Category Archives: NOT ABOUT FOOD

Dara Shikoh, Mughal Prince

A story – about followers of Sufism – in William Dalrymple’s  “Nine Lives” refers to Dara Shikoh, younger brother of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and a man who was executed by the latter for writing in his book “Mingling of the Two Oceans” about the commonalities between Islam and Hinduism.

That sounds like a fascinating bit of history to explore.  To be continued…

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A Reading List

Aditi went book-shopping the day before we came here to Colaba to spend a couple of days with her and Vasanti. A couple of the books that she bought sound like they’d be fun to read, so those are the one’s I am starting this list with.

  • Cloud 9 minus one by Sangeeta Mall
  • Keep the Change by Nirupama Subramanian

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Holiday Reading- India, August 2010

William Dalrymple’s “City of Djinns”, a history of Delhi, was fascinating to read.

I am now reading “Nine Lives” by the same author. It narrates the stories of followers of different religious traditions in India and thus offers a wonderful insight to faiths and customs such as Jainism and the theyyam dance form of Kerala that I knew very little about.

During the last 3 weeks in Jamshedpur, I also read several books from Ma’s collection of books in Hindi, some of them for the third or fourth time. But those old classics by Sharat Chandra or Premchand still make for engaging reading and the stories of authors like Malati Joshi and Mannu Bhandari have contemporary themes – many of them are women-centric – which resonate with me.

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A little thrill…a piece of my writing in print!

“Chicken Soup for the Indian Mother’s Soul” – this series is published by Westland Books in India – is out, with this essay (a revised, edited version) about Ma in it.

Good feeling, that 🙂

Showed the book  to Indira last night, and she actually read through the piece !

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Fun With Plurals

While searching through old e-mails a few minutes ago in quest of a particular one I wrote almost three years ago, I found this really amusing poem, about the English language,  that Sukhie forwarded around the same time.

It’s a marvelous collection of all the exceptions to the rules.

It would be interesting to learn who wrote it, when etc.

Ode to Plurals

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,

But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.

One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,

Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,

Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,

Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?

If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,

And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,

Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,

Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,

And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren,

But though we say mother, we never say methren.

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,

But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;

Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren’t invented in England.

We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,

We find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,

And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing,

Grocers don’t groce and ha mmers don’t ham?

Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them,

What do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English

Should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.

We have noses that run and feet that smell.

We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.

And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,

While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language

In which your house can burn up as it burns down,

In which you fill in a form by filling it out,

And in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother’s not Mop?



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A thought about learning

During the GELN conference this last week, the lady from Danone said something that I felt a student overwhelmed by work might take heart from.

Certainly I would have been reassured by this idea, if someone had said this to me back when I used to be a student who often did not cope very well.

She was talking about how learning can sometimes be difficult because it places us in an environment where there is so much that is new and unknown and that this can be frightening for some. She then told us that there is a saying in Russian – that if it is not painful, it is not learning.

That is an idea that will stay with me.

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A grammar lesson for me-Homonyms

Yesterday Indira’s class did a lesson in French about homonyms – a class of words that are pronounced the same way but are often spelled differently. So when I coincidentally came across two such words this evening,  I was sort of chuffed that I now knew the right term for this !

The title of an article  about Sarah Palin in a blog on TIME magazine’s website  includes the phrase “…Outrage or Just Deserts?”

It seemed to me that something looked wrong there and when I read the comments, posted in response to the article, I thought another more observant reader had  caught the mistake – a small error in spelling. This person wrote to  point out that the word desert is missing an s and in fact I have always assumed too that this phrase uses the word “desserts”, since the meaning of the phrase makes the latter seem the logical choice.

Turns out , as the writer explained in his response, that in fact the correct usage is as in the article’s title.

Apparently, the word desert has a secondary meaning – “that which is deserved” (the root of the word is the Latin deservire, which is also the root of the word “deserve”) as discussed in the following links:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/just-deserts.html

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-just-deserts-mean.htm

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/just_deserts

Homonyms include all sorts of sub-categories and the desert-dessert pair may belong to either homophones or heterographs, I haven’t been able to figure out which one, from this Wikipedia page link here

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