Monday, November 19, 2007


Sometime ago i was reading an article in a gujarati newspaper, which expressed great concern over increasing influence of English over Indian languages and how English words are making several Indian counterparts of theirs extinct.

Now I came across this youtube video titled “Heynabonics”. It talks about English spoken in northeastern Pennsylvania, where people put at the end of an affirmative sentence something like “Hai na” to convert it into a question.

e.g. “Did you go to the party last night?” is a normal sentence. With Hai na, it would be, “You went to the party last night, Hai na?”

Similarly, “You like tom’s sister, don’t you?” would become, “You like Tom’s sister, Hai na?”

Some bloggers have come up with various possible explanations for the origin of "Hai na". Looking at the context and usage of the term, I can't think of any other origin but Hindi. In Hindi, Hai is a conjugation for third person, for the verb Hona (To be). So, “Hai na?”, would literally mean, “It is. No?”

Listen to this song, from the movie “Jis desh me Ganga Behti hai” (The country, where The Ganges flows). You will definitely enjoy the “Hai na” after every stanza. (Don’t get impatient to listen to Hai na from the word go, wait at least till 00:43 minute).

It feels so good, Hindi influencing English, even changing their vocabulary. I am waiting for that day when even Gujarati expressions like, “Na hoy” (Equivalent of an exclamation, like Really?, or Is that so?), will also invade English theasures.

“You know, George Bush finally cleared an IQ test. Na Hoy!”

At Languagelog, you can see various other explanations of Hai Na.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I miss Lisbon

I went to Lisbon in March. I fell in love with the city. The city makes you feel some unique calmness. Walking through the streets of Alfama (which is a huge neighbourhood of fishermen), on a sedate afternoon, is like seeing face to face, profound and pensive solitude.

I went to Portugal again last month. This time, to a five-star hotel, Penha longa, in the outskirts of the beautiful city of Sintra. I was worried that, staying at such a posh place would deprive me of the raw beauty of Lisbon, which I so much relished last time.

But no. this place was beautiful. Extremely beautiful! It was an old palace and monastery now, converted into the hotel. Be it the old neighbourhood or a luxurious hotel; in Portugal, everything is beautiful.

Well, this was the feeling for the first two days. But then, a hotel is after all a hotel. Everything is just too organized! Inside the hotel, on TV monitors, MTV and CNN were shown. To match tastes of "international" visitors. Everyone could speak English. I missed my struggles with Portugese. Last time in Lisbon, we all tried to speak Spanish, superimposing portugese pronunciations and felt that we were speaking Portugese. People inside the hotel were polite. But then it was paid for. It wouldn't match the sweet smiles that you receive from middle-aged portugese housewives, whom you ask for directions when you are lost, and who, out of sheer enthusiasm for helping you, would give you so many options to reach your destination that you would still be lost. Yet, you would say "Obrigado" to the lady and proceed happily.

When I was going to the airport, we saw some Lisbon. I could literally feel the pain, of being so close to that beautiful city, the river Tajo, the Atlantic ocean, their beautiful union and still was not being able to see any of it.
Anyways......I know, I will visit Portugal, Lisbon, Tajo and the atlantic again...and again....and again...and again

Lisboa........"Eu sei que vou te amar.............."

Monday, August 13, 2007


Clouds wrapped in gold
Scattered .........

As if

Ashes of the sun…..

Monday, August 06, 2007

Singapore Diaries - II

My impression about Singapore didn’t change much. Yes, I noticed that it’s a young nation. It has its own history, but it appears to be a nation, that is more busier creating history rather than cherishing it.

Its shining nights, impressive architecture, and evident affluence make it a wonderful place. Singapore is a city, full of shopping malls and restaurants. The favourite pastime of Singaporeans seems to be eating out. Even tourists, some of those that I managed to talk to, mentioned that they liked Singapore because of vast shopping possibilities that it offers. There were some budget travellers, like me, who don’t do any shopping. However, for them Singapore was mainly a hopping destination. Either they were on their way to Eastern Asia or Down under.

Diversity of Singapore is quite prominent. At the same time, lack of mixture is equally conspicuous. Main ethnic groups here are Chinese, Malay and Indians. However, apparently they live in quite close-knit communities and there is little mixture among them. Such protected coexistence makes Singapore even more interesting. A visitor at the hostel, Monica (from Romania) made an interesting observation. She said, all the communities have a peculiar smell. Neither, fragrance nor bad smell, but a peculiar smell. It’s so unique only here. This was her first experience with Asia. Probably, I being an Asian never noticed it.

One day I accidentally met Kenneth Rutherford. Rutherford was a stylish batsman and an ex captain. I saw him walking on Bras Basah road. He was walking briskly due to light drizzling. I immediately approached him and asked him, “Excuse me! are you Mr. Rutherford?” He was a bit surprised, so after a moment he said, “Yes”. I said I was an admirer of your game; I am a big fan of Cricket. He said, “Nice. Good memory. Thanks for remembering me.” As we were going in the same direction we started walking together. We started talking about cricket, the famous semi final of the world cup 1992, which New Zealand lost to Pakistan. I told him, showing off my memory, “you didn’t open your account for 21 deliveries in that game, but then you had an entertaining partnership with Martin Crowe.”. He said, “24. I didn’t open my account for 24 deliveries. You got it wrong!” I smiled. During that brief conversation, he made an interesting comment, “In cricket, every game is won, in hindsight”. Later, I was thinking. That’s so true for life as well. Every moment is lived perfectly in hindsight. Unfortunately, that hardly counts. The moment needs to be lived, in the moment itself. Not in hindsight.

While roaming around the Singapore River at night, once again I bumped into a shoot. I forgot the names of the star, but the makeup woman of the heroine told me that they were quite famous. Just one more event to boast about!

Finally I had the chance to see the beautiful underwater world at Sentosa Island. I was more and more surprised as to why we kill such beautiful animals, just to satisfy our never satiable appetite. Several luxury hotels in this part of the world, offer shark fin soup. To prepare this soup, shark fins are cut and then shark is left in the sea. Where shark bleeds to death, painfully. Well, some day the world would change! That’s all I could think, while observing this sunset at Sentosa. The last sunset in Singapore, at least for now!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Singapore Diaries - I

Finally, I travelled eastward from my home, for the first time. Really, even when I was in India, I had mostly been travelling towards north, northwest, south and southeast. For the first time, I have come to Singapore. I am going to spend a few days more here. But still, I couldn’t resist sharing my initial impression.

Singapore reminds me of Mumbai. Probably, due to similarities in their histories. Originally both of them were fishermen’s villages, the British recognised their potentials and today they are one of the most important cities in the world, especially in the corporate world. Even the weather reminds me of Mumbai: Humidity, heat and random showers!

Thomas Raffles (the picture on the right) identified the potential of this city and developed it into a busy port. After it’s independence in 1965, Singapore has emerged as an example of one of the best governed states that despite scarce natural resources has gained tremendous economic success. Singapore is quite a modern and organized city. The economic progress and a very high standard of living are quite visible. Dominance of modern architecture is an evidence that most of its progress has been quite recent. I am attaching a few images of Singapore.

The problem with a city full of skyscrapers is that you always have the feeling that someone is watching you. You are being looked at. But then, sheer size of these buildings along with crowds on the street, make you feel little, trivial, and anonymous. And anonymity is the biggest fear, that human beings have……..

Well, these are initial impressions, subject to change. Will write more later,

Monday, July 02, 2007

London Memoirs.....

First of all, I apologise for the long silence......

I have a lot to say. But well, let me start with sharing a thought about that "the art of acting" that came to my mind, during my recent memorable trip to London...

I decided to spend one afternoon in browsing bookshops that mostly sell old books. Nancy, who lives with my friends Chintan and Purvi, told me that near Charing Cross station, there are lots of nice book stores. I reached Charing Cross. The street adjacent to the Charing Cross station is Strand Street. Suddenly the name "Strand bookstore" came to my mind. I don't know, what made me think that Strand bookstore is on Strand street, but somehow I started asking people with full conviction as to, where the Strand bookstore was. After a few perplexed faces, I finally got a reply from an elderly gentleman. With a smirk, he replied, "Sir, Strand bookstore is in New York. This is Strand street, and there are some book stores here.

Well, then I started walking along Charing Cross street and started checking bookstores randomly. Can you believe?, I actually found the book I was looking for. It was, "An Actor prepares" by Konstantin Stanislavski. After I found the book and just couldn't resist to start reading it. I found an aptly tranquil place in "Café Vergnano 1882" (62, Charing Cross street) near Lancaster Square, and started reading.

Now, you may wonder, what am I getting at. What do I want to convey? Probably nothing. It was an amazingly surrealistic experience. It was as if, I had gone back some 50 years in time. I was browsing through all the old books in every possible bookshop. I was sitting in a café which commenced its operations in 1882. Reading Stanislavski was a great experience too. The person who made "Method Acting" so popular. The person revered by so many actors, like Marlon Brando, James Dean, Al Pacino and Lee Strasberg.

While reading his book, I started thinking about Acting itself, the process that an actor undergoes and the purpose of Acting. I don't want to confuse you with all the weird thoughts and metaphors I went through. The conclusion of my thoughts, I wrote down on a serviette. Before it gets destroyed, and I forget the conclusion of that wonderful afternoon, I am writing it down.

"It's the focus that counts

It's the shadow that cries

It's 'I' that surmounts

and It's 'me' that dies "

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Images - Castilla La Mancha

Dear reader

Recently, I was blessed with a sudden gush of some nice and exciting trips. In my next few posts, I will speak about these little trips.

Let me start with Castilla La Mancha.

Castilla La Mancha : We started from Valencia and travelled across Castilla La Mancha to reach Lisbon. Vast yellowish green flat fields of castilla la mancha are enough to excite a visitor. When we stopped for lunch at a petrol pump somewhere near Toledo, I took a walk on the field. I was thinking, this was the land of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

These are the vast terrains that inspired Cervantes to create his masterpiece. Don Quixote is an example of the power of literature. How often it happens that a character from a literature, even after 400 years of its creation, claims to be one of the biggest identities, one of the main symbols of a region? Quixote appears everywhere in Castilla La Mancha; on roads, in toy shops, in book shops, in clothe-shops, in restaurants, on buses, inside toilets as well. Here is a small photograph of a Castillan field. Doesn’t it start ringing Spanish guitar in your ears?

On our return journey we took a small break at a village called Oropesa. It's a small village There was an old castle in the village. The village was established in the 13th century and there were texts indicating the same.

The walls of the village had some nice, typical pictures. I didn’t know what do these pictures mean. Nor I found anybody around who could explain it to me but it added to the character of the village. Then, from the got to click this photograph which defines a Spanish countryside to some extent. You can see a herd of sheep and a field of olive trees.

I wanted to write a longer article. Because being there was really a beautiful experience. But it seems, my poor vocabulary is failing me. Or, probably I am not matured enough to understand all the emotions, I lived there. Someday, when I will be wiser and older, I will re-write this post. But till then, you have these pictures only to be content with.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I offer deep condolences to all the friends and families of Prof. G.Loganathan, Ms. Minal Panchal and all other innocent victims, who were shot dead in the unfortunate massacre at Virginia Tech University. May Almighty give immense strength, to bear this tragedy, to the near and dear ones of all the victims. May their souls rest in peace.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wiping off the last droplet

Assume you have worked hard in the sun and you sweat. Then, the droplets of the sweat start crawling over your face. You feel irritated. You want to wipe them off as soon as possible. You wipe them off finally. You feel, you look beautiful now. But suddenly you realize that, those ugly droplets of the sweat were protecting you from the heat. They were absorbing all the heat and were passing only the cool wind. But you have wiped it off. You had to wipe it off anyhow. One can’t live sweating forever. Quite stupidly, every time, I think of childhood, this metaphor comes to my mind. Being a child for too long starts irritating you. You want to get rid of it. But then, when it goes, you also feel that you lost something.

This winter, when I went to India, I went in search of some lost moments of my childhood. I went to Dholka. A small town 35 kilometers from Ahmedabad, my hometown. Dholka is where, my father spent first 22 years of his life and I spent major part of all the important vacations of the first 18 years of my life. My grand parents used to live there. Our home was in a street called Khokhar Chakla. Chakla probably means a market or a market street in Urdu. The moment you enter this street on the right hand side there is a school. Where nobody studies now. School has been shifted and only the building is there, waiting to be razed and erased. Then follow a small grocery store, a provision store, a barber shop, a telephone booth (a tailor shop in the past), and then a small door, 2 ft wide and 5 ft tall small wooden door. That was the door of the small room (nani oradi) of our home. Next to the door, a warehouse, a sweet shop and a big gate. You enter the big gate and you suddenly come into a different world altogether. Unlike the crowded and noisy market street, you come to a place completely calm and peaceful. That was our home. The moment you enter the big gate, on the right hand side was our home, long, single-storied with a traditional roof. On the left was a small room where a watchman used to live who used to look after the inn which was exactly opposite our home. That inn was being run on no-profit basis I guess. Rarely people used to come to live there. Between our home and that inn, there was an open space. In the middle there was a small structure with seats made of stones, inside. Looked like a meeting place for kings and all. Once upon a time, there was a fountain inside. The architecture of this entire place was similar to designs of windows and doors that you find in typical Arabic structures, e.g. La Alhambra. On the right side of the home, was the backside wall of the school. Beyond those rooms of the inn there was a mosque. So early in the morning, either the first Azans of the mosque will wake you up, or after an hour, the morning prayer of the school will do that.

Well, I don’t want to recite all my childhood memories of that home. I want to show you what I saw this time. Let me give you a little bit of history before that. In 1993, my grandfather passed away. My grandmother stayed there till 1996. Last time, I visited that house was in October 1996. After that my grandmother moved in with us in Ahmedabad. I never went to see the house again. The house didn’t belong to us. We were tenants. For more than 70 years, we were tenants. Finally we returned the keys to the owner, without creating any nuisance. I didn’t know what happened to that house. So, I didn’t know whether it still existed or not. Well, fortunately it did. The new owner has new plans for that land. And, they were destroying the house for their new plans to take place. I just reached in time. As if, I had gone to see an elder relative on his or her last moments. I am attaching pictures of the half destroyed home. Someday, I will describe how beautiful it was for you to be able to empathize with me. I walked around. Tried to touch some walls, some stones, and some old furniture. As if, I was searching for something that I didn’t know. I was looking at these walls for the last time. It was their last evening. Next morning they were going to be broken down.

I left the place. Symbolically sun was setting behind the minaret of the mosque. As if, it was an occasion of seeing your own memories being effaced from your mind. As if, I was wiping off that last droplet of sweet sweat from my forehead. As if, I was losing a big part of my identity.

But I was happy for one thing. The new owner is building a school on that place. My grand father was a school teacher for his entire life. A popular, disciplined and extremely honest school teacher. Somebody has said, “Even time pays tribute to the truthful”.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Slovak Experience

(My friend Amar asked me share this little experience here. Thanks Amar)

In the month of September I had gone to Vienna for a few days. During my stay there, one day I went to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Slovakia separated from erstwhile Czechoslovakia. I will write more about Bratislava some other time. Because there is indeed a lot to write about. But, I wish to talk about one interesting incident. While walking around, on one corner of the city, close to the Danube, I saw a phrase, engraved on the wall. It’s written in the Slovak language; slovenčina. Obviously, I didn’t understand anything, except two names, Dzáwáharlál Néhru (This is the way it was written) and Indira Gándhiova. Even though adapted to a different script, any Indian would understand, who these names belong to. These names could be unfamiliar for hardly any Indian. I took the photograph. I asked a couple of people standing nearby as to what it meant, but unfortunately, they didn’t speak English. I returned to Vienna without any translation. Back in Vienna, I was again busy exploring this beautiful city. Sporadically, I asked people if they knew slovensko, so that somebody could translate that sentence to me, but all in vain.

On my last night in Vienna, I wasn’t able to sleep. I had to catch a flight at 7:30 next morning. Since I wasn’t able to sleep I started walking around, in the vicinity of my hostel. As late as 3 am, I felt hungry and I went to a place Restaurant Mozart, which is generally open from 6 pm till 6 am. I went inside and ordered some rare vegetarian cheese-based dish. Suddenly I remembered the photograph which was still there in my camera. I thought I should get it translated as soon as possible. Because chances of finding someone, speaking Slovensko in Barcelona, were much bleaker. At almost 3:30 in the morning, as the last attempt in desperation, I asked the lady at the bar, if she could speak Slovensko. The pleasant looking, middle aged lady politely said that she didn’t. Suddenly she came back, and said, “Our cook is from Slovakia. He speaks Slovensko. Should I call him?” I was so happy, I couldn’t even say “yes” clearly. I left my seat and walked almost halfway up to the kitchen and met the lady and the cook on the way. The cook greeted me in German. I showed him the camera and asked him to translate. But unfortunately he didn’t speak any English. The lady spoke some broken English. We ended up standing in a very funny position. The lady was standing in the middle with the camera in her hand. He was explaining it to her in his broken German. She was explaining it to me in her broken English. I don’t know how clearly they explained and how well, I understood. In the end all that the sentence meant that “on 20th August, 1938, Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi was here for a talk.” Still, it was a nice experience. Both of them were really very nice people. Despite all the problems with language, they showed admirable hospitality on helping me something really trivial. All three of us really enjoyed those 5 minutes of double translations. I remember, in the middle of the translation, the lady had abruptly but quite appropriately said, “We are very international.”
(If anybody reading this post, understands Slovak language, are welcome to send in hir/her version of translation of the text in the photograph.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What's in a game?

Recently Indian cricket team, as usual performed miserably in South Africa in both forms of game. Once again, people started criticizing the attitude of cricketers and started questioning their commitment and sense of patriotism. While thinking over this issue, I came across a nice anecdote in Eduardo Galeano’s book “Días y noches de amor y de Guerra”. It’s a story of Dynamo Kyiv, the most famous football club of Ukraine. In the summer of 1942 Ukraine was under Nazi occupation. The Nazi organized a football match. Between national team of Nazi armed forces and a team of Dynamo Kyiv made up of workers of the wool factory. The Supreme against the starving. The stadium was packed to full capacity. Nazis scored the first goal. The stadium shrunk to silence. Soon, the entire stadium lights up when Dynamo scored the equalizer. Just before the half time, Dynamo scored another goal. They went into half time leading, 2-1. The commandant of the occupying troops sent his assistants with his message. Dyanamo team listened to the message, “Our team has never been defeated on an occupied territory. If you win, you will be executed!”

Players returned. Within a few minutes, Dynamo scored the third goal. People were on their feet, right behind the team, shouting and cheering at the top of their otherwise oppressed voices. The fourth goal and the stadium erupted to unprecedented celebrations. Suddenly the final whistle was blown. Heroes of Dynamo were taken to a high precipice and executed.

At times, a game is not just a game.