Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Being proud of who we are

In the end of September, we got back from a lovely week spent in Spain. I loved everything about that country; especially the greenery, the architecture and the best of all - the carefree, bindaas attitude that floats around in the air. It is that feeling of freedom, of being uninhibited without any stressful thoughts meandering about in the mind.

Yet, there was something else that struck me, it was in conformance to most of the other stories that I had heard from friends and family about the natives in European countries. About how they would not speak to a visitor in English even if they did know the language in bits and pieces. It's just that we experienced it first hand! All around us, we saw that roadside signs, boards, notices, warnings, directions in metro stations etc were all in Spanish. There was no way that a person who did not know the language would ever feel comfortable exploring by themselves.

We managed very well because we did have a broken knowledge of Spanish and we were able to throw in phrases combined with hand gestures that managed to communicate what we wanted.

Cut to India. It is so obvious that English has permeated in every single city, trickling into small towns and villages too. It is very easy for the non-Indian visitors to our country to navigate around without any help [at the risk of getting fleeced by touts though] but still, it is not that they will not understand where they are going.

I am yet to understand why we need to give English so much importance in our country?

Imagine what would happen if we were to politely greet a non-Indian tourist by saying 'Maaf kijiye behenji/bhaisaab; par hum Angrezi nahi bolte'.

They would be surprised for sure, but then they'd make sure they walk around with a Hindi phrase book so as to get around without hassles. By the way it is the same case in the Middle East where I live. Everyone here speaks lots of English/Hindi/Urdu so we don't ever feel that we need to learn Arabic to survive.

Just my thoughts today. But definitely fodder for the mind. Think about it :)


Anonymous said...

I think knowing English has helped Indians in finding employment and settling down in all the parts of the world, knowing an extra language is useful

I also feel tourists will feel nice if they are made to feel welcome (Atithi Devo Bhavo) so use of some gestures and some local language mixed with English is fine.

Tourists are a source of livelihood for many Indians, if they are made to feel comfortable, they'd like to visit again and it reflects on our sensitivity to visitors.

Urmi said...

IHM, I agree. But in European countries the natives are so firm that they will not use English. I am unsure if they even know it. And this is the educated class of people and not villagers.

I believe that is solely because of how proud they are of their language. And despite these issues, tourists like us do love going to Europe. So it's not that language will be a barrier?

Atithi Devo Bhava is a good term and I am not saying that we need to be rude to tourists visiting India but it's important to convey to them the richness of our language by using it with them so that they appreciate it :)

Anonymous said...

English is a source of bread and butter, Urmi. Look at how diverse India is!! If we stuck to our regional languages, even Indians would not be able to communicate with each other. Assuming that everybody cannot speak Hindi, why not have a common language that reaches out across states and boundaries? I'm all for English, it just helps us become a little more global.