The Grammar Police

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Hello!

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. I thought for today’s post I would talk about something that has been on my mind a lot lately. Grammar. Huh?What are you talking about, you ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Let me preface this by saying that I am in no way proficient in grammar and I do make efforts to correct myself continously and learn from my mistakes.

So, I think this may resonate with you if you are from India and have moved to the US or the UK to study or work. You have a language barrier. Even if you have been conversing in English all your life, right from kindergarden and speak impeccably. Indians are taught the Queen’s English in school but somewhere along the way, we introduce a touch of Indianness and so it becomes Indian English. Let me say that when spoken properly Indian English is clear and concise. When you get to the Uk, things are fairly smooth language-wise except that you probably need to pay a bit more attention to how the words are being pronounced as we are not accustomed to the clipped British accent. You have to get used to slightly different dialects as you travel through the English countryside. Cockney is perhaps one of the hardest to follow. I cannot fault the British accent because (Mark Darcy no Colin Firth can do no wrong)  it is where all other English accents originated from and it is all very propah proper although they could afford to loosen up a bit!

Now, the American accent is a little harder for people who have come from India. Oh, sure a visit is easy enough but if you are to live and work here you better learn American English where the spelling and vocabulary is completely different. The grammar and pronunciation are poles apart from what we have learnt in school in India.  One of my friends was recently made fun of for using the word expired in relation to someone passing away. In India and perhaps the UK this context is acceptable but in the US, it doesn’t make sense as expired can only mean validity of a physical object. A lot of people don’t realize that one word can have different meanings in different parts of the world and that theirs is not the only correct definition. Isn’t that the beauty of the English language? Also, I think it is pretty cool that we need to remember Indian English, British English and American English all at once and change the grammar and pronunciation around to suit our audience :).

I’m sure English professors around the world shudder at what has become of the language today. That is because text messaging lingo is now used as an acceptable form of spoken English. Another reason is the concept of plugging in like and whatever anywhere in the sentence and it is considered the norm. The more likes you put in a sentence,the dumber cooler you sound. I think both these words are probably the most used world over. The only up side to this is that you can probably start a drinking game whenever you hear the offending words.

I’ve noticed that a lot of Indians who have been living in the US for a number of years confuse genders, mix up tenses and hit a hard J for jalapeño. I request you- pick up a grammar book for goodness sake! English is not our first language and we are in another country so why not make an effort to learn the language correctly. You are making the rest of us look bad for not trying!

My thought now as I finish this post is that I wish Professor Higgins  would give all of us a quick refresher in grammar or maybe I’ll just rent My Fair Lady this weekend.

What are your thoughts on grammar and today’s vocabulary?

 

I am…..Thankful

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Happy  Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful day with family and friends!

Thanksgiving was new to me when I first came to the US. At first, I used to enjoy the holiday because I didn’t have to go to school or work. But of late, this holiday is more of a ‘Friendsgiving‘. I am lucky be around friends and share laughs over wine and plenty of turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pie!

Whether we celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I think it’s nice to take a moment every day to just be grateful and thankful for our blessings. One moment where we stop complaining and whining about all the things we don’t have in our life and instead focus on what we do have and the people in our life who make us smile. It’s not an easy thing to do but I do try consciously to remember to count my blessings.

I am thankful for everyone in my life- family, friends and workmates.

How was your day and what are you thankful for?

 

Weekend Story: Movie and Kipling Holiday Party

Hello peeps! This past weekend was quite a fun one so I thought I’d share it with you.

The weather in New York is super duper cold so my friends I decided to spend Saturday afternoon watching  The Hunger Games movie- Mockingjay at Lincoln Theatre in New York. I love this theatre because it looks old world compared to a lot of the other theaters in the city and the interiors are dimly lit. There are paintings and movie posters of some of my favorite old movies.

 

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There are a lot of negative reviews about Mockingjay. Anyone who has read the book knows the first half is building up to the final war so its bound to be focused on dialogue, less action among the main characters and angry glares from Katniss. The downer aside from a dressed down Effie is that you have to wait for the last part and by then you may have forgotten where you left off! Anyhow I enjoyed the movie except for this teenage kid who was sitting next to me decided to eat right through the movie. If he wasn’t crunch crunch on the popcorn, he was crackle crackle with his chocolate wrapper. Then it was pop, fizz, pop with his soda! But I guess this was way better than squealing girls in a Twilight movie.

After the movie, we went to Kipling’s Holiday Party in New York City. Kipling opened its first permanent store in the city on November 20th. We stopped by the holiday pop-up store in Soho where to celebrate their opening there were cookies and wine, fun stick-on holiday tattoos, photo booths, monogrammed notebooks and bags. Wait, did I mention this was free? Yay! They also had musical performances to keep their guests entertained. And just as we were leaving, we were given coupons to receive a free gift at the Macy’s store in Herald Square, New York. We were so surprised! Kipling really knows how to throw a cool partay! Thank you Kipling! This was also the first time I perused their website and they have a lot of really cool handbags and accessories which I’ll be checking out soon!

 

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My Goodies!!!

 

 

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All in all a good weekend, don’t you think? How was your weekend?

 

New Orleans…Part 3: Garden District

Welcome to part 3 of my New Orleans trip! Be sure to check out my travel tales in  The French Quarter and Plantations & Gators.

The Garden District is a neighborhood in the city of New Orleans and  it was the last leg of my trip. I took a streetcar -a 1920’s kind of train/trolley from the French Quarter to  the Garden District and met my group tour guide. We kicked off the tour by visiting the famous Lafayette Cemetery. When you first enter the cemetery you notice that it is very well preserved  considering it was first established in 1833 and has seen so many weather changes. A lot of the people buried at this cemetery died from yellow fever and for a time the funeral business was quite a lucrative one! Some of the wealthier underground residents had huge and fancy tombs and crypts constructed for their after life comfort while the very poor were given vaults where the entire family, sometimes generations were buried in a single vault!

 


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Lafayette Cemetery is a very popular location for Hollywood movies and TV shows and if you are a movie buff you will probably recognize a lot of parts when you visit. Movies like “Double Jeopardy”  and “Dracula” and music videos from LeAnn Rimes and New Kids on the Block were filmed there.

My next stop was walking around the Garden District and admiring all the houses in the neighborhood. Our guide entertained us with stories of different residents some celebrities included. I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember who owns the respective houses in the pics below. Just that they were very beautiful. I remember especially that John Goodman’s and Sandra Bullock’s homes were spectacular. We also saw Nicholas Cage’s house and the Manning brothers’ parents’ home. Brad Pitt and Angelina’s house is also in the Garden District but we didn’t get a chance to walk by their house.

 

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Finally, our tour ended at noon and I was starving. We conveniently ended the tour near a restaurant called Commander’s Palace and our guide encouraged us to definitely try the weekend jazz brunch. So I did! Let me just say that I have never had such a wonderful dining experience. Sure, I’ve gone to plenty of restaurants where the food is delicious but a divine dining experience is when the food and service are exceptional and that was Commander’s Palace. I even got my “doggie bag” in a duck!

 

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The frosting on the cake or in my case the delectable bread pudding soufflé with whiskey sauce was the trio of jazz performers who went table to table and played some of the guests’ favorite songs and some of their own. It was my friend’s birthday so obviously Happy Birthday was one of them! I would definitely recommend treating yourself to a jazz brunch if you are in the area.

So when are you planning your Nola trip ?

 

New Orleans…Part 2: Plantations and Gators

I’ve always been fascinated by the South and often imagined what life must have been like in the 19th century. Stories of cruel and kind plantation owners, the struggle of  slaves, the southern drawl and the famous southern hospitality contribute to its rich history. If you haven’t already read part 1 of my New Orleans trip be sure to check out my post on the French Quarter first. There are information booths strewn across the Quarter which have day trips going out to the plantations and they often club a plantation with a swamp tour so that’s what I did.

There are a lot of plantations in Louisiana and two of the famous ones are Oak Alley and Laura. Laura is a sugar plantation and it supposed to be very beautiful architecturally but the two times I visited New Orleans I went to Oak Alley. It.Is.Beautiful. Enchanting. I cannot describe how magnificent the grounds look when you catch your first glimpse of the plantation. Oak Alley is located on the Mississippi River in a community called Vacherie. There are  double rows of live oak trees fourteen on each side forming a beautiful canopy which leads all the way up to the house (more like mansion!) which sits majestically in the center of the plantation. It is totally like a scene out of Gone with the Wind.

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The interiors of the house are exceptionally well preserved. The sparkling chandeliers and the gleaming hardwood floors  along with decorations of that period echo the romance of a long forgotten era filled with debutante balls, dance cards and long flowing skirts. I almost half expected to see Scarlet O’Hara greet us from the top of the stairs!

During the tour, our guide gave us an insight into some of the traditions and customs of the southerners of that time and especially that of the family that lived at the plantation.  They had what was called “courting candles”. When prospective husbands came to visit, the father would turn the candle to a certain height- tall if he approved and short if he didn’t and the suitor would have to leave once the candle burned down to the first rung of the candle holder.

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Another really interesting custom was that a pineapple was and probably still is considered as a sign of welcome in the south. The fruit symbolizes hospitality and at Oak Alley guests received a pineapple on their tray in their room. After a few days if they received a second pineapple, it was the hosts’ not so subtle way of letting their guests know that they had overstayed their welcome! Talk about your mixed signals! I had no idea fruit could convey so much. But then on the other hand so does a horse’s head.

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The view from the balcony is spectacular with all the oak trees forming a long passage way. I could look at this all day!

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Fun fact for all you movie lovers -the plantation was used as a location for Django Unchained and one of my favorite thrillers Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte.

Although the grounds and the interiors of the house give you a glimpse into the rich lifestyle the plantation owners had, it is only when you go outside and see how the slaves lived, you feel your heart is being ripped out. Oak Alley has all the artifacts (tools, meagre utensils, handcuffs, neck braces and other torture tools) used by the slaves on display. The exhibit has the names of all the slaves that lived on the plantation through generations as well some of their stories which will bring tears to your eyes.

Oak Alley wonderfully depicts what life must have been like at the plantation for the owners but also brings to light the horrors of slavery. If you’re visiting Louisiana, I would definitely recommend a trip to Oak Alley.

I took the Cajun Swap Tour twice, once with my mom this past summer and one with my friend last Dec. I was very glad I went twice because in winter the alligators don’t feed while in July they are ready to gobble up anything you throw their way! The swamp tour captains were very knowledgeable and regaled us with anecdotes of their gator escapades, witch hunts and ghost stories that has plagued the bayou for generations and even caught the interest of the Discovery channel. We went deep into the swamp on a boat and the captain handed out live turtles and shells to pass around.

 

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He also brought on board a non- venomous albino snake which did not have any fangs and we were reassured that it was one of the most friendliest snakes he’s ever encountered. It wasn’t very big but it had a really tight grip around your hands and arms. I am quite terrified of snakes so I gave it a miss but my mom was really brave and held it for a few seconds before passing it on. We also got to hold a baby alligator whose mouth was tied up. She squirmed a bit what with everyone holding her and taking pics.I’m sure she was quite uncomfortable.

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When I went in July, the gators were still feeding so the captain took out chunks of meat and threw it at them. He knew most of them by sight and even had nicknames for them. One, I remember he called “Leftie” (no well formed left leg) was his favorite. As soon as our boat approached, all the gators would swim closer and start jumping up to catch the meat that was thrown at them. It was really cool to see the way the captain interacted with the gators. It was obvious that he loved being around them and treated them with respect but I was astonished to find that the gators not only recognized the sound of his voice but they were also playing with him! Pretending to ignore him, then circle back and grab at the meat dangling in front of them. It was really fun to watch. All the while, the captain kept us entertained by giving a lot of tidbits about the habits of gators, other animals in the swamp and welcomed questions. One question someone asked that really stood out for its stupidity was ” If i put my hand in the snake’s mouth, will it bite?”. I think most of us laughed. Our captain without missing a beat replied “Anything with a mouth will bite, so I wouldn’t try it”. Basically, use common sense! So the saying “there is no such thing as a dumb or stupid question” doesn’t apply here!

For anyone visiting New Orleans, I would definitely recommend doing a plantation and a swamp tour.It is only about an hour or so outside of the Quarter and a wonderful way to spend the day!

Stay tuned for part 3 of my Garden District Tour where I visited million dollar houses aka celebrity homes, the historic and beautiful Lafayette Cemetery and the really fabulous Commander’s Palace restaurant.