Sunday, May 17, 2015

‘Tirap Simanta’ by Bhupen Hazarika

For a few days now, I am obsessing over this song, ‘Tirap Simanta’ by Bhupen Hazarika. While Assam continues to have a complicated relationship with Arunachal Pradesh, once a part of its own, this song by Bhupen Hazarika, written in 1970s (I am guessing) offers an example how culture can bridge the gap that geography divides and politics isolates. This song is a tribute to the local inhabitants of the Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh, the Noctes and Wanghus.

The following is a freewheeling translation of the song, with the use of local, indigenous words of the local communities intact, since the strength of the song lies in the use of those words, which have no easy translation. The song, composed by Hazarika, is a heady mix of Asomiya and the local words. I wanted to see what happens when we convert the Assamese into English and keep the local words as they are…

The border of Tirap, the Tirap border
Where there is no end to its beauty
Nocte, Wangchu, Tangsha, Ukli, I have
Witnessed the horizon of their sylvan minds

Look, there is the teen of Tirap, Wangchu
On this fist is the sharp javelin paklu
On his neck is the tilik moni, on his head the kasan
Wearing a small fanat dances showan
Moving their hips covered with short lishas
The young women move with what rhythm
Behind the clouds that embrace the terrible
Hills in a kiss, there appears the sun dimmed

The border of Tirap

Faraway, faraway, I notice the Khumsa valley
Look, there is the muscular Nocte youth
Wearing the samsong shirt
On his head is the khapak of cane and on
His waist a colourful khatori
He is busy in the salt mine

A valley of Tirap is Changlang
Where resides the simple folks Lung Chang
Look, there on the heart of the Tirap River
A hanging bridge made of bamboo
And a Tangcha farmer passes by

Look, they are descending in groups
Carrying the deer on their backs, they are descending
Asked, Kakai, where do you go?
Said, I go to the Margherita haat
Otherwise, all our efforts will be a waste

From the days of Ahom Swargadeo, carrying the salt
Descended the Nocte
Even in the old days, Sri Sri Ram Aata had
Preached before the Nocte king…

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why copyediting/

To use a crude analogy, copyediting is like makeup and a copyeditor is like a makeup artist. If you are beautiful, makeup can make you look more beautiful; if you are not-so-beautiful, makeup can make you look presentable. Same is the case with copyediting. A good copyediting can make even a badly written text presentable.

Unfortunately, however, this analogy cannot begin to explain the real importance of copyediting. A copyeditor can be a writer’s sounding board, his filter of thought through which he would communicate with the world, his first critic and his last guide in the final process of writing.

Writing is a lonely job, and the end goal of a writer is to reach out to a larger public. Yet, it is a dangerous because once a book reaches the readers a writer cannot take back whatever he had written.

This makes the copyeditor’s job all the more difficult. Besides correcting the grammar and language, a copyeditor’s job demands extreme empathy, both for the author in question and his prospective readers. A copyeditor must understand what the author is trying to convey and he must understand what the audience would like to read.

So, apart from a keen eye on the language, a copyeditor must also have a deep faculty for comprehension. He should not only understand the subject in question, he should also understand how the subject can be best presented.

A copyeditor’s job is not just to prefect the presentation, the language, the grammar, the nuances; he should also be able to fine-tune the raw voice of the author.

In this sense, a copyeditor is no less than a vocal instructor. The singer is gifted with the singing voice, but it is vocal instructors who will help the singer fine-tune the voice to make it song-worthy.

How to write a news story/

When you are not sure how to construct a sentence, think the basic sentence structure, Subject + Verb + Object (eg. ‘He said this’ ‘he did this’).

Most news stories are a combination of present perfect, simple past and simple future (eg. XYZ Company has launched a new model; earlier the company invested in offset; the machine will help the company…). The quotes end with simple past (eg. He said.)

It is advisable to stick to ‘he said’ and ‘he added’ in the quotes, unless the sentence demands a different adjective. You can say ‘he argued’, only when it is an argument; you can say ‘he exhorted’, only when it is an exhortation.

Use of colon and semicolon can be confusing, avoid them whenever possible. A colon (:) comes between a grammatically complete introductory clause (one that could stand as a sentence) and a final phrase or clause that illustrates, extends, or amplifies the preceding thought. (eg. KBA has four unique features: this, this, this and this.)

A semicolon (;) is most commonly used to link two independent clauses that are closely related in thought. Therefore, whenever possible, instead of using a semicolon, use two separate sentences.

Try avoid using sentence with two verbs (especially one where a comma (;) is necessary after ‘is’) (eg. What I can confirm is, Sachin is going to endorse this product.). Instead, make it a statement. (eg. Sachin is going to endorse the product.)

The use of ‘that’ after ‘he said’ (eg. He said that he was going home) is not necessary. (eg. He said he was going home.).

If you are not sure, do not use compound sentences (where one or two clauses are used within a sentence.) (eg, Komori, the Japanese press manufacture, which came to India in the 1990s and has an installation base of 1000 kits, is planning something big for future.). It is always advisable to make the sentences shorter. (eg. Japanese manufacturer Komori is planning something big for future. The company came to India in the 1990s and has an installation base of 1000 kits.)

The key to writing a compound sentence is constructing the main sentence. In the above example, the main sentence is this: ‘Japanese manufacturer Komori is planning something big for future.’ If you have the main sentence ready you can keep adding the clauses within commas.

Remember, a comma means a short pause. So, use a comma only when you realise that a short pause is needed.

In a story, if you are talking about a company, it is advisable to use different adjectives whenever possible. (eg. In case of Komori, you can say ‘Japanese press manufacture’, ‘press giant’ ‘market leader’ and so on.)

Double quotes (“…”) are used only in quotations. If you want to quote something in the copy, in a sentence, it is always single quote (‘’).

Only proper nouns (names) have the first letter in capital. Try and avoid using capitalisation in other words. If you need to highlight a word within a sentence use the single quotes.

ALL CAP words are equivalent of shouting in a written copy. Please avoid.

The companies refer themselves both as plural and singular. We use company as singular. Stick to one variation. (eg. Its product unit has two floors, not, their product unit have two floors.)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Fair Tree of the Void

Writes Salil Tripathi/ on Fair Tree of the Void by Vilas Sarang (Penguin India)

Samuel Beckett required two men on a country road to create the stark symbol of 20th century absurdity in Waiting for Godot. Vilas Sarang is more economical. Give him a man and a bare, cheerless room. And instead of adding objects to complete the picture, Sarang would find in the still life sufficient inducement to create plausible yet absurd tales which are part-dream, part-reality, with a wry undertone of black humour. Yet Sarang writes with precision-all that' s essential i s there, and everything that isn't necessary is sliced out.

The lonely man in the room is not pining for a phone call or a letter. He is happy swatting flies and takes great relish in recounting those experiences. Or he tortures an insect between the hour and minute hands of a clock, in the process losing all possible relationship with time.

If the man does receive letters, they're usually in a series, signed by different names, but possibly from the same person. Then, again, they may not be. The letters, in fact, may never have been written. But it doesn't matter one way or the other.

In fact, nothing is certain in these stories, translated from the Marathi. Each tale could be the product of strange dreams, the kind that scare American sophomores to go running to their analysts. Sarang is a graduate of the school of Kafka and Camus, but despite that occidental influence, he is firmly rooted in the Indian milieu.

More here/

Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Hughes Galeano (Spanish pronunciation: [eˈðwarðo ɣaleˈano]; 3 September 1940 – 13 April 2015) was a Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist considered, among other things, "global soccer's pre-eminent man of letters" and "a literary giant of the Latin American left".

Galeano's best-known works are Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America, 1971) and Memoria del fuego (Memory of Fire Trilogy, 1982–6). "I'm a writer," the author once said of himself, "obsessed with remembering, with remembering the past of America and above all that of Latin America, intimate land condemned to amnesia."


Las venas abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America), a history of the region from the time of Columbus from a left-wing perspective, is considered one of Galeano's best-known works. An English-language translation by Cedric Belfrage gained some popularity in the Anglosphere after Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez gave it as a gift to U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009.

Galeano was also an avid fan of football, writing most notably about it in Football in Sun and Shadow (El fútbol a sol y sombra). In a retrospective for SB Nation after Galeano's death, football writer Andi Thomas described the work—a history of the sport, as well as an outlet for the author's own experiences with the sport and his political polemics—as "one of the greatest books about football ever written".

More Here/

Sunday, May 03, 2015

People will continue to write poetry whether it ‘matters’ or not. It is a response to an inner compulsion and acts as an internal stabiliser. It freshens up language. And politically too, it has mattered. Think of Pablo Neruda, the poems of Dylan Thomas during World War II, of Paul Celan, Antonin Bartuzek, Nelly Sachs, Hans Magnus Enzensberger and so many others.

Goa-based poet Manohar Shetty, in an interview with Dibyajyoti Sarma, answers ‘what it means to be a poet in today’s chaotic time?’


When people talk about your poetry, the first thing they mention is the animal imagery. How did you start with it? I’m sure the Panchatantra was not an influence.

No, the Panchatantra was not an influence, but perhaps the shadows of Ted Hughes and DH Lawrence were. Animals are a useful vehicle to comment on the human animal. Lately, I’ve been running out of creatures great and small. Perhaps I need to invent my own imaginary creatures.

Your poetry seems to be obsessed with spaces. Your first book was called A Guarded Space, and the new HarperCollins book is Living Room. There is also Domestic Creatures…

I don’t think I’m obsessed with ‘spaces’, only in terms of feeling constrained and locked-in. Oddly enough, poetry opens up the world. It’s like a safety valve.

I am guessing it has to do with how and where you live. Is this why you have two books called Personal Effects and Body Language?

I’m not much of a traveller, at least in physical terms. Mumbai, Goa, Mangalore — that’s my coastal territory and that’s big enough, though I spent two quite unhappy years working in Bengaluru.

Read the complete interview here.