The Hindi alphabet A – from

This morning, my dear friend Baradwaj Rangan put up a post stating that before we begin discussing Hindi imposition it may be best we reflect that the same words can have different meanings in the two languages.

After all, said Baddy, kuNDI is not latch in Tamil. That prompted a whole volley of responses – kunji is not key, chunni is not upper garment as worn by women. My humble addition was that sAmAn is not baggage in Tamil, at least as understood in Chennai-speak. Which is why I always smile to myself when I hear the standard airline announcement in Hindi – passengers are requested to check their own sAmAn as it could have been shaken during the flight.
The word gAND was made famous by the movie Pammal K Sambadam and denoted hatred while in chaste Delhispeak it is actually the derriere.

Dwelling on sAmAn have you heard the story of the lady violinist and the male mridangist who had to perform in a concert? A few minutes before the performance, lady enters the male green room and nearly trips over a bag on the floor. “Oh your sAmAn is down below,” she said. “What can we do madam, God made us that way,” was the response. Carnatic Musicians are sharp with repartee.

Going on to names, Bedi, which like Modi is not pronounced with the hard D but the soft one, stands for diarrhoea in Tamil. And there was that unfortunate South Indian, named Achyutan who had to work in Delhi. You know what they made out of his name.

And of course you know the old story, a favourite of TA Pai-

Tamil arriving in Agra and asking Sardar taxi driver – Taj Mahal terima?

“Sale, Qutb Minar hoga tera baap,” was the reply.

There are plenty of North Indians who make fun of the way Tamils speak Hindi. That has not deterred many Tamils from becoming fluent at it, and without a trace of accent. But I am yet to meet a North Indian who has learnt Tamil well. Most dont even try.

That brings to mind my dear father, Sanskrit scholar, Tamil expert and versifier who in all his years of glory as a top-notch banker in Calcutta, got by with the rudiments of Hindi.

I can still see him at the end of the day, giving instructions to the driver.

“Accha….” (long pause)

“kal tum…..” (longer pause)

And then turning around to me or my mother

“shigramnu eppaDi solradu?” while we would be giggling away.

Very often he would lapse into Sanskrit and surprisingly some of that actually got across better than his Hindi.

That said, it is best we leave each to his or her own. Those who want to learn a language will anyway learn it. There is no point in imposing anything on anybody. Necessity makes everyone of us change. Remember how easily Tamils have learnt the colloquial term for the male organ (it rhymes with howdah and not the other one which rhymes with fund). Also just see the number of Tamil people managing with Oriya and Bihari cooks/servants, not to say anything about Nepali watchmen. Add to this construction workers from Rajasthan and you have a tower of Babel.

What is unacceptable of course is the thought of adding ‘Ji’ to every sentence in Tamil. So sorry, No Hindi Imposition Ji.