Friday, June 1, 2012

Oops I did it again!

I always found grammatical correctness in languages to be painfully acquired wonts of the elite, forced upon plebs like me. If communication was of utmost importance, why would a preposition here or there make any difference? I stood by my stance until the day my mistakes started taking a heavy toll.

In 2003 I had taken a six month sabbatical from my job to go and work as an assistant director for a feature film. We were shooting in Mahabaleshwar. A small hill station. The shooting location was atop a hillock. All the utility and vanity vans (used by actors to rest and get ready) were at the base. The intelligent thing for any production/direction assistant is to gauge the shoot requirements of the next shot and keep it prepared so that as soon as the current shot gets over, you can start with the new one. Thus wasting no time.

Direction, production, art direction/setting, costume, make-up/hair, sound, camera, lighting, artists etc are the main departments that work in tandem at any given shoot. For a small crew working in a far off terrain, each department is given a walkie-talkie so that all are in touch. Unfortunately they happen to be at the same frequency and can generally hear each other.

My director asked me to go and rehearse the next scene with a famous villain (oh how I wish I could name him he he he :) in the vanity van and get him to the shooting location the moment I was asked to do so. I descended the hill. Knocked the door of the van. Rehearsed the dialogues with the actor. All was smooth. It was dusk. The most trying time of the day for any crew on location. Tempers flare and patience is unheard of at that time. The reason - sun is going down fast, we are losing light and one little mistake can mean that the whole crew has to come back to the location next day to film one last shot. Disaster in terms of waste of time and money.

So, when I didn't hear from anyone at the shoot location, I asked on the walkie, "Hello, what's the scene? Are we doing this shot today?".

"Yes, yes get 'the villain' to location fast", they almost barked. In the frenzy of setting up the next shot, they had forgotten to pass the message to me. I got out of the van quick and fast. Asked the actor to join me. But  like all actors, he wanted to take a good long languorous look at himself in the mirror and touch-up his hair and fake mustache again. I told him there was no time and we had to hurry. Nice guy, he obliged.

We both started climbing the hill. He being a little overweight was a bit slow and me even slower as I was carrying many things. All departments started getting anxious. Asking me every 2 minutes where were 'the villain' and I.

"The shot is ready, where are you?" is a statement equivalent of a time bomb on a shoot. A bomb that will explode on your head.

"मैं नीचे हूँ. मैं क्या कर सकती हूँ. अभी वो ऊपर चढ़ रहे हैं. वो थक गए हैं. Don't worry he will come in a few minutes".

The bomb did blast. The laughter bomb. Eight departments which heard it on the walkie-talkie burst out laughing. I was so stressed about the shoot and the impending scolding that I didn't get the joke.

When I reached the top, there was still some sunlight and we finished the shot. I asked my director what was wrong and why everyone clapped when we had finally landed on location. He saw how worked up I was. He didn't say anything much, just asked me to be careful and 'always use as many nouns I can', in a sentence.

I got to know of the whole joke later and still regret why I didn't say " मैं नीचे vanity van में  हूँ. मैं क्या कर सकती हूँ. अभी वो location की तरफ hill पर चढ़ रहे हैं. वो थक गए हैं. Don't worry he will  come to the location in a few minutes".

I have been very careful after that. Especially with cab/auto drivers. I never forget to add 'bridge', 'flyover', 'any given building name' while giving directions like "Bridge के नीचे/ऊपर से लेना" etc..

But last week I did it again. Our Hitachi Air Conditioner has been giving us nightmares and despite million reminders, it hasn't been repaired yet. I was going to be out of the house on the time they had given for repairs. I decided to record my conversation with the service center as a proof of the time given. I did record it but the sound clip is nothing less than an episode of Comedy Circus and completely inadmissible in any court.


Because I forgot to use NOUNS again. Here is the gist of my recent grammatical harakiri -

"I have been waiting at home. कोई आया ही नहीं लगाने के लिए. मेरे husband घर पे नहीं होते, I have to first call and check if he will be there. मैं आपको फोन करके बताती हूँ तब  आइएगा. और इस बार ज़रा time पे आना. 

Why couldn't I say "I have been waiting at home for the service engineerकोई आया ही नहीं AC के parts लगाने के लिए. मेरे husband घर पे नहीं होते,  I have to first call and check if he will be there to get it repaired. मैं आपको फोन करके बताती हूं तब ही आइएगा. और इस बार ज़रा time पे आना  AC repair करने. "

Save yourself from linguistic suicides, use clear Nouns & Verbs in your speech and correspondence.


  1. Ha ha ha ha first read on your blog...........almost falling down.....So darn true!

  2. He he! Very entertaining! Particularly the earlier experience.

    Though you are not alone in committing these type of linguistic mistakes- most of us have done so at some time or the other. :)

  3. Hi Blogwati :) welcome to Raindrop. I know, these things are so funny...especially in hindsight. At that time one just doesn't realise.

    Hi Manju :), yes even I find the previous to be more hilarious...and the public embarrassment it got me...ufff they laughed at me for the whole shoot schedule :)

  4. Good one, Raindrop. Quite enjoyed the humour, especially the first one. Yes, nouns are really really important. Few years ago, when I was attending a sports event, the coach wanted one of his players at the table. So he asked his assistant to call her. The assistant yelled out saying - 'the coach wants you'. Well he could have said, the coach wants you to be at the table?

  5. ha ha sahi :)it reminded me of a cat lover friend who was looking to adopt a cat. she saw a really cute tomcat and squealed "I want his babies"....ohh how much we all laughed :)

  6. This is hilarious..and we all murder Hindi all the time

  7. LOL :D that was too good..well it happens most of the time with many people.My mother is very particular about all these and she doesn't leave any chance provided to her for correcting someone after having a hearty laugh on what one has said :P

  8. P.S.-When we used to have our physical training classes at school our sir used to say to the whole class standing there after the drill exercise used to get over "Come closer girls" :P (I was in a girls school)
    Everyone used to burst out laughing.though we never did let it be known.

  9. Yes these innocent faux pas make life so interesting. 'Come closer girls' ha ha...I can imagine what the girls must be going thru to keep their laughter under wraps :)


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