41. Fiction: Beloved Dr Ram

This is my first ever attempt at writing a short story. Happy that it got published in one of the major national newspapers, the Kathmandu Post on Jan 13. Not so happy, that some of my lines were ‘changed’.

Fiction-Park---Beloved-Dr-R

 

It was still dark and chilly outside when he woke up. His head was like a ten ton hammer and struggled to lift it. He had too much of whiskey last night. More than what he usually would have. His eyes were red and bleary. His right hand was lacerated from fingers to the elbow; the blood seemed to have dried off. Cursing and mumbling, he dragged himself out of the bed and staggered into the bathroom. When he got out, he realized that his stomach was rumbling terribly because he hadn’t eaten anything while gulping down two full bottles of whiskey last night.

“This stomach must remain silent,” he thought. With each second, the roar inside the intestines was getting louder. “Focus. Focus. I need to focus here,” he tried to talk himself through the torment. His head was throbbing with shattering pain. He knew that he had no food in the kitchen. And no water to drink.

***

Ram was a doctor working in a very reputed hospital. He was already building his own reputation as a surgeon. He had worked hard through the medical school and after completing MBBS with exceptional grades, he had started working in Kathmandu’s private hospital. At 35, he had already managed to create a name for himself. Everyone saw him as a diligent and reliable doctor who passionately worked with the patients. Everyone loved him.

He was charming and he was wealthy. As one would expect, Dr Ram was the most sought after bachelor in the city. Dr Ram was also a little bit strange.

Few nurses had noticed Dr Ram would hang around the operation theater long after any surgery was over. After operations, Dr Ram would insist on being left alone with his patients. With dead patients too. When an operation went haywire and the patient died, he then would shut the doors of the operation theater and remain inside for hours. Everyone assumed that he needed few solitary moments to reflect on the incident. Dr Ram would then come out, fresh and ready for another operation. No one bothered to ask what he did inside the theater with the dead patients.

***

He had to eat something somehow. He had heard news of remarkable feats, people surviving without eating food for months. He didn’t have that amazing stamina. He had to eat something. Someone.

***

Last night was a very weird night for Dr Ram. The hospital was dead still, just like an old cemetery. “Are there no patients tonight?” he thought, “Or are they all dead?” He got out of his cabin and started strolling around the emergency ward. A nurse was sleeping on her desk. The other nurses were not around. The reception was empty as well. The silence seemed strange and somehow menacing, as if something evil was about to happen.

Then, he saw her. As he was about to turn on a corner towards his cabin, she appeared right in front of him. He staggered a few steps back in pure horror. Her eyes were beautiful. Her lower jaw was missing. She had long shiny black hair. Blood was gushing out from her right ear. He took few more steps back. He soon realized that she was not a ghost like in the movies. Nor any kichkandi. She was real. She stretched her hands as if asking for help and moved closer to him.

He grabbed her. Lifted her up and placed her on a stretcher. All by himself. There was no one around. He had to act quickly. He pushed the stretcher along the corridor, into the operation room. He had no time to think. Once in the operation room, he started to cut loose her clothes. Except for her disfigured face, her body was like an angel’s. Dr Ram had never seen such a body. Perfect, without any blemish. She was still breathing, but now she was almost unconscious. She was perfect.

Dr Ram took out a blade and swiftly made a deep diagonal incision on her upper abdomen. She flinched and jerked her body violently. In the few grueling minutes, Dr Ram cut through her abdomen, reached inside and took out her liver. His eyes were beaming like a thousand suns. He had always wanted to eat a liver. He had tasted heart and kidney before, but never a liver. Her body was still shuddering with involuntary spasms; her hand somehow grabbed Dr Ram’s hand. Then, she was calm like an ocean. He gloated over the body. It was perfect.

*****

Dr Ram dashed out of the operation room, and into his cabin. The nurse on duty was still sleeping like a lumber on the desk. He wanted to get out, get to his home fast and relish his treasure. The thought of roasted liver on his plate gave him a mild orgasm. He grabbed his stuff, slung his imported leather bag around his shoulder and the made it toward the exit. There was still no one at the reception office, which he thought was very odd.

The parking area was dead and dark. He fumbled for his car keys. He always forgot which pocket he kept the keys in. It could have been in the front pocket. It could have been in the coat’s pocket. “What is it with my memory and the car key!” he chided himself. He never misplaced his cell phone. Nor he ever misplaced his wallet. But the car key seemed to be his weakness.
Then, he felt it.
WHACK.
Behind his head, at the back of his neck. It was as if a mad elephant had swatted him with its heavy trunk. And, another whack. This time he dropped on the floor like a sack of potatoes. Completely dazed and with both hands and knees on the ground, he gazed up slowly and saw there were two junkies, one with a lead pipe and the other with a pistol. “NO this is not happening.” He couldn’t believe he was getting mugged. Not tonight. It was his moment. He felt a kick in his abdomen. He curled and writhed in agony and begged them to leave him alone. They wanted his wallet, his watch, his car. And his bag. He had to fight for the bag but all he got flattened with thuds of the pistol’s butt on his head and kicks of leather boots on his guts. They picked him up and then threw him like a rag doll over the trash can. Then, they were gone. On his car, with every thing he had.

*****

“This stomach must remain silent,” he thought. With each second, the roar inside the intestines was getting louder. “Focus. Focus. I need to focus here,” he tried to talk himself through the torment. His head was throbbing with shattering pain. He knew that he had no food in the kitchen. And no blood to drink. He had to eat something somehow. He had to eat something. Someone.

Advertisements

What is the meaning of teaching.. what are the metaphors you can think of about ‘teaching’.. Scott Thornbury’s thought provoking post !

An A-Z of ELT

teacher dixon 01“I do agree that it takes multiple aspects of learning L2 with frequent reviews for learners to absorb information”.

So wrote one of my online MA students on a discussion board last semester. The course I was teaching was on second language acquisition, and the tasks that they were asked to engage with focused on their reading (of the core texts), their teaching experience, and their experience themselves as second language learners.

What I started to notice (and then couldn’t stop noticing!) was the persistence of the metaphor of language learning being like absorbing information.  In one form or another, it came up again and again. Here’s a sample:

1. I figure out what the teacher wants/requires then take the info she/he provides and jumble/distribute/ teach it to myself in the way I know I’ll absorb the information then come back to class.
2. I like to think there’s…

View original post 845 more words

39. Issues regarding Nepali ELT scenario – II

nepal-nephal

Pronunciation, Nepali Pronunciation:

I don’t know how linguists or phonologists would take this but when I hear an English teacher pronounce ‘because’ as /bɪkɑ:ʊs/ (be-kows) or /bɪkɔ:z/ (be-kooz) consistently, it gives me a little headache. My friend in ELT class says he’s read Larry M. Hyman’s Phonology: Theory and Analysis word by word and page by page. Yes, he can tell us the definition of Neutralization all right but when he says /pʌləs/ (palas) for ‘plus’ or /ɪmpʌtɪ / (im-pati) for ‘empty’, it just doesn’t sound that convincing. I’m not trying to be a pedant or any prescriptive tyrant here, but you know.

May be people professing Nenglish have the answer to this. I would love to see them add /bɪkɑ:ʊs/ and /ɪmpʌtɪ / into Nenglish lexicon or corpus, because these pronunciations are ever so widely heard among Nepali students and teachers. That’s a good criteria – broad use, isn’t it? I suggest adding ‘eight’ as /ʌi:θ/ (ah-ee-th) too. Not trying to patronize anyone at all, you know.

May be I’ll start saying /bɪkɑ:ɪz/ just to add a new Nenglish variant. If it’s okay for Indian people to standardize ‘knowledge’ as /nɑːlɪdʒ/ (naa-liz), may be it’s okay for me to start saying /bɪkɑ:ɪz/. Well, that’s just sounds like a pretty stupid idea, you know.

Of course, many claim and believe that there’s no Standard English anymore and hence, there’s no standard pronunciation. But, however, nevertheless. Even if /bɪkɑ:ʊs/ and /pʌləs/ – these pronunciations  pass the test of clarity, intelligibility and acceptance in our Nepali context, they will still make me itchy, you know.

OK. Enough of me acting like a whiny old hag. Those are my pet peeves and I think I should keep them to myself. Everyone has one, right? However, the questions strolling in my mind are:
What defines a ‘correct’ pronunciation?
Does pronunciation matter?

Do you pronounce –
dilemma: /dɪˈlemə/ or /daɪlema/ (dai-lay-ma)
determine: /dɪˈtɜː(r)mɪn/ or /dɪtɜː(r)maɪn/ (de-ter-maa-in)
develop: /dɪˈveləp/ or /devləp/ (dev-lop)
people: /ˈpiːpəl/ or /piːpʊl/ (pee-pul)
decade: /ˈdekeɪd/ or /dɪked/(dee-kayd)
(the first being standard pronunciation, the second one being Nepali English pronunciation)?

**
Interestingly, the teacher who says /bɪkɑ:ʊs/ for ‘because’ pronounces ‘Nepal’ this way – /nephɑːl/ (nay-faal), with an aspirated /p/ in the middle. Will this be a common tea-shop pronunciation in the near future?
Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m from Nephal.
I dare not imagine that right now.

38. I beg to differ: what really is Nenglish?

reporter-i-beg-to-differ

If you read an article titled “English, Hinglish and Nenglish” by Vishnu S Rai, PhD, you would get a general impression that Nenglish is actually a reality and is on its way to become a household language in the near future. The article states that several Nepali words have crept into the English language, both in spoken and written form. And, thus it is inevitable, the article asserts, that a new variety of English called Nenglish is on the making. However, as I continued reading the article, the ideas and analysis got more muddled and confusing – and here’s how.

The article says, words like ‘dadu’, ‘copy’, ‘cheat’, ‘typical’, ‘loadshedding’, ‘package’, ‘weightage’ and so on have been added to Nepali English users’ vocabulary. The article adds, Nepali people can understand the advertisement line ‘Marry your daughter for only 50 rupees’ because Nepali people know the context. Even, ambiguous ad lines, like this one: “Parents seeking admission to enter other class may also submit the form..” are charming characteristics and add so much to the making of Nenglish, it claims.

The charm of this advertisement is in the last line. It might seem funny and amusing to foreigners but Nepalese have no problem in understanding the fact that parents who want their children get admitted in this school should collect, fill, and then submit the forms.

How this is charming, beats my brain. Here’s one more: “Wanted 6 persons For Office Sitting…”And the explanation – If there can be ‘baby sitting’, then there can also be ‘office sitting’. The construction, ‘office sitting’ here means ‘taking care of the office’ just as ‘baby sitting’ means ‘taking care of the baby’. Nenglish allows it. You have to have Nepalese pragmatics to understand…

What seems to be a pure grammatical error that probably arose from the need to be less wordy in the advertisement, the article goes on to approve it by saying ‘Nenglish allows it’.  And, one will also find how illogical the “baby sitting/office sitting” analogy is. And what sort of Nepalese pragmatics can be found on those lines, I wonder. (Babysitting originates by backformation of the word babysitter; the same can’t be said about ‘office sitting’. There’s no word like officesitter.)

Then the article goes on to illustrate Nenglish-ness in literary works by Nepali English writers. One particular line struck me speechless – “I have not included Samrat Upadhaya in this list because he lives in the US”. Hmm… but why? By the very definition of Nenglish given by the writer, Upadhyay seems to have contributed a lot to this version of English.

Shambu-da looked at the bearded relative with scorn and asked, “Who are you to talk, eh, Pitambar? A bull without horns can’t call himself sharp.”
(The Good Shopkeeper, Arresting God in Kathmandu, Samrat Upadhyay)

What a logical fallacy! To assume that a Nepali writer can’t have anything to do with the evolution of a language, just because “he lives in the US”.

When Dr. Rai says, “but there is no doubt that a different kind of spoken as well as written English is emerging in Nepal”, it’s unquestionable. But if the features of Neglish should be based on ambiguity, typos, errors and garbled advertisement lines then how does it enrich the English language? How does this promote Nepali-ness into the English language? With most of the expressions imported from Indian English (Hinglish) and some ‘charming’ rubbish sentence syntax, are we really ready to classify and categorize the English spoken/written by Nepali people?

And hence, I beg to differ.

These – words like readywater (for radiator), copy (for exercise book), loadshedding (for power cut), rack (for ragging) – might be intelligible to some extent and context but the possibility of these forms getting accepted as “English” in people’s everyday conversation is very slim. One major reason for this is, English language is not a lingua franca in Nepal. The reality: English is mainly limited in the formal settings (classrooms, course books, newspapers, etc) and it partly exists in code-switching and code-mixing forms during spoken conversations.

Unless these localized expressions evolve through spoken form and survive through usages and eventually get mainstream acceptance in both oral and written forms, I would still consider ‘dadu / copy / office sitter’ as mistakes (in classroom context) or simply “broken English” (in informal context).

Reference

Rai, V. (2006). English Hinglish Nenglish. Journal of NELTA. Vol. 11 No. 1-2 December 2006.

Upadhyay, S. (2001). Arresting God in Kathmandu. Rupa.Co, India.

[Article published on The Reporter Weekly, January 2013]

I was having a healthy discussion about Nenglish with my classmates and my friend Sandesh said: the term sel-roti is unique to Nepal only. So, if someone uses this in English, it becomes Nenglish. E.g.: I want to have sel-roti.
However, I argued, if someone started using yomari in English sentences, will that now become a Newari English then? E.g.: I want to have yomari.

The idiocy of this type of effort to define what Nenglish is or not seems not to cease for a while.

37. Issues regarding Nepali ELT scenario – I

Besides teaching English, I love making observations and ponder over few controversial issues. Like, I haven’t been able to digest the concept of Nenglish, nor have I been able to understand why most of the Nepali ELT practitioners neglect the concept that English is a stressed-language. Those might be too broad right now. My small skull is constantly aching because of some ‘silly big’ questions. But, here, I would like to raise this general, non-controversial issue that has bugged me for a while.

We teach English but do we, teachers, talk in English:

English is the language that we read, write, teach, give lecture in, take exam in, give presentations in, address conferences in, give speeches in…but, interestingly, it is not the language we talk in. It is limited in the classroom, in the seminars, in the workshops and in such formal settings. These formal settings have infact become our cozy comfort zone. And, once out of those boundaries, we switch back to our dear old Nepali language.

In the university I go for ELT program, we usually have tea or momo with our tutors during breaks. Well, we don’t really communicate in English in the canteen. Except for few code mixings here and there, our talks are mostly in Nepali. I recently attended a district level conference of NELTA, and I observed the same situation during the breakfast or lunch time. No one, practically no one, communicated in English.

It’s also the same with my own students of the school I teach in. If somehow we happen to meet in the streets or malls or momo-shops, we don’t use English at all. Outside the school, I find it a bit snobbish to talk with them in English. Besides, they don’t feel that comfortable or responsive if we try to talk in English. There’s this visible ‘awkwardness’ between us if we do that.

Well, I can NOT judge if it’s right or wrong, good or bad, or a matter of concern at all, but this situation does raise few questions:

a) Do we Nepali ELT practitioners communicate enough in English?

b) Furthermore, if we expect our students to talk (in) English even beyond the classroom walls, what about us!

c) Are only the students required to ‘practice/acquire/learn’ English, which is essentially a foreign language for the both teachers and students?

d) What is the implication of this in the overall Nepali ELT scenario and its development?