Store Wars

Store Wars - Episode I

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100 Things To Do Before You Die!

100 Things To Do Before You Die!

Things to Do List

I turned 25 today! It has been 7 years since I have been: eligible to vote, buy porn magazines and legally do what the heck I want.
It has been 4 years since I have been legally allowed to marry in India and drink in the US, so what's the big deal about 25? The insurance companies seem to know better - a male cannot be trusted to be responsible till he turns 25. I have now crossed that last threshold of maturity and wisdom that accrues by age. I will not only pay a significantly smaller amount of car insurance to State Farm, but by all accounts (apart from my parents) can now call myself a 'mature adult'.

After being accepted in mature adulthood, I must stop and think about the quarter of a century already gone and reminisce upon some of the things I have done in my reckless youth. Overall, it was splendid and I have very few regrets. Though, I really wish I had spent a night in jail as a teen for some minor misdemeanour. What an anecdote that would have made. The quixotic arrogance of adulthood at 18 seems laughable now. At 18, I felt there were just a couple of things more that I needed to know and I was set. Now, I realise how wrong I was. I now know there is so much more to know. There is much bullshit around. To most of life's questions people don't have answers. Black may not always be black. Humans may not always behave like humans. Despite all the evil men, the injustice and inequity there out there there is hope and people with a sense of justice.I still believe in what Hemingway said:
"The world is a fine place and worth fighting for."
I think about the future and especially, the next quarter. I shudder at the thought that I am already halfway to 50! I am not a worrier to the extent of
Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole, though sometimes I might sound like one. Marriage, fatherhood, scaling the ladder, keeping up with Joneses, mid-life crisis and other mundane things are predicted and expected of me. I would hate to see my life simply moulded, fitted and looking like another in the line of products from an assembly line. The inevitable will happen, there is no escaping that.
Perhaps, if I was younger I would have become a 'rebel-for-the-heck-of-it' and shunned the above. I cannot tell what kind of cards Fate will deal in years to come, and life could be the opposite of the one predicted. In any case, life should be lived without regrets and there are a bunch of Things I Wish To Do Before I Die and I have now started writing them down on 'The List'. For a lark, I looked up some of the lists other people have made and they threw up pretty interesting stuff. On the Forbes site, I found a great quote:
Jose Marti named the things that every man ought to do before he dies, the list did not include "Liberate a country." The hero of Cuban independence named three
more important tasks: Plant a tree, write a book, have a son.

Some of the most common aspirations of people in addition to Jose Marti's tasks were sky-diving, running a marathon, making a round-the-world trip, learning to play an instrument, and learning to ballroom dance. Surprisingly, none of them had the barometers of 'making it' i.e. becoming wealthy, successful or being famous. There were things like 'teach someone illiterate to read', 'give to charity - anonymously'. On one of lists was the not-so-unbelievable, but still funny item - Forgive my parents. Hah! I want to truthfully know how many of us are ready to do that so soon. I have added it to my list, and hopefully I should get around to doing it by the time I am 50!
I have had no real regrets so far. I have slept under the stars, play an instrument, driven across the breadth of the US in a car, seen Clapton and Dylan live, showered in a waterfall and done many wonderous things, but 'there are miles to go'. Even if I 'try' to do all the stuff on the ambitious 'List', I know - it will be a life without regrets.

On 'On Bullshit'

On 'On Bullshit'

"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each one contributes his share."

Harry G. Frankfurt, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Princeton writes on a pervasive topic of our times - Bullshit. It is a well-recognized concept, but hitherto inadequately studied or characterized. On Bullshit is written and bound like a serious John Stuart Mill-like essay like 'On Liberty' and is a part-serious, part-fun and mostly bullshit essay on 'bullshit'. Franfurt discusses its origins, relations to other sorts of B.S. and ends with its reasons and causes.
In the end, he proves that in most cases the danger of being sincere to ourselves reduces to bullshit.
" ... in this case, sincerity itself is bullshit."

A hilarious read that won't take more than 20 minutes to read but doesn't offer much to the serious reader in terms of substance (yuck!), but that I guess that is the nature of the topic! Those specializing in its production will be flattered to note that what they have been passing off as crap till now is a subject worthy of serious academic study.



Gurcharan Das is a die-hard optimist when it comes to the free-market, or the potential of India. Some of his views are rather unconventional. In a previous issue of Outlook magazine, he coins a new term: Inglish = Indian + English, in place of the 'Hinglish'. A more accurate term for the language.

He writes in Outlook:

'One day, I expect, we will also find Inglish's Mark Twain, the writer who liberated Americans to write as they thought. Salman Rushdie gave Indians permission to write in English, but Midnight's Children is not written in Inglish, alas! And this is not surprising for the young Indian mind was not decolonised until the reforms of the 1990s.

What exactly is Inglish is not easy to define, and needs empirical research. Is its base English or our vernacular bhashas? If it's the latter, then it is similar to Franglais, the fashionable concoction of mostly French with English words thrown in that drives purists mad. Or is it support English, with an overlay of bhasha? I think it is both. For the upwardly mobile lower middle class, it is bhasha mixed with some English words, such as what my newsboy speaks: "Mein aaj busy hoon, kal bill doonga definitely." Or my bania's helper: "Voh mujhe avoid karti hai!" For the classes, on the other hand, the base is definitely English, as in: 'Hungry, kya?' or 'Careful yaar, voh dangerous hai!' The middle middle class seems to employ an equal combination, as in Zee News' evening bulletin, "Aaj Middle East mein peace ho gayi!" Three Hindi words and three of English.

In contrast to this vibrant new language, the old 'Indian English' of our headlines is an anachronism: 'Sleuth nabs man', 'Miscreants abscond', and 'Eve-teasers get away'. In the ultimate put-down, Professor Harish Trivedi of Delhi University contemptuously says, "Indian English? It's merely incorrect English." '

The original article was written to protest the ban on English in primary-medium schools in Karnataka and how this might affect the ability of children to learn English correctly. It is scientific fact that languages learned as a child and as an adult are stored in different areas of the brain. Note, that this does not imply facility with language necessarily diminishes with age (examples: Conrad and Nabokov). He correctly states that, everybody knows that English is a passport to a better life. He goes on to predict that soon with India's large English-speaking population and adoption of Inglish across all levels, English and its correct pronunciation will be defined as it is done by Indians. 'Natives' taking over the Queen's English. What poetic justice!

However such a thing will never happen. I agree that certain words, idioms and expressions translated from the vernacular languages will be integral to English in a few years (eg: verandah, bungalow, etc.) but, Das's Inglish with "Voh mujhe avoid karti hai!" will never be English or Hindi. Like the proverbial dhobi's dog, it will belong neither here not there. Despite him putting down the elitist-sounding newspaper headlines, it is interesting to note that Das choose to write in pure English rather than in Inglish. If you talk to the Inglish speakers; they are not satisfied speaking Inglish but want to learn English, and will learn it and speak it correctly; although, with a thick Indian accent (to show the pervasiveness of vernacular sounds). All would like to speak and write in English correctly, given a chance.

At the same time I expect, there will be a 'return-to-roots' call and an opposite push for purity of vernacular speech. I can already see a number of us (the convent- educated, culturally- americanized, linguistically-anglicized lot) wanting to master our mother-tongues. Languages that don't deserve the neglect of the past decades as the educated class jumped on the English bandwagon. We are all better-off with retaining the best of all languages and given our natural facility for learning languages it's not a far-fetched thought.

Inglish is not going to be language but will always be a bridge for people moving in both directions. But neither the dhobiwalla's upwardly-mobile son nor the convent-educated wannabe Urdu scholar is fooling himself about its bastard origins.