Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sunday Scribblings - "Follow"

Anyone who reads more than just their own blog will have noticed the trend among bloggers to present each other with “awards” - “Nicest Person”, “Droolworthy”, “To Encourage You”, “Uber Amazing Blog”, “Friendly blog”, and so on. Once an award is on a blog, they quickly spread, like viruses, to others in groups of 3, 5, 7 or even more... mainly because each awardee is meant to pass each award on to at least 3 others, as a minimum. And I must say that most of the awardees are very good about following instructions.

I don’t know, of course, whether the awarder really thinks the awardees’ blogs worth the accolade – but then again, there’s no requirement for sincerity and it sure doesn’t cost any money. All it takes is a bit of time to think of the requisite number of people and list them, possibly a bit more time for the more sincere ones to provide links to each listed awardee... and the most conscientious of them (also the most relentless self-campaigners) go to each awardee's blog and leave a comment saying “You’ve been given an award, come and look at my blog for details”. That, of course, brings about yet more awards and traffic.

I also am not too sure about the actual value of such awards. Not just because they’re as common as... well, as blogs, but because they’re such subjective things. Who’s the final arbiter in labelling one blog interesting and another droolworthy, and why should anybody consider that the final decision anyway? There are as many opinions as there are people, after all. There are blogs which I think are all-round absolute rubbish, and others that I think are all-round absolutely fantastic... but both kinds of blogs receive the same awards. Sometimes the rubbish blogs get lots more comments (admittedly of the inane “nice recipe, thanks for posting” kind) than the good ones, probably because the good ones don’t make enough effort to get noticed. That doesn’t seem right to me… although the clich├ęd old saying probably holds good here – “The emptiest vessels make the most noise”. Why does advertising always triumph over genuine talent?

I have, admittedly, posted one or two “awards” that I received re my blog and “passed them on” to others, too - but that was before I realised that everybody got the darn things, so they really didn't mean much in the end. There are a couple more that I haven’t advertised or propagated... for more than one reason. One, I don’t wish to follow the blogsphere trends for no good reason. Two, I don’t wish to award anyone anything if I don’t really, really, REALLY like their blog and anyway, I’d rather just leave a comment or write an email (makes it a lot more personal than copy-pasting some inane logo). And three, I’m usually too lazy to list, link and/or leave comments about the list/link.

I have to say that I wondered at one point why I didn’t receive more awards than I did... but could that possibly, possibly have anything to do with cynical, unfriendly, unwelcoming (and unwelcome - heh) posts like this? Tut tut, the very thought...!

Friday, April 24, 2009


Some people need to learn the difference between saying “little” and “a little” or "few" and "a few" (eg, “I planted few vegetables this year” versus “I planted A few vegetables this year”, or "little skill is needed" versus "a little skill is needed") - because, and this is really important, they mean the Exact. Bloody. Opposite!

If those people would take the trouble to correct themselves, things would be a lot less confusing on their bloody blog posts, especially when they're recipe instructions!

Yeah, I'm in a bad bood modd mood. And?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sunday Scribblings - "Language"

When I was younger, I used to wonder how the British and the Americans managed with only one language – English. My family has always been multilingual from being scattered all over India. Most of us speak a minimum of three languages – Tamil, English and Hindi – and a good few of my relatives have a few more Indian languages under their belt, not counting foreign languages. Most of my friends tend to be polyglots too.

Whenever we cousins got together (summer holidays, marriages, family functions etc), our conversations would invariably be in a random mixture of at least three languages, switching from one to the other depending on what needed saying and how forcefully it needed to be said, or how perfectly described. There are expressions in every language that defy exact translation, so it was just as well that we never needed to translate since all of us could understand the original anyway.

It helped to speak Hindi if we were among non-Hindi speakers and needed to keep the conversation private (like while discussing prices or taxi fares), and speaking Tamil up north is pretty much guaranteed to be unintelligible to non-Tamil folks. But there is never a guarantee, no matter where you are in India, that English will not be understood. It’s almost more the national language than Hindi, the official national language.

Anyway, the first time Pete attended one of our family gatherings in Madras, he was bewildered by our mode of communication – amused, annoyed, frustrated and impressed all at once because he could follow some of most conversations, but not all of any conversation unless it was aimed specifically at him and therefore entirely and only in English. Otherwise it was the usual hotch-potch of everybody being very vocal polyglots at the same time and yet managing to hear and be heard. I guess it’s an Indian family get-together thing which seemed extra-strange for someone from a very small, quiet family!

Now that I live in the UK, I still wonder how so many people here manage with just one language – English, their mother-tongue. Yes, they learn other European languages in school (I think it's compulsory, just as a second and even a third language are required in the Indian curriculum) but it’s not the same as the entire family being fluent in it and being able to converse freely. What I find even more surprising is how badly so many people mangle the one and only language they do know - getting the grammar wrong, unable to spell correctly, or write coherently. Obviously, I don’t mean that all of them are in the same boat – but there are enough numbers to make that boat pretty crowded.

I do not mean that all native speakers of English should be expected to speak English fluently and read and write perfectly in that language, merely because it’s their mother tongue. If it were the case that everybody should speak their mother-tongue perfectly, I’d be the first to fall by the wayside... my Tamil skills are not exactly top-notch, due to a combination of circumstances and – let it be said – personal preferences.

BUT – if your mother tongue, whatever that be, was the only language you knew, the only language you were likely to speak/read/write/learn, wouldn’t you want to be very, very good at it? Simply because there would be no fallback, no recourse to anything else for a phrase, a description, a word, a meaning, an expression...?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Of pens and pins...

Do ALL pens and pencils grow little legs and scurry away to hide just when you need one desperately (a pen/pencil, that is. Not a leg) to take notes while someone gabbles vital information on the phone?

I understand this sudden-appendage-growth theory is based more on Enid Blyton than anything more specificially scientific, but since I believe there is no scientific explanation, I’m going with Enid Blyton.

(Also, you understand, I haven’t actually seen pens and pencils grow legs, but I have it on authority based on extensive and exhaustive readings over the years of Ms Blyton’s works that such things either:

1. Happen when you’re not looking.

2. Happen even when you are looking but you can’t see it because you’re not a child, as the various magical activities of faerieland are not open to grown-up scrutiny.)

And to end this on a completely unPC note, what wouldn't I give for a paraplegic pen right this moment...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sunday Scribblings - "Scary"

Missed a few weeks of Sunday Scribblings... but I'm back, for the moment. With a whimper, as prompted.

So here's some of what I find scary:

- ThatI might not feel like writing again… ever.
- That my writing isn’t as good as I think it is.

- That others might not consider my writing as good as I think it is.
- Being admired by people who dont impress me.
- Being considered boring/stupid by people I deeply admire for not being boring or stupid.

- Being outed as less interesting than I pretend I am.
- Calculators, because I never get a consistent outcome for any calculation, so how would I recognise the correct answer?

- Maths (see previous, starting with "because")

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


appears to have passed me by.