Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mooh Se Nikli Hui Boli, aur Banduk se Nikli Hui...

Jaya Bachchan's dad Tarun Bhaduri was the one who wrote those amazing stories in Bangla on dacoits. He could dip into his considerable experience of time spent in the Chambal Valley. That later became the picture in non-Bangla speaking Amjad Khan's mind when he wanted to portray a more authentic Gabbar Singh.

And when Guddi arrived in 1970, Bongs outside Bengal heaved a sigh of relief. Here at last was a Bong by name Jaya Bhaduri who actually spoke chaste Hindi, and all could puff their chests out in glory at last. No one dare accuse bhadrolok Easterners of dipping every Hindi word in roshogullas, softening every 'S' before spouting it to the hapless world. Aka Sharmila, Uttam, Biswajeet, Asit Sen.

Those were the forward looking times, when localizations were merging into a national identity. When the pride was in knowing other languages beyond your mother tongue.

When all still recalled successfully jettisoning the Brits out of the united subcontinent.

Now are the backward bending times. When we pseudo- nationals wear our local bhasha identity on our sleeves.

Which language do you think in? Hello, don't answer it yet... Be (local)politically correct. And how many of us have nothing better to do in life, but be indignant either with a view for or against which bhasha I think in issue. Even while we send our next gen - the Thackereys included - to ace English speaking English medium schools.

As children of a Bangla medium mom and an Oriya medium dad brought up in Mumbai (Bombay in the days we grew up), my brother and I have the hodge-podge distinction of being able to speak Bangla-Oriya-Marathi-Hindi-Angrezi.

Which means we often come up with the right word, but in the wrong language.

My bro, for instance, settled as he is now in New York, knows some of the most obscure Oriya idioms... moharaguru jainkiri kanthare padhila... And insists there is no equivalent in any other language for that exact emotion. So irrespective of place, he can find the befitting occasion for sure to spout his 'moharagurus' much to our amusement. Has he ever been in Orissa? Never, apart from a very few holiday visits. Yet, will proudly own up to being from Mumbai, Kolkata, Cuttack - and now, New York. And my brother's daughter Asya - now, her other parent is originally from St Petersburg. So Asya fluently speaks a unique combo of English, Russian, a few words of 'Indian' = some Hindi, some Bangla, some Oriya.

That's the world we live in today. And yet, there are the Raj Thackereys who seem to live on some other planet, shooting off his mouth from his hip in a narrow world of 'mee Mumbaikar'.

Time for some Martians to attack Earth. Perhaps that's the only hope we have of uniting once again, on this pointless issues mein divided planet.

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