native tongue

Tech-Savvy Woes

I’ve written earlier about the advent of Alexa in our lives. Red was in the market for good quality speakers and was considering buying Sonos and then suddenly got his head turned by the cute lil dot that now talks to us in a STRONG American accent and frequently gets our song choices wrong because she doesn’t get us much. And that’s funny because the offspring has his own twangy accent that sounds kind of like Alexa and yet they don’t always communicate correctly.

Properly enunciated crisp diction rings her bells though. Take for example, MLM wanting to hear Ra.One’s Chhammak Chhallo. He yelled out into the general direction of Alexa, “AlexaplaymeChamakChalo” and pat came the reply, “I’m sorry. I am unable to understand you.” El Brato grumbled, “Stupid Alexa” and then yelled out to me, “Ayu…come and tell Alexa the song I want to hear. It’s not listening to me.”

And there I was, speaking to the dot, yet again, telling her to play Chhammak Challo, said with tight lips and no hint of any accent anywhere. And she popped up saying, “Here’s ChamakChalo from VishalShaker”. I swear there was no difference between her and MLM but someone must have a hearing problem somewhere so I’m still running interference for them both and waiting till he asks me to tell her to play ‘Rashke Qamar’. Last time he asked her to play the song she played Paula Abdul’s Rush Rush

For my troubles, I get to hear the dratted song on loop till my brains start to leak out of my ears. *rolls eyes*

Signing off!

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I constantly swing back and forth from amusement to annoyance when helping my son with his homework. Especially his language homework.

My own language “skills” are middling to not-bad-at-all and my pronunciation of words (especially the word pronunciation) is usually correct. Of course Red did tell me that I’d been pronouncing ‘Audi’ and ‘apropos’ wrong my whole life and then sniggered his pert behind out of the room. In my defence I’ve hardly ever pronounced apropos; mainly used it in my emails and writing so there!

Anyhoo, the offspring gets help with learning his words phonetically. And while saying them out loud every now and then his eyes glaze over and I know he’s in the land where Korra the Avatar exists and his mother’s voice correcting him is a drone that he can relegate to the background and forget. And while doing so he mispronounces a sound he’s been saying 10xs over in the last few minutes. That’s when my angry eyes come into play…

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See, the thing is this…I was taught English (my adopted 1st language) by crusty nuns who had no compunction about rapping delicate young knuckles HARD with their even harder rulers and following that up with DAMN-YOU-TO-HELL looks for mispronouncing words or not speaking the Queen’s English; never mind that the grand dame hadn’t been our queen since well before we were born or the nuns themselves were supposed to embody compassion and not be more like her! Psst….follow arrows down

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My flesh and blood warbles while he reads, fluctuates between accents (courtesy yours truly and Youtube) and affects a sing-song reading style which would have earned me an entire class on my knees had I dared to read things any differently.

For those of us brought up on Wren&Martin ,English (the British variant) correctly isn’t a matter of choice. It’s a way of life. Add to it a few years of English literature classes where you’re liberally applying your penchant for poetry and prose with panache while being taught by teachers wearing a pince nez and you are stuck with correcting peoples’ pronunciation for life.

And you know it’s a bordering a disease when you’re correcting it in your head when you can’t do it aloud.

Alliteratively Yours,


P.S: This bit from My Fair Lady is rather apt for this post methinks…

Movie Review: Tridev

After a looooooooooong time I turned the telly on last Sunday in a rush thinking I’d missed out on the Oscars and found Tridev was playing.

Released in 1989 and a blockbuster by the yardstick prevalent back in the day; the movie is a laugh and minute even during the scenes which are supposed to be very high on the emotional quotient.

Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff, Sunny Deol, Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher and a plethora of other chamaktey sitaarey (shining stars) of the era come together to make a 2 hour plus movie which is replete with the all the symbols of the 80s; and therefore was a total trip down nostalgia alley for me.

These are the tropes in the movies of the 80s and early 90s that I remember vividly-

  • Minimum 3-4 outfit changes for the female lead in the course of a song.
  • Each outfit quite outlandish and fairly garish and gaudy.
  • Villains are OTT evil and had to have a trademark evil laughter. Said trademark had to occur with each evil soliloquy.
  • Women are props. Used to pretty up a scene or as lures to get the male lead to come and duke it out with the bad guy. Women also need to sing during their captivity.
  • The police always arrive after everything ends and essentially are clean-up crews.
  • The back-up dancers are drab-faced people who end up dancing either like they are on meth or are stoned and never vary from either of these two extremes.
  • There is *always* love at first sight.
  • Love is expressed via song. At Least twice. First time: Initial expression. Second time: Reiteration.
  • The fight sequence is totally of comic book proportions without the blurbs spelling out the KAPOWS.
  • Each time anyone gets hit, they fly through the air a la The Matrix and the resulting sound effect is LOUD!
  • There is no anti-hero: there is black or white.
  • There is a weird depiction of a jungle tribe replete with loin cloths, tiger-striped clothing and jungle drums.
  • The jungle tribe utters inane stuff like Jinga Lala Boom etc.
  • Party scenes are usually where everyone is standing still like statues and one person moving about tipsy and singing an alcohol-related song.
  • Patriotism is also OTT.
  • The level and diction of the spoken Hindi is far superior than that spoken these days.
  • The music is catchy and unashamedly borrowed (bits and pieces) from dance hits famous overseas.

Since the advance in special effects hadn’t happened to the extent it has nowadays, things looked made-up and really clichéd but still entertained in a way many movies of today don’t.

While I may have laughed at Sunny Deol’s “angst” at finding his dead father, Amrish Puri’s Bhujang-avatar or even Sangeeta Bijlani’s determination to find her dead brother’s killer by becoming a gangster’s moll; the fact remains is that those movies entertain!

Oye oye!

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Disambiguation: Need Of The Hour

My son can be a lazy lump. Anything that requires more effort than he’s prepared to put in; gets shoved under the rug (literally and figuratively) and often outsourced to us.

He’s starting to make some strides in reading now and today’s homework has words that distinguish the gender between people viz mother-father, brother-sister et al. That it doesn’t address the third gender type didn’t worry me much. He still mixes up his right and left shoe so am sure we have long walk ahead of us before we tackle that topic.

I was super happy when he wanted to add to the list by bringing in the animal kingdom. So we sat down and started writing out the animals names which have separate terms for their hes and shes. We did the usual ones..lion-lioness, tiger-tigress when my son started naming all sorts of weird “girl-animals”. In order to show him how not everything is called a girl-fox or a girl-whale I told him to look up what a female fox is called; because let’s admit it…if I say thing is white he won’t rest until half the world aka the internet has confirmed it as well.

Now comes the laziness part. He didn’t type it in but used OK Google instead.and got the answer- vixen. Yay for technology and all that jazz.

Then the lump decides to see how vixens look because he thought the girl animals will be different from boy animals (not sure if he was expecting big bows in the hair and whatnot) and told OK Google, “show me vixen” and that’s when a small child’s mouth dropped open because that particular command brought up all manner of busty, latex-clad women instead of the demure, orange-fur fox.

Thankfully he doesn’t have “boy” hormones yet and made a face and asked Google to show him the girl fox. Google apparently does have boy hormones because it showed him girl f****. And after a heated struggle between mother-child and an under-attack laptop I yelled out Jesus Christ!! GIRL FOX!  That too was a bad call because Google turned up images of Jesus Christ of Fox…whatever that means; and studly men appeared in the search.

After that it was a toss-up who was going to be airborne- my BP or the laptop; out the window. And so I counted to 20 in my native tongue and found that it didn’t help a bit. In the meanwhile a small child was wondering why his already excitable mother was looking to strangle the laptop and he started tip-toe away. I hauled him back, opened up Google and asked him to type out ‘what is a female fox called’ with his stubby little fingers and LO and BEHOLD! Eureka and all the gang appeared and there were vixens and foxes raining like manna from the heavens. There were National Geographic picture quality ones, even some Disney ones thrown in for good measure and finally I could breathe again.

Until I heard him evoke Google again saying, “show me a girl whale”. I rushed back in time to see whales AND massive thongs and butt cracks appear on the screen.

Gods of Google: Please put in a disambiguate plug-in for the sake of my sanity.

Book Review: Ghachar Ghochar

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a book review. Better late than never, especially for a book like Ghachar Ghochar.

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A friend and fellow reading afficiando who also wears other interesting hats was cleaning house and put up a give-away of her beloved books. Red lucked upon this particular one and the result was a Saturday night discovery of a impactful new book that both of us finished one after another.

Written very honestly and without sounding judgemental, Vivek Shanbhag does a creditable job exposing the follies and foibles of the nouveau riche whose lives become complex on account of their wealth but whose bourgeoisie never really goes away.

Written in Kannada originally and beautifully rendered in English by Srinath Perur , the book holds up a mirror to the middle class society and mentality globally (IMHO) but more specifically in the Indian context rather than just the Kannadigas.

Points in its favor are the novella form and the simple and yet engaging narrative which people will be drawn to whether or not they belong to the strata of the people portrayed. The individual character sketches too, are very believable and seem to take shape effortlessly on paper without too much of anything seeming contrived.

And while this book isn’t something that makes me spout superlatives, its stark and unflinching honesty is what makes it stand apart from a lot of other reads of the same ilk.

Reader rating-2 thumbs up.

Me Being Me…

I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t indulge in gripes about my pet peeves. So what if it’s at the start of the year? This way am getting some rants and grumbles out of my system so there’s less to spew and gnash my teeth about!

I have made a couple of decisions. Won’t call them resolutions because then it’s nearly a foregone conclusion that they’ll be deviated from sooner or later.

I am quite bugged with one of my lifelines..Amazon. I buy books from them quite often and they end up being my kid’s toy shop of choice for all the exotic variety of dragons not available in our city, nay…country! But for them to restrict the sale of certain digital media if you choose your country as India is super annoying. You get access to loads of books nonetheless. More than I could finish in this lifetime. But still! And if you do choose USA as your country then the world is your oyster but the Indian government plays spoilsport and tacks on a Swachhh Bharat tax on top of the foreign currency mark-up and what not!

Now the Swachh Bharat tax isn’t something I’m not crazy about. It might have started out with good intentions (as do most things on the road to hell am told) but levying it on all and sundry just seems bloody annoying. And pardon my French but I missed the fine print where it was notified that it would be levied on everything that generates a bill.

The last time I encountered this level of “being anal” is when the bean counters at the T.I.S.S literally tried to brainwash my colleagues and I for all the expenses we could and would encounter during our field work. Even in those small mom&pop stores where they just write down the bill for all amounts big and small. They wanted to make sure we would get the Rs.1 revenue stamp affixed on all relevant bills and then the ancient relic in the accounts office went further and said he wanted a receipt for a revenue stamp also. Yikes! The paper work was staggering…oye ve!

But that lovely little anecdote from the past aside here are some more things I have decided I’m GOING to do.

  1. Finish watching every single movie/t.v show I’ve downloaded and only keep those that I know I’ll watch again. Ergo, no hoarding the sheer “wealth” of torrents.
  2. Public a minimum of 3 blog posts every week- photography or otherwise.
  3. Use up or give away bed linen that’s been languishing in the closet because I only bring out the higher thread count ones or the ones with monkeys on them to keep the brat happy.
  4. Take more pictures and master a bit more of photo editing because that’s what makes or breaks an image.
  5. Try out one new recipe (sweet, savory anything!) a week.
  6. Try and grow taller! Psych…had you going there for a minute, didn’t I?
  7. Try and read more non-fiction because Red thinks I’m growing dumb or murderous with all the crime fiction and mythological stuff I read.
  8. Take at least 3 holidays this year and discover a new place or two. Or ten.
  9. Teach the offspring a few words of my native tongue.
  10. Keep those bleeped out words in my head and not in my mouth. Tiny ears to mouth transmission speed is shockingly good!
  11. Learn to swim with my head above water else I’ll drown if not in a pool or just keep treading water like a doofus.
  12. Publish one book digitally no matter how silly. And this one am really, really serious about.

So, 12 months and 12 non-resolutions. Doable? 2017 will tell.




Reflections On A Sunday…Yet Again

After a long while I had a lot of space. A LOT. I mean driving-alone-on-a-fairly-secluded-road-with-not-too-many-people-around or too-far-behind-in the-mirror-kind-of-space. And I just took in the solitude along with the car freshner smell and realized:

  • It is SO important to have some totally, totally, totally alone time; away from social media, people and other living beings barring self.
  • Rabbi’s Tere Bin Sanu Soniya is a fantastic song to drive to at any time!
  • Nostalgia isn’t a bad thing. It’s not depressing or debilitating unless you wallow in it. Enjoy it and it uplifts.
  • I love Hyderabad.
  • I am not entirely *not* a morning person. A quasi-one I would say.
  • The Swift is a pretty neat car. Not only because my feet reach the pedals but the car sings at high speeds but doesn’t make you feel like it’s coming apart at the seams.
  • I really don’t like the vanilla aroma in my car. I prefer a more woodsy kind of smell. Out you go Ambipur Vanilla Bouquet!
  • It’s quite nice dropping people off. Welcoming them is better but even the drop off can be a journey…for me especially, so it’s all good.
  • I need to filter my mouth a bit more while alone since the “ch” sound comes out pretty frequently. Case in point- the lizard I saw scuttling across the hall got a no-holds barred CH****** from me.
  • I really have a thing for bullet points 🙂

Happy Sunday Peeps!

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