Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pronouncing English

A classic.

Found it at

File description: If you can read these pronunciations out loud and quickly, you deserve a prize.

"Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!"

Friday, April 27, 2007


There are interviews and then there are some. When there are hundreds of them going on daily, these some others make our day. Thanks to a free flowing press meet along with the opening of our Kochi office, the coverage we got was immense. Suddenly news spread about this MNC who wanted Commerce graduates in droves.

The fun started the very next day. Walking into the office was nothing short of a shock. The entrance looked like one of those seedy recruitment drives. People of all sorts flocking the door and a security guy who didn’t have a clue about what was happening. Some sort of order was forced in an hour and then the one to one started. The criteria were very clear to us, to the ones outside, well….

Target of 200-300 in the coming few months, we decided to see almost everyone who came in initially. First round, just to check the communication skills, then a short accounting test, second round and then the final interview – the routine was fixed. The security guy was the most important person those days. By the time we reached office, he would have made everyone wait in order, collected their papers and got them ready.
The first question naturally “Tell me something about yourself”.
Three out of five would answer “Njaan, ente peru…”
One of us, “We do understand Malayalam, but we are sorry, you have to talk in English. You have to deal with western clients and we would like to know how your communication skills are”
A long silence.
“Did I say something wrong?”
“English, difficult. But I’ll do any work”
“Sorry, we have no choice”

Another one, a BA in English Literature.
“Well, this is an accounting BPO. How do you think you will fit in?”
“Are you not doing data entry?”
“Not really, we are doing accounting work for foreign clients”
“Oh, then isn’t this a BPO?”!!!!
So much for our talks about high-end accounting work and similar jargons.

Next, a lady in her early thirties.
Didn’t give me a chance to ask her anything. “Madam, my husband is good for nothing and I have two kids. I have a job now but the pay is not enough for anything. Please give me some job here. I’ll do anything, I just need Rs.3500 a month” and all this in a non-stop Malayalam monologue.
Sure, I felt really sorry for the lady, there was nothing much I could do about too. And to think that she had come all the way from Vaikom just seeing some news item in a newspaper!!
Made me thankful about many a thing in my life.

This one was the best. I still don’t know how I kept a straight face throughout. Did his CA Inter long time back. Then went for Law, claimed to be a rank holder and practicing with “one of the top-most firms in Trivandrum”.
“What brings you here?”
One moment of silence and then with full force “Accounting.. (a significant pause) is my passion. I (again a pause) have always dreamt of seeking a career in this magnificent profession. Blah, blah…….more blahs for a full 10 minutes”
Somehow sent him out and burst out laughing, much to the shock of the entire office. Wonder how many days it took him to learn the whole script by heart.

Our office building was just getting ready and Infopark had given us an incubation center – their small auditorium converted into workstations for a few months. Life was an open book there, interviews used to take place anywhere in there and everyone knew what was happening. The best was one of our Managers. Whenever he took an interview, all eyes would be on the computer screens in front of them and ears tuned towards the Manager’s seat.

First, he would have a look at the candidate, feet up till the head. If someone came in sandals or slippers, boy, that just wasn’t his day.
“Is this the way you come for an interview in an MNC? Go back and if you want a job, come back dressed properly”.
Half of them would never come that way again. But we got a few good ones from those who actually dared to.

Dressed properly, you would be offered a seat. Then the scrutiny of the CV.
“What is it with you guys, all the CVs look the same – Name, Date of birth, Father’s Name, Religion, Marital Status.. and then two sentences about education and work experience. Why should I be bothered about your Father’s name and age? Tell me about your work”
Couldn’t argue with the logic in his statement. To give him due credit, even if the person was not short-listed, he would get a brief class on how to prepare a CV and attend an interview.

Then , there was this qualified guy.
Communication ok, technically fine, so the next step.
“What is your expected salary?”
“35 – 40,000”
“What is your current pay?”
“Gross or net?”
“Oh, don’t you think the hike you are expecting is a little too much for your kind of experience?” (He was working as a chief accountant in a nearby hospital)
“Isn’t this a BPO?”
Well, another one of those……

Being an accounting BPO, we used to get lots of CA, CS and CWA Inters.
In comes this lady to one of our managers.
“So, what are your qualifications?”
“Sir, I have done Inter course”
The manager claims the first thing he immediately checked was her marital status.

The auditorium was proving to be too public or maybe everyone was having too much fun , the venue was slowly shifted to one of the Infopark conference rooms. This was one of those rooms with floor to ceiling glass walls. The only way you could make out the door was the handle in one of the huge glass panes.
One day, a big crash, and a sudden commotion. To this day, we have no clue how he managed it, but this guy actually broke one of those thick glasses. He was sent off to hospital immediately. After a few hours, a knock and a face peeps into the auditorium. Then comes the body – bandages on hands, dried up blood on his dress, “Sir, now can you take my interview?”

For qualifieds, even for the initial interview, one of managers would be there. There was this guy, after every question we asked, he would look down and search something and then look up with a very vague face and equally vague answers. After a couple of these, I looked at my manager very subtly and there he is very surreptitiously looking under the table to figure out what this guy is up to. Well, actually he was searching his palms for the answers, maybe he was adept at reading it.

Another one did fairly well in the test, experience was kind of ok and we felt he could be developed into someone better. Nonchalant throughout, as if getting this job was the least of his priorities, at the end of the interview he offered us a visiting card of his.
“You see, I am actually into marketing and exporting of handicraft items. Yours being an MNC I wanted to know whether I could get some contacts or at least some orders”

After the usual questions in yet another interview, one of the managers asked a candidate, “Do you have anything to ask me?”
He swears the look on the candidate’s face had to be seen to be believed. He was shocked beyond words and with a hand still over his mouth, “Sir, you are qualified with so many years of experience, how can I ask you anything?”
The poor chap thought he was being asked to interview the manager!!

My personal best was when this lady walked in, gave me a look and, “Hey, I know you”
“Even I know you”
We had a common friend, used to somewhat know each other during our CA coaching class days, liked whatever we knew about the other and promptly lost touch for the next ten years or so. Needless to say, we are partners in crime in almost everything that happens in office now.

We have a swanky new office now with separate rooms for interviews, discussions and trainings, and formal tests for the initial screening. Everything is so organized but we ordinary mortals are denied a major source of entertainment in our official lives.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Countdown

Just about a week more to go, hopefully. It has been a really long wait this time. BP, Bed rest and Blood Sugar had put me down for much longer than what we’d expected. Had to take rest for the first one too, but somehow it didn’t seem so long. Maybe because I was already used to being at home then and of course, thanks to my hilarious friend Shruthi, who was staying next door. In she would barge, any time of the day or night with wise cracks in her very own inimitable style. And I just had to say I feel like having something, it would be ready the very next day.

Five years have passed since Georgie came and I haven’t grown any younger. A more or less sedentary lifestyle, hypertension was already my friend. To expect some complications was but natural. I had already told my manager that even though the baby would come only in May, I would be out before that. Little did I know then how early it would be.

Manu used to make fun of me last time saying I was like “Kilukkathile Jagathy” – in and out of hospital every other day. I have to admit, it was actually true. First it was a headache, not a simple one, mind you. I couldn’t move my head even an inch and it took two days in the hospital. Then it was a bout of bronchitis, which took me a week. The third one was a slight spotting and that was just for a day.

Well, to make a long story short, history repeated itself in a different form. This time, the hospital was different, causes were different, but stay I had to in hospital for four times till now. Durations were more or less the same as before, a day, two and then a week. The last one was just three days back – for a day. Now when I go there, the nurses treat me like a long lost friend. This time, no room was vacant and they put me in the post-op bed. One of the nurses came in looking for something, saw me there and with a pinch on my chin asks, “Ah, look who is here again”!! Another motherly one who used to take extra care of me every time told me very worriedly when I left, “Do remember to check your BP everyday, and pray that everything is alright till next week”. Made my day, is the least to be said.

The most depressing part was the two month long rest in bed. As it is, with my chronic sinusitis and a bent nose, I have to sleep with my head elevated to breathe properly. Just imagine my plight when I had to be in bed 24hours a day with the foot part up by at least a feet. Got used to it slowly, in fact started finding it really comfortable after some time. Now I have a permanent companion in bed – a bottle of nasal drops. Can’t breathe otherwise, my nosed is blocked, perennially.

Then came the next shock – gestational diabetes. When it comes, it comes together. The bright side of it was I had to get out of bed to go to hospital every morning and evening. Surprise of surprises, two weeks of going up and down everyday, nothing happened, except a constant back pain. Who is bothered about that when expecting to be in bed for at least another three months? Started getting out on weekends slowly and then to Thrissur too. That was another luxury which none of us had expected till July. Well man proposes and as always, God disposes in a different way.

Now, here I am waiting for next week. The wait has been too long, I have lost patience. Anyways, sometime in between this forced house arrest, I have started putting out my sometimes wild and otherwise mild thoughts. And my friends seem to enjoy it. There is a purpose for everything in life, you see.

The day is fast approaching and I am waiting for the big relief that comes with it, purposely trying not to think of what comes after that. The never-ending feeding sessions, diaper changes, constant eyes on a crawler, running after an active toddler….. Well, this time there is an elder one to run after the little one and I just can’t wait to watch the two of them together.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Bitch

Those daily bitching sessions in the office cafeteria. That is what I miss the most in the now 5 and soon to be 8 months long hiatus from work. To get at least one other on the same wavelength at the workplace is a miracle. So three – four of the same ilk is nothing short of a major lottery.

This is one industry you’ll never grow old if you at least have a tendency to be young at heart. And throw a few of us who absolutely refuse to grow up, into this lot, imagine the fun we have. Just picture some 500 odd individuals whose average age is less than 25, and think of what all would ensue. Light hearted banter, affairs – casual and serious, wedding plans – some which materialize and some which don’t, egos – mighty and puny, oh, the list is endless. And in the midst, a few of us, whose main aim in life is to have fun (hope none of my bosses ever see what I have written here), oh boy, do we enjoy ourselves.

Our unofficial day starts at around 6.15 pm in the cafeteria. Miss it for day and it feels like the loss can never be compensated. No one is spared and no holds barred in these daily sessions, mostly on face too. God knows how many hates us there. But who cares, we just want to have fun. In the midst of even serious work, any small thing to be discussed, an immediate con call and we all are together. How many of the rest have been jolted from their seats by a sudden burst of laughter from one of us. And any meetings, the only ones to open their mouths to agree and disagree are these gossipmongers.

I don’t miss not working, the ‘rush of adrenaline’ when you do something worthwhile. But the “hey did you hear?”, “I’ve got something to tell you”, “he is such a creep”, “she is such a bitch”……God, how I miss those. But for my friends who call me up every other day for an update over phone, I would have been dead of boredom by now. If that makes me a bitch too, so be it.

Few feminine thoughts

In the conventional, much maligned sense of the term, I am not a feminist. But in attitudes, thought process and outlook towards many a thing in life, I definitely try to maintain a feminine perspective. A few, stray thoughts on my take on gender-based issues.

Harassment, exploitation, gender bias - the terms are many and the issues, never ending. What triggers these, what causes it, who is at fault? Do the so-called victims ‘have it coming’ or is it the warped mindset and attitude of the harasser?

First, the often heard and opt repeated phrase – ‘they were asking for it”
When a girl is teased in a public place, when a man leers at her and misbehaves, this is the most common reaction we get to hear. The same is true in the workplace harassment issues also. How far can it be true? Though I hate to admit it in public, in many cases, this is a fact. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not merely referring to how someone dresses or acts. It is a combination of how girls in our society are brought up and how the girls themselves behave.

Traditionally, girls have been brought up in a home centered set-up. Right from childhood, restrictions are heaped on them. Don’t talk loudly, don’t go there, don’t do that – and the primary reason behind all this, you are a girl, how can you? And the end product, you get someone who is not sure either of herself or of the world around her and easy target for any predator of the human species. Look at most of the reported issues, you find a girl who was not very clear what she wanted from her life, who to trust and not to. And how can she, when others have always decided everything for her.

Now, why do some men behave the way they do? We can understand some tomfoolery at the age when the hormones are at their highest peak. I mean the real perverts and the chauvinists here. Again, the ultimate answer comes to the upbringing. Someone brought up in a culture where everyone is respected for what they are and not their gender, will never stoop to low levels pf perversion and harassment. On the other hand, a boy who has daily doses of the women folk in his home being relegated to the kitchen just because they are women will always tend to see other women in the same light, be it in his personal or professional life.

No, I am not trying to justify or condone individual’s behavior on the basis of their upbringing. Still, the fact remains that some shades of childhood impressions will always be there in the sub conscious mind of the individual and it influences certain behavior at certain times. Some strive to grow out of it and succeeds to a large extent. Some others just let it deteriorate.

Things have changed a lot in the last decade or so. You see women in almost all the conventional ‘man’ areas. You find them working anywhere, everywhere and at all odd hours, day and night. Most of today’s youngsters are crystal clear about what they want to do, how they want to do it and when. Options to them are never ending. But sometimes you wonder, have things really changed where it matters? Society has always respected a well-educated, accomplished woman, but only after she is educated and accomplished. What if she tries a road less traveled on her way to that success?

Go to any of the usual evening haunts of the youth or even families. How many girl groups can you find there? Next to none, we all know. Can it be because our girls do not like an evening out with their friends? I am positive that is not true. Even if someone ventured out, the world will not leave them at peace for more than a mere few minutes. I remember a group of girls who ventured out on an afternoon outing to Bolgatty Palace around ten years back. Within half an hour, different gangs started hovering around, passing lewd comments and generally making life miserable for the girls on that beautiful evening. They tried ignoring it at first, but finally had to give up and get back. Years after that, one of group went to the same place with a few other friend and had one of the loveliest evenings in her life. The difference? The Palace is now a star hotel and naturally, admission is restricted. Otherwise, something similar would have happened even today.

I know many men who say what freedom do women want, why should they do that, who asked them to go out after dark, why did they have to go alone. And to those – just as you do, even we love the sea by the moonlight, chat with our friends by the waterfront, breeze on our face on a hot summer’s evening, raindrops on our head and face, a walk in the park when the lights come on. We too love all the fine things in life.

Now how do we tackle this? There can be no cure to this malaise, only prevention. To change the attitude of many who have been born and bred in a set attitude is a task which even Hercules himself would not be up to today. The best way to go about at present is to accept the fact that our society behaves likes this and act accordingly. For tomorrow, bring up our girls to have faith in themselves and go for what they think is right and our boys to respect their sisters as separate individuals who have their own dreams and a separate life to live. At least the next generation will have a carefree life.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Media Overhype

Switch on to any channel, and you see Richard Gere trying to tango with our very own 'Celebrity', Shilpa Shetty. So called responsible news channels, don't they have anything else to talk about?

Our Ms. Shetty realy did look shocked. Poor girl, didn't know what to do, I'm sure. But, why do we need to focus so much on what some westerner did something which was quite natural for him? Let those people out there trying to save the 'sanskaar of bhaaratiya naari' turn to their own homes and give some freedom to their womenfolk, for a change!!