Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Translator's Day

This translator's day now begins with the day. Earlier it began at dusk on the week end when client’s love to send work and ended some weeks later when the work was dispatched. Now it’s just get out of bed, log on.
There was a lot of desperation because one is not working in the best of conditions.
There was more desperation as one skimmed through the various groups in between hours of typing at break neck speed- one person finds it stupid of translators to seek help with terminology and assumes that one has posted queries without any search. Another accuses one of being firang.
On the "White" site, there is the usual bashing of the Natives. Good fun for the Pale Face especially since most sensible Indian translators are too busy working to be bothered to hang out at such dhabas. The Chinese are inscrutable - they come, they post and they vanish. The Malays have no axe to grind since they only work within their native language... and English. They are equally discreet about the rampant Islamophobia. There is a kind of Jihad watch going on at the "White" site and I'm now in the line of fire for trying to say that it's not about Islam, it's about the oil.
It's 5 pm now- must get off this chair before I fossilize here.
And then? A minimalist shower, brush teeth (yech- that's my iguana breath out there), try not to burn the rice tonight. If resident Boy needs chauffeuring, Man and translator will do the needful and thus provisions will also be bought as in fruit, some booze for the 2 middle aged workaholics to ease the tired muscles at the end of very full days (work work nor dare to shirk while goblins laugh).
There might be a breakfast meet with local translators- looking forwards to that. Although the present 11, 000 words will be followed by another batch. Thankfully the client is as sweet as ever and has sent me the word counts so that I can invoice- some money for when this one's put out to pasture. I doubt that even then it will be enough to buy the simplest of roofs over the head but what the heck! At the end of the day all a Hindu needs is the Rs. 10,000 for the cremation (wonder what it'll be when this one croaks?).
That was pretty morose and hope tomorrow won't be more so. Hehehehehe, cackle, mrhahaa, cough cough cough. Yes, I'm still smoking like a fish.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Alliance Française de Kuala Lumpur

In Delhi/Gurgaon it was hard to get to the Alliance. Here in KL, I visit it every two weeks, using my son’s student card to borrow books, magazines, DVDs, CDs and comics.
This week’s bagful:
Debussy – PrÉlude À l’aprÈs-midi d’un Faune
I left my copy of Mallarmé’s poems along with all my French treasures with a friend in Gurgaon.
I was introduced to Mallarmé by my French teacher at school. This gentle French woman, Brigith, with wispy straw coloured hair, was named “Radha” by the Mother (of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry). She was very bespectacled and, though quite plain, it was she who opened the windows of my soul to French poets like Rimbaud, Verlaine, etc. We would just sit and read the poems together- no homework, no nothing in that school.
But here’s my favourite one


Mon âme vers ton front où rêve, ô calme soeur,
Un automne jonché de taches de rousseur,
Et vers le ciel errant de ton oeil angélique
Monte, comme dans un jardin mélancolique,
Fidèle, un blanc jet d'eau soupire vers l'Azur!
- Vers l'Azur attendri d'Octobre pâle et pur
Qui mire aux grands bassins sa langueur infinie
Et laisse, sur l'eau morte où la fauve agonie
Des feuilles erre au vent et creuse un froid sillon,
Se traîner le soleil jaune d'un long rayon.
Stéphane Mallarmé

At the KL Alliance, I also borrowed Eurojazz – a medley of stuff with very African touches.
Films: Les Tontons Flingueurs and Les Barbouzes.

There was a discussion on French films at and I got this one as a result. It’s priceless. Sadly, it didn't have English subtitles and so I was rattling off a translation to help my hubby understand what was going on.
Here, you can listen to some dialogues and the famous kitchen scene dialogue transcript is also there. Be prepared to die of laughter. I’ll try and write more about this film later.
The other film in this set (also starring Lino Ventura) is also classic.

Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac (Depardieu) is a master swordsman, captain of the Gascony cadets, a man so skilled with the blade that he can defeat a hundred men single-handedly without breaking a sweat, whose name strikes fear in the hearts of lesser men. 
Cyrano is not only a soldier, but a poet, who cherishes words so ardently that he will hunt down an actor who performs poorly, and who is so passionate that he will toss away a year's salary simply to abort a mediocre stage production. Skilled as he is at both war and wit, Cyrano would seem to be the paragon of manhood—yet beneath his veneer of bravado he is a shy, sad soul, having been cursed with an oversized nose that, to Cyrano, renders his features grotesque, unlovable.

I was introduced to Edmond Rostand’s play by another of my French teachers, Sébastien (Half-Russian and half-English). I’m planning to read it again.
If you want you can read it here
I think I’ve read this before – the point of getting French books in English is in the hope that my son will read them.
I was rather sad to learn that Napoleon was racist but anyway let's see what this book has to say about the Petit Colonel.
Haven’t read them yet.
Le Monde (Jan 2006) – got it to find out more about the French stand on the Islamophobic world of today
Marie Claire Feb 2005- this issue was disappointing but normally Marie Claire is a good read.
So, in one way, my French should be really receiving a shot in the arm!