Sunday, November 27, 2011

Language art!


Language is a very complicated art form.  When used right…feels like a painting with a great composition and the correct colors, the perfect hues and the right balance of colors. The more honest, that much more earthy and natural.

It can come in such myriad forms and change peoples lives for ever. It has created so many civilizations and burnt so many too! It can be so intimidating to the weak of hearts and yet can have such a power to move the hardest or toughest of souls (a la moving mountains?!)  even if written in the simplest way.

It can be so contagious and spread like wild fire if written for the masses. It can be the most confusing and yet, its rules are so simple, that even a small child can capture ones attention with their simple and yet so captivating words of expression. 

I remember chiding Richa for eating so slow once..when she was 3 years old…She had replied

“I am eating mama…I am not swallowing”

If used right…language could convey the message without the slightest of effort. Which makes me think, if a 3 year old finds it effortless to find the right words for the right moment…why is it that I struggle to express…that I almost want to give up even before I start?!!

It’s a big mystery for me because, I never got it right!

True, sincere emotions are a big part, in my opinion, why, somebody’s language can sweep another of their feet. And of course, it needs a partner, the power to express. Just like one gets the gift of gab, some people have this innate ability to get it right and affect people’s lives in a positive way or negative! I think it has to do with ones ability to organize their thoughts well, and feel sincerely about they are writing.

I’m not one among those gifted ones.  That’s an art too! The art of being able to organize and sequentialize ones thoughts. Mine always feels like a muddle. It always reminds me this clip from Calvin and Hobbes…


Recently as I was wandering around the hallways of my kids school as I was too early to the last of my kid’s conferences, I happened to read almost all the write ups I came across along the corridors of the school. It was an upper elementary school.

It was very touching and even interesting to know these children’s thought process, some of them so profound, some so funny, some so descriptive.. Each of these cute writers had some unique punch to add in their writing. It sort of gave an insight into their personalities.

They showed real talent and were so effective. Made me envy those teachers who are exposed to all this material day in and out and are affecting their minds in this positive direction…

In particular one write up swept me of my feet. It had touched my soul…I had almost felt this I finished off with the last line of the kid’s writeup. Truly, this kid had written with his/her heart.

It was a reflective write up of their experience of tackling a tough job. They were each given a fictional job with a salary and they were supposed to manage their finances of their fictional house hold with that.  In the process, they learnt what a check book is, how they paid their bills, etc.  Each of the student had even managed to have a balance in the end of the month after frugally spending on every need of family, through the month.  After all this , they wrote their reflections on the project.  This is the piece that stole my heart.

One important thing I learnt is to respect everything I have. I used to think 600 dollars was a lot of money but, I paid just over that for my apartment.  I learned the real value of dollar in this project.

One of the hard challenges I faced with this project was making a living.  I realize that this was just a project, but, if it were real life, I would be in trouble, considering, I have very little money and I have so much to live.  If it weren’t for my roommates and my part time job, I would never have survived in real life.

The most fun and memorable part of the project to me was learning how to use and balance a check book, because I feel, this will help me very much in real life. I always wondered about check books but, I never really got it. I also like writing them and signing them.

I will use the skills I learnt from this project in my everyday life.  For instance I would look at insurance and car commercials and wait for them to be over, but now I listen to them and actually understand what they are saying. And, I’m curious about what they are saying.

In this project I learned to appreciate all the stuff my parents do for me and understood why you get nothing free, because, people work hard for what they have. I’m happy I did this project because I learned that I want to stay a kid for a very long time.”

They were lots of other reflections that were poignant too. One of them had mentioned, how the project had made them realize the importance of going to college and studying hard so they can get a decent job to make a comfortable living.  These upper elementary children had made such a drag subject of managing finances of their homes into such a soulful topic!!

Kudos to the teacher who had thought and taken up this effort.

How many times have we come across technical books that didn’t come across as technical ? I’ve had the opportunity of reading a few of them.  These books were clearly talking dealing with technical stuff, but, I wonder why they didn’t come across like that?!

I guess because they were written from the heart.

Because emotion played a very important role in the writing. Surely, one needs to have all the details without which it would hardly hold any value, the power to express, in the most precise way and to feel all this in your heart as you do it.

As a programmer the first book that I could read like a breeze was a book in C++, by Scott Meyers.

“Effective C++: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Programs and Design”.  It had become my bible in my earlier days of programming. C++  is hard core technical stuff and my brain is not wired for technical. But, this book kept everything so precise and yet so simple and light.  First time in my life I felt like I didn’t need to have pen and paper handy. For the first time in my life..I felt I was able to understand technical, without much effort! For the first time in my life I didn’t get the inevitable sleepy feeling..the need to keep the book away and go to another!!

I could read this like a novel.  I then took my next plunge into the sequel of that book. Surely a much drier book compared to the first one but, good indeed, maybe because it wasn’t written with the same emotion that the first one was written?!  Or, the topics just got that much more complicated?! I’m yet to decipher that Smile

Then, I came across this book called “Freakonomics” by “Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner”.  Pavan, my hubby,  an extremely voracious reader, had recommended it to me a long time ago.

“Its an economics book..but, you’ll like it!”, he’d said.

But, I just couldn’t get my mind to agree that a book on economics could be an interesting read, maybe because the recommendation was coming from a guy from the field of finance?!  I wasn’t sure.

If you go to and search for this book. You’ll find almost 2000 reviews of this book.  This book had hit the nerve of a common man.  So, one day, at the dead of night…with adrenaline in my body still active after a late night workout, I thought I could deal with this and took the dive.  Right! it was far from technical, and was dealing with the driest of all topics on earth..Economics!!

Everything in the book belonged to our day to day experiences that I could relate to. It could just be read like a book on fiction. How one treated the information in the book is best left to ones personal opinion but, it was surely written with a lot of emotion.

Even books in photography. I just couldn’t imagine reading any. For years I had wasted away my camera and its clicks without the slightest knowledge of a basic exposure.  We had taken a million pics (atleast it feels like that!!!) all through our years of dating , early marriage…and after fifteen years of marriage..when I just was going through all the stacks of photographs, this weekend..I was shocked, terrified and couldn’t believe those clicks I had wasted away.  Surely, a very frustrating day for me…

(Maybe , calls for writing a bit on the the topic ….a frustrating day in my life.)All those sweet moments that were meant to stay etched on paper forever,  were all blurred or darkened out. There were no meaningful pictures.

There was no concept of composition in the pic. They were all just random shots…even the camera wasn’t held steady. 

There were some good pics…Not because I composed well or the pic turned out good. Only because of us, Hubby and Me! The subjects in the pic. That’s when I felt

“Wow, we look so good together!”.. 

Maybe each of us looked beautiful, because we had love in our eyes! Because we were in the stage of our life when we both were ready to give unconditional love for each other…We both were ready to give more than we expected to get back Smile  

Not digressing more, the processing lab had even tried to warn me by pasting some tips and tricks on the prints but, did I even care to read them?

Suddenly, as the equipment started to get fancier, I took the ultimate dive. I was lucky that the first book I came across was an easy read…sometimes funny, but with all the data one needs to know enough to want to know more! It was an introduction book by Scott Kelby. Surely light, I finished the book in 2 days with all my work load. I was ready for the next and next …. The book on lighting by “Joe Mcnally”, called “The Hot Shoe Diaries”,  was also a very interesting read, especially because of how he coupled his experience to the situation he was describing, and he sure had a funny way of presentation.

So, in the end all this boils down to the following for me:

1. A writing needs a starting and an end. Its funny how this part is the most difficult to do..when writing. Thoughts always come but, how do we start and get to the thought?!  And when it comes time to end, I’m tired...its always been abrupt!

2. Details, Clarity, Organized thoughts which I’m incapable of!

3. Need for emotion..and ofcourse coupling it with the innate creativity of language art that I don’t have!

And maybe, I’ll be able to express as well as those upper elementary kids!  I think that’s going to take lot more of my years than I think to get there. Reminds…me, I’m able to hear Richa screaming…

“Mama, I need my breakfast!”