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 – http://bangaloremirror.com/article/10/201106072011060700050557789635d05/%E2%80%98NonKannadigas-will-have-to-learn-the-language-in-a-year%E2%80%99.html . I wonder if they have considered asking for a separate country yet, like so many of their counterparts. Ridiculous!