Tag Archives: English



As my skeptical mind wonders
How many out there can really write
Versus how many think they can
And make you and me believe it
for our brains don’t understand.

Damn, I think I just rhymed
That’s not how real bards do it.
Rhyming is for dilettantes; ne’er for them auteurs
Because modern poetry
is not about rhyme
What it also isn’t about
is reason.

It’s not conventional, for convention is passé
As long as we are the same kind of different
But of a different kind, all the same.

Some lines are excruciatingly long, like the never-ending brook, a meandering rivulet, the labyrinth of thoughts, an abyss of bad metaphors
Others, short.

It’s about variations in the lengths of its various lines
For variations give
it form.
And form, character.

sentences like these
make for complete
lines. An odd break

(Also, every ‘here’ need not always have a ‘there.’)

An enveloping verb, an earthy adjective
Incongruous phrases
like “my colorless solitude.”
With a hint of pathos – melancholy to be precise,
And a paradox thrown in
For what can be more telling, than the sorrow of a smile?

Just vague enough
as you wonder if it makes sense
Yet, teasing with apparent profundity
so you hesitate to call out its absurdity,
Out of fear – fear that it’ll show
you’re not nearly as intellectual, you know

Besides, something so dark and vague must have to do
with that arcane thing
they chose to call…“Life.”

Do I have it all covered? Do my lines represent me?
Or does my verse only make it worse? (Sorry; just had to be pathetic, you see.)

Arcane, noir, vague check.
Profound, paradox, pathos check.
Form check. Character check.

So it is, in all its depth and profundity
And unnecessary redundancy,
My poetry, a glimpse of the real me
A hint of aura, a touch of mystery.
The dark side, the light side, and all things I believe
myself to be. Exactly
like how you believe yourself to be.

You and I, we’re not so different, don’t you see?
But for the fact
that one of us
writes terrible poetry.

We are Indian, and so is our English!

Only in India will you see ‘only’ as emphasis at the end of a sentence. This is one thing that the rest of the world will never get only. We are a quirky lot that way. Seriously, you will freak out if we told you how much we look forward to freaking out. A man can tell his wife he’s stepping out to catch a fag – or that he’d like to make a quick stop at the booth for an STD – and she won’t bat an eyelid.

It’s all been a part of our growing up. We give tests at the time we should be taking them, and we spend hours mugging in their preparation. Yes, in India, mugging is something only “good students” do. Unfortunately, it won’t help them when they’re being mugged by the “bad students.” One thing I guarantee you, however: whether you’re in India or in the US, mugging will almost always be followed by an eventful passing out.

An Indian student I know was perplexed when his friend asked him for a rubber to uh, “do” what he had to do. Understandably so. It’s counter-intuitive for an Indian to imagine how a rubber could be used to do, when its purpose – as we’ve always known it – is to in fact, undo. You could well argue that a rubber used for prevention is better than one used for cure – but come on now, don’t you wish rubbers in  the US could do the magic that Indian rubbers do – erase your mistakes?

Unlike your Lady fingers, you don’t want to discover our Lady fingers in a sinfully delectable Tiramisu – unless Tiramisu to you is Gumbo. In any case, our vegetarianism isn’t just limited to Gumbos – even our jokes could be veg. or non-veg. And mind you, we take our royal heritage seriously. Fun, sleep, bathroom all come to us.

We will ask you for your goodname, and introduce ourselves as “Myself, Goodname Surname.” We will be very eager to meet you – because you Goras are much cooler than us Indians (or at least so we all believe). In fact, we will even go so far as to do jugaad, take the long-cut, travel out of station, and even bring along a tiffin for you. And in case we cannot contain our excitement for too long, we might just ask to prepone our meeting.

Well, by now you must think we have mangled the English language beyond recognition. But alas, even when it comes to doing something wrong, we don’t quite get it right – Indian English is considered one of the official and recognized dialects of English. Most, if not all terms above have legal usage. No apologies, we’re Indian – and so is our English. What to do? We are like that only!


Afterthought: I have a theory Indians invented the mathematical postfix notation “za”. As in, “two one za two; two two za four.” Unfortunately, some ignorant killjoy told me that it is actually “two ones are two; two twos are four.” I shall reserve my verdict till the fact has been verified. What a shame!

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If you liked this post, you could read my piece on Marathi English on the MacMillan Dictionary blog.