E for Engleesh

e for eenglish“Engleesh” – Yes that was the way I pronounced “English” a little less than 10 years ago. English was merely an examination subject to me; the one where I couldn’t earn the best marks by mugging alone. I was a nerd at school, the sort of database where my friends checked for answers regarding general issues.
I was schooled in arguably the best English Institution in the place, but what I excelled was in Malayalam, my mother-tongue. In a school known for its pomp and show, I was alien to the world of English-speaking parents.
I had put down my name for an English essay writing competition, and others fully expected me to win it, simply because I knew well about current events. To be honest, I did too! I wrote in all I knew, and probably used more papers than the others. But then I never knew it was not only your knowledge, but your language mattered as well. I was heart-broken. At the same time there was an elocution competition.I was disappointed by my abysmal performance. I couldn’t complete my thoughts, and was left searching for words. I was shocked by the way those students whom I never thought to perform well, doing far better than me. I had the knowledge, they knew the language. I was ashamed. I vowed to myself I would never participate again.
The same year, a class test. And I the topper of my class, scored less in English than a girl who keeps getting low grades in subjects. I am not one to fret over marks, but that memory stays fresh as it was definitely a surprise.
All the while, I kept doing well in Malayalam, my mother-tongue. I loved reading Malayalam books, and penned well in the language. I was a good speaker of the language as well!

About a year later, the Harry Potter frenzy had caught up with many in my school, but despite being an avid reader, I was ignorant of the fact as I never showed interest in English books. It was then that an abridged translated story of the first part of Harry Potter series featured in one of those nerdy magazines I read at the time. I remember being glued to it.

I didn’t know it then that my life had changed forever.

I asked my parents to get me the series, and within days, it was here.

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Though I knew the gist of the story, it was hard getting through the initial pages. I had to sit with a dictionary beside me and I found myself searching for words like Muggles and as I did not know about neologism then. I figured probably my dictionary was inadequate. However, I chugged on as I could, and by the end of the first book, I was a transformed self! You wouldn’t believe how much my language changed since Harry Potter. I don’t attribute it to reading Harry Potter alone, but it was certainly the torch which threw light onto the world of English for me. Since then, I became an English writer, speaker – not one to boast of, but not bad all the same.

In my final year of school, I was made to say a random speech in English, about my thoughts on the lesson. To my astonishment, I did quite well, which made me happy and proud. I never knew I had it in me to speak so well! I made a mental note that instant that I was going to participate in the upcoming English elocution. Being a student of this amazing institution, known for its excellence in English, and coming out of it with no credits in the language, would be bad. I decided to give it a try. I knew that my language was not at the same level than the others, so I began equipping myself. Some quotes, new phrases.. I found myself poring over a dictionary all the time. And the event day came. The topic was one in which I prepared on. I was happy. I made an excellent start quoting some famous poet, and spoke without much difficulty, and ended rather well. I was happy to have participated. I proved my worth. My friends said I did quite well. As I was the last participant, I couldn’t listen to how my fellow participants spoke. So I couldn’t judge myself. And the results. Teachers were vouching for their personal favourites, and I was alone by myself. I was not expecting one for myself either. I simply wanted to know who won. “Third place to No. 8, second place to No. 13, and first place to No. 19!!”, said the judges. “Who’s no. 19?”, everyone wanted to know.

Ahem, it was me folks!!

 

P.S.: Since then I abandoned my fears of English, and became confident in handling the language. And currently, I am editorial staff of the English-section (not Malayalam!) of the college Magazine! I handle both the languages now, but with so much ease. Confidence does a whole world of good!

P.S. 2: I know it is late for this, but Happy New Year fellow bloggers! Hope you have a great year ahead!

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Of Chocolates and Hormones!

What is this deal with women and chocolates?
The very sight or thought of chocolates makes my mouth water. I hear it is the same with very many females. Chocolate is just one thing females can’t resist. But we cannot afford to give into our cravings! ’cause it makes us fat and we can’t afford to be so! How easy (and yummy!) it is to have the chocolate, but how hard it is to shed the kilos!

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Image courtesy: http://www.umassmed.edu

And yesterday, there was this vendor in train selling chocolates. He was walking up and down the ladies’ compartment and my hands were itching to pick one despite having had a chocolate only an hour earlier. I could see some other girls eyeing his basket tentatively, weighing their options.
I am not sure about this observation, but I have seen that boys are not too much into chocolates. It made,me think, is there any relation between hormones and chocolate?
Apparently, yes.
Magnesium deficiency causes a craving for chocolate, one of those food substances having high magnesium content. Magnesium deficiency can be brought about by an excess in estrogen, as can occur in premenstrual period. Hence the craving.
Magnesium deficiency can also cause muscle cramps, like leg cramps, intestinal cramps and uterine cramps.
Some foods rich in magnesium are rice/wheat bran, watermelon seeds, dried herbs, dark chocolate and almonds. The only food articles I am likely to consume in the list are chocolates and almonds.
But I cannot afford to indulge too much in chocolates (and almonds) as they are high calorie foodstuffs. But, in moderation, they are good for your health. I am not the sort of calorie-counter but I do maintain a healthy weight. So chocolates are not too bad for me, after all!

Friendship too has theories!

Facebook is dying, naturally. Everything that begins has to end. That was what happened to Orkut. It is what is happening to Facebook.

I had been losing interest in Facebook when one of my friends started this secret group. Here all started posting photos and comments teasing each other which we would not normally post in public. It soon became a hit, and word spread around. Now, more friends wants to join. I really wanted them too to be part of the fun, hence I added them. But the admin, another friend of mine, doesn’t want to make it open for them. I felt sorry for them.

Obviously, the radii of friendships greatly differ among people.

Friendships are an integral part of human life. As with any other thing, experts have put forward views and theories regarding friendship too!

1. The Alliance Hypothesis
We make friends to side with us in arguments. The more we have on our side, the more stronger we feel!
Ooh! That sounds like we’re in for a fight!

2. The Familiarity Hypothesis
The more familiar we get with the person-the more we see him, the more we know him – we get closer.
That would explain the alphabet segregation I observe in schools and colleges. The closer persons are in the roll list, the more probability they are together in classes.

3.The Similarity Hypothesis
Classic “Birds of the same feather flock together”. No further explanation required!

4. The Exchange Hypothesis
One befriends another looking at the rewards of being in the relationship. Ugh! I hate the very idea of this!

Research says that alliance hypothesis is the best explanation for friendships.

Interesting!  I thought friendship was an unconditional love and liking for the other person, no matter what side of the argument he takes. Didn’t we all learn that we must expect nothing out of a relationship, and here’s the research, telling us we don’t do anything simply out of concern!

Why you should not wear glasses if you are tall

Primary school.  Blackboard. Ah! I always wanted to write on the blackboard. And clean it. You know, if they accepted people to clean the blackboard in any school, I’d be the first to jump in line. No, maybe not now. But if the 7-year-old me got the job, it would have been heaven for me.

Oops. I’m off the topic. Yes, Primary school and blackboard, again. It’s from there you keep copying things into your notebook. The farther forward you sat, the better you saw. In fact, I could see it from all corners of the classroom, but that’s what I thought then. No, what I thought was not wrong, it was right. There were these big, tall, bespectacled ones who always were seated in the front, blocking the view of the poor normal-sized, “unspectacled” ones seated behind them.

The teacher then shifts our places, once in a while; and the very next day, these four-eyed giants would bring letters from their parents, asking to be seated forward. And lo! It’s the same old story again, with a change of scenery. What, they have four eyes already, and that’s not enough? And why, why did they have to be so tall?

Skip to college.

Now, in college, you better not be wearing glasses if you are tall. For your own good. Students are much more likely to snooze in college, than in school according to a study. And the “glassed” ones are more likely to doze off holding on to their (false) belief that two of their eyes “never sleep”. (This is a thesis one of my teachers will be working upon, the findings of which I shall inform you in due course). Hence among the sleeping beauties, if you are taller, naturally you are more likely to get spotted and fired.

Research shows that tall guys with glasses get laid less as it gives the girl the sense of somebody peering down at you as if you are insignificant. And they are more likely to get retinal detachment. The previous two lines are BS. Obviously, I made them up.

So better not wear glasses. Or even better get a surgery to shorten yourself.

You might say there is a third option, but come on, who can put off their sleep? It’s only human nature! There’s nothing wrong in it! And don’t get me started on the benefits of sleep!

Study mode on: The choices?

Come exams, and the whole college goes silent and students into a hustle. Syllabus has to be looked into, question patterns assessed, time tables made for revision and re-revision….and most importantly, pages to be pored over !!! Essentially things are the same for all, but the habits of people vary widely.

Here’s a categorization of people according to the methods opted for study..

1. The typical: Brooding book worms

These are the ones that come to mind when you say studies or exams. Seems they were born to study. They’d be seated for hours in front of the book, and you wouldn’t see them even if you walked past. So still and silent.

Could easily transform into a vampire. They possess the basic characteristics: You would have gone for hours and they wouldn’t have moved an inch from the place. Most of them retreat to their nests, and wouldn’t see the daylight till the end of the exams.

2. Buzzing Bees: Droning devotionally

Commonly associate themselves with the phrase “I’m tensed!!” And you hear it five times every hour if you go anywhere near! Not that you would, for they read aloud in a monotonous drone, like a buzzing bee. You feel like a drill is boring into your head.

Usually no soul is seen in a ten-mile radius around their place. For obvious reasons!

3. The walkers

These are seen in plenty. Particularly on the night before the exams. They go round and round the place-probably walk more in an hour than they have done the whole week.  Serves dual purpose: mind workout and body workout!

They are the ones that need to rest most, as it’s not only their minds, but their bodies are sore as well!!

4. Birds of the same feather learn together

Commonest mode of study found in a residential facility like a hostel.  Involves division of labour and sharing of knowledge within the group. Helps to keep morales high and nerves calm. But has the potential to become a nuisance to persons around owing to noise.

Beware! The situation can easily flip into a chat center if precautions are not taken!

5. The vanishing candidate

Unlike most others who stick to a place to study, these “phantoms” can be found everywhere. They move from place to place depending on the time of the day and the kind of subject. The less interesting, the more they move. They can be found by the window now. The next moment they are under the tree. A rare find. Their life gets hard when most places are permanently occupied and there is no new place to shift.

6. The ghost whisperer

They probably evolved from the buzzing bees. They read, but not aloud. You can hear noises, no words. Chiefly, it’s their ‘s’ and ‘t’ that is heard aloud. Gives off vibes of somebody talking behind your back.

Ugh! It’s an awful feeling!

7. The auditory learners

The rarest kind.

Learning is a visual, auditory and tactile process. These seem to give their visual element a rest and put in all energy into trapping sound waves. Makes you wonder if they were audio receivers in their past life! They cannot learn unless somebody is teaching or reading out aloud. Put them alone and they wither away!

Generally seen messing around the study groups.

So where do you belong?

The empty gift-box

I recently found this heart-warming piece of story in a book. and decided to share it with the world.

A busy life had resulted in a situation in which the father was not able to spend much time with his family. He returned home late and would find his  6-year-old daughter already asleep. He would have one drink too many in the night and sleep till late. By the time he woke up next day, his daughter would be gone to school. Sundays were spent in pursuing hobbies.

One Sunday, he was going out with his friends when his daughter rushed towards him. She was upset that he was leaving her again and was not taking her along. She told him that she was making a special gift for him which would be ready only by the afternoon.She wanted him to return soon so that he could unwrap it in her presence.


But the father was held up with by his buddies and by the time he came back, it was almost two i the night and his daughter was fast asleep. Nevertheless, he saw a small box packed with craft paper in a way only a 6-year-old could do.He  lifted the box and it was light. He shook it from side to side but no sound came. He hastily unwrapped the box and found that it was empty. He was a little puzzled and tossed it aside. The next morning he was woken up early by his daughter who was all ready to go to school. She asked him with a flush of excitement if he had got the gift. He told her it was an empty box. “But Daddy, I had filled it with a hundred kisses for you!”, she said a little sadly. The father had become involved in his pursuit of pleasures that he had not been able to recognise his daughter’s hundred kisses.

-Adapted from “100 Minutes That Will Change The Way You Live!”

One small medal for an Indian, one giant leap for Indiankind…

“India has won its third medal at the London Olympics!” The piece of news is currently doing rounds in all media as I write this article. It would seem inconsequential to the rest of the world watching America and China fighting it out in the medal tally. But it is the headline in India.
A nation that boasts of 1.2 billion population, statistically should win more medals. But look at the statistics:

Venue                 G  S  B
1996 Atlanta:    0  0  1

2000 Sydney:    0  0  1

2004 Athens:     0  1  0

2008 Beijing:     1  0  2

2012 London:    0  1  2(as of now)

But most in India, are more concerned of having a living here than get medals. I consider myself fortunate that I can worry about things like my next blog post. For, multitudes are figuring out a way to get their next meal.

Perhaps people do not enter sports much as their parents don’t approve of it. Parents tell you stories of their “candle-light” study hours amidst work (in primary school!) that got them a job and earn their living. If you don’t study well, your future perishes. Sports normally doesn’t feed you unless you are that lucky one who got selected to the Indian Cricket Team. Nothing succeeds like cricket in this part of the world.
This question is a hot favourite at quizzing events: “Who was the only Indian to win a medal at the Olympics in athletics?” You hear that? Only.

But the times surely are changing.

When Abhinav Bindra, became the first Individual Gold medal winner at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and Indian National anthem was played while the tricolour was hoisted , my eyes welled up with tears. I hope,no, I’m sure I’ll hear the anthem played several more times in the coming years.
Having said it all, I am proud to be an Indian.

(Photo courtesy:www.news.oneindia.com)

Fountain pens:God bless thee!

As I flip through my notes, preparing myself for the upcoming exams, I can’t help be amazed at the change that has come over in my handwriting. I once won a prize for calligraphy. But now look at the scribble!!

I guess it is only natural for the transformation. As one pursuing my medical degree, I need to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors, i.e. develop an illegible scrawl.

Being a bad workman, I blame my tools. I scribble using some cheapo ball-point pen, whose brand name I don’t bother to remember. One day I buy a pen, the next day, it gets magically switched for my friends, or disappear altogether. There is some serious black magic going on in here. May be I need to get Dean and Sam (from “Supernatural”) look into it.

If only, I had my fountain pen!

  • I would possess the same pen everyday.
  • I would not be accused for switching pens (or worse stealing them!)
  • My notebooks wouldn’t have been hard to stare at.
  • I would have developed a sense of responsibility in refilling the cartridge every morning.
  • I needn’t go begging around for a pen during the lectures.

Oh fountain pens, you would have made me a changed woman!

Miss you. God Bless.

Adulthood: Its all about getting licensed

18. That’s the age when you legally become mature(in most countries).  That is when you can own a driving license, cast your vote in elections, girls can get married.. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? The age when we are capable of doing our own things, living our own lives… But is it really so?
What really happens the morning you turn 18? You become an adult. Is that some sort of moulting? I didn’t find it that way. You wake up on the same bed, go to the same places you used to go, do the same things you used to do. And yes, birthday celebrations-they are no different. But people tell you: “Wow! You are eighteen now! You can do things as you please!” You believe it, you update your Facebook status: “I’m finally an adult!” And your friends congratulate you on the ‘accomplishment’. What’s so new in here other than words?
As far as I see it, being 15 and 18 are essentially the same. Both are kids. Kids with less innocence and obedience. The kind that is harder to control. The kind that gives headaches to everyone around. The kind that has hormones in the cranium instead of white matter. Exactly when we start thinking with our heads and not hormones is hard to tell. But I’m sure it’s not 18. When I was a kid I thought when you were an adult you knew everything, you never went wrong, you didn’t get scolded. But now I am 22 and still don’t understand things, keep making the same mistakes, and get scolded. Then what’s the big deal?

I didn’t find it any different the day before and after I turned eighteen. My pimples didn’t disappear. I was not entitled for a say in family matters yet. My innermost fears were still alive. I kept throwing temper-tantrums. I felt no different other than the fact that I could write ’18’ in columns asking for “age”.

Fine, lets say they chose 18 arbitrarily.(I know it’s not, but for the sake of the argument, lets pretend that way). So you are 18, and has become an adult. So what are you gonna do? If you have any legal proceedings, that could make a difference. But to the others, the world is the same. Those who were yearning to get the license, didn’t you do drive the vehicle even before you got the license? The
drinkers, were you waiting for your 18th birthday? You were sneaking drinks already! It’s just that now you have a license to ruin your life. But there are things without a license. Did you stop getting mad or sad once you became an adult. Did you have that radical change of “maturity” wash over you? I didn’t. I still feel sad, cry out loud. Only I don’t do that in public. I pretend things are fine when
they are not really. I am everything while I was a child and more. Now I pretend.
That’s my point. Being an adult is just a pretence.  Or better, the license to pretend.

Reading: The Universal Hobby

Reading-I’d define it as a universal hobby.
Out of every three persons I ask, two would say their hobby is reading. Besides TV, that is. But in fact, do these people read? Atleast a page everyday? I don’t think so.
Reading has been there with me all my life, but I got real serious certain times, chomping at every paper I found and craving for more. A book-worm? Well, that could be the apt word. But not the usual one that digs on just textbooks. Textbooks were for exams. Not for all-times.
Reading has had its ups and downs all my life. There were days I couldn’t sleep without flipping through atleast 10 pages of a novel while in bed. There were days when I could hardly finish one page and found myself awake the next morning with the room fully lit and the book staying on the same page it was 3 days earlier. Perhaps those books were the culprits. I am not real choosy on my books and mostly its just random, so I guess, those things could happen. But I’ve managed to finish most books I’ve started. Even if I felt they were awful. From the start.
I am bilinguistic. My mother-tongue is Malayalam. My first English read, as far as I can remember, is Harry Potter. That Potter boy (or should I say Rowling girl?) turned the tables for me. I who hadn’t read a single English novel until then, was totally taken in by Rowling’s magic . I boarded the Hogwarts express and took a ride to the wonderful world of English literature, where I spent more time lately. I do not mean Malayalam literature is substandard or anything, and I pen my thoughts better in Malayalam than I do in English, but I am drawn more into English lately. Now don’t go thinking I’m that avid reader, who has read hundreds of books. I would have, if I had kept up the pace.
My love for books was so great that once I wanted to become a librarian! With stacks of books all around me.. I had even considered converting my room into a library! I had drawn up plans on how to partition the room, stack shelves, categorize books.. Ahh.. I remember! I did make a library once! I got all my next-door neighbours sign up for it. But it didn’t go as I pictured, and I had it shut down as I found my books are not returned in time! I couldn’t imagine losing even a comic book then! Well, I am no different now. When I give away my story books to kids, I make sure that they keep them safe, like I did. If I feel they won’t do it, I don’t allow them near my books!
I’m not neck-deep in books, but I regard reading my greatest pleasure. You read words, and then paint pictures.