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Hindi Diwas

By Brinda Khandwala, November 2, 2019, Categories: Edutainment, Featured, Kids, Slider

With all the celebrations last month, there was one less-celebrated occasion that we’d like to mention, on 14th September – Hindi Diwas. Or as my NRI friend calls it ‘हिंडी divas’, as if it were a day to cerebrate the likes of Rekha and Madhuri Dixit!

Yes, she said Hindi with the ‘डमरू का ड’ in that uncomfortable British accent we hear when Bollywood brings in the ‘angrez rulers’ and gives them desi dialogues.  

Can’t blame her. Though she was born to a Gujarati family and went to an English school, like me, she grew up in Hong Kong while I, in Bombay.

I learned Hindi and Marathi out of compulsion at school. And further refined my Hindi, like every child in India does, with the help of Ekta Kapoor productions on TV. Unfortunately, the only Hindi my dear NRI friend was exposed to was from the few (and forced) Indian movies she was made to watch.

“Pichhe ka kholo,” she would say to her driver. It means ‘open the dicky’, in our English. Instead of correcting her, I’d laugh every time. Later she decided to say it more correctly, so she’s say, “Boot kholo”! To which I’d laugh more!

It was all funny till my son got in school. And not the kind of school I went to. A Bombay IB school where kids are encouraged to explore. They learn, not memorize. And when it came to Hindi – he wasn’t much interested, the school didn’t use a cane and I had forgotten my written Hindi. So spellings took a beating!

I also discovered that people whose first language is English speak Hindi in that same insufferable Bollywood angrez accent. My son’s मैं and में would sound the same. And since he never watched enough of of the Balaji shows, he just never got the genders right.

Then came a day when I read his sentence making worksheet – मेरा छाती खुलरा नइ। I almost died! More shaken over why my child is learning ‘chhaati kholna’ in school! It was a relief to hear his translation – “my umbrella is not opening”. Phew! That was the day I called a Hindi tutor.

Now that we’ve moved to Hong Kong, I get him excited about practicing his Hindi because it can be our secret language when we talk in the malls. And he pointed that he’s learning Cantonese in school, so there’s a secret language when we go to India!

But jokes aside, let’s teach our children a language from their roots – Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Gujarati, any one at least. Let’s keep these languages alive. And English they will learn anyway.

As published in the Sep-Oct 2019 issue

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Brinda Khandwala

My move to Hong Kong, though sudden, was a smooth one. Essentially a SoBo girl, my desi ties are wrapped quite tightly. But the warm vibe of Hong Kong, it's buzzing nights, the multi-cultural influences and of course, so many Indian friends made it easy to call this home. I’ve been writing all my life – on fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, art and just about everything that infuses colour into my life. Joining the A-Desiflava team is yet another excuse to put together all these passions for sharing with my fellow Hong Kongers!

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