Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Hinglish

This is taken verbatim from the back label of a package of oats we recently took trekking with us:

'Avee's White Oats
"The must everyday cereal"

Avee's Hi Fibre White oats soluble fibre has qualitatively low fats and reduces excess of pressure on blood, intestines resulting into a smooth health to withstand odds of life. Hence keeps a person mentally, physically, sexually, young and fit with longevity, helps in containing weight and reduces excess calories.

Regular use of Avee's Hi Fibre White Oats will be miraculous to keep the physique in splendid atmosphere in good moods and thoughtful calibre.'

Reading through the Hindustan Times today (the illustrious The Times of India's competition and, FYI, started by one of Gandhi's sons), I came across two bits of information that grabbed my attention. One because it was rather shocking, the other because it was gibberish.

First, the shocking. This was part of an editorial titled "A classroom struggle", discussing the state of India's schools:

"If last week it was the severe step of having to file FIRs [charges] against teachers in the face of a staggering number of cases of abuse of children, a Unesco report has found that 25 percent of teachers do not bother with attending school. Absent teachers result in a whopping 22,5 percent of education funds being wasted. Add to this a previous report compiled by the Ministry of Human Resource Department that shows 23,000 schools across India have no teacher, and the picture is frightening."

Um, yeah. Frightening would be a good place to begin.

Second, the baffling. Can anyone decipher this for me? I suppose that any sport has some jargon involved, but this one has me completely stumped:

"India has managed to prise out the first wicket in the 32nd over - the second was quicker in coming when, 15 balls later, Alistair Cook exited. It was, yet again, a ball down the leg-side from Anil Kumble, Cook tried to flick it and again, it was Laxman who took the catch, at leg gully."

I think they're talking about cricket but I can't be completely sure. Anyone? Anyone at all have any concept of what the dilly that's supposed to mean? Help would be appreciated.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ode to the Himalaya

(Note: This is an entry from our journal, dated 7/29. So, when I say yesterday, I really mean July 28th. Since this entry, we spent a few days in Leh, then embarked on a 5 day bike tour north to the Nubra Valley....more details to come in later posts!)

I'm obsessed with the Himalaya! Yesterday we too an epic 16 hour (300 km) bus trip from Keylong to Leh, up, around, and thru the Himalaya. We've been in the mountains for a month now, but yesterday provided one of the most invigorating vistas of this massive mountain range we've had so far. We began in a green-ish valley, at about 3000 meters, with some snow and glacier-capped peaks in the distance. We then climbed to a scenic pass, then drove across a high plateau, ringed by jagged snow-capped peaks. Then, it was over another pass, this one the second highest motorable pass in the world (complete with a sign saying "17,780 feet - Incredible, Is It Not?"!). Then, we began our descent in to Leh, which lies at 3500 meters. This was my favorite part of the journey. I stood at the front of the bus (Steve and I had one seat between the two of us, so we rotated standing and sitting; it broke up the journey a bit, but made for an extra joint-jolting trip), which is tough on the body, but allows full views from the front and side windows. We switchbacked down the pass, then followed a river down the valley. All around us were sharp valley walls, dry, but with rock colors varying from bring purple to orange to green, shining metallically in the sun. Every mountain-side looked like a rock accordian, folded into perfect Ruffles ridges by the massive plate collisions that formed the Himalaya. Looking straight up the mountainside from the bus, you could see these vertical ridges standing on end. It looked like a stegasaurus's back, but colored by rainbow rocks. The geology of this area is unreal - the scenery has an incredibly raw dynamic feel to it. (I wish I was a geologist, so I could describe the area better, but unfortunately you get my 3rd grade interpretation of the area.) You look outside and you can tell that the Himalaya are young mountains, and are still asserting themselves in the landscape. The rivers rage, full of sediment from fallen rock and debris, and are cluttered with monstrous rocks that have fallen from the ridges above. Several times Steve and I have attempted to dayhike/scramble up to a ridge, to see over the other side, only to get half-way up and realize that the ridge is still 2000 meters above us, the ridge is not a ridge but a huge impenetrable rock face, and, worst of all, our target destination is only a false summit. These mountains are HUGE! There are no Bird Ridges, or Flattops, here. Day hikes are expeditions. It's intimidating, and frustrating, but also very exciting. I love it!

Speaking of expeditions, Steve and I just returned from a five day bike trip. We rented semi-quality bikes, packed our tent and sleeping bags into one pannier and a ghetto string-and- bungee bundle, and took off toward the Nubra Valley and the town of Diskit, 120 km away. It was all uphill for the first 40 km, up to the "highest motorable pass in the world", sitting at 5600 meters, then (mostly) downhill to Diskit. We had intended on biking home too, but the pass slaughtered us, and after climbing for 1 1/2 days, we were barely able to coast downhill to Diskit, much less turn around and do it all over again. However, the pass was scenic, (although I was too tired to enjoy it much), and Nubra Valley was incredible (more incredible Himalayan scenery!). We camped in sand dunes, along a rushing river, explored a cool monastery, and generally took it easy for a few days, then hitched back up to the pass, and rode the 40 km downhil this morning into Leh. Downhill is good, uphill is bad. Honestly, I have a new appreciation for long-distance bikers. It's tough!

Next up, a day of rest, then some trekking!

It's better to be Mr. Late than never.

An honest-to-God editorial from India's national english-language newspaper:

"More Indians are choosing to opt out of unhappy marriages" read an edit on this page last week. It is a sobering thought. But scratch the surface a little and you'll find that the real cause isn't mismatched expectations or hectic lifestyles, but the fact that people are looking for spouses in the wrong places. And naturally, they end up with someone unsuitable. Families have got so scattered that the old reliable practice of 'arranging marriages' through one's all-knowing sister-in-law's counsins's grandmother's friend is practically dead. Commitment phobic youngsters have no time to look for love and are busy building careers. Hence, when marriage is unavoidable they are turning to their elders to fix it up for them. Elders, in the absence of benevolent matchmakers, are turning to matrimonial pages and wed-sites. Admittedly, many a time these do not turn out to be for the best. But these New Age match-fixers can't compete with the thouroughness of the matchmakers of yore.

In such a bleak scenario, these words from the movie Must Love Dogs hold infinite wisdom, "The best place to meet a guy (or a gal) is at the supermarket". Frivolous as it may sound, it is so in-sync with the consumerist society that we've become. Just imagine how easy it'd make the whole process! You want a health-conscious guy - hang around the health-food or organic-food section; a diva - will be found around the cosmetics or accessories section; the homely type-around the decorative items/food get the idea.

Steer clear, however, from harried looking guys and ladies with lists, they'll be married already. You can check out the real appearance covertly from behind your muesli pack and since nobody dresses up for the supermarket, what you see will be exactly what you get. Is he patting enough kids on the head and not scowling at them? Is she so namby-pamby that she lets everybody trample her toes or assertive enough to demand the missing free gift? Once these prelims are over, getting into a conversation is a piece of cake or muelsi, whichever you prefer. And from then on, play by ear. God willing you'll be hitched in no time. You'd have found your soulmate, saved everybody a lot of trouble and maybe spared yourself heartbreak - as everybody knows that a couple that shops amicably together, stays together! "

I've said it before, I'll say it again - this place is crazy! This was one of three opinions on the editorial page from the Times of India a couple of days back. The thing is, I don't think it's trying to be funny. Well, I think it's trying to be funny while not trying to be funny. The journalism here is wildly entertaining, although not so heavy on what you'd call "news". Hearsay? Acronyms? Opinions expressed as fact? Unexplained references to past persons and events? You've picked up the right rag! Context? Usable information? Hmm, maybe try.... no, not that one.... what about.... nnnnooooooo..... maybe..... Have you read the Times of India?

The use of language is impressive, to say the least. Abby told me the other day that the English here is actually called Hinglish, and that it has it's own grammar, pronunciation, spelling, everything, just like Ebonics. The signs here are always good for a laugh, and I'm convinced that most of them are accidentally witty. I tell you, they're funnier without trying than I could ever be. Take this road sign , seen along the cliff edge of a road in Spiti: "Are you going to a party? Then why drive so dirty" The punctuation is correct. According to Hinglish. Or this one: "Mr Gentle on my curve. You can be gentle on my curve." My personal favourite? "It's better to be Mr. Late than never." See what I mean? Accidentally witty? Or carefully crafted to amuse the tourists...