Monday, February 21, 2011

A, u! Practice your vowels and I'm yours forever

When we started dating, Boy Wonder wanted me to fix two things about myself.
  1. Be less defensive
  2. Be less sarcastic
Being less of both is a work in progress and I hope I'm reasonably well-behaved and a more tolerable girlfriend than what comes naturally to me. In turn, all I asked from him was to fix his language. Not so much the horrendous Hindi swearing with a rustic tenor that totally blows the cover of his Joe Cool jazzy piano persona. That too but more... like you know, never use LOL, like ever, and talk less like this coz I'm not like the biggest fan on earth of breath-wastingly obvious superlatives or anything. And coz, jeez, how and like why is it so difficult, for like, you know, peeps to polish their klutzy bad ass phrases and drop this totally and completely unnecessary affliction to like employ truck loads of tautology and bullshit verbiage?

See what I mean?

I cried. I cringed. I longed for a companion who didn't have a flair for retarded syntax, for someone who would speak freely, with minimal self censoring, and say what he meant without resorting to excessive descriptors; like, you know, ugly and typical adjectives. Bad enough to keep it ugly or typical, but the redundant duality of both is poison. Learn that, already, I'd SOL - SCREAM out LOUD.

Embellishments of speech take away from sex appeal. This is common knowledge, right? RIGHT? Doesn't he know that by now, after being with me all this time? And then the light bulb shone. It dawned on me that he doesn't! That the reason why this bugger utters excessively long, redundant, multi-syllabic sentences, often of deliberately peculiar length is because of his voice! Which he thinks is sexy independent of the words it hosts! Of course!

Concession: He, boyfriend in question, does truly, have a sexy voice. It's deep and full and kind and warm. Nature has given him the gift of zero shrill but kept it balanced with zero wit. If I give you his number or you meet him somewhere and you're a hot, chirpy sounding chick, he will lower his jaw to sound like Amitabh Bachchan laying it on.

I'm tempted to, if he were game, embed an audio clip with him reading out some really nasty convoluted phrases in his baritone and you'll see why my brain goes into overdrive and my patience snaps like a beautician's thread, over and over again because how is it fair that someone can sound so good but chat such shit?

When people say to us things like, gosh you guys are so different, what do you see in him -- ok, no one says what do you see in him, but if someone were to -- I'd say he's taller than me and he has a deadly voice. Meet my boyfriend, my prop, my crutch, my spokesperson. (Just don't expect any fun or spontaneity from him, but other than that, nom nom, he's my everything.)

Sometimes at parties, when I hover near his elbow and he's dressed well and smelling good and talking, seriously, to a small audience about the virtues of aluminium or why circular polarisation in 3D glasses is bad, I moon out. I look, I glaze, I tee hee inwardly and let him talk. Because even though it - this talk, and often he - bores me to tears - circular polarisation?! FUCK! -- at least he knows his shit. In those moments, at such parties, I'm the prop, the crutch, the vapid butterfly, the arm candy, the rapidly chasing vodka smiler at the inane dumb fuck audience that cares about aluminum.

It's the curse of our relationship. He sounds good when I'm not interested. My ears perk when the matter gets personal and gripping. But by then he knows he's got my attention and -- here's the irony -- falls back on potty thoughts and cluttered speech.

Because he sounds good, he deludes well. It's like the time in school when I thought my running handwriting was round and curly and fabulous. To remind myself just HOW fabulous, I'd write on the last page of my notebooks, as one long word, over and over again: thequickbrownfoxjumpsoverthelazydog. JUST to admire the loops on my q, my j, my y and my g.

Useless analogy, but as far as narcissism went, I knew where he was coming from. And from knowledge strengthened my resolve: Arrogant bastard, I'll teach you.

And so, for the next two years, I proceeded to make the poor guy's life hell. I corrected his pronunciation. I mocked his sentence structure. I laughed at his lofty phrases. I made him squeal for Mummy!

All of this, I still do. But I like to believe that listening to him talk has become more tolerable. His words are clear and flowing. His stresses still need work -- there is a noun-verb difference, for chrissake, between when you say pro'jekt and proj'ekt! -- but overall, the beauty in the voice has been restored. There is appeal. Baritone is back. I can sit back and smacking my lips, revel in the sound of vindication -- or does contentment make me sound more humane? -- as the ice in my glass lands on my acid tongue.

This haphazard realisation came back to me yesterday. We were at a photo exhibition at IGNCA of Raja Deen Dayal.

There is no conclusive answer whether this photograph indeed shows a fakir who walked Deen Dayal's Studio to be photographed or if this was a 'commissioned' fakir whose photographs would later be sold by the Studio and advertised as 'native characters' in the Studio catalogue.

Sahibzadi Ahmad-un-Nisa Begum Sahiba (1910-1985) one of the several daughters of the VIIth Nizam (of Hyderabad) is seen wearing traditional pajamas under her western-style puff sleeved frock. By the early twentieth century most children in royal families were seen wearing western-style clothes combined with a few Indian elements for purposes of modesty.

We were a group of 20. The curator was showing us around. He said the tour would last an hour and a half. If there were questions about the photos, in the course of this sepia picnic, we were not to hesitate. Ask right then, he said, because at the end, and after having seen more than 200 prints, it "becomes a bit overwhelming".

This sent me back ten years to an old habit.

I don't usually ask questions, not in front of crowds, and not about topics I haven't been paying attention to and, consequently or not, know nothing about. It embarrasses me. I am shy to the point of being someone else. Right from the days of math class when the sum would be on the board and the teacher would towards the end of a lesson, put the chalk aside, dust her palms, and ask, any doubts?, I would always, always look thoughtful and slowly shake my head, because I needed the pretence of smartness. But more than that, oh god, please don't let her (i.e. the math teacher) see through my convincing nod!

Doubts were always for later, if at all, to be asked of a trusted source, a smarter friend, someone who understood the intricacies of simultaneous equations or the crappy calculus on the board. Putting my hand up in class, to a teacher, a voice of authority, in a glaringly public space, to ask a question? God, no.

This has stayed. Boy Wonder, on the other hand, is a lot more confident. He's a performer, really. All these years of being on stage paying tributes to his pals, Chopin and jing bang, have stripped off him the self consciousness that mortals such as I still very much reek of. He's a natural. When in top gear, there's no... um-er, you know, like feet-shuffling or stuttering or groping for words or anything as lame.

Yesterday, when I looked at him be the smart ass curious-minded enthu cutlet, much more than the 19 others in the group, asking all those clear, well-strung sentences lending voice to doubts about 'the scale of photographs in the 19th century', 'bromide ink', something about lighting and motion and 'glass print negatives' -- concepts, phrases, word combinations that never occur to me -- I felt very proud of him. This was new, this beading coherent necklaces of measured words and thoughtful content and coupling with a humble delivery.

The inward tee hee was, famous last words, for once, not mockery-based. Despite the bickering we've done this week and the damaging verbal crossfire notwithstanding, I felt comfort in the confidence of his fine grammatical constructs that don't make sense to me but only because as one of those couples with few overlapping interests, bromide ink doesn't push my buttons, and not because he lost me at word eighteen of sentence twelve of a line of thought that was headed off a cliff.

Married couples coming to photo studios for formal portraits were a rare occurrence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. However the status of Raja Deen Dayal & Sons was already established by their royal clients and the local landed gentry were quick to follow with their own patronage.


thebaniyaspeaks said...

I'm ok with the clip idea and letting the janta decide :)

And i didnt say circular polarisation is bad I said active shutter can cause strain and subsequently headaches for the more sensitive people... just as some peeps are susceptible to rainbow effect on dlp projectors (just HAD to add that)

Anonymous said...

The author is really cool. But some of the commentators are just posting stupid words.

Nimpipi said...


Hello megalo,

If you talk like this no one will read you. I couldn't bear for that to happen. Buck up.

Circularly Polarised

Anon: Yes, you're a sage. Unless you're a spammer. Either way, no more stupid words.

Perakath said...

The.Mystic said...

I don't like 3D TV, it's stupid. Imagine watching 'saas-bahu' shows in 3D or Rakhi Sawant *pukes*.

Its sounds like you're in a romantic comedy.

Anonymous said...

"the rapidly chasing vodka smiler at the inane dumb fuck audience that cares about aluminum."

well done ma'am! multiple turns of phrase and social commentary all mixed up and served straight.

it is a very chuck pahlunick (or whatever his name is) sort of sentence;

so you should write a screenplay for a movie with Ed Norton and Brad Pitt mouthing your clever little aphorisms.

Nimpipi said...

Perakath: Bestest thang I read all day! In turn I give you ...

The Mystic: Haan ji, hello ji I see you like your Rakhi Sawant ji:)

I AM in a romantic comedy... except, I guess, when I'm not :)

Anonymous: Please pick a name and come back everyday for I love you so and I never read Charles Michael "Chuck" Palahniuk apparently but you say such sweet things that if you want I will.

One breath! Phew!

Perakath said...

Too much work for me love, sorry.

Anonymous said...

you most definitely should Chuck Palahnuik;

honestly, you have an ability with words, you should think about writing something...

and you can call me k2. for i speak from mighty heights that mortals can only wonder at and tremble.