Archive for January, 2006

Of spellings and punctuation…

January 29, 2006

I wonder why the younger generation’s spellings are so…well…I feel like saying bad, but it would be better to say…different? We were taught that spelling was of paramount importance as was punctuation. We were given that classic example of how punctuation could invert the meaning of a sentence…

A man said a woman is nothing.

with one set of punctuation marks, the woman is relegated to nothingness, but with another set of punctuation marks, the sentence reads,

“A man,” said a woman, “is nothing.”

I find that so many young adults now routinely misspell words.I have read “proffesor”, (professor)”rejuvination” (rejuvenation), “explination”(explanation),”defanite”(definite) and myriad other misspelt terms everywhere.

And the use of the apostrophe is on an apparently “think of it and shove it in” kind of basis. Every plural sometimes seems to be spelt with apostrophes, where they are NOT needed. “Bird’s” for Birds, for example. And of course, no one ever seems to know when it should be “its” and when it should be “it’s”…we were taught that ‘s was to signify the possessive….Geeta’s book, the boy’s pen, and so on, or to stand for “it is”…It’s a nice day, for example. But now, everywhere, I see that the apostrophe makes its (that’s correct here; it should be “its” and NOT it’s…a neuter gender possessive doesn’t take the apostrophe!) appearance wherever the writer chooses to bung it in.

I try and tell myself that ulitmately, the object of language is to communicate, and all this is nitpicking…but I wonder how the youngsters score on grammar and punctuation nowadays, or whether they are marked for it at all. We used to have marks knocked off for lapses of grammar no matter what the subject was….perhaps this is part of the evolution of the language, like American and Brit spellings and pronunciation.

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Small vignettes…

January 28, 2006

So many little pieces of action as one walks, cycles, drives past. A cow ruminatively eating a poster as the billposter moves on to sticking up the next one. A cart laden with carpets backing down the slope into the hapless front bumper of a Maruti 800 (one speeds past this before the action actually starts.) A little girl shushing your “hi” on the stairs of your apartment as she hides from her friends; the “tag” girl’s mouth opening in surprise as she streaks “home” free. A lady looking on patiently as two men (one obviously the “owner” and the other one the “driver”) look, somewhat puzzled, into the guts of their car. A youth running for a bus…which he misses..you see him slowing down after giving up the chase.Two ladies haggling at a fruit pushcart.

What goes on after you are gone? Idle curiosity prompts you to wonder….does the billposter get paid? Do the cartwallah and the Maruti finish their quarrel in the police station? Does the “tag” accept the little girl’s “home” or not? Do the car-people get where they were going, in time? Does the youth find another bus or does he have to shell out for an auto? Do the ladies’ families get fresh fruit today? Are all these fleeting scenes what Krishna refers to as the “Maya” of life?

Do other people my age also face this dichotomy?

January 27, 2006

I have entered my fifties, and belong, firmly, to the generation of parents of twenty-somethings…but I am able to empathise so much with the younger generation as they express viewpoints that others of my age are not able to see. As my daughter and her friends grew up, I felt that I was making a fresh group of friends,as they became adults in their own right. I learnt to call them my friends instead of my daughter’s.

Several times this week, I found myself seeing both viewpoints, the younger generation’s, as well as the older’s. In one instance, the parents expressed concern that the son was showing disturbingly leftist leanings, and the son felt that the parents were changing from the way they had been, and he couldn’t share their point of view. In another instance, a young man told me about his quitting his studies to work out what he wanted from life; this included going to work. I could understand this point of view, and felt, indeed, that the person concerned seemed to have thought things out very maturely; but at the same time, I felt concern about how he would be able to deal later with a society and an employment culture that is so very degree-centric in India….and felt that his relatives might have had a valid point in being concerned, not just being interfering.

The same dichotomy works with people who are a generation older than me. When my uncle complains about modern morality, I am able to understand completely how he feels about the disappearance of the world he has been used to, but at the same time, feel strongly that the inability to adapt to a changing world is surely one of the signs of aging, mentally if not physically. The positive word for this is nostalgia; its negative aspect is feeling that things have deteriorated from the world one has inhabited as a youth.

So far, I seem to be comfortable with at least two generations on either side of me…I wonder if I will be able to catch myself atrophying as the aging process happens to me!

Saying au revoir…

January 27, 2006

Felt somewhat emotional today as I went to see off oldhen. Didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted to over the visit, as we were travelling a lot and when we were in town, he wasn’t….sigh, =hope I get to spend more time at least with another “daughter’s-friend-turned-into-friend” who is just beginning HIS month-long visit…another classmate of shortindiangirl who has brought so many great people into my life!

Two things on TV…

January 26, 2006

Watched two events on TV…one, the annual “geetaanjali” (worship through music) to the Saint-Composer, Thyaagaraajaa. The other, the Republic Day Parade at Delhi.

Sometimes one is moved beyond reason and identifies with what one is seeing..and feels so happy to be part of the cultural milieu….this was true of both these events.

The Thyagaraja Aradhana takes place at Thiruvaiyyaru, on the banks of the Kaveri river, which, nowadays, is just a trickle in which one can wet one’s ankles with difficulty. Many musicians gather and they all render the Five Gems, or the five great compositions of the saint-composer, who sought to spread Bhakti through his compositions and attained his beloved Rama through his music. Alas, there is a lot of politics involved, especially since the festival became a media event. But I think only of the music and there is still a sanctity to the whole event.

Watching the Republic Day Parade, too, is something I don’t like to miss. When we lived in Chennai, I would take my daughter and go to the road behind the Lighthouse where there was not a big crowd and the parade would form. Now I watch the floats on TV in Delhi. It fill me with a sense of pride in my country and her greatness, as I watch the different States being represented. Today, I saw only a few States (Karnataka among them, with a model of the Mysore Palace and the statue of Mahishasur, beautifully done) in the Parade. Surely all the States should vie with one another to put up floats?

The other irony, which suddenly occurred to me after all these years of watching the parade, was the fact that in the dances, floats and displays, harmony and co-existences are highlighted…but the military display is one of might and threat and incipient violence. The announcer talked of the guns having so many non-stop rounds…those rounds are used to kill other humans….I think, perhaps, nationalism should become obsolete, and one should become a citizen of this world and think of oneself as being part of a single country that this blue planet should become,with true gobalization…

Tiger Census…time in the forests…

January 21, 2006

The process of getting to participate in the tiger census seemed so disorganized that we were actually wondering, having missed 2 days of it, whether we should go or not. But then we decided we would,after I was able to speak to the Asst Conservator of Forests, and it has been a very rewarding experience indeed. I do feel that the process of recruiting volunteers seems very haphazard to me…but there were 75 volunteers at Kabini in spite of their having got just a day’s notice! If you are to be a volunteer, please invest in a good pair of shoes, and be prepared to walk a lot,know that you will pay Rs.50 per day, and be happy with all that you see instead of pining all the time for a big cat sighting. (There is the “day-before-day-after” rule that applies very much to me…people who see big cats the day before I arrive and the day after I leave…it was true this time too!)

After talking to kalyan we decided to stay at Kapila Resorts instead of our usual haunt, JLR. I was happy to meet Harsha, who has been K’s muse on the wildlife front.

However, we reached so late that the census volunteers were actually due back..this was due to stopping over to enjoy some herons and egrets in the paddy fields, and also checking out a place called Chitravana on the way (the place is green but the architecture is somewhat pretentious).

We went on a herbivore transect walk the next morning, and made very slow progress due to the brush-and-scrub-covered ground and also because there were so many interesting things (white-bellied woodpecker, jungle owl, crested serpent eagle, langurs,sambhar, and some butterflies which I can’t name) to keep our eyes occupied all the time. _marvin(hereafter called A) and his friend S were great to be with and they put up good-humouredly with our geriatric rate of travel!S had to rush back for an official meeting and let us take care of his luggage and stuff while he jumped into the first passing lorry and went off. The meeting turned out to be even more critical than he thought, with a big cheese in the company being there…he cooked up a story for his being about 15 min late and no one knew how close he came to missing the meeting altogether!

The boat safaris in the evenings were also quite productive….I saw otters in the wild for the first time ever,(literally playing with a fish that they had caught)for the first time, and wild boar, gaur,wool-necked storks, painted storks,chital, sambhar,peafowl, bee-eaters….they really made up for our usual quota of big-cat sighting, which is…zero! As usual we sat around the bonfire listening to the “I saw the tiger!!” stories of others such as S.I did have a lovely walk back to the resort on Friday morning,having got off the jeep after the morning safari—watching 4 mongoose(mongeese?mongooses?) playfully rolling over each other in the driveway to the Kapila resort, and several magpie robins and hoopoes in the hedges and trees around. I must say, though, that I see more hoopoes in the Mini Forest adjoining my apartment building!

I must thank Live Journal for opening many doors…A and S were polite until I mentioned LJ and then we got along like a house on fire; my spouse had a gala time with all of them, exchanging notes on photography and hoping that his shots too will improve with all the inputs he got.

A waxed lyrical about the beauty of the situation of the Forest Guest House at Kaimara (I don’t know if the spelling is correct!) but all his smooth work on the ACF was in vain as they had too many volunteers staying there and the ACF couldn’t spare us a room. So, very regretfully, we decided that Friday at Kapila(without being able to stay deep in the forest) would be a non-value addition to our trip (on Friday, Saturday and Sunday the charges per person go up by 50%,though they gave us a good discount as census volunteers) we drove back to Bangalore,with A standing us dinner at the Pallavi Punjabi Dhaba ( I have dubbed him the Hungarian because he gets hungry very often!) We are slowly getting back to mundane life now…the call of the wild is strong indeed, whether one is a seasoned pro like Harsha or amateurs like the two of us…

The Mysore Road is GOING to be good once it gets done…right now, it is good in patches, but the various diversions and under-construction stretches still mean a lot of difficulty in driving. SO many trees that made the old road a lovely one have gone….I am so thankful that they decided to build a different-route Bangalore-Chennai highway and didn’t cut down the trees on the Old Madras Road. We need the progress, but we have to sacrifice such beautiful trees… add together Bannerghatta Road, the Tumkur Road, and the Mysore Road, and just on those 3 roads the loss is so immense. That’s one thing JLR has that Kapila lacks..the beautiful old trees, looking majestic and stately.

Overall, a memroable trip…will keep us going until the next one! Thanks, Vikram and Harsha at Kapila, and A and S, for a great time.

Life’s too short…

January 17, 2006

There are so many things to do, so much to learn….I wish I could be like the people who find an interest and focus on it intensely and are always associated with it….but for me, everything is fascinating. Travelling to places near and far, I become interested in the history of a place and wish I could be in archaeology or a historian; when I look at kalyan‘s or yathin‘s photos, I would love to live all my life in the forests; when Arun Pai called me up this afternoon, I felt that I must go immediately on his walks and learn more about the city I live in and love; when I hear a good concert on the radio, I wish I were a better musician. I love languages, but real proficiency in many of those I know still eludes me. I wish I could learn at the speed of light…and retain that learning forever. I would love to be an artist, a writer, a musician, a counsellor (I find people of all types compellingly interesting) a good cook…. a sakala kalaa valli!

The Tiger Census seemed to fade out of probability when I realized that we should have reported at Nagarhole this morning…however, a call to the Asst Conservator of Forests has reassured us that even for 3 days, we will be welcome as volunteers, and we are now planning to go to Kabini on Wednesday. Since we are a little too soft for sleeping bags in the jungle, we would probably stay either at Kapila Resort or the Jungle Lodges Resort…the way the tiger census is being described, I don’t really think
we are going to see any tigers, though! We do hope it will be a good learning experience….

BTW it would be very funny if we did meet a tiger and it ate us up and people looked at the title of my last blog entry!

Nostalgia…

January 13, 2006

Am watching a movie that my mother enjoyed immensely, and thinking of her as the most famous of the songs (apparently this movie was famous because there were about 24 of them!) is being sung….It’s Chandralekha, with T R Rajakumari.

How the world has changed from what is depicted in the movie!

I am also referring to…

January 12, 2006

Though shortindiangirl and latelyontime have already referred to Nikhil Parekh in their posts, I am also tempted to let anyone who reads my LJ also enjoy his work:

http://www.nikhilparekh.com/

My comment on his work is:
SOOOOPERRRR….wondertaining…fabulating incorescence of senselessificating words…

Read…and enjoy it!

Ribbons…

January 6, 2006

As I watched an old film, it struck me that no one uses ribbons in their hair or their dresses any more…I remamber a childhood where all my dresses had matching hair ribbons and we tried several types of bows when we finished braiding our hair. I also remember satin ribbons as belts on dresses, or threaded through them…but later, ribbons became a symbol of unsophisticated hick-dom and village (read, unfashionable) girls were depicted with their beribboned pigtails sticking up like a scorpion’s tail.

We had ribbon sellers who turned up at the front door with tall poles on which were ribbons of different widths, and a rainbow of colours. Or we had fun going and choosing ribbons (made of nylon in my day, mostly) matching our dresses…schools always specified the colour of the hair-ribbons as well as the rest of the uniforms. Strangely, multicoloured or printed ribbons were never in fashion.

What happened to ribbons? Will they ever make a comeback, imbued as they now are with the qualities of being dowdy and rustic? Will Alice ever wear a ribbon threaded through her hair instaed of an Alice band?