VS Gopalakrishnan. Worli
Fifty years ago, I realised that Hindi was going to form a unifying blanket over India. I chose Hindi over my mother tongue Tamil and, the then fashionable, French as the second language. I knew my future could take me anywhere in India.
The then Madras was running amuck with educated Brahmin mamis vigorously taking courses in pristine Hindi, probably for some unfathomable atonement. The Hindi Prachar Sabha was very active in those years. At the same time, the Dravida movement was gaining momentum too. Hindi was seen as a north Indian imposition and as Tamil gained ascendancy, even English got a drubbing. Despite the growing linguistic chauvinism, Hindi movies were a rage.
Now, 50 years later, the entire country is under the influence of spoken Hindi, if not written Hindi. The language conquered India mainly because of the 600-odd Hindi movies of unspeakable quality and not because of numerous language commissions and parliamentary bodies. Of course, TV, CDs and DVDs also did their bit.
During my 20-year stay in Madras, I could barely understand the 'street Tamil' spoken by the majority. So for me the khadiboli dialect of Hindi, coming close to the official Hindi, is good enough. Of course, I miss out the sage pronouncements of Lalu Yadav, Mulayam and such others whenever they make speeches on TV. I would, however, put Uma Bharati on a high pedestal — her flawless Hindi draws you into a vortex of admiration.
Now the Bambaiya Hindi has become a torment for me, and being assaulted by it every day I find my self-respect fast vanishing. When Hindi grammar has allowed for fine distinctions in verb forms unlike in English, it is lamentable that verbs of respectful address have practically vanished. As a senior citizen, I wait to be addressed Udhar poochiye and Idhar aayiye. But everybody in Mumbai flings imperatives such as Udhar poocho and Idhar aav. While taking leave, tiny tots visiting my house simply say Chalo and vanish.
I do not mind being subject to the Bollywood-generated lingo such as Paani bharela hai, Aadmi khadela hai, Kutta padela hai etc. However, being a senior citizen, it simply hurts when you are told jao.