The new format is more structured. It gives ample opportunities for readers to ask straightforward questions or to express their own views on a matter and seek confirmation (or otherwise!) from English for You. They can also comment on what I have written in the column. Such comments, if of some general interest, are taken up in the column for examination. Since I don’t claim to be infallible, I also learn from my readers.
Once a month, usually, I take up some significant point of grammar /usage and write an essay on it.
The column titled ‘Miscellany’ is offered as a relief from the rigorous discussions of grammar and usage in the previous three weeks. It touches on various points of literary/linguistic interest (often in a light-hearted way). It may be a piece of writing from current periodical literature exhibiting some point of style; it may be a report on some event of public importance (as in this piece) used as a context for explicating the meanings of certain phrases and idioms; or it may be just a news item having some bearing on the state of English today.
Sometimes instead of ‘Miscellany’ you will find comments on selected sentences from current periodical literature. These comments focus on some significant point of grammar, usage or style illustrated in the sentences cited. I believe this will have an immediate pay-off for the reader.
I hope the new format makes EFU more interesting than before. If it meets with acceptance from Readers, I will be delighted.
There is, however a price to pay. The flood of mail from readers – both e-mail and ‘snail mail’— cannot all be attended to at one go. Replies will have to be staggered. It may take a month or more for some questions to be answered. (Questions which are not of general interest are often answered immediately by e-mail.) And even those who find some of their questions answered will have to wait a month or more for all their questions to be answered. The same goes for replies to readers’ responses. Even the ones selected for presentation and discussion in the column can only see the light of day after some weeks.
The reader should not get the impression that I am some sort of oracle with an answer ready for every question. I am not. Sometimes I am stumped for an answer. Some months ago a gentleman asked about the meaning and origin of the cricket terms: silly, cover point, gully, etc. Although it is a fairly simple matter to look up these words in a good dictionary, it is quite a different thing to trace the origin of these terms. I spent some time studying these words in the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.) but then gave it up. Not having played the game, my knowledge of these terms was just bookish. I decided not to answer the question.
I hope readers will welcome the new format. I also hope they will bear with me if their questions are not answered right away.
Now that the Bangalore International Airport has started functioning, not a day passes without some adverse comment in the newspapers. The place is dusty; the toilets not clean; luggage retrieval has problems; and, yes, idli-sambar is priced exorbitantly.
Before the airport opened the hue and cry was all about the distance. Some reporters actually set out to measure how much time it would take to reach Devanahalli from MG Road. It turned out to be, it seems, a horrifying 3 hours!
But now the question of distance is not talked about anymore. From my house near Cauvery theatre (First Main, Sadashivanagar) it is just one hour. Yes, one hour. But for the bottleneck between Mekri circle and Baptist Hospital, it would take less than 40 minutes to reach the airport. It used to take much longer to reach the old HAL airport. As for idli-sambar being excessively priced, do you know how much a cup of tea costs at the new international airport in Hyderabad? A whopping Rs. 85! (I was there just a few weeks ago.)
Work is still in progress barely a hundred metres from the airport. It is not surprising that the airport is a bit dusty. As for toilets, isn’t it the user’s responsibility to leave the place clean?
Of course there are some genuine problems. I’m sure they will be sorted out soon. The Chief Executive, has already taken steps to make the toilets user-friendly for the physically handicapped...
It is a pity no one talks about the stunning architecture and décor; the access roads which remind one of the access roads at JFK once you leave Flatbush Avenue and are on Van Wyk Expressway...
Does the old HAL airport which is no better than a Jutkastand come anywhere near the BIAL?
But obviously there are powerful interests working against the new airport. So, all is fair in love and war. Give a dog a bad name and hang him. And, for good measure, any stick is good enough to beat a dog with.
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org