Why not Bangalore?

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  😀


Found in Translation

pana po'o

pana po’o

Years ago, I was watching a french movie when the protagonist, a little boy names his girl friend “Ukume”. He explains her that in his tribal language it means “Sound of the rain drops falling on leaves”. I wondered how evolved this tribal language could be and If you could express better in that language than in most other “evolved” languages. Later  I heard “L’esprit de l’escalier”, it is a French term used in English that describes the predicament of thinking of the perfect retort too late. Now how many of us can say it hasn’t happened to us? At least with me that happens a lot. I can think of all the amazing retorts in the World but only after the situation has passed 😦

Similarly I have never been able figure out an English equivalent for Sanskrit Shraddha. Mostly associated with faith but it is so much more than just faith or dedication or love or reverence. It is all of these and more.

Most native American characters also seem to have names based on their behaviour like ‘Stands with a fist’. (Btw this is from my half-baked knowledge that comes from watching movies like Dancing with the Wolves). If I was a native American, I guess I’d be called ‘Sits in front of the TV/Computer the whole day’ 😛

Here is a list of other such untranslatable words I found online.

  • pana po’o – Hawaiian means to scratch your head in order to help you to remember something you’ve forgotten.
  • Gökotta – Swedish means to wake up early in the morning with the purpose of going outside to hear the first birds sing.
  • Pochemuchka – Russian – a person who asks too much questions. Don’t we all know atleast one such person. This reminds me of Paresh Rawal in movie Judaai. 😀
  • Chai-Pani – Hindi – referred to the bribe i.e. small amount of money given to the bureaucratic worker to get things done. Oh how I hate that term! (chai aurpani ka naam badnaam kar ke rakha hai)
  • Iktsuarpok – Inuit- that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet?
  • Schadenfreude – German – The joy obtained from watching others misery esp. someone who is more successful or powerful. All the Indian soap vamps know this a little too well. Doesn’t mean other don’t do just that vamps are more open about it.
  • Ilunga – Tshiluba(an African language) – meaning “a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time”. 3 is a little 2 much eh? Sounds simple enough but a 1,000 language experts identified it as the hardest word to translate.
  • Shlimazl – Yiddish for “a chronically unlucky person”. We may not have anything in English but there is a Hindi word for that “Panauti”. Nobody wants to be one 🙂
  • Kyoikumama – Japanese for a Mom who pushes her children too much for academic achievement. This kids must feel like shlimazl kids while others Schadenfreude at their expense.

Those are the ones I have come across while reading something or during my discussions with the like-minded folks. Do add to the list.

Btw – Is there is word for feeling that you are so angry that you want to punch them in the face right then? I have had an experience like that recently so just trying to find a word to describe that.

Also, currently I am reading this book on how Amul brand became the toast of the nation through their print ads. Must say they define a new language and have a set of their own untranslatable lingo.