The innocent barter

 

scales

A shopkeeper in the Dharia village always seemed busy, giving groceries to his customers who used to flock to the shop till he closed his shutters by 7 pm. A group of retired people and laborers used to come and sit talking to each other on the wooden planks laid out in front of the shop and comment on the happenings of the day, or about the columns in the daily newspaper which one or two would take turns to read loudly to the benefit of those who were either lazy to read or had pitched their tents only eager to hear gossip.

Every week, on a Saturday, a small boy named Golu used to come to the shop to sell the clarified butter (ghee) his mother used to make at home from the unsold buffalo milk that had few takers in a solitary tea shop and a couple of neighboring houses. The buffalo was the only means of livelihood to his family. Every time, he used to carry a kilogram of ghee and would barter it for a kilogram of sugar or pulses from the shop, as was the agreement with Bansal, the grocer.

As Golu would make his appearance whenever dusk was approaching, some of the elders would inquire about his family, some about his buffalo while some used to tease by calling him as Gheelo (take Ghee). Some used to chide him for unnecessary things just to make him cry, to make merry for themselves, while the only sane guy among them, Raichand, scolded them for showing such behavior to the poor lad.

One day, as Golu came with a kilogram of Ghee, Bansal, the grocer kept it on the weighing scale, as he was busy handing over some condiments to another customer. Someone’s attention in the group fell upon the ghee packet lying on the scale. On the other balancing pan, was a weight of 1 Kilogram. The ghee packet pan was floating in the air and therefore he deduced that the packet contained less than  the weight intended. As was their wont, the issue quickly grabbed the attention of the retired folks and some started making arguments in the shop saying that Golu and his family had been cheating Bansal all this time.

Now Bansal was in his elements having taken up the cue and started shouting at Golu. Such allegations coming at short notice from all quarters forced Golu to tears and he started crying loudly.  Raichand who was also in the shop and who was a retired sales tax inspector consoled the child and asked the others to maintain silence while he got down to inquire as to what could have gone wrong. He was one man who never thought of implicating anyone unless the facts were laid out before him.

Once Golu’s crying had subsided to sobs with deep breaths in between, Raichand asked him, “Golu, could you let me know, how do you weigh your ghee at home in the packet before you bring it here”. Golu between sobs, pointed at Bansal and said, “I always weigh our butter pack against the sugar or the green gram packet that is given to me in barter”.

Communicating in English

reading
Credits: The Huffington Post

I have come this far and out of college or high school and have become what they say a job aspirant!  Popping a long tablet of aspirin is easier but communicating in English especially when it is not your native language becomes a tongue twisting vexation. There are so many books available to improve upon it and some come so cheap from the street vendors, you doubt their efficacy…

When I came out of high school, I could not communicate in English even though my medium of instruction at school was in English.  I thought I could make amends but the situation remained more or less the same when the same me came out of College and landed a job as an instructor. When I started giving instructions , it was then I came to know that I was a below average speaker and needed to bring the level of fluency to a level where my students didn’t  get frustrated or dozed off so much so, that they fell off their chairs.

To cut a long story short, here is my recipe for fluent communication in the English Language for those whom it is not the native language. It should work out for other languages too, but then English is a language which you hear often but have trouble speaking when the need arises…

1. You should have a good reading base.

If you never had any affinity for reading, this is the right time to catch up with whatever time you have lost in the bygone years. A strong vocabulary will come to your rescue when you started speaking in sentences, otherwise you could never frame a sentence without a lot of conjunctions in between. The poorer your choice of words or the scarcity of the right word, you would start sprinkling if’s and buts & and’s more than the amount of pepper in a soup. I don’t have to tell you where you would land..

2. What should you read?

Read the newspaper or pick up any book on any subject that might interest you. It could be on the Arts, pure science, religion or even Humanity. I am sure there would be one or a couple of subjects that might interest you..

Is there any rule to read a book so that my communication improves?

Yes there is. You are not going to read the book or the newspaper at least in this context to memorise it. You are going to read the book fast, slow and loud (not necessarily in that order) so that your articulation of words and training your tongue on how to pronounce words becomes easier. Loud reading is a must for you to be a good communicator. Read some paragraphs of the book loudly as if you are reading to a small crowd that has gathered to see what is wrong with you. Silent reading for an hour is also important as that helps the brain to store them somewhere up there.

3. Why can’t I learn new words and improve upon my vocabulary rather than reading a book?

Good question but honestly reading a book helps you not only to understand the meaning of most of the words automatically based on the context in which they were used and  fitted, but also to reproduce them the same way whenever such contexts arise in your communication. How does this work you might ask? Don’t worry, your brain takes care of it, you need to just do the reading part. Sometimes you switch to a fast gear of reading some paragraphs, so that you can talk fast when you are in a situation where you might get only a minute to explain what happened in an incident ( or an accident) before you pass out. Also check up on those words that acted as speed breakers, this means you are not confident on them, hearing it for the first time or do not understand their meaning. An online dictionary helps with their meaning and how they should be pronounced.

4. Ok the reading part is going on, what next?

The reading part has to be a continuous exercise like the one you do at the Gymnasium in case you want to remain fit in communication.  The next step, jokes apart, you have to start communicating now…

5. Who is going to be my audience? And what Topic should I select?

Ok let us put it this way. There is a small dummy invisible group of people who have assembled in your bedroom wanting and waiting to hear from you on the book you have just read. You do not have to blurt out everything you have read, but can tell them a summary on what the book was all about. Wait a minute. If this sounds scaling or climbing the Himalayas, let us make a small note of it on paper. Go through the main points and once you are confident, it is time to face the group. If you can give some 5 to 10 speeches to such an invisible audience, then you are ready to face your close friends who would like to listen how you have improved on your communication levels.

6. When you start speaking, always know that it would turn out to be interactive.

Which also means that the sort of preparation that you did for your dummy audiences won’t help. It has to be more of a dynamic talk with your friends. Ask them to be a bit patient with you in your trials of surmounting your hurdles. Instead of using your native language for day to day talk, supplement your talk using English.

7. Start listening too…

Switch on your Television and let news channels in English take at least half an hour of your siesta at home. It would be good to listen to the BBC or the CNN or any such native channels in English, so that you know and learn how to pronounce words correctly as you hear them right from the horses mouth as they say…

8. When I start speaking, to whom can you speak?

Start speaking to yourself first silently. For example, narrate to yourself the entire events of yesterday at work or at home and see where you stumble in your silent talk. Imagine yourself being the expert commentator of a cricket or a football match and let go of what ever emotions you think of the rascals on the ground making mockery of the game and the nation they represent..

9. Changing your notes.

Once you have gained ground on your silent speaking, you can switch to a more resonant audible note, yet not strong enough to attract attention. It can be a murmur which you can practise while travelling or commuting as they say or while you are just standing for that idiot friend of yours  for the past one hour with still no sign or sight of  him or her …

10. Summary

I understand that all this won’t happen in a day. It may take at least a few months before you are confident of yourself to be a good communicator and once you are confident enough having practiced all that has been written above, please let me know by Email so that I can send a certificate to you 🙂

Just to list some of the hurdles below that keep you from communicating in English. My humble suggestion would be to kick all of these to the nearest bin and out of your mind.

1. My Grammar is poor.

2. What would others think of me when they hear me out?

Let others think of you or have perceptions based on when they hear you. Let them see your progress and then commend or comment. Be steady, calm and sustained in your efforts to get there.

Your grammar should improve faster once you start communicating because somewhere at the back of your mind and based on the amount of pages that you have read so far (especially if the books had been well written), your brain immediately tries to correct you as you speak, first slowly and then On Demand as you gain in confidence…

The Patient’s Dilemma

Drink water and not something that will deprive you of it.

Perceptions

There is a knock on the Doctor’s door. Dr. Jaison is surprised wondering who it could be at this time of the night when he was just winding up things at work..

Before he could say “Yes”, there came in a burly figure of a man who seemed drunk so much so, that the liqour levels had reached his ears causing problems with his balance.

With a staggering gait and a look at the chair and the bed that both invited him, he finally decided to collapse in the patient’s chair but not before causing a flutter of heart beats to Jaison who was all along thinking that this huge personification would finally collapse across the desk and take him down alongwith the visitor..

Doc: Now there, i can see you a bit disturbed, have you been drinking lately.

Person: Yes I am, infact i just threw the one i…

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Manama, Bahrain

Beautiful travelogue on Bahrain by one of my WordPress friends Rasma. Enjoy!

yamarella

bah

Our armchair travels have taken us to Bahrain. This is a nation that consists of over 30 islands in the Persian Gulf.

 bah causeway 2

The King Fahd Causeway is a series of bridges and causeways that connects Saudi Arabia to Bahrain. The causeway was built to improve the links and bonds between these two countries. It was officially opened to the public in 1986.

bah manama

Its modern capital Manama has left a lot of history behind for visitors to delight in instead of creating an ultra-modern city of steel and glass. The modern nicely blends in with the ancient history.

bah national 2

The Bahrain National Museum is the country’s most popular attraction. Visitors can get a great introduction to its history here. The highlights are the archaeological finds from ancient Dilmun, the reproduction souq covering Traditional Trades and Crafts on the first floor and the satellite photo of Bahrain which takes up most of…

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Rain when will you rain?

Just as someone sends guided missiles to snuff out lives,
ever loving nature sends guided rains to all parts of the land
some as showers, thunderstorms, and then raining cats and dogs
Indian cities are waiting to see scenes and songs such as this below
the countdown to the great Indian monsoon having started
we don’t know how many tons of life giving water will bomb on us
hoping and wishing dear mother nature will provide a bounty
to help sustain life after the smiling sun has shined enough
waiting with anxious breath, rain when will you rain?

 

The Lost Garden

It was an October evening and there on the playground made green by the lush grass and the receding rains were butterflies hopping from one shrub to another on the lookout for that elusive flower that could provide some nectar.

A group of children were huddled together making huts of mud and sticks where the sticks came from twigs, discarded ice cream sticks and dried branches. In that group were budding potters, architects, masons and designers. They surveyed their creation and now made walls of clay. They planted some twigs that now looked as trees in the tiny courtyard. In that group was a boy who was telling stories of long lost kings and warriors to eager ears as the huts were being built.

The sun which was shining so bright on glazed leaves when they had started off was now beating a hasty retreat behind the large block of buildings in which they lived. A miniature well was getting dug and some kid brought water from the nearby tank and poured it into it only to see it disappear. The next generous lot of water persisted in the freshly dug well to make things look complete. They surveyed their creation and sat for some time as the storyteller among them was fast finishing his story partly because it was getting dark and also it was getting difficult to feed his imagination that was now running wild as the script.

There was some sand that had been dumped for construction by a shop long back and this was used by another group of kids who were designing roads and tunnels across and over it.

A puddle of water made by the overflowing tank in the morning had some kids busy digging canals and launching paper boats. This all looked funny to elders and adults surveying the group below from floors above but nevertheless it meant so much to the children who always descended on this play field and got creative every day to make most of the strip of land to feed their imagination.

With the disappearance of such strips of land in metro cities, imagination that was once put to constructive use in such a lost garden, was now restricted to new games that came up for the new generation…

Wonderful foggy night scene at a playground, BBD Bagh, Kolkata, India
Brett Cole Photography

 

The Lost Explorer

Have a plan B and C when you travel to adventurous lands

Perceptions

In search of gold, I land in a forest
where in plenty, are ants of all sorts
that would add to potential costs
as with bites they force me to rest.

I take a long discarded canoe
with a treasure map in hand
that would direct me to the gold
held and lost by an incredible tribe.

In the land of piranha and reptiles,
where the snake and the wolf make
their solo appearance in the dark,
I for one would be at my wit’s end
as to stand still or break into a run.

During my wanderings, I come upon
a deserted hut, that is for me to berth
to lodge myself away from the animals
who are all out as one, to dislodge my
plans and myself from this very earth.

I wake up to see the remnants of my boat
that has been destroyed by some creature
that went this…

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Sands of time

An instance of a dream that I had some days back

A person (me) goes with a message to a distant village

on the way he has to cross a hot desert with obstacles

he meets many a person at various points in his journey

he is surprised to see the same people in the village

but there is something different as people here are sad

but whom he met on the way were very joyful and helpful sandsoftime

got me wondering, if I ever met them in the sands of time…

 

 

Kera Kerala

The land of coconuts ( Kera for coconut) . No wonder some of us drive others nuts or ourselves go nuts.

That said, it is still a great place.

Currently am here on vacation, the weather being hot, not surprising though as Indian summers are always simmering.  I plan to come back here for good in the month of May before the monsoon arrives 🙂

Please have a look and like my page on facebook listed below:

https://www.facebook.com/sunithkollara/

Photo below is from my native home at Thrissur.

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Home is where the heart is

 

Voice of a City

sounds-of-my-city
Credits: SoundCloud 


Tinker of the milk man whose tampering

has broken daily, fresh water records.

The chime of the fruit seller cart where

the fruits were painted in the morning.

The gas cylinders unloaded nearby when

you had ordered one, a fortnight ago.

The newspaper thrown at your door by

the boy who vanishes into thin air daily.

The school bus honking, when the lunch

of kids is still made by the half-maid.

The laundry man dropping your clothes

wearing them before he returns to you.

The fish monger who pedals his bicycle

with lot of fresh ice in his long dead fish.

The lime pickle vendor with his  jarring

having a mix of all except those lemons.

The mat seller who dusts his rugs for you

claiming the dust was picked in Kashmir.

The fire engine arriving at the front door

to contain raging fires at the back door.

The crows cawing out for their daily food

Voice of a city, a craving now, left in life.