Saturday, May 31, 2008

Appearance in an online blog

Dear Folks,

You might be pleased to know that my profile as translator featured in a blog called Everything Indian way back in March 2006.

You can check it out yourselves.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Example of Noun-Number accord

Most Indian students, and some fellow Indian professors [including some professors of English] do face a problem with the noun-number accord in grammar. Now, this may sound preposterous! And it might sound insulting to few.

But I would like to illustrate with an example. If you look at this recent story on the plight of students in Gaza not being allowed Fulbright scholarships at The New York Times, if you go to the last paragraph, you could read the sentence "She, like her six colleagues, was in disbelief." Now, I know people, including students and some academics who would probably write "She, like her six colleagues, were in disbelief", where they would write 'were' in the same linguistic context thinking that it should be 'were' because it was 'like her six colleagues' preceding the verb.

This is a common error that many people make. Here, the noun 'she' has to be taken as one unit along with what appears in the parenthesis, 'like her six colleagues', and so, the 'meaning unit' is still singular and not plural.

I hope you liked this little snippet.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Art of Spin, Media Doctoring and Marketing

The Economist, May 22nd, 2008, lists a very interesting book review on page 95 of the print edition, which I subscribe at my house but this is also available online on their website, without my login access, which means it is free from copyright regulations.

You can read the article Marketing Maestros. It tells of a very interesting story of Ned Kennan and I'll quote directly from the article so that I don't take away the fun and the zing of reading it-->

IN 1978 the mayor of Boston, Kevin White, was told some uncomfortable truths. The people of Boston did not like him. “They view you as an aloof, arrogant, son-of-a-bitch bastard,” said Ned Kennan, a pollster brought in to help Mr White win re-election. Mr Kennan had been using a tool that was still new in the late 1970s—the focus group. Instead of asking superficial questions of many people, he asked detailed questions of a few. The more he learnt about the nuances of their feelings for his client, the mayor, he figured, the better the odds of persuading Bostonians to vote for him.

Mr Kennan learnt his trade hawking Listerine mouthwash. The company's own polling revealed only obvious facts, such as that people gargled after eating garlic and onions or smoking cigarettes. Mr Kennan's focus groups told him more. He discovered that mouthwash users were play-by-the-rules types who followed the instructions on a product's label. The Listerine label told them to pour the mouthwash into the bottle cap before gargling. Mr Kennan suggested that sales would be boosted if the company made the bottle cap 25% bigger.

Using the same kind of research, Mr Kennan and his colleagues, David Sawyer and Scott Miller, quickly found a way to market Mayor White. They realised they could not stop people from thinking he was an arrogant bully. So they tried to persuade them that this was how he got things done. “Knowing which arms to twist and hands to hold: that's what it takes to be mayor,” went one slogan. In 1979, having trailed by 26 points in the polls, Mr White was re-elected.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Old translation of Gujarati poem

I had published a number of translations of Gujarati poets in Indian Literature, a journal that is published by the Sahitya Akademi [The National Academy of Letters, India] in 1997, in an issue numbered 181.

One such poet is Labhshankar Thakar who is known as a modernist poet in Gujarati. The translation can be seen in the printed copy of the journal but here it has already been reproduced on Muse India, which is an online literary journal, so, I am sure there are no copyright issues. Here is the poem:


In the morning dew sunlight
Melts, melts a mountain of shadows.
And in tears
the green thorn thistle
drowning floating
floating drowning
colliding whirling comes
near the wild thorn thistle.
On the thorn thistle,
a sandgrouse sits sandgrouse sits sandgrouse sits
its wing trembles trembles trembles.
In the grandfather's eyes, light dims.
In the dim dim dawn dawn
light light
oho I hear again oho I hear from a distance
in the thak .... thak .... thak .... thak .... sounds
I become a flower and blossom
become a tree and swing
become an ocean and drown
become a mountain and jump
become the sky and shatter
shatter becoming sunlight
becoming sunlight scatter
I touch the deep of the morning's dew-ocean.
My crunched crunched edge goes on melting.
Melts melts a mountain of shadows!
Hope you enjoyed it!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Translation of Rahul Sankrityayan's piece

You can read the translation of this piece of this great Hindi writer and thinker. The Hindi is given in the earlier post. For those who do not know Hindi, they can follow the English and for those, who know both Hindi and English, they can have the extra fun reading both, and for those, who are budding translators, I am sure they would find a lesson or two to learn from here. The translation here is mine and it is © Roomy Naqvy. You are free to distribute it but please recognize me as the translator of this piece.

Note: The Hindi extract was 253 words while my English translation is 316 words. Translation students can understand the expansion from the fact that the Hindi is a literary essay and that it uses one word 'ghumakkad' and 'ghumakkadi' for Travel/Traveler. And it is used as a concept by the writer. It isn't used as a term in common parlance.

And to learn more about this great scholar, Rahul Sankrityayan, please follow this link at Wikipedia and this second link. I don't think this Wikipedia is a very good link but it isn't bad enough for an introduction.

I believe the most important thing in this world to be traveling. There can be no one who would think better for society than a person who travels a lot. Whether the world is steeped in joy or mired in sadness, it only finds refuge in the wisdom of the travelers. Ancient Man was a great traveler. It is necessary to speak of the great contribution to human civilization by the travelers in the modern age because people stole from the writings of the great travelers of history and published their writings in their names, which led to the misconception that only frogs of the well are able to do something worthwhile in this world. Charles Darwin occupies a pivotal place in the growth of modern science. He not only carried out important and unparalleled research in the origin of species and of the human race but it could be said that all sciences had to change their direction in the light of Darwin’s contributions. But would Darwin have succeeded in his mission had he not taken the oath of voyage in his life? It is true that the spirit of travel has led to tremendous massacre in the history of human race and we would not want the travelers to indulge in massacres but it is also a fact that if the caravans of travelers did not go around the world, then the lazy human races would have slept and would not have risen above the animal world. The American continent was rather lifeless for a long time. The ostriches of Asia had forgotten the greatness of the travelers of yore, which is why they did not hoist their flag on the American continent. Till two centuries ago, Australia lay barren. India and China take great pride in their ancient civilizations but they did not enough common sense to go there and hoist their flags.

Mukul Kesavan's article on Barack Obama and Bobby Jindal

The Telegraph, an Indian newspaper, has published an interesting article by Mukul Kesavan, the famous writer, historian and fellow academic at our University. You can find the article here:

Rahul Sankrityayan

Have you heard of the great Hindi writer and thinker, Rahul Sankrityayan? If you haven't, I am sure you are missing something in life. I am going to give you a small extract from his essay in Hindi here. The Hindi essay is called "athato ghumakkad-jigyasa' [Curiosity of the Eternal Traveler].

For those, who cannot read the Hindi script, you could go to View and you would be able to view the Hindi script on this page.

राहुल सांकृत्यायन

मेरी समझ में दुनिया की सर्वश्रेष्ठ वस्तु है घुमक्कड़ी। घुमक्कड़ से बढ़कर व्यक्ति और समाज का कोई हितकारी नहीं हो सकता। दुनिया दुख में हो चाहे सुख में¸ सभी समय यदि सहारा पाती है तो घुमक्कड़ों की ही ओर से। प्राकृतिक आदिम मनुष्य परम घुमक्कड़ था। आधुनिक काल में घुमक्कड़ों के काम की बात कहने की आवश्यकता है¸ क्योंकि लोगों ने घुमक्कड़ों की कृतियों को चुरा के उन्हें गला फाड़फाड़कर अपने नाम से प्रकाशित किया¸ जिससे दुनिया जानने लगी कि वस्तुत: तेली के कोल्हू के बैल ही दुनिया में सब कुछ करते हैं। आधुनिक विज्ञान में चार्ल्स डारविन का स्थान बहुत ऊँचा है। उसने प्राणियों की उत्पत्ति और मानववंश के विकास पर ही अद्वितीय खोज नहीं की¸ बल्कि कहना चाहिए कि सभी विज्ञानों को डारविन के प्रकाश में दिशा बदलनी पड़ी। लेकिन¸ क्या डारविन अपने महान आविष्कारों को कर सकता था¸ यदि उसने घुमक्कड़ी का व्रत न लिया होता। आदमी की घुमक्कड़ी ने बहुत बार खून की नदियाँ बहायी है¸ इसमें संदेह नहीं¸ और घुमक्कड़ों से हम हरगिज नहीं चाहेंगे कि वे खून के रास्ते को पकड़ें¸ किन्तु घुमक्कड़ों के काफले न आते जाते¸ तो सुस्त मानव जातियाँ सो जाती और पशु से ऊपर नहीं उठ पाती।

अमेरिका अधिकतर निर्जन सा पड़ा था। एशिया के कूपमंडूक को घुमक्कड़ धर्म की महिमा भूल गयी¸ इसलिए उन्होंने अमेरिका पर अपनी झंडी नहीं गाड़ी। दो शताब्दियों पहले तक आस्ट्रेलिया खाली पड़ा था। चीन -- भारत को सभ्यता का बड़ा गर्व है¸ लेकिन इनको इतनी अक्ल नहीं आयी कि जाकर वहाँ अपना झंडा गाड़ आते।

and the complete essay can be read at the Abhivyakti website.

In the next post, I shall furnish an English translation as well.

Communication Structure and Design for a Course in Corporate Communications

This is a short preview of a Course that I plan to modify and teach.

  • Design a corporate communications strategy that strikes a healthy balance between complete centralization and total decentralization.
  • Create special mechanisms to encourage the upward transmission of information and opinion, including bad news.
  • Create a special advisory or “ombudsperson” role for someone who is free to roam the organization and can “speak truth to power” without fear of retribution.
  • Avoid excessive reliance on formal communication channels and messages; make effective use of informal communication—from the design of orientation programs to ongoing work processes.
  • Establish double communication linkages between each hierarchical level of the organization and the ones immediately above and below it.
  • Cultivate liaisons between departments that are traditionally distant from or in conflict with one another (e.g., marketing and production).
  • Ensure that leaders or managers of units have strong relations with superiors at least two levels above them.
  • Formulate projects that will require the meaningful coordination of multiple units of the organization. And, develop multiple communication networks throughout the organization.
  • Limit the size of work teams, task forces, and working committees to 9 members; the same principle applies to the effective span of control or number supervised.
  • To the extent possible, design or redesign workplaces so as to foster group interaction.
  • View new communication and computer technologies in a complementary role with respect to other means of communication, rather than seeing technology as complete substitute for non-mediated forms of communication or as a panacea for organizational problems.
  • Be attuned to the inevitable phases in the development of a group or organization, so that no structure is seen as necessarily permanent and such that flexibility can be maintained.

Vladimir Nabokov and His Magic

Well, when I entered college in 1988, I took out a membership to the American Center Library in New Delhi and one of the first books [I guess the first] that I issued was a novel by Vladimir Nabokov called Lolita. When I first read the novel at 16 1/2, I felt scandalized, then I read it a second time a year later, when I realized that my scandalized feeling was rather wrong.

I am sure I would like to read every word that Nabokov has written and I guess reading him should be very important for anyone who is an aspiring writer. You can read a biographical entry on him here. He was a very talented writer who wrote in both Russian as well as in English. And if you realize the controversy that his novel, Lolita caused as well as the success that it generated for him, it wouldn't be wrong to say that Vladimir Nabokov was one of the greatest literary stylists of the English language.

I hope you like this small extract from the novel which has been reproduced below:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for fancy prose style. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Interest in Western Classical Music

I remember when I was quite young, I developed an interest in western classical music. Those days, I wasn't earning and buying those audio cassettes and CDs on limited pocket money was impossible, so, I used to listen to the good old All India Radio and you could listen to symphonic music late night. I was always an owl and keeping awake late nights and going off to study early the next morning was never a problem.

After I started working in 1995, I began indulging myself rather well into my interest. I got my first email account in 1997, when the cyber cafes used to charge Rs. 150 per hour for internet access and it was difficult to find internet access in the city. The British Council Library had opened internet access and it was Rs. 100 for members of the library. Those days, I discovered about, and it was a website that allowed to download lots of free music files over the internet. Later, it went paid and gave some free files as well and it changed its name to Classical Archives. You can access it here.

I would go to Crosswords in Ebony, South Extension, in New Delhi, to buy my classical music. There was Sridhar and then Anand, two people on the floor, who were quite helpful.

I bought Swan Lake and The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. I also bought Richard Strauss's Thus Spake Zarathustra. Those were heady days. Then one of my father's friends gifted me a CD which had selections by Max Bruch and Felix Mendelssohn. I guess I have never heard anything like Mendelssohn. If you haven't heard Mendelssohn, if you haven't heard Tchaikovsky, if you haven't heard Franz Schubert's Ave Maria, I am sure you wouldn't find me presumptuous in saying that you have missed something in life. Those were the days, I heard Beethoven's symphonies.

Then came the days of the internet and the use of the internet in my life. I was able to use the internet to really increase and enhance my interest in western classical music. I have heard The Tempest by Peter Tchaikovsky. It was what he wrote as a tribute to William Shakespeare. That is what I mean when I say 'those were heady days'. By the way, if I say 'those were the days', I might as well be referring to that wonderful song by Mary Hopkin that I am sure most of you must have heard.

Friday, May 23, 2008

T. E. Lawrence

Have you heard of the great T. E. Lawrence or as he was famously known as Lawrence of Arabia? Look up the Wikipedia article on him. I have read his biography, I have read his book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom and I have seen the great movie that David Lean made on his life, The Lawrence of Arabia. He was surely a very fascinating character and a very inspiring one. Then he couldn't get good grades for his BA, he was asked to write a dissertation and he chose his topic, 'The influence of the crusades on the medieval military architecture of Europe' and he went off to Syria to physically study the castles there and it is said that he walked 1100 miles in the space of three months and completed his work!

This is his quote on my website and I reproduce it below:

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom

My website(s)

Hello folks,

I have a personal website which is here [] and a professional web profile as a translator, which is at ProZ and you can go to both. If you go to my personal website, you would surely learn more about myself.

On my personal website, you would find a good quote by T. E. Lawrence and James Joyce.

Translation Proficiency Courses that I teach

I started teaching Certificate in Translation Proficiency students at my Department since 2004-2005 and we introduced the Diploma in Translation Proficiency in 2006-2007. So, I have taught 2 groups of Diploma in Translation Proficiency students as well. These courses use English<>Hindi bi-directional as a medium of instruction. I stopped teaching Certificate in Translation Proficiency last year, 2007-2008, and I have been instrumental in grooming another faculty member to teach that course. I now focus on the Diploma course.

Our courses have got good coverage in the press. The Media Coordinator of the University was kind enough to issue press releases. You can see the coverage that our courses got in The Hindu [which is a national newspaper of repute] last year.

I am planning to write a workbook for the Diploma course and I hope I shall do it soon so that it could be implemented and could prove to be useful to the students. I also plan to upload exercises from the course for people who might be interested in the course, or its methodology or who might be simply curious how we run such a course.

Stock Markets: Introductory comment

To most people, this will sound like a heresy--An English Literature Professor with an active interest in the stock markets! But I guess we are made of complex elements and if we going to be what E. M. Forster calls 'round characters' in his book, Aspects of the Novel, we jolly well have a number of interests in this world.

I have had an active interest in following stocks ever since I was studying in college. So, this heads back to the late 1980s. But my first investments were made in around 1995, which is still sometime ago.

And long ago, I made Warren Buffett a guru. I have always been inspired by him. I have read his biography and have read so much about him. I have also read the annual reports of his company, Berkshire Hathaway on his website and I have given extracts from his annual reports to my students as exercises in the translation class, where they could learn how such a giant of the world industry could use folksy humor.

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News and updates for all of you

Dear friends,

Now, you can visit my blog to read about various things. You can get updates from Harper's Magazine, BBC News, Christian Science Monitor, Time and also get a new word every day from an online dictionary when you visit my blog.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Magic of Being Barack Obama

I wouldn't characterize Barack Obama as a person. I would characterize him as a phenomenon. When he first got into the primaries, I was faintly excited and then as he won Iowa, I was really fascinated. And I have followed just about everything that has been published on him. Alas, I haven't read his books yet. But I will.

For those who haven't read his Iowa acceptance speech, please follow the link onto New York Times at

And then we had this famous Obama speech on race, which can be read here

I am not supporting Barack Obama because of his race or because of his parentage. I am supporting him because of his ideas, because of his ability to meld people and because of his ability to take people along.

I was discussing Leo Tolstoy in an earlier post. I still remember what Tolstoy wrote in War and Peace. We know that the novel is about the Napoleonic war and that Tolstoy writes Napoleon took an army of 600,000 soldiers. Napoleon himself was always far removed from the scene of the war because of the huge army that he commanded. And Tolstoy wonders about Napoleon Bonaparte, a short man, who wasn't good looking. So, Tolstoy wrote that it was the will of the people of France and the moment of history that propelled Napoleon to that height.

And in Barack Obama, we have the greatest leader that they ever had in the United States. It would be a pity if the will of the people and the moment of history is wasted.

Some changes...

I thought I would change the layout. I guess it would be nice if we can keep changing the layout a bit off and on--to keep it more refreshing.

What say thou?


Rambling on-- about introductions and other issues


I started the blog with an introduction on May 1st--May Day--> and then stopped. Did I really stop? Or was it a small respite? :) I don't want my blog to sound like a place where I trumpet myself and when I started the blog, I had grand visions of making it very systematic. But what's systematic in life? Nothing.

So, how can a blog be?

I am happy I have an anonymous friend who's posting queries and that friend seems like a good, thinking soul. I am also thankful that an old translator colleague from another part of the world welcomed me onto blogosphere.

So, let us dwell on how I came to be into academics and into English studies ...

I was born in 1971 as we already know. I can recollect the first books that I was gifted and they were gifted to me as early as 1978-1979. I remember a kid version of Robinson Crusoe in 1979 and I remember getting Nancy Drew and puzzle books and also a huge Fairy Tales from Grimm.

Then all through the 1980s, I made a habit of asking for books as gifts from anyone who asked me what I wanted on my birthday. I guess I was clever too because parents and elders always buy clothes. So, what's the point asking for them?

I studied in a good public school in New Delhi and passed twelfth grade from there. We were allowed into the school library around 1985 or so, grade ninth, I guess. And since those days, I remember reading of issues of Reader's Digest. I even had a subscription to it. The issues that they published in the last 1970s were very good, especially the book sections. I used to try and read John Keats in 1987 in Class 11th but couldn't make much sense out of it. But in Class 11th and 12th, I had both English Core [compulsory] and Elective, which meant English Literature. I read Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd in Class 12th. I read R K Narayan's The Guide in Class 11th.

And it was in May 1989, when I was 17 years and 6 months that I bought and read Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. I was in College and I had history at Class 11th and 12th but what I learnt from Tolstoy, I never learnt from the great boks of history that I read. He really changed me. My maternal uncle got me that book and I forced him to buy it for me.

Those days, the Soviet Union was still intact and we got those cheaply sold but well produced books published by Progress Publishers, Moscow, and I bought my copy of Anna Karenina soon after. Must be September 1989. What a book! Even today, in 2008, I cannot forget the beautiful Natasha in War and Peace and the reformist Konstantin Levin in Anna Karenina. In November, my brother gifted me Insulted and Humiliated by Fyodor Dostoevsky [also called Insulted and Injured] and I got my uncle, one of my paternal uncles, my father's sister's husband, to gift me Dostoevsky's The Idiot on my birthday in November 1989.

I think if you read Tolstoy and Dostoevsky by the time on your 18th birthday, your life would be changed forever.

That laid a solid foundation.

By the way, I completed my BA in four years, not in three years, as most of us do in India. And I was the college Chess Champion and I was also the captain of my college chess team that won the first prize in the Delhi University Inter-College Chess Tournament.

I guess so much for now and something later. We should have something for the future always, so that people can remain interesting!

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Introducing myself

May 01, 2008

This is my first blog. On May Day. Very interesting, isn't it? That I start a new thing in my life on May Day. How does it feel to start something new in life? Oh my, ask me? You feel the thrill. But how do you characterize it? In what words would you describe it? I dunno...

I am 36 years old. Salman Rushdie wrote a novel, Midnight's Children, where Saleem Sinai was born in 1947, on August 15, 1947, the exact second when India was getting its freedom. I was born in 1971, just around the time, Bangladesh was being born. But I never wrote a novel about it.

Perhaps, I should. What do you think?

My job: I am an English Professor--the exact nomenclature is Lecturer in India [and UK] and the American equivalent is Assistant Professor. I have seen hierarchies in the academic space and I recollect joking with my peers that thank god, in our University, we never had the 'Assistant Professor' thing and that we were called 'lecturers'--at least, that way, we had an image, a presence. If we were called Assistant Professors and if a foreign scholar came, you never know, you might be introduced as 'Hello, I am Professor so-and-so, and he's Mr./Dr. Roomy Naqvy, my Assistant!'

I am sure the Americans never thought of this possibility when they went about naming everybody as professors.

So, that's my name--Roomy.

I'll go into the intricacies of my name some other time.

I am not just an English professor. I used to write poems--published 3 of them and wrote 3 unpublished stories and never completed two unfinished novels. Had aspirations to be a novelist. But I am also a professional translator. You can always check out

I teach a variety of professional courses as well.

We'll go further into more things later on.

Ciao for now.

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