Thursday, October 04, 2007

True blue Bangaloreans?

"Ek roti tees paise bekadre vayinko lyakpote get out" which in English means "one roti costs 30 paise buy it if you want else get out"

This was the result was the collective creativity of we second graders many many years ago. I don't remember if I was part of the creative team (not even sure if it was one of us or someone else in this wide wide world) but I sure thought it was very clever and never missed an opportunity to flaunt it. My parents thought it was funny the first 2 times I said it but not so funny after a dozen times.

I recently remembered this because V & I still speak like this at times. It goes like this.

Me: Is that chapati soft?
V: yeah aaj kal teek hi banta hai. (these days it's like this)
Me: What do you mean? Idukku munnadi ippadi kedayada? (earlier it was not like this?)
V: Not like that. Munnaadiya vide ippo nalla irukku (no it's better than before)
Me: Naaleyinda neene maadko haagadre (you make the chapathis from tomorrow)
V: No aisa nahi yaar... (I didn't mean it that way)

See what I mean? There are reasons why we speak like this. In order to explain the reasons I'll have to start from the start.

My parents are quite linguists themselves. Being from Dakshina Kannada (DK) they automatically speak 2 languages Tulu (they both spoke two different versions of this) and Kannada. In addition to that they were people with loads of friends and so they understood Konkani and Malayalam.

And then they moved to Bangalore (where the Kannada is very different) and this being the ever cool cosmopolitan city their language skills only got better. Mom taught Kannada in a school where the majority of the population was Tamil speaking (both teachers and students). So she learnt that too. She can put any Tamilian to shame with her Tamil now. I was born into this high pressure learning zone. It so happened that the family that agreed to look after me when both of them were at work was Marathi speaking. So the first language I learnt was not Tulu or Kannada but Marathi!. Mom says she had to keep the girl from the family around in the evenings to converse with me. After a while they couldn't take it any more and decided I would go with Dad to office to get Marathi out of my system. It helped that Dad was running his own business. I don't speak a word of Marathi anymore but can understand some.

I was put in the same school that Amma taught and so I too learnt Tamil in addition to English and the mandatory third language Hindi. National language took centre-stage in my life with advent of Doordarshan. I learnt all my spoken Hindi through Ramayana, Mahabharatha , Buniyaad and of course Amitabh Bachan and Mithun Chakraborthy movies. I owe it all to the idiot box and the celluloid...

Later in college I was introduced to Ghalib and Jagjit Singh and so Urdu entered my vocabulary. And simply by the virtue of being in Bangalore Telugu was inducted somewhere down the lane. During college and initial office days Hindi and English was the mainstay. What with half the office filled with junta from every other state.

Then I moved to Tamil Nadu. Where my Tamil language skills were refined. I even learnt to read a bit (how else does one get into the buses there?) What was supposed to be a brief one month stay turned out to be 4 year long sojourn through the Tamil Heartland. Today I can speak Iyer aathu Tamizh to Madurai Coimbatore sing song to murderous Tamil they speak in Chennai. My first big job as journo was with a Hindi news channel and so watching all those 70s and 80s Bollywood cinema finally paid off. Soon I was not only having day to day conversations in Hindi but filing stories in Hindi from Tamil Nadu mind you...(albeit typed it all in English. The producers tried very hard to make us learn Hindi typing but that was the limit) In the midst of it all Malayalam the only other south Indian language I didn't learn all these years was making way into my system...I fell for and married a Mal guy! So now I had that too to learn (how else could I hope to impress my in laws my charms weren't family friendly!) Now V himself was quite a linguist. Mal guy brought up in TN and then did his college in Hindi heartland! So dating days we spoke Hindi, Tamil and English. Poor guy even pretended to understand all the Urdu poetry I would let off :D

So between us we had about five languages. Hence the confusion!

And last year we had a brain wave and decided to add some international flavour to this confusion we took up Spanish classes. Thankfully the madness ended with level 1.

We try very hard to keep the language in one region at a time. We even drew up a calendar! We said we will speak nothing but Kannada and Malayalam and we would give 2 weeks each. But so far hasn't worked.

PS: I do believe that living in Bangalore one usually speaks at least 2 languages other than Kannada. And since we went on an overkill I do think we are living up to the tradition in a big way. Hence the title.


I love Lucy said...

I loved this post! Very cute!
M and I have similar multi-lingual conversations too!Both of us don't know too much Telugu but there are so many Telugu-speaking folks here in Dallas that we have picked up a few phrases from them.So we work those into our conversations as well!

Neha said...

Interesting read !! 6 languages ! And I have difficulty speakng 3 !!

Sav said...

hahaa!! super this is :)

Abhipraya said...

ILL - Join the club :)
Neha - I might know 6 languages but still have communication problems :)
Sav - Thanks :)

Bikerdude said...

Awesome post! Very close to home indeed, as you saw :)

Here's a doggerel that my grandmother taught me (with every line charmingly bangalorified of course :) )

Bambaai ku jaana,
Daarili obba kothiddha
Ra, ra an chepthi
Vardhille an chonnaa
Vot shall I dooo?

Abhipraya said...

Bikerdude: Thanks :) And I shall try to remember this gem :)

La vida Loca said...

hehheheeh hear hear
yaa mee too...kannada, tamil, hindi, english, working telgu and spanish :)