Monday, August 29, 2005

A Hectic Weekend and Humari Mathru Bhasha

Raamji Londonwaala
Nala Damayanthi

After a long week at work, the weekend was yet another whirl wind of social activities for me and my significant other. It just seems that a relaxing weekend means meeting single friends and couple friends whom we hadn't had a chance to meet during the weekday, running around doing grocery and errands, rushing off to a movie, paying bills, making those dutiful India calls and so on.

On Friday night, we visited the "GL" couple for a nice south indian krishna jayanthi dinner-boy, wasn't i glad that we have such good friends :) L hasn't started working yet as she is on a H4 visa and had taken the time to prepare sweets and a great dinner that i enjoyed after a tiring week at work. Since, i hadn't made anything on Friday and we were debating as to where we should go for dinner, when GL called us at 7.30 pm on Friday night, i was so happy. After dinner and the usual catching up on stuff, we went to the nearby "ColdStone" for some ice cream and a stroll in the nearby park and came home by 11.30.

On Saturday, i slept through the morning, a rare treat for me, and in the afternoon we hit "Chaat Cafe" for some hot parathas and palak with the same "GL" couple. After washing it down with some mango lassi, I had to take care of some shopping and then went home to do some dishes and a short nap. In the evening, had to get dressed and go to a "baby shower" for one of my husband's undergrad classmates.

It was meeting a bunch of Hindi speaking people whom i had never met before and polite talks. Before moving on, i have to share some background that my siginificant other has been to school for his undergrad in the holiest town in North India and is quite comfortable in talking Hindi and still is in touch with some of his Hindi speaking undergrad pals. To me, Hindi was a second language in high school till Sanskrit took over and i took private lessons till Visharadh level. Although, i like to watch hindi movies and can manage to speak a few broken sentences, my husband's fluency and flair far exceeds mine. I am an avid tamil lover and stick to English when i am around those who don't follow my dialect.

No offense to those hindi speaking folks- but, i have to mention the fact that almost everyone in that hindi crowd, even the guys who work here, seem to talk only in Hindi. It was as though speaking English was something weird and with me having to decipher each and every word of what they were saying and my husband doing the translation in whispers, it was just annoying. All this on top of the fact, that we had mentioned to the group that i don't speak Hindi.
I had to go through this for 4 hours that evening and was glad to be out of the door that night.

Afterwards, i can't help but wonder, why the so-called "Hindi" speaking folks-both men and women, don't bother to converse in English even when they are in the midst of people who don't speak their language. I know Hindi is the National Language of India, but India is so rich in its cultural heritage and so diverse in its dialects that even when you step out of the country you do need a common language English that takes you across the continent.

Contrary to this, it is interesting to note that when a group of Tamilians get together, they start off talking in English, especially the gals nowadays, my husband likes to call those gals "Peter Ammas", even though they develop an affinity knowing that they are from TamilNadu or Chennai.


Katpadi Murali said...

I observed the same when I was in Delhi for the first time in my Career.Inspite of the fact, that they know pretty well, I know only tamil and English, they invariably converse with me in Hindi.Hence, I believe, it is the same whether here or there. However, that made me to learn broken Hindi was a different story alltogether.Your observance on Peter Ammas are very true.

Raju said...

well said, Mitr.. As I had promised you, I visited your blog, though one day late. Nice posts..

Most of the Hindi-speaking people are truly irritating bunch of nerds.. I second all your thoughts.. Nothing more to add to it... Their mentality is like that..

mitr_bayarea said...

hmm..thanks for your thoughts, its interesting to see that others have also had similar experiences with hindi pesara makkal.

tt_giant said...

I hear you and amen to that.

When someone comes up to me and speaks in hindi, I politely tell them that I don't know it and proceed to speak in english. If they persist, I reply in tamil.

mitr_bayarea said...

Hi ttg,
seems like a nice defensive mechanism.....i tried doing that except the last part-"switch to tamil"..didn't wanna come across more rude than i already appeared with a bored almost "when can we go home" expression on my face...

ada-paavi!!!! said...

ingiyum the 'ultra peters ' when these girls talk to a street vendon, they speak in tamil a strained verion in an accent which some1 who has learnt the langauge wud use, or a vellaikaraan, but they will be proper tamilians!

if ppl speak in hindi when i am round (i dont udnerstand it) i walk away, and then they either switch to english,otherwise i tell them to switch to english as i don tunderstand the langauge in crude terms!

Ram.C said...

Honestly speaking, I don't know to talk Hindi.. Just I used to watch movies and understand, since I was exposed to Tamil only as my second language, during my school days.

So, whenever I go to some gathering, I take the initiative of talking in English itself without letting them to talk much in Hindi. If they do it continously, I try to leave that place as quick as possible... to be practical.

pm said...

I have had this problem too. it is very irritating. MOreover when I told people that I can't speak hindi well, the say, with great incredulity, "but it is our national language yaar"

Interesting, considering Hindi Became national language with a vote of 78-77

Priya said...

Interesting read. By the way, what does "Humari Mathru Bhasha" mean?

mitr_bayarea said...

thanks for dropping by at my blog-welcome to the community. "Humarai Mathru Bassha" means our mother tongue or in my case, our national language.