Thursday, April 17, 2008

Culturally challenged

Yes, I'm culturally challenged.
No, it's not that I have no respect or understanding or interest in culture of any kind. It's just that I have an affinity for ALL of them!
Wait let me explain...
My paternal side of the family is Telugu, with origins way back in Rajasthan...
My maternal side is Malayali but with settlements all over the North of India...
My cousins are half-Bengali and half-Himachali each (with the confusing mix of Malayali blood and Delhiite upbringing thrown in)...
My language of thought and most speech is the colonial inheritance, English (with a medley of Tamil, Hindi, slang and whatever language is closest pulled in)...
My poetry! The language of my heart is Spanish, for its poetry in every phrase, in every word and its capability of expressing my soul (though I barely speak it anymore)...
My music! Music speaks to me most strikingly through Arabic-the whispers of the desert, the wind in the qanun and the hypnotic beat of the derbouka...
My movies! Bollywood and the Hindi dialogues, songs and dances of its films envelop me in their profusion of warmth and colour...
My food! Has to be spicy and colourful and vibrant and over the top. I cannot live without some dose of Andhra food...
My school! Sanskrit was my second language. My reverence for the holy language was a bit dented after 5 years of non-understanding texts that advised me to not hang necklaces around a snake (No offence meant)
My college! French was always a language I appreciated for its exquisite accent (which I practised much on my friends, much to their er..concern for my sanity) and also because it so resembled Spanish.

You would wonder how I survived these many years without tripping over my own tongue. Linguistically, culturally, emotionally... I have no clue where I stand.

What is my mother tongue? (er, English)
What are you? (er, human)
Where are you from? (er,Mommy?)

Oh my, you don't speak Telugu, what a shame. You don't speak Malayalam either? Tsk, tsk.
No I cannot feel pride welling up if I see coconut trees and backwaters. Sure, it's pretty but it isn't mine.
I love my 'mudu-pappu' and mango dal like crazy but I cannot follow a word of the Telugu language and as much as I try to feel guilty about it, I really don't.
And I just don't have a soul to practise Spanish with. It's not much fun being pointed at while you speak to yourself in a 'foreign' language.
And my spoken Hindi shows no improvement despite my Bollywood fixation and the fact that it was my general elective this semester!

So where do I fit in? Where is that home, the place I belong? Where everyone goes on holiday and comes back with unified stories of family, tradition while I take a pinch of nearly everything. I want to understand jokes in Malayalam slang and want to understand the lines to inane Chiranjeevi songs (Big Boss!!!).
I want to speak perfect Hindi and not just ‘hahn, hahn’. I want something to call my OWN. And it’s too late to invent a language. (already did that in Std I…until concerns for my development made me stop)

Maybe that’s why I created Estarra. Hmmm. :)

4 comments:

ess said...

Yeah, I kind of get what you're saying. My dad's side of the family is from Tirunelveli, mum's side is from Coimbatore. But I just don't get either slang right.(ok it's not as widely spread out as your family, but still)
And yes, I think in english as well.

Dunno, I guess we're the kind of people who can thrive only in Madras. And blogspot :)

Kingdom of Estarra said...

Hehehee yeah that's one of the few things we can do about it!

~ V ~ said...

OK NOW I AM CONFUSED :D

Kingdom of Estarra said...

Why are you confused?