Monday, November 27, 2006

Planes, trains and automobiles

Writing a blog is like peeing outdoors in the dark. You know you’re doing it and it’s a (slightly nervous) relief, but you can’t see where it’s going or if anyone can see you doing it. It’s distinctly unsettling and if you didn’t really, really have to, you wouldn’t.

Long-distance bus rides long ago come to mind. Up mountains, down them, up them again, round and round the hell-born hairpin bends. When we finally stopped for a bit, the respite from nausea was overshadowed by needing to pee, and especially by knowing that it would have to be done behind a giant tyre in a place where trucks went to die. Of course it helped that there was usually a mother or an aunt to orchestrate this expedition. They never got it wrong.

In speeding trains, the shuddering, thundering loo seemed always to be on the point of wrenching itself away, but there was a door to keep out evil truck goblins. Unfortunately it also kept out mothers, fathers, aunts etc, so when you came out you might have found yourself marooned in an orphan cubicle, trundling along an empty track in bear country.

As for planes, if you were not maimed by one or the other silly device in the noisy can, there would be a hijacking while you were in there and you would have had the terrible burden of being the hero because you were the one who wasn't spotted.

Truck goblins and bears were upgraded to serial killers and creatures from The Descent, but hero-hood has since been recognised as optional, so progress has clearly been made.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sheep's clothing

There's a new version of Asterix and the Normans. This one's based on the movie and includes some new characters and situations. On the one hand, it's a good to know there's a new Asterix out there, if only a renovated one. On the other hand, it might be a terrible tampering of a brilliant original. There's only one way to find out of course, but the last time I bought an untried "new" Asterix, it traumatised me for ages.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A zed by any name would spell as sweet

The work was right, the timing was right, the location was right, the money was alright. The job was exactly what I’d been looking for. I could have done it standing on my head and they would have known it too, when they saw my portfolio. I mailed them my CV, it was rejected almost instantly.

Apparently I had all the qualifications except one: no history of travel to the US, nor a valid multiple-entry visa. For a writing job based in Bangalore. I’ve got used to not qualifying for certain jobs in Dubai based on the colour of my passport, but not qualifying in my hometown for similar reasons was quite a shock. Maybe I should have sued, got them used to that!

But on calmer reflection, perhaps it wasn’t the perfect job. I’d have had to unlearn most spellings and start again. And build up a whole new vocabulary of homely phrases and pointless mutations. In a world where sympathise supposably takes a zee instead of an s, irregardless of my own feelings, I would need to line up all my ducks very carefully if I didn’t want to look like being two vowels short of a sentence.

I wonder if professional writers in other languages have to watch out for words that change character as they cross oceans. My thanksgiving this year will be for having grown up in a country whose English wanders nonchalantly back and forth across the Atlantic. The country seems to have changed a bit lately, but it's the illusions I recall.

I don’t know what the point of this post is. Anger breeds incoherence.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The summer's putting up quite a fight...

... and the dust from the battle is very pretty.

Photo courtesy: Tehzeeb on a Nokia N91 and rather early to work.

Revised photo courtesy: Somebody Tehzeeb knows who was in a helicopter. She knows interesting people.

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