I’ve been meaning to blog about a class I took recently. After some prodding by a colleague, I joined what I call a ‘syllable’ class. Of course, the right way to call it would be the Stress and Intonation class, but I call it the ‘syllable’ class. These are enhancement classes that take place in our office. Once you join, you can’t really quit. So, I was reluctant in joining it because I had to commit a whole month to it. In my mind, I was skeptical of promising one month to a class that would teach me to speak better. Now, for most parts, I consider myself to be very well-spoken. In English, of course. And some times Urdu. It’s my Hindi that is really messed up, mostly because I’m a Mumbaiite. Anyway, so, in my mind I thought, I can speak well and I’m not the kind who can commit to attending a class from 9 am to 10 am every morning for a month. So, I ignored it. After the aforesaid prodding happened, I walked into class a day late. As fate had it, a girl had stepped out and I was given her seat. I spent a whole month unravelling the beauty of English language. I was taught about how to break words into syllables, how there are different rules for pronounciation, how we mis-pronounce a lot of words, and how speaking well is more of an acquired art than a natural talent. Even a well-spoken person like me, learnt a lot from that class. The trainer was great, and the fact that it was a classroom setting made our small group close-knit. All in all it was a whole month well-spent. It reaffirmed my belief that you’re never to good to learn and never too old as well.

I have been reading the Shiva Trilogy for some time now. I read all three books. I’m a believer of fair criticism. If I cannot take the time to know something, I can’t criticise it off-hand. That’s also the reason why I’ve read more than three of Chetan Bhagat’s books. After I formed the opinion that he wasn’t a publisher worth my time, I stopped reading his trash and called him a moron outright. I did get down to forming my opinion though. So, I read the Shiva Trilogy. Amusing it may seem how some revelations come to us cloaked as mundane occurrences in our daily lives. While I was reading it, I came across a lot of people who thought it was amazing and what not. I went from one book to another trying to see what the fuss was about. From what I know I kept a pretty open mind too. And then suddenly, I was pricked. I read The Oath of the Vayuputras and decided enough was enough. I’m not sure what one means by allowing sub-standard literature to proliferate. That’s the problem with us these days, we give people too much of a benefit of doubt. We allow bad things to hog the limelight in the name of freedom of speech, and ‘that is just your opinion’. It’s not even funny anymore. Why should bad literature adorn my shelf and take up my mind space I don’t get. Why should it hold place in anyone’s shelf space I don’t get either.

Here’s my argument. If this is life—the one with exalted technology, superior phones that get better than their predecessor within a flash, cars that have a hundred designers putting their brain to improve the curve of the steering wheel, and chefs who take the level of food higher and higher with each passing meal—why should literature be left behind? Why? What’s wrong with taking language up a notch? What’s a sin in using superior words? What’s to look down upon in taking the effort to narrate a story well? Why should one try to please people who don’t get the art of story-telling, those who don’t wish to take the effort to read a book with all their might? Isn’t that what living is about? Progressing? Isn’t that what every generation tires to do? Outdo the previous one? That’s how we grow, by getting better. That’s why after living in caves, we made houses, and now we make skyscrapers. It’s called moving ahead. So why make allowances for slack and bad literature?

There’s always a step ahead. Be it anything. Be it your job, your relationship, your past work, your culinary skills, your driving skills, or even how you sweep the floor. So, here’s my promise to myself that I won’t put myself through any more books that are not worth my time, and I will take every opportunity to better at what I already know. If you’re not pushing the boundaries, not sure what the whole point is. After all someone said that life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

You can always get better at what you already know, it’s just a matter of putting your shoes on and going to that class.