Category Archives: Etcetera

‘Don’t believe everything in the newspapers’

And what better way to start the new year than with a neat poem?

SHIVANAND KANAVI forwards a poem written by his father, the  Kannada poet Chennaveera Kanavi, during the 1970s—“either during the Emergency or just after”—that has an eerie resonance in 2009, thanks to the speedy despatch of footwear by an Iraqi journalist to US president George W. Bush towards the end of the year gone by.




For God’s sake, why do you spread false news?
Honestly, nobody threw chappals at me in the recent meeting.
I am speaking absolute truth!
Even if they did, I never saw it.
This is the really real truth.
No. they didn’t hit me at all.
Please don’t believe what they say.
simply because it appears in the papers.
Read the stuff and then consign it to flames.
Are these paper-fellows, are they lily-white?
They announce the happening of what could have happened!
Never mind if it happened or not, it is news all the same.
Yes, it is true that I saw someone wave a black flag,
because black stands out amidst white caps!
But what’s wrong with it?
wasn’t there a huge audience that day?
After all, my speech is not dirt-cheap, is it?
In such a commotion,
don’t you think it is but natural
if someone were to transfer what is on feet to the hand,
and then transfer it from hand to the head?
If I am right, why all this hullabaloo
about the chappals being aimed at me ?

All right, granting that they threw chappals:
why not assume that they were playing a game
of throwing and catching chappals ? Tell me.
You may insist
I was the target.
may I then ask you a question?
Did they get the chappals specially made for them?
They were bought in some shop,
and worn out after so many days’ walking,
now apparently tom, and flung with force. All right.
please, what is the point of taking out anger here
whereas its cause lay elsewhere?
If they opened fire in Gujarat, why should they hiss angrily here?
The price-rise, the decline of self-respect and dignity
and double-talk
they belong everywhere and still occur.
Are they our exclusive property ?
Look at Bihar, how they, sealing their lips with cloth bands,
joining hands behind their back, took processions.
Well, even the papers reported all this.

Following them, we should shut our mouths and keep mum,
and there lies smartness.
Just one more word, please listen: the chappal-throwing is over-
wouldn’t it be fair if they were presented with new chappals?
What do you say?

(From Inviting LifeChennaveera Kanavi’s Poetry, Translated by Prof. K. Raghavendra Rao, Sahitya Akademi)

Photograph: courtesy geek-o-logie


Self-important humourless autofellating ass hats

Scott Adams, fellow blogger and the creator of the amazing Dilbert, has a lovely post on SHAAHs—Self-important, Humourless, Autofellating, Ass Hats—who misunderstand him and then get very angry about their misunderstandings.

“Unlike most pundit-types, I don’t have a heavy investment in being right. I like to propose a line of reasoning and see what people think. If it exposes my ignorance—or more commonly, the reader misunderstands it and assumes ignorance, also known as the SHAAH method— that doesn’t bother me much. I have some sort of genetic abnormality that allows me to experience high levels of insult and embarrassment and find amusement in it. I’m lucky that way. I would go so far as to say it’s the secret of my success”

A brief (but not necessarily easy) quiz-I

John Simon said, “A person who misuses the language is as bereft of good taste as someone who picks his nose at a party.”

In that spirit, below are some sentences with common grammar and punctuation problems that trouble many people, least of all reporters and sub-editors.Can you spot the problems?

1) If I was rich, I’d do something about the homeless.

2) Theadministration hopes the faculty will set their own goals.

3) We feel badly that we missed your call.

4) You’ve been here longer than me.

5) Leave the parcel with whomever is in reception.

6) He lived in an old, red brick house.

7) I appreciate you doing this for me.

8) This gift will show someone you care about them.

9) We stayed outdoors like we did when we were young.

10) He is one of those who always wants the last word.


Courtesy: The Book on Writing, the Ultimate Guide to Writing Well, by Paula LaRocque, writing coach of the Dallas Morning News