Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Awwww... bless

If you’ve been in the UK for any longer than a couple of weeks, you’ve probably come across that - is it a phrase? a statement? an exclamation? a remark? No... it’s Superman! (sorry, heheh, got carried away). I don’t even know how to classify it, frankly, other than filing it under the “Arrrrrgh” category in my mind. (Note: It’s a pretty haphazard filing system, but I can usually find what I want in there – especially things in the “Arrrrrgh” category.)

The reason it annoys me when people say “Bless” (with or without the preceding “awwww”) is that there seems to be no real meaning to it, and it sure isn’t expressive of honest feelings! Except when it’s said (usually WITH the “awwww”) while cooing at or about a baby or a puppy or something cute, I’ve found that it precedes or supersedes succeeds a right royal bitching about somebody.

She’s always coming over and telling me what to do... bless her.

He just doesn’t listen to anybody, bless him.

She actually thinks she’s good at her work, bless her.

Bless, he’s a rude, interfering man but he’s got his heart in the right place. (Another of those phrases I detest – we ALL have our hearts in the right place! If not, we’d be Vulcans. Or dead.)

It’s not “bless” that people should be saying in those circumstances – the truthful version would be “damn him” or “curse her”. Saying “bless” doesn’t make the bitching any less bitchy and it certainly doesn’t make the speaker sound like an angel who has only good feelings for nasty people. I don’t like angels, in any case – too boring to be perfect all the time! So bitch away, folks, and feel good about letting your true feelings get a good airing!

Oh, and have you ever been “Gobblessed”? Ugh. Could there BE anything that sounds worse? (emphasis as Chandler in Friends.)

Edited to add: Hoy, how come nobody noticed that I used the word "supersede" wrongly the first time around? I did have a teeny doubt about whether it was correctly used when I was writing the post, but it rhymed so nicely with "precede" ... plus I couldnt be bothered at the time to look up the usage. It kept popping into my mind, though, so I finally looked it up - and hmph! laziness just doesnt pay.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Quitting"

Traditionally, quitting isn’t something that’s looked upon with favour. With the possible exception of the act of giving up smoking, quitting always seems to have negative connotations. Quitters are seen as losers. People who persevere at things they don’t like, who continue doing something that gives them no pleasure, who continue with what does not come naturally to them… such people are seen as admirable. The unhappier you are at what you do, the more you do it – because if you give up doing it, you’re a loser.

All the emphasis is on trying again and again and again… sometimes you achieve success, but more often than not, you don’t. All that you’re left with is the exhaustion of endless toil – no joy, no peace, no satisfaction. People spend their entire lifetime not quitting… and what an awful pity that is, most times.

Quitting isn’t such a terrible thing. Have you ever felt the blessed relief of just giving up something you don’t like doing, something for which you don’t have any real aptitude? Have you ever given up something and secretly felt a huge load taken off your back - even though you felt guilty about it? I know I did.

In higher secondary school, I started out taking computer science as an elective because I was in the commerce stream (with accountancy and economics), and computer science was the “logical” choice – it would give me better options for a suitable degree when it came to college and thence in finding employment. But I sucked at it (as much as I did at accountancy and mathematics), so in my final year I gave up computer science to study history instead. It was that or fail the year and thereby screw up my life entirely.

I didn’t check with my parents (I wasn't living with them, in any case) when I made this decision – I don’t think I considered it a decision, even. I didnt debate it in my mind or anything, it didn't seem that big a deal. It was just instinctive. But I guess it came as an unpleasant surprise to them when they learnt that I’d quit computer science, just like that.

To me, the pleasure of finally doing something I liked and was good at, was somewhat mixed because of the side of guilt that came with it. But that guilt, I realised a lot later, arose from letting down other people’s expectations of me. Because, for myself, all I felt was utter relief, an easing of the pressure that I hadn’t even known was so heavy. I had no expectations of myself in the subjects I disliked, other than scraping by with enough marks to pass the final exams every year.

So, to put it baldly, I quit computer science (and accountancy and maths and economics as well, when I thankfully chose to study English Literature in college). Would it have done me any good to continue with the subjects I hated, rather than quit them? Built "character"? I don’t think so! If I’d somehow scraped through with a pass in school, gone on to do a college degree in any of those hated subjects, it would have done my confidence no good to be continually considered a dunce. Because I have no doubts at all that I'd continue to be terrible at them. On the other hand, I effortlessly achieved the top rank in college and was a gold medallist – because I was studying something I loved, something at which I was very good. Believe me, quitting was the best thing I did.

To those people who say “You’ve got only one life, you’ve got to make a success of it”, my reply is “I’ve got only one life, and I’m going to live it as happily as possible”. That’s success enough.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Half-hearted review or a minor travelogue?

I couldnt quite decide at first, but now that I've made up my mind, y'all will read all about it here, won't you?

Monday, May 19, 2008

If this doesnt take the cake - and the rice and the wheat and the corn and all...!

"The rising prosperity of India and China is probably the single most important cause. Hundreds of millions of middle class consumers have emerged in these nations, dramatically increasing global demand for food.

How about that, huh? Millions of people who can afford to buy food in India and China are driving the prices up for the rest of the world. How very selfish. Perhaps they should starve, so that the two countries can export rice and grains to the world.

I'm desperately sorry for the Haitians and the poor and starving everywhere... but to accuse those Indians and Chinese who have finally risen above the poverty line, for buying food and thereby causing the price rise in the world, is out of order. Unacceptable, too. Especially as the Food & Agricultural Organisation is clear that it's the
US which is responsible for the global food crisis.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Sore/Soar"

An apt prompt for this week, because I’ve been going on long bicycle rides with my husband and my cousin after a very, very, VERY long time… and “sore” is the best description for my tender sit-down areas. Riding over the cobbled little up-and-down streets of Shrewsbury town centre isn’t conducive to the comfort of certain parts of the anatomy that come in percussive contact with the bicycle seat!

But (no pun intended, really) the upside of toiling up inclines is the ride down, when you can “soar” or glide all the way… although I admit I’ve not come to the point of closing my eyes and spreading my arms wide while doing that, a la Meg Ryan in some movie the name of which I cant quite remember. (City of Angels, was it?) Did she actually really do that gliding-down-feeling-the-wind-in-her-face scene herself, y’think? If yes, she’s a way more confident cyclist than I’ll ever be!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Iced tea and scorching sun

My most unforgettable summer was the one when I was 26 years old. My friends were planning a trip to Mahabalipuram (yeah, that perennial stand-by), hire bicycles there and ride around. Since I couldnt ride a cycle, I regretfully declined to be part of the trip. But my friend B, shocked at this appalling shortfall in my skills portfolio, decided that she would teach me to ride a cycle, and THEN we would go to Mahabs, me included.

This was in the middle of May, the hottest time of year in Madras, a city that is pretty much blazing hot throughout the year - except in December-January when it’s merely sweltering.

The first bicycle that B got for me was one that was apparently 6 feet high. At 5’8” I’m pretty tall, but when I got on to that cycle, my feet barely touched the ground. I couldn’t see myself ever managing to put both feet on the pedals at the same time (what, and leave the comfortingly solid floor?), so I balked at doing anything with that particular bicycle. With many muttered - yet audible – imprecations and some quite ineffective jeering (because I ignored it), B then sourced out a much smaller cycle from her little cousin (I think). Certainly it was from someone who was much shorter, as with this one I could keep my feet flat on the ground even when seated. It felt much safer.

And so my cycling lessons began. B would run alongside as I tottered my way up and down the road outside her house - it was a good place to learn, pretty much deserted at noon because all sensible people and animals were likely panting in whatever little shade they could find. So I could wobble all over the place without fear of getting run down by cars or buses.

Every so often we would have to retire to B’s house, sweating bullets, to down glass after glass of sweet, cold iced tea. There were days when it seemed like there simply wasn’t enough iced tea or cold water in the world to quench our thirst… we’d use up all the ice in B's house, all the cold water going, fill every bottle and shove them in the freezer so that they would cool quicker - and still be parched. And then we’d go back outside into the blazing sun... B to sometimes run alongside while I wobbled unerringly towards every visible tree and wall, and sometimes to just call encouragement from a safe distance away.

A few days, a few falls (including a quite spectacular one that left me unable to sit comfortably for a couple of weeks), a few near-misses and a few interested queries from the odd passing vegetable vendor woman (“Indha vayasula cycle ota edhukku ma katthukkarai?” – “Why do you bother to learn cycling at this advanced age?”) later, I triumphantly cycled all the way around B’s street to the next one and back, to be rewarded with a giant glass of iced tea.

I was ready for the trip to Mahabs - or was I? That is another story for another day. But the summer I learnt to ride a cycle is one of the most enduring hot-weather memories I have of Madras. Ahhh, that iced tea…

In response to this post on Ammani's blog

Friday, May 09, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Telephone"

I think it’s an overrated appliance, the telephone. I’ve very rarely had long conversations on it – partly because I’ve never known what to say beyond whatever was required to be said, and partly because my grandfather would keep an eagle eye on me (and a ferocious frown on his face) to monitor the length of the call. It didn’t matter whether I made the call (increased phone bill) or took the call (no charge to phone bill). To him, it was all a waste of time.

To my lasting regret, much as I wanted to flout his autocracy by gabbing on the phone for ages, I couldn’t – I never was one for small talk. Considering that my granddad was the sort of person whose phone conversations were about as long as it took to say “Yaaru? Ellam sowkyama? Vera onnum illaye? Vechchudatta?” (“Who’s that? Is everything fine? Anything else? Ok, shall I put it down?”), I guess it’s not surprising that I ended up so tongue-tied myself. Nature AND nurture. Ha.

I have a cell phone now, but I rarely use it to speak to anybody – other than essential calls, that is. I don’t particularly like texting, and I absolutely loathe the texting lingo (especially when it’s carried over into emails and letters). Now that I drive, I carry my phone for emergencies (like when my car stopped dead right at a busy roundabout and I had to call Pete for help). It’s useful if I’m meeting somebody somewhere and need to ask directions, or let them know I’m running late, or whatever. I’ve also taken a few photos with it, since Pete went to the trouble of getting me a phone that has an excellent camera. I use its alarm function to wake myself up in the morning. Sometimes I play tennis or golf on it. Even more rarely I listen to the music that’s been uploaded on to it. And that’s about all the use I require from my cell phone.

I know how all this sounds, but I’m not a Luddite. Honest. I have nothing against technology or using it. I just don’t find a cell phone as essential as, say, my computer. Man, I would go crazy without a computer and my emails and the Internet!

One last thing... ever since I heard a song from the movie Indian which begins "Telephone dhun mein hasne waali" – literally translating to “She who laughs like a telephone ring” or perhaps "She whose laugh is like a telephone ring" - I’ve wondered what she would have sounded like. I mean, there are so MANY ringtones for cellphones, apart from the various songs and tunes and whatnot. Even the old-fashioned dial/digital telephones didn't (don't?) all have the same ring sound. So… would she be trilling when she laughed? At what pitch? Long or short rings? Would she get louder with each successive laugh? And how would anybody put up with more than a second of listening to that laughter without strangling the b*tch - er, woman? Most of all, what excruciatingly stupid lyrics for a song!

Defacing books...

by "pouring" over them - do you know just how many people DO that? (Also at the same time, defacing the English language - two offences, one usage... how very clever!) I also wonder what exactly it is they pour... water? syrup? alcohol? Well, whatever it is, I wish they would stop it.

You PORE over books, not POUR - literally or otherwise.


(What? I can rant, cant I? Stop shaking your head there!)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Sunday Scribblings - "Family"

You can love them, hate them, ignore them, rate them, deny them, accept them, have fun with them, be bored with them, depend on them, support them, be aloof from them, annoy them... but no matter what what the deal, what you do, what you feel - family is family is family. Yours, always.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The one-word tag

Ok, so here's yet another meme. It might become a tag if all four of my readers are kind enough to take it up! :) I got it from Sarcomical.

The rules are:

1. After reading my answers, copy and paste the list into your comment (or post the finished list on your blog).

2. Change my one-word responses with yours (yes, only ONE WORD).

3. Submit your comment/publish your blog post.

4. Link back to me (optional, but please!).

If you get something out of a vending machine, it's most likely to be: Water
A word you sometimes catch yourself misspelling: Pronunciation
You least want people to see you as: Stupid
You're a little scared of: Cows
The least attractive thing you do in your sleep: Snort
The number of contacts in your cell phone: Fifteen
How many of them are restaurants: None
You lose your cool when someone: Lies
When you go to the drugstore, you often can't leave without buying: Shampoo
Your dance moves can best be described as: Nonexistent
The majority of your underwear is: Cotton
Something you eat even though you hate how bad it is for you: Crisps
You think you're really not a great: Speaker
How much cash is in your wallet right now: £0
The majority of your shoes are this color: Black
You don't think you'll ever be able to get rid of your: Fat
If your breath is bad, it's most likely because you had: Cheese
You feel embarrassed when you: Blather
The last public place where you used the restroom: Pub
Something you don't like to debate in mixed company: Sexuality
You don't think you can pull off wearing: Hats
Something you own entirely too much of: Jeans
Someone you would love to see in concert who might bring down your street cred: Dunno
The last thing that you spilled on yourself: Water
If you were on a reality show, the producers would likely portray/characterize you as the: Wallflower