Friday, November 3, 2006

Television and books

Allow me to describe every single music video in India. First a guy sings while an entourage of guys stands behind him. Then a girl sings, and she too is supported by an entourage of ladies behind her. Then the guy sings, but this time he and his posse are dancing in synchronization, always looking directly into the camera. The the girls do the same thing. Then the guys. Then the girls. And over and over again until you change the channel, only you have no way of telling whether or not your remote is working, because from all appearances, you're watching the same music video, except this time one of the guys in the background is wearing a blue jacket. Click the remote again and--tada!--the same thing except this time the singing girl is holding a banana and her backup dancers are all wearing leg warmers.

This is every music video in India, I swear. I know this not because I've become some loathsome video addict, but because they're inescapable here. At least one-third of the television channels here are dedicated to music videos. Maybe more. Of the remaining channels, only a handful are in English, and those are mostly news channels (i.e., hopelessly boring unless reporting on celebrity shark attacks).

Having given up on television, I picked up a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the British edition. Now consider this: To go from British edition to the American edition, the publisher has paid someone to translate the book from English to, well, English. That's someone's job! Someone is getting paid to add dots behind every “Mr and Mrs” and to make sure characters ask for a pay raise instead of a pay rise. This must be someone's job because it's sure not the author doing it, and even if they have software to make most of the changes, I'm sure the publisher retains an expert in English-to-English translations to check behind the software. What an incredibly cush job. Who does this stuff and how much to they get paid?