The other day I was watching a news item that featured a young girl talking in some regional language. She then said,in English, that around 43 languages in India face extinction and that she was trying to save hers and exhorting us to do the same.
‘Forty three??’ I wondered.
For all the languages we have in India, 43 did not seem too significant a number then. My Mum was watching the advertisement as well. She seemed visibly upset about it.
“I don’t understand why do people consider it cool to not know their language.”
I knew what would follow next. Mum started her customary rant about all the young TV anchors on Sun TV (Mum’s favourite Tamil Channel) speaking poor Tamil. For once, I can’t disagree with her. Tamil TV anchors nowadays sport an anglicized accent when speaking Tamil. It sounds very weird and artificial. The common man can never relate to this kind of language.
The other day, I was watching Rahul Bose’s interview when my friend dropped in.
“I love his style of speaking Hindi.” He said. “He sounds so educated.”
I was appalled. Rahul Bose, with all due respect to him, speaks Hindi in an anglicized tone. He does appear western educated in that sense.
I couldn’t help but ask, “So, does Amitabh Bachchan sound uneducated to you? Or AB Vajpayee?”
They speak such fantastic Hindi and it’s always a joy to listen to them.
He replied that they sounded too Indian and hence, were not as impressive as Rahul Bose.
For all the people harping about Marathi pride and how regionalist they’ve become, I know of so many people who find it demeaning to speak Marathi at home or anywhere. Same is the case with the people who considered to be proud of their language – Tamils and Bengalis.
On my part, I don’t know what enticed me towards learning Urdu but yes, I am making an effort towards learning Urdu and improving my Hindi. I have fallen in love with Urdu and find it to be bewitchingly poetic. I don’t bring this up anywhere because people snigger at me for learning something so not-so-cool.
But still, these are the same people who will brag to any westerner about the rich Indian culture and the diversity it offers. I have seen so many people brag about the sheer number of languages that India has and when the Westerner marvels, they smile benignly. But when it comes to speaking their own language, they draw a zero.
I’ll shoot them someday!
I really will.