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By Sahil Mehta

It's been a while since I wrote, so bear with me if I ramble. Or not.

Have you ever been jealous of those cool people who always seem to attract everyone towards them? You know, the ones that always know the right thing to say, at the right times. They'll be charming all the time, cracking wisecracks and sprouting laughter like a fountain! There are always a few like that around you and I just hate it that it comes so naturally to them! The sense of humor, the charm, and the pretty girls they inevitably attract! But they are not the focus point of my post today. So screw you funny guy, go ruin someone else's chances today!

Then there are these few people, very dignified, very measured, who you really want to listen to. Crisp, precise and fluent with their speech. Men and women who can capture the audience moments before they even begin to speak. I've had the pleasure of meeting a few such people. And their speech permeates into the rest of them too. They way they carry themselves, the interest they have. Ek akarad hoti hain! And you cant even begrudge them that. And they get girls too, even if it the slightly more intellectual or broody kinds.

Sadly they aren't the focal point of my extended ramble either. Neither are the girls, just in case you thought I was building up to that.

As always I shall take a slight detour here. I have always hated people who talked to me in English. I mean, there's nothing wrong with talking in English and I can safely say I can understand English passably well. But when you've known each other for a while and when you can speak in Hindi then why put all that effort in trying to show-off your English to me? Its not like you're exceptionally good at it, nor do you need to impress me. I always hated such people and I always, and still do, wonder why girls all of a sudden revert to talking in English with each other? Especially in a group! I mean why put up all the pretences of looking all sophisticated and modern and god-knows-what-else-you-want-to-project! I mean I'd freak out if my friends one fine day decided to start talking English! Jab har time Hindi hi bolte ho, to ab kya deemak lag gaye tumhare bheje main?

Anyways, when I went to college, like everyone else I had the pleasure of meeting a variety of people who spoke a variety of dialects. Some people, like Hyderabadi natives, had a very curious and different dialect with words like kaiku and bole-to. It sounds slightly crass at times, but a whole lot of fun to speak if you get the hang of it. Especially if you're an outsider. Then there are people from Maharashtra side, for whom Hindi isn't a first language either. And they'd get all messed up with themaatras. The ka would become a ki and so on. And it would still be a lot of fun coz they'd get irritated when you corrected it. Of course, this doesn't mean that everybody had a problem, but some people did. And then there were the Punjabis and Haryanvis who had a extremely friendly and slightly loud tone, mixed with Punjabi words and their mystical quality.

Then of course there are the people who Bengal with their well documented pronunciation of aa as oand their hums. And don't even get me started on how different Gujarati Hindi is.

Finally you meet people from the central parts of India, from Lucknow and other parts of UP, and from Chattisgarh, MP and you listen to some of them. And they speak with this wonderful endearing dialect that makes you feel like old friends and not acquaintances. Crisp sentences with no slang, no English words. A hello was a pranam or namashkar. Friend was mitr and all exam papers were kathin. And every second day there would be a duvidha. There would be no harsh words like tu aur tera. You always had the respect of an aap.

The vocabulary which is sprinkled with Urdu and Sanskrit words can leave you floundering at first, but it grows on you. It's polite, with words to express virtually emotion, and if someone speaks it with the slightest of flair, its poetic. And it makes people take you seriously. You can argue to the point of killing someone and not seem rude or angry. It's a beautiful language, Hindi is. And while English assumes significant importance with respect to formal communication and the work space, Hindi is still the way to go with respect to interpersonal communication.

I know how much we take it for granted, but I doubt that we could speak it beyond the very basic needed to get by. If you don't believe me, try this. Go a day without using an English word in your sentences. I shall bow down to thee, if you can manage it. Or as they would say in Hindi, Prabhu, mujhe aapke charansparsh karne ka saubhagya de!

And finally, kuch bhi bolo yaar, doston ko gaali dena ka mazza to sirf Hindi main hi aata hain!


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