The days of good English

In 1990, Nissim Ezekiel, the first and famous Indian English poet, told us about this incident:

Ezekiel had been to Madras, as it was called then, to conduct a two-day workshop for post graduate English  students. On reaching there he was appalled by the English he heard: These people were living in Victorian England! So he dedicated the entire workshop to bring the students up to date with contemporary English. After the workshop was over, in the concluding ceremony a representative of the students came on stage and offered Ezekiel a bouquet with these words, "Sir, we are beholden to you".


It is almost 20 years since he told us the story. Ezekiel is no more. I am in Calicut for work. I open the newspaper and there it is, this wonderful photo caption in a local newspaper that has its headquarters in Madras as it is not called anymore:

An epic effort: Sachin Tendulkar, who delighted with bold brush strokes of genius on the canvas - the colours celebrating batsmanship, showed he is still an explosive athlete; he still has the eye of the tiger.

The English language remains beholden to my Southern brethren.


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