Sita, Hanuman, Hulk, Spiderman …

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I usually do not forward or propagate ‘forward-emails’ – emails which say that, this happened to my friends brothers sister-in-law. But this one brought with it major entertainment. This is about a little girl who went for a UKG interview in one of the premeire schools in Chennai. The Principal asks the girl to tell a story, to which the kid asks if she can narrate a story that she has written, or a story that she has just read. The surprised Principal asks her to read the story that she had written. If this is really true, God bless the kid – she is going to go places.

Ok, tell me story which you have written.

Sarithra said “Ravanan kidnapped Sita to Srilanka”

Opening scene failed to impress the Principal but still she encouraged the child to continue.

“Rama asked Hanuman’s help to rescue Sita. Hanuman too agreed to help Rama “

“Then?”

“Now, Hanuman called his friend Spider man.” No one expected this twist in the story

“Why?”

“Because there are lot of mountains between India and Srilanka..if we have Spiderman we can go easily with his rope.”

“But Hanuman can fly isn’t it??”

“Yes. But he is having Sanjeevi Mountain on one hand, so he cannot fly very fast. “
“Hanuman and Spiderman flew to Srilanka and rescued Sita. Sita said Thanks to both”

“Why?”

“When you are helped you should say Thanks”

“Hanuman now called Hulk.”

All were surprised. She realized our curiosity and said ” Now Sita is there, so to take her safely back to Rama..he called Hulk”

“What logic???” the Principal asked.

“Hanuman can carry Sita right?”

“Yes. But he has Sanjeevi Mountain in one hand and has to hold spider man on the other”

The Principal could not control her smiles. ” So when they all started to India they met my friend Akshay”

“How come Akshay there now?”

“Because it is my story and I can bring any one there”

Now the Principal didn’t get angry but waited for the next twist

Then all started to India and landed at Chennai’s Velechery bus stop

Now I asked,”Why they have landed In Velechery bus stop? “

“Because they forgot the way..& Hulk got an idea and called Dora”

“Dora came and she took Sita to Velechery Venus Colony…that’s all.”

Finished the story with a smile

Now the Principal asked “Why Venus Colony?”

“Because sita is there & I am Sita!!!”

GPS directions in ‘Madras tamizh’

I use GPS directions in two ways. I have a MapMyIndia ZX 250 which I forget to take most times, and during those times when I forget to take the GPS device, I use Google Maps.

Recently, Google Maps surprised me with an Indian sounding voice. Very nice. That set me thinking ofcourse, of how it would be if the Directions were given in ‘Madras Tamizh’ or Madras Baashai as it is sometimes called. For those not in the know, this is mostly the tamizh that the auto drivers use, and mostly made famous by ‘Loose Mohan’ in tamizh cinema.

Iruba .. Route pudikaren == Syncing satellites

Nera poyikine iru  ==  Go straight on

Rightla cut pannu == Turn Right

Leftla cut pannu == Turn Right

Leftla cycle gapla pooru == Turn Slightly left

Rightla cycle gapla pooru == Turn Slightly right

Vutla soltu vantaya == Navigating to home

Aprom paaklam ba == Shutting down

Dei Dei Kasmalaam Turning-a vuttaya dei behmani == Rerouting

If you have any more, let me know in the comments …

Why do I honk?

You ask me, “Why do I honk?”. I will tell you why I honk.

And no, I do not honk incessantly like the cabbies, but you got to be super pretentious to claim that in India, you can drive without honking. Sure, I will reduce and have reduced honking, but if I do not honk, the following classes of living beings would probably get killed, if not seriously injured:

  1. The college kid with the backpack talking on her phone looking at the wrong direction while crossing the road
  2. The old uncle in his smokey scooter who claims that old scooters have the right to drive in the middle most lane
  3. The real estate agent who is talking on the phone which is resting on his shoulders and his head bent at an impossible 90 degrees to keep the phone from falling down.
  4. The style-bhai on his Yamaha FZ-whatever who feels that he is driving faster if he makes more noise and if he challenges the center of gravity of his bike to the maximum.
  5. The auto-wallah who brakes in the middle of the road to enquire where the passenger on the road wants to go, only to shake his head and go on.
  6. The occasional suicidal canine.
  7. The callous bovine whose business it is not, to realize that it is in the middle of the road.
  8. The aunty crossing the road holding a kid in each arm hoping for divine intervention to stop traffic when she crosses the road. (She did not get the memo that, the traffic might seem like a sea, but she is not Moses).
  9. The gush of humanity that drains out of a buses door when the bus stops at a bus-stop – even if the bus stopped in the middle lane.
  10. The IT dude in the car right in front in an intersection, who is checking email on his jazzy smart phone.

If you have more ‘characters’ for whom the ‘horn’ in our cars and bikes still serve an existential purpose, let me know in your comments.

The curious case of Ra-da-ification

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Now, you  may ask me what the ‘Ra-da-ification’ in the title means. I feel this is best to explain by means of a simple social experiment.

Call up one of your South Indian friends and ask them to pronounce the name ‘Rathore’. The friend will dutifully pronounce it as Rathore.  Well, yeah, we know our English-Vinglish Phonetics well.

Call up one your North Indian friends (what my twitter brethren would friendly call as an ‘Amit’). He would without hesitation pronounce it as ‘Rathode’. Yes, as in Cathode.

Ah. I see half of my south Indian friends stare in disbelief at the apparent ‘wrong’ pronunciation; and the other half smiles smugly with a ‘been-there-given-up’ look.

When I encountered this for the first time, when I was working in Noida, I, being the freshly minted engineer, tried to use my maximum level analytical capability (however low that may be, but the fullest of it) to try to get to the bottom of it.  This *ahem* curious case of ra-da-ification happens in several words and not limited to nouns (which purists might argue need not be bound by rigid phonetic rules). The one other similar word that still brings a terror among engineering folks from the South to an esteemed college in Uttaranchal – Roorkee. Yes. Roorkee as we all called it, but were shocked to be corrected as Rudkee. Unfortunately, having given up the fight quite a long while ago, I do not remember any non-nouns to list in this blog post today.

I tried asking my Delhi friends about this, since it seemed to be a very Delhi specific thing. But soon, I realized that it is not a geographical problem, but a linguistic problem, that I had set out to solve. Even those who were not from Delhi, but went to their ‘gaon’ for their holidays – aka other folks from North India who worked in Delhi.

Some folks tried telling me that, it is a special kind of ‘da’. But tell me, is the phonetic for the English letter ‘D’ closer to (whatever kind of) ‘da’ or is the phonetic for the English letter ‘R’ closer. My 4 year old will tell me ‘D for ddadadaaada’.

It must also be noted that, not every ra is da-ified. It is slyly made so on in unsuspecting areas. And yes, I did research deep into finding if there are any grammatical rules when I should say it as da vs ra. Is it got to do anything with masculine or feminine? Nope (thank God, that is another of those difficult things in Hindi – A bus is masculine whereas a train is feminine – Dont ask !!). So, does it got it do with nouns only? Nope. At last I thought I found it. It is da only when there is already a ra in the word preceding it – like in Rathore and Roorkee. The hindi fraternity pointed out a few exceptions with ease. Back to head bang time.

I still recall distinctly the day I gave up this fight. It was the day when one of coworkers took pity on me and made this comment —

There are no rules for this thing. It just comes to us over generations. We call it rathode because our grandparents also called it so. It is a neat way for us to figure out the native hindi speakers from the non-native hindi speakers.

Phew, Not only did that prove to me that this was an intractable problem, but also gave me a false sense of bravado. The sense of pride that, some of us were so good at Hindi, that they needed some complex codification solution to figure us out.

There are still some times, when it gets me – like for example – Ninja Hatori is a Japanese comic character that plays regularly on the Pogo channel. When you turn it to Hindi voice over, the great folks at Tata Sky now call it “Ninja Hatodi”. Aaaahhhhhhhhh.  Just for the sake of getting back all of those frustrated moments, I now take sporadic revenge by making my North Indian friends say Vaazha pazham in Tamizh.

Mannaar from Mayavaram – A Short Train Story for Kids

Mannaar was the friendly diesel engine driver from Mayavaram. He drove the Mayavaram Mysore Express every other day.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/abhinavnfr/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/abhinavnfr/

One day, as usual, he finished his evening snacks, took his nap, and then boarded his familiar blue diesel engine locomotive. It was late as usual, but he knew he could make up time on the way.

By the time he got to Kumbakonam, he was very tired and sleepy. He had not slept well the previous night. He found Singaaram, another engine driver friend lounging at the Kumbakonam station.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/floydgal

“Will you help me drive the loco until Trichy? By that time, I can have a small nap. You can catch the Trichy Kumbakonam passenger back.”

Singaaram was a helpful friend. He agreed and took on driving the blue diesel loco. The track between Kumbakonam to Trichy through Tanjore has lots and lots of level crossings. So Singaaram was honking all the way to Trichy.

When they reached Trichy, our friend Mannaar had just fallen asleep. He pleaded with Singaaram – “Please, my friend. Can you please drive on until Salem? I could not sleep a bit with all the honking.”

Singaaram did not have any other plans. So he agreed. After all, Salem was not too far away. The blue diesel loco chugged through Karur and Erode and eventually reached Salem.

By that time, our dear friend Mannaar was deep in slumber. So deep in sleep he was, that Singaaram could not even wake him up. Singaaram did not have any other choice than to drive on.

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/abrinsky/

It was day break by the time they reached Hosur. Mannaar rose from his deep sleep, fresh as a daisy. “Singaaram, my friend, let me buy you a coffee”. He jovially said, “Since you have driven all the way to Hosur, and there is no return train right now, come, let us ride to Bangalore, which is only one more hour away.”

Singaaram realized that Mannaar had been fooling with him all along. But then they were friends, and Singaaram did not mind helping friends. The Mayavaram Mysore Express chugged in to the Bangalore Central station.

 

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Singaaram got off the train. Mannaar bade him good bye and went on his way to Mysore.

PS: I told this improv story to my kid last week, and he totally enjoyed it. Hence I thought I would share it here.

 

Frozen – butchered through Google Translate

 

Wow. This is what happens when you take the hit Disney soundtrack of “Frozen” and pass it through Google Translate and retranslate that back to English. Hilarious. You can notice how the singer tries very hard to suppress her smiles. But, besides all that, a  very gifted singer indeed.