Paul’s Hell and His Hell-Fighter


I will be     fully me until the end of me,

until the fully unavoidable occurs.

While in hell, I am Hell-Fighter,

the flip-side of my coin – a calm

blinder than rage

whose name hell can’t contain.

Paul Maurice

in Hell III: The Human Animal in Hell


Any thoughts on what sorts of things really do work to help put the worst things that can happen to us in a perspective that isn’t bitter or resentful?


I think that for people who have experienced major hardship, this can be a difficult topic. So was forgiveness, which we looked at several months ago. Maybe there’s a relationship between the two subjects.

Paul Maurice

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

strange India

PS:  Another (the 5th one in India, this year) terror attack unleashed death and destruction in neighbouring city Mumbai last night and hundreds died, “Mumbai looked like a war zone as sharp shooters of army, NSG and other security forces stormed the landmark hotels to overwhelm the terrorists”, the Australian cricket team deferred their visit, the stock exchange shut down and schools and colleges, the International community seems apprehensive, “Maharashtra Director General of Police A.N. Roy said the security forces would kill or catch the terrorists”

“No negotiations”… they have already killed five young men in their twenties, terrorists, and captured one. 

The whole country should have risen in outrage. Yet the common man on the street said, “Who knows why those guys were killed, ap kitna jantey ho? Kya pata hai apko? Ap sarkar ho? Probably there’s more to it than we know? All we need to do is to mind our business, and nothing bad is going to happen to me or you!” ( translation: “how much do you know? What do you know? Are you administration?”) The mind is numbed – yes, what does it matter really? To you or me? Life would just go on – in this heart of darkness – as long as I live – unless I die…in this beautiful, strange country of ours…what can we do?

weather report

My dear friends,

am caught in a storm. amidst all the dust and din, I can neither see clearly nor hear properly or think.

so I would be gone: be underground, for a while.

In the meanwhile, hope you keep posting, and take care of yourselves. For my friends in the West, and those that celebrate the day here, hope you had a great Thanks Giving Day today, with your family and friends, and the children enjoyed every minute of it…

see you when the sun shines and the weather clears a bit.
a  virtual hug to everybody, bye 🙂

The Great Indian Language Barrier

Local is the New National Language?

Well, I love my country very much.  I mean to travel and work and live in all the states before I retire. I wish to be able to live for at least a year in every state before I finally decide where I wish to settle dwon, grow old and die.

However, to do that it looks like am going to have to learn all the 28 languages of my country. Just knowing English the lingua franca, or knowing the National language Hindi is not really  going to help.

All States have changed shop display boards, road signs, and boards at airports and railway stations to the local language. Every State insists that all public transaction be done in State Language.  Like writing an FIR or applying for an address proof or getting a house rent Agreement – it is all done in the local language.

All public utility signs have also been changed to local languages from Hindi, the common National language. Earlier all public signs used to be in Hindi all over India, or in English, so that anybody travelling from any part of India could easily find their way about in a different city, in a different State. Language was not a barrier.

However, the current scenario is that, the National language Hindi, is no longer used nationally. Local seems to be the new National Language now.

The three language formula was introduced in schools after Independence in order to make life easy for citizens functioning in a multi-language environment. It was understood that it is humanly not possible for everybody to learn all the languages to remain mobile and move from State to State.

Hence, a common language Hindi, was chosen and demarked as the National Language. And another – English – was universally recognized as the common official language for all – both Indian Nationals and Foreigners coming in.

Accordingly, Hindi was (and still is) compulsorily taught to every school going Indian child. Every Indian speaks at least three to four languages almost from birth – one is the mother tongue, the second is the local language of the place where the child might be growing up, and the third is Hindi, the Rashtra Bhasha, or the National Language. The fourth is English, a major subject in the school curriculum.

For example, I speak Bengali(mother tongue)- Assamese(grew up there) – Hindi (National Language) – English (School).

Somehow things changed in between, in the last five years. Language is no longer a tool to be used to make life easy, to build community, to forge ties or to transact. It has acquired a new status – albeit a very political one. Now Language is a matter of Identity. I speak Gujarati so am a true Gujarati. In order to be a true Marathi, I must speak Marathi. I cannot love my State enough if Ido not speak Bengali.

Love of one’s State is measured in terms of whether we speak the State language or not! Cultural awareness, participation in the developmental activities of that State no longer signifies ‘love’ for some strange reason. If I speak the State language, even while sucking it dry and funneling all its resources to my own, it is still alright!

The point of this post is to raise this question: if the National Language no longer serves to unite or help, why not do away with it?  Let’s give up Hindi, and make all 28 languages compulsory in the school curriculum. I know it is difficult – a child would end up learning only languages if it was done. But there the alternative is being rejected at every step!

If Language is such an important identity issue, let us do this systematically? Let us start with the National Anthem. Then let us take up National Language. Then let us fix the school curriculum. And then let us change boards in our states to our beloved local languages.

1) Let us have the National Anthem translated into all the 28 State languages, first.  Let us sing it in Gujarati in Gujarat, in Marathi in Marathawada, in pure Kannad in Karnataka and in Ahomiya in Assam and so on.

2) Then, let there be no National Language. I mean, if I have to write an FIR in Gujarati (I had to, when I had lost my PAN recently) when am in Gujarat, in Marathi when am in Mumbai, let us teach all languages in school as “compulsory”.

3) Let us amend the THREE LANGUAGE FORMULA in schools and make it COMPULSORY 28 for all.  So that when we grow up and travel for work, or for change, we are not lost in our own country.

Let us at least give people a chance, before we take drastic steps – like suddenly changing all signs in local language expecting 20 crore Bhartiyas – to know my State Language! And as soon as they enter my State too. I mean changing public signs like Bus routes, numbers etc implies that, doesn’t it? Since some people think it is humanly possible for everybody to know everything, let us at least do it systematically.

Since knowing Hindi and English, is not enough when am in Gujarat or Maharashtra – or in Karnataka, I think it is time we found a new solution for the GREAT INDIAN LANGUAGE BARRIER.

bus-stop-at-cgr-c vada-pao-sign-infront-of-national-handloom edtd-bus-stop-sign

PS: I am not saying let us have Hindi, am saying let us have one COMMON language. Or let us teach all 28 and then change signs and documents. The census report here shows, 41% of Indian population speak Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi come next in that order.

Let’s Have The National Anthem Translated in All 28 Languages

Let’s have a 28-Compulsory-Language-Formula in Schools Instead of 3

Well, I love my country very much. And I mean to travel and work and live in all the states before I retire. I wish to be able to settle down in any State I please and choose to, without having to field surprised “Why did you leave WB?” from prospective employers and neighbours. Just because my parents are Bengalis everybody automatically assumes I belong to Kolkata or I should.

I was neither born in Kolkata, nor raised there, and I never studied Bangla, I picked it up.

Marathis expect everybody coming into their state to learn Marathi. So they write all their sign boards, bus routes, train routes, all public notices in Marathi. It is the same story in Gujarat.

I get lost all the time, having hopped into the wrong bus, as am unable to read the route on the approaching bus fast enough and nobody has the time to tell me. It was the same in Bangalore, all bus routes and bus numbers there are written in Kannad. In Kolkata State Buses still show signs written in Engish and Hindi plus Bangla. But in response to the other states, now even here, private bus owners have all had it written in Bangla.  In Orissa, Tamil Nadu – it is the same story – almost.

Language is a tool meant to serve the purpose of our lives, not to deter it! If Language is such an important identity issue, let us do this in a phased manner and with some consideration for people.

Let us have the National Anthem translated into all the 28 state languages, first.  Let us sing it in Gujarati in Gujarat, in Marathi in Marathawada, in pure Kannad in Karnataka and in Ahomiya in Assam and so on.

And then, let there be no National Language. I mean, if I have to write an FIR in Gujarati (I had to, when I had lost my PAN recently) when am in Gujarat, in Marathi when am in Mumbai, let us teach all languages in school as compulsory. Since Hindi is no longer a help in such matters.

Let us redo school syllabus and instead of the prevalent THREE LANGUAGE FORMULA, let us make it COMPULSORY 28 for all.  So that when we grow up and travel for work, or for change, we are not lost in our own country.

I am tired of being forced to learn a new language everytime I cross border into the next state. I am old and it is becoming increasingly  tedious. I already speak five and that includes the National Language. It still doesn’t help. Everybody wants me to learn their language and be able to speak to them in their tongue.

Is it humanly possible to learn all 28 languages? Do I have to pick up a new language everytime I venture into a new state in my own Country? Can there be no consensus about one Common Language for ALL Indians?

Let’s Teach Grammar Please – 3

Intensive language training (for the US troops he means) would be wasted effort for an impossible goal.

The problems are:

1) It’s extremely hard to learn a foreign language after puberty.

2) The foreign languages American children do study in school (French, Spanish, likely Mandarin in the future) aren’t spoken in current trouble-spots and may or may not be in future trouble-spots.

3) Americans with advanced foreign language skills don’t join the military.

4) Most soldiers don’t need to speak the local language. Sure it’d be great if they magically did, but they can be effective without it. Local translators and future automatic translation will help.

While American children may or may not learn another language at school, it is still imperative that most  Indian children learn English at school.

The reasons for that would be clear to most Indians and therefore, I refrain from elaborating them in this post, which is about whether we are teaching it with the right perspective, at this moment, and whether we are right in doing away with Grammar teaching, totally from our curriculum.

Two ideas in that article caught my attention. Firstly, it indeed becomes extremely difficult to learn a new language after puberty. Which means it is sensible to teach new languages at the earliest possible stage of a human child’s developement.

Secondly, the reference to automatic translator machines to help us cope with the problem of the impossibility of learning new languages as and when required – instead to use automatic translator machines.

In the context of the discussion about what is the right age to introduce a new language to learners,  I remember,  the West Bengal Government had taken English off the Board recommended English syllabus, on the presumption that it was hard for children to grasp  a new language but their own mother tongue while they are very young.

So English as a second language came to be taught from Class V in State Government sponsored, mostly Bengali medium schools.

Children started ABC – alphabets – at age ten. Which means they start on a new language, and a foreign one at that after nearly seven years of schooling. Seven, because here children start school when they are three years old, in Preparatory, moving on to Class 1 through Nursery, and Kindergarten. They are ten years old when they are in Class V.

Learning a new language at ten years of age –  is the scenario in English medium schools meant for the financially well-off middle class children. Of course in most reputed English medium schools, they introduce English at the Prep itself, formally bringing in the State Board prescribed books at Class I. But learning starts earlier. Which is one reason these children always have had a slight edge over the others coming from Government sponsored schools here in India.

In ordinary Government sponsored Bangla medium schools however they do not follow the age stricture too closely, and often children are admitted directly to Class I at their parents’ discretion, and in rural areas or in small towns – children in Class I could be anywhere between twelve to thirteen years old! These children pass their Boards at eighteen instead of at sixteen as is the case with a child from an aware and educated family in the big cities.

Was it a good idea to introduce a new language at that age? Well, time has proved that it wasn’t.

Of course the theory Niel refers to, existed even then, but pity that it was not taken into account for some reason. So after destroying the lives of one whole generation, they re-introduced it.

English study was reintroduced – but not from Prep or Kindergarten itself, but from Class I when the children became six years old.

And now to the more important part: the question of creating, developing, monitoring these automatic translator devices or programs that Niel mentions in his article.

So who are the people that would develop these sophisticated translator programs? Clueless Next Gen English Teachers, who were never taught Grammar? Or engineers expert in code, computer hardware and software or database management pros or who?

Engineers that are assigned this job would NOW re- learn Grammar to develop this program?

How do we make sure which one would get this job – then why neglect teaching something that might become useful to anyone that is attending classes. We do not know what their futures are going to be like, what they are going to do with their lives.

As teachers, aren’t we responsible for giving them a quality education that would serve them in good stead in whatever they might choose to do in future?

I mean if we are teaching organic chemistry and static electricity to everyone, on the assumption that someday one of them might need it, why should we not consider teaching the conventions of a language that everybody would be using, all the time, anyway, in a world that is increasingly turning global with every passing day? In the Indian context English is the passport to the world outside.

Truth is, the school would do well to introduce all the basic skills at the age children go to school, which means key stage one, when they are about four to ten years old.  Research shows this is the time they learn fast and learn best.

At key stage three, when they attain puberty and are in their teens, the learning process speeds up even more. An average teenager is forging more neuro-network in his brain than me or another adult teacher no matter how bright we are. Research has proved it and most teachers are aware of the fact that, whatever part of  our brain cells is not being used at this age, either dies or becomes defunct. The more you work, the better it gets for the brain actually.

So I propose we teach grammar at school, like we used to, using technology and current theories about language acquisition. Functional Communicative Language Teaching Method was the craze at one point of time. That helps in a certain situation and with a certain purpose. It is a only a method of teaching language skills, and an approach to imparting language skills. It  doesn’t necessarily have to clash with grammar teaching or learning at all.Most children go to private tutors anyway to learn language in depth.

But for the purpose I mention above, it would be necessary for a student to have acquired NATIVE SPEAKER like proficiency in English. That is impossible to achieve with the way we are teaching language now. The examination results, burgeoning prep IELTS centres, various privately run spoken English classes that flourish, the amount of private tution a child needs at home etc prove this fact.

The curriculum we are using, our methods, fail to meet the needs of the stake holders nearly at all levels.

Please read what Ian Parker, a retired mathematician and who has been concerned with AI has to say about the importance of teaching Grammar here. That would be his second post regarding the subject. The first one is here

Dostana 2008 Movie Just Shut Up And Bounce

a snippet from newscrux of bollywood

Posted on 10 November, 08 by Veresh

Tarun Mansukhani has reportedly clarified, “John and lie that they are a gay couple, and so all other characters (in the story) presume them to be gay, which brings in the fun quotient to the film.”

Now with John and behaving like proper gays, there’s bound to be a lot of confusion.

He tries to make the picture clear about the K Jo production which is set to release on November 14, “They (Abhi and John) don’t behave as gay. They behave as normal friends. In fact, gays never behave in any particular way. Their behaviour is not different from all of us. It’s our own perception about gays that makes us think that they behave in a particular way.”

He added, “Bollywood has made films on a variety of subjects…but no films have been made on gay sexuality till now. So I added it to the film. And these days, everyone specially the younger generation jokes about gay. But the film is not about gay sexuality. It’s basically about friendship and its ups and downs.”

The real picture will only be clear when the film releases on November 14th.

“It’s our own perception about gays that makes us think that they behave in a particular way.”

This is indeed what Dostana 2008 is about – I only found this after Ajay posted a comment on my post called Why We Should Watch Dostana 2008…well, as those who have watched it with an awareness of such things would tell you, the release does prove that Tarun Mansukhani and K Jo have kept their promise.

This movie is indeed about coming out to mother – as Gay, or as posing to be Gay, (the whole film is in fact ‘posing’ to be NOT about being Gay!)(so how does one look at the way that kiss has been picturized? Doesn’t the camera tell a story of its own in that scene?) whatever, the whole process, associated social scenario is very real, very authentic.

Gays announcing to Mum in real life could exactly face the same scenario where Mum shrieks, turns hysterical, tries to bhoot-bhagao, thinks he is possessed and tries voodoo to cure son etc.

This film is about dispelling those myths that always saw being Gay as only being about sex, about the expectation that Gays have to be certain way. That they are ‘different’ meaning ‘ab’ or ‘sub’ or ‘para’ but definitely not normal mainstream like you and me. But they are actually – normal.

And Dostana 2008 is about this. That real Gays would look like just any other man. Would only be different in the way they think. And fantacize, and desire and relate to men and women. Just like hetero men are from Mars, Women from Venus, probably they are also from another planet in the same solar system, maybe Aquarius – who knows?

It isn’t just friendship. Nor is it just about the body. It is a way of life. A way to be. For some. As good or bad as any of us. But quite normal. But of course, it doesn’t say it in clear, straight sentences and raise hackles and spell its doom.

But it plays with the ideas, using the story within a story technique, using a facade well to make a point – ‘the Gays – they are all around Mama, there is nothing to be worried about’. Just shut up and bounce. Along with life. Not against it. If Nature produced the urge, its quite natural.  Just chill.  And maybe Amend IPC 377 quietly without anymore ado.