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Showing posts from July, 2022

Writing Skills - Invitation

  Many teachers often ask me for help with the topic of 'Invitation' in CBSE's writing skills section. I condense CBSE's questions in this section thus:  What that means is: 1. There are 2 types of invitation: formal & informal. 2. Formal invitations can be in the form of cards or letters.  3. Cards are used when you have to invite large numbers of people (anniversaries, marriages, etc.) 4. Letters are used when you invite a few individuals.  Example: judges for a competition, chief guest for a function. 5. Informal invitations are used when your function is informal. Example: birthday celebrations, party for celebrating admission to a prestigious institution. 6. Strictly formal replies are used only by people who have ( or should have)  enormous egos. Example: bureaucrats, ambassadors. 7. Formal replies are just ordinary formal letters and informal replies are plain informal letters.  Let me give examples for the above types so that they become clearer.  1. Formal

One Way Ticket to the Moon

Given a choice, will I go to Moon or Mars? Moon, of course. Haven’t I always been there? Been a loony, I mean. There was always something wrong with me right from childhood. At the age of 25 I landed on the client’s chair in a psychiatrist’s office. Nothing much came of it. Remember Holden Caulfield of The Catcher in the Rye ? After a whole year’s psychoanalysis, he remained the same: as loony as he ever was. Some of my benefactors in Shillong put me through a five-year psychoanalysis with almost everyone in the place experimenting on my madness as if I were a drum placed in the marketplace for anyone to beat a rhythm while passing by. Nothing happened again. I remained as loony as ever, if not worse. Now as an old man, a senior citizen by my government’s reckoning [which simply means I pay more for insurances], I feel loonier than ever. If earlier I felt out of place in my nearby surroundings, now I feel like a total misfit in my entire country. I can’t understand what my fellow c

Shakespeare in Prison

Robben Island Prison Image from Britannica Encyclopedia  It was a pitch-black midnight. The Robben Island Prison stood like a gigantic monster on a grim terrain. The guard who was on watch that night was startled by an unusual sound from one of the dark cells in the solitary confinement section of the prison. What could be that grunt-like sound at this time of the night when all prisoners must be asleep? Even light was not permitted anywhere in the prison. Forget sounds. Was it some ghost? After all, so many prisoners died in those cells succumbing to the brutality of the British police. The guard moved in the direction of the sound. It was coming from the cell where a prisoner named Nelson Mandela was kept. The guard stood outside the dark cell and listened. “To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer…” “Mandela, what the hell are you doing?” The guard asked. He knew if the chief heard such sounds that would be the end of the prisoner.

Reading Comprehension for senior students

  For a change from politics that is at once comic and depressing, let me turn to academics today. Here are seven of the reading comprehension passages I prepared for my students recently. Hope some teachers and students will find them useful (especially the former). Passage 1 1.       Plastic is extremely durable, highly flexible and inexpensive to produce. Unfortunately, it is terribly detrimental to the environment. In fact, we use so much plastic that we send a shocking  12 million metric tons  of plastic in the ocean each year. Once there, the plastic pollution breaks down into microplastics that find their way into fish stomachs and bird nests, accumulating in the marine food chain. 2.       How can we prevent plastic pollution from destroying vulnerable marine ecosystems? This is a pressing problem for Norway, whose inhabitants have earned their livelihood from the sea since prehistoric times. That is why Norwegian companies and research institutions – which have been lead