Thursday, April 6, 2017

English does not define you

There is a propensity in people, especially in the upmarket Indian urban hip and happening crowd, to look down upon those who cannot speak English in a proper manner or have a certain diction in their speech. For these ‘dudes’ and ‘dudettes’, anyone who is not fluent in English is not smart or intelligent enough to be ‘acceptable’ in their social circle.

I know a lot of these snobbish prigs, as my work demands me to meet some of them on a regular basis. These people are almost everywhere, upmarket bars, restaurants, swanky offices. For them, people from hinterlands or small towns are being defined by their accents and they never shy away from being blatantly racist about it too. They make fun of such people, and often on their faces. Do they ever question themselves, ask themselves, what good is their so-called convent education if they are not even able to respect someone’s basic characteristic. But, I guess not, they are the truest examples of – Angreez chale gaye aulaad piche chor gaye!

This is however, not just an Indian issue. In fact, when these same ‘dudes’ and ‘dudettes’ visit the developed nations, they are faced with the ‘amazing’ question of ‘how could they speak in English?’ That aside, often they are also mocked at for their ‘Indian’ accent. Getting a taste of their own medicine, well, most shallow their pride by smelling the dollar bill!

But the thought remains. And that takes me to a childhood memory. I am a huge fan of ‘Reader’s Digest’ and used to get my copy every month diligently. There used be a section on real-life anecdotes, where readers contributed their motivating incidents. I read the following in one such issue, and it impacted me so much that I am sure it would remain with me for the rest of my life. Recreating the anecdote from my memory:

A kindergarten kid to his mom: “Mummy that Mexican kid has such a funny accent. He can’t speak English properly.”

Mom in a serious tone: “Timmy that means the kid knows more languages then you do.”

There, that and not 42 is the ultimate answer to everything, everything especially related to those people who define others based on their English speaking ability!


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