Friday, 13 March 2009

English please!

The other day I was at a friend’s place. I was asked to entertain myself on my own for some time as my friend was on a call. And the germ of this post was sown inadverntently at that very moment. No, it did not happen because ‘empty mind thought intelligently’ but because of observation that in spite of my friend’s impeccable English I did not hear a single English word in her conversation with her brother.

And on extending this exciting revealation as a flashback to my more than an year stay now in Germany, I was thrilled to recount many instances when I did not hear any English word being used by my German friends in their conversation, unless they felt guilty of letting me feel left out. And, then I was at a newer understanding of ‘being Indians’. Indian is a generalised category and here I speak only of ‘we typical’ English educated middle-class. I also must confess here that my understanding here is limited to northerners and easterners, but blinded by flashing success of the IT hoopla in which southerners have taken a lead, I am almost sure this applies on them as well. So here is this observation: we Indians feel ashamed of speaking in our mother tongue for more than three minutes or at best five sentences. (The remarkable exceptions are Bengalis.) To gloss over our deficiency, we came up with one more proof of our stupidity: Hinglish. One stray example is: “You know it’s so diffuclt to gootho aata (you know it is so difficult to knead flour).” The examples could be multiplied. The fact is that we don’t even make a try and the reason is simple: we don’t want to try. Speaking English and in English amongst ourselves massages our complexes of superiority, and structurally in the same logic help us look down upon those who can’t manage to do so. I am completely leaving aside here the even funnier ego-boost-exercise at picking up on regional accents. The language in itself is bread and butter of that mentality which we inherited from British colonial rule and are happily promoting and sustaining it. No Brits, I am not blaming you. On contrary, I am congratulating you on knowing us so well. We love to be showy, and you gave us the most important tool to show off.