Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Language Thief

My mother tongue may be Gujarati, but having received no formal education in it, I find myself at a loss, for some words escape my understanding, especially since the colloquial Gujarati we speak in Bombay is a lot different from the one spoken in Gujarat; and both are a tad different from the manner in which some of the words are written. I find that I know far more words in, and my knowledge of grammar and general awareness is far superior in Hindi and further more when it comes to English.

Having said that, I always wonder what a strange language English is! Filled with exceptions, violating grammatical laws like we do traffic rules in India; there are far too many, rendering the word 'exception' itself incoherent and insignificant. And when it comes to pronunciation, whew!! Even the most knowledgeable expert would at times be baffled when presented with an alien word. Why can't we write what we say or say what we write with consistency? Why does one have to constantly think before moving his pen ever so carefully on paper, given that the lazy tech-savvy generation even writes today? And don't even get me started on homophones! Why do we need them? Did the people developing the language run out of words? And all this seems really stupid and funny, especially since I come from India, where most of the Indo-Aryan languages derived from Sanskrit and the Dravidian languages, have scripts that agree with speech almost each time.

The answer lies in the fact that English has borrowed words extensively from other languages. It finds its origins in the Anglo-Frisian and Old Low Saxon dialects, which all ultimately lead to Latin. It changed forms over the centuries from Old English to Middle English to Elizabethan and Early Modern English and finally Modern English. Modern English borrows heavily from Old French, about 60% of its words, although a survey by Thomas Finkenstaedt and Dieter Wolff, published in Ordered Profusion in 1973, claims that it borrows about 28.3% from French and Norman (including Old French, Old Norman, Anglo-French and Anglo-Norman), about 28.24% from Latin (including scientific and technical Latin) and about 25% from Germanic languages (including Old and Middle English) and the rest from other languages.

Somewhere between the years 1350 and 1500 A. D., something called the Great Vowel Shift happened, which was a significant change in pronunciation of vowels. This is responsible for many of the peculiarities, absurdities and irregularities. Also, during the Renaissance, English borrowed a plethora of words from Greek and Latin. And over time, as England colonised lands across the world, they picked up words from the languages of each of these places. So English has words from many European languages - primarily French, Norman, Latin and Germanic languages and a little Greek, African languages, Asian languages and other languages around the world. Thus English has an unimaginably disparate and inconsistent vocabulary. It has arguably the largest collection of loanwords or borrowed words, rendering itself as a borrowing language. It is what Bombayites would call a 'bhel-puri of languages'.

[My lovely country with over 1600 languages, 5000 dialects, 23 official languages and
29 languages having more than a million speakers.]
We commonly use a number or words in English without thinking of their origins. A lot of these originated closer home. Following are some of the words we use oh so often, which are borrowed from Indian languages -
  • Jungle - It is derived via Hindi, from the Sanskrit word jangala (जङल or जंगल) meaning 'arid or rough terrain'.
  • Mongoose - It is derived from the Marathi word mangus (मंगूस) which is probably derived from Dravidian words, in Telugu mungeesa (ముంగిస) or in Kannada mungisi (ಮುಙಿಸಿ).
  • Cheetah - It is derived from the Hindi word cheetaa (चीता), ultimately from the Sanskrit word chitrakaayah (चित्रकायः) meaning 'variegated body' or chitrak (चित्रक) meaning 'speckled'.
  • Anaconda - It is derived from the Tamil word anai kondran (ஆனை கொன்றன்) meaning 'that which killed an elephant'.
  • Meerkat - It is derived from the Dutch meerkat meaning 'monkey' (literally 'lake cat'), through the Hindi and Sanskrit markat (मर्कट) meaning 'ape'.
  • Yeti - It is derived from the Sanskrit word yathi (यथि) meaning 'holyman' or 'great sage'.
  • Catamaran -  It is derived from the Tamil word kattumaram (கட்டுமரம்). Kattu meaning 'tie-up' and maram meaning 'wood/tree'.
  • Dinghy - A small boat. It is derived from the Hindi word dingi (दिन्गी) meaning 'tiny boat'.
  • Curry - It is derived via Hindi-Urdu, from the Tamil word kari (கறி) meaning 'sauce'.
  • Chutney - It is derived from the Hindi and ultimately Sanskrit word chatni (चटनी) meaning 'to crush'.
  • Cheroot - It is derived via the French word cheroute, which is ultimately from the Tamil word suruttu (சுருட்டு) meaning 'roll' or 'rolled'.
  • Teak - It is derived via Portuguese teca, from Malay tekka, through Malayalam thekku (തേക്ക്) which is ultimately from Tamil thekku (தேக்கு).
  • Jute - It is derived from the Bengali word jhuto (ঝুট), which is ultimately from the Sanskrit word juta-s (जुतास) meaning 'twisted hair'.
  • Rice - Its etymological history also went through many mouths before it reached its current form. It is derived via Old French ris and Italian riso, from Latin oriza, which is from Greek oryza (ὄρυζα), through an Indo-Iranian tongue, ultimately from the Sanskrit word wrihi-s (व्रीहिस्) meaning 'rice', which is from proto-Dravidian.
  • Sugar - It also has a long history. It is derived from Old French sucre, which is from Italian zucchero, via Middle Latin succarum, which is from Arabic sukkar (سكر), from Persian shakar (شکر), which is ultimately from Sanskrit sharkaraa (शर्करा) meaning 'ground or candied sugar', originally 'grit' or 'gravel', from proto-Dravidian.
  • Coir - It is derived from the Malayalam word kayar (കയര്‍) or the Tamil word kariyu (கயிறு) meaning 'rope' or 'thread' or 'to be twisted'.
  • Bandana/Bandanna - It is derived from the Hindi verb baandhnaa (बांधना) meaning 'to tie', ultimately from the Sanskrit word bandhan (बन्धन) meaning 'bond'.
  • Chintz - A printed multicoloured cotton fabric with a glazed finish. It is derived from the Hindi word chhi(n)t (छींट), which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word chitra-s (चित्रस) meaning 'clear' or 'bright'.
  • Shawl - It is derived via Persian shaal (شال) which is from the Sanskrit word satl (सत्ल्) meaning 'a strip of cloth'.
  • Bungalow - Varying meaning ranging from a single family dwelling to a house to a villa. It is derived from the Gujarati word bungalow (બંગલો), ultimately from Hindi-Urdu banglaa (बंगला) meaning 'Bengal' or used elliptically for 'house in Bengal style'.
  • Veranda(h) - An roofed platform or roofed open gallery or porch or courtyard. It is derived from the Hindi baraamdaa (बरामदा), which may be adapted from Portuguese or Old Spanish varanda, which is baranda or barandilla in Modern Spanish, meaning 'railing', 'balustrade' or 'balcony', which is ultimately derived from the Sanskrit waranda(h) (वरण्डः) meaning 'roofed gallery or porch'. It could also be derived as a culmination of two Bengali words baahir (বাহির) meaning 'outside' and andar (অন্দর) meaning 'inside', together meaning 'something that is considered outside, but situated inside a room or covered area'. Both the Bengali words again have roots in Hindi and Sanskrit words.
  • Stupa - A dome-shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine. It is derived from the Sanskrit word stupa(h) (स्तूपः) meaning 'crown of the head'.
  • Teapoy - A small three-legged table or stand, especially one that holds a tea caddy. It is derived via Hindi tipaai (तिपाई) meaning 'three-legged' or 'having three legs', originating as a Sanskrit compound tri (त्रि) meaning 'three' and pada (पाद) meaning 'foot'.
  • Chit - It is derived from the Hindi word chitthi (चिट्ठी) meaning a 'note' or 'letter', which is from the Sanskrit word chitra-s (चित्रस) meaning 'uniquely marked'.
  • Crimson - This has a long etymological history. It is derived from Old Spanish cremesin via Middle Latin cremesinus, which is from Arabic qirmiz (قرمز ), which is ultimately from Sanskrit krmi-ja (कृमिज) meaning 'red dye produced by a worm'.
  • Orange - Why is it that colours have a long etymological chain? It is derived from Old French orenge, via Middle Latin orenge and Italian arancia, from Arabic naaranj (نارنج), which is from Persian naarang (نارنگ ) which is finally derived from Sanskrit naaranga-s (नारङ्ग or नारंग) meaning 'orange tree', which is derived from proto-Dravidian.
  • Karma - Destiny or fate. It is derived from the Sanskrit word karma (कर्म) meaning 'work' or 'fate'.
  • Loot - It is derived from the Hindi word loot (लूट) meaning 'steal', 'booty' or 'stolen thing'.
  • Dacoit - It is derived from the Hindi word dakait (डकैत्) meaning a member of a class of criminals who engage in organised robbery and murder or a band of armed robbers.
  • Thug - It is derived from the Hindi word thug (ठग) meaning 'thief' or 'con man', ultimately from Sanskrit sthaga (स्थग) meaning 'scoundrel'.
  • Mugger - It is derived via the Hindi word magar (मगर) meaning 'crocodile', ultimately from the Sanskrit word makara (मकर) referring to a sea creature, similar to a crocodile, which attacks stealthily.
  • Guru - A teacher. It is derived via Hindi from the Sanskrit word guru (गुरु) meaning 'teacher'.
  • Pundit - A Hindu scholar or wise man. It is derived via Hindi from the Sanskrit word pandit (पण्डित) meaning 'learned scholar' or 'priest'.
  • Shaman - A person having access to, and influence in, the world of spirits, good and evil. It is derived via Russian (шама́н), from Tungus shaman, which is from Chinese sha men (萨满), which is from Prakrit saman (समन), ultimately from Sanskrit shramana-s (श्रमण) meaning 'monk, specifically a Buddhist monk'.
  • Avatar - An incarnation, embodiment or manifestation. It is derived from a Sanskrit word, despite what the movie might lead you to believe, awataar (अवतार) meaning 'descent'.
  • Juggernaut - It is derived via Hindi from the Sanskrit word jagannaath (जगन्नाथ) which is a form in which the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu is worshipped at the Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa. During the Ratha Yaatraa, throngs of people pull carts or rathas through the streets to the temple. There are three carts and each weighing hundreds of tons. This became a metaphor for something that is massive and unstoppable or an impending catastrophe, foreseeable yet unavoidable.
  • Mantra - Hymn. It is derived from the Sanskrit word mantra-s (मन्त्र) meaning a 'holy message or text'.
  • Tantra - A Hindu or Buddhist mystical or ritual text. It is derived from the Sanskrit word tantra-m (तन्त्र) meaning 'weave'.
  • Maya - It is derived from the Sanskrit word maayaa (माया) meaning 'illusion'.
  • Nirvana - A transcendent state or liberation of the soul from karma or cycles of life and death. It is derived from the Sanskrit word nirwaana-s (निर्वाण) meaning 'extinction' or 'blowing out'.
  • Yoga - It is derived from Hindi ans Sanskrit yoga (योग) meaning 'yoke' or 'union'.
  • Shampoo - It is derived from the Hindi word chaa(n)po (चाँपो), the imperative form of the verb chaa(n)pnaa (चाँपना) meaning 'to knead the muscles', 'to massage' or 'to smear', which may ultimately be from the Sanskrit word chapayati (चपयति) meaning 'kneads'.
  • Swastika - It is derived from the Sanskrit word swastika (स्वस्तिक) meaning 'one associated with well-being' or 'a lucky charm'.
  • Mandarin - It's etymology is long and one which travelled the world. It is derived from Portuguese mandarim, via Dutch mandorijn, from Malay mantri, via Hindi mantri (मंत्री), ultimately from Sanskrit mantri-n (मन्त्रिन्) meaning 'minister' or 'counsellor'.
  • Zen - Again it has a long story attached to it. It is derived from Japanese (禅) and Chinese (禪) chan, which is from Pali jhaan and Sanskrit dhyaana (ध्यान) which means 'meditation'.
  • Opal - This again has a passed many tongues before finally reaching its current form. It is derived from French opalle, which is from Latin opalus, via Greek opallios (ὀπάλλιος), which is ultimately from Sanskrit aupal (औपल).
  • Sapphire - It seems even gemstones have gone a long way, with the colours! It is derived via Old French saphir, from Latin sapphirus, which is from Greek sappherios (σάπφειρος) from a Semetic language, Hebrew sapir (ספיר), ultimately from Sanskrit shanipriya (शनिप्रिय) which means 'sacred to Shani (Saturn)'.
  • Rook - (The chess piece.) It is derived via the Persian word rokh (رخ), which is derived from the Sanskrit word rath (रथ) meaning 'chariot'.
  • Singapore - It is derived from Malay Singapura, which is from Sanskrit Si(n)hapura-m (सिंहपुरं) meaning 'lion city'.
  • Sri Lanka - It is derived from the Sanskrit word Shri Lankaa (श्री लंका) meaning 'venerable island'.
  • Cambodia - It is derived from Khmer Kampuchea (ប្រទេសកម្ពុជា), which is from the Sanskrit word Kambojdesha (कम्बोजदेश), which means 'land of Kambuja/Kamboj'.
  • Dekko - British slang for 'a quick look' or 'glance'. It is derived from the Hindi word dekho (देखो), which is the imperative form of 'look'.

    Whew! That took a while to compile. If you can't see any of these scripts, Devanagari, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Arabic, Persian, Greek, Hebrew, Russian, Chinese, Japanese or Khmer it's because your computer doesn't support these fonts. You can download them from your best online friend, Google.

      Saturday, 20 August 2011

      Sullen Sully Spooks Spooked

      ['Twas an unusually calm, starless night.]
      Sullen Sully Spooks gazed up, peering left and right.
      'Twas an unusually calm, starless night.

      He could see nothing in the ocean of darkness,
      Until thither came the moon, garbed in a cloudy dress.

      The reassuring smile of the orb calmed his soul;
      Now he need'nt worry about imp or troll.

      Try hard as he may, for he could get no sleep;
      The demons of his past only made him weep.

      They teleported him to happier times,
      Whence his daughter was; and there were no crimes.

      She had gone missing a few days prior,
      Like the beautiful princess, kidnapped, in that yore.

      Clearing his head, he returned to his tent
      And beheld his young blood, tired and spent.

      The day had been long, the search unyielding;
      Young Raymond was only here against his father's bidding.

      Yet he smiled at his dreams, revealing the happy dent,
      Unaware of the worldly truths, crooked and bent.

      Mr. Spooks stretched his arm over the curled ball,
      And was soon beckoned by the Sleep Fairy's sweet call.

      [Early dawn light ...]
      Early dawn light streamed through the patched roof,
      Rousing Mr. Spooks, telling him "You're aloof."

      Startled and shaken, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes,
      Looking for their apple, sweet and nice.

      A worried Mr. Spooks stepped out in haste;
      Calling out with gusto, energy going to waste.

      He felt his skin burn, even in the agreeable heat;
      Hoping against hope, staring at apparent defeat.

      He strode up the lonely path, which led him to the river,
      Floating on it a coat of young Raymond made him shiver.

      His heart paced faster, his temple's vein bursting,
      Until his eyes rested, on young Raymond fishing.

      Mr. Spooks bawled, the gushing waters drowning his voice.
      Vexed, he dove in; he had no choice.

      The icy freshness engulfed him wholly, tugging him down,
      Grappling, he finally left them; but where was the jewel of his crown?

      Perplexed, he followed the fresh muddy tracks,
      Leading him to a ramshackle cottage, covered in holes and cracks.

      Summoning his years, the intrepid Mr. Spooks;
      Pushed the squeaky door, searching with frightful looks.

      There was young Raymond, standing listless and still,
      Like a disciplined soldier, before his daily drill.

      Mr. Spooks called out, his voice turning to a roar.
      It elicited no response; Mr. Spooks felt sore.

      His heart skipped a beat, dry his throat was,
      For he knew what had passed, but did not the cause.

      Oh sweet Irony! Preyed is the worthy protector;
      Whom Mr. Spooks wanted to be as brave as Hector.

      Holding no more, his knees buckled, giving way;
      Alas! All was lost, what would he now say?

      Suddenly sullen Sully Spooks, on his neck felt a frosty breath,
      Until stopped his, ushering the sweet release of death.

      Tuesday, 16 August 2011

      The Jewel in the Crown turns 65!!

      "Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity. At the dawn of history, India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and grandeur of her success and failures. Through good and ill fortune alike, she has never lost sight of that quest, forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of misfortunes and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future? Freedom and power bring responsibility. The responsibility rests upon this Assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom, we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons us now. That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfill the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means, the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest men of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over. And so we have to labour and to work, and to work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for any one of them to imagine that it can live apart. Peace is said to be indivisible, so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and also is disaster in this one world that can no longer be split into isolated fragments. To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill-will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.

      The appointed day has come -the day appointed by destiny- and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent. The past clings on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken. Yet the turning-point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about. It is a fateful moment for us in India, for all Asia and for the world. A new star rises, the star of freedom in the East, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materializes. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed! We rejoice in that freedom, even though clouds surround us, and many of our people are sorrow-stricken and difficult problems encompass us. But freedom brings responsibilities and burdens and we have to face them in the spirit of a free and disciplined people. On this day our first thoughts go to the architect of this freedom, the Father of our Nation, who, embodying the old spirit of India, held aloft the torch of freedom and lighted up the darkness that surrounded us. We have often been unworthy followers of his and have strayed from his message, but not only we but succeeding generations will remember this message and bear the imprint in their hearts of this great son of India, magnificent in his faith and strength and courage and humility. We shall never allow that torch of freedom to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the tempest. Our next thoughts must be of the unknown volunteers and soldiers of freedom who, without praise or reward, have served India even unto death. We think also of our brothers and sisters who have been cut off from us by political boundaries and who unhappily cannot share at present in the freedom that has come. They are of us and will remain of us whatever may happen, and we shall be sharers in their good [or] ill fortune alike. The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman. We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be. We are citizens of a great country on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action. To the nations and peoples of the world we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy. And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage and we bind ourselves afresh to her service."

      One of the greatest speeches ever made, in the Indian Constituent Assembly on the eve of India's Independence, as the clock's hands approached their rendezvous, by the first Prime Minister of Independent India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, a great writer and orator, from an era when Premiers were charismatic and captivating, the kind that moved stones to action. Today, their speeches are tailored by incompetent qualified persons who view words solely as means of communication, but blatantly choose to ignore their powerful magical quality of capturing and transporting masses. This address touched upon every chord that ought to have been struck and is still equally relevant in today's time and age.

      I love the part where he says that India is a pluralistic society and does not belong to a single religious group. It is these multiple cultures, faiths, religions and languages that make us unique and stronger, akin to the smaller cords and fibres all braided together to impart strength to the rope, incapacitated by independent volition, but capable of moving mountains in conjunction. But most of all I loved the part where he mentions that it is nigh impossible to wipe every tear from every eye, however as long as there is sorrow and suffering, the work of the leaders is not over. A quality rarely found in the leaders of today.

      However, let today not be a day we blame or curse anyone or count grievances or think about retribution. Let us today fill our hearts with joy and forgiveness, indulge in revelry and dance and sway in gay abandon, for 65 years ago on this very day, the British scuttled back to their tiny nation (though the last of them left India on the 28th of February, 1948 through the Gateway of India in Bombay). Enjoy the freedom we won and the progress made since, for truly we have come a long long way.

      One must bear in mind the sacrifices made by those millions against their perpetrators, which allows us to breathe free air today; it may be polluted, but it isn't on loan from a foreign tyrant. We must also not forgot the scars that came along with independence, the separation from own our self, when our country was divided. The vile British came to India with one policy, whose success is for all to see, "Divide and Rule", and did not shy away from using it one last time. In what was the largest migration of people in the history of mankind, around 1.25 crore (12.5 million) people were displaced, it also resulted in the loss of about 10 lakh (1 million) people due to communal violence and rioting. Hitler doesn't seem so bad now, does he?

      [Hundreds of Partition Refugees.]
      The British tore away the two arms of India from its torso and wounded its spirit. The wounds of Partition might still not have healed, but it is for us to move on - love thy neighbour, for their government may be weak, but the masses are still our brothers; be tolerant to all cultures, faiths, religions and languages and always remember that we are Indians first; do not forget, but learn to forgive; be proud of the country's rich culture, history and past and a part of its glorious future on the back of a strong economy and a vibrant young population; love thy country as it loves you, with all its faults and shortcomings; and finally be patriotic, nothing matters more than this.

      Patriotism, to me, is the unparalleled and unconditional love, adulation and admiration for one's country and belief in its being the best and the greatest, knowing very well that the truth is far removed.

      Let us pledge on this day, to love India and all that it stands for and to strive for excellence, for in our progress does it too progress and let us not reveal our fears and insecurities to any outsider, for to them we shall present an enviable image of perfection, all the while aiming for it. Pray for every soul that is Indian and pray that once again we shall be the greatest nation and civilisation in the world, the kind that makes everyone green and shocks and awes the world. Let us once again be worthy of the title, the Jewel in the Crown; we are nearly there. And soon we shall metamorphose from the Jewel, to the Crown itself!

      [The crown of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and decorated with the famed
      105 carat (21 gram) Koh-i-Noor diamond in the middle of the front cross.]
      Wishing everyone a happy Independence Day!!

      [The proud tricolour.]

      (P.S.: Sorry my internet was down, so couldn't post this earlier.)

      Thursday, 11 August 2011

      Excessive Censoring leading to Population Explosion??

      121 crore (1.21 billion) souls call India their home. That's a sixth of the world's population, but only 2.3% of the total area. My beloved Bombay, I haven't taken well to the name Mumbai as yet, the most populous metropolitan area in India, and arguably second or third in the world, has a population of 2.19 crore (21.9 million) people, that's a population density of over 20,000 people per square kilometre!

      [A busy Bombay Street (at Kalbadevi).]
      You often wonder what's causing this population explosion in India? And you never need to go far to find the answers; it stares at you, right in the face, every second of every day - Illiteracy, the leading cause of our burgeoning masses. And what does the government do? Censor television and other media, the best  medium to impart education of any sort, and especially sex education.

      Do we really need a moral police? Can't we decide for ourselves whether the kind of exposure that we get is right or not? In recent times, instead of turning liberal, the Censor Board of Film and Certification and the Information and Broadcast Ministry has gotten all the more stern. They have been bleep censoring and blurring anything and everything on television and in films and preventing certain films and books from being released.

      [Two And A Half Men Episode 7.22 - This Is Not Gonna End Well]
      I was just watching a rerun of Two And A Half Men Season 7 on Star World yesterday, in fact the last episode, titled "This Is Not Gonna End Well", and what surprised me apart from Charlie's chutzpah, was the fact that the word 'condom' was beeped out, whereas 'sex' wasn't, not by any means implying thereby that it too ought to be! What else do you get when you scratch out condoms but not sex, except a litter of kids! So much for those "Jo Bola Wohi Sikandar" advertisements by the BBC World Service Trust encouraging people to say the word; it's not like saying You-Know-Who's name. Hope it doesn't become the case that we soon refer to condoms as You-Know-Whats.

      [Friends Episode 2.03 - The One Where Heckles Dies.]
      And those big arse alerts and tickers, asking if any content is objectionable, flashing every now and then on every channel don't help!

      Again, as I was watching television yesterday afternoon, a rerun of Friends on Start World, for the umpteenth time and proudly miming dialogues, something struck me. It was the third episode of Season 2, "The One Where Heckles Dies", and as part of the last will and testament of the flaky Mr. Heckles he leaves all his earthly possessions to "the noisy girls" in the apartment above his apartment. Among the refuse, Rachel finds a 'girly' tacky clock, which was a clock attached with a female doll-like figurine (you can see it in the background in the picture), and it was bare. What do you think the channel did, or was made to do? Blur the entire thing! In a country where abject poverty forces hordes of people to go without clothes, where there's an open-to-air 'toilet' every few metres, where religion and cultural practices facilitate the shedding of clothes and tribal people, like their counterparts around the world, practise naturism, what we need is blurring of a teeny-tiny toy. No wonder most of our museums have no specimens of pre-human species or Greek and Roman nudes; but surprisingly they do contain Kama Sutra manuscripts!

      When we could use such media to impart sex education, we do just the opposite. And this comes from leaders and legislators many of whom are themselves embroiled in sex scandals and casting couches. And then we complain about our population is shooting through the roof.

      Hope some government agency doesn't swoop in here like an overgrown eagle, too big for its nest, and scratch out stuff at its discretion. We don't need another big brother watchdog; we already have Uncle Sam breathing down our necks and meddling in the affairs of every nation the world over.

      (Not to mention films like Water and Indian Summer to be not filmed in India or banning films like The Da Vinci Code and books like The Satanic Verses and Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India for fear of sentiments being hurt. When are we gonna get up and smell the coffee? Why can't we face the truth? Does this censorship really achieve its purpose? It does just the contrary, by giving it excessive attention and footage, making it all the more famous and lighting up the faces of crooked faced pirates and copyright infringers. I know I'm digressing here, but I just wanted to say this.)

      Wednesday, 10 August 2011

      Pilot: Pin to Plane

      Greetings fellow bloggers and visitors!
      This is my Pilot Post on my first Blog.

      Though the better part of all my Posts will be in English, I would love to occasionally post in other languages too. This Blog is a for all those inquisitive intellectual individuals to whom even the smallest thing arouses an equal amount of fascination and curiousness (the last time I checked that was a word); so you can expect posts and discussions on a wide range of topics under the sun - the socio-economic and political scenario, religion, recent developments, strange events, obscure things that caught my eye, something peculiar or hilarious that I noticed or stumbled upon, poems, short-stories, cooking recipes (vegetarian, and that means it is without eggs and gelatin), places, movies and television series to die for, before you die, discussions about famous people or objects that are so worthy of their fame, or just any random juicy bits of gossip I may have nonchalantly bit into... Everything from pin to plane.

      [The Star Wars 6806 Lego set.]
      It is for those who love to talk and are addicted to opine, about every damn thing, whether it concerns them or not, 'cause ultimately what goes around does come around, but not before affecting everything along its path, whether directly or indirectly; and those who derive immense joy from just observing their surroundings, whether it's a microscopic snow flake or a star sparkling light-æons away, the golden rays tearing through a gloomy sky or the smell or a freshly mown lawn. Life is full of such opportunities where even the tiniest of things may lighten up our day and erase the gloom, even though it may be momentary; it is but for us to grab those and make the most of them.

      Hope you like it here. 

      (P.S.: It is really easy to create a Blog, and contrary to what most people think (I did too at one point of time) one does not require a certain degree of mastery of HTML. Thank you, Nivedita, for introducing me to the World of Blogging. And thank you Ashti for your help with the picture.)