Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Voluntary language barrier

IndiBlogger - The Indian Blogger Community 

Just after I made this convenient resolution to write only once a week, i just let it go and stopped writing. Nope! this won't do.
I had made a draft of some points, and decided that I would post it when I feel the same angst and same feeling of helplessness which I felt when I wrote this draft initially. But I realized that there is a subtle feeling in day today life, and after a point it has now stopped bothering me to a large extent. So I will just make the draft final, what the hell.

I knew about the language barrier when I came to Chennai and I never openly cribbed about it. I learned some basic Tamil to be able to converse on day to day basis, with simple sentences. But I still have experiences which put me into a very agitated mood, and I wonder after a point saying, what will happen to these guys in life? And why is life such?
 I work in a small company of about 25 people. All my colleagues, except a new trainee, are native tamil speakers. Many of them are frightened of me/too scared to talk to/too uncomfortable to talk to. Probably because I speak in English. I have tried telling this for millions of times, with little effect.  I do not speak in English to show off. I speak in English because that's the only common language between you and me. For historical reasons, you do not learn and understand Hindi (and boast about it), and of course we can not converse in our mother tongues coz they are different. Alas, as always my shriek falls on deaf ears.

I went to pondicherry trip with this group of friends from pune. The driver given to us would speak nothing but Tamil he knew little bit of Hindi, and he knew that we are from outside. How that driver troubled us logistically by behaving in most adamant fashion is a different story. But after sensing our inability with language, speaking just in tamil is something audacious!
I see, and I understand that it is happening due to a lack of common language. But that is the whole point of having something called a national language. Plainly refusing to acknowledge and learn it makes no good to anybody. English is a language of world, and most of the tamilians are really OK with basic English. But that does not mean that they will speak in English to help you out.

Point is not tamil, point is the closed mindedness. It does not make their culture or behavior tourist friendly,let alone accommodate an outsider. I think most people would secretly agree that Mumbai is probably the other extreme, but I would prefer that as an outsider. I personally would never dominate over a local language and tradition, but its good to understand whats going on around you,generally. The voluntary language barrier makes you shriek sometimes.
And when asked what will they do if they go to north Indian towns, they say we will never go!

I appreciate the attitude.I really do.  

1 comment: said...

It is shocking and sad to know that no effort is made to overcome the language barrier with fellow countrymen (not even talking about foreigners here!)