Friday, 27 July 2012

The dawn of ‘contemporary’ English

Good language in a book is a basic hygiene factor. At least for me, it sure is.When I say good language, I mean a polished one with impeccable grammar, without slang being thrown in. Yes, there can be a little bit of slang to add authenticity to cultures and people being talked about or for the sake of bringing in a conversational tone. But if the narration itself is liberally peppered with them, it irks me.  Books by contemporary authors are beginning to have this trait.

The funniest thing about slang is that it features in places where no filling is required! Take this sentence for example - ‘I was like totally blown away!’ Was the ‘like’ required here? No, it wasn’t. And this is what irritates me. I also feel that extensive usage of slang comes in when you are unable to use the language that you have been taught, properly. The person who speaks/writes does not want to take the trouble to form sentences. So thoughts that form in their head just tumble out with scanty or no regard for structure and coherence.

Consider these - 
‘Yesterday, I saw this news item and man! Like it totally knocked me out of my wits. I was like ‘What the hell is this’ and then my friend was like ‘Chill yaar’ and then I …’
Conversationally, this may be fine. But in a book? I feel it is not.
‘That damn thing cost me a freakin 1000 bucks.’
Okay, so you did think that it cost you a lot and you may say so too. Probably while talking to a friend or when you pass a note. But in a book? Well, I disagree.

Anything practiced professionally definitely deserves the respect due to it. When I scribble on bits of paper, I can do what I like. But when I have an audience, I have a responsibility. Maybe authors do it for the sake of giving a feel of the book being ‘current’ in every sense by depicting life, as it is today and language, as it is widely spoken today. But it steps down from the status of a book then. This is totally my take of course. For me, the joy of reading is lost when the writing doesn't preserve the beauty of the language. And a topper in the list of ‘killers of good language’ is unnecessary usage of slang.

My opinions are no different when it comes to talking. If I find somebody repeatedly using irritating slang in every sentence, I just feel like walking away from there.

I am sometimes concerned that books will increasingly start turning out this way. We already have a bandwagon of people who extensively speak this language. Maybe we will soon have an entire generation talking and writing in this ‘contemporary’ style, resulting in the English language that we know now being wiped out of the face of earth. It is a highly paranoiac thought but I do feel it may come to happen sometime. 

But then, even Shakespearean English went out of trend to be replaced by what we currently speak and write. And maybe some insufferable prissy like me would have worried about it during those times too :)

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Two Books

It’s been quite a while since I read and the withdrawal symptoms started showing J. So based on some quick research and recommendations, I zeroed in on these two:

‘Krishna Krishna’ by Indira Parthasarathy is the story of Lord Krishna narrated by sage Naradha, as told to him by Jara, the slayer of the lord. I am a great fan of the Mahabaratha and related stories. It has so much scope for retelling and interpretations and has an everlasting freshness that can never fade with time. I started reading this book yesterday and it is proving to be as enchanting a read as the divine blue cowherd boy himself J . I shall get back with a review once I read and internalize it.

‘How I braved Anu Aunty and co-founded a million dollar company’ is by debutant author Varun Agarwal. It is the story of how Varun, a twenty something engineering graduate, overcame all the social taboos and expectations imposed by family and society to start his dream company. The formidable Anu aunty is a neighbour who plays along with Varun’s mom to try and ‘drag him back to his senses’ and make him take up a job J We all have these Anu aunties in our own lives in various forms, don’t we? J And stories of people who fight the tide and achieve their dreams are always heartening and inspiring. That’s what drew me to this book. I think it would be a reinforcement for everyone to listen to their heart and follow it. Am yet to get this book in hand. More on it once I read. 

And living in the internet age with a boon called Flipkart, the purchase was just a few clicks away. Now, I have to tell you how pleasurable it is to shop at Flipkart. They have all kinds of products but I usually purchase books with them. Abundant choice, ready to read reviews and fabulous discounts! And they always exceed expectations, promising to deliver within 2-3 working days but doing it the next day itself most of the time!

Words cannot describe the joy that sweeps through me when I get them delivered at my workplace. The day after I place the order, I would keep checking my mobile, waiting for that call from an unknown number to listen to ‘Madam, calling from flipkart, am at the entrance, can you please come out to collect your books’?
Anyone who sees me immediately after this much awaited call would wonder what’s gone wrong, looking at my facial expression and demeanor .For, how would you look if you wanted to skip and jump with joy past the bay and security guard at the reception to reach the door but can’t do it for propriety demanded by place and time? With all these emotions kept in restraint, I would calmly walk to the door and receive my consignment. Once back at my desk, my peer group and I would open the carefully wrapped books. After spending the next 5 or 10 minutes browsing through them and enjoying the feel that only a newly purchased book can give, it’s a huge effort to turn back to the monitorL. And once back home, it would probably take a natural disaster to tear me away from it when I settle down to read. 

What with the rainy weather, a nice book, a weekend and the welcoming balcony at sis’s place, can I ask for anything better? J

Sunday, 8 July 2012

My First!

I am so overwhelmed to receive these awards from Uma in spite of being a very recent entrant in the blogsphere.

There is a tag I need to do, but before that, a slight detour to tell you how I landed here. About 4 years back, I started a writing a blog titled ‘My Musings’ J. I wrote only one post and stopped there. Then a few months back, while ruminating in my mind over starting a new blog, I simply googled the title to see if the old one was still alive. The first result Google threw was a post from Uma’s blog titled ‘Not made for each other’ and it really caught my eye. And once I got to her blog, it kept me engrossed for quite some time. I wrote some comments and she wrote back during the course of which she kindled the spark and gave finality to my ruminations and I started writing again.  So my first award comes from the same person who gave the final clinch to my landing in here! Thanks Uma J

Now for the tag. 7 random things about myself.

1.     Am a voracious reader and when I pick up something to read, I read line by line, in detail, unless it’s badly written. I very rarely skim through anything.

2.     I take great care while writing – be it a comment on a blog, an email at work or even a simple reminder for myself in my outlook calendar. I read, edit, re-read until am satisfied.
(But mistakes happen in spite of that L I feel very bad when errors like misspelt words or missing letters still manage to come in)

3.     I squirm in my seat when people speak or write atrociously wrong English. It has the same effect on me as a chalk piece squeaking while writing on the black board.

4.     I love eating out at restaurants. My favourite cuisine is Chinese (only the vegetarian food though). But I can’t live without curd rice J

5.     I am a hopeless day dreamer and am often caught smiling to myself.

6.     Mountains and water bodies get me transfixed. I feel that strange sense of peace descend upon myself when I watch them. 

7.     I looooooooooooveeee the rain!!! I can watch it for hours on end while it pours down.But loud thunders scare me L

As for passing on the award and tag, all my favourite bloggers have already been taken. And being quite new to this space, I don’t know many. So I should be excused here and I hope to widen my circle with time. Cheers J

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Exhilarated? How do you react?

In a recent episode of a game show, when one of the participants won the initial round to get to the next level, she shrieked with delight and came jumping in big hops to the centre stage as the calm and unruffled anchor watched on. Being the host of the show, he did his job remarkably well. But being a viewer sitting at home in front of the TV, I had the complete freedom to show subsequent expressions of shock and surprise followed by disapproval mixed with wonder.

Call me a spoilsport or party pooper if you will, but I immediately lose respect for a person when I see him/her react in an uncontrolled manner when circumstances require them to be otherwise and when their own personality disagrees with it. Yes there are moments when we feel simply above the world and we are mentally floating in the skies, but doesn't the environment and people around us deserve some thought? A small kid can jump with delight looking at a toy bear beating drums. But can even a 13 year old do the same?

I feel so embarrassed when I see respectable elders dancing in the sidelines in Airtel Super Singer Junior (a reality show for kids to showcase their talent in vocal music), as the little super performers sing a peppy number.Ok, if you are a gifted dancer and still have the body build required for your performance to be aired on television, go on. I really enjoy it when Usha Utup sings in her usual flamboyant style dancing away. It totally suits her charismatic personality and unique voice. But a granny in her sixties dancing like a comedian to a kuthu paatu(Tamil peppy number) really makes me hang my head down in shame. And those ruthless cameramen continuously focus just on that. (I feel even more bad when I see kids sing item numbers with expressions and body language totally unsuited to their age, completely spoiling their innocence but that is besides the point for this post)

What exactly is the reason for this kind of behaviour? Herd mentality and craving for attention if you ask me. Everyone is going overboard, so why not me too? Fifty odd people are sitting in the audience. How do I get noticed and get the camera to zoom towards me?

Well, there are other ways to achieve that than doing stunts that just don’t suit the person that you are. The sixty something granny can talk about how proud she is to see her grandchild perform. They would air that on television too. The twenty something girl has already proven her worth by winning over to the next level. She doesn’t have to shriek and jump as if a man with a dagger is chasing her to finish her off. Am not trying to stereotype people, age groups and permissible behaviour here. I have no right to.

Am only wondering why people make a clown out of them themselves by doing things that just don’t go with their personality ‘IN PUBLIC VIEW’. Will the same granny dance in front of her TV at home when a foot tapping number is played even if she is all alone at that moment? If yes, maybe she is totally right in following her heart without worrying about who’s watching.Maybe. (For opinions differ widely, atleast mine does J)
Am also wondering why happiness has to be expressed like a thunderstorm whenever you have an audience. Would you be doing the same in the absence of the audience too? Then maybe you are justified. Again, maybe.

Yes even I have jumped in joy and hugged my team mates when we won a national level music competition for our school some years back. But we were a bunch of 17 year olds who had won a much coveted award among schools. The proud teacher who had trained us watched with a big smile and tear filled eyes as we went on stage to collect our accolade.  Now how would it have been if she had joined the rest of us in the jumping and shouting?

As one of my friends rightly remarked, for some people, there is nothing called negative publicity. Attention in any form seems to be welcome. We would all like to make heads turn around to see us perform. But what about the expressions on their faces when they do finally turn around and watch? Wouldn't one want an appreciative smile, complete attention or awe inscribed on their faces rather than a sarcastic smirk, jeering laughter, aghast look or outright condemn?