Recently I saw this Bollywood movie called ‘Hindi Medium’ which brings out the hypocrisies of a nation that is ashamed to speak its language. Thanks to this movie that inspired me to share my thoughts today on the issue that have always concerned me.
As I started travelling overseas I learnt how nations that have progressed, treasure their languages and how their citizens take pride in using their mother tongue. The Chinese, the Japanese, the Russians, the French and the Germans are just a few examples and the list is endless. But I get ashamed and dejected upon thinking how badly we treat our languages. The situation is so bad that most of us would scratch our heads if we are asked to write even a moderately difficult paragraph in Hindi. Or just forget about that and ask yourself, when was the last time that you wrote something in Hindi? Not the kind of Hindi in WhatsApp texts that we send all day using the Latin script but I’m talking about writing something in our Devnagri script. Also, is it not a sad reality of our society that there is no dearth of schools where children have to pay a fine if they speak in Hindi.
And as I write about this issue today, so let me also talk about those Indian parents who talk to their kids in English. I myself have plenty of such friends in my circle and I would like to say this to such friends of mine that you don’t look any modern or sophisticated when you use English with your kids at home and at public places. The only thing you look like is a fool. And then there is this second category of people whom you identify with “Beta, food finish kiya”, “Mamma ka finger hold karo”, “Hand wash karke aao”. This category of people is mainly comprised of housewives, especially the newlyweds. This category is worse because they can’t even frame a full sentence of English and yet won’t let go of a single chance to flaunt their English. These people are not fools, because they are cartoons. And finally there are some unique people like one of my good friends in Delhi, who would talk to me in Hindi but would talk to his parents only and only in English! My father is not an exception either who despite of being a Professor of English can’t speak fluently in English and yet take utmost pride in using as many English words as possible in a damn desi hindi sentence.
The first two categories when combined form the category of people who are overly worried about their child’s future and unfortunately we all have such friends and relatives around us. Dear such people let me tell you that it is not how much you worry for your child that would make their careers, rather it would be their own hard work & destiny that would shape their future. Here I would like to take my own example. I did my schooling from average institutions and in all my life I have never spoken a full sentence of English with my parents and yet today I comfortably manage conversations in English with people from across the globe and moreover I scored 8 bands on IELTS very recently. I’m not trying to brag or boast myself but I fail to understand that when an ordinary person like me can be reasonably good at English without making any special efforts then why speak a foreign language in our everyday lives and become a laughing stock. Why not just send our children to an English medium school and let the school do the rest.
I’m not against the English language, it’s a wonderful language and the only link language that breaks borders and connects all of humankind. I’m against using English as a tool to divide; it is wrong to establish English as a class and as a symbol of status and power. A huge responsibility lies on the employers in the private sector of India who are mistakenly promoting English as a prerequisite to any and every job in India. It is nothing but funny that in our country interviewers expect the candidate to speak at least basic English even while recruiting an office peon.
I would like to conclude by saying this to all my countrymen that we can never progress as a nation until we respect and are proud of our motherland and our mother tongue.
Jai Hind & Jai Hindi!
What a fantastic day spent in Dhaka! The 2015 World Cup semi final India played against Australia was the first time and hopefully the only time in my life, when I enjoyed India losing a match! During the match, the whole of Bangladeh was glued to the TV as if it was there team playing the semis, and everybody had one clear goal…aaj India ko harana hai! Believe me or not, but Bangladesh is much more mad for cricket, than we are. This is not a cricket obsessed nation like India, they are cricket crazy! And you talk to anybody here and they are so upset and angry about the way they lost to India in the quarter finals and had to exit from the tournament. In their words, “India dui numbari kiya”, “umpire ko paisa khilaya india”, “India ICC kharid liya hai”. Some even went on to say “Bangladesh ka badua lagega”! During the end part of Indian innings, I was in a shopping mall and every time there was a huge roar in the mall, I knew that there was another Indian wicket falling!
I spent the evening that day celebrating the Bangladeshi Independence day,attended a public gathering at a national memorial, even bought a Bangladeshi flag, hailed ‘Jai Maharashtra’when the crowd was cheering ‘Jai Bangladesh’ slogans! (I had the liberty to do so as I was accompanied by a local!) I took the iconic Dhaka rickshaw on the way back to my hotel and during the rickshaw ride, waved the flag I bought, with my local friend and hurled pro India slogans! I shouted“Bharat Mata ki Jai” to a rickshaw wallah and he replied “India toh aaj khallas ho gaya” (referring to the match) hahahahaha….what a day to remember!
Hi, This is for all my foreign friends who plan to travel to India alone. Independent travel may sound fun but an UNPLANNED trip can be life threatening. You may be cheated, looted or worst.
This comes from a recent experience of mine that I had at Gorakhpur while on the way back from Nepal. I was having lunch with a friend of mine at one of the dhabas opposite to the rail station, when this young foreign tourist sitting next to us, said ‘Namastey’ to me. I asked him where he was from. He said, China. So I responded to his Namastey with a ‘Ni Hao’ (Chinese term for greeting). He was happily surprised. I then shared with him experiences of my visit to China and during the conversation he told me that he was stuck in Gorakhpur as he could not manage to get a train ticket to travel to the next city. There were no tickets available at the station counter and he had no clue that reservations for Indian Rail can also be made online. All he could manage was a ticket to Varanasi for the ‘General’ compartment. I told him that we as locals don’t dare to enter that overcrowded coach, forget about you travelling in that! He later went on to tell us that he was in India for a week and had plans to cover 5 cities by doing rail travel including cities like Delhi & Bombay, which were very far from where he was. To my shock, he had no rail reservations, no hotels bookings and nothing at all to execute his plans to reality. He was clueless about what he was doing. I told him, what he was doing was not realistic and he was only making a fool of himself.
I decided to bail him out of his critical situation. I was more than willing to help him because in the past I have found myself in similar situations at various places that I have been to, including his country, China. And every time it was the locals, who were my saviors. Now it was my chance to return the favour. I told him that I was travelling to Delhi and had a reservation in the AC Coach of one of the trains, and that he can share the berth with me and can comfortably reach Delhi. I also promised him that upon reaching Delhi, I will make all his rail bookings and hotel reservations for all the cities he wanted to travel to. After a long thought, he refused to my help. He probably would have thought that asking for help from a stranger in a foreign nation might land him in deeper trouble. He rather asked for my e-mail and phone number and said that he would contact me if gets into any trouble. While departing, he told me that I was the first nice guy that he met in India. He also asked my friend to take a picture of us with his camera. So far, I have not heard from him. I can only pray that he reaches home safely.
In my opinion, the best way to travel to a new country is to explore the place with locals. But if you don’t have that luxury, then the next best option is to travel in a group, especially for female tourists. Else you may take the services of a tour operator who would put you in a group with other tourists and you can then travel happily with them. But if you are one of those people like me, who believe that travelling in a group can ruin all the fun and that tour operators are for the faint hearted; then remember, PLANNING and RESEARCH is the key. Without proper planning, you are destined to come back home with poor memories of the people and the place.
But keep travelling, don’t let excuses stop you. Because when we travel, we realize how wrong we were of people and places.