Reading Hindi is far easier than reading Urdu. This is because Urdu is based on Arabic, which is a script that indicates consonants for the most part. So when I come across a word in Urdu I have not come across before, I have to guess what the vowels may be. It doesn’t help that consonants used as vowels have no standard use: it could indicate a short vowel or a long vowel or a consonant. In some cases, pronunciation may not correspond exactly with the script. An example is the Urdu for “forgiveness”: according to its script (and the Arabic it came from), it should be pronounced as “mucāf”; instead, it is pronounced as “māf.” Read the rest of this entry »
I am going to be in Pakistan for about two weeks. I don’t really want to go, but my parents made an executive decision. Rather than annoy them any more, I’m going along with my father.
I don’t really like being in Pakistan for a number of reasons. Some of them are:
1. The heat. No matter what time of the year it is, it’s too hot for me. I prefer the cold. Even in the winter I need a fan or air conditioner.
2. Brownouts and blackouts. A brownout is when electricity fluctuates or comes in less-than-optimal amounts, dimming light and, more importantly, shutting down air conditioners and slowing down fans. A blackout is when electricity goes out completely. In Urdu when we say that the electricity is out (referring to a blackout) we say بتی چلی گئ; बत्ती चली गई; battī chalī ga’ī; “the light has gone away,” or بجلی چلی گئ; बिज्ली चली गई; bijlī chalī ga’ī; “the electricity has gone away.”
Both بتی / बत्ती / battī (“light”) and بجلی / बिज्ली / bijlī (“electricity”) are feminine. Don’t know if this says anything about feminine nature.
3. Dirt. Pakistan is very dirty and messy. Yech. So dusty, so much pollution. Very unpleasant.
4. Idiotic people. Let us just say that some people can make one doubt how humans ever got to be intelligent and capable of progress.
5. Water. When in Pakistan, I can only drink bottled water. Not even boiled water will do. Carrying around bottles of bottled water becomes tedious after a while.
In an unrelated issue, tt times there is a shortage of running water. Where we are located, this is not so much the case, but if it happens I get very irritable. I need my daily shower. Water issues complicate this.
6. Need for caution. One has to be careful what one says and does in Pakistan. What I can get away with here in the United States I cannot get away with in Pakistan. I usually don’t do anythign stupid, but it gets annoying knowing I am not free and having to put up with Pakistani society’s restrictions.
7. Food. I love the food, no question about it. Problem is that I cannot eat everything, even what I’d like to eat. I have to be careful or else I might get sick. I cannot eat anything that has not been cooked. Even good food from certain restaurants cannot be had because they (the restaurants and their cooking facilities) are unsanitary.
I could go on and on. But I’m going anyway, so I hope to entertain you all with more tales of Pakistan.
One of the courses I took while in college was American history. I expected the course to be the regular regurgitation of liberal claptrap: whites are evil, they enslaved peoples, so on and so forth. But I needed to take the course for a distribution requirement.
I was actually quite surprised. The latest post of Matthew Brown of Socrates’ Classroom, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time, er Truth Is?”, actually reminded me of this.
The one issue that was perhaps most indicative of how history ought to be taught was how the professor and his TAs dealt with the issue of slavery. We read a number of accounts and versions of the issue, which truly opened my eyes. Whereas I was wary of the old “white men enslaved the black man” canard, I truly did not expect to become aware of how racially nuanced this issue actually is. (It also made me begin smirking when Americans of African descent said they converted to Islam (or to the Nation of Islam) as their ancestral religion, shaking off the shakles of the white man, when Muslims in Africa were some of the primary enslavers and slave traders in Africa. The much-maligned “white man” bought the slaves from other Africans, Africans who enslaved other Africans. My, what a tortured story we weave in society nevertheless!)
History is truly something quite marvellous to study. It helps to view issues from different perspectives and to keep in mind that various debates continue to rage within the academic community regarding history: what happened, how important it was, and so on.
I recommend reading Matthew Brown’s post.