Sab Theek Ho Jayega !

My photo
Kochi / Ernakulam, Kerala, India
A Doctor who loves to Live, Love and Laugh with the World! Absolutely crazy about Cricket ! Other Qualifications: A Tired Bathroom Singer, Retired Gully Cricketer and Satire Writer !

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Baba, Gobi Manchurian and Thanda Pani : मेरा भारत महान !

Often I think India isn't all about "Unity in diversity" as much as it is about "Diversity in Unity". It is only the borders and the Cricket team that keep us together. Regions, religions, zones, castes, sub-castes, reservations and then languages; we have too many things to keep us divided. And I don't even have to mention Paes, Bhoopati and our politicians.
Indian languages are all so similar yet so different. For an outsider, all of them look and sound similar. But we know how different they are. Kannada and Telugu scripts look so similar but the languages are poles apart. Tamil and Malayalam look and often sound similar but Tamil has too few letters and Malayalam, too many !

My teenaged daughter was getting ready to school. I saw her applying Kohl [Kajal] to her eyes and asked, "Are you going to school or to a fashion parade ?". She replied in Konkani what can be directly translated as, "Our teachers scold us if we go to school without writing the eyes". I was taken aback by the reply and asked her, "What do you mean ?". She said, "Appe, in Malayalam they say just that !"

That is when it occurred to me. In Malayalam they say, "കണ്ണെഴുതി പൊട്ടും തൊട്ടു വരണം" - "Kannezhuthi Pottum Thottu varanam" which means "You should apply kohl to eyes and apply bindi on forehead when you come to school".

That triggered off a thought. If a Malayalee teacher were to express the same in Hindi, what would she say ? "आँख लिख कर बिंदी छु कर आना !" or "Aankh likh kar, bindi choo kar aana". We think in our mother tongue and then translate it word by word into other languages, often leading to this kind of gaffe.

Tamil probably can create the maximum confusion for the uninitiated who try to read or write Tamil. A simple illustration: "பாபா", the same written word can be pronounced as "Baba", "Bapa", "Paba", "Papa", "Bhabha" and "Fafa". I will never be able to know which "பாபா" is this "பாபா" !

"காந்திமதி" is "कान्तिमती" or "Kantimati"; an Indian name of a girl, which means "Bright mind". But ask most people of Tamilnadu and they think it is "Gandhimathi" which means "Gandhi's mind". Now I don't want to know which Gandhi they mean !

At the other end of the spectrum is the Tamil name "தண்டபாணி". Mostly people spell it as "Dandapani". But some people prefer to spell it as "Thandapani" and then it becomes funny. A north Indian would read it as "ठंडा पानी" which stands for "Cold Water".

Cauliflower is an innocent vegetable well known as "गोबी का फूल" or "Gobi ka phool" in Hindi. It is famous because of the universally popular Indo-Chinese collaboration called "Gobi Manchurian". But in Tamilnadu, it becomes "Kopi Manchurian". The neighborhood boy "Gopi" becomes "Gobi" in Kerala. If Gopi is eating Gobi Manchurian and a Tamilian and a Malayalee and a north Indian have to talk about this, it sure is bound to cause enough diversity !

I've heard, people of Bengal, Assam and Orissa predominantly use 'O' in place of 'A'. So my doubt is what will happen to our Bollywood icons "Amar, Akbar, Anthony" ? Will they become "Omor, Okbor, Onthony" ? My lack of exposure to the North East helps because my already confused mind can't withstand any more of that.

The level of knowledge of Indians about India is really pathetic. A lot of Malayalees think the language I speak [Konkani] is from Karnataka because I am from Karnataka and they ask me, "Is it Telunk ?". A large number of people in Karnataka don't know Tamil and Malayalam are two different languages. Most of North Indians still call all South Indians, "Madrasis" even in 2012.

North Indian serials and movies still show South Indians as the bumbling dark man in shabbily worn mundu with the name, Mr. Aiyer. The level of ignorance of these people is exposed by the fact that Babita, the Bengali wife of Mr. Aiyer in "Tarak Mehta Ka Oolta Chasma" calls him Aiyer and not by his first name. South Indian men are almost always shown as educated but somehow they are always selling coconuts wearing feminine expressions and the "Ayyayyo" has to be repeated every 3 minutes. And the typical Sardarji has to be an idiot. Contempt for 'the others' is our nature !
Wife calls her husband, "Aiyer"
Internet is brimming with people fighting about 'OUR' state and language being better and other people being suckers. Kannada vs Tamil fights, Telugu vs Tamil fights, Mallus vs Others fights, North vs South fights, Bongs vs Others fights and Us vs them fights ! There are hardly any Indians we see and then we proudly proclaim, "मेरा भारत महान" or "Mera Bharat Mahaan". In Kerala, a lot of people would pronounce it as "Mera Pharat Mahaan" !

In spite of all these, we Indians are indeed "Mahaan", because we still exist, survive and flourish together !

Dr. Punned-it


Laugh Out Loud [LOL]