Thursday, November 29, 2007

Speak correct, O really?

A few incidents (and people) have made me a lot more tolerant to people who have a difficulty expressing themselves in English. People get irritated or scorn at, or poke fun at someone on account of his/her accent. To an extent, fun is fine, but scorn? Hello... We weren't born speaking English, you know?

In India, it is not surprising to see, rather hear, English take a different accent after every 100 kilometers or so of travel.

In Gujarat, the pronounciations are more flat and slack- snacks becomes snakes, sauce becomes sose, hall becomes hole. But the snacks and the sauce in the wedding hall remain as warm and as inviting as the Gujjus, don't they?

Down South, take Kerala for instance, the pronounciations become very yiddy. I mean, each word seems to have a distinct drawl of the 'y' and the 'd' sound in it. Like my friend's mom and dad, they have this endearing accent to their impeccable English. But I still love the dosas and the sambhar, don't I?

Welcome to the East, Welcome to Bengal. Here, people forget the existence of any sound related to 'Va'. 'Ebry thing is bery bery much by the rulebook' in the communist state. The Bangla brothers and sisters often round up their words with an over-pronounced 'O' and they replace words with 'v' often by the sound of 'b'. I love the mishti-doi all the same.

I haven't been to the north much, so can't pin-point an exact accent. But I am sure, even North, and in that too, the different states and the different regions have their own, unique English drawl.

So then, is one type of English accent more correct than the other? And what is the basis of comparision anyway? Is one accent-that perfect convent-bred, the acceptable one and the other, simple, straight and mixed up with a distinct native feel- desi and down-market types?

Has English come to be a status-symbol in India than being a mode of communication? Think about it. And also think, if judgements based on the face-value of someone's accent are fair enough?

Now, why have I written so much about the variables related to English accents in India?
Here you go: 'British-Indian wins discrimination case over accent'

Read up, Enjoy and Think...

Cya till my next post...

-Gauri Gharpure

I wrote one article for The Times of India, one of my favorites, on Gujjus and their sporting spirit, their ability to tide away the accent jokes in a true gujju spirit. It would have been good to reproduce it here, but can't for I seem to have lost the copy. :( I hope this was a read good enough...

Monday, November 26, 2007

The IITs Do away with Dow... Wow!

Yesterday, a news item on CNN-IBN really warmed my heart*. IIT alumni and students have come together to drive Dow chemicals out of their campuses. And so far, they have been fairly successful.

The IITians have taken a bold ethical, moral and more importantly, professional stand by urging the IIT directors to bar Dow Chemicals from campus placements. It takes great conviction to deny a job, and consequently, monetary security for youths who are just about to start their professional career.

Their move has worked not only to get this issue the necessary media attention, but also passed a definite signal to everyone concerned that the Indian intelligentsia will also do their bid to denounce the callousness of Union Carbide (a pesticide company) accountable for the leak of about 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas from a storage tank. Over 3000 people dropped dead, literally, on December 3, 1984 as a result. Sadly, the Indian government and the law is still to bring the officials to task. In the meanwhile, Dow Chemicals took over Union Carbide in 2001 and is slowly trying to find a foothold in India.

* An alarming rate of pulmonary diseases, miscarriages, cancer, etc are still attributed to the the toxic wastes left by the Methyl Isocyanate leak.

Praful Bidwai, an IIT alumnus is right in pointing out that Dow Chemicals not only acquired Union Carbide but also its liabilities. (Read the article on rediff)

Some of the most powerful campaigns have been started by IIT and IIM alumni and they see the tasks till the finish line. I applaud the moral conviction of the IITians. They have shown us student power in the real sense.

Here are some links you might want to read up:

How many died in Bhopal?

See what fellow-bloggers have to say:
Rama Iyer

*Surfing the net, I observed that the IITs cancelled the Dow placements on October 25, and the campaigns began much earlier. Did i skip reading the news, Or was it not reported widely?

-Gauri Gharpure

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Disparity and Us

It's so evident that it is ignored- the disparity in India.

The disparity of being in India is so shocking and so true, that it lurks around perhaps each and every socio-economic issue which India faces.

We are progressing. O yes, we are. Mall culture is in to stay, KFC, Pizza huts and Coca-Cola. I love these, I spend my money just to bite that succulent KFC chicken knowing fully well I am paying at least 200 % more than the actual price. I eat for I can afford. Simple! No more logic required. But was it always like this? Did my parents spend money simply because 'they could afford?'. NO

We are growing rich by the day, richer by the night. Clich├ęd but true. And as we celebrate all those landmarks of being enveloped in a prosperity circle: sensex crosses 20000, rupee to become stronger and so on, our vision becomes more and more myopic.

In Pune, we had the opportunity to listen to Lyla Bavadum- senior correspondent for Frontline. What she said created such a powerful imagery that it has been impossible to shake it off:

'If you want malls, expressways, and all that development, go ahead, have it. But the question is how? Do we push aside all those people whose land we take for these projects behind aluminium shanties? The foreigner will see everything that is posh and developed, but behind those barricades, will lie a different world, unseen, undisclosed and uncared.'

The above line is definitely not verbatim, but it is in accordance with the powerful scenario she managed to create in front of my eyes. So much so that every time I see those silver aluminium barricades hiding a construction site, I imagine not the SEZ or multiplex that will stand there in a few months, but thousands of sick and sad men and women huddling close together with blank eyes hidden somewhere out of my sight.

We are a highly populous country. But where does the development and share-market figures percolate- the top niche. We still have a healthy population of under-nourished, of illiterates and of those millions unemployed men and women whose faces we rarely see. Our development on the area of education and health is restricted to more reservation bills and more free lunch schemes for rural students. Visit a local municipality school sometime. You will be humbled by the dozens of children who really want to study, but give it up mid-way for the teachers are never present, the syllabus is beyond their grasp and they cant afford the books and stationary. Education, by far the most respectable occupation, has been digressed to an institution of economy that is utterly fake, over-priced and not to mention, unethical.

The other day, I was buying vegetables outside my flat. Tomatoes were at 20/kg. A man was passing by and he suddenly stopped seeing the bright red pile of tomatoes. He wanted just one piece. Imagine how would it be to buy daily grocery within such strict monetary budgets? Back in Ahmedabad, it was not uncommon to see construction site daily wagers buying oil worth five rupees, dry red chillies and onion worth another two. At nights, as the women cooked their mearge meals while the dozens of babies crawled around naked, the bright-red blaze of the make-shift fires haunted the construction sites. Disparity glares at us from each and every crossroad. It's just that perhaps we have become immune to see or imagine someone else's state of being.

What do we do, if we care? An individual, like you and me, may feel helpless. Many off us may shake off such facts by an indifferent shrug, not because we don't care, but simply because even if we care, we don't know what to do.

I have boiled down to one power which can come handy- Money.

Earn, Save, Donate.

Spend on yourself, pamper yourself and go on shopping binges. You earn and you may live it. No need to dress in khadi rags to prove you have an ethical and moral responsibility. Simply surf the net, you will find many NGOs who will do the bidding for you and reach out to those who really need some help. Just keep in mind, at the end of your splurge, contribute to welfare organizations whatever your conscience urges you to.

-- Gauri Gharpure

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Death teaches

An end is inescapable, invincible and eternal. It means the end of a physical presence and the journey of discovery thru memories and emotions. Death leaves the rest to draw their own takes about life.

Who knows when death will arrive? It may meet you while you drive your bike, it may take a father just before he sees his unborn son or a mother just before she sees her daughter getting married.
A sudden culmination of life: Death is ironic.

The grieving must learn to be braver, patient and more accepting of life. If life deserves its worth, death should be accepted more sooner than later.
Death means strength.

After death, your life’s worth is summarized all at once. People remember you, people take inspiration from you and people shed tears for you. Death brings to surface the entire portfolio of life.
Death sums everything up.

Death teaches the true importance of time. It signifies the end of the confluence of time, mass and energy of one identity. This vacuum created by death makes you appreciate your moments as an able individual. It compels you to race against time to achieve your goals.
Death hastens your achievements.

Death shakes you off your existence. It takes you on a strange spiritual journey. It is a blatant reminder of the impermanence of life. How often do we take each day for granted? How often we assume our existence and associated relationships as eternal? Death reveals the fickleness of life.
Death teaches.

Gauri Gharpure
November 20, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

We all are Escapists

It’s an amusing observation. It makes me highly curious. I have noticed that I just don't get any comments on posts which talk about sorrow or death or are of a serious nature.

I supplement a simple reason- We all are escapists of A grade.

We, the A grade escapists, don’t want to express anything that is gross or sad or deals with death.

We, the A grade escapists can’t imagine our friend or mother or cousin getting crushed on the footpath by a drunken sod and we can’t just picture the dead body of a beloved lying in the drawing room, just brought fresh from the hospital.

We, the A grade escapists don’t want to rack our brains on issues that we are insulated from.

And so, we, the A grade escapists simply don’t talk about things like the Carter road carnage, eye-donation, or cancer or any such philosophical shit which has any distant link with sorrow.

Why don't we just get our ass fixed on the chair and prob why we are incapable of reacting to sorrow.

The problem is, thanks to tomes of literature and high-drama serials and all the sodden things which are thrust in our mentality left, right and centre, we keep sorrow on a pedestal.

We have personified sorrow. We have come to associate sorrow with a higher emotional connect, something that is elegant and obviously in fashion. (I hate Sarat Chandra in this, that he made an icon out of a drunken spurn lover in Devdas)

At the risk of sounding cold, I repeat: We have idolized sorrow.

And so, the mother who keeps grieving the loss of her son in a freak accident for over three decades is an idol of motherly love. And so, the professor who remarries after his family- two children and wife die in the Ahmedabad earthquake, is the subject of city gossip.

Why do we shy away from death and sorrow? Why can't we deal with it in a more productive manner?

Personally, I take death to be the most rewarding and most learning experience of my life. I firmly believe it was good for me as an individual that I suffered a loss.

Death teaches. And that is going to be my next post.

As for now, I repeat- We all are Escapists.

-Gauri Gharpure

Friday, November 09, 2007

Om Shanti Om.... A First Day, First Take...

Author’s note: This review is NOT a spoiler like many other reviews I came across on the web. Reviewers, grow up! Giving a review doesn’t mean telling the story scene by scene. Duh!

Let’s begin to talk about Om Shanti Om now…

Farah Khan's second directorial venture is a classic tribute to the seventies era of the Indian film industry. Innovative beginning of the movie, excellent choreography, sets with an old world charm, witty use of melodrama to spice up the scenes and an unprecedented use of the stardom of the stars of yester-years to boost the pictorial value of a new release- make the film a sure winner.

Om Shanti Om is a visual treat. This film is also a superb cacophony of all the plausible favourites of bollywood from Rishi Kapoor, to Mithunda, to Amitabh Bachchan gathered together in one big, charming party. The story, of course is beautifully revolved around the panorama of the hindi film industry and a mix of more hit stories than one.

The song Mein Agar Kahoon is definitely an interesting watch. It reveals the old world functioning of the sets in bollywood studios. Farah Khan has captured the romanticism of old time hindi cinema brilliantly by including night scenery with faint neon blue tinge, a full moon slowly rising up, a still car and moving background scenery and much more such cinematic props in the song.

Audience not only sees the ravicious beauty of debutant actress Deepika Padukone, Shahrukh's king stardom, the candid acting of Shreyas Talpade, but the wonder and hard work that Hindi film industry was, in this song. Also, this film gives Arjun Rampal his due, he has put forth perhaps his best performance till date in this movie.

As it was with Mein Hoon Na, even in Om Shanti Om, Farah Khan shows excellent human relation skills by acknowledging the work of one all. In an engrossing credit sequence after the film, everyone, from spot boys, to hair dressers, to cameramen, to producers and the actors is acknowledged on a red carpet in the true glamorous style of Bollywood. Om Shanti Om is a very predictable, and yet an extremely watchable film. You need to see it, to feel the grandeur and charm of Hindi film Cinema which Farah Khan has captured beautifully.

-Gauri Gharpure

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cancer- The trauma, trials and tribulations...

On a blog reading spree, I often come across beautiful musings on new blogs... On one such blog, I came across the 'Pink for October' symbol and a link to the site for breast cancer awareness month. October is long gone, but I loved the spirit of this site, and see this as a minuscule effort, but effort all the same, to spread a word about cancer awareness.

Last year, we lost a dear cousin of mine to lung cancer. I was there at the hospital for the last 3-4 days before his death and things were bad, to say the least. Seeing death approach is always traumatic, and it was especially so for the boy was so young and so full of life in his better days.

A few months back, a friend's mother also went thru breast cancer surgery. The prognosis was luckily very good in her case and she is hale and hearty and on a recovering spree. Touch wood.

So you see, cancer can even touch someone you know. And once it has, it will definitely change your take on life and death.

I perceive personal vigilance about health care to be the best preventive measure, not just for cancer, but for any other mis-fortune. Many a times, we are reckless about our being. We care about others, but we neglect to pamper ourselves. A visit to the doctor for that persistent cold or cough is forever posponed...

An acquaintance of mine in college once told me a beautiful thing. She said if you are in love with someone, you will begin to take more care of yourself. It sounded so unusual, but as I pondered over her words, I indeed found depth to her observation.

We all love and are loved. For our sake and theirs, we need to take our health more seriously.

-Gauri Gharpure