As I was rolling in the bed y’day night trying to sleep, I weirdly started thinking how Hindi as a language fared in my life. When I entered middle school, I had to make a choice for the second language. And my parents rightly made my choice for studying Hindi. They felt, I would anyway pickup Tamil and knowing the national language is very important. Yes. I totally agree today – besides, I am sure Hindi was simpler than Tamil. In those times, choosing Hindi has its own disadvantages. For instance, during Engineering college admissions, if two candidates had all parameters equal, then the candidate who chose to study Tamil would get preference. At least that is what I was told. I never had to validate it though.
I and Hari decided to take the other route to mastering Hindi – Prathamic classes. And our Hindi teacher also prepared students for these exams in the evenings. We went for classes and did a fairly good job of Prathamic. The next one – Madhyamic – was supposed to be tough. I sort of aced that and began feeling my mastery of the languate. The third one – Rashtrabasha – was an easier one and I got second classed in that. I decided to finish my journey there. After all I had aced Madhyamic. There were some 10 more odd exams before the Prachar Sabha would recognize my talent. But hell, they’ll meet me some day for my prowess in the language.
In Chennai, Hindi is a rather useless language. Even the Marwari’s didn’t speak Hindi. And the north Indian crowd is rather absent. I didn’t need my Hindi skill for quite a few years until I went to Bangalore in my 3rd year of Engineering course for an internship. Unlike Chennai, you could easily move around Bangalore with some Hindi. Almost every one including bus ticket conductors and auto wallahs could understand and reply in Hindi. It was easy with the bus fellows. But somehow everytime I spoke to the auto wallah in Hindi, he will reply in Tamil. As if I smelled Chennai all over me. The reason to avoid Tamil in Bangalore is fleecing. But yeah, I didn’t have much luck – 25 years of Chennai did show in me.
Then after that I didn’t need Hindi for another two years until I joined CTS. The batch I was put through for training largely comprised of Bengalis, a few from Pune and the rest from Chennai and Kerala. Except the guys from Chennai, the rest all knew Hindi. As for the guys from Kerala, they could even speak Tamil. And because of my linguistic skills, I managed to speak to most of my non Tamil colleagues in Hindi and English. Once the training was over, I decided to stay put in Chennai and kind of buried my Hindi. Even through IITM I didn’t need Hindi at all.
And since I don’t fancy item songs, I couldn’t see much Hindi movies either. Owing to all this, I now barely catch Hindi when it is spoken. It usually takes me a couple of seconds to figure out that it is Hindi. Then another couple of seconds to get the meanings. Usually by this time, my colleagues have figured am clueless and start conversing in English! So much for a guy who aced Madhyamic and mastered the language.