How we mind
is no longer at home alone
How we mind our
IT was recently at Oxford University, a jewel in the crown of ‘English’ education, that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh commented with understated humour that "People here may not recognise the language we speak, but let me assure you that it is English!" While accepting an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, he did not forget either to add that the language, a legacy from the colonial period, has been much enriched by the Indian input.
If the UK takes pride in its multiculturalism, urban Indians are comfortable too with a language from across the seas becoming a part of their own day-to-day life. Indeed, any casual observer of the current social scenario would know that the language, which may not be Queen’s English, has become the communication language among young and old alike. Old fuddy-duddies still hanging on to Raj nostalgia might be shocked by a yaar tail-ending every other sentence but who cares? Language in any case are not meant to stick static goal posts. A look at the old English words and usage and current usage is enough to understand that.
According to the Oxford Companion to the English language, "An estimated 30 million people regularly use English in India, making (the country) the third largest English speaking country in the world." No wonder the BPO centres are flourishing like greens during the monsoon season. However, many outside the country are surprised when a ‘native’ speaks so well. Amita Sikri who has recently migrated to Canada is often asked, "Where have you learnt to speak English so well?" Well, let them come to India ! So what if we add a ‘no’ here and there to confirm something, ‘You’re coming, no?’ Or enquire, ‘What’s your good name?’ a direct translation of the shubh naam. If a Brown Sahib sniggers, counter with ‘Give me a better translation,’ and he will be floored.
We also know that adding a rhythmic local word adds to the expression’s appeal. Like: "Let’s go have some chai-vai" (tea obviously with some snacks) or "There’s a lot of this fighting-witing happening here every day." If your neighbourhood aunt promises to ‘phone’ (call) you later you understand perfectly. You don’t bat your eyelid either when your new neighbour smiles widely and announces , "Meet my Mrs." What’s better way to translate ‘My stree’ anyway? Or take this beaming young man introducing his ‘would-be’ – fiancee, of course! to his ‘batchmates’ instead of class-mates.
A ‘pucca’ sahib on visit would, perhaps be surprised to be invited to dinner at a ‘hotel’ until he understands it’s local parlance for a restaurant. A proud mother announcing to all and sundry about her ladli beta getting "cent percent" (meaning 100 per cent) marks in math or an executive having to "prepone’’ his meeting are taken in stride too.
It might be a little Greek to the firinghee but we understand perfectly when somebody’s ‘business-baazi’ or ‘cheating-giri’ is discussed. You complain about the taxi-wallah overcharging or are grateful to the nice grocery-wallah next-door without worrying about the addition of the ‘wallah’.
A few years ago, the popular sitcom Zabaan Sambhaal Ke , the desi version of BBC’s Mind Your Language, had our stomachs (or should we say tummies?) splitting as the harried teacher Pankaj Kapoor tried vainly to grapple with adults from various regions of India wanting to speak propah English. However, it also gave an insight into how the language, with dashes of regional variations and accents, have evolved into an interesting recipe. Purists may call it khichdi, but how lively it is! English language has moved on from the Pygmalion days after all and has taken in many influences from across the world.
One of the best ways to keep tab on the pulse of the language in its various avatars is to listen to the young set, call them GenX or Y, cool guys- whatever, who ‘freak out’ at the slightest opportunity. Shortening the English words is one way. In Kolkata ‘enthu’ replacing enthusiasm is old hat as also ‘sentu’ for sentimental and now they have even moved to Bengali lingo Amar ekhon ekdom enthu nei (I don’t have any enthusiasm (for it) now’) you can hear even a boy on the street speak like that. ‘Funda’ for fundamental ‘intro’ or ‘appo’ for appointment are freely used. But what about ‘snax’? No relation to the salted biscuit brand of the same name but bath! The connection? Well, snan in Bengali means bath, so....
‘Tux’ has no relation with the tuxedo-who wears it in our country anyway- but a baldie which must have originated with the Hindi word, taklu. Other favourites are ultra or mega to signify extra-big/ extra–something, ‘sad’ for anything you don’t like, ‘timepass’ for whiling away the hours.
Who knows how long it would be before these enter the dictionaries of the land of Oxford and Cambridge. After all words like hawala, (illegal financial dealings) badla (revenge) or ‘eve-teasing’ (will be difficult for most outsiders to unravel) were already been included in the appendix to the Collins Dictionary in 2001 which lexicographer and teacher Indira Chowdhury had helped to compile. She is of the opinion that words which are widely used should find a place in a dictionary.
If the country has developed its very own Hinglish, it has been a reverse trend too. India-origin words have dotted English language for a long time. Words like bungalow, cashmere (from Kashm`EEr), cheetah, coolie , cot, cummerbund, cushy (from Hindi khush), dinghy ,dungaree, juggernaut (from Lord Jagannatha’s huge rath-yatra perhaps) jungle , khaki (dusty), loot, punch (the drink made of from paanch or five ingrediants), pyjamas, shawl, verandah etc.
In the latest Oxford English Dictionary, words like Angrez (Englishman) and Badmash have already figured. Earlier it had added adda, bundh, dal puri, bandobast, chutney, bandana, chamcha (Oh, are we familiar with them) neta and dhaba.
Sometime ago, the Guardian discussed how ethnic groups have spiced up the English language and added, "The Asian English novelties (are) chuddies for underpants and gora meaning a white person."
Also, waiting in line to enter the pages of dictionaries because they are widely used in England are words like accha, aloo, arre, desi, filmi (with Bollywood inspiring Moulin Rouge and Bombay Dreams it is but natural) jjungli (uncultured) etc.
With the culinary invasion of the Indian curry replacing the traditional fish and chips for the average Britisher, it is but natural that ‘masala’ has replaced spices, and a cuisine called ‘balti’ cooking is winning points over the traditional Shepherd’s Pie. The die-hard fans of this cuisine may not know that there is no ‘balti-style’ cooking. The word actually originated from the way food was served from small baltis (buckets). But then that’s been the way for ages- the language of the people getting mainstream eventually and enriching it in the long run. — TWF
The heart is
no longer at home alone
THE 1950s was the heyday of the housewife when six out of 10 married women were caring. But for the granddaughters of this post-war generation, life has become busier. Despite the advent of labour-saving devices such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners and convenience foods, women with children are finding that there are ever more demands on their time. Now, more than half of mothers work full time.
Inside the home, evidence published yesterday indicates, there has been a steady decline in the domestic workload. Half a century ago, mothers spent about 78 hours a week on domestic tasks.
This has fallen to 48 a week. The main savings have been in cooking and cleaning - the jobs that have benefited most from modern technology.
In the 1950s, mothers spent about 15 hours a week on domestic chores and 13 hours on cooking, but this has fallen to 6.6 hours and 5.9 hours in 2005. The average amount of time spent preparing food has fallen to 13 minutes per meal although the time modern mothers are gaining on their grandmothers is in danger of disappearing. More than four out of 10 prepare separate dinners for their family, making up to three different meals per night.
While food shopping took up 6.7 hours in the Fifties, this has been cut to 2.4 hours today, largely thanks to the weekly visit to the supermarket.
The amount of time spent on pampering husbands has also fallen - from 10 hours per week to three.
While the commitment to looking after relatives has slipped with the demise of the extended family, the number of hours spent looking after children has remained fairly constant at 25.2 per week.
One area of change is that more women are choosing to get involved in children’s play rather than inviting other youngsters over and leaving them to themselves. More than six out of 10 dedicate two hours a day to entertaining their children, although watching television has replaced board games in popularity. Reading and picnics still remain the favoured pastimes.
The research, commissioned by the food manufacturer Dolmio, was based on interviews with 2,000 women. Separate research by the Economic and Social Research Council found that the hours saved in domestic chores are being transferred to the workplace.
Three-quarters of households now have dual incomes. The biggest growth in female employment is among mothers with pre-school age children - the proportion of whom with jobs has doubled since 1979.
In contrast, the overall number of men in work has fallen. Despite increases in the number of hours among top earners, working hours among men are falling.
Susan Harkness of Bristol University, who examined why women’s workloads were continuing to rise, believes men are doing just half an hour more a week than in previous decades. Dr Harkness found that 60 per cent of working women who earned the same as partners would take time off if a child was sick. Working mothers put twice as many hours into housework as partners.
"Women do more around the home because they are paid less than men," said Dr Harkness who believes change will only occur through a "complete cultural rethink" rather than government policies promoting work-life balance.
She added: "The situation is more equal if the women earns as much or more than her partner. However, many women choose to spend more time with their sick children as a matter of personal taste. And we know that women who work part time are the happiest although they are also the most badly paid." The Dolmio research painted a more charitable portrait of fathers. It said that 31 per cent now cooked for the family more than four nights a week and 76 per cent of women said they felt supported by spouses. — The Independent
Vimla Patil meets Tusheeta Kurien, whose jewellery designs in Paheli fetched her accolades
"IT is not easy to design jewellery for a character that exists only in a film – and that too, a film which happens in a specific region in a particular time frame. When Amol Palekar approached me for designing jewellery for its heroine Rani Mukherjee and actor Juhi Chawla, I had to do a great deal of research before I even attempted to create the designs," says Tusheeta Kurien, chief designer of the jewellery giant Tanishq, "First and foremost, I had to consider the brand image of Tanishq and see that the assignment did not affect it adversely. I studied the script and the characters for whom the jewellery was to be made."
Educated in Rourkela, Orissa, Tusheeta graduated in accessory design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi in 2001. Her final year project happened to be designing jewellery for Tanishq. "So after graduation, I joined this company and have been working here for the past three and half years," she says. Paheli was a folk tale, which had as its locale the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan of the 1800s. It is a period film with a specific feel. This in itself was a challenge. As Lachchi, the protagonist of the film, Rani Mukherjee was a strong woman with an identity and independent opinions of her own. She played the character that took the narration forward. She was bold, beyond traditional rules up to a point and therefore a challenge to a designer like me. Additionally, the script laid emphasis on jewellery. There was an emotional scene where Rani’s grandmother gave her a family heirloom of jewellery. There was also a whole song devoted to jewellery (kangana). So I felt that jewellery played an important ‘role’ in the film and was not treated merely as an accessory.
"When I accepted the assignment to design real jewellery for Rani and the other female character in the film, played by Juhi Chawla, the costumes were already done. So my research was two-sided. First, I studied the script, the characters and the costumes. Then I visited Mundawa town in the Shekhawati region and mingled with the women there to see what they wore. This was a quaint experience for me. The women brought out their ancestral anklets, necklaces, armbands and borlas (Rajasthani hair ornaments) to show me. We shared great connectivity and I returned with my head buzzing with new concepts.
"I wanted to give a more contemporary and glamorous look to this traditional style of jewellery. So I added kundan, meenakari, polki diamonds, rubies, tourmalines, turquoises, carnelians and other precious and semi-precious stones to the jewellery. The design and styling was Rajasthani in spirit but the jewellery was ‘different’ and ‘noticeable’ so as to suit the personality of Rani Mukherjee, whose character was bold, happy and colourful. Comparatively, the jewellery for Juhi Chawla was sedate and sober to suit her character. We also designed some jewellery for Shah Rukh Khan. While the shooting was on in Film City, Mumbai and on locations in Rajasthan, I was often present on the sets to ensure co-ordination of costumes and jewellery and a Tanishq supervisor took care of collecting the precious pieces at the end of each day’s shoot."
Undoubtedly, Paheli, the first Bollywood film ever to use precious jewellery, has given Tusheeta and Tanishq a tremendous media boost and business exposure. The jewellery designs are selling like hot cakes in all Tanishq outlets. "I have designed many jewellery collections for Tanishq before," says Tusheeta, who is evidently very pleased with her work for Paheli. She created Collection G to begin with and, more recently, I designed the well-advertised Sangini collection for the Diamond Trading Company (DTC) and the Circa collection, which is inspired by Italian motifs. Many producers are now toying with idea of having a jewellery designer for their films. Some time ago, this happened in the fashion business. Contrary to bygone ages when costume suppliers attended to stars, now hand-picked couturiers like Manish Malhotra, Neeta Lulla, Rocky S or Anjana Bhargav create the look for every star for a film. There are stylists who design the persona of stars.
"Now it is the turn of jewellery and accessory designers. Bollywood is getting more and more professional in every area of film-making and accessories are now part of the industry. However, before Tanishq takes on any assignment, we will check these facts out: Does the film go with our brand image? Does the heroine portray a woman who is important to the narrative? Does the narrative relate in some way to jewellery? Does the film place jewellery ‘up front’ in presentation? Paheli fulfilled all these criteria so we accepted it. If similar assignments are offered to us, we would be happy to work with Bollywood, says creative Tusheeta.