Tuesday, June 07, 2011


When I was in school, I used to particularly enjoy my English classes, only because of the teachers we had. Incidentally, they were probably one of the best teachers I have ever had. One of our teachers kept on reminding us, "You come here to study the King's English. Don't ruin it with your Hin-glish and all the other nonsense you people blabber all day. At least not here inside the classroom." And it was the teaching which got us all interested in grammar. We came to appreciate the beauty of language.

There was a particular section of grammar which interested me a lot. Homonyms. A Homonym, according to the Wikipedia, is "one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings." Now, in a typical class on Homonyms, our teacher would fire words at the class, and the students had to come up with sentences to bring out multiple meanings of the words. This exercise, you know, really made us think of all the different possibilities with the word. We used common words in ways that surprised us. When I think about it now, it is amazing how our teacher made us get kicks from language, similar to how we would later get when we solved a complex differential equation. Over time, this developed into a deep sense of appreciation for puns, play on words, and probably an improved sense of humour. Like, you know, it made you appreciate sentences like - "Whoever came up with 'The grapes are sour.' probably had a lot of whine.", or, a comic like this:

So, I remember this particular English class on Homonyms from when I was in class 7. Our teacher fired words at us and we shot back with crisp sentences. 'Scale', came the word. "I used my scale to measure the width of the table.", came a prompt response. Then, the class was lost for another meaning. I saw my opportunity, and blurted, "I want to scale the Mt. Everest." You know that smug feeling you get, when you get extra credit for doing something others couldn't. My face shone! When the feeling had subsided, I got thinking about how brilliant my answer was, and realized, although my answer had been deemed "correct", it wasn't really correct in the truest sense. If you think about it from a broad perspective, scaling the Mt. Everest is as good as measuring its height, as if with an actual scale! Soon, I found myself trying more and more to unify the meanings of Homonyms I came across.

It makes perfect sense, you know. When you witness a live concert, you are actually living it (different pronunciations, I know). Or, that a minute is really a minute unit of time (again, pronunciation). Or, that a project is a project-ion of ideas. And that refuse is something which you refuse to have inside your house. There is an interesting anecdote about how the expression "breaking the record" came into use (the Homonym here being, of course, record). In olden days, people used to literally "break" the records engraved on stone tablets when someone bettered it...

... all of which brings me to chance. When we look back on our lives, we find how much of it was really based on chance. Chances we took, chances we got. Chances we gave, taking chances on something. On how many times we took chances on all the chances life gave us. On how we messed up some of the chances we got by taking an unreasonable chance. And that there was always a chance for the things that went right for us to go equally wrong. And when we look ahead into the future of our lives, and try to "plan" it, how we want one chance, just one chance, to turn our lives around! Or get another chance to make things right, which, it so chanced that it didn't go well the last time. You know, given a set of circumstances and understanding, we take a chance on the best possible chance we get, even when chances of success look grim.

Chances are, Life will give you another chance, you just have to wait long enough, you will know when you get it. Or, if you have waited long enough, you'll know how to create one for yourself. Aur jab tak mauka naa mile, tab tak mocha se kaam chalaa lenge!