Sunday, May 17, 2009

Identity crisis

A few months ago, little Gunjan, who stays with her parents in the same apartment where my friend stays, was left heartbroken over a strange issue -- other kids of the same apartment did not let her play along with them as she did not know English!

The three-year-old's parents had migrated recently from a Maharashtrian village to the southern metro. She knew no languages other than Marathi. Later, I saw her eagerness to master the foreign language, which is no more foreign for many kids in the Indian metros.
The littile girl's plight made me take a trip down the memory lane when, as a kid, how I used to hide away from people who speak any language other than my mother tongue or just pass a shy smile on a face-to-face encounter with them.

Things did change when I was shifted to a convent in the city from the English medium school in my village, where speaking the language was never a necessity. The new school welcomed me with a 25-paise fine for each word I blurted out in any language other than English! It came as a rude shock to me as a fifth standard student, but had to slowly train my tongue to twist accordingly.

We used to find relief from the suffocating English environment secretly during recess time, carefully far from the ears of our class monitor who noted down the names to be fined. After the classes got over, the school bus took me to my mother tongue in the evenings. It was indeed, like my home, where I always found my mother's warmth. I could jump, scream and do whatever I want. No past participles, conjunctions or interjections would frown at me. I could express myself, upholding my identity.

Chirping it from a very young age, English has become the mother tongue for many of the metro kids. Some of them do not even know what mother tongue is, forget what theirs is! Neither do their parents find it important that their kids should learn their language.

English is their language, which they speak first, they converse later and in which they grow up finally. Many of them cannot claim to have a mother tongue as their parents speak different languages and they, themselves, born in yet another language region.

With all the goodness it offers, like a better living and job prospects, English in our country, is robbing kids of their birth right -- an identity.

Avenues to happiness

After days of hectic campaigning and hours of exit poll predictions, finally the world’s largest democracy made its voice loud and clear. And Congress-led UPA sounded its victory bugle.

As a major chunk of the population was enjoying the weekend, a hapless part of it that constituted journalists was sweating it out to make the victory more emphatic. As I stepped out early to office, not being much aware of a much long day at work ahead, I heard discussions on poll results on the roadside as well as inside the public transport bus.

Stories poured in with the post-mortem reports of poll results. Where it went wrong for BJP, where the Congress fared better, and of course the blame game of netas.

But for a change, we had a fun-filled day at office. Though all of us spend some good 12 hours or more at work, the mood was generally joyous with the editorial team in full strength.

Though we were exhausted when the day ended at 2 am and half an hour more wait for the cab, we found way to rejoice still by rushing to Empire (which is open through the night) to get an ice-cream to enliven our spirits.

And I discovered, politics too can give you avenues to happiness!

Friday, May 1, 2009

All in a day

I was on the 15-minute walk to bus stop on way to office in the afternoon. When I walked about 100 metres, I saw a kid who may not be more than 2 years old on a swing made of pieces of rope tied together with a cement sack as seat. His elder sister who may be around 5, was helping him swing fast and laugh loud. The sparkle of their laughter reflected on the eyes of their mom, a construction worker, who was working in a site nearby.

When I walked along the narrow street through a slum, there was a calf tied to a pole looking at its mother tied at the other side of the road with its curious eyes. There is a wet straight patch down its eyes which are keen on the mom who has a tired look on her face with milkman at work.

On walking further, I found a fragile middle-aged man in shabby clothing, cuddling a stray dog on his lap. He may not be more than a daily wage earner. His pale eyes were rich in love and care for the stray though.

I reached Ulsoor bus stop. The road was sizzling under the scorching sun. A man, whose both legs were immobile, was sitting on the road, looking for a chance to cross the road, with the help of his lean hands. At times he had to help his legs in position with his hands too. He didn't even have a piece of cloth on his hand to save him from the heat on the road. It took him some 5 minutes to cross the road. While finding his way through the footpath on the other side, I saw his head turning towards the colourful glass shelf of a restaurant.

All in a day... Felt overloaded with messages and reminders about blessings I have...