The Frenchman & the Shiva Temple

The French Connection Dr.U.Ve Swaminatha Iyer (Uvesa) was a 19th century scholar, who published over 90 books on ancient Tamil literature. In 50 years, he collected over 3000 heritage manuscripts by  house-to-house hunts across the Madras Presidency. Strangely, one Tamil treatise was  even sourced from France! Here’s the French connection.   Dr. U.Ve Swaminatha Iyer …

The Return of Jeevaka Chintamani

Foreword Jeevaka Chintamani 1 was a lost 10th century Tamil classic —- an epic poem in 13 volumes — that was rediscovered and published by Dr. U.Ve.Swaminatha Iyer (fondly called Uvesa) 2 in 1887. Here’s how it happened. Kumbakonam Town, circa 1880 Uvesa’s pride was hurt! Judge Ramaswamy 3 had taunted him with “Professor, what…

English is an Indian Language

The English do not own English… The statistics are out. Over 125 million Indians speak (and read and write) English. That is roughly twice the size of native English speakers in Britain (which is Great no more!). That makes us officially the owners of the language— the British speak an older dialect, that’s all. What…

Onomatopoeia

There’s a weekly column in the newspaper that I rarely miss. It is called Namasutra and explores the nuances of language in interesting ways. This week it was about onomatopoeia (Huh? How is it pronounced?). Onomatopoeia is about words that SOUND like the action they depict. Like the clock TICKs and you CLICK the camera.…

Tamarind City !

“I wish I had said that” I thought ruefully, through many paragraphs of the book. I am a hard core Chennai-vaasi (having spent over two-thirds of my life in Chennai) whereas the author is, at best, a Bengali immigrant of 10 years. Magically, many of his comments seemed straight from my heart— except that he…