Sometimes, I wish I could turn my editing eyes off

… but if I did, then I would probably miss out on some of the fun that Indian English has to offer.

Do Indians have a sense of humor?

AKA “Irony over the stinky river….”

Sometimes, just when I begin to not have faith that Indians have a sense of humor, I run across something like this:

Marina Beach

AKA “The sweet smelling ocean spray on Chennai’s shores….”

Aah. Marina Beach. Great to go people watching. Good place to buy little silly plastic touristy stuff. Smell the fresh ocean breeze. Take a dip in the water to cool off.

Or should you?

Wetwo Brand

AKA “Population Control, Indian Style….”


AKA “Quick, shhh! The Big-boss has just entered….”

I was on the Tata-Dhan Academy vehicle the other day (or, as they like to call it, the “vee-kul”) and one of the passengers was the head of our organization. There was a notable hush over everyone in the van as we sat there waiting for the last members to shut down their computers and pack up to leave. Yet this is a time that most of the passengers chit-chat, play music on their mobile phones, finger drum on the seats, and generally enjoy themselves at the day’s end. But in front of me, two of my colleagues are whispering so quietly that I would guess their actual means of communication was by reading each other’s lips.

"Self-portraits" aka "The end of an era"

It’s the end of an era, I guess. My trademark is no more. I’m serious. It’s gone. My built-in cat-toy … my man-leash … —whatever you want to call that strange braided patch of long hair that I have had for what? Fifteen years?—met its fate with a pair of scissors on Sunday, March 23, 2008. Seeing that I had shaved my beard some two weeks before that, I guess it is going to be a lot more difficult to do self portraits now (see Exhibit A).

The Birth of Mithun

There are times when India really makes me laugh….

… I mean, other than things like watching Bollywood videos where it seems like people are always going through weird mating rituals replete with bright costumes, head bobbing, and peculiar synchronized dancing….

… or like the time that a student asked me to download a song for him. “There is this Hindi song, Hum Honge Kaamyab,” he said, “and it has been remade into an English song called ‘We Shall Overcome.’ Can you see if you can download it for us to play at next week’s cultural event?”

“Sure,” I said, deciding not to correct him. “I’ll see what I can do.”

But I couldn’t help sharing the story with someone else.

“No. You’re wrong,” they told me. “Of course it’s a Hindi song.”

“How do you know for sure?” I asked.

“Because we have a version of it in all our local languages.”

Pete Seeger, you’d better relinquish your copyright….

Anyway, this post isn’t about “We Shall Overcome,” but, there is some happy “overcoming” in this story. This post is about the mithun—an animal whose appearance “gave endless hopes to the people and fulfilled their aspirations.” The following is the text of a story, The Birth of Mithun. Because the text is a little too funny to be believable, I’ve also included a scan of the three pages from the book as proof that, unlike my claim that We Shall Overcome is an English song, this isn’t something I’ve made up in my spare time.

Raining Words of Wisdom

You Will Fall

So, the rains seem to have started, though I’m still not certain that this is supposed to be the Monsoons. From what I hear, the weather has been irregular in the past couple of years. Where hasn’t it been? Global warming maybe?

Kick-starting life in another flat

So, after threats of moving being necessary to take care of the termites at our flat, and the electrical problems we had, and after which, our woodwork wasn’t even fixed after several months had passed, Amy and I decided that it was time to actually act on our threat and find a new flat. Basically, despite really liking our flat, it sucked to have to make threats any time that we needed to get something fixed.

We gave our two months notice and soft of half-heartedly started to look for a place. At about the same time, one of our co-workers was going to be moving out of her flat. Her flat was nice, though not quite as nice, and it was also in a great location. Still, we didn’t want to just jump at the first thing that came our way; we told her that we were interested, but that we still wanted to look around a bit. Honestly, though, things just weren’t really showing up….

Attack of the white ants

Part 1: “Aieee! Get the camera! Ewww…. What are they?!?”

When I first walked into my new home in Chennai, I was happy to find myself walking into a nice spacious two-bedroom apartment. Amy hadn’t really told me too much about the place before I came—just that it was big and that it was across the street from one of the most famous sweets-shop (Shree Mithai) in Chennai.