Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!!

Is 'Teaching-French' dead? No, just hibernating until I get a fresh burst of inspiration... Meanwhile, here is a special Christmas Edition of 'Teaching French' (previous post).

Wish you all 
A very Merry Christmas  !!!!

 - Pen-Slinger

Teaching French - Christmas 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh Joy

Oh, and I wrote another one, this time in English…

Oh Joy 
It was a dream
yes it was
you haven't really come back
oh joy

but the dream was nice
oh joy

you won't come back
you never will

but the dream was nice
oh joy

you left me broken
and washed up
like driftwood

but the dream was nice
oh joy

and you broke and
chopped up
all that was mine
like driftwood

but the dream was nice
oh joy

yes it was
while it lasted
oh joy
© Poltu-2009

Ton Ombre

Just to show I’m not a just soulless comedian, here’s a little poem I wrote (in French) a few days ago in middle of a black despair…
Ton Ombre
dans la forêt 
des ombres
je sillonne
sans espoir
mon avenir
je sillonne
à revoir
ton ombre
mais elle
elle n'est pas là
ton ombre
ou toi
© Poltu – 2009
Here’s a rough translation:-
Your Shadow
in the forest
of shadows
I search
without hope
my future
I search
to see again
your shadow
but it
it isn't there
your shadow
or you

I know it looks fairly pathetic in English, but the original French version works much better. Sillonner is my current favorite French verb. It means something like to crisscross desperately, usually in search of something - but there is no nice neat English equivalent - so I substituted it with plain 'search' - also the phrase structure sounds more natural in French, and it has a nice cadence in that language – completely lost in the English.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A French Nightmare

Much as I love the French language, I have to admit, once in a while you get the feeling – the chaps who designed it – what on earth were they thinking? What strange specimen of the plant kingdom were they smoking?

Take, for instance the words ‘Above’ and ‘Below’. In nearly every language that I know (and I know around six or seven), these words are clear and distinct. Absolutely no chance of getting them mixed up. Which makes sense, because you don’t want to go around getting mixed up with critical words like these.

I mean - imagine a surgery is in progress. An intern is wielding the scalpel. The senior surgeon is presiding.

Surgeon: OK kid …now cut that red slithery thingy above the brown spongy blob.

Intern: OK…there!

Surgeon: Oh No!!! You Idiot! I told you to cut ABOVE the brown blob! Not BELOW it!

Intern: Oops! Did you say ABOVE? I heard BELOW….

And there you are – minus a perfectly healthy kidney when it should have been the infected gall bladder, all because of a confusion over ‘above’ and ‘below’.

Luckily, such things can’t happen in the English speaking world, not unless the intern had been drinking, because the words for ‘above’ and ‘below’ are …well…’above’ and ‘below’. Two perfectly fine, clear, no-nonsense words that can’t be confused one for the other, except after a few stiff doses of whiskey and soda. And so it is in German, Hindi, Sanskrit, Bengali, Marathi, Swahili …

All except French.

The French words for above and below are au-dessus and au-dessous.

Can you see the difference? Look again. The second word one has an additional ‘o’

And they are pronounced Oh-Des-U and Oh-Des-O

In other words, one ends in a ‘U’ sound and the other in an ‘O’ sound.

That’s it.

Now imagine you’re undergoing the selfsame surgery in a French hospital.

Now the chances of the infected gall bladder being snipped instead of a perfectly healthy kidney rests entirely on the intern’s ability to distinguish the ‘O’ sound from the ‘U’ sound.

Now imagine the intern is a Bulgarian transfer student who’s learnt French from his Spanish girlfriend.

And now imagine the surgeon has a bad cold and a sore throat.

The mind boggles.

Which leads me smartly to this week’s ‘Teaching French’ strip.

I often have this recurring nightmare…I’m locked in an office, somewhere in France, and discover a bomb under the table. Don’t ask me how or why – it’s a nightmare, remember?

I have five seconds to defuse that bomb and save my silly little life – and in the process save humanity. Or at least, that portion of humanity that resides in the 15th Arrondissement, Paris.

On the phone, I have France’s foremost bomb disposal expert, Capitaine G. Pothier of the GIGN – the elite French counter-terrorism group, walking me through procedure.

Now in the grand tradition of Hollywood, there are two wires. If I cut the right one, the bomb is deactivated. If I cut the wrong one, well….you know how it goes.

But unlike Hollywood, I don’t have a red wire and a blue wire. No. The bomber doesn’t believe in color coding and DIN Standard electrical wiring practices.

Both red wires; and I’ve to cut the one ABOVE the ticking clock.

Or is it BELOW?

Read on….


Hum= Hmm

Bum = Boom

Trop tard = …guess...? (too late)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rock Ethos ' 09

The most horrible part of this economic slowdown, for me at least, is that Rock Concerts have virtually dried up – especially the free ones. I suppose sponsors have decided they have better uses for their ad budgets.

So it was a HUGE relief to see hoardings for Rock Ethos 09 all over the city - a 2 day free Rock Concert featuring Bangalore’s loudest and nastiest!

There was some amazing riff-making in the air as I lumbered my T-Bird into the Palace Grounds. Clean, hard bass, a nasty drum and soaring lead riffs. This must be a recording, I thought. No Bangalore band plays that well – especially the bass, there isn’t a single bass player in the local crowd with such clean, hard lines.

But I had forgotten about Today’s Special - my favorite Bangalore band. Yup, it wasn’t a recording, the band previously known as Legato Lilac was burning the PA system. Dhruv on lead, Adi on vocals, Sathwick on drums….And the coolest, rockingest babe on the planet on bass – the woman who has stolen my heart and turned it into a beef burger – Shalini.

Now that she’s married, all I feel when I see her on stage is a kind of hollow, painful feeling. Damn! Anyway…

They played an amazing own comp – something called ‘Alloo Tikki’, with a mishmash of interesting riffs. Then they played something called ‘Scarlet’ which was kind of OK without being exceptional, and they wound up. I had missed most of their set. Damn!

Shikados came on next, with a guy on lead who was one of the guitar instructors at the Unwind Centre – I used to see him around when I went there (the bearded fellow with the snazzy beret in the above pic). When they started playing, couldn’t believe what I heard…Was it? Yes it was! They were playing variations on a standard Jazz riff. And right after that they played a fairly decent take on Muddy Water’s ‘Hoochie-Coochie Man’. Amazing! Jazz and traditional Blues at a Bangalore rock concert. And even more amazingly, all the metal-heads there didn’t protest. In fact they nodded appreciatively.

Is this a sign of changing times? Are we about to witness a return to real music instead of the ghastly racket that passes for music at most local concerts? Fat chance. The next couple of bands were the usual metallic stuff, and it was hot, and dry and the sun was blazing, and the drinks were warm and overpriced, and they announced a two hours break, so I left. Whose idea was it to have that break? Too long to hang around, esp. with the heat and nothing else to do, and to short to go home and come back.

Anyway, I was back the next day – in the second half. Musically, it wasn’t anything much. The usual metal stuff. But it started raining – a welcome break from the heat wave we’ve been having, and people yelled and played about in the rain, and there were fireworks, and the flame throwers on stage made interesting fireballs and the lighting was exceptionally good for local concerts…so a fun time was had by all.

It was especially nice to see the beautiful Bangalore babes out in full force- tight jeans, spaghetti straps and all, grooving away to the music in the rain. The right and proper riposte to the moral brigade who are currently trying to destroy our way of life. I don’t know about you, but I am going to vote for the first time, this year – just to teach those far right fellows a lesson – ‘don’t fuck around with our lives. Hey – we’re the chaps who pay the taxes which allows you to exist in a free country’

Of course, most of those babes had a guy grooving along with them – which just brought home to me my own loneliness. When will I get a babe of my own? Is there an unattached Shalini-clone out there willing to fill a fist-sized hole in the left ventricle of a good, honest, rock-loving man who plays a decent guitar and draws passable cartoons? Please respond via e-mail or SMS.

Anyway, it was nice to see other people having fun.

Finally - a big, sloppy pappi to DNA from my hoochie-coochie heart for organizing a great concert in these miserable times.