On life and its vagaries

On Writing

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( Hell, I have been growing  a little saturnine of late and this is an effort to shake it off.  I am not proud of the effort, yet, it’s an attempt at humor, and it was amusing for me while doing it. Even if it fails completely,  it wouldn’t bother me. English is a language I love, but making fun of things that I like is like a second nature to me. Every language has its own peculiarities, mine has its, so take the incidents in the light of humor( attempted one if you chose so). The things I cook up need not be the gospel truth. They are mostly ninety percent imagination and five percent truth.   Don’t take it all  very  seriously. But if you decide to take it seriously all the same, have fun that way!)

On Writing

Somewhere in his book, the “Zen in the art of writing”, Ray Bradbury mentions that one needs to write continuously at the rate of a thousand words per day for ten years at least to make certain that one has the correct grasp of the language that he is writing in.

I am stunned, I am frightened, and naturally I am terribly dazed and worried.

According to him it’s the only way to make sure you have correct usage made into your second nature.   My God and people would expect this of me in English which I barely know of.

I even sat for my degree examination in my language and do the English ‘in’ very rarely now. No prizes for guessing- it’s when I write official letters. I manage with  “With reference to the above I may inform you that” and occasionally changing it to “ Please refer to the above” or “Inviting your ‘kind’ attention to the reference cited” or in utter and complete desperation  “ In continuation to the letter cited”. That too only rarely, we are duty bound to use our language in official correspondence.

And I would be expected to churn out delectable and scintillating prose and poetry in English out of the blue. Oh I hear the voice of the masters alright:

“You the terror and fear of the entire civilized world, why the hell did you start to write in English of all languages.”

They are right. I should have chosen my language, the problem was, there was no machine to convert what I write into the digital format.  My typing skills are nonpareil, that is, it doesn’t exist (I have been a long hander all my life, but the hands were beginning to look a little too long lately so I have stopped long handing altogether).

Malayalam has 51 letters (some say it’s 56, I feel that it is 50000006) and you need to find places for other things like commas, hyphens, colons, periods (incidentally period is one of the English word I like),  apostrophe, brackets  and what not on key board. Honestly guys, the key board has to be hauled in by trucks and positioned correctly by cranes.

It’s an impossible proposition. I have typists in the office to type what I write, they fly over the key board in spy kids fashion and complete every sentence in two days flat and that’s an achievement.

I type even English by peering hard at the key board and picking words laboriously like, “where the hell is the ‘babliyu’ now, oh gotcha, here it is, between ‘kyu’ and ‘eee’. That’s some neat trick boys, trying to play hide and seek with me, aren’t you cute, you darn Siamese twins?” (Note: ‘Babliyu’ looks like its  made up of ‘we’ and ‘we’. Yet it is strangely spelled ‘double-you’, though. It makes me remember of a story.

Once a Namboodiri from my land decided to study English and went to one who knows the language.

The man taught him the alphabets first and went on to teach him simple words.

And the instructions went on like this.

I will tell you of a word in English. It has the following letters in it.  C, A, T read it, remember it and visualize it.

Namboodiri did everything like he was told.

And now spell it out together.

Namboodiri obeyed promptly. See aye tea

The teacher calmly explained

You see C, A, T is not see aye tea when you spell them out together, it becomes ‘kat’ (mind you, there are other pronunciations too but I am teaching you the simplest ones first.To make the ‘Aa’ come out and not to get an ‘aye’ the best method is to open your mouth and hold your cheeks in while pronouncing it), and it corresponds to the word ‘Poocha’ in Malayalam.

The Namboodiri thought long and hard on it.

So c,a, t  is not see aye tea anymore and it is kat and to get that I should draw the cheeks in and after all that  it takes on the meaning of poocha in Malayalam?


The Namboodiri pondered on gravely a little more in silence. And finally declared, teacher dear, I have nothing against you, but I have had enough of English for the time being. You see in Malayalam we write Poo cha (there are only two syllables and only two letters for the word in Malayalam)

We read Poo cha, and kindly note that it is not pronounced ‘piyush chawla’

And the meaning is also poocha.

What sort of bungled up language is English, where we have to write C, A, T to get kat and recognize it as poocha in the end?

Pertinent question too!

I picked on English not as the easy option but a challenging option in blogging. I had little expectations that I would acquire skill in it over-night and win all the literary prizes out there in the English literature.  I had also admitted as much from first.  I have a suggestion, try writing something, say in French, Italian, Spanish, or any other language you are familiar with and try keeping at it for over a period of six months everyday and you would know what I had to go through.

It of course was the most foolish thing to do; I mean thinking of writing in English, especially, when I had to run the first drafts to print on every single day as per my decision. Even in my language I need several redrafting before completing anything in a readable way.  Everything concerned I have done a fairly good job at it by own my evaluation.

You see I was not out to submit a theses for my doctoral degree in English at some university; (You think I can’t do that don’t you? Well you have another guess coming your way!) I am merely writing a blog to declare that a person like ‘yours truly’ exists out there in the world. It’s amusing and funny doing it and I like such challenges.

Anyway doing it in English is all terribly time-consuming and interrupts the train of my thoughts (don’t ask me what train that is, I haven’t been able to find out) to think it all out and type it all down in English.

All said and done I am not planning to quit till I make you all sweat real blood, that is, if you have any! Any complaints?


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