Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Old and cynical

Those who think the TOI in Delhi has plumbed the depths to which feature writing in this country can go have evidently not lived south of the Vindhyas.

This Sunday, that venerable old newspaper, The Hindu, carried a full-page story in its Metro pages that set out to prove that being caught with a book in one’s hand is the new sign of cool. Wistfully titled ‘Oh, to be young n’ reading’ (though it was unclear what the author was so wistful about - youth, or the habit of reading they presumably had when they were young?), the story asserted that young people, after Harry Potter and suchlike made it so cool, have actually stopped connecting the reading habit with nerdiness and other such unattractive traits.

The story was accompanied by a photograph of a teeny PYT apparently engrossed in the depths of a – and this really tells half the story – Sidney Sheldon novel.

At least the story prevented me from going catatonic when that same evening, I, having been talked into watching the God-awful Hitch saw people actually enjoying it. No, not just sitting through it with half-bored smiles and twittering occasionally but actually laughing at the predictable punch-lines. Some even (I do not exaggerate) clapped at the end. They did, really.

The film’s probably put me off romantic comedies for life. It’s seriously bad. It’s about this date-doctor (Smith) who helps people make headway with totally improbable crushes. And then he falls for a world-weary journalist type (groan) -- played by a terribly ugly actress whose name I haven’t bothered to find out – who finds out his vocation and is devastated etc etc.

It didn’t help that there was a chap sitting right ahead of me who kept saying ‘wow! wow!’ in hushed, awed tones to completely banal bits of dialogue. I mean, the high point of the movie was a one-liner by Smith which went something like ‘It’s not how many moments you breathe in your life, it’s the moments that take your breath away that really count’. AAAARGH!

I bet there were people taking notes in the auditorium to use immortal lines such as these in birthday cards or something.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Frdm of spch?

They told us all the world would soon be tlkng lke ths. Well, they were wrong. SMS language came, ruled for a while and then people discovered the dictionary function on their cell phones.

But why some people still insist on giving readers of their e-mails and messages headaches by inventing vowel-less non-words, I don't understand. Just got a mail from a friend (who I used to consider quite literate) that probably destroyed two thousand cells from my retina. It read something like this: 'u wl b gld to know tht i am mried nw and lvng in th US...' .

It might be a pretentious way of judging people, but it takes me two seconds to completely lose any respect I had for anybody who can't make the basic effort of writing decent English. I mean, nobody's asking you to be Lynne Truss, but what does it take to write simple, basic English without resorting to linguistic short-cuts that don't make sense?

And while you are at it, MS Word has a function called spell-check. Do look into it.

Procrastination is the last refuge left to those chronically bereft of ideas, I realise. No, that is not a modest attempt at self-effacement, that is a confession. After making grandiose plans of gushing like a sink-without-a-stopper, all I had was a clogged brain for more than two months.

If making a beginning is tough, making a beginning twice is totally excruciating.