Saturday, November 16, 2013

English Bites!

Having studied in institutes that taught in English all through, I held high opinions about my grip on the language. That is, until I read "English Bites!" by Manish Gupta. 

Some of my classmates in college did not know English well, and I have seen them struggle with the language. I can identify the difficulty in studying and conversing when you do not know the language. This book starts from a similar background - it is the author's own journey from not knowing English at all to knowing the language inside out?

As children, you too may have wondered how strange a language English is - Why is CUT and PUT pronounced differently? Why is the P silent in PSYCHOLOGY? Where is the vowel in RHYTHM? Similar questions may have come to your young mind, but you had to accept these idiosyncracies and move on in life.

Manish, however, is not someone who would let go. While he learnt the language, he would dig up the etymology of each word, forms sentences or phrases to remember their meanings, finds out different ways one can use a word, what its synonyms and acronyms were, and whatever possible was there about a word!

He has compiled all his findings in this book, and narrated it in the form of a hilarious tale. There are notes and sometimes exercises for those who want to learn more. Read the book slowly, and you would enjoy it immensely. If you try to rush through it, it'll appear like an English word book. 

Unless you are a facuty or student of English, you would find in this book words you had learnt once upon a time but have forgotten due to unuse, words whose exact meaning you dont know but have guessed from the usage and words you absolutely haven't come across. Even if you are someone whose life revolves around English, there would be something in this book for you to discover!

In my childhood, my Granny used to advice me to note down new words in a copy whenever I learnt one. Needless to say, I did not do any such thing. This book appeared like a job done to me!

I will give full five stars to this book, for it achieves its purpose to the hilt. My Dad also read this book, and loved it much more than I did!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Aisle Be Damned

Are you a frequent flyer? Even if you aren't, you must have flown by any airlines from one place to another some time in your life? If you belong to any of these categories, you'd enjoy this book. And just in case you are yet to step in an aircraft, this book will get you looking forward to an airborne experience.

Rishi Piparaiya, the author, as he puts it, has a "1000 plus - flight career" across both international and national boundaries. And he is utterly bored of it. See, I may fly a couple of times in a year, and I find plane journeys predictable and don't think much about them. For a person who has flown so many times, you can imagine that he'd go crazy. And that's when he starts noticing finer details - and a compilation of his take on various aspects has evolved into this book.

For example, he advices that a passenger hopeful of being upgraded to business class from economy should be wearing an expensive jacket and look very polished waist upwards - and may even opt for shorts below, because the attendant at the check-in desk would just glance at your upper half. Rishi gives you tips about whether you should opt for a window or aisle seat, whether you should rush while getting in the airport bus, or what to say lest you be seated against celebrities.

There are some really funny parts in the book. You may have witnessed the in-flight demonstration of security aspects, but have you given a second thought to the language used? Rishi wonders why the Hindi version seems so out dated - using terms like "nishedh", "vilambh" - words no one uses in spoken language.

Read this book to learn about Rishi's experiences, and you'd find yourself grinning for most part of the book!

Bon Voyage!