Being multilingual

Hi.Namaskara.Namaste.Hola.привет.

There is a possibility that if you understood more than one of the above greetings, you speak or know more than one language. In India, it is likely that you are proficient in speaking, reading and writing in more than one language.

The greetings above – in order – are English, Kannada, Hindi, Spanish and Russian.

Thanks to the colonial nation that ruled us, quite a few Indians belong to the bilingual community. More often than not one being their native language and the other being English, Hindi, Sanskrit or any other dialect from the region they belong.

I belong to the multilingual community.

You will often find me constantly switching languages, mixing them and using them. This is what i think being multi lingual is.

As a matter of fact, the way i learnt languages is a bit different (and strange) from the general manner in which people learn languages. Or maybe i haven’t come across enough people of my kind to call it common.

I am a south Indian, born in North India. You would expect me to know a south Indian language through my infancy or technically ‘the language acquisition period’. Actually, thats not how it is. The first language i learned was hindi. Now why exactly was that the case? To say the least – its complicated. I spent around first seven-eight years of my life in constant, blissful ignorance of my mother tounge (Not bragging). The second language i learnt was English. The administration of the first school i attended were persistent that students have conversations in English. Today, this might seem normal, but back in the 90s English wasn’t that common among the middle class folks and so, special steps were taken to ‘help’ (read force) kids to learn and understand English.

It was a great shock to me when  I moved to Karnataka along with my family at the age of seven, equipped with two languages, both of which behaved as barriers and not bridges of communication. 

As a part of my new school’s curriculum, we were supposed to be learning to read, write and understand three languages.i.e., English, Hindi and Kannada. Though it was my mother tongue, I – and I speak for my brothers too – found it extremely difficult to learn Kannada. At that age i could only comprehend Kannada as the alien who came to destroy peace and happiness of my life (I am sure the south Indian majority felt the same about Hindi). Since majority of my classmates spoke fluent kannada and small phrases in English, having normal conversations with classmates became stressful. Classmates, teachers and the general staff at school were very kind. I don’t remember anyone being rude to  us cause we didn’t speak the local dialect. In addition to the oral tests and dictations, it was an actual pain to exchange thoughts and ideas. A miniscule population of kids who also spoke hindi in my class were life savers. As we grew, my classmate’s english vocabulary also grew and so began small exchange of ideas. Remember in the last para, when i said – special steps were taken to help kids to learn English – one of them were fineing students as young as eleven years old, if found/heard speaking a language other than English other than during the respective language classes. There were other reasons too but this was one of the reasons why I didn’t learn how to speak in Kannada in middle school. Though not strictly implemented, it did have an influence in the manner in which students communicated with each other. This concept confuses me. It seemed to be both preposterous and practical (Can anyone shed light on this concept?). 

Coming back to what we were on, English and Kannada were mandatories until grade seven, after which we were given an option to choose anyone language among Hindi, Kannada and Sanskrit. Of course i choose Hindi. The amount of relief I felt on crossing the threshold from grade seven to grade eight was tremendous. When I look back, its sad that I thought of it this way. Whole of my high school passed in blissful absence of the ‘Kannada alien’. It did not completely vanish, at times it peeped and crawled at shops, at bus stations, at family gatherings, in small talks, etc., Situations that weren’t hard to manage with basic Kannada knowledge. 

The absolute breakthrough came about when i joined college. I don’t know how or why, but i found myself surrounded by and befriending people who were proficient in speaking more than one south Indian language. And just like that, within a year or two, i learnt Kannada and Telgu! Thanks to my awesome friends, who repeatedly laughed at my attempts and corrected my petty errors. Now i was no longer a bilingual, i could proclaim myself to be a multilingual.

Around this time, foreign language courses were introduced in my college, as an extra curricular course. I chose to get enrolled for the Spanish course. Due to various factors the course ended abruptly. I kept on it, enhancing my Spanish through various online apps (Duolingo), tv shows / short movies (like Narcos and Mi vida loca) and tutorial videos on YouTube. I wouldn’t say i have gained a mastery over this language as the others, but its been great pleasure learning. 

Then came in Russian. I knew as a matter of fact that a great number of people speak Russian and that Russia is one of the most powerful and technologically advanced countries in the world. This did not interest me back then. While i was watching ‘House of cards’, a number of episodes were dedicated to showcase the political relationship between USA and Russia. This sparked in me an interest to learn Russian but i kept pushing it off citing various reasons to myself. But the real trigger came when the last episode of ‘Sherlock S4’ released or should i rather say leaked. I downloaded the video, blindly assuming it to have English audio. To my surprise, on playing the video, i couldn’t understand a thing, it was all gibberish to me cause the dubbing was in Russian. After forty-five minutes of fruitless search for English subtitles, i watched the whole episode with the mute on. The very next thing I did was open a Google page and typed in ‘Learn Russian basics’. Here in started my journey to learn Russian. I am still a beginner and I love the thrill of knowing and accepting the meaning if a word i did not even bother acknowledging a few moments ago. 

Lately, i have been doing some research on multilingual personalities and why & how people learn different languages. This is one of the good talks i came across during my research.

“If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world.”

To the people who have taught me different languages and to the ones who have been patient while i learnt it, thank you.

Languages i know in bits and pieces Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam. Hoping to add a few more of these in the coming years. 

Any multilinguals out there? 

Cheers to the thrill of learning new languages!

Later amigos!

Bye.Alvida.Hogi bartini.Adios.пока.

POST 2016

Yo people! 

Unlike many, I do not believe that the “About” page in a blog should remain the same. You change as time changes and so dies your personality. So why have the same description for your blog year after year? One year can sure bring about a number of changes in a persons character, living, thinking, habits and what not. Continue to read to find out what has changed and what hasn’t. 

Had an intership. Became a Btech grad. Have a tech job. 

I lost hope in democracy/humanity and gained lot of confidence in hacking after the USA election results were announced.

Last year i spent quite some time bringing myself back to being creative with colors on paper. You can see them here. Its not paint, its oil pastel. There is a difference. And i have an OCD about it. I have an OCD about a lot of things. Anyway, I used to paint before like paintbrush, palette, water, cloth and watercolors -in boxes, in tubes, in glass bottles, in plastic cases. Then i stopped painting. Didn’t do anything other than doodle on my notes now and the. Once, I tried getting back to painting, it was a disaster. Lets leave it at that.

Constantly swinging between “i will stick with hell nos and headphones” and “Let me be social”. W.r.t the former and later, i started the No earphone project. Its not going as good as i hoped it to. *Blimey! So much senseless jabbering all round me*

This one was kinda upsetting and uplifting at the same time. One fine december morning, my cute-little-tiny phone, that i used for 5 long years stopped working. I knew this was gonna come, it still made me sad. I mourned for few weeks, adjust maading with a simple barphone which had noisy ringtones. I was hoping to get the phone repaired. All in vain. Finally i bought a new phone. And its so awesome! Cause this phone is up-to-date with the latest technology, i get to stay connected with all my done-with-basic-degrees-and-now-we-are-scattered-all-over-India friends. I have started to text/bother/irritate the shit out of all my friends -when i am free 😬. Poor people. Warning: I don’t know if i will stop doing that.

Travelling is exhausting. So most of the days i sleep all through the night instead of being awake. I miss staying awake at night enjoying the silence and calm. I make up for it by getting up early in the morning. Its not the same.

Lot of moments last year came down to this : “There are two tragedies in life : one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” – Oscar Wilde

Much of my time was spent in distraction: “Everything distracted me, but most of all myself.” -Patti Smith

This is me, post 2016.

As always.. this is.where.i.rant.

Year gone by 2016

Yo guys! Wassup?

This year has finally come to an end. Time for the year end post.

If you regularly follow my blog then you must have been disappointed (or happy) to note that there were far fewer posts this year than compared to last year or the year before that. If you didn’t notice don’t worry cause even I was blissfully unaware of this myself. I had a vague idea that the number of posts i wrote had declined. I didn’t bother myself with the details. Until, I read someone else’s year end blog. WordPress generates these awesome fireworks animated reports, which shows different stats of the blog for that year. This year however they haven’t generated any report *atleast not yet*. Initially I thought they did and I didn’t receive a notification about it, cause my blog had a bad year. After a google search I realised that they really haven’t released these reports yet. So wordpress bloggers had to fallback on the default simple stat page of the blog. This someone else’s blog that I saw had a positive correlation between years, number of visitors and views. At this moment, abandoning all reason and logic, I had a sudden desire to go to the stats page of my blog and see a positively correlated graph. All that greeted me was this:

stats

I literary LOLed watching this. What was I even expecting?!

If you notice this years graph has had almost a threefold decrease. So what was I upto? Thats what this post is gonna be about.

YEAR GONE BY -2016

First and foremost I entered 2016 while i was in the final semester of my engineering degree. This implied I had a series of deadlines to abide by, exams to attend, work on my final year project while trying to enjoy and collect as many memories as I possibly could from the final four or five months I had left to spend with my friends and classmates at university. We didnt have many subjects in the last semester but I thoroughly enjoyed the elective lectures sitting in the last bench of the class with my friends. *To all the last benchers of economics class* 😉 😉 . All in all engineering came to an end and the mission I set out for, four years ago was finally completed.

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So what comes after a bachelor’s degree? Most of my friends went on to pursue a master’s degree, while I chose to work. Frankly speaking, I do miss the student life. But work life ain’t bad. The only thing that irks me – sometimes – is the travelling. If you wanna hear more of my rant on travelling to work please click here.

By the time I came back home I used to be tired. The only thing I could do was watch videos (youtube, re-watch seriers, netflix and chill). Some new good shows I watched this year were House of cards, Mr.Robot and the crown. I watched a few episodes of an old Hindi TV series called “fauji” -which translates to soldier in English. This is proclaimed to be one of Shah Rukh Khan’s best performances. It was a good show. Don’t quite remember why I stopped watching it.

All throughout the year I didn’t read much. Maybe three-four books. To while away time on my way to work, I went book shopping last month (like I didn’t already have a huge TBR list). Started reading one book and from nowhere I am now simultaneously reading four books. And my friend sends me this (almost accurate):15590299_10154198353343379_4143644123021386392_n

I wasn’t being creative on the literary end, so I thought I might as well do some art to keep the creativity alive.  These are some of my masterpieces this year 😛

Said tata-goodbye to social media for quite some months. Felt good. Thought I am gonna come out of this internet “social” media crap, sober. Who am I kidding? We are all addicted to it.

A lot of people have told me that my laughing-style is weird and that i can’t control my laugh. This has landed me in sticky situations too.  Nonetheless, I love laughing. To everyone who made me laugh/smile this year. Thank you.

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Hope you all enjoy creating happy memories in 2017! 🙂

Oh and yea.. Don’t abandon reason and logic, be confused, most important of all – keep smiling, stay happy, stay safe and peace! 🙂 🙂

No earphone project

If you are in your late teens, twenties, thirties, forties or fifties and your usual place of residence is earth, its highly likely that you work to earn a living. And to work you move out of your place of residence to your place of work (Unless you have a work from home job). And to reach your place of work you travel. More often than not your place of residence and place of work are gonna be in total opposite directions. And if you have the pleasure to live and work in the Silicon valley of India, well your patience is about to be tested. This journey can easily take anywhere from one, two, three hours depending on the source and destination. To spend or efficiently make use of this time people resort to do different activities.

So what do people do while on commute via public transport?

  1. Procrastinate, do nothing, think, stare out of window : Day dreaming while traveling is the best! Cause you don’t know how time flies by.
  2. Work work work work work : I have seen people pull out their laptops from their backpacks so quick. Its almost like a reflex like as soon as their butts come in contact with seats – swoosh – the laptop is out! For the rest of the journey you will find them stare at the screen, type / bang the keyboard with either uncontrollable delight or frustration.
  3. Sleep : A lot of them are sleep deprived cause the only way to avoid peek hour traffic is getting early and out of your home. Some company buses go around different locations to pick up employees so the route is longer than it should have been. And To compensate this sleep deprivation people sleep in the bus.
  4. Read newspaper : These people are the kind of people you thank when you need to start a conversation with your boss / colleagues to avoid awkward silence. Usually I find people flipping pages of Business Insider, Economic times or TOI. You can do this only if you sit on the seat behind the person reading the paper. Then you get a full view of the paper without being judged. But if you are sitting next to them you are gonna be annoyed AF with their flipping pages.
  5. Read books : Cool people. Ain’t saying more.
  6. Watch movies / tv shows : These people are just hell bent on breaking their necks.
  7. Phone calls : Some keep their conversations low – thats great – got no issues there. The problem I have is with loud freaks. It feels like they are announcing something rather than have a conversation.
  8. Listen to songs / radio : A majority of people fall into this category. Some of us have tiny noise induced earphone, some of us noise canceling in-earphones, while some others have Huge noise canceling headphones.

Thats about it. My traveling activities are usually a combination of the first, third and last.

I don’t know how this works in rest of the world. But in India, there are individuals appointed to halt buses at random locations and check if every passenger in the bus has bought a ticket or not. If you haven’t bought a ticket either you will be fined or the conductor who didn’t issue the ticket will be fined. Once when I was on my way to work, people came in to check on the tickets and I had my headphones on which meant I was in my own world. Apparently this guy checked everyones ticket in the bus and was waiting for me to hand out my ticket. I was blissfully unaware of his mere presence. Suddenly, I see a hand being thrust right in front of my eyes. Only when I remove my earphones do I realize that the person is asking me to show him the ticket. And at that exact moment I can’t find them! Now everyone is staring at me, some are angry the bus is on halt and they are getting late for work, while I am starting to phase out into a hyper panic mode. Alas! I find my ticket, show it to the checker and breathe a sigh of relief. Few minutes after the incident I am wondering why am I listening to music all the time on the bus. My favorite song comes up on the radio and I forget about it all.

On my way back as i pulled out my earphones from my bag, I have a mental flashback of that mornings incident. I have my earphones in one hand and my mobile in the other. I look around me. Everyone more or less has a earphone in their ears. I consider how boring the journey back home is gonna be if I don’t have my earphones on. I decide to give it a try. I mean, if I really get bored i do have a working earphone in my left hand and a phone with seventy percent battery still powering it in my right hand. Guess what? The ride back was not that boring.

So I decide not to plug in the earphone on the next day, the day after that and the day after that. So for three days straight in a row I did not use my headphones at all (YEAH!). I always had my earphones with me – just in case I needed them. Not using them while I had it, gave me a small sense of accomplishment. The origin of all sounds were atleast three two feet away from my ears (except when I got calls). Its not like I didn’t listen to songs or watch youtube, I did listen to them but on loudspeakers, at a volume that did not annoy my co-beings in the universe.

I wanted my streak to last a bit longer but annoying co-passengers, what can I say.

Heres what I thought while I was on a break with my earphones and even later.

  • You don’t have people getting annoyed at you cause your ears are earphone-less and people don’t have to repeat sentences a hundred times before you can finally comprehend what is happening or being said
  • You are more aware of whats happening around you (Unagi 😛 )
  • You have more control over yourself than you think you do
  • The world around you is more interesting than you give it credit for
  • You only listen to what you wanna hear

I have done this ditch the earphone a few times after that incident and plan to continue on doing so. I am calling this the no-earphones project”.

In other news, if you are an Indian you will probably know this.. the weekends here aaaaand Deepawali is right around the corner! For those who are unaware of what deepawali is, its a festival of lights. Some dumb morons confuse it with the festival of noise. I hope i don’t need to use ear-plugs to block out the loud sounds.

Wish you all a happy and safe deepawali!