Portfolio Reflection

Dear Portfolio Assessment Committee,

I’m writing to you today to express what I have learned in the course “ENG101- This Place Called India.” To accurately prove that, I will refer to several pieces I have authored over the course of the semester, including My Writing Reflection (MWR), Bruffee’s Collaboration Summary (BCS), The Tales of Hanuman, An Article on Rhetoric (TOH), Contrast (C), Coincidences of an Indian Immigrant (CII), and The Day my Tongue Journeyed to a Firey Hell (JFH). The learning outcomes of this course are to “read, think, write and articulate critically, practice writing as a process, produce work in various genres, learn conventions of academic writing, and talk and write about various aspects of India, etc.” which I believe I have done to the fullest extent.

When I began this class, my writing lacked depth. Even between my first post and next few there is an immediate change in style and sophistication. In the first piece I wrote, my writing is clunky, awkward and very informal “We were allowed to write about absolutely anything so I thought about what kinds of topics I hadn’t explored yet and what kinds of things I find interesting before settling on gambling” (MWR). I learned the most from the “Understanding Rhetoric” book, especially when it came to pathos, logos, kairos, and ethos. I also learned more about different literary tools like diction, consonance, metaphors and others, which I used in my review of Indian comic books.

“Additionally, Pai uses diction often to emphasize the fortitude of the characters and the objects about which he writes about. The word “mighty” is used on almost every other page to describe the way Hanuman roars, the breadth of the ocean trying to be crossed, beautiful elephants, and even vicious snake arrows. The word is repeated so often to show the significance of the object being described in relation to the story and it also evokes a variety of emotions in the reader. Even the descriptive words Pai uses to describe the end of a battle before the beginning of “Hanuman to the Rescue” denote the importance of the event: “The evil enemy had been destroyed. Virtue had won over greed and lust.” The generous words and assonance used in these frames alert the reader to the gravity of the event” (TOH)

In this review, I had to work on rhetorical analysis. The lowest grade I received in this class was on the initial partner thesis for this project, and that was because we ignored the word “rhetorical” and wrote a thesis like the ones we were so used to in high school. We together had to rewire the way our brains automatically settled on a literary review to be open to different kinds of analysis.

I’ve also learned to write in multiple genres. In high school, I mainly wrote literary essays based on assigned books, but in this class I wrote in every genre imaginable, even a short essay about genre itself. I’ve never done a photo essay before, so my piece on Contrast was a new experience for me. It forced me into a space I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with, but it ended up being one of the pieces that I’m most proud of this semester. I was most worried about not being able to identify a theme because of my lack of a base knowledge of Indian culture, but after flipping through some of the collection I noticed the subtle social, racial, economic, and plain color contrasts. This class has helped me pick up on the simpler details in scholarly works that I wouldn’t have noticed before. I’ve also learned to write for different audiences, I’ve had to present to my classmates, to a corporation, and to the general public via my blog. Writing in all of these genres has broadened my horizons and expanded my skills as a writer.

One of the skills I’ve developed the most in this class is revision. I used to give my essays to my parents, follow their editing advice and then turn in my work without reading it all the way through, as mentioned in MWR. The structure of this class necessitates revision through peer review and submitting multiple drafts, which is where I’ve learned about my writing the most. It’s in these revisions I catch little grammatical errors and endless run-on sentences I normally wouldn’t see until my assignment has been graded and I’ve lost the points. Reading my papers over again also lets me see my sometimes shallow arguments. When writing a paper, you never think your argument is wrong since you have it fully thought out in your head; however, when reading a paper, it is much easier to spot holes and catch thin reasoning. For this reason, my writing has become deeper and more thoughtful than it used to be. Revision is necessary in good writing, it’s impossible to write a perfect paper in one draft.

In this class not only have I learned about my writing, but about India as a culture. I’ve read short stories, intellectual arguments, advertisements, scholarly journals, and pointed interviews about different aspects of Indian life. I’ve learned about cuisine, religion, history, and many more areas. It has definitely piqued my interest, since India is a nation I’ve never visited but always wanted to. I feel as though this semester I’ve been immersed in such a rich culture and the only way to find closure in this course would be to visit India, a tough challenge, but one I will complete one day. I found this lack of experience especially difficult in the Ad Campaign project, where I had to advertise to tourists and make them want to visit India. It felt wrong to advertise for a country that I’d never been to myself, yet it was still one of my favorite projects as it combined multiple genres of writing together into one portfolio-like submission.

I’ve also learned more about critiquing others work, be it scholarly or peer work. I didn’t used to know how to intelligently string together thoughts when summarizing others’ work, but this class has taught me how, especially with Bruffee’s piece on collaboration, “At the end of the day he believes every student should understand that to truly know something, they must be able to write about it intelligently enough to satisfy their community of peers, emphasizing the meaning of social learning” (BCS). This was an extremely difficult read as it was lengthy and written at a professional level, but after reading it through a few times the arguments shined through. I also have learned how to edit my peer’s work. In this type of revision, I focused on constructive criticism. With an academic journal you can agree or disagree with the author and it’s perfectly acceptable, but with your fellow students critiques are more about how to improve each others’ work.

I truly believe this class has benefitted me as a writer, and will serve as a base knowledge for the rest of my college career and even beyond. Without this class I wouldn’t be as knowledgeable about writing in other genres and rhetorical composition, critical thinking and analysis, and self reflection.

Sincerely,

Shauna Brandman

 

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The Day my Tongue Journeyed to a Firey Hell

Rating- 2.5/5

Don’t take the title too literally, Chaat Patti has decent food, but you must beware of the spice. Chaat Patti is a vegetarian Indian restaurant tucked in the Patel Plaza in Decatur, Georgia that opened 24 years ago. The restaurant has very vibrant colors, with bright orange decorations hanging from the ceiling, multicolored stripes all around, and neon flashing lights draped on the walls. The atmosphere is very friendly, even though it seems like the restaurant is mostly filled with people of Indian ethnicity, the staff welcomes you right when you walk in. We immediately noticed the paper towels and plastic utensils at each table, denoting the lower quality of the restaurant which gave it a slightly tacky vibe.

I have not eaten a lot of Indian food in my life, and neither had my partner in this task Kaitlyn, so having the pictures on the wall behind the counter was very helpful, as well our server was very kind in helping explain the different kinds of snacks that we could try. We ordered the Mixed Appetizers platter and the Mixed Veggie platter.IMG_1490.JPG

The veggies came first as pictured above, a divided tray with chickpeas (red sauce), eggplant (green sauce) and roti to dip in. Personally, I’m not a fan of chickpeas and eggplant so I mainly tested the sauces and their flavors rather than the vegetables which I was not a fan of. The chickpea sauce was delicious with an herbal flavor and a tinge of spice, dipping the roti in it was a perfect combination. The eggplant sauce was sweeter and thicker, almost powdery and good, but not as good as the chickpeas. The presentation was nice and kept the foods from mixing when you didn’t want them to.

IMG_1492Next we ordered the mixed appetizer platter figuring it would be a good way to try lots of things and our server assured us nothing was too spicy in it. We started with the potato samosa was delectable, the outside had a nice crunch and the inside was just spicy enough to taste and warm. Next was the Mirch Chaat which was a deep fried green pepper covered in chickpea flower, which made Kaitlyn turn a hellish shade of red. After seeing her almost in tears at the spiciness, I decided to skip this one and go for the Daal Vada. This had very little flavor, consisting of fried spices, herbs and dough rolled in chickpea flour, with a very spongey texture. I tried dipping this into the green chickpea sauce which made a great crossover dish! Next up was the Khaman Dhokla, chick pea flour cakes. These were very buttery and had a strange texture and smell. After that was the Potato Vada, I found this to be very spicy as I bit into a pepper flake. This dish was fried potato, but missed the crunch of a good fried dish! Then we had the Methi Gota, made from besan chickpea flour and benugreek leaves. I started off by calling this my favorite, but as I took more bites, the spice crept up on me. I enjoyed the initial flavor and texture, but soon described my tongue as having “third-degree burns.” I nearly cried as I drank all of my water in one swift motion and ate a piece of roti plain to try to cover it. The pain in my tongue did not recede until we arrived back on Emory’s campus unfortunately. While I was traumatized, Kaitlyn kept moving so I caught up to her with the Kabudana Kichadi, what seemed like chewy gummy balls, with a slightly herbal flavor. I asked the server what they were and did not recognize any of the ingredient’s names. Last was the Patra, a curled green colocasia leaf which we both detested very much, whose flavor reminded me of burnt rotting vegetables.

Overall, when I liked the food it was great, but 3/8 of our appetizers were extremely spicy and I only enjoyed 2-3 of them. Give me a chicken tikka masala any day and I’ll be a happy girl, but the combination of vegetarian and Indian cuisines is not something I plan to ever revisit.

“Swades”

The film “Swades” begins with the story of the typical American dream- man comes from foreign country (India in this case) and succeeds in his field. Produced and directed by Oscar-nominated Ashutosh Gowariker, “Swades” is a movie about hope, love, abandonment, and trust. Internationally over its lifetime it has grossed ₹342.6 million and recieved 4.5 stars from Indiatimes Movies

Mohan Bhargava is the protagonist (Shah Rukh Khan), an ordinary immigrant working as a successful project manager at NASA. He longs to see his childhood nanny, Kaveri Amma (Kishori Ballal), who took care of him when he was a youth in India, so he takes a short leave from NASA to venture to his homeland. Upon his arrival, he realizes she has left and sets off to Charanpur. There he meets Gita (Gayatri Joshi), who moved Kaveri in with her after her parents death. Gita fears that he will take Kaveri away from her, but instead she slowly falls for him. As Mohan explores the villages, he notices the rudimentary technology and detrimental separations of the castes and sets out to help. He extends his leave to bring running water to the village after being shunned for helping a certain lower caste man get water. As he does so, he slowly falls for Gita as he watches how caring and kind she is to everyone in the village. She gives back through providing education. Unfortunately, he returns to the US without his love as she refuses to part with her home country, but after finishing his project at NASA, depressed and lonely, travels back to India to be with Gita. He gets a job with the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center were he can work alongside NASA and everyone lives happily ever after.

This story was inspired by a Aravinda Pillalamarri and Ravi Kuchimanchi, two foreigners who lived in India and helped build schools in far out villages. They set up pedal-power generators to fuel the off-the-grid centers, making technology and education more accessible for many.

“Swades” takes many twists and turns, but does not follow the expected ending. As the story begins to unfold, most audience members can see Mohan falling in love with Kaveri and bringing her back to America, but that is far from what happens. He falls in love with a different girl and travels across the world for her. The climax and aftermath of the story are very unpredictable, which makes “Swades” very interesting for its extreme length of 3 hours and 23 minutes.

The Tales of Hanuman, An Article on Rhetoric

Anant Pai, famously known as the “Walt Disney of India”, in his comic book “Tales of Hanuman,” effectively uses rhetorical strategies to bring dying Indian mythology to life, in a child-friendly way. Pai achieves his mission with images containing implied meanings, manipulating pathos through illustration, diction and other literary tools to emphasize the importance of Hanuman in the ancient stories. The author’s purpose is to make Indian culture available in an easier format than the obscure Sanskrit which was primarily used for mythology. The author utilizes a very informal tone to relate to the audience i.e. school children.

The opening page of “Tales of Hanuman” shows the protagonist leaping and reaching out to a beautiful, bright red sun. The hero of the story is clearly defined from the beginning. Placed in the direct center of the page, Hanuman is surrounded by bright shades of green and red, drawing attention to his blue hair and is also shown as flying along the skyline. As the story begins, Hanuman is almost always shown in action as a dutiful servant, to Sugreeva, starting in the throne room and from there on shown jumping between islands, battling horrific monsters, and running away unscathed. His body is always in motion, swinging threateningly-large tree branches and springing off rooftops. It is clear that Hanuman will win every battle he enters from his robust and confident stance and calm face. The creatures he encounters are often outlined with dark backgrounds and surrounded by shadows, showing instantly they are not Hanuman’s allies. They even intimidate the reader, with ugly green skin and terrifying faces, or even ten heads of Ravana. The reader could open the book to any page without reading the pages before and easily identify the good and the bad. Pai manipulates the audience in all these ways, toying with pathos to portray the light and the dark, the honored and the evil.

Furthermore, the wordsmith has persuasively used a particular style of writing in his series to appeal to his intended audience. The language utilized in the text complements the images used in the comic. Psychologically the words used, amplify the implicit meaning in the text. Since the intended audience was the youth of India, the author has not used compound words in his writing and the words chosen for the text emotionally charge the audience. The author has also used passive voice in the majority of the sentence structure when Ram, Laxman or Hanuman are mentioned because a formal and more respectable impression is made up in the mind of the reader when passive voice is used. There are also brief descriptions of certain characters in the text which provide the necessary background information which the reader might not be aware of. Anant Pai has also used a lot of exaggeration in his writings. These exaggerations appeal to child mindset and retain their interest in the text.

Additionally, Pai uses diction often to emphasize the fortitude of the characters and the objects about which he writes about. The word “mighty” is used on almost every other page to describe the way Hanuman roars, the breadth of the ocean trying to be crossed, beautiful elephants, and even vicious snake arrows. The word is repeated so often to show the significance of the object being described in relation to the story and it also evokes a variety of emotions in the reader. Even the descriptive words Pai uses to describe the end of a battle before the beginning of “Hanuman to the Rescue” denote the importance of the event: “The evil enemy had been destroyed. Virtue had won over greed and lust.” The generous words and assonance used in these frames alert the reader to the gravity of the event.

Therefore, Anant Pai has meticulously educated the Indian youth about their rich cultural heritage by illustrating the Hindu mythological stories in a comic book format. He has efficiently used the writing techniques involving, ethos, pathos, logos and visual literacy. The usage of an informal tone, simple words and a comic format had made Amar Chitra Katha one of the largest selling  book in India in the previous decade.