The Aladdin's Cave

Hi, thanks for stopping by! The dictionary defines the idiom “The Aladdin’s Cave” as “a collection of interesting and beautiful objects”. Likewise, my website is a potpourri where you can browse and read from a variegated collection of articles on sundry subjects. Be prepared to stumble upon pieces ranging from noodles to analytics and from novels to friendships. Like what you read? Thanks a ton for being such a sweetheart. Don’t find it up to the mark? Well, blame it on back-breaking expectations ;) Jolly Reading!

Month: January 2016

Pronunciation Bloopers – 4

Hello Readers,

I hope you have mastered the previous lists in this series and are ready to absorb the ones that I present in this new set. In case you are new here or need a quick refresher course, please refer to Pronunciation Bloopers – 1Pronunciation Bloopers – 2 and Pronunciation Bloopers – 3 to familiarize yourself with the other potential bloopers  In this list, we will tackle some seemingly-simple but possibly-treacherous words that take great pleasure in tripping the non-native speakers of the English language. Ha, what a cruel world we live in! I will never understand why we need to have Hs and Gs and Ls and Bs planted in those words where we never intended to pronounce them in the first place. Anyway, since nobody is asking me for my expert opinion, I will stick to doing what I can – memorizing these pronunciations and making my peace with them. And I advise you to consider doing the same thing, for the joys provided to us by the English language greatly outnumber the few pains that it directs our way.

Word Comment on Pronunciation Note
Elect [ih-lekt] , not [ai-lekt]  The ‘e’ at the beginning pompously breaks itself from the rest of the letters. The pronunciation for both ‘elect’ and ‘election’ start with an ‘e’, and not with an ‘el’.
Cough [kawf, kof], not [kuff] Yep, to add to the misery of cold and cough, we must be mindful not to make this one rhyme with puff and tough.
Lieu [loo], not [lyu] Lieu rhymes with flu and clue – and you might want to glue this to your mind.
Loose [loos], not [looz] With loose and goose, the language is uncharacteristically phonetic. But the same cannot be said for lose that rhymes with ooze.
Crumb [kruhm], not [krum-b] Let’s be as particular about this one as Monica (from Friends, of course) is about her ‘no crumbies’ rule!
Dumb [[duhm], not [dum-b] In case this makes you feel a little dumb, trust me you are not alone.
Trio
[tree-oh], not [try-oh]
Remember this one from the golden trio – Harry, Ron and Hermione! Since we talk about this trio so very often, we definitely don’t wanna get this wrong.
Plumber [pluhm-er] not [pluhm-ber] Another one where the ‘b’ is just ornamental 🙁
Ghost [gohst], not [gh-ost] What? Did you say that ‘h’ in ghost is silent? Now this one is certainly gonna haunt me for a while.
Meticulous [muhtik-yuh-luh s], not [met-tik-yuh-luh s] If you are a meticulous speaker of English, you must remember this one to uphold your reputation.

As always, I would love to receive your feedback and suggestions through the comments. Take care and stay tuned for more of these!

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Writing With Pencils

It’s still the first half of the first month, which means it isn’t too late to wish all my readers a very happy new year! I wish you all loads of joy and peace and happiness, and sincerely hope that you will stick to your new resolutions for a little while longer. I also hope the same for myself, though it is becoming increasingly difficult not to find excuses to dismiss each and every old and new resolution. Nevertheless, one of my many 2016 vows is to write more frequently, and I invite you all to be the judge for this one 🙂

Now let me get back to writing something that justifies the title of this post. Gunjan has a growing concern with me using pencils for the draft posts that I write – he worries that when I author a book of my own, I will have to do a hell lot of typing to digitize all the words that would have got transferred from my heart (or muddled brain?) to paper. Notice that he says “when I author a book” instead of saying “if I EVER author a book”. But let us forgive him for this astoundingly ambitious belief. Both his confidence and concern stem from a very strong and genuine affection, and we can’t charge a fellow for a crime of the heart, can we? 😉

But even though I find his concern extremely endearing, I know for a fact that this Herculean digitization task is not gonna bother me in the near future or in the distant one for that matter. How I wish it would – but where are the words and the plot and the characters? Oh, just where? 🙁 Anyway, grieving and ranting about my cluelessness is for another post. This one is for discussing some of the many merits of using a pencil for putting one’s thoughts on paper.

  • Reminiscent of Childhood – Even though this is not a prioritized list (yes, I was careful to use bullets instead of numbers!), I will go ahead and admit that for me, just this one certainly trumps them all. It’s one of the things that will always keep you connected to the most carefree time of your life. Plus, there is also the added hope of being able to write freely, just like a child, without  worrying too much about the vocabulary and the grammar and the world – not while drafting, at the very least. You can go nuts and scrawl all that comes to your mind, and save the sophisticated filters for later use.
  • Very forgiving – Ah, a pencil is one of the most non-punitive devices when used in conjunction with the classic ‘undo’ button – the trusted eraser. Right? Unless and until you’ve managed to tear away the paper with some ferocious erasing, you can always give it another try. After all, not all of us can get it right the first time.
  • Takes you off the grid – We live in an age where people first spend a hefty sum to buy all the latest and greatest gadgets and then spend some more to attend digital detoxification sessions that aid them in disconnecting with the electronics they bought earlier. In this crazy world of incessant clicking/flicking/gaming/chatting/emailing/reading/watching etcetera, sitting down with a piece of paper and a writing instrument (that doesn’t have any kind of internet connection) is like attending a free digital cleansing session. With no blinking distractions and stubborn notifications vying for your attention, you will be able to focus on your thoughts  and get something worthwhile on that paper.
  • Private notes – It is the perfect gear for penning down awful drafts that only you can decrypt – just write very lightly and nobody will be able to decipher what those curls and swirls mean. For example, if you would have looked at the paper draft for this post, it might have seemed to you that I had indulged in some heavy-duty doodling over a few pages. Yes, it is almost like your chicken scratch is naturally encrypted, and your familiarity with your own scribble is the key to decrypt this code. What a relief it is to know that nobody can judge you for composing scummy drafts!

Even though I just love the wooden pencils jauntily sporting their cute little eraser hats, I try to minimize their use and instead employ the plastic ones for writing. I suppose that sticking to a couple of plastic ones will do the environment less damage than callously sharpening away a forest, one tree at a time.

Hey, I was going to wrap up this post now but reading through the above bullet points again, I feel like taking a philosophical detour for a bit, and see if I can pull it off. So here are a few rhetorical questions for all of us. Is there some merit in taking a leaf out of our trusted pencil’s book? Would it be a happier world if we could be a little less judgmental/punitive with those around us? Is it possible for us to be a tad more rewarding to bring out the best in other people, just like our humble pencil? Well, let’s employ some of these practices in our lives and find out for ourselves!

Happy Scribbling, Friends! 🙂

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