions to Ricky in the post-match ceremony, understands or even expects to understand Ponting’s answer. That’s Australian accent for you and the rest of us who are on this side of the fence, mate!

Depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on, you’ll either say “things are going fine” in a strict, aristocratic, regal and upper-class disciplinary manner or just sing “things’re goin’ fine” in a nonchalant, friendly and very casual way.

Roll your R-s and we get the American type, while the Brits, as popular as they are, chose to forget the R’s. So “thirty” without the R is a Brit’s way and with a rolled R is the American route. Personally, having had to use the American style for a considerably long but definitely short time (:P), I rather have an inclination towards the loose, casual and sometimes a sing-song American accent. I respect the British accent though, for its originality and seriousness – although it gets a bit grave at times, probably much like the past Kings and Queens of England. ๐Ÿ˜›

There was an amateur accent-training video which I happen to remember. Quite an old one, where the guy in the video imitates an Irish accent. For several seconds, I was wondering how the guy got so drunk all of a sudden. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Wilderness, Solitude and Survival

My feline friend – a somewhat-thin, quietly social and a marathon sleeper cat – gets very active in the night, much like most other cats in the world. Born with three siblings, this cat became the lone survivor of the pack despite thoughts running contrary at one point of time when it was severely sick.

It is usual for my mom to either feed her some milk or some curd-rice (which the cat rarely choses to eat these days) as her dinner. My mom’s not here tonight so the responsibility fell on me. The first thing to do, before you get the milk or the curd-rice ready is to stand in the backyard and call her a few times. Madam is usually on rounds at these hours.

There was no milk, so I mixed water with some curd. I was almost thinking the cat would reject it summarily and carry on with her inspection of the various things lying around in the backyard. Fortunately though, she did taste the concoction and decided to have some of it.

I usually turn to hit the sack after this point. But tonight, I decided to sit and watch what the cat does after the dinner. Boy oh boy, this cat, which mostly looks half-drunk and sleepy all the time in the day, became one hell of a tiger – eyes, razor sharp, ears, razor sharp, and feet razor slick. Yeah, probably every cat that’s not a homely pet behaves in a similar fashion, but watching it was truly nice –ย  a welcome relief.

It’s the survival instinct that makes this all possible. A few months back, time after dinner used to be play-time for the kittens. Having been orphaned and deserted by its mother, the cat has become truly solitary. Probably every cat’s tale is quite the same, but watching it from up close makes it even harder to understand the ways of nature.

Last night, I wondered how I would feel if I was put in the shoes of this cat. Totally alone in the world, having to rely completely on its instincts of survival – both for its security and for its food, having to be left all alone in a rainy urban wilderness with no more than a half-inch thick fur for cover. Truth is, despite the fact that such a possibility seems next to impossible, we probably can’t even imagine such a situation unless we decide to dwell in the forests.

Yet, this is life – at least for the kitten that had a great time with three other kittens, and became a loner in a matter of few months. It survives to tell the tale of most other kittens and cats we see in our urban setting. To call them “stray” seems, in my humble opinion, quite absurd.

A person’s heart is like a beautiful house. Even if you are given an entry to the house, you should be careful about choosing to stay. Who knows? Someone more important than you might already be there, but out just on a vacation. When they return, your presence should never hinder their entrance.

A person’s heart is like a beautiful house. Even if you are given an entry to the house, you should be careful about choosing to stay. Who knows? Someone more important than you might already be there, but out just on a vacation. When they return, your presence should never hinder their entrance.
a stupid gray zone called brain ๐Ÿ˜›

Quickie: Every Generation Goes… Blah Blah Blah

Now this one’s a short post. In keeping with my new resolution, this is the second post of the week. Before the week ends (or at least before the weekends) I must hit the third and the last post too. Not far, I guess. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway. Back in our days…. is how this post should have begun. That’s the key phrase, the slogan, the tag line or call it whatever – of every generation that precedes you. Yup! This morning, my mom was talking about how in her days – that’s when my brain most of the times automatically shuts down its audio-reception.

Love, work, lifestyle, relationships, responsibility, philosophy, education, and the cost of petrol/rice/sugar/whatever – these are some of the things that get our predecessors started. Back in our days it used to be so much better, so much cheaper, so much easier, so much blahh!!! Get that? Yeah.

Well, I am not the one who’s here to complain about my previous generation. Yeah, times were probably better. Things were obviously cheaper – mostly because back then RBI did not have so many complicated measurements which seems to raise the inflation rather than stopping at measuring the raise.

But sometimes it gets on to you. That’s why, yesterday brunch-time turned out into a comical one – where my mom said everything was wrong with my generation while I tried to prove – well, nothing actually, but just the fact that every generation loves to criticize, condemn, complain (yeah that phrase is stolen from Dale Carnegie) about all other generations except itself – and most notably the successors. ๐Ÿ˜›

The Unsung Teachers

Now, this one post, I have been trying to do since time immemorial – which translates into three weeks precisely. (note: author’s still in the premises of the so-called writer’s block) ๐Ÿ˜› Move ahead cautiously ๐Ÿ˜›

There are 26 letters in the English alphabet. Five vowels, the rest consonants, although some people go a bit further in giving stranger names like semi-vowels.

But that does not matter when you read this blog post, or a much better reading outlet like a novel, or a worser reading outlet like today’s newspaper containing reports of murder sans mystery, bombing sans the thrill and crime sans conspiracy.

Well, whatever it is, the basic idea is always forgotten – and so are the people who taught us the very fundamentals of reading, writing, arithmetic and other ideas that education delivers to us.

I write here in the memory of people whose names I dont remember – sometimes, whose faces I hardly remember but whose mannerisms I can easily remember because that’s one thing we all imitate as good students. ๐Ÿ˜›

So who are these nameless, faceless but richly-gestured (or textured or whatever) people?

Nursery and Primary School Teachers. ๐Ÿ˜›

Yada, yada, I know. But please dont break your head, or the screen of the monitor right now. The expiry date on both is still far in the future.

The only reason I have churned out so much idiosyncrasy, and the only reason you have read this post so far, is because I know how to write – although not in the sense of a good writer – and you know how to read – definitely in the sense of a good reader.

When you are being interviewed for the post of an English reader in some college of good reputation, the panel does not ask you, “How many letters are there in the English alphabet?” If they did, we’d probably run away from the interview. ๐Ÿ˜›

But no matter in which rung of the ladder of life we are in, the fundamentals are what have helped us this far. A strong building that can stand for several centuries – hard to find these days and even if you found one, don’t reveal it to the public – needs one important ingredient first – foundation.

Now imagine a bunch of kids, pulling the loose ends of other kids, screaming, dancing around, some trying out their bullying powers on other kids with large scared eyes, and such a lot.

That was when we learnt to pronounce the alphabet, sing rhymes without mostly knowing what they meant and learnt to count at least till ten.

Next imagine a class with many groups. One, my favorite, the gangsta group ๐Ÿ˜› The other extreme of this spectrum was the highly aristocrat-like, studious ones who were brilliant in studies and in keeping away from the gangsta group. The third group was the majority – average, below average and above average.

That was when we learnt our grammar, multiplication, division (the famous BODMAS method) and other fundamentals.

It was not until we left the primary corridors that we actually began learning things other than the fundamental stuff.

Till then, the primary school teachers had to manage us, teach us and feed us the fundamentals of education. Kudos to all those teachers, who, I imagine, would always have had a strip of Saridon, thanks to students like me and probably you, too (if you belonged to my favorite, gangsta group) ๐Ÿ˜‰

In memory of these unsung teachers, let me please dedicate a rhyme I believe was the first one I learnt:

Twinkle twinkle little star,
how I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
like a diamond in the sky.

(the first stanza of an early nineteenth-century five-stanza poem, “The Star” by Jane Taylor) ๐Ÿ˜€

and back to square one

No posts. No serious writing. No regularized freelance work. No studying. No life. ๐Ÿ˜›

Something seems to have gone wrong somewhere. It’s something like 11:15 PM here, a stomach ache has developed cautiously, the sprain in the leg has gotten a bit worse, I have finally hit the proverbial writer’s block and the verdict’s out – I have turned this blog into a sinkhole ๐Ÿ˜›

Let’s face it. The author of the blog is down and out – in a lower ebb of life where time becomes fused with space – as Einstein convinced us – and yet, both refuse to move anywhere.

I think it’s decision time, though.

Number one – I am turning this blog into much more like the one I used to have at My Days in Ahmedabad.

Number two – I am going to post at least thrice a week here. No more stopping to think of what I am going to write about. I guess it’s high time I got back the spirit in me – no not the alcohol, dear, just the writing spirit ๐Ÿ˜›

Number three – mm.. no number three. Two is enough for me for now ๐Ÿ˜› I can hardly handle these two.

Let’s see how I fare with this strangely and untimely resolution. Starting tomorrow, Wednesday. ๐Ÿ™‚

and this is why i dont read newspapers!

Reading the newspaper was something that I used to do regularly till college got over, or till I guess I left for Ahmedabad. Being there, there was seldom or no access to newspapers – all news I read was online and that was pretty much enough between work, chatting with my cousin and mom, and of course, with my colleagues in office.

After I returned, somehow, I did not make it a point to read newspapers except for the comic strips that appear in The Hindu’s supplementary papers. Calvin and Hobbes, to this date, remains my favorite, and would remain so till I breath my last. I sometimes wonder if I got much more philosophical because of Bill Patterson rather than due to Vedanta. ๐Ÿ˜›

This evening I decided to take a ground check. I read The Hindu – dated August 8th, 2011. Of course, unlike my dad – who reads the papers as if he was about to appear for an examination the next day (questions being asked based on the content of the paper he was reading) – unlike him, I glance through the headlines and very rarely go into the main details of a news item.

Even as I did that, I realized my chance lethargy about the newspapers – and more focus on comic strips – was in fact a good decision.

One of the first things that I remember about reading today’s paper was a court order on the usage of the term ‘Thalappakattu’ in shops!!! To the uninitiated and unfamiliar, ‘Thalappakattu’ is a type of biryani, famous throughout the state of Tamil Nadu, and it’s authentic source is said to be Dindigul – a district very adjacent to the famous temple town (now more of a city) Madurai.

Shops boasting the name are not that authentic these days. In fact, on my way to college, there’s a roadside shop with that name. However, never in my dreams have I thought that this would cause a stir so far leading to the courts! I could hardly imagine judges saying, “And so the bench orders ‘Thalappakattu’…..” ๐Ÿ˜€

So much with biryani!! Let the judges have two or three plates of the same. ๐Ÿ˜›

Newspapers mean robbery, murder, accidents and frauds. No!! What I meant was, isn’t it a common saying among people to say, “Newspaper la eppa paarthaalum kolai, kollai dhaane irukku!” (There’s only news about murder, robbery etc. in the newspapers!)

As usual, The Hindu had its average usual dosage of news on a couple of murders (see how a serious thing like that is made a mere statistic! :P), a robbery and a major accident (photo included, mind you).

Okay, after all these serious stuff, I thought I’d get some lighter things on the newspapers. Indeed, I was right! There was a joke on the JokPal bill – oops, that was supposed to be LokPal, but never mind the typo! The meaning remains the same anyway! ๐Ÿ˜›

Anna Hazare is set to go on another hunger strike on August 16th or so because apparently, the LokPal Bill as suggested by the Government is more of a Joke-Pal bill than a decent one recommended by Hazar & Co. Phew! How much more hunger strikes? The Govt. is getting used to that now – so much so that it doesnt bat an eyelid anymore when the term “hunger strike” comes up on the radar. Credits to that goes to MK – Remember former TN Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi going on a hunger strike? Yeah, that was the best joke and one prominent journalist-dramatist-artist by the name Cho made one heck of a joke out of it.

Finally, we end with something that always interests me. US military offensives in places like Afghanistan. A recent NATO strike seems to have killed the wrong targets – women and children instead of terrorist and insurgents. Would this end, ever? I used to think only time will tell – but nopes – oil reserves and Middle-east domination strategy are the key players here. ;(

Finally, the verdict stays unreserved ๐Ÿ˜› Comic strips, with Calvin and Hobbes (even if repeated editions) are far more insightful and broadening than news. It would be great if Bill resumed Calvin and Hobbes again, but even in its absence, the strips that come out these days are by far awesome. Whether they keep me glued to them or not, they will definitely keep me away from the main paper. If there’s anything truly very important, it would reach my ears (or eyes) some way or the other. ๐Ÿ˜›