Tag Archives: communication

Languages

Before leaving India in the late eighties, I could speak a bit of Hindi as my third language. English was the second language, and Malayalam my mother tongue. 凭空想像我都不会流利的北印度语,,en,但我可以说得足够好,以免除上门推销员,,en,例如,,en,这正是我父亲,,en,经证实的印地语恐惧症,,en,要求我在一次探访回家时做,,en,会说印地语的纱丽推销员在我们的前廊上徘徊,,en,到那个时候,,en,我在美国呆了六年多,,en,认为我的英语很好,,en,在法国呆了几年,,en,足以知道,,en,英文很好,,en,没什么大不了的,,en,因此要摆脱莎丽·瓦拉,,en,我开始在印地语中跟他说话,,en,最奇怪的事情发生了,,en,这就是全部,,en,与法语相关的帖子,,en,那出来了,,en,不是我的母语,,en,不是我的第二语言或第三语言,,en,但是法国人,,en,简而言之,,en,那天有一个非常困惑的纱丽推销员在街上漫游,,en,真正,,en, but I could speak it well enough to get rid of a door-to-door salesman, for instance.

This is exactly what my father (a confirmed Hindi-phobe) asked me to do during one of my visits home when a persistent, Hindi-speaking sari salesman was hovering over our front porch. By that time, I had spent over six years in the US (and considered my English very good) and a couple of years in France (enough to know that “very good English” was no big deal). So to get rid of the sari-wala, I started to talk to him in Hindi, and the strangest thing happened — it was all French that was coming out. Not my mother tongue, not my second or third language, but French! In short, there was very confused sari salesman roaming the streets that day.

True, 印地语和法语之间有些相似之处,,en,在疑问词的声音中,,en,以及中性对象的愚蠢的男性和女性性别,,en,但我不认为这是导致法国性泛滥的原因,,en,感觉好像法国人取代了我脑中的印地语,,en,我的任何脑细胞连接起来说北印度语,,en,严重地,,en,我可能会添加,,en,被重新布线为法国,,en,一些奇怪的资源分配机制是在我不知情或未经同意的情况下回收我的脑细胞,,en,我认为法国人对我脑部的入侵仍在继续,并吸收了我的大部分英语细胞,,en,最终结果是我的英语全都搞砸了,,en,我的法语永远都不够好,,en,我为自己困惑的脑细胞感到难过,,en,业力,,en,我猜,,en, for instance, in the sounds of interrogative words, and the silly masculine-feminine genders of neutral objects. But I don’t think that was what was causing the outpouring of Frenchness. It felt as though French had replaced Hindi in my brain. Whatever brain cells of mine that were wired up to speak Hindi (badly, I might add) were being rewired a la franciaise! Some strange resource allocation mechanism was recycling my brain cells without my knowledge or consent. I think this French invasion in my brain continued unabated and assimilated a chunk of my English cells as well. The end result was that my English got all messed up, and my French never got good enough. I do feel a bit sorry for my confused brain cells. Karma, I guess — 我不应该混淆莎丽推销员,,en,虽然开玩笑地说,,en,我认为我说的是真的,,en,您说的语言占据了大脑的不同部分,,en,我的一个朋友是一个毕业年份的法裔美国女孩,,en,她的美语没有明显的口音,,en,一旦她在法国拜访我,,en,我发现只要她说法语时使用英语单词,,en,她有明显的法国口音,,en,好像英语单词来自她的大脑法语部分,,en,当然,,en,语言可以成为广告素材的工具,,en,我在法国的同事是个精明的英语专家,他坚决拒绝学习任何法语,,en,并积极抵制任何法国同化的迹象,,en,如果他能帮上忙,他从未说过法语,,en,但是之后,,en.

Though spoken in jest, I think what I said is true — the languages that you speak occupy distinct sections of your brain. A friend of mine is a French-American girl from the graduate years. She has no discernable accent in her Americanese. Once she visited me in France, and I found that whenever she used an English word while speaking French, she had a distinct French accent. It was as though the English words came out of the French section of her brain.

Of course, languages can be a tool in the hands of the creative. My officemate in France was a smart English chap who steadfastly refused to learn any French at all, and actively resisted any signs of French assimilation. He never uttered a French word if he could help it. But then, 一个夏天,,en,两名英语实习生出现,,en,我的室友被要求指导他们,,en,当这两个女孩来我们办公室见他时,,en,这个家伙突然变成双语,开始说类似,,en,我们在这里做什么,,fr,哦,,en,抱歉,,en,我忘了你不会说法语,,en,通讯,,en,印地语,,en,心情,,fr,语言,,en,为人父母,,en,艰难爱情的另一笔故事,,en,有一次我最喜欢的叔叔给我一支笔,,en,那个叔叔当时是印度军队的一名士兵,,en,士兵们每年大约要回家几个月,,en,并给大家庭中的每个人礼物,,en,整个事情都有一种权利感,,en,送礼者从没想到他们也许也可以还一些东西,,en,在过去的几十年中,,en,事情变了,,en, two English interns showed up. My officemate was asked to mentor them. When these two girls came to our office to meet him, this guy suddenly turned bilingual and started saying something like, “Ce qu’on fait ici.. Oh, sorry, I forgot that you didn’t speak French!”

The Story So Far

In the early sixties, Santa Kumari Amma decided to move to the High Ranges. She had recently started working with KSEB which was building a hydro-electric project there.The place was generically called the High Ranges, even though the ranges weren’t all that high. People told her that the rough and tough High Ranges were no place for a country girl like her, but she wanted to go anyways, prompted mainly by the fact that there was some project allowance involved and she could use any little bit that came her way. Her family was quite poor. She came from a small village called Murani (near a larger village called Mallappalli.)

Around the same time B. Thulasidas (better known as Appu) also came to the High Ranges. His familty wasn’t all that poor and he didn’t really need the extra money. But he thought, hey rowdy place anyway, what the heck? Well, to make a long story short, they fell in love and decided to get married. This was some time in September 1962. A year later Sandya was born in Nov 63. And a little over another year and I came to be! (This whole stroy, by the way, is taking place in the state of Kerala in India. Well, that sentence was added just to put the links there, just in case you are interested.) There is a gorgeous hill resort called Munnar (meaning three rivers) where my parents were employed at that time and that’s where I was born.

 [casual picture] Just before 1970, they (and me, which makes it we I guess) moved to Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala. I lived in Trivandrum till I was 17. Lots of things happened in those years, but since this post is still (and always will be) work in progress, I can’t tell you all about it now.

In 1983, I moved to Madras, to do my BTech in Electronics and Communication at IIT, Madras. (They call the IITs the MIT of India, only much harder to get in. In my batch, there were about 75,000 students competing for about 2000 places. I was ranked 63 among them. I’m quite smart academically, you see.) And as you can imagine, lots of things happened in those four years as well. But despite all that, I graduated in August 1987 and got my BTech degree.

In 1987, after finishing my BTech, I did what most IITians are supposed to do. I moved to the states. Upstate New York was my destination. I joined the Physics Department of Syracuse University to do my PhD in High Energy Physics. And boy, did a lot of things happen during those 6 years! Half of those 6 years were spent at Cornell University in Ithaca.

That was in Aug. 1987. Then in 1993 Sept, the prestigious French national research organization ( CNRS – “Centre national de la recherche scientifique”) hired me. I moved to France to continue my research work at ALEPH, CERN. My destination in France was the provencal city of Marseilles. My home institute wasCentre de Physique des Particules de Marseille” or CPPM. Of course, I didn’t speak a word of French, but that didn’t bother me much. (Before going to the US in 1987, I didn’t speak much English/Americanese either.)

End of 1995, on the 29th of Dec, I got married to Kavita. In early 1996, Kavita also moved to France. Kavita wasn’t too happy in France because she felt she could do much more in Singapore. She was right. Kavita is now an accomplished entrepreneur with two boutiques in Singapore and more business ideas than is good for her. She has won many awards and is a minor celebrity with the Singapore media. [Wedding picture]

In 1998, I got a good offer from what is now the Institute for Infocomm Research and we decided to move to Singapore. Among the various personal reasons for the move, I should mention that the smell of racisim in the Marseilles air was one. Although every individual I personally met in France was great, I always had a nagging feeling that every one I did not meet wanted me out of there. This feeling was further confirmed by the immigration clerks at the Marignane airport constantly asking me toMettez-vous a cote, monsieurand occassionally murmuringles francais d’abord. [Anita Smiles]

A week after I moved to Singapore, on the 24rth of July 1998, Anita was born. Incredibly cute and happy, Anita rearranged our priorities and put things in perspective. Five years later, on the 2nd of May 2003, Neil was born. He proved to be even more full of smiles.  [Neil Smiles more!]

In Singapore, I worked on a lot of various body-based measurements generating several patents and papers. Towards the end of my career with A-Star, I worked on brain signals, worrying about how to make sense of them and make them talk directly to a computer. This research direction influenced my thinking tremendously, though not in a way my employer would’ve liked. I started thinking about the role of perception in our world view and, consequently, in the theories of physics. I also realized how these ideas were not isolated musings, but were atriculated in various schools of philosophy. This line of thinking eventually ended up in my book, The Unreal Universe.

Towards the second half of 2005, I decided to chuck research and get into quantitative finance, which is an ideal domain for a cash-strapped physicist. It turned out that I had some skills and aptitudes that were mutually lucrative to my employers and myself. My first job was as the head of the quantitative analyst team at OCBC, a regional bank in Singapore. This middle office job, involving risk management and curtailing ebullient traders, gave me a thorough overview of pricing models and, perhaps more importantly, perfect understanding of the conflict-driven implementation of the risk appetite of the bank.

 [Dad] Later on, in 2007, I moved to Standard Chartered Bank, as a senior quantitative professional taking care of their in-house trading platform, which further enhanced my "big picture" outlook and inspired me to write Principles of Quantitative Development. I am rather well recognized in my field, and as a regular columnist for the Wilmott Magazine, I have published several articles on a variety of topics related to quants and quantitative finance, which is probably why John Wiley & Sons Ltd. asked me to write this book.

Despite these professional successes, on the personal front, 2008 has been a year of sadness. I lost my father on the 22nd of October. The death of a parent is a rude wake-up call. It brings about feelings of loss and pain that are hard to understand, and impossible to communicate. And for those of us with little gift of easy self-expression, they linger for longer than they perhaps should.