Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ambiguity in the English Language

I keep getting these mails. I felt this could be shared for a laugh, and sure there is information too. Maybe it is often repeated, and many must have read them. Whatever, I put it up for those who have not had the chance to read about the English language as being a funny language too.
English language!

If you ever feel stupid, then just read on. If you've learned to speak
fluent English, you must be a genius! This little treatise on the
lovely language we share is only for the brave. Peruse at your
leisure, English lovers.

Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to
present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.

19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor
pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or
French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads,
which aren't sweet, are meat.

Quicksand works 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 hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth?
One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? If you have a bunch of odds
and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? Is
it an odd, or an end?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats
vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people
recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo
by ship?

Have noses that run and feet that smell?

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
it out, and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the
creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all.
That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the
lights are out, they are invisible.

There is more that I would like to add. This is also a mail that I had received. I find it so funny that I needed to keep it for a laugh, for me and you:-

An Ode to a Spell Checker
Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques for my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As swoon as a mist ache is maid

It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite

Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw

I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Rig Veda In Hindi

This is the first volume of the four part RIG VEDA in Hindi.
This covers the third fourth and fifth mandalas of the sacred text and is generally dedicated to Agni - the sacred fire.
It is for the first time that this great text has been published (by Lokbharti Booksellers and distributors, Allahabad) in modern Hindi poetry with explanations on literal and spiritual levels.
The translation and explanations have been written by Professor Govind Chandra Pandey, a renowned scholar in multiple disciplines. Prof G C Pandey has been the Vice Chancellor of Jaipur and Allahabad Universities, he was the Chairman of Indian Institute of Advance Studies, Simla, the Chairman of Allahabad museum Society and the Chairman of Central Tibetan Society, Sarnath Varanasi.
A book of this caliber comes along perhaps once in a lifetime.
It gives deep insight into the foundations of Indian culture.
A must read.
Published by: Lokbharti Book Sellers and distributors
15-A M.G.Marg Allahabad - 211001
Tel: 91-532-3295870/ 2427210

Friday, June 6, 2008


I read this book recently and being a teacher understood that the number of roles a teacher could take in the life of an individual is many. The book, written by Mitch Albom, is a true story of a relationship between a teacher and a student, which goes far beyond the four walls of the classroom and spans several years. In fact it still lives through the book Mitch has written. Any one could take on the role of a teacher consciously or unconsciously for any person at any point of time in life. It was many years after school that Mitch came back to Morrie upon hearing that his mentor was dying of a terminal illness called ALS.ALS-Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a disease of the neurological system. The patient loses control over muscles. For Morrie it was a slow and painful walk to death. For Mitch it was remorseful to watch him this way. On the many Tuesdays that Mitch meets with Morrie, he decides the meetings to be pleasant talks between them. Life is complicated, but for Mitch, on talking with Morrie, it gets so much more simplified. Morrie talks on a wide range of topics like fear, family, society, forgiveness, death, ageing, money, greed, detachment and lots more. Who could get a teacher like this? So he is a teacher right till the end of his days, telling the world about life from the eyes of a dying man. To convert each painful moment into a happy one, to be content in whatever situation one has been thrown into by fate, is what I felt needs to be learnt from this book besides others.

In his acknowledgments Mitch after thanking all, says, “Mostly my thanks to Morrie for wanting to do this last thesis together. Have you ever had a teacher like this?”

So it made me wonder, I guess it would make all thinking people reflect about whether they ever had a teacher like this.

In India, to have a teacher like this is not a rarity. We have had a strong guru- shishya/ student tradition in place. They would learn values of life, discipline, feeling of service towards the teacher, undue respect to the spoken word of the teacher, skills based on talent; all this was ingrained right from a very young age. Children would leave the comfort of their homes to live with their Guru, thus learning lessons of life. The child would go back home whenever the guru felt it was time. There are so many similarities between perceptions of Morrie in his last days, and a Guru in India. (India of the olden days). The Guru here is like a Zen master; a person who removes darkness of ignorance, and shows light. The Guru is discerned as a person sitting on the throne of power of knowledge, with a garland of the ultimate reality adorned on his neck. The guru is a person who lets the student know himself, and encourages self knowledge. The guru in his own charming ways sows the seed of knowledge and compassion which is the base for all rightful acts. For the student, the guru’s feet are revered as the ultimate.

I was thus attracted to the content and style of this book. There are a lot of portions that I need to keep in my memory, so I am going to jot them down here for myself and for whoever else reads it.

About Morrie, a little bit. Being a Russian American Morrie was an astute, disciplined person, with a gentle attitude about him, as understood from the writings of the author. Not that life had treated him kindly in his childhood days. Money was always a problem, memories of his own mother who died when he was just eight years of age, haunted him throughout his life, there were n special attachments with his father, and he had responsibilities of his younger brother who was affected by polio. Life was tough, but a teacher for Morrie. Having gone through it all early in life, Morrie could easily sail through the latter better part of his life as a professor of Social Studies. Morrie takes his lessons freely from Buddhism, writers, thinkers, and others, Mahatma Gandhi too. He was very passionate about dance, something to me that personifies total freedom, the expression is simply soul stirring.

Now to quote from the book portions that I have specifically found worth keeping are as follows. They are taken directly from the book.

When Morie got to know about his illness: and On Death

=“Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left?

He would not wither. He would not be ashamed of dying…Study me in my slow and patient demise. Watch what happens to me learn with me...”

= He was intent on proving that the word “dying” was not synonymous with useless… He chose a date for a “living funeral”. On a cold Sunday afternoon, he was joined in his home by a small group of friends and family. Each of them spoke and paid tribute to my old professor. Some cried, some laughed. One woman read a poem…..Morrie cried and laughed with them. His living funeral was a rousing success.

=”There are some mornings when I cry and cry and mourn for myself. Some mornings, I’m so angry and bitter. But it doesn’t last too long. Then I get up and say, “I want to live...”

=”Dying is the only one thing to sad over. Living unhappily is something else. So many of the people who come to visit me are unhappy.”

“Because the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own. Most people can’t do it. They’re unhappy than me-even in my current condition.”

= Death is a great equalizer, the one big thing that can finally make strangers shed a tear for one another.

=”Everyone knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently.”

=”To know you’re going to die, and to be prepared for it any time, that’s better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you’re living.”

=”Do what the Buddhists do. Every day have a little bird on your shoulder that asks,’ Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?”

Morrie borrowed freely from all religions… He was a religious mutt, which made him even more open to the students he taught over the years, and the things he was saying in his final months on earth seemed to transcend all religious differences. Death has a way of doing that. The truth is once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

Morrie created a cocoon of human activities-conversation, interaction, affection, -and it filled his life like an overflowing soup bowl.

Morrie told Mitch: “So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning to life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to the community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

On caring for people

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”

We think we don’t deserve love, we think if we let it in we’ll become soft. But a wise man Levine said it right. He said, ‘Love is the only rational act.’”

On feeling sorry for himself

“I don’t allow myself any more self- pity than a few tears each morning.”

“It’s horrible to watch my body slowly wilt away to nothing. But it’s also wonderful because all of the time I get to say goodbye.”

What if today’s my last day on earth?

The culture doesn’t encourage you to think about such things until you’re about to die. We’re so wrapped up with egotistical things, career, family, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, getting a new car, fixing the radiator when it breaks-we’re involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going. So we don’t get into the habit of standing back and looking at our lives and saying, is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing?” “You need someone to probe you into that direction. It won’t happen just automatically.”

We all need teachers in our lives.

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry Adams

On Family

“The fact is, there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family….Love is so supremely important. As our great poet Auden said, ‘Love each other or perish.’”

Even as he was dying, he showed respect for his children’s worlds. Little wonder that when they sat with him, there was a waterfall of affection, lots of kisses and jokes and crouching by the side of the bed, holding hands.

On Emotions

Learn to detach. “You know what the Buddhists say? Don’t cling to things, because every thing is impermanent…Detachment does not mean you don’t let experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That’s how you are able to leave it.”

“Take any emotion-love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I’m going through, fear, pain from a deadly illness. If you hold back emotions-if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them – you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief, you’re afraid of the vulnerability that love entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only you can say, ‘All right I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment.”

On Ageing

Morrie had ageing in better perspective.

“All this emphasis on youth-I don’t buy it. Listen, I know the misery being young can be, so don’t tell me it’s so great. All these kids who came to me with their struggles, their strife, their feelings of inadequacy, their sense that life was miserable, so bad they wanted to kill themselves…And in addition to all the misery the young are not wise. They have very little understanding about life. Who wants to live everyday when you don’t know what’s going on?... I embrace aging.”

“You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. Looking back makes you competitive, And, age is not a competitive issue.”

On Money

“Wherever I went in life, I met people wanting to gobble up something new. Gobble up a new car, a new piece of property, a latest toy. And then they wanted to tell you about it,’ Guess what I got? “

“You know how I always interpreted that? These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works. You can’t substitute material things for love or for the gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship. Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness… When you’re dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you’re looking for, no matter how much of them you have.”

On love and marriage

“There are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage. If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what’s going on between you two, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike. And the biggest one of those values is Love.”

Well I have tried to put forth what I liked from the book. In fact there is lots more, but more of that later……