Wednesday, January 18, 2012


My blog has been relocated to 
Please visit me there, and leave me comments!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

English Pronunciation by G. Nolst Trenité

If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you speak English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world!

Dearest creature in creation,

Study English pronunciation.

I will teach you in my verse

Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.

I will keep you, Suzy, busy,

Make your head with heat grow dizzy.

Tear in eye, your dress will tear.

So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,

Dies and diet, lord and word,

Sword and sward, retain and Britain.

(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)

Now I surely will not plague you

With such words as plaque and ague.

But be careful how you speak:

Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;

Cloven, oven, how and low,

Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,

Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,

Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,

Exiles, similes, and reviles;

Scholar, vicar, and cigar,

Solar, mica, war and far;

One, anemone, Balmoral,

Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;

Gertrude, German, wind and mind,

Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,

Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.

Blood and flood are not like food,

Nor is mould like should and would.

Viscous, viscount, load and broad,

Toward, to forward, to reward.

And your pronunciation’s OK

When you correctly say croquet,

Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,

Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour

And enamour rhyme with hammer.

River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,

Doll and roll and some and home.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,

Neither does devour with clangour.

Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,

Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,

Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,

And then singer, ginger, linger,

Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,

Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,

Nor does fury sound like bury.

Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.

Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.

Though the differences seem little,

We say actual but victual.

Refer does not rhyme with deafer.

Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.

Mint, pint, senate and sedate;

Dull, bull, and George ate late.

Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,

Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,

Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.

We say hallowed, but allowed,

People, leopard, towed, but vowed.

Mark the differences, moreover,

Between mover, cover, clover;

Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,

Chalice, but police and lice;

Camel, constable, unstable,

Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,

Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.

Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,

Senator, spectator, mayor.

Tour, but our and succour, four.

Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Sea, idea, Korea, area,

Psalm, Maria, but malaria.

Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.

Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,

Dandelion and battalion.

Sally with ally, yea, ye,

Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.

Say aver, but ever, fever,

Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.

Heron, granary, canary.

Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.

Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Large, but target, gin, give, verging,

Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.

Ear, but earn and wear and tear

Do not rhyme with here but ere.

Seven is right, but so is even,

Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,

Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,

Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)

Is a paling stout and spikey?

Won’t it make you lose your wits,

Writing groats and saying grits?

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:

Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,

Islington and Isle of Wight,

Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough,

Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?

Hiccough has the sound of cup.

My advice is to give up!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ching Chong Ling Long Ting Tong!

I thought I had seen the worst of insensitive things this weekend when I read news articles about celebrities' tweet reaction to the tsunami and this picture of facebook statuses where people think the Tohuku earthquake and Sendai tsunami were retribution for Pearl Harbor. But it wasn’t so.

In just a few hours, a video posted barely 3 days ago, by a UCLA student exploded and went completely viral all over YouTube and the student community. The responses to this video were trending continuously on the YouTube home page for 2 days before I actually got to see the actual ‘racist’ rant by Alexandra Wallace. After attacks from the student community, she took down the video from her channel, but there were consequently a number of reposts of her video, like this one here that has scored over 4 million hits already. Despite requests from the poster to please not leave offensive comments, as the video is just a mirror, not the original, FrapMocha was forced to disable commenting because of the nature of many of the commentsWallace's video, titled Asians in the Library is a recording of herself where she speaks about how Asian students who come to UCLA should adopt American mannerisms. After a disclaimer where she says she's not a politically correct person, so her video should not be considered offensive, she describes how hordes of Asian students that live around her bring their families to do their laundry, buy their groceries and cook their food for the week. She further goes on to describe how they talk on the phone in the library during finals week.

Wallace is a student at one of the top schools of the world- so contrary to the popular vox, I wouldn't call her a 'bimbo', although her unbelievably tight tank top doesn't help. The first thought that comes to your mind is, what the hell was she thinking?? She now has been receiving death threats and has been forced to reschedule her finals because both her address and finals schedule were on the university website. But after 3 days, she's making it to the front page of leading dailies and you start to wonder, publicity gimmick? Bikini pictures of her have been leaked online, and T-shirts with the slogan 'Ohhh, Ching Chong Ling Long Ting Tong' are selling online with the proceeds going to the tsunami relief, so 'insensitively'(picture me air-quoting here) mentioned in Wallace's video. Of course, the name of the website is

But what Wallace's video gave rise to was a zillion response videos- some sincere, some outright hilarious, some music remixes, some moderately offensive, but mostly extremely racist! I am not posting any of those links here. Fight fire with fire, yes, but if you call someone racist, and you respond with an equally, if not more racist tirade, how are you making your point? Wait, what is your point? You claim she is dumb(tsunami happened in Japan, hello! Chinese can't pronounce their L's and so on), then why do the exact same thing she did? Many of the responses actually have words that need to be censored out, whereas officials are still investigating if Wallace violated any of the university’s code of conduct. Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment scholar and a professor at UCLA School of Law, said he could not identify any statements made in the video that would not be constitutionally protected.

How do we define racism in society today? Wallace says she has no problems with the number of Asian students coming into UCLA, but they should learn to be like the Romans when in Rome. That is racist. But when the people posting responses and reactions use counter-racist abuses against White people and blondes(wait, is that racist? What do you call that discrimination?), that is acceptable? When she imitates Chinese students around her, it is wrong, but when Russell Peters does it, it is funny. I am not in favor of what she did. Racism is a very sensitive issue. But my point is, the first person who hints at it is always the one who is attacked.

All in all, I'm sure Alexandra Wallace will be thrashed for the next couple of weeks, and after having received her 15 mins of fame(which would be her stepping stone to her career(she's reputedly been picked up for the audience of Jersey Shore next season- don't ask me, I have never watched the show!), or the end of her political career before it even began), she will vanish beyond YouTube's horizon, just the the Celebrity today.

Probably Jen Aniston, you should take a leaf out of this apolitically correct student's book- you wanted a campaign for smartwater with kids and puppies and your adorable self, and called it your sex tape; Wallace scored over half as many hits as your video, in less than one-third the time. Racism trends more than sleaze, apparently.

PS: I could not find the video where she uploaded her apology: Clearly, the original video posted by me was inappropriate. I cannot explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did, and if I could undo it, I would. I’d like to offer my apology to the entire UCLA campus. For those who cannot find it within them to accept my apology, I understand.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Addicted to Hope?

Hope is a positive thought, an attribute to an idea that helps you keep your chin up when you feel the world around you collapse. Hope is that Ray of Light you see in darkness. It’s the missing piece of every puzzle, that puts everything into perspective and gives you a meaning to your life’s purpose. Faith helps you go places, but it is Hope that provides you companionship during the journey.

I have needed Hope and used Hope many times to survive in situations I’m guaranteed would have killed me inside had I been a pessimist. But is Hope something you can get addicted to? If yes, is being addicted to hope like being addicted to dope? If you are too hopeful and think positive all the time, can you lose touch with reality?
As my midterms approach, I can think of no other example than not performing well in exams. Consider a student who has just failed an exam. Say, a qualifying exam or an entrance exam. Does he give up immediately? No. Life, and parents and family and friends teach us to never give up, collect our intellect and study once more. Why? There is not just the probability, but there is the Hope that you crack it the next time. Fair enough. But what about someone who had one shot at a job interview and blew it? There is Hope that he gets something better. Or something that’s just plain good. What happens then when he doesn’t crack the ‘good’ interview? He hopes for something better or less good than that one. According to how I interpret human psychology, the more he chooses ‘Hope’ over disappointment, the more he lowers his standards. From the awesome company A, he now has to settle for Average. Yes, there are a lot of parameters I have not taken into consideration- he might work really hard to get something better(his Hope was fulfilled), or something equally good(his Hope was fulfilled). Or he might just change his mind, shift his focus, forget about working and become a hermit. Now he has high hopes for humanity and himself and the world in general, and I’m no authority to talk on asceticism.

A simple logic I think should hold true- a feel-good feeling will make you feel good- so you’ll want more of it. Hope, especially when it gives you a reason for its existence, feels very good. You know all is not doomed, there’s still hope. How do you know exactly for how long you should cling to hope? We all know history repeats itself, but I’m not hoping the dinosaurs roam the earth again just so that my friend can have live specimens for her reptile research! I know, being the impractical situation and bizarre thought that it is, that’s where I draw the line. Some people don’t. I have heard of people hoping ghosts exist so that they get to see their loved ones who have passed. That’s when they reach that line between wishing and hoping, and gently jump over to the other side. Having hope when none is necessary is one thing, but people sticking to Hope than Effort just because the former is easier is another. Everyone does it. I have done it. How many times have you used the adjective hopelessly? ‘Hopelessly in love’, ‘hopelessly waiting’(why would you wait if it’s hopeless, anyway?). When I feel myself drifting away from harsh reality in certain situations and have Faith in my Hope, I have to beat myself over the head and tell myself not be in denial.

Think of the last time you hoped something better would come along and you ended up settling for something less. Or the time you hoped and hoped and nothing came of it. Or the time you decided you will never expect anything ever again because you always hope something would come to you and nothing ever does. Have you lost hope now?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kurbaan-ed bollywood movies for now.

1. yes, i have seen the places shown in the film. but the places they show out of a car.
2. all the trains and stations are imitations of the real ones. trains have no numbers.
3. 110th street(first bombing) is one station away from my house, and it's not an underground station.
4. no, that is not grand central station either.
5. so saif changes everything he believes in because vivek oberoi said 2 sentences?
6. what a waste of nauheed cyrusi, so pretty.
7. the only good thing vivek oberoi ever DID was aishwarya rai.
8. kareena leaks from her nose when she cries, yuck.
9. kareena has horrible make up and wears weird clothes as long as she's in india. i mean, what's that, a chudidar below a skirt, that looks like it's cut from a south indian silk saree, with a sweater on top, for heaven's sake, and a SHAWL that looks like a dupatta!!
10. so this very experienced saif recruits vivek w/o researching on his backgroud?
11. another experienced and trained and mentally fit guy shoots cops? and saif escapes from underneath the car and singlehandedly kills so many cops? hello, that right belongs only to rajnikant!
12. you obtain a social security number only after you have proof of employment here. you can't use it to enter the country, dumbass moviemaker!
13. why to forcefully include a sex scene? she might have as well waited for him to fall asleep as he did every night!
14. what the hell happened to the baap who was being held hostage in delhi? and his caretaker terrorist?
15. haa haa, i would like to know which cellular service provider has signals that reach cell phones in the underround mta ny subway trains.
16. hasn't anyone ever heard of bloody 911??
17. cops go after 2 guys in a car and don't call for backup? after being shot? there are about 8 cops who come to every single car chase.
18. kareena's hair in the whole movie looks EXACTLY like my hair!!!
19. why to bomb lexington, that has so much indian and pakistani population? isn't that an anti to the so very intelligent and technically sophisticated plan ? i mean, it all depends on the red and blue wires, waah waah!
20. i am putting this thing up on my blog since i don't have any thoughts anyway. rather, don't have the time to put them down. (except for this bit of frustration. me and my family are still pulling our hair out).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Desperate measures people take to get a job as a technical writer

Topic: Why do we need sunglasses?

"How 'Shady' are you?

Shades, Glares, or whatever you choose to call them, sunglasses today can be seen everywhere you go. And I mean, literally. There are people who don't take them off even when inside a store or a restaurant. It's understandable if they are celebrities trying to evade recognition by zealous fans, but why do normal people like you and me need sunglasses at all?

The answer is quite simple. Not so many people around the world would use them unless they are necessary. It is common knowledge that the sun's rays compose of Ultraviolet radiation too, which can burn or damage skin (hence sunscreen). It has the same effect on the human eye too. When exposed to sunlight, the eye takes in more of UV rays than is allowed, hence sunglasses are recommended. Not just by me, by doctors too. Excessive exposure to UV radiation causes cataract, eye cancer, and so on.

Sunglasses are recommended for lots of other reasons too. A person stepping out into snow is always recommended to use them to avoid snow blindness. They are used in water sports to reduce glare reflected off water. A modification of this same principle is also used nowadays in our rear view mirrors to reduce glare from vehicles behind falling on the driver's eyes. A biker would need them to prevent the wind from getting into his eyes and obstructing his vision. It goes without saying that outdoor sports like tennis or cricket also require the use of these glasses. We can also add activities such as rock climbing to this list.

Another advantage these sunglasses provide is more visual clarity. So much so that it enables you to look into the eyes of the person in front of you, and snatch away that same ability from them. In effect, you are avoiding direct eye to eye contact. There are various reasons why you would want to do that. Sunglasses hide teary eyes, the process of weeping itself, red eyes caused from irritation, and as much as hide a black eye received during a recent domestic violence episode!

If they aren't being used for hiding your eyes, they are used to make a statement- 'I am cool'. Remember the countless number of students who did just that in college? How do sunglasses show that you are cool? As I mentioned earlier, they prevent eye-to-eye contact. This gives rise to an unsaid feeling of detachment. The person wearing sunglasses are not emotionally connected with the person they are conversing with. They do not share their sorrow, and are themselves quite happy. They are above such normal-people tendencies. Hence, they appear 'cool' (apart from the literal cooling provided by those pair of shades!).

Moving on to fashion, sunglasses form a part of every attire. They are one of those rare items that can be carried off with any kind of clothing. In fact, they are such strong fashion necessities that you have big names like Dior and Gucci connected with them, aside from our usual Ray-Ban. And of course, the price. They range anywhere from 5 OMR to 100 OMR! Celebrities sporting sunglasses are the biggest proponents of the Shades. We have various celebrities with their own unique trademark style of sunglasses. And there are innumerable number of styles! We have the basic Aviator style, made famous by the stars of the golden era. We have the over large style that can be seen on the faces of so many punk- celebrities. We have the motorcycle and coloured lenses, made popular by the hippies. And we have sports sunglasses, water goggles, military shades, party glasses et cetera. We even have bi focals in sunglasses as a variety!

Nowadays, there are not just different styles, but also different makes. There are Polaroid, which reduce glare from shiny surfaces; mirrored, which enable you to freely look at the corner of your eye without alerting people to your watchful stare; normal glasses manufactured with tinting to double up as glares, and the ever fascinating photochromatic ones, which change colour and become darker as soon as you step out into the sun. In most countries, the glasses necessarily have to pass a certain standard before being deemed fit to be sold.

It's interesting to note that sunglasses are not all the rage just now. A very very primitive form of sunglasses dates back to the Roman times, when emperors used to look at their subjects gathered below them through precious gems. I am not sure they worked, considering you can't actually see through one. (most likely, the emperor was looking at ten or fifteen reflections of himself). Tinted glasses, which effectively gave rise to the sunglasses we use, were used by 'visionaries' to correct eye defects. Eskimos have always been known to use some protection for their eyes before stepping out of their homes. Sunglasses have always been worn by film stars in the olden days, mainly to cover the redness of their eyes caused due to exposure to the powerful lamps focussed on them. Sunglasses then shifted base to the blind. It is often easier to not see eyes that don't see. And, it makes both the wearer and the person looking at him less uncomfortable. Shades have also remained one of the most faithful weapons of secret service agents!

Irrespective of whether you are making a fashion statement or a personal statement, it is safe to have a pair of sunglasses. This is especially true for people who live in deserts and barren areas like us. The damage that our eyes could suffer versus that of, say, a person living in China for the same amount of exposure to the sun is almost double. Now, I can bet that there are one pair of sunglasses in every family. But if you are a part of one of those rare ones that don't have any, go out and get some. Because, you need it."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Visa interview!

All my friends who have appeared for the F-1 visa interview had the same thing to tell me- it’s a piece of cake. One of my friends was asked if she thinks bangs are better than curls, another one was asked to watch American football, yet another one was only asked to pronounce his name. Their interviews hardly lasted for a few seconds.

I had taken the help of professional ‘consultants’ who prepare students for the visa interview by helping us obtain the necessary documents, helping present them in the right format, getting a Chartered Accountant certificate, assessing the value of property etc etc.

These people always told me that I would get the visa, no doubt, but I should be prepared for difficult and confusing questions. My dad knew of cases of visas being rejected. He kept putting it in my head that this was a very important hurdle and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

After mock interviews with dad and temple trips and my continuous attempts to distract myself with Sims2, the big day arrived. After about 4 months, I wore a salwar kameez, with a bindi(!), courtesy my dad. My interview appointment was for 8AM. I was asked to stand in the line outside the American Consulate at 7.30AM(Oh, and this is in Chennai, btw.). At 7 AM, I was about the 45th student to be standing in the line. The girl in front of me had the typical don’t-care attitude who gave exaggerated reactions which were mostly- “oh god, they are going to check our folders”, “oh god, we can’t take our bags in?”, “oh god!! They are going to frisk us!!!”, “oh god, there are family visas given here too!”, “oh god, we have to stand and give the interview!” (that was the last of the ‘oh god’s.)

So after all the metal detectors and frisking and bio scanning, we finally reached the counters. Here, we waited for an hour before the counters opened at 9AM. People were called according to their booked time slots. First went the 7AMs. Only one counter was open. The blond guy behind the counter spoke quite loudly into his mike, much to the advantage of the whole room. First went a couple of businessmen. Rejected straightaway. Explanation? None. “I am sorry, but I cannot grant you entry into the United States now”. Then followed a clear, then a reject. These two were students. We were all looking at each other stunned. This guy went on to reject 10 more people, many of whom went out clutching their passport and crying. (Dad’s blood pressure was climbing outside, watching all those students).

Then the second counter opened, and then I saw Him. You know how you might be in the middle of some life changing experience, and everything seems surreal, and all of a sudden, you look at something and think, ‘wow, now it strikes me, I am not dreaming and this thing is what I am going to be faced with’. In my case, the person that I would face. He seemed to be a good natured sort of fellow, with a big smiling face. As Hitler went on making people cry, My Guy allowed about 30 people into the US. Soon it was my turn to stop sitting.

God answered my prayers and I was called to My Guy’s queue. I couldn’t see clearly what was happening ahead of me, so I continued watching Hitler. There, a student who was from the same consultant as me was lined up to go there. Over 70% of that queue had been returned their passports(whereas My Guy had rejected about 1/7th of that population), and he was next. I was in for a rude shock as he was asked to produce his marksheets and was eventually rejected. Most students were questioned on backlogs

I was breaking into a sweat now. At this time, My Guy was going, “Listen man, I know a lot about banking, ok? My wife is a banker. So you tell me what your actual point is”. And then, reject. Everyone was being asked to place one random finger on a scanner, and not one person was doing it right. They would either mix up the hand, or the fingers or both. The guy in front of me was asked to put his right middle finger, and he put his left ring finger(who selects their ring finger, of all the fingers??). He couldn’t do it right, until My Guy was forced to make an obscene gesture at him. Most people, when asked to place their ‘forefinger’ on the scanner, placed four of their fingers, trying to squeeze them into the small area.

After ten harrowing minutes of waiting, I was called for the interview:

Him: (big smile) Hi. How are you this morning?

Me: I’m good, how are you?

Him: Good. (takes a look at my I20). Oh, you are going to New York? That’s wonderful! What do you know about New York City?

I wanted to say, I know that NYC is in the state of NY. I know that it is divided into five boroughs, I know that the Empire state building is once again the tallest building in NYC after 9/11. I know how Central Park is the most visited park in the United States and I know about the David Letterman Show. I know about the Lady Liberty and how she was designed by Gustav Eiffel and how if you peek into her robe, you will find the Eiffel Tower inside it. But what did I end up saying? “Nothing much, except for what I see on tv”!

Him: haha.. it’s not like that at all. It’s a great place. And (pointing to my I20) Brooklyn is lovely.

Me: (smiles)

Him: (continuously entering data on the computer) Place your left index finger on the red square please.

I do it. He gives a sigh of relief as I was the first person who did it right. Really.

Him: (looking through my passport, stopping at a page and pointing) What is this?

Me: Oh, I had been to Oman, my dad works there

Him: (another big smile) Oman! My friend was posted in Moose-cat for a year.

Me: yeah, I had been to Muscat too.

Him: He said it is a beautiful place.. you know, no one on the streets, just take your car and go for a ride wherever and whenever you want, mountains all around..

Me: that’s true. But the heat! It’s unbearable!

Him: of course.. (pause) there is heat here too, and I find it unbearable!

Me: (laughs)

Him: what made you choose this university?

Me: I had received an admit from Iowa State too, but I found the course structure offered here more fitting to my preferences.

Him: (entering data) Can I see your gre scores please.

Me: (showed)

Him: who’s going to sponsor your non scholarship part?

Me: My dad

Him: uh-uh.. and what does he do?

Me: (said).

Him: (types and types) Well, all set. Your passport will be couriered to you in a week.(it reached me within 72 hours, actually) (very nice smile)

Me: Great! Thank you!

Him: I hope you enjoy your stay in New york. Good luck!

Me: (putting stuff inside) Oh, I really hope so too.

Him: ah, don’t worry, you will. NY is the greatest city in the world!

I wanted to ask him why he likes it so much, or if he was from NY. But relief was flooding over me, and I didn’t even turn back. Went to the restroom, drank water at every cooler, and ran out!