Go regional,overcome language barriers

A student from Telegana sought permission to sing a popular Kannada movie song during the introductory session with the class. What followed was a raputurous applause from the Kannadigas in the class. When asked, they explained, ‘mam, his mother tongue is Telugu,still he learnt a Kannada song and sang it in front of the class. We really appreciate this’.

In his address on the Hindi Diwas celebrations, President Ram Kovind encouraged Indians to learn each other’s mother tongue. An India where there are more common languages than just Hindi or English will any day be a better place to live in. More over, learning a new language is said to be one of the best ways to keep one’s memory power intact.

In a muti-lingual, multi-cultural city like Bangalore, the locals speak and interact with any one and everyone in which ever language they speak but to truly be a good citizen of the place you have chosen to live in, you should try to adapt and acclimatize to the local ways of living of which speaking the local language is of foremost importance. While the auto rickshaw drivers in Bangalore comprehend every other language, they truly feel at ease when spoken to in Kannada, even in broken Kannada.

What stops the outsiders who have come to Bangalore and made it their home, like myself, from learning Kannada is the ease with which one can carry out daily chores with a little help from hindi-english-tamil-malayalam-or a mix of everything else here. The locals are helpful and manage to know more than a language or two.

It was when I saw the true love the youngsters have for their mother tongue that I decided to put my heart and soul into learning Kannada. It is not easy but it is not impossible either. Many of my students speak Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada as well as Hindi and English.

The other day Sulagna who hails from West Bengal shared her story of how she used to be mocked for her way of pronouncing words in Kannada. Not one to give in to such taunts, in 2 years time, Sulagna mastered the 4 South Indian languages along with Hindi, Bengali and English.

If you are a movie buff, then,you have all the more reason to put in some more effort to learn new languages. The quality of regional movies is on a steady rise.

Among the many movies I watch on the recommendation of my students or my daughter was one that I happened to watch today, the Kannada movie -U -Turn. Apart from a compelling story line and convincing characterization the movie is a must-see for its very relevant social message.

I remember how I had watched Rangitaranga, another highly watchable Kannada movie and was under its spell for quite some time.

Well, there are enough and more reasons to test your brain and try your hand at mastering a local language today, so go on, go regional!




One question to many

In one of the training sessions held recently, the participants were allowed to ask questions to each other.

It is just a month since the college started, the students of the first semester are still quite new to each other.The class consists of an eclectic mix of individuals from different parts of India and even those from abroad.

When the task was announced with the mandatory rules for the activity, participants looked anxious. Some of them tried to go into hiding and were definitely not keen to stand up to ask a question.

Yes, there were doubts. What kind of questions do we ask? Can we ask the girls too? so on and so forth.

So,the first question to the student from Yemen was how did he find being here in India and he took the question sportively and answered that the culture in India and in Yemen was quite similar and he had no problem in getting adjusted to the place. The participants welcomed the answer with a round of applause.

Since the one who answered the question had to choose another to ask the question to before he could sit down, he came up with an interesting question, ‘Do you think people from other nationalities are welcomed positively in India or not?’. The girl who replied said that since India was multi-cultural in itself, people from different nationalities are welcomed here.

She then went on to ask an all important question to one of the boys about a ‘crush’ on any of the classmates. What I found very stimulating and bold was when a student from Nagaland was asked, if he faced any discrimination in Bangalore, especially in the university. The class was silent considering the intent and the impact of the question. The student who answered said that, yes, he faced a certain discrimination in Bangalore but not yet in the university. This was followed by a discussion on such instances and the idea of tolerance and intolerance in the society. After some discussion, the class reached a conclusion that if the student faced any sort of discrimination in the campus, the class would stand with him and ensure that it does not happen again.

That the class was discussing a topic like tolerance at a time when Rohingya refugees are being asked to return to their homeland was perhaps not lost on anyone.

Slowly the class was warming up to the idea of asking questions and facing them. Some one who was asked why he was very late to class every day, replied confidently, ‘I travel 57 kilometres  each day.’

Another person who the class thought was a geek was asked what his hobbies were? When he replied that it was hanging out with friends, the class did not still look convinced and suggested that he become a lecturer.

Young people need to be have time to discuss what is happening around them, beyond the text books, beyond the classrooms, way beyond their curriculum. Providing time to the youth to discuss and deliberate what happens around, what happens within and among them will probably be a good idea to let the steam out, build rapport, feel comfortable and make better relationships in life.

As a nation, we complain about the growing indifference towards socio-cultural situations and events among the youth forgetting the fact that we bring them up so secluded, so isolated from everything happening even in their immediate neighbourhood. How can we expect any one who has been told to focus only on his/her studies throughout to suddenly take cognizance of what is happening around?

If education was truly linked to real life then the repair of the roads, the throwing of the garbage, the collection and its disposal. the traffic, animal welfare, health, corruption and so many other so-called social issues could well be handled by our school and college-goers,don’t you think?