Monday, June 6, 2011

The Dravidian Revenge

One of the things that strikes me really odd about this part of the country is just how much they think of us "Northies" as "different" people. I lived in Maharashtra for 7 years of my life, I NEVER had an issue with the language. People made an effort to understand me, and in return, taught me a little bit of Marathi. I enjoyed learning it, it was a new language to me. Which brings me to an entirely different topic - it is one thing to not know a language, but to be proud of one's ignorance is a little pathetic, don't you think?

When people relate/ hear of stories about how a North Indian who asked for a Hindi movie on a bus ride, gets insulted, they make it sound like gloating! These are the same people who will scream the loudest if there is a racist attack on an Indian/ South Indian in a foreign country. I can only define it as hypocrisy. I am no angel, I have, many times over, made fun of certain eccentricities one would encounter in this part of the country. Like right-aaaa. But I have never not been friends with someone based on the language they speak at home. I would not "admire the guts" of a random auto driver or bus conductor who does not know his manners and asks hindi speaking passengers to get off the vehicle or asks them to carry their own TV in a bus if they want to see a Hindi movie. Here. If I am in an overnight bus ride, I would probably not want to see any movie. But to spend 10 hours in the dark of night, listening on loudspeakers, to a language I can't understand a word of, amounts to torture. You know the quality of speakers in these buses! On the other hand, most of the people from this part of the country, follow Bollywood and understand enough hindi to watch a movie. They spend money on movie tickets, goddamit! Why then, is this an issue of regionalism? It should be more like common sense, right? It is the same bloody country!

I am not even talking about auto drivers or bus conductors. I am talking about people who have had a cosmopolitan upbringing, they ideally should have a workable knowledge of Hindi from their CBSE curriculum. They belong to the new India, go clubbing, study in fancy schools and colleges, but often they forget everything about being an Indian and wear their "Karnataka" badge like it is a different country. I have had friends and new students who came to our school for a couple of years from very far flung states like Kerala and Karnataka. We helped them! We helped them with their Hindi, their getting around and learning all the ropes they needed in a state where everyone spoke a language that was so foreign to them. While I do not have a vivid memory of this, I do remember my mom and one of my teachers telling us categorically that if there is someone in the room who does not speak the language we are used to speaking in, try another that is common. I don't remember listening to English news and music channels with my great aunt in the same room, more often than not I don't speak in Hindi with friends if there is even one person in the same room who does not understand the language. Basic. Etiquette. Right?

Ever since I moved to Bangalore, there has been only ONE person (in two years), who took the effort to make me feel welcome and agreed with the fact that there could possibly be a language issue here. She was not from a fancy college, she was more from Karnataka than anybody else. She probably just had some common sense in place. I cannot learn Kannada overnight, nobody can! And there was a reason that Hindi is still taught in schools. Or English for that matter. If you don't want to speak either of the languages strictly for regional reasons, maybe it is about time you stopped pretending the whole cosmopolitan bit and admit to what you really are. A very hardcore supporter of regionalism, a little small minded, maybe a little mean, and not cosmopolitan at all.

P.S. I may have come across all the wrong people. If you have had better experience in Bangalore, please share so I know there is still hope.

Edited to add: As if the every day jhanjhat was not enough, here you go - . I wonder if they have considered asking for a separate country yet, like so many of their counterparts. Ridiculous!


Shweta said...

hey i perfectly understand what you feel cause i feel every bit of it myself. Especially the examples you posted are coincidentally part of my diary as well. However, since we have to be here (and have no other choice...till we leave), i guess, the sooner we realise that this place is not cosmopolitan language-wise, the easier it will be for us to move on. I have come across professional hazards because of this only one reason that people here speak in their language even in important official meetings!!! Maximum we can do to release our frustrations is to unite and bitch about this injustice. nothing else helps. Trust me. I have suffered all this while

Moonshine said...

Ah.. I have had a different experience really. I am a south Indian brought up in the north. So hindi and english are all I know. People have been quite sweet to me really.. willing to translate when required.. not speaking in anything but english / hindi when I am around.. even the auto drivers!!! I havent faced an issue yet.. with my talking in Hindi / English!!

I guess it would help me more if I knew the local language.. but not knowing it has not hampered me really!!!

Ramya said...

So I have faced regionalism in Bangalore for not knowing Kannada. And in Chennai for not knowing Tamil. I've heard its even more extreme in Kerala. But, my Mum has also faced regionalism in various North Indian cities for not knowing Hindi. So its not a Dravidian thing alone - this language based regionalism is prevalent in many parts of the country; and this treating of people up north or down south as 'the other' is very prevalent and really needs to be done away with.

That said and done, I have friends who have spent over 5 years in Bangalore and haven't learn a word of Kannada. After 5 years in Bangalore, my Kannada is rudimentary at best, and that too because I went to Kannada classes organised at work. And yet, all of us have managed to live in Bangalore just fine. I wonder if it is this easy to live in Chennai without knowing Tamil, or even in Delhi without knowing Hindi.

And just like learning Kannada is hard, so is learning Hindi, for a lot of people. I don't know about CBSE, but in state syllabus and in ICSE, you have a choice of Hindi or regional language. Most parents choose the regional language because (a) it is more practical if the child is going to grow up in that state (b) parents feel better equipped to guide/coach the child in that language than in Hindi (c) sentimental reasons. So a surprisingly large number of kids actually don't have Hindi as a language in school.

Tamanna said...

Shweta, :)

Moonshine, argh! I guess I am just unlucky then!

Ramya, I do know that CBSE has mandatory Hindi. And while this is obviously a debate for another day, my two pennies - I am not sure if getting the child to choose regional language as the second subject is a smart thing. I am pretty sure most children these days don't stay in the states they went to school in. If anything, they will just be better equipped for a larger part of the country. E.g. while I have faced regionalism for not knowing Kannada, I can still find my way around. I repeat, I do NOT expect people to know or make an attempt to learn Hindi. My experience is that they have these expectations. I am not talking about a different generation, I have people from another generation in my family who are true blue North Indians but don't know a word of Hindi. They speak Bhojpuri/ Nagpuri. All I am saying is, when I see this coming from this generation, one that clubs and studies all over the place and freaks out on a LOT of bollywood cinema, it fails to amuse me. This post is more about people's mentality than about learning or not learning the language. I might be a tad biased towards Hindi speaking states, but I know for a fact that if I have made an effort to make every non-Hindi speaking person comfortable and I have tried to teach them the ropes, I have every right to expect the same. I know of people who have spent many years in Delhi, still speak just about rudimentary Hindi, and are surviving just fine. So if you think of examples/ exceptions to the rule, there are many. In this post however, I am talking about my experience. I am glad there are people who have been luckier than me! And when I hear of the language barrier and how normal it seems to be and how it is not a Dravidian/ North Indian thing particularly, I can only say that I have had a better upbringing than a WHOLE LOT of people. Thank God for it!

The Soul of Alec Smart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Soul of Alec Smart said...

Also, when you approve previous comment, delete the link pliss? Very few people know the new URL.. best that way. Thankee!

maniac.hunter said...

agree wid ur point completely.i myself have spent around 4 years and came accross things like that.was wondering if i could show this post to some of my COSMOPOLITAN hardcore bangloreans #ifonly ppl understood

Anonymous said...

Well, for gods sake no sane Kannadiga called/calls Bangalore a cosmopolitan.
Auto drivers/Bus conductors being rude is not acceptable at all but at the same time there are people from outside who behave the same way with the locals which also is not appreciable.
You laugh at the righ-aa of a local but we laugh at the iskool (school) of a Bihari or any north Indian, these things have to be accepted.
To speak very plainly, every place has regionalism practiced,it is not just limited to south India. Bangalore for sure has decent amount of tolerance than any other place in India.
I'm from Bangalore, but have lived in Hyderabad and Pune, there was one thing common in all these cities, dislike of people form Bihar. it was completely unfathomable for me, yet I saw it everywhere. my roomie was a bihari and we had hard time finding a house in Hyd. I felt bad about it but if you hear the hose owners, majority of their experiences were sick to worst. one hose owner put it aptly, not all biharis are bad but all of the ill behave tenants are biharis. where as my roomie was one of the well read, very humble human I have known. it is life....

..... it all depends upon the person. if you are tolerant to people around they are to you. society is like the mirror, you see what you are, well yeah mostly...

Tamanna said...

So Anon, you basically agreed with everything I said in the post - read again :P

Also, the house owners seem to have met all the wrong Biharis, like I seem to have met a lot of wrong Kannadigas. I must say though that from the time I wrote this post to now, a lot has changed.

Leave your name behind the next time? :)

Anonymous said...

Hehe... I don't know If I agree with you are not, but surely I respect your feelings whether right or wrong, because every human is entitled to have his/her own.
hmm... pronto I disagreed cosmopolitan bit, didn't I ? ;P

Read my last line...I said it depends on you each person. you can try this, Be repeatedly nice to a person who is rude to you and see the response after... till now I have not found anyone who remained rude to me after I spoke to them with warmth and politeness many apologized to me.

my points succinctly put,

1. Regionalism is everywhere
2. it depends on yourself(almost always)

I can leave my name...

Liked your blog. keep writing