Sunday, May 27, 2012

Linguistic woes

Image from here

I had a great strategy for IELTS. I paid the exam fees and borrowed a stack of books and CDs, and planned to prepare leisurely over 2 months. As with most things in life, other matters got in the way and one week prior, I was yet to touch the stuff. Well, the solution was simple... I would just postpone the exam. Unfortunately, not only did this require an additional payment, it would be done only in the case of illness, death of a close relative or being the victim of a crime. 

I just couldn't bring myself to submit a fake medical, so I ended up speed reading through the sections and hoping for the best.

The written test went ok, except for a section of the listening test which involved a chap with a thick Scottish accent explaining how to get a fishing licence. The spoken test was the following day and having looked through some past papers, I was well prepared to speak about my hobbies, books, a favourite movie or TV show etc.

The examiner was pleasant enough, despite having to be there in the midst of a sudden downpour, and undoubtedly suffering from the effects of wet socks. I beamed at him, eager to show off my  superb linguistic skills. After the general chit chat, he proceeded on to the main topic.

John*: What are the principal export products of your country?

Angel : (on autopilot) tea, rubber and coconut**
(dammit! this is what we get from our rote learning oriented secondary education... parrot like repetition of what was learnt 15 years ago)

John : And where are there products exported to?

Angel : (wildly improvising) Um... tea is exported to China the Middle East and Coconut to Singapore and Malaysia. I really cannot remember where rubber is exported (hopes desperate smile will evoke sympathy).

John : Ah... and do you think your country needs to rethink its export policy? One would imagine that there are plenty of coconuts in Malaysia.

Angel : (swearing silently) Errr... we only export the coconut oil to Malaysia. Because of the palm oil industry, they don't produce coconut oil there (at least this is partly true)

John : Quite so. Shall we move on?

Angel : (relieved beyond measure) Of course.

John : Can you name a product manufactured outside your country that you would like to purchase?

Angel : (glibly) oh, I loved the silver earrings I bought in Bali... I would love to buy more!

John : Ah. Can you speak for 2 minutes on that product and why you wish to purchase it?

Angel : (obscure four letter words running riot in head) Um... errr... well... what I like is the intricate filigree work, which is, you know, very intricate (patriotism kicking in) but of course Sri Lankan silver is quite intricate as well and has very delicate filigree work too and... (remembering topic) ... ah but Balinese silver doesn't tarnish (mental facepalm) and the filigree is very intricately delicate too... and (thoughts going haywire) ... errrr... the Balinese silver doesn't have embellishment with gems as seen in Sri Lankan jewelry, but only delicate filigree work which is wonderful because I don't like wearing gem stones (remembers that earrings crusted with the despised gemstones are currently adorning ears) and  ...uh... it's very unusual and I like it, as all women want to wear unique accessories because then all their friends can envy them (realize that have single-handedly sent back the status of women to the 18th century). Um.

John : (eyebrows raised) And do you often purchase this product?

Angel : (completely disheartened) Um... no. Because of the state of the economy, i can't afford to go to Bali.

John : (with indecent haste) Yes, I think we should conclude.

Angel (insincerely) Thank you.

So, after that completely humiliating experience (I mean, how many times can one person mention the words "intricate" "delicate" and "filigree" in a single breath?) I came home, vowing to re-take the exam, even if it meant parting with close to half my salary.

I got my results a few days ago, and unsurprisingly, have scored the least marks for the spoken test. In fact, I was rather insulted by the paltry marks given by the examiner, who obviously does not understand that the auto-wittering is entirely involuntary. Besides, he should not have marked me down for lack of content when my vocabulary contained great words such as "filigree", "intricate" and "delicate".

 However, I seem to have compensated well, as my overall band score is 8.5 (hurrah!)

All's well that ends well... I guess!

* Not his real name of course
** No gentle readers, I did not remember garments. Even though Darling worked in the garment industry for years. JP's post was just too late!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Once upon dream

I had the greatest dream last night...

I dreamt that I had enrolled in a clinical trial designed to test three different types of (heavenly smelling) bubble bath in order to find out which was most effective in shedding off extra fat.

Image from here 

This would mean that I would get paid to spend a couple of hours everyday soaking in a hot, luxurious bubble bath, and end up with a wonderful, toned body to boot...

Why, oh why is my real life nothing like this?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Too much!

I remember rolling my eyes at the Aunty Brigade countless times... and never more so than when they're discussing the cheeky and charming antics of their twee offspring and twittering that "Aney the little one is too much, you know!"

And now I find myself in those same (slightly dowdy shoes). My little Bumtrinket is "too much"... just too mischievous by half. She's constantly making me giggle... and constantly testing her limit (like most kids). She's sitting up and rolling around and just starting to crawl... but hasn't quite mastered the skill. This doesn't seem to faze her and she moves by plonking her face on the bed (or mat or whatever) and squirming forward, bottom in the air, rather like a worm wriggling ... it's hilarious!

The little Bumtrinket has also learnt how to undo her diaper. She scratches at the adhesive tabs and gleefully rips them off. This is usually done when she is on our bed and needs to pee. She undoes the diaper... then rolls out of it and on to the bed... relieves herself... and then rolls over again. By the time I notice, the diaper is on one side, there's a large wet patch on the bed and she's on the other side, butt nekkid and grinning toothlessly at me.

At other times, she just eats her diaper. That's right, my daughter eats her diaper. I have caught her countless times... tabs undone, diaper pulled up from under her bum and her excellency chewing thoughtfully at the border.

I tell you... my child is just too much!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tummy blues

I've just been discharged from hospital.

After getting food poisoning... again.

Last time was Shigella in all its bloody horror, that nearly resulted in a miscarriage. So actually, this episode seems like a cushy ride in comparison.

This time of the year is just bad for me and my alimentary tract.

Maybe I just need to change my food choices...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lost in translation

I recently bumped into a batch mate B... we weren't the greatest of friends in Uni, but it was amazing how pleased I was to see him.

He - typically - had a comment to make about the extra weight, and jokingly said I had lost my "cute mousy look".


And then I remembered. 

New experiences do not generally faze me. During the first few weeks of Uni, much of the time reserved for dissections was spent wandering around the dissection halls, plugging into random conversations and generally making friends.

On one occasion, B was telling a story about himself... hilarious and told with much self-deprecating humour. After I finished wiping tears of mirth away, I patted him on the cheek and said ඔයා පවු (poor you!). Trust me not to realise that this can be taken as an incredibly personal gesture. Soon afterwards, he blurted out ඔයාට අය්තිකාරයෙක් ඉන්නවද? (do you have an "owner", i.e., boyfriend). The tubelight clicked, I mumbled a confused no, and then scuttled away.

B later told another (new) friend that " Angel මී පැටියෙක් වගේ cute" (Angel is like a cute little mouse). The friend decides to report this exciting new development, but unfortunately chooses English to convey this message of (what she assumed was) ardent admiration. She said:

"Angel, B said you look like a rat".

I spent the rest of the year giving B the stink eye.


Yes, some memories will make you cringe no matter HOW many years have passed.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


So... I'm never ever  going to talk about blogging more.

Because we ALL know how that works out...