Sunday, December 19, 2010


Ok tell me
Which one of these two restaurants serves good food?
Swadisht bhojanalalaya or Delicious Restaurant?


Bang on! Atleast for the 90%...I know that voice inside your head has zeroed in on Delicious restaurant.
Not your fault as you are primed to think that “ Swadisht bhojanalya” has to be some dingy, unhygienic sub urban place where the lower middle class man takes his family out while flies are hovering all around and Delicious Restaurant would be some uptown restaurant where you could get the perfect ambience to take your lady out or hob nob with the best in town....Why?
Because this is what has become the power of language....This is what can be termed as decadence of Hindi..I wish i could have written this piece in Hindi..but alas! Hindi is a passé..and yes I am sorry I haven’t been able to get a firm command on my own language as I have over English..
So, often when my friends have boasted of their attempts of mastering German ,French,Greek etc. and persuaded me to follow the suit...I have pondered over this issue and thought over..Its a shame on me I cannot speak my own language hindi properly..Shouldn’t we put in some effort to learn our own mothertongue??
In a bid to do that, I visited a few renowned libraries around and was dismayed to see the plight of Hindi books...The last row of books...spun with cobwebs..collecting dust and with no eminent Hindi writers...Phew!! and after rummaging a few shelves when I got one and issued it at the counter the librarian was flabbergasted and asked me “You read Hindi?? (as if I’d committed a serious offence)...
” why?” i remarked to which he replied ..just that there are no takers for it..Who reads Hindi these days?
How true!!! Invariably all of us overlook the Hindi newspaper and hunch and scan the reading rooms looking for the English counterpart no matter how many advts. It has... Glossy paper with either underwear advts. Or deshabille actresses, models posing..
Now..come on don’t take me as a fanatic or fundamentalist trying to promulgate Shiv Sena/Bajrang Dal ideologies of Bhartiyata or Hindutva ..This is just a thought that has been crystallising for quite some time.. I totally agree with the lot who say that English is the language that has catapulted the country's growth in the IT sector and in the world business scenario...No wonder China is opening English schools all across to arm the Chinese people with English.. There’s no problem learning as many languages as you want to...but many of us look down on Hindi..dismiss it.. Why aren’t we respecting our own language?? Why look at the Japanese? look at the Germans..look at the French..Have they been left behind?
Next we come to the MAJORITY Fairer sex’s proclivity towards English
The other day I observed this girl in the neighbourhood(I am in Jharkhand,India) at the vegetable vendor who was buying the end when the vendor settled down on an amount ...on the being told उँचालीस..the girl asked “उँचालीस meaning?? Bhaiya English mein bolo”
Madam the literacy percentage in india is only 68% and about only 23% of the country can speak in English..people like you could please spare such souls and the poor vegetable vendor!!
And I have seen girls struggling with “दाएँ(daayein)” and “बाएँ(baayen)”..
The modern but poor rickshawpuller now knows what’s right and left..or else how will he be able to help them in transit!!
The next big confusion with uptown girls.. what’s “डेढ़(dedh)”& what’s “अडहायी(adhai)”?
Write it down babes.. “one and a half” and “two and a half” respectively...
This is what my dad pointed will always notice even in interviews and press conferences If its Sachin or Amitabh..when asked a question in hindi they will always reply in the same...but have you ever seen pretty actresses or models or Saina Mirza conversing in Hindi..My dad hits back to say..”if these women can speak hindi in the entire movie why is it a problem on the screen??”
And the observer in me has a nice smile..ok!! I agree the only way to attract attention and to be taken seriously when shopping in a mall or ordering in a restaurant is to speak not in hindi.. “ what’s the price?” is more effective than “इसका दाम कितना है?” How many of us actually retain Hindi वर्णमाला(alphabets)??
What strikes me is a single statement English as a conversing medium shows that you have a “status” but speaking in “hindi” aint cool neither “in”..
As my Management friends would say there is a “snob appeal” in the language..
Especially a few days ago when I was seated in a train and there was this female with a child barely 2 years old in her lap... poor kid was being scolded in English “Baby why do u have to be restless?Mommy will fulfil your chocolate cravings..” with his Dad dropping a few Hindi words “अरे ठीक से बैठो” Spare the poor child..
He might just get confused with both the languages being fed in his mind..That reminds me of the latest admission trends in ENGLISH MEDIUM SCHOOLS..
For admission to kindergarten parents’ are interviewed along with the kids..and both the parents’ and the kids’ English speaking enunciation and fluency are checked..More so I have been told parents’ at some of these HI FI schools also need to specify if they have a two wheeler or a 4 wheeler..Why should they send the kid to “English medium school” if the child already knows english..
At a macroscopic level some of us argue that there is nothing called “preservation of language”..culture is a melting pot of time and civilization and every language undergoes change from time to time..sanskrit is a passé and so is pali and prakrit..but i do believe the reason Greek, French and Japanese have been preserved is because people have taken a certain degree of pride in knowing it..treating it as a heritage and passing it from generation to generation..Not throwing it in the dustbins of history ..that’s my point..and its not only about Hindi..its about whatever your mother tongue is..Hindi is mine and so i have written about it..Or are we plain hypocrites ?? because when it comes to movies we still love our “Hollywood inspired” tearjerking Hindi movies(no matter how nonsensical the plot is) and when it comes to songs we’ll whistle and dance to “बीड़ी...मुन्नी...शीला की जवानी” This still gives me some hope of Hindi not becoming completely extinct at least till the time I live ..

P.S i had thought of naming the blog "शीला की ज़ुबानी"..but that would encourage junta to play THE song in loud and repeat mode and aggravate the damage to my eardrum


abhisek said...

amazing write-up ,very true.
alas i had to consult the dictionary to understand the entire write-up owing to my poor grasp of both languages (hindi and english).atleast u have command over english
continue the good work

vikramaditya shekhar said...

Propagation of Hindi as the language of choice in day to day communication and more importantly, using each language, be it Hindi or English, without any adulteration has always been a matter close to my heart. I applaud you for this post.

triloki nagpal said...

Good work - keep it up...

sophoannotating said...

I know a child who got rejected in a school admission bcoz both of his parents were non-matriculate and could not speak english...I have tried to keep my native language intact but its very tough to speak more than 1 language with complete isolation of one from the other. This forces us to shift to something which is academically and professionally more important.. Really nice post.

funky-philosopher said...

very pertinent issue taken up! as far as the use of languages is concerned.... " wen in rome, do as the romans do" ... rickshey-waaley n sabzi waale se hindi me bolo... mall me ho to angrezi skill dikha do... interview me technical prowess english ke thru hi jhalkegaa.. and ghar me zada hindi me hi baat hoti hai...
Hindi literature is very rich... it would be a delight to re-discover some of the timeless authors.

Rahul Jhanwar said...

First of all there are mistakes. There is difference between Saina Nehwal & Sania Mirza (check what you have used). I won't point out others, you find them.

Moreover the issue is not like that which you have projected. Have you been to "South Delhi" for some time being. See other parts also. I have given my job interviews in Hindi. One of my friend gave all of his interviews in Hindi (except for Facebook, where no one was Indian in panel). And India has come a long way from the time frame when English was considered superior. All the exams are now also conducted in Hindi, what would you say about it.

In short, Hindi is not dying and it cannot die.

Anonymous said...

Nice post ma'm...nice post!
U made me feel ashamed coz I have always run away from reading Hindi books...but I always had an affinity towards Hindi books and hope that I soon begin reading some of them!


rabab said...

I agree that we should try to keep languages alive but where are you leading to through the piece is lost to me. You have propagated the use of Hindi but its actually Hindustani which we use as our mother tongue. A blend of Hindi and Urdu. I agree that using English is seen as classy and has an elitist appeal to it and India is in a transitory phase right now and trying to become modern and English is one of the means its using.

What I do not understand is that what is the harm in using English? If a mother talks to her child in English the child will have a better hang of the language which is needed in India. There are so many English medium educated kids in India who are not able to converse properly in it. I think it is the need of our time that we know English well.

jaihind1989 said...

on the being told उँचालीस..the girl asked “उँचालीस meaning?? Bhaiya English mein bolo”
Thr is no such word in hindi as उँचालीस
..... I guss she was right in asking the meaning of "उँचालीस"

BTW it's उन्तालीस :)