Selectively Linguistic

My native language is Bangla. Am not entirely proficient in it. I can speak it but the “purists” can usually gauge that I’m not one of them. Apparently it reeks of being an “outsider” aka from outside the hallowed boundaries of West Bengal.

I can manage to read and write it but it’d be better if I didn’t. I can manage better with Gujarati and can more than scrape by in Hindi. Not counting English here since it’s the global ‘must-have’ language we were brought up to regard and revere.

Red’s native tongue is Telugu. He’s proficient in speaking, reading and writing. The less said about his spoken Hindi the better. I’ve written a few blog posts trolling it and he hasn’t been a happy camper.

The Offspring (TO) has chosen English as the language he’s most comfortable with and is sticking to it with the tenacity of barnacles on a sunken ship. See…all those years of cramming figures of speech in my head finally did some good.

Anyhoo, back to TO. He has been spoken to, yelled at, cajoled at, cooed at in both the languages Red and I speak in but somehow it was the whole water&duck’s back scenario.

But every now and then, he slips up and answers, verbally or non-verbally, in response to a question asked in Bangla. And it makes me annoyed and smug at the same time. Would it hurt his otherwise perpetually busy mouth to speak a few words in other languages? Especially if they’re a part of his cultural make-up? But noooo…one cannot hope to prevail upon children of today over these sentimental issues. They (the kids) are pretty pragmatic and don’t see much value to doing the ‘little things’ which make their folks giddy with happiness.

This morning over breakfast at a resort we’re staying in, I asked him if he wanted a repeat of his soupy noodles. I asked him in Bangla and he shook his head no. I asked him again just to be sure and he said “No”. When Red asked him a bit later, he still said no. So no was the way to go.

But am onto his little tricks. He pretends he doesn’t get what I’m saying when I speak in a different language but I know better. No kid can spend 7 years being scolded in a language and not pick up bits and pieces. No sirree!

Although, and am just playing devil’s advocate here, given his Bong genes that are predispositioned towards food and gluttony, he could just have memorized every tense of the phrase containing the words ‘eat’ and ‘more’. Going by my luck with this boy, it’s far more likely that’s what he did.

There go dreams of my conversing with him and teaching him the mix of Banglish (Bangla+English)+Hinglish (Hindi+English) I usually speak.

I is sad. I is annoyed. These kids! #smh but since every parent’s goal is to get their kids to do things without telling them 20,000xs or throwing stuff at them; as long as he answers back in ONE language I guess that’ll have to be enough.

Siiiiigh.

Oh God! You Ape!

The Offspring (TO) had his second brush with the Big Questions- where did all life come from, does God exist et al? The first one was when Red’s grandma passed away.

Apparently the child who can believe in different categories of dragons, is having trouble believing that a “Supreme Being” created Man.

He got off the bus one day, engaged in a minor aggressive strap fight (hitting someone with the strap of the bookbag) with a classmate. The reason? The classmate sided with another child who said God made the Earth and people and is R-E-A-L. TO took exception to all of the above and then the problem began in earnest.

Most parents tell their kids that God exists and He should be deferred to because he made the whole universe etc etc. For Hindus, we have a whole smorgasbord of Gods to choose from and we even mix it up depending on the days of the week or festivals or situation that’s on our radar. Might sound flaky but it isn’t. Just years and years of indoctrination in following and believing in a way of living that works for most of us.

Red and I discussed raising TO to either believe or not believe and decided that we wouldn’t stop him from getting exposed to religious practices that are a part of our traditions and surroundings but neither would we fill his head with stuff about Heaven and Hell.

However, we have not got around to taking him to temples or any places of worship either; proactively. If it’s happened, it’s been purely incidental. And in the process we have a child who has questions about a LOT of things but who essentially perceives the world mostly in black and white.

His thinking hasn’t allowed much of gray to seep into his cognitive palette (ooh that’s a nice example of a neologism) and he tends to be rather absolute as for the most part.

When I was listening to him talk about the “incident”, I asked him how he knew there was no God or that He/She hadn’t created the World and he said that he’d learnt in science that homo sapiens came from apes. And that all life started from small “things” in water and then they started to grow and change and we got reptiles, birds and dinosaurs. The conversation unfortunately lasted too long while being expounded on dinosaurs but that’s par for course. *rolls eyes*

Then came humans who were weird looking (am paraphrasing here) and who crawled and then they learnt to stand up and walk straight. Then we got apes and “normal” human beings.

I kept trying to ask him in as many lay terms as possible about the point of origin of creation etc and finally simplified it to stating that reptiles, birds, mammals are all different from each other so how did all these different forms get created. For example, where did the monkeys come from? And pat came the reply- from monkey parents. Can’t top that can you?

So cheers to you Darwin and whoever and whatever created the world. We’re sticking to our monkey parents, thank you very much!

P.S: Maybe when he’s 30 I can tell him my theory about the galactic amoeba who may be responsible for the whole kit and kaboodle!

Lost In Translations#501

TO has an accent. We’re not sure which country it belongs to. It’s a relic mishmash of whatever animated programs he’s grown up watching. 

He, however, doesn’t know Hindi; a language he loves listening to songs in. His pronunciations are decidedly foreign and poor dear Alexa often has problems deciphering what he wants.

The new addition on the playlist is Dilbar. TO pronounces it as Dill(the herb)+Bar(the place where people go for a drink). Needless to say Alexa’s response of, “I don’t know about the DILL-BAR. Dill is a herb ah blah blah and bar is either blah blah blah”, wasn’t unforseen. By moi. TO was part- disappointed and part-annoyed that Alexa wasn’t “getting” it.

I was called in to speak Alexan and translate the song name into something darling Alexa could make sense of and finally when the song played I got the epithet of “My favorite mother’ and a hug…the rewards of a job done perfectly.

Hang on…I have to go again…someone’s trying to tell Alexa that there’s something called  ‘Abytoepaarteeshoeroueeaye’. My translator’s ears are picking up signs that it may be Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai. I’d better unconfuse the gadget before she blows a fuse.

Ta!

Lost In Translation#498

Kids extrapolate things based on their own frame of references. Mine does it quite a bit and even more so with words of a different language.

He loves music and at different times we have played hosts to quite a few different earworms of his. One of his old favorites reemerged due to a shuffle in his playlists and we were both humming along with it when he started off with that singsong tone he singsongs more whenever he has a question to ask me, “So A…is the Bulleya song about…?” And I reacted with a mother’s instinct and one honed from dealing with these particular gems- “No baby, it’s not about bulls. It’s about a poet and thinker (because early morning rushes are rushed enough without stopping to explain what a philosopher is) whose words have been put to song and who people sing about.”

And sure enough, came the expected rebuttal which led to this bit of head scratching fun-” But it says Bulleya…BULL-eya. Are you sure it isn’t about bulls?”Am positive! Baba Bulleh Shah didn’t have anything to do with bulls.” “Baba??” That’s what you call P (his nickname for my dad). Why is he called Baba?” “GO TO SCHOOL. BYE BYE. HAVE A GOOD DAY. LOOK IT UP ON WIKIPEDIA.”

Mom over and out. Oh how I miss Red when he’s out of town.

Your What Now?

Yesterday the offspring went back to school after a little over a 2 month break. Part of the back to school celebrations was a movie before the school opened AND a chocolate milkshake at CCD after school opened. I wasn’t in favor of milkshakes in this weather (rainy, gloomy at times and full of sniffles as far as the ear can hear) but hey…gotta keep the troops happy. More importantly it was to acknowledge and reward the rather difficult decision that was accepted by MLM of there being no television Monday to Friday and being allowed access to t.v. only over the weekend and in a measured manner.

I enter CCD and ask for a milkshake while MLM bounds about like a puppy let off their leash…he has his nosed pressed against the glass with the eclairs and chocolate pastries inside and looking like Oliver Twist. Whereas his mother, aka well-fed me, looks like I caused Oliver Twist’s situation in life. But more about my gluttonous ways later. Now, and this usually ends up happening to me (viz an inexplicably weird and slightly dumb situation) on asking for the milkshake I get this reply, “Madam…our BOGO is not there”.!!!

Reading something and hearing it read out can often have different reactions in people. Even when I read BO-GO, my mind processes ‘buy-one, get-one’. My mind doesn’t phonetically sound out the letters. So hearing BOGO, I said HUH??!! The guy behind the counter gestured in a downwards and sideways sweeping gesture and again said, “Our BOGO is not there.”

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By this time, thinking of him lacking in some ahem…parts or “things”, I made a really sad face before it hit me that the BOGO offer wasn’t available any longer. I was so relieved to have understood him that I positively beamed at him and said NO PROBLEM! Which may explain his odd looks at me…since when do customers get happy about knowing that the free stuff stopped?

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Movie Review: Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety

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First question? Why did I watch it and 2) Why am I bothering to review it either?

Answers: 1) My kid’s school still hasn’t opened so am just gasping for things that distract me and we’re both (mother and son) tripping on Bom Diggy Diggy  song from the movie so why not? 2) I just wanted to see the misogyny that’s been touted so much in this movie.

If someone wants mindless entertainment where you laugh, wince and tap your feet to peppy songs and the Punju dialogues that seems to be a staple of any Bollywood movie; this movie isn’t a bad choice. With the emphasis on the word ‘mindless’. However, the ‘bros before hoes’ notion is played to the hilt here which can and probably does annoy most women. But keep in mind women do behave in the manner shown…controlling…taking over her bf’s life out of the goodness of her heart and for his overall improvement.

Get it tight with a girl and she’ll have your family history out of you because she wants to interface. A guy? Not so much. He’ll want to make-out, have fun and keep it light. And this movie does the same but the conclusion could have been handled better with all parties coming to an agreeing-to disagree funda. Most movies of the Housefull and Golmaal ilk are mysogynistic in their portrayal of women-props, quasi or totally slutty and barely able to keep the clothes on their bodies and perpetually getting into sinuous movements to entice the musclebound moron of a guy or the deadbeat kinds aka Tusshar Kapoor and Riteish Deshmukh et al.

But all lecture aside, let’s move onto the movie which is about Titu (Sunny Singh) who’s a nice guy but makes the same mistakes with the opposite sex all the time and gets his heart broken. Enter his BFF Sonu (Karthik Aaryan) who steps in to clean up the damage and often preemptively tries to brings things to a closure with the kind of girls he thinks are going to be problematic. Their bond is tight but then enters Sweety (Nushrat Bharucha) – who becomes Titu’s fiance and has the social sanction to make changes and integrate herself deeper and deeper into Titu’s life and loosening Sonu’s hold on his friend. Neither wants to back down and at the grand finale, ultimatums are given and one is followed. Alok Nath as a non-sanskari grandfather is refreshing-ish.

Sweety isn’t shown as a harpy but from Sonu’s point of view she’s making changes which aren’t needed and more importantly, his space is diminishing in his friend’s life and the cause falls squarely on the girl. It’s a major power struggle and shows people as selfish, grasping, needy, insecure and afraid of change. It’s misogynistic if one really wants to see it only as that and nothing else. But how many Bollywood mainstream movies showcase its female talent to its proper extent anyhow? Maybe 1 in 10 if that?

Watch this movie without judgement especially if you’re the kind of person who has also watched Race 3 and sat through the Welcome-2 without flinching! It’s entertainment pure and simple. No one said anything about it having to be classy as well.