Chinese is easy! 3 reasons you should learn Mandarin

你好!The following are a few facts you may already have heard of:

  • One fifth of the planet speaks Chinese.Mandarin Chinese is the mother tongue of over 873 million people, making it the most widely spoken first language in the world.
  • In addition to the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, Mandarin Chinese is also spoken in the important and influential Chinese communities of Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Mongolia.

Now, join me for some surprising facts.

Chinese has a relatively uncomplicated grammar.

Hard to believe eh?

Unlike French, German or English, Chinese has no verb conjugation (there is no need to memorize verb tenses!) and no noun declension (e.g., gender and number distinctions).

For example, while someone learning English has to learn different verb forms like “see/saw/seen,” all you need to do in Chinese is just to remember one word: kan. While in English you have to distinguish between “cat” and “cats,” in Chinese there is only one form: mao. (Chinese conveys these distinctions of tense and number in other ways, of course.)

The basic word order of Chinese is subject — verb — object, exactly as in English. A large number of the key terms of Mandarin Chinese (such as the terms for state, health, science, party, inflation, and even literature) have been formed as translations of English concepts. You are entering a different culture, but the content of many of the modern key concepts is familiar.

Hello Chinese Language!

Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?!

The fact is Chinese people, unlike most of the rest, have put their foot down and given first priority to their own language instead of a foreign language like- English, so no wonder Chinese is the most popular language in the world. More than one billion people in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other places in East Asia speak Chinese. Significant populations of people who speak Chinese also live in urban centers around the world. For example, San Francisco has the largest Chinese-speaking population of any city outside of China.

Chinese actually consists of a large number of dialects which share a written language but are mutually unintelligible when spoken. Because of this, some linguists consider them separate languages instead of dialects. Mandarin Chinese is the official language of the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, and it is the most widely-spoken form of Chinese. Other important linguistic groups include Cantonese, Wu, Xiang, Hakka, Min, and Gan. Within each group, many variations in spoken language occur. It is said that speakers from one area may not understand those who live only a few miles away.

One of the first things you notice about the language are the characters, some of them are even pictographic, as mentioned in my article called “For the love of China.

Chinese belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family, which also includes Tibetan, Karen, and Lolo-Burmese. The Chinese language has influenced many of the other languages of East Asia. Written Chinese originated more than 4,000 years ago and remained relatively stable until the People’s Republic of China decided on a campaign to make it easier to read Chinese by simplifying the characters (Thank God!), which can have as many as 30 strokes. To date, the simplified Chinese characters have been adopted only in the PRC and Singapore, but Hong Kong may start to use them, following its 1997 reunification with the mainland.

Another change initiated in the PRC is the widespread use of Pinyin, a system of transliteration, representing the sounds of the Chinese language using the Latin alphabet. The Chinese government has expressed interest in eventually replacing the character system with a phonetic alphabet, but to date Chinese characters remain the standard in communication. The written Chinese language consists of about 40,000 characters.

Some culinary terms come from Mandarin Chinese, including chow mein (from chao mian, to stir fry noodles), and tofu (do fu in Mandarin Chinese). Aside from food, Chinese martial arts terms have come into English, including kung fu (gong fu in Chinese) and tai chi (tai ji in Chinese). Recently, feng shui, the Chinese architectural principle, has also been adopted into English.Because Cantonese speakers were the first people to speak Chinese who came to the United States, many English words of Chinese origin come from Cantonese. They include chop suey (from the Cantonese tsap sui or mixed pieces), chop chop (from the Cantonese chop, meaning quick), and dim sum (from the Cantonese for little hearts; the same characters are pronounced “dian xin” in Mandarin Chinese).

As you learn to speak Chinese, some words may sound familiar. However, they are not what you might think. For example, depending on its tone, the word shu can mean book, uncle, neglect, ransom, ripe, and comb. However, it never means “shoe.”

Is Chinese Important for your Career?

China has been the fastest-growing major economy for the past 30 years with an average annual GDP growth rate above 10%. Many people are now choosing to learn Mandarin Chinese as international companies are moving quickly to gain a foothold in the Chinese domestic market.

International businesses prefer to hire people who speak more than one language.

China has become a huge market, and business leaders are looking for people who can speak Chinese and operate successfully in a Chinese cultural context. Knowing Chinese may give you an edge when competing for an important position. There is no doubt that China will and does play a major role in world affairs. As China now has opened up to the West, there are opportunities for employment in all areas. Also, China is a wonderful country where one can teach English while developing your new language and cultural skills. There are many website which allow you to practice your language skills. The experience is great, and it’s something you will never forget.

Sources: A few facts and links found over the internet plus my experience learning the language.

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Time’s In A Rush, But Sucker’s Got Nowhere Else To Go

All our lives, growing up, we tend to have an understanding with ourselves, a relationship with our inner voice that comforts us along the way. It is based on this relationship with one’s self that we make all our decisions, our choices and make the absolute contrast distinguish between wrong and right. One situation, another circumstance and voilà!  You suddenly find yourself in a grey area.
This is quite unfamiliar. 

You spend some time here. Ultimately, deciding this is not as comfortable as it seems, its rather a vague nothing you are now in. It doesn’t feel so good anymore. This space either propels you to shoot out stronger, better or you become the victim of its slow but sure fall.So… How do you save yourself from yourself?

You make your choices, one event in your life altered, and then another. As far as I’ve understood life, the mind craves peace. Stability. Marry your morals and principles and you will never drift off from the core you. It is impossible to lose yourself on the foundation of such strong beliefs. Marry your life. Commit to the one person you want in your life forever – You. Commit to self made rules and you will avoid the risk of going insane.

So… How do you keep yourself from being nobody but yourself?

Salvation is in the mind. God might judge our lives and make of what was black and white. But where does God live after all? You are the evergreen judge of you. Salvation is within your core. You have the key. Question is ..Are you living up to the person you really are?

So… Now that you’re here, what are you looking for?

Acceptance or affection or peace? We all come back to the universal answer – Happiness.

So… How do you define Happiness?

Creatures that almost desperately but definitely need something to believe in. Whether call it God, Energy, Power, a certain person or a group of people. Almost magic how one thread of rejection can tear our world down. And that one thread can bring us one level above.

Kaskade: In The Atmosphere Near You!

It’s been a smooth ride for the well-known DJ/Producer Kaskade to where he is today- an incredibly evolved artist beginning his career with releases of deep-house grooves to collaborations with other equally talented artists and touching the top of the charts with his siiick electronic beats. In 2000, Kaskade started working for Om records where he released his first single ‘What I say’, which was only the beginning of numerous other singles that reached top 10 on the billboard magazine while some just missed. Even since, Kaskade’s career has only grown and so has his music.

 

Little known by his real name Ryan Raddon, Kaskade is an American DJ from Chicago and has lived in New York, LA, Tokyo, and San Francisco which earned him the nickname “Big City”.
Only a few years later in 2006, Ryan signed up with Ultra records and went on to collaborate with Electronic DJ Deadmau5 only to come out with their famous single ‘Move For Me’, which became his fifth top ten hit on the Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay Chart, then their follow-up single ‘Angel on my shoulder’ also found success on the dance charts and finally ‘I Remember’ peaked the UK singles chart.

 

 

In addition to all of this, Kaskade is also associated with names like Summer of Space, The Sellars and Late Night Alumni with the angelic vocals of Becky Jean Williams. Kaskade’s work and Late Night Alumni can be heard together on their single called ‘How Long’.
Kaskade blends himself with other artists almost too smoothly. Kaskade does not fail to give every song he produces its own charm, having its own distinct tune, feel, it inevitably grows on you.
His album Dynasty has some of the most amazing work that describe his music on a whole. I still remember the first time I heard Fire & Ice, and instantly favored Fire more.
Kaskade with this album, it seems, has tried to expand his sound which explains why each song appears twice — once with a more uptempo fuller “Fire” mix, contrasted by a stripped-down “Ice” version.  A captivating album, like the previous works by Kaskade, Dynasty is a collection of the most impressive vocals with the unique touch of his quality and production polish. Its styled like your average Saturday night adventure which only slowly grows on you as you move more late into the night.
With the title track sung by Haley Gibby, Kaskade adds to his credit another number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Airplay track. She can also be heard in other tracks like ‘Only You’ which is in collaboration with Tiësto and another mellow upbeat song ‘Don’t Wait’, along with her more popular song on his latest album Fire & Ice  called ‘Llove’.
You can hear the stunning vocals of Polina Goudieva on songs like ‘Human Reactor’ and ‘To the Skies’. ‘Start again’ with vocals by Becky Jean Williams has a magical outset and rides on those notes throughout the song.  But when it comes to setting the dance floor on fire no track does it like ‘Fire In Your New Shoes’ featuring Dragonette and the electropop edge she brings to the song. ‘Say It’s Over’  featuring Mindy Gledhill is another track that makes you fall in love with it, also featuring in Fire & Ice  on the famous number ‘Eyes’.

From the collection of Kaskade’s work apart from his albums, ‘Can’t Stop’ from his mix called The Grand  is a personal favorite, along with Kaskade’s remash featuring Tommy Trash (& Location Location) with the name ‘Step One Two The Day Before’.

 

Fresh off his It’s You, It’s Me Redux Tour, not so long ago, last year, he earned the distinction of the first Electronic Dance Artist to ever solo-headline LA’s STAPLES Center venue during the biggest North American tour of his career, the Freaks of Nature Tour.
And this 42 year year old is not done yet. Be expecting his new single, “Atmosphere,” from his forthcoming album on June 10th through all digital retailers. The album, Atmosphere, will be the follow up to Kaskade’s GRAMMY-nominated 2011 album Fire & Ice.

 

Even though, on his albums, the listeners are presented with a range of vocalists, each and every song manages to have its own persona. It brings with it, its own appeal and ties you up in its own rapture That’s the magic of Kaskade’s music and this sort of impressive artistic command over his music is the reason why Kaskade is here to stay.

Spacing Out In Your 20s

 Spacing out.
Oh wait. I was 19 the last time I checked. How does one get to turning 23 in a blink anyway? The transition from your late teens and early twenties is way too smooth for you to even realize it just happened. And that phase my friends, is known as the spacing-out-phase. And I am speaking from it as I jot down a few experiences of my 20s.
Following through plan A’s always gets people to what paths, I will never know. My life is all about plan Bs. Even after my Bachelors I had in mind was a Master’s degree but ended up with plan B instead which was learning mandarin in Beijing.
Living in China has been such an experience. And everyone has different ones. I have met so many different people. And when you start living in a new place and come across new people as often, you have no way out but to discover new things about yourself that you never knew before. And how could you, being in your comfort zone. Having a glass of rum & coke, talking about the likes of International Politics to Ancient Aliens with interesting company, ending with dancing to great music is my definition of a night well spent.
By the time you get to your early twenties you realize the kind of different friends you have and how different you can be with them. We are still going through the rollercoaster of friendship, trying to hang in there with our besties and making too many new friends at a speed never known to us before. And this condition being with friends, with your boyfriend/girlfriend it is ever more so erratic.
With the new lifestyle that this generation has adapted to comes cannabis, with legalize-drugs-please comes crazy music, with this self-conceived genre of music comes bed-heads and skanky heels. And no one is complaining. But who doesn’t feel the pressure of 2012? The obvious bad economy, but thank god I have something to blame not having a job for. The greatest downside being is having a conversation with dad about money. But at times it does occur to me, why is that the number one downside for me when getting a job is actually a dream that I want to achieve selfishly for myself.  Good question. Moving on.
I am shamelessly a part of the generation which is online. We are everything from online social activists, signing petitions to save the dolphins (atleast 2 continents away from us) or as for now the internet itself. Ireporters (thank you CNN), we are the online friends (trying saying hi to me in a mall, yea try it, I dare you). We are also shopping online for food and clothes minus mentioning the explicit stuff.
I’m not complaining but here’s where I do. The turn of events are just getting worse. As time goes-by, time is also flying-by at a surprising speed. (Am I the only one feeling it?) Why is there constant war in Syria right this moment? Why are the US presidential elections the unofficially most important highlight of this year? What does education from a famous university really get/make you? And ultimately what are we really looking in life?
Agreed the level of intensity of each question differs but honestly all of them really put me to think deep with the same level of curiosity and a pinch of frustration which, after you add the job factor to it, leads to mind numbness hence leading back to cannabis and we’re back  into the circle of our generation.
Really makes me think, was it ever so easy for parents and theirs to be born, educate, get a job, get married, and raise a family? If it was, then I am jealous.

For the Love of China!

China came into the picture when I was in school, probably in the 6th grade and dad’s work consisted of travelling to the many cities of China. So one fine day we all decided to move there and see what it was like, living together was the main idea though. Me, my brother and my sister were sent to Beijing Hai Dian Foreign Language School (北京海淀外国语实验学校) which was for us, the first taste of the chinese people, chinese food, the language, culture, everything. I have a whole diary consisting of my escapades but this blog is not about that time or the others times I’ve spent in China. I find myself in Beijing, yet again this time in a university called Beijing Language and Culture University (北京语言大学).
Its almost been a month here now and my class is 2 days away from moving on and start with the next book. I have, unfortunately, been getting up early in the morning at 6 and going to my university which is about 16 stops and 2 changes later. So, its safe to say I’ve seen too much of chinese people on the run and observed enough to be writing this about them.
We all know that the Chinese are great with Fashion- Be it make-up, clothes, shoes, bags, everything. Ever wondered why? The Chinese focus a lot on their appearance and they are almost obsessed to look different from one another (Can’t blame them).
Everybody in their life has seen the part on one of the science channels where they show ants working together, getting the job done, travelling in lines to get to places, completely organised. Guess what the Ants and the Chinese have in common?
That has to be one major difference between the chinese and the rest of the world or at-least Indians. We have long discussions (democracy hai bhai, everyone has an opinion(s) and the freedom to discuss anything from simple useless topics like Delhi traffics on news channels to the ‘heavy’ (read: violent) discussions in the parliament for the ‘implementation’ of rules) *chuckles* and theoretically I might as well admit to you that we have the next hundred years planned out. Trust me, on paper we can paint you a very pretty picture but if you see the state of those rules and how much of what is written- is implemented-is followed, you will be if not anything else but astonished. We just write words make it look good and tuck it away for the next generation to deal with, but the Chinese? Oh-Hell-No, we’re talking Communism now. So the citizens of China have no choice but be ants. These people not only make rules but religiously follow them. Cannot-say-anything-negative-about-their-country.
For instance,
One fine day CNN was covering local riots in a part of China, and in only a few seconds, what do you know, poof! The channel disappears and was banned in China for the next couple of days. Surprise, surprise. The Chinese will ban anything to keep people from saying crap about them. They can ban television channels (there are hardly any English speaking channels except the CCTV series- a bunch of scripted shows, there aren’t even English newspapers and if you do happen to find one, all of them go under a huge magnifying glass before anything gets out to the public) To give you an even better example, they can even ban me from their country for writing this blog!
The population is exploding, but ironically you wont find the streets of Beijing littered, or any car jumping red lights, or any car trying take over another car (apologies to my fellow Indians who’re confused as they don’t know what that means or looks like). They have traffic jams, yes, but lined up traffic, completely civilized (again, apologies). I’m beginning to believe the Chinese invented words like ‘organize’. Such remarkable patience.

They want to take over the world!

Have you ever noticed how the government or just about any Chinese citizen talk about status of their own country on the map of the world? You should check out the words they choose to use. If that’s not innuendo-talk for taking over the world, I don’t know what is. (looks like I haven’t been watching enough of the US government give speech).
Besides the fact that the meaning of their country’s name in Chinese means ‘center country’ which is absurd because they are far from being located at the center of the earth, they talk about themselves with such dangerous ambition, I reckon if they weren’t economically advancing as much as they are, they wouldn’t be so different from the North Koreans. I’m sometimes surprised they’re open to globalization and inter-country trade. I mean that’s like accepting you need other countries to move forward and develop economically.
Socially speaking, along with globalization, China is very proactive. The Chinese keep busy by participating in everything from meaningless television game shows to something as important as national/international sports. Hundreds of ethnic groups exist, only of which 56 are recognized by the government. Sure, sometimes there are riots- but not for long. I have no idea how they manage rebels nor would I like to know. Putting everything aside, this single-party governed country has successfully managed to be a Communist country in a world in which majority believes in Democracy or Capitalism. That means even though having the largest population they have somehow been able to control their people, develop Economically, Infrastructural-ly, even Socially!
Oh-come-on! To be good at everything is humanly impossible!
 Food plays a very significant part in the chinese life and thank God it does! Its an understatement that I love their food, whether its the half fried cabbage dipped in traditional sauces or the famous hot pot or SiChuan dishes and so on. The thing about Chinese food is that there is literally no end. WangFuJin is one famous place where you’ll find street vendors selling everything from fried cockroaches to scorpions and on sticks. Recently a friend of mine told me that she heard snake meat is delicious and that we should try it …Riiight.
I am a strict chicken-lamb-pork-fish-etarian. I do not step beyond that, and nor do I plan to. Nothing other than fish intrigues me as far as seafood is concerned and beef- my religion is against and now that is forever carved on the walls of my brain. There are n number of restaurants, one after the other and please note none of them will ever be empty and so I think to myself – A restaurant business can never fail in China. Having your meals in a day is not just eating to stay alive for the Chinese, its an event.

Food is a culture of its own.

You go to a restaurant, you get a menu (read: book of options), you order dishes (soup, cold dishes, hot dishes, beverage, finally dessert anyone?) and relish the most amazing food culture in the whole world. Its amusing what the waiters at the door say to you when you’re leaving the restaurant y ‘man zou’ which means go slowly, wishing for us to get home safely. Its actually very cute and I don’t think they have that anywhere else in the world.
I have rarely ever seen chinese people fight. They’re loud talkers alright, but a verbal fight? Let alone a physical one? I doubt it. They’re not even expressively aggressive with their face like the rest of the world. Even in midst of a heated conversation between 2 Chinese  focus on the other Chinese people witnessing this. They have this look on their face of either a lost child or a look which says – ‘Don’t they know its illegal to fight?’ and then swiftly making their way out of there.
Its not just their behavior, thinking or looks that separate them, its their language too.
Putting aside the phonetics involved, the Chinese language is essentially different because little do people know this but the characters are derived from pictures (Chinese Pictography). That’s unlike any other language.

 

This is one race who decided to do it differently.

Moralism: How right are we?

You and I think different, there’s no doubt about it. What is right according to me might not be so right according to you. There are so many choices we make on a daily basis, some small, others that can change our life, perhaps, forever. It used to kill me to know whether what i was choosing to do was justified or not. A few months back, I read these lines in one of the books my grandfather gave me:
“No question more urgent arises in the human mind and cleaves the heart so deeply as the question of what is right and what is wrong.
What we formulate as the ultimate purpose of existence determines the foundation upon which we build our definitions of good and bad.

 

Thus, of tantamount importance to the issue of ethics is the determination of our personal goal in life.”

That’s my answer right there. What we take as the ultimate purpose/goal in our lives, we tend to choose accordingly judging what is good or bad. It shouldn’t be of any surprise when people think and judge things differently than us, its just what makes us individuals with different definitions of how we want life to turn out to be.
What’s more? There’s a word to this. Moralism. I believe in it. According to Wikipedia it is defined as – a belief in morality for a reason other than religiosity. There is a group which clings to this idea and they define themselves as firm believers in the ideology that humans are instilled with innate moral characteristics, a quality unchangeable, only ignorable. They simply implore man to follow his or her morals to the greatest extent possible, and by doing so, not only create a utopian social cohesion, but also a chance in a possible heaven. I’m not sure you understand what exactly what I’m trying to say through this blog, I’m not trying to imply anything, but for some reason I just think we should abide by some morals and principles so that its easier for us to define our life, our-self.

Confucius to Coelho

The Alchemist. We’ve all heard about this best-selling book. What makes this book talked about, read and accepted so much is the fact that it makes people want to dream. Something that Paulo made us realize- how important it is for us to want something, to stay focused. That brings me to his most famous quote:
“When you want something, the whole Universe conspires to help you realize your dream.”
My first Paulo Coelho book was Veronica Decides to Die.
I was in high school at the time and chose this book to read probably because my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up extremely intrigued with the title. I clearly remember, when I read that book, I knew there was something different about it. The way the story was told, how Veronica felt deep inside was described with simple words and yet they explained such complex feelings. The concept of something as complex as wishing to die, death as a whole and how Veronica saw it was slowly being understood by me. It was at that moment, I was without a doubt fascinated by the way Paulo thought.
I then went on to read other books by him. Each book, giving you a reason to think, to think hard, to argue within your head. What I think I’m trying to say is that Paulo’s writings are not only different, it also encourages the reader to think, make his mind up about the issue or situation which I have yet to discover another author doing.
Paulo is the real storyteller, and such that, while delivering the story to his readers he is able to make such amazing statements that have even made me think for a couple of days straight, and sometimes even overwhelm me!
Other remarkable books, Eleven Minutes, The Zahir, The Witch of Portobello, each tremendously different from the other, each containing a very thought-provoking issue that the author deals with. I’m pretty sure the Paulo fans know what I’m talking about. After reading a couple of books by Paulo I use to yearn for a book, which had his quotes, and the next thing I came across was The Warrior of Light. A bible for us followers of The Light. I dedicate my first blog to this amazing author who never stops making us want to think.
Coelho might idolize Confucius, but I am very confident when I say that Coelho is the Confucius of our generation. Paulo, you inspire us, you give us the meaning for living. We could never thank you enough.