Monday, August 23, 2010

What an ajeeb editing style, sir!

It’s been a while since I read the Ramayana – any version. The last re-reading I did was years ago, and that was Rajaji’s abridged version. And before that, it was the Amar Chitra Kathas, which was even MORE years ago. My mother got me Ashok Banker’s version, on request, the last time she came back from India (a good year and a half back), after a couple of friends recommended the books highly. I hadn’t read them thus far as I’d been saving them up for a “dry” spell (where I’d be stuck with 2-3 books that were non-fiction) – which is what’s happening now.

Anyway, I’ve just finished Book 2 – The Siege of Mithila. The books have been good reading so far, all things considered, although the editing is somewhat quirky. I understand that the language has been more or less updated for the modern reader, but since the books have presumably been written in English by the author and not translated into English by anyone else, I don’t see why the conversations between the various characters couldn’t have been entirely in English.

I don’t have a problem with the occasional entire sentence being in Hindi, and certainly think it’s right for the few Sanskrit verses quoted in it to have been transcribed verbatim, with the English translations provided alongside in both cases. But why intersperse shuddh English speech with random Hindi/Sanskrit words?

For instance, Brahmarishi Vishwamitra saying to Rama: “The sands of samay are running out, rajkumar.” WHY do that? What’s with the “samay” in the middle of the sentence? How would it sound if Vishwamitra had said “Time nikal ja raha hai, Prince”? Ridiculous, right?

Bad enough that it's ridiculous, but worse still is the fact that such linguistic randomness breaks the flow of the speech and intrudes upon the reader’s consciousness as it’s so awkward. Why could the editor not have had Vishwamitra say "The sands of time are running out", leaving the “rajkumar” intact at the end, if necessary. That Hindi word at the end of the sentence would not have been as intrusive as the “samay” in the middle.

I’m not being nit-picky here. (If I was being nit-picky, I would have made a fuss about the many inconsistencies in spelling and the few misspelt words that I came across in both Book 1 and Book 2.) I’ve written about this as a genuine grievance, because the odd language intruded upon my consciousness more than once while I was engrossed in reading the story, putting me off my stride. The first such instance made me laugh, but when I kept coming across this weird editing, it became quite quickly a real irritant. It’s possible that this hasn’t been picked up as an annoying feature by other readers/reviewers, in which case I guess it’s just me.

The grievance is still genuine, though.

*ajeeb = odd

Friday, August 20, 2010

The contents of my handbag

Like a lot of women, I like bags. In fact, I don’t just like bags, I love ‘em. I simply can’t pass up a shop that sells bags without spending at least a few minutes window-shopping no matter how rushed I am for time. And if I have the time, I can while away an hour or so looking at all the bags – the colours, the shapes, the sizes, the textures, the *gulp* prices – and wondering what it would be like to buy them all. Out of necessity, naturally, not out of greed - although non-bag-lovers might see it as greed. But, as they say, one person’s necessity is another person’s greed. (Or the other way round.)

Unlike a lot of women, however, I only own one handbag. I don’t need or want more than one, and if I find one I like, I tend to use it everywhere all the time until it’s threadbare or worn down to near transparency. At that point, with a heavy heart, I am forced to go to a bag emporium as an unhappy buyer instead of just as a happy wanderer.

The problem with having to buy a bag is that a lot of them look nice, but most of them don’t have the qualities I desire - low price, good looks, medium size but with optimum-storage-and-plenty-of-compartments. Or rather, these qualities do exist, but not as applicable to any one bag. This problem is further compounded by the fact that any bag I buy, no matter how perfect before I buy it, immediately loses all lovability the moment the sale is final. At that point, any sort of bag carried by any random woman – short of an actual bag lady – takes on all the desirability that my bag had possessed just micro seconds before.

However, these reasons, although important, only partially explain why I only own one handbag. The most important reason of all is that I cannot afford to own more than one handbag. It’s not the handbags themselves that are ruinously expensive, it’s their contents. I will explain in a moment.

I’ve always wondered how other women manage as the owners of multiple handbags. How do they manage to take a different bag each day? How do they have the patience and the will to transfer the contents of one handbag to another that matches their outfit/is appropriate to where they're going/whatever other reason they change bags? What if the bag being transferred from is bigger than the one being transferred to? How do they manage to get all the things in the smaller bag? If they don’t, how do they manage without the things that didn’t get into the smaller bag, given that the same things were necessary in the bigger bag? Is the importance of the handbag’s contents in inverse proportion to the size of the handbag? If this is so, why do these women lug around things of lesser importance – and, I assume, lesser necessity - merely because the handbag is bigger? Do the less important things gain more importance just by the fact that there’s more handbag room to carry them? I just don’t get it.

When I have one (medium-sized) bag, I carry in it all the things that are important and necessary to me on a daily basis. (If my single handbag is bigger than medium, things tend to collect in it, making me lose track of the contents after a while, in turn making it difficult to find the few things that I might actually require.) If I have two bags, I tend to duplicate the contents of the first bag for the second bag as well, so that no matter which bag I choose to use, I would still have all my important items. But if you’re forced to do this for every single bag you buy, the process begins to get extremely expensive, not to mention inconvenient.

Transferring the contents from Bag 1 to Bag 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5 or 10, limited only by the number of bags you own) is a possibility, yes, but in the past I’ve tended to overlook certain items by mistake, to discover their absence in Bag 2 only at the psychological moment – for instance, searching fruitlessly for the keys to get into my house when they (the keys) were inside Bag 1 which was inside said house. On one such occasion I was forced to walk miles to find a public phone from which to call Pete and ask him to come home ASAP – why a public phone? Because my mobile phone also happened to be in Bag 1.

So you see why I own only one handbag.

The contents of said bag:
- Cheque book
- Pen
- Another pen (in case I can’t find the first one)
- Address book
- Spare passport size photographs (I don’t need those any more but they’re a habit left over from the days when every official form I had to submit to anybody required at least one photo)
- Glue stick (ditto as above, to be able to stick the photo onto whichever form)
- Purse (containing debit card, credit card, library card and Boots Advantage card, and postage stamps, plus cash and assorted coins plus emergency cash and spare house key)
- Contact lens case (with lens liquid)
- Glasses + case
- Cell phone (when I remember)
- Headache pills
- Inhaler (as a precaution for me and Pete)
- Lip gloss
- Lip balm (roller type)
- Another lip balm (in a tube)
- Yet another lip balm (medicated) (A girl can never have too many lip balms!)
- Eye liner (in case I might need it to glam up – HAHAHAHA!)
- Little Post-It pad for writing reminders to myself

- An emergency tampon (for me)
- Another emergency tampon (on the off chance that someone in dire straits might ask if I have a spare)
- Fluff (this collects by itself, it’s not something I choose to put in my bag)

And there you have it. The list of contents of my one and only handbag.

What’s in yours?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

IF (NB: not to be confused with Rudyard Kipling's poem)


a. You’re unwilling to hang yourself (or your family or friends) out to dry by writing bare-all emotional posts

b. You can’t think of any insightful/clever/informative things to say about the news of the day

c. You’re not campaigning for yourself in some online contest or other

d. You’re not announcing/holding some online contest or other

e. You’re not talented enough to con anybody into thinking that your life is finteresting enough to read about (or *sigh* yourself into believing that your life is interesting enough to write about)...

...what DO you write about?

Not much, that’s what. (This should explain why there haven’t been many posts on this blog of late.)

Should anybody know of any do-able tags or memes going around, do me a favour and let me know. There’s always the slight chance that I might not already have done it in some earlier desperate attempt to keep the blogging spirit from evaporating entirely...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Maybe it's Maybelline, maybe it's someone else entirely...

My memory seems to be getting worse as I get older. Yes, ok, that’s not news and it’s not like I’m bucking the general trend or anything. I just wanted to mention it, in case I forget to mention it because – have I been here before? - my memory’s getting worse. Basically, I'm not sure that I haven't already written about this in some earlier post - but perhaps it won't have been in these very words!

Anyway, enough said about that, as I’m sure y’awl will agree. My grouse today is all the ads on TV from Maybelline ending with the tag “Maybe it’s Maybelline”. Well, IS it or isn’t it? With the entire ad promoting the product as being from Maybelline, where’s the sense in then saying “Maybe it’s Maybelline”?

I know that the tag is a continuation of the catchphrase that made the Maybelline products famous in all the years (decades?) gone by: “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline”, the idea being that Maybelline products look so natural when applied that nobody will know for sure whether or not the wearer's blemish-free skin or thick long lashes are thanks to Nature or Maybelline.

The point is, Maybelline’s colourful array of products now certainly can’t be marketed using the original tagline – not unless women are born with turquoise eyelids and magenta lips – so they’ve merely removed the first line of the original tag and left it at “Maybe it’s Maybelline”, because possibly that was the phrase that built their fortune and they wanted it to remain in public memory.

Pretty stupid, though, wouldn’t you agree? I think the promoters of Maybelline should ensure that whatever top advertising firm they employ, for whose services they undoubtedly pay huge amounts, is made to use some amount of the money and all of their creativity to actually come up with a whole new catchphrase that will capture the imagination of the people. That will also have the incidental benefit of stopping me frothing gently at the mouth every time I see or hear “Maybe it’s Maybelline”.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Ten hows:

1. How did you get one of your scars?

Got knocked down by an auto-rickshaw when I was on my Kinetic Honda.
2. How did you celebrate your last birthday?

It wasn't my last birthday! I hope to have many more birthdays! Wait, do YOU know something I don't???
3. How are you feeling at this moment?

Quite well, thank you.
4. How did your night go last night?

Too quickly.
5. How did you do in high school?

That's secret information which will not be unleashed on the world until 100 years after never.
6. How did you get the shirt you’re wearing?

It came home with me in a bag.
7. How often do you see your best friend(s)?

A LOT less often than I'd like to.
8. How much money did you spend last month?

All of it.
9. How old do you want to be when you get married?

Old enough.
10. How old will you be at your next birthday?


Nine whats:

1. Your mother's name?

2. What did you do last weekend?

Bought a new washing machine. And a Wii. Set 'em up and played tennis and Sports Resort games and washed clothes.
3. What is the most important part of your life?

The reading part. The talking part. The sleeping part. And the bits in between.
4. What would you rather be doing?

Getting paid lots of money to not work or do any housework. Ever.
5. What did you last cry over?

The onions.
6. What always makes you feel better when you’re upset? Pete. (Especially if he's the one upsetting me.)

7. What’s the most important thing you look for in a significant other?
A significant smile.
8. What are you worried about?

Not worrying enough.
9. What did you have for breakfast?

Dosas dunked in Greek yogurt.

Eight yous:

1. Have you ever liked someone who had a girlfriend/boyfriend?

Sure, what's not to like?
2. Have you ever had your heart broken?

Yes, but it was mended with superglue so the cracks dont show.
3. Have you ever been out of the country?

I believe so. But pls check with the Home Office to see if I'm back.
4. Have you ever done something outrageously dumb?

Not telling.
5. Have you ever been back stabbed by a friend?

My friends are nice people.
6. Have you ever had sex on the beach?

A few times. Nice cocktail, that.
7. Have you ever dated someone younger than you?

In my head.
8. Have you ever read an entire book in one day?

Is there some other way to read a book?

Seven whos:

1. Who was the last person you saw?

Don’t know his name.
2. Who was the last person you texted?

3. Who was the last person you hung out with?

4. Who was the last person to call you?

To call me what?
5. Who did you last hug?

6. Who is the last person who texted you?

Anon from T-Mob.
7. Who was the last person you said “I love you” to?

They know.

Six wheres:

1. Where does your best friend(s) live?

School BFF in San Francisco; college BFF in Wellington NZ.
2. Where did you last go?

3. Where did you last hang out?

Hang out what?
4. Where do you go to school?

I dont.
5. Where is your favorite place to be?

With family and friends.
6. Where did you sleep last night?

Left side of the bed.

Five dos:

1. Do you think anyone likes you?

No :-(
2. Do you ever wish you were someone else?

Depends on who's talking to me.
3. Do you know the muffin man?

Just enough that I make my own muffins.
4. Does the future scare you?

Not so much. I plan to remain in the present.
5. Do your parents know about your blog?

Yup. All my blogs. All my parents.

Four whys:

1. Why are you best friends with your best friend?

She's like a magic mirror, she reflects what I am not (but should be).
2. Why did you get into Blogging?

To air my views. They had become musty from lack of sunlight.
3. Why did your parents give you the name you have?

That's a question even I havent asked.
4. Why are you doing this survey?

I have no life. (And I like surveys.)

Three ifs:

1. If you could have one super power what would it be?

To make people forget.
2. If you could go back in time and change one thing, would you?

Yes. Me.
3. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could bring 1 thing, what would you bring?

A Mallu tea-kadai.

Two would you evers:

1. Would you ever get back together with any of your ex’s if they asked you?

There's a reason they're ex.
2. Would you ever shave your head to save someone you love?

In a flash. But they'd have to pay for my wig.

One last question:

1. Are you happy with your life right now?


Friday, August 06, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010

Sunday Scribblings - "I'd like to thank..."

My father, first and foremost for engendering in me a love of books, reading and the English language.

My mother, for everything she is and always has been, and for her unquestioning love.

My sister, for being the strong-willed, stubborn, brave, independent, loyal, funny weirdo she is :)

My brother, for providing oodles of entertainment (whether I wanted it or not!) over the years, and for growing up to be a brother in a million. Oh, and for providing a much-needed niece and grand-daughter - although credit for this is to be shared 30-70with...

My sister-in-law, for the aforementioned niece/grand-daughter, and for taming the untameable brother with such ease.

My best male friend forever from my schooldays, Rags, for being such a brilliant, quirky, fun pal and my closest rival in everything English. And also for making me honorary aunt (I might have demanded this privilege, but still...) to his beautiful baby daughter.

My best friend forever from college, Lakshmi, for being my soul-mate despite our completely different natures, and for showing me how to extract the maximum from life no matter what the circumstances.

My truest rakhi brother, Shiv, for WAY too much teasing and helpless giggles.

Another beloved friend, Sanjay, for the same as above, except even more of it.

All my dearest cousins on my mother’s side, for a whole lot of fun, games, fighting and laughter while we were growing up.

My youngest cousin, Hema (who is now a not-THAT-young 21) for being such a delight from the day she was born.

My cousins Hema and Sujata (dad’s side) – Hema for being just a month older than me and therefore both best friend and bitter rival as children, and a dear friend now :) And Suj for being SOOOO much fun and so funny, always.

The friends I made at the Indian Express and in the Hindu Business Line – they are no longer my colleagues but they’ll always be the friends who made life SO much fun for so many years... and still do.

The three amazing, multi-talented, simply awesome ladies - Ammani, Shoefiend and Swarna - who were cyber-pals first but became real-life friends so very seamlessly, for letting me be part of their lives.

My Scrabbling friends, some of whom I know personally and some only through their blogs. Thank you for many, many interesting and hard-fought games that stimulated my brain and made me think harder than I would have considered possible. Long may it continue!

Last but definitely not the least, my husband Pete for his boundless love for me and my family, his warmth and loyalty, his common sense, practical nature and optimism (all of which I lack somewhat when the chips are down), his gentleness and crazy sense of humour, and most of all, because he doesn’t see anything wrong with spoiling me silly. Who could ask for more?