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Short Take: Language mixup
April 19, 2014
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Language mixup

In most Asian countries, all praises are for those who can speak English fluently. From where I come from, those who speak the language are hailed as the master of all trades even if it meant they did odd jobs in foreign lands to survive.

My cousin who studies at a university based in the UK was returning home after a year. His parents had sent their driver, whom they had hired after he had gone abroad, to receive him at the airport. The driver was asked to carry his name plate so that my cousin could easily recognise him.

Three hours had passed since his flight had landed and he was nowhere to be seen. The driver called up home to say that nobody came to him and that all the passengers on the flight had left the airport.

On hearing this, my aunt began to cry hysterically fearing the worst. She thought that my cousin had been abducted since he was returning home from a foreign country.

The happy scene soon transformed into a never-ending wait. Just as everybody was about to set out to search for him, my cousin showed up at the door, dragging his bags through the corridor, looking upset.

Before anyone of us could say a word, he exploded in anger.  He accused his parents and family of not caring enough for him and sending a car to pick him up on time from the airport. He said he had to wait at the airport for hours before finally being forced to rent a cab to reach home. This left everyone shocked and confused.

On the other hand, the driver claimed that he had been at the airport long before the flight landed and stayed there for up to several hours before returning home.

It was later found that none of them were lying. The driver was honest while my cousin’s claims were also true. They both had been waiting right in front of each other at the arrivals without realising it.

The catch was that the name plate was written in the native language since the driver could not speak, read or write in English while my cousin could not read or write in Urdu.

Ever since this incident that still makes us laugh our hearts out, my aunt has arranged for special classes for her son to be able to learn our native language apart from English that he is perfect at!
Fatima Suhail

A taste of culture

The UAE offers a perfect example of unity in diversity where an expatriate gets to know about various cultures, history and traditions.

It was such an occasion for me, being an Indian expatriate living in Abu Dhabi. The entertainment section of the Indian Social and Cultural Centre organised a cultural programme to celebrate the new year of various regional communities in a combined way.

It was a harmonious blend of various festivities like Vishu, Ugadi, Poila Boishakh, Bihu, Maha Vishu Sankranti, Varshapirappu, Baisakhi and Gudi Padwa. It united all residents from East, West, North and South of India with unique performances related to their region.

It was such a great evening that gave all a chance to understand that, to whichever part they belong, there is only one derivative for harmony and that is melodious music and rhythmic performance of dancers.

All the artists deserve credit. The organisers gave an opportunity for children and adults to understand deeper the unexplored country they came from. It turned out to be an evening not to forget for a long time.
Ramesh Menon

Perfect politician

Since I was born and brought up in the UAE, I had never experienced the gigantic election process that takes place in India every five years. I had only heard about it from my parents and relatives. But for me it remained a boring talk, until I travelled to India recently, when the country was gripped by the election fever.

Surprisingly, I too got interested in politics. Perhaps, watching news on television or listening to everyone discussing about it changed my opinion. Wherever I went, to the market or a tourist place, or while travelling by bus or train, election was the most important matter for the people. I got a lot of time to have a look at the slogans, rallies and the hoardings on roads.

One thing that I specially noticed was speeches delivered by the politicians. Whether the rally was organised by the party in power or by the party in opposition, speeches remained the same, just the words were different.

“We will offer free education to all. We will provide security to women. We will help the poor and needy,” were what they always said.

I was also told that when elections come most of the candidates start supporting the poor. It was nothing but just a way to get maximum number of votes. After winning the elections, they simply forget their promises.

After acquiring so much knowledge on Indian politics, even I got inspired and thought of becoming a politician. I even prepared a speech in which I made a lot of promises.

“I am not going to be corrupt like many others. I would provide security to women. I would provide free education to poor. I would make a lot of developments. And the United Nations will give us the Veto power. Poor won’t remain poor. The economy will be very strong. And the time of my rule will be remembered as the Golden Era.”

“Oh, am I also sounding like the other politicians?”
Saamia Mujeeb
(Student, Indian High School, Dubai)

Family shopping

Shopping with little kids is not an easy task. Parents spend more time looking after the children, who keep on running to their favourite corners, than in shopping.

Parents obviously do not want their children to break something, fall down or at the worst get lost.

So to avoid this problem they resort to different ways like belting up the kids in their strollers or make them sit on the shopping trolley itself.

Recently, I noticed a woman who made her 4-5 year-old-son sit on the trolley the moment she entered the mall. The boy stretched both his legs inside the trolley. The mother began putting one item after the other inside and by the time she finished her shopping the trolley was full to the brim and the boy’s legs were not even visible.

He started crying and asked his mother to take him out. The woman’s idea of peaceful shopping went haywire and now the embarrassed mother was struggling to take her son out of the trolley.

The only way out was to remove more than half of the items to make his legs free.

She did that, pulled her son out and once again kept all the stuff back in the trolley. But the moment she finished the refilling job, she disappeared leaving the full trolley.

You guessed it right… to locate her son as he had given her the slip when she was filling the trolley. And the nightmare she tried to avoid at the beginning of her shopping returned to haunt her.
Faisal Siddiqui

Grow up, please

I had to take the Metro on a rather long journey. When I boarded the train I saw it was fairly full. There was a place to stand, by a window near the door, and I positioned myself there.

In the next stop, a girl and a guy, probably in their early twenties, got in. They were involved in an animated conversation even as they stepped in. They stood put at the door of the carriage, their exchange continuing as if there had been absolutely no change of scene, and in such loud tones as if they were the only ones on board.

I assumed they would get off at the following station. Stations came and went, doors slid open and closed, and passengers alighted on and off the train, but these two stood where they were, blocking the way, immersed in deep, loud conversation, much to the annoyance of the commuters.

Having nothing better to do I decided to tune in to their chatter. I don’t always pry into other people’s conversation, but this one seemed to be so ostentatious that I thought it was all right to do so.

Their tete-a-tete was “tech” in character, Nintendo and all that, with a brief interlude about why the girl’s (untied) hair was all over the place. It drifted on to a comparative study of the “friendliness” of certain places they had travelled to.

And then, abruptly, the conversation veered to University grants and scholarships and how come the two of them could never win anything whereas some very “unlikely” candidates could easily win such benefits. They spoke about this in a tone of incredulity and scepticism.

I had half a mind to interrupt and tell them that the ones who won grants and scholarships probably knew how to conduct themselves on a Metro.

But I stopped short of telling them that because if all their travels around the world couldn’t teach them that then my two-minute advice on a moving train wouldn’t either.

Just then, the train pulled into the station where I had to alight and as I walked past these two fledglings, I hoped, with time, they would grow up, and may be, conduct themselves better while on the Metro.

Vidya Shankar‘Breathtaking’ idea
What is green economy to you?

A private company posed this question to visitors at the Water, Energy, Technology, and Environment Exhibition (Wetex 2014) in Dubai.

The visitors were asked to write down their views on a notice board.

It elicited varied and interesting reactions, highlighting a growing awareness among people about environmental challenges and green solutions.

“Retain comfort but use less resources,” “Bring back Chipko Movement” (Hugging trees to protect them from being felled), “We cut trees for paper and write in it, save trees,” “Close AC in afternoon summer,” Reduce traffic by changing school timings” and “Solar schools” were among the suggestions.

An Emirati national who was writing on the board in Arabic told this correspondent, “If we do not care about the environment, who will?”

There were others who recommended, “Start from the base, start from the children, they are the base of the future,” “Use blackboards in office than white boards,” and “Stop technology and increase manual work.”

One had a scary suggestion: “Breathe less – generate less CO2.”
R. Ramesh

Birthday gift

Birthdays are a special day for most people. People view their birthdays in different ways, some choose to celebrate, and some choose to not even remember it (for their own personal reasons).

This Friday was my elder brother’s birthday. He likes keeping his celebrations to a minimum with lunch or dinner with family, and a get-together with close friends.

There are many people who have views similar to my brother’s on keeping small celebrations or none at all.

While I, on the other hand, love celebrating birthdays be it mine or friends (if they allow it). Each year, I eagerly await my birthday (Sept.23).

I love get-togethers with close friends (with gifts of course).  This year, I have decided that I will try to do something in addition to my celebrations, I will try to spread smiles to those less fortunate.

Why not share the joy with the unprivileged? Nothing can beat the feeling of being able to make someone smile. It could be anything, giving toys to orphan children or feeding the poor, or think of some meaningful way.

Each year on our birthday, if we help someone even in a small way, we might be able to make a big difference in their lives.
Vismay Anand

Top attraction

I had a chance to attend a Toastmasters Club meeting in Denver, USA, recently. I could relate well with the participants thanks to my earlier association with that club in Sharjah, where I was a member for 18 months.

When I mentioned in my introduction speech about Sharjah, there was glee on the faces of the audience, who began praising the UAE and its famous tourism sites. Many of them said they desperately wanted to see the Burj Khalifa and other such famous spots in the country. I am happy that the UAE has become a globally renowned destination.
K. Ragavan, Denver

Leadership skills

The former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, has been ranked fifth in the world’s top 50 leaders chosen by Fortune magazine. Its latest edition has carried the qualities of top leaders from around the world.

Tough-minded leaders are found trustworthy and reliable to depend on.

I was happy to see two Indian faces among the list of top leaders – Lakshmi Mittal and Anand Mahindra. I searched for an Indian political figure, but was disappointed.

Bill Clinton’s explanation to leadership is straightforward, concentrating on bringing people together towards a common agenda.

Leadership being a challenging quality, its success in politics gives more than the expected returns.

A workshop that I attended some time back was largely about leadership skills of managers. As they are responsible for delivering management goals and objectives, the highlight of the session was about encouraging leadership skills at the middle management team.

Unless people are ready to sacrifice many of their own preferences, the culture of leadership never takes shape.
Ramachandran Nair, Oman

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