Month: May 2007

Life is malignant

Life is malignant

Terminal illness — the very idea conjures up gloomy images of those suffering from “deadly” diseases like cancer and AIDS. Yet, aren’t we all suffering from terminal illness? Isn’t life as we know it on planet Earth a terminal illness that always ends in death?

So many stories revolving around patients suffering from terminal illness focus on how the concerned person makes the most of his “limited” time. By that logic, shouldn’t we all live our lives making the most of it?

Irony is that though we seem to know that we will die some day, we live like we will live forever. We pay little attention to our daily lives. We do not make the most of the gift called present. We either wallow in the miseries of the past or live in fear of the future. No matter what we believe, life on Earth can only be lived in the present. In wake of the terminal illness called life from which we all suffer, we ought to make the most of it…

Exclamation Mark

Exclamation Mark

The Exclamation Mark! Comes up these days at the slightest provocation… as if our life is full of surprises and shockers. As an editor, I find many drafts that are full of exclamations. What surprises me though is how such drafts find their way in well-known publications — unedited. Every editor worth is salt ought to know that exclamations are to be used sparingly.

Take for instance, Bombay Times [BT], the metro supplement of The Times of India Mumbai. In BT, exclamations are used indiscriminately. Out of every three snippets, two end in an exclamation. On occasion, all snippets/stories on a page end with an exclamation —with a liberal sprinkling of a few more throughout the copy. Almost all their exclamations seem forced…almost narcissistic, stinking of self importance. It’s like whatever gossip Bombay Times publishes is important and ought to be emphasised. This kind of prose sounds weak and speaks volumes about the writer’s confidence.

As for writers who exclaim too often, they forget that by doing so, they are defeating the very purpose of an exclamation. An exclamation is used when something must be emphasised, or when surprise has to be expressed. It’s like shouting out something so that when you exclaim something, other people will look up. By using too many exclamations, your prose becomes loud — it’s yelling, shrieking, and shouting — needlessly. It’s chaotic.

I recently read a piece in The Economic Times [ET] in a guest column titled, “My First Million”, where Harish Bijoor shared how he made his first million [Read it here]. This otherwise lovely piece (which I enjoyed reading tremendously) has as many as seven exclamations. Oh Boy! Now that merits an exclamation.

When I was consulting editor of Strategic Marketing, I would invite Bijoor to contribute often because he has some fresh perspectives to offer. I remember carefully weeding out every unwarranted exclamation mark. Like most management experts, he’s probably not a trained writer and therefore we cannot expect him to know the nuances of effective writing. His job is to share his experience, knowledge and insight, which he does admirably. It is the job of the editorial team to tighten the text. I don’t know how many exclamations existed in the original draft of the article I have referred to…but the final draft could have done without a few of them.

Exclamations work wonders, when used appropriately and sparingly — to highlight a strong emotion or feeling, which is its purpose. Used arbitrarily, they reduce, instead of increasing, the effect of the language. When reading a text full of exclamations, the reader is likely to stop taking the writer seriously because he gets the impression that the writers finds everything worth shouting about and so nothing is worth serious attention.

Bartering happiness

Bartering happiness

I miss her sweet hello’s and also her hi’s
I crave to hear the sweetness in her voice
My heart overflows and so do my eyes
I know I can’t help it, I have no choice

I wish, I pray, I seek her peace of mind
I want to tell her, “Wait, ‘cos God is kind
It’s only a matter of time before you find
That your tears and fears have declined”

All I want is to always be there for her
To protect her and to be her saviour
I am willing to offer my whole life for her
But in barter, I want her happiness…forever

~© Manoj Khatri~

Visit to paradise

Visit to paradise

I am back after a gap of 11 days. It feels like such a long time…I missed writing. But the time I spent away was in Switzerland, so no complains 🙂

I feel like writing about my experiences in paradise…and maybe I will, someday soon. But I also know that words cannot describe the beauty of the Alps — an endless string of lakes, mountains and green pastures, so beautifully maintained that it’s difficult to believe your eyes. Across the length and breadth, wherever I went, it was awe-inspiring. 

During my 9 day visit, I stayed in Luzern, but travelled to Zurich, Basel, Lugano, Interlaken, Montreo and Olten.Of course I also visited Mt Titlis, Mt. Pilatus, Rhine Falls,  Trümmelbach Falls (Europe’s wildest glacier canyon), and Murren village. Each excursion was worth every franc spent. So too the first hand experience of Swiss precision in every aspect of life.

As you can see, I am very impressed by Switzerland. But I also wonder how can an entire country be so exquisitely perfect??