Sunday, April 22, 2007


I was all alone at home yesterday. and I have not gone out anywhere since the start of winter. every weekend, I used to spend the entire stretch of 48 hours inside the house without even opening the windows. My record is staying indoors for 72 straight hours :)

So I decided to break my monotony and go out. And what better place would there be than a botanical garden - a place where I can see spring rushing in and pushing winter out !!! Winter in these regions is quite depressing for people - especially if it was a "snowy" one. The trees are all bare with no leaves or flowers; the birds become silent and it is dull, white and dreary everywhere. And so when spring arrives - it is like the birth of a new day; the trees are covered with beautiful flowers, the birds start chirping, the climate warms up allowing people to shed their heavy woollen coats. So people really enjoy spring and I decided to take part in their celebration.

To tell the truth, I was a bit early to the garden. Most of the trees are still bare with winter trying desperately to maintain its hold. Only yesterday did it look like spring is finally getting the upper hand. But some trees and plants were early starters. There is this tree in front of my house, that is now totally covered with beautiful white flowers. And this contrasts nicely with the red bricks of the building behind. I caught the NY city subway to Brooklyn botanical garden and went inside. I was
initially greeted by nothing but bare trees on either side of a walkway. I started wondering if I had done a mistake by going there at this time of the year. But my doubts disappeared after going round a bend. There, in front of me were half-a-dozen cheery trees all in full blossom. Here, during spring time, most of the plants first produce flowers and only then start growing fresh leaves. I guess this is nature's way of utilizing the spring season to its maximum and ensuring that pollination is completed early and new plants start growing ASAP.

Then I came across a small pond with small rocks on its banks. And there were these small turtles standing on these rocks. Even they were in pairs - probably enjoying the spring. There were beautiful ducks, some crow-like birds with bluish neck and
giant squirrels (they are really giants compared to the ones found in Chennai). Then there were these flaming yellow flowers. And the blazing sun did its part to make the flaming yellow to flame even more.

And there are these group of trees just outside the botanical garden. They are totally covered in white flowers. There must be
lakhs of flowers in that group alone. The flowers are so dense and there is no a single green leaf anywhere. Wow !!! what a sight !!! And this is just beside a very busy road - Have we ever seen like this !!!

I then boarded the train back home and when I was nearing NY downtown, I thought "Why shouldn't I take a small walk on the NY riverside?". And this short walk turned out to be a 2-hour one. As you would know, NY downtown is called the economic capital of the world and is full of skyscrapers bustling with activity. And behind all this hustle-bustle, lies a small oasis of beauty. They have set aside a paved walkway along the banks of the
Hudson river behind the buildings for enjoying the beauty of nature and to forget all gadgets and gizmos inside the walls of the surrounding buildings. And across the river is the state of New Jersey. The sun was setting behind the state making the buildings stand out as tall dark silhouettes against the sky. The sky was a beautiful collage of colours of different hues and shades. Every now and then, the sun's rays would reflect on the glass exteriors of the buildings, giving a sparkling effect. The statue of liberty, Ellis island, Staten island, Brooklyn were visible in the distance. There were all sorts of people around - people skating on roller skates, cycling, walking their dogs, young and old couples walking hand-in-hand (with younger ones kissing every now and then), solitary guys/gals sitting on the numerous benches listening to music/reading books/working on laptops, tourists trying to the take in the magnificence of the sunset, guys with their fishing rods set in the water, parents pushing their kids in prams, groups of kids runnig around, a dedicated photographer with his camera mounted on a tripod hoping to capture all of this beauty in his lens ... And I really was angry with myself for not taking my ipod with me then. There is nothing like soaking yourself in this beauty and enjoy some melodious music. The batteries in my camera were also getting weak. I had to switch-off the cam for a few minutes in order to take a photo. But anyways I managed to capture things as much as possible.

On my way back, I was thinking if there are any such places in
Chennai. What would I do if I need to go on a trip like this? For the greenery, we have the guindy park, the theosophical society and so on. But having a evergreen forest makes them less colourful since we do not have the fall-spring cycle of the deciduous forests. But then what about the water? Is beach the only option - And even that is crowded. Then I thought - Chennai has 2 rivers and a few canals too. How nice will it be if I can walk along the banks of the Cooum/Adayar river, probably stand on its banks in Saidapet and see the buildings of T.Nagar across or watch the early morning sunrise over the mouth of the river at the Bay of Bengal !!! Probably we can have our local flowers - Red/pink/white Arali, Yellow flowered thoongu moonji trees, red/pink/rose/white/yellow shades of hibiscus, white nandiyavettai, green money plants lining the banks. Throw in some local attractions - pattani sundal, molagai bajji, boiled groundnuts. And the result - Hudson river is no match. But it all remains wishful thinking :(:(:(

Hmmm... Anyways, here is the link to more of the photos that I took:

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Indian English

Recently I read in Wikipedia that India has the highest English speaking population in this world - around 325 million, followed by US at 250 million. UK comes fifth in the list. China comes third(but there is a note saying that this is the no. of English users and not speakers) followed by Nigeria. English is an official language in India whereas it is not in UK and USA (They are defacto official but has not been declared)

There is a distinct English variety called "Indian English" (I've seen this option on one installation of Red hat
Linux). But all along I've been thinking that my English is not so very different from the English of the Brits. But this article proved me wrong. There seems to be a huge difference between the two. And the grammar that we are taught in schools are supposed to be archaic in UK (supposed to more specifically Scottish English) - result of our prescribed books being Wren & Martin and the likes that were written in the late 1800s. Here are some excerpts :
  1. Legacy of the East India Company and its practices still prevails in all official correspondence in India। Official letters continue to include phrases like "please do the needful" and "you will be intimated shortly".
  2. British writers who made creative (and comical) use of now obsolete forms of colloquial English, such as P.G. Wodehouse and Thomas Hardy, are still popular in India. It is ironic that although British writers Enid Blyton, P.G. Wodehouse, and Agatha Christie are now considered to have held racist views in their time, their books remain immensely popular in India. British writer, journalist and wit Malcolm Muggeridge once joked that рдеे last Englishman would be an Indian.
  3. Schools still teach grammar from (frequently older) British textbooks like Wren & Martin or J. C. Nesfield (1898): the grammar of higher British English is considered the only correct one. Efforts by the Oxford University Press to publish a dictionary of Indian English were an abject failure since customers in India preferred the 'proper' British dictionary.

Few things specific to Indian English:
  1. Usage of "out of hundred" instead of per cent: "He got hundred out of hundred" instead of "He got a hundred" or "He got a one hundred per cent".
  2. "Your good name please?": "What is your name?", carryover from Hindi expression "Shubh-naam", literally meaning "auspicious name".
  3. "Out of station" to mean "out of town".
  4. "send it across" instead of "send it over", as in "send the bill across to me" instead of "send the bill over to me".
  5. "back" replacing "ago" when talking about elapsed time, as in "I met him five years back" rather than "I met him five years ago." (Though this too is not uncommon in British English)
  6. "freak out" is meant to have fun, as in "let's go to the party and freak out."
  7. "pass out" is meant to graduate, as in "I passed out of the university in 1995."
  8. "go for a toss" is meant to go haywire or to flop, as in "my plans went for a toss when it started raining heavily."
  9. "funny" is meant to replace not only "odd"/"strange" but "rude"/"precocious"/"impolite" as well. "That man was acting really funny with me, so I gave him a piece of my mind"
  10. "on the anvil" is used often in the Indian press to mean something is about to appear or happen. For example, a headline might read "New roads on the anvil".
  11. "tight slap" to mean "hard slap".
  12. Use of Respected Sir while starting a formal letter instead of Dear Sir. Again, such letters are ended with non-standard greetings, such as "Yours respectfully", or "Yours obediently", rather than the standard "Yours sincerely/faithfully/truly".
  13. The phrase of 'the concerned person' is widely used in oral Indian English
  14. 'A child was born of wed lock' in Indian English has the opposite meaning of its English origin. (I really don't know what the opposite meaning is)
  15. "cent per cent" means "100 per cent" as in "He got cent per cent in maths."
  16. "centum" is also frequently used to refer to 100.
  17. "Metro" to mean large city (i.e. 'metros such as Delhi and Bangalore') This is a shortening of the term Metropolis. This can be confusing for Europeans, who tend to use the word to describe underground urban rail networks.
  18. Use of the word "shift" to indicate "move", as in "When are you shifting?" (instead of "When are you moving?").
  19. Batchmate or batch-mate (Not classmate, but a schoolmate of the same grade)
  20. Eve teasing (catcalling - harassment of women)
  21. Foot overbridge (bridge meant for pedestrians)
  22. "pass-out" to "graduate from college"
I really didn't know that our speech is so distinct from others. This is so cool!!! I like it.

For more info, here's the link :