Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sour Grapes and Sweet Mangos

Mary Roy explains how the craze for an English-medium education in a country that is not an English-speaking one is killing, well, education in that country:

Watching these children being taught is to be amazed, and horrified. In an English recitation class in lower primary, for example, you will hear 40 children chanting in unison, with accompanying actions, “The fox jumped and jumped and jumped. The grapes were too high. The fox said, ‘The grapes are sour’.” The intonation must be just right—but understanding what you are saying is not a requirement.

Indeed, the grapes are too high—India, a country which has consistently failed in providing even the basics to its people, would never be able to get enough of its people to speak the English language well enough—a fact that is at odds with the status that we accord to English. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we have to lie about the grapes being sour; nope. We just have to realise that the fruits that we have are good enough and we don’t need no grapes.


An earlier write-up on this topic: Talk English, Walk English

Now You be Nice to Him

In spite of the criticism she’s faced from many quarters, Karen Armstrong is not a bad read really. However, I couldn’t but help have a chuckle at this :

Whether we like it or not, God is here to stay, and it’s time we found a way to live with him in a balanced, compassionate manner.

It’s almost as if a harried mother is trying to make peace between two squabbling, preadolescent siblings.

Also, why God is just, and maybe sometimes too just: Devout criminal exposed by CCTV cameras.

Monday, October 19, 2009


There is a certain something about Punjabis as a community--whether you like them or hate them, you really can’t ignore them. Take Punjabi music, for instance, or food (which is my pet peeve) the culture has a stranglehold on India.

For example, restaurants in Calcutta which serve Butter Chicken and Tandoori Chicken, take to calling themselves Indian restaurants, which is all right but I’d like to see one, just one, restaurant selling, say, Malabari Fish curry, call themselves likewise. Much could also be said about the proliferation of eateries named “Sher-e-Punjab” (that the owner would be a pot-bellied, balding Bong is an incongruence that most people have learned to paper over).

Thus, is it with great pleasure that I noted the name of this august establishment whilst on holiday in Mussoorie:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Georgie Porgy Tandoori Chicken. While Georgie might be a likely candidate for sexual harassment lawsuits in the workplace when he grows up, but he did show the Punjabis, all right!

However, my joy at this coup was short-lived, because the very next day I saw this:

Friday, October 16, 2009

PM Without a Single Nobel Seeks Light and Knowledge from Diwali

New Delhi: In an expansive gesture to Indians worldwide as much as to showcase his – and India’s -- multi-cultural affections, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday lit a ceremonial Diwali lamp to ''symbolise victory of light over darkness.''

''This coming Saturday, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in India and around the world, will celebrate this holiday by lighting Diyas, or lamps, which symbolize the victory of light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance,'' Singh said on the occasion, adding, ''And while this is a time of rejoicing, it's also a time for reflection, when we remember those who are less fortunate and renew our commitment to reach out to those in need.''

The Government kept it light and simple. A box of Indian mithai (sweets) was placed on some 150 chairs but there was no food fest or song and dance.

Singh, having lit the diya (a word he handled with aplomb) and wished everyone a ''Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak,'' listened intently as the priest ended with ''Om Shanti Shanti.'' He returned the priest’s Namaste and then shook his hands before striding out.

Also, in an inconsequential development, Obama, the US President celebrated Diwali in the White house. However, this event was largely ignored by the Indian press, who are generally not starry-eyed about the West and find Diwali celebrations in their own country far more news worthy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Nobelman: Obama Wins Peace Prize

Barack Obama, Supreme Commander of the most destructive conventional and nuclear military in the world, was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace on Friday.

The news was greeted with unbridled joy and a sense of vindication by many who believe that Obama is just one in a long line of prophets sent by Him to deliver peace, prosperity and good oratory to the world. However, there were quite a few doubting Thomases too who were a bit surprised that Obama could have risen so quickly and whether he deserved a Nobel at all.

The Nobel committee’s explanation for the award, though, was simple: “As the first non-Bush US President after George Bush, Obama was an obvious choice. Here’s a President who, in nine months, hasn’t started a war, hasn’t wrecked the global economy and hasn’t raped the English Language. What more could you want?”

George Bush reacted to the statement by reemphasising that “Human beings and fish can coexist peacefully”.

The Nobel, though, had an immediate effect as the US Government, in a move to celebrate the Prize, has ordered the cessation of drone attacks in Waziristan for a whole day.

Monday, October 5, 2009


The Indian Express reports:

Against severe odds, India has built a 202-km transmission line to bring electricity to Afghanistan’s power-starved capital, Kabul.

Now if only someone would bring electricity to India’s power-starved capital.

A fairly informative article on the matter: Candle-Light Vigil