Our ‘Rashtriya English’ legitimate: Jug Suraiya

September 30th, 2011 - 11:57 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 30 (IANS) The English language in India is becoming ‘glocal’ - a cross between global and local, says noted writer-columnist Jug Suraiya who has written about his early years in a new book, “JS & The Times of My Life”.

“We are evolving our own kind of Rashtriya (Indianised) English which is as legitimate as the Queen’s English,” Suraiya, identified with his column, “Jugular Vein”, told IANS.

“English is a very flexible language…and extremely adaptable. It is an international language,” he said.

And the brand of new Indian English is becoming acceptable in the media, he said.

“Journalism has become more chatty, informal and interactive. It speaks to people. More than television, this is due to the internet,” Suraiya said.

“Journalism is also all about people. I keep my ears open to what people are excited about - one cannot write in a vacuum,” he said.

The writer believes in the “power of print, need-based subjectivity in journalism”.

“Television stokes the heat while the fine print channelises the heat to allow the mental gears function…,” he said.

Suraiya owes his informal style and humour to his early days in Junior Statesman (JS) where his mentor was Desmond Doig, the then editor of the publication.

“I remember that he made me do a caption story 10 times on. You can do it…he imparted a sense of self-discipline and determination to get the best out of a journalist,” Suraiya said.

Suraiya’s style is a rare combination of wit, laughter, cutting analysis, observations and lucid language.

It creeps into his autobiography in which he takes a walk down the memory lane recapping his heydays as a maverick adventurer and a daring journalist.

“I did not want to become a journalist, it was chance - by accident,” he said of his vocation of 40 years.

Suraiya is a living story mine, brimming with anecdotes from JS - the young reader’s bible in the 1960s-70s. He of course went on to famously join the Times of India.

He recalled an encounter with Dev Anand on the sets of “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” in Kathmandu.

“They were shooting the famous, ‘Dum Maro Dum…’ scene at the Kashtmandap, an ancient shrine built from the single wood of a single tree. The next morning, The Rising Nepal, the government-owned daily accused the actor-director of having desecrated the sacred place…,” Suraiya wrote in his book.

“We’ve got to do something about this,” Suraiya quoted Dev Anand as saying.

At a hurriedly-summoned press conference, Nepali journalists warmed up to the actor’s smile and “informal discussions about Bollywood formula movies and epics”. The next day’s headline had him back as hero from the plunderer of yesterday.

“JS & The Times…”, published by Westland Ltd, was released in the capital Tuesday by peer M.J. Akbar.

Suraiya has authored several books, including an anthology of humorous writing, “Juggling Act”.

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

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