A question I encounter very frequently but I don’t know how to answer is “Why do you stay in Pune rather than Bangalore?” At times I just say I got a job here. At times I say my hometown is equi-distant from here so it doesn’t make a difference. On some other days, I ask people if they can get me a job in Bangalore so I can move 😛 But mostly I am confused why is it that people ask the question. I am away from home in either case. In fact it is the same national highway that I’d take from both destinations to go “home”, just in opposite directions. The only difference is when I go home from Pune my phone is in “roaming”. Oh ya that is there. Bangalore is in the same political boundary as my hometown! But I don’t feel the same kinship with Bangalore that others want me to feel. Reason? Because although it is in the same state the language (actually dialect) and the culture is quite different. I don’t feel at home!
Well that was a pretty long segue to what I wanted to speak about today. Language, the culture and interconnection! Since I am a recently converted insomniac I don’t know what to do in those wee hours. And I end up binge watching YouTube videos. In one of those videos, Sudhir Mishra, the film-maker of “Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi” fame, says Women and Dalits take to English much more easily than others because English words or language is not as exploitative to them as their native tongue. That explains why I can’t bring myself to read a lot of Kannada literature inspite of being quite proficient in the language. That extends to Kannada movies and newspapers even. And consequently I can’t feel the connect to Bangalore that others feel or atleast expect me to feel. He says “Bhasha is attitude”. On the same lines, another script-writer Jaideep Sahni (Chak De India) says “Bhasha is behaviour”. They couldn’t have been more correct. Thanks to them now I feel validated. All these days I felt like I was cheating on my mother tongue! Hail YouTube and the hail the Internet! I have been on the receiving end of quite a few jokes and taunts because of my love for English language. I still love Kannada but I just can’t enjoy the literature as much.
The dystopian novel, 1984, explores this brilliantly where the Oceania government has introduced this new language Newspeak. Newspeak has a very limited vocabulary and no negative terms. It is a language designed to remove even the possibility of independent thinking or a rebellion. Orwell said ‘If thoughts can corrupt language, language can also corrupt thoughts.’ Very interesting theory indeed.
There is a reason the current Government of our country wants to impose Hindi on us. Because without imposing the language there is no way they can impose the morality that comes along with it. And that precisely is also the reason why some others are opposing the move. Anybody familiar with the South-East Asia can attest, here English isn’t just a language but a class. If you can speak English well, it immediately puts you in a different league. French is a language synonymous with class, luxury, sophistication and fancy.
However, there is one thing. Because of colonization and subsequently the emergence of the Internet now we have a large population of the World that speaks English but thinks in a different language. The other language can be any Kannada, Chinese, Spanish and the list goes on. English can be called the lingua franca of the World. Well almost. Culturally also due to capitalization we are becoming pretty similar. You can find a McDonalds and a Starbucks be it Denver, Dubai, Delhi, or Denpasar! Is it a good thing? I don’t know and anyway that is a topic for another day. This cultural melting pot has created another language for us which could very well become the lingua franca of the World: Memes. Have you been following them?
And while I am thinking all this on a Saturday afternoon, here’s my brain to myself.
So I’ll go eat something while you ponder on what language you think in and and tell me how can I ask for biryani in that language 😀