Wednesday, July 26, 2006

C h i t t í - C h i t t í - P a a p a l l á r á

My dad has a plain outlook about life. He has no great pretentions or grand theories, but only simple wisdom.

I am watching some war photographs on the BBC, and just get reminded of a song that he used to sing.

I still have memories of this tune - of him whistling in the mornings as everyone rushes to get ready for school (Both my parents are teachers). Sometimes, instead of whistling, he would sing it out.

Chittee chittee paapallárá
Bulli bullee poovullárá
Malli mallee navvandarrá
Navvuthoo bathakandarrá

It is a song that he has written a long time ago, before I was born. The song, ofcourse, cannot be translated into English. But what my dad was saying is this - Oh cute and tiny children, you are like flowers, keep laughing again and again, and live your life with those laughs.

Renu (my sister) had a special fondness for this song. She once sang this in a competition at school and she got a prize.

It goes further like this ... If you grope/fight about race and religion, life becomes a plant of ganjáyi (marijuana). If you say that humanism is your religion, then it is nicely a plant of thulasi (basil - medicinal and sacred)

Kulam mathamani đéburládithe
Bathukémó ganjaayi mokka
Maanavathvamé naa matham anté
Manchi gaa thulasi mokka

Chittí chittee paapallaará
Bulli bullee poovullaará
Malli mallee navvandarrá
Navvuthoo bathakandarrá

Renu, if you happen to see this, please tell me the rest of the lyrics.

My dad used to be a writer, but I never got to know this until I started going to college, when I accidantally discovered an old magazine with a story written by him. He has never impressed his ideas upon us. All I can remember was this simple song, that he used to sing often.

Thank you Nánná :)

Monday, July 17, 2006

B e i r u t

From the world fact book, I have this information about Lebanon :

Muslim 59.7% (Shi'a, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri),
Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Copt, Protestant),
Other 1.3%

This is possibly the only truly multiethnic country in the Middle East. This is a country which is capable of having a strong democracy, and making progress in science and culture, without getting distracted by religion, race or other issues.

Historically, Beirut has been one of the world's greatest cities. Along with Jerusalem and Cairo, it has been one of the cultural meetpoints. However unlike the other two - which have now been reduced to petty bastions of jingoistic dogma, Beirut still has the capability of fostering plurality.

But sadly, its neighbors won't let it make any progress. The Lebanese are being treated like a football by Syria, Iran and Israel. It is high time that the world's economical bulldogs (read USA and Europe) recognized the importance of a strong Lebanon (in terms of great universities, industries and military). This will serve a lot in defusing the tension out of middle east.

Instead of shamelessly bombing over Lebanon with its artillery, why does not Israel consider establishing industrial and educational partnerships ? The zionists should realize that this will help a lot in reducing civilian casualities in the Israeli mainland. Amongst all its neighbours, Israel can count only on Lebanon for being a true democracy. (But again, is Israel a democracy in the first place ? It could very well be called a Jewish theocracy)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A l l e z - L e s - B l e u s

Yo !! La France is in the Finals. Ole, Ole Ole Finale !

It is so strange 'coz some people were afraid it will not make it past the first round. Remembering how they played against the south koreans !! hahaha :) It looks so distant now.

Zizou is god. I know the Italian defence is pretty strong. But again, zizou is god. And come on, everything is within reach for les bleus now.

Actually, I am pretty confused which team to support here because half the Grenobloise are Italian !! On the Italian quarter on the other side of the river, the sentiments will be running exactly in the opposite direction. :) It will be really fun to watch what goes on. I can't wait till Sunday.

It is so weird - nobody even bothers to notice that a French girl is about to win the wimbledon. It's football time now.

Yesterday, it was pure madness after France sealed off the victory. The bleu-blanc-rouge fluttering everywhere; youngsters dancing around fireworks; shirtless youths jumping into the fountain at centreville; girls jumping over the top of bus-shelters !!

One of my Italian friends told me before the match "France should get into the finals man. We need to lick them bad, and take revenge for the Eurocup defeat."

" You would be going to the Club Azure (Italian) to watch the match ? "

"No. I am going home (over to Turino - 1 hour from here) I will watch it from there. If Italy loses, I will just stay there. Forget my Masters, forget all my studies. No more coming back to France :) "

"haha haha "

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

T e l u g u B h á s h a - F u t u r e -

One has to live away from the Telugu land to truly understand the beauty of its language. The language has a strange innocence and simplicity in expression. At the same time, it is extremely symmetric. For example, take some random phrases "kada daaka nadachi vacchina" (that which comes till the end), "theeru maaraledu" (its nature didn't change), "chilaka palukulu" (rote repitition / parrot speak) , "siggu moggalai" (overcome by coyness / budding of coyness)

However, it is an open secret that this language is dying.

In the rapid pace of life, with all its confusions, the Telugu people are losing. They are not able to identify the Telugu language. Consequently, they cannot speak properly, and thus, they cannot think properly. Due to this, the cultural output of the land has hit an enormous low in the recent times. (The current generation of telugu films/music/literature is at its disastrous low)

To prove my point, let me guide you to a Telugu television channel. A news reporter interviews some people about some topic "Why are the prices rising ?". The person getting interviewed always fumbles. He begins to speak in Telugu, mumbles a few words and finally gives up. He switches over to English, mutters some incoherent phrases and finally flashes a foolish smile. This happens irrespective of the topic and irrespective of the person speaking.

This is true of school teachers, politicians, TV anchors, news readers ..

The Telugu newspapers have become shockingly cheap in the language they employ.

A case in point is the Eenadu newspaper, with its humongous readership. Sometimes, I doubt if the real culprit of the disintegration of the language is Mr. Ramoji Rao - the media baron who owns the Eenadu news paper and the E-TV ! He can single-handedly change the course of the language if he wishes so !

Whenever I make an in-depth conversation with any of my Telugu friends, we switch over into English. Both of us feel ourselves inadequate in expressing in Telugu. And I am talking about people who have excellent knowledge of Telugu prose and poetry (not mere products of English Medium education) The only people who seem to have a reasonable command of the language are song-writers for the films. But even with them, I have my specks of doubt.

What is the reason ?

This is my point of view.

I believe that we have been trying to do it all wrong.

Principally, there are two kinds of languages - classical and liberal.

A good example of a classical language is "French" which owes heavily to "Latin". Whenever modern life presents a new technoligical invention, or political dispute, or psychological trauma, French can readily create a word made from the Latin roots. For example, in French, the word for computer graphics is infographie. The entire language is composed of such words, so they hardly stand out. Thus, the French lead a "classical" life. They try to protect their language from all types of encroachments (principally from the Anglo-Saxon words of English) They consider that their language is golden and that words from other languages are merde (literally, shit) In a way, they are true in saying so !

The best example for a liberal language is "English", which, historically got modified by several tribes - the Celts, the Anglo-Saxons, the French-Normans, the Vikings and so on. Ultimately, it got bastardazed to such a level that one word in English hardly resembles another. The British have always been open to the inadequacy of their language. They have crazily borrowed words from every language possible. Right now, English boasts of a vocabulary of two million words - no other language comes close to this richness. There is a word to express every shade of meaning, and usually, there are twenty words for saying the same thing.

What about Telugu ?

The pundits of the Telugu Academy would want us believe that Telugu is a classical language.

They create tongue-twisting inventions like "Dhooma-sakatam" (train) "Doora-darshini" (TV) "Doora-shravana-yantramu" (telephone). In the recent days, they are encroaching onto the turf of the computer desktop, making words such as "Meetala Palaka" (keyboard) "Paryavekshana Pradesham" (control center) They expect everyone to gulp these monster-words and swallow them down the throat for the glory of the Telugu language !!

But what they don't realize is that by doing so, they are killing the language.

Let me be open.

Telugu is not a classical language.

It is a very liberal language. Throughout history, it got screwed by several influences as wide reaching as tamil, sanskrit, portugeese, arabic, spanish, and ofcourse, now English. The word for key (chevi) comes from the portugeese "chablis". The word for spice (masala) comes from the arabic word (masalla). The list goes on and on. Historically, there have always been twenty words in Telugu for saying the same thing. In this aspect, Telugu is very much like English.

You can say "suvarna-dhaanya-raasi" or "bangaaru panta". Both are valid. But the second one sounds more delicious. That is theta-telugu.

Similarly in English, you can say "cordial reception" or "hearty welcome". The second one sounds much nicer. That is theta-english.

Given its history, I do not see any reason why we should not borrow more words from English ! By doing so, we always give them our own telugu-ness. We say "taebulu" instead of "table" /teibl/
The English also do the same. They say /khordiul risepshun/ instead of /koerthiale raysepseeyon/ (which is how the French pronounce the same word)

I think it is high time that we have accepted words like "kampyootaru", "key-boardu", "examsu", "teacharu", "offeesu" as true Telugu words. They are our own pride and our own legacy. By doing so, we will free the Telugu language from its shackles and let it flow like the mighty river, that it actually is.

In my way of contributing, I would like to bring life to two projects.

1) A readable roman script for Telugu language. Turkish has one, Japanese has one, why not Telugu ? We need an alphabetic script which is the most intuitive and facile. Please look at these images for a preliminary version. We need quick ways of editing such script and also cross-converting it into the standard Telugu font. I would like to work on both directions.

2) An ever-growing internet dictionary like this.

If you would like to contribute / discuss your own ideas, please drop me a line.