Of late in one week 2 women friends have shown interest in wanting to learn marathi. They have begun staying in Mumbai after a long gap. One Bengali who was born here, lived for a while & father being in govt services moved around. She lost touch of school Marathi. She asked me online, “How to say happy b’day in Marathi, Neeta.” I smiled told her its said, Vadhdivsachya shubhechcha.”
She asked me whether i will speak to her in Marathi. I was happy to see the enthu. She said she is scared to speak in Marathi because she fears she will make mistakes. I told her if we don’t mistakes S then we will never learn. That is about every aspect of our lives. Our whole schooling & correcting methods are DONT, NEVER, IF THEN..punishment. WRONG means bad…hey common we ain’t robots. So she is trying now.
another friend, colleague, who sat behind me again another S has been quietly learning marathi on her own. She chats wt me, asks for few words. In fact she has bought a learn quick marathi, or easy to speak marathi book. She asks few words on chat or when we meet. She is a Jain who lived in Kolkatta & can speak few languages. This S has in fact gone a step ahead. She has in fact told her father that since she lives here he shld send all her tax papers, so that she can file her IT taxes, returns fm here instead of West Bengal.
This is their Karma bhoomi & they want to keep it that way, silently. DNA has a lot of good & nice people. Really. The new HR head is a relief, considering we’ve had a track record of all sorts, especially typical bengali, this H Ghosh is like god sent. He doesn’t encourage Bengalis who show familiarity to him. Begin speaking in Bengali instantly, or say where in Bengal, Kolkatta you are fm, I’m fm so & so place, blah blah. He says his janma bhoomi is West Bengal, but his karma bhoomi is Mumbai. He speaks chaste marathi & loves Mumbai.
These are noteworthy efforts. They won’t go down in history record books, but surely we Mumbaikars need to appreciate their efforts. Somewhere i feel them being women too makes a difference. Do i sound biased? may be. But experience doesn’t contradict me. Women take that little extra effort to adjust to new environment, learn something new, equip if that creates a sense of semblence, serenity & equilibrium. Ok won’t elaborate on this too much. More so these MNSs, Sena types instead of spewing venom in the name of Marathi shld go & give bouquets to such silent residents who want to make Mumbai their home.
When i went to Bangalore in 1999, i would carry a notebook, stop all & sundry to jot down words in Kannada. Being the bureau head of a tv channel i had to pick up the language ASAP, like yday types. Coz the leading politicians feared a Thackeray type there called Vatal Nagraj. He toh does vatola of everything.. destructs. I had already learnt few words, kept my ears wide open. So that i could at least grasp the gist. Yes, i have an ear for language & more the tones. somehow across languages some sounds convey the same emotion.
Kannadiga people appreciated that i took that effort of noting, asking & making mistakes. But believe me it was easier to make mistakes in Kannada than Marathi. I’d laugh with them when i made mistakes. More so many males liked i asked them to teach some abuses in Kannada. Obviously because one must know abuses in everylang. It says a lot..
however When i began speaking in Marathi, made mistakes it was seen as worse than killing a human!
Now people won’t believe if they heard me speak Marathi today. That once upon a time (no i don’t believe in fairy tales) i really didnt know how to write or speak in chaste Marathi is something im not ashamed to say. I would listen to the pronounciations & then write what i’d heard. so, instead of writing bolayala, i’d write bolaila, because that was the sound that fell upon my ears. Father thankfully gave up on me in childhood-see where i’ve reached today- he once saw my music notings i’d written sa-re-ga-ma in English phonetics & he lost it. His temp reached sky level & whatever happened thereafter, i have blanked out …
Then many would make fun of me, haha..its not like that..arey you don’t even know? How badly you speak…do u have any shame? Arey ur a Kolhatkar, Brahmin. Initially i would get hurt, then my horns would come up toink. Excuse me Marathi is NOT my mother tongue. It is Gujarati. My mother is fm Billimora & wrote, spoke lived Gujarati. I infact learnt Parsi-Gujju vv Bilimora types. Then my entire schooling was in a British Eng school. Pl NO convent. so Marathi was a 3rd lang for me. Yes, third lang. What we were taught was mughlike a parrot & puke in the exams. Where was the learning?
Unlike most others Chetan & Kartik wld be most encouraging. Papa made me buy plays, books, said start wt easy poets, writers. His father dada was toh great person. He’d say jaude loka boltat, tu prayatna karit ahes hech khoop zala. Tu kiti utkrushta Hindi boltes…come more on tv..adorable i tell you. mother wasn’t concerned, other typical Baman neighbours would make snide remarks & evetnually sent their kids to the same school as ours.
At home speaking to aaji was NO issue. Or writing letters to her. She’d listen to my sister & me fight..argue…she’s say say kay stupid, idiot, donkey monkey bolta ek mikina..marathi bhanda ki..My aaji, granny was a doll personified. I’d have killed someone & she would still have protected me like i was an innocent child. So she wouldn’t pull me up. the childhood days the Father was on another planet, I say fm Hitler’s planet. Baba is polar opposite today. We sat down & did translation of Srikrishna commission & India’s riots cases post Babri masjid demolition. A person wanted those translations, every morn baba & i wld sit at the table & work..with all fights, arguments, snide remarks he against Muslims, me against the Hindus, especially Bamans.
Mother aai was the best. She’d say jaude mala he yet nahi tevdha jar ka ala tula,khoop zala. So learning marathi was daunting for me early in life. then because i spoke chaste, eloquent English i was derided, looked own upon. It is easier for these ladies. Maharashtrians are less mean to these women. Like most indians they too are victims of symbolic gestures.
One who shows enthu, tries needs to be helped & encrouaged i feel.