Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Much is made of my weakness of the national language by my friends circle. Indeed, (and excuse the attempted Wodehousean) the cry goes around the city, "Chuck cannot speak well the language of Bollywood" and "His otherwise spotless CV misses a vital language".

Alright, so my Hindi is bad. In the words of George Carlin - I don't give a shit.

(Now, my South Indian friends, is the point that we all rally together)

Remember that joke about how Karunanidhi reacted when someone said Hindi is the national language because it was spoken by maximum people in the country? He said that by that logic, the crow should be made the national bird.

(All South Indian friends, rapturous applause and pro-DMK slogans now)

Also, all my North Indian friends ask me "But yaaaaaar how can u b Indian and not hv seen Sholay yet yaaar!". I ask them back whether they have seen Kalyanaraman for a similar test of patriotism and they shrug with a facial expression reeking of the Carter Roadesque "What-everrrrrrrrr!". In the words of the wise Local Tea Party - why this discrimination, please? (That 'rrrrr' by the way, is the closest non-Southies will ever get to getting the 'zh' sound - you know, Kozhikode - right).

Ok, no more potential communal stuff (I don't want CoD to be the cause of a pogrom (I also wrote this line just so I could use the word 'pogrom' (You gotta admit, this multiple bracket shit is cool))).

Anyhow. I was a little boy, minding my own business, doing stuff that Mallu boys in the Gulf do like reading comics and topping classes, and suddenly, without warning, along came Hindi. CBSE Hindi.

(All South Indian friends, shudder and shiver at this point as if PC Thomas has decided to be your permanent roommate)

Oh, it was quite innocuous at first, the blighter. A mild annoyance in the otherwise uncomplicated world of addition and tenses. And before you knew it, just before you fully got to savour the joy of owning your first Hero fountain pen in 5th standard, you realise that the bloody subject is actually quite a headache.

(All riot-friendly friends - please note - Hindi the subject and not Hindi the language. Yeah, you still haven't seen Kalyanaraman, so pipe down)

As the years pass by and you realise that various parts of your body can do fun stuff, Hindi becomes a nightmare. A downright fucking nightmare.

Let me tell you my story.

When I was in 6th, 7th and 8th standards - I used to spend 4 hours a day studying Hindi. The use of the term 'study' here is an insult to what scientists and researchers the world over have been doing, though - I was mugging up the bloody thing. I spade up, by rote, chapters and chapters. Never was Hindi 'taught'. How to say stuff. How to have a conversation. How to fucking understand a movie. It was question-answer all through. When I look back, I think it a total miracle that I managed to survive those years of torture - by-hearting line after line without understanding a single fucking thing.

Everything about the stupid subject was bad. It had more periods than any other subject (yes, yes, I know you're begging to make that joke - say it to yourself). It had the most vicious of teachers. It had more textbooks than ANY other subject (pray, why couldn't we've had Michael Crichton as extra reading in English?). Spending 4 hours a day on it, but still the lowest marks. It brought down my entire average.

I was not a genocidal sort, but I do remember the frustration of a simple kid taken out in many ways.

For one - My Hindi books would always be put in my school bag in a polythene. It was untouchable. It was not allowed to sully the sacred Mathematics and Science books. On occasion where a polythene was not available, the Hindi book would form the 'base' of the bag and the rest of the books would 'stand' on top of it.

After each year, Mom used to give away my textbooks to someone. I never allowed her to give away the Hindi books, because I'd be tearing them up into little itty-bitty pieces. Once me and a few friends were even contemplating a mass-burning (of the books, not of selves).

I also remember seeing a public service ad on hand sanitation. So everytime I finished using my Hindi books, I used to wipe my hands. An inferior quality pen was even used to write on the notebooks, because high-quality Uniball and Pilots couldn't bothered to be wasted.

(Calms down)

As you can imagine - I hated the goddamn subject from the bottom of my heart.

(Fellow South Indians - similar stories, please share in comments)

You know how after 25 years in prison, the sight of the open world comes as a whole new paradise to you? That was how I felt when I passed into the 9th standard, and dumped Hindi for good (I passed my last exam by the skin of my teeth).

Me and my friends celebrated the day of our last ever Hindi exam as 'Independence Day'. I am not making this up. We all had one extra packet of Corn Chips to treat ourselves.

I took French. My average shot up again, and I was in the top 5 in class again. It felt so very 5th standard. I wasn't exceptionally bright, but the lack of that fuck-all subject probably just spurred me on.

Boy, how I hated it.

Okay, there is no point to this post. No language-education-in-CBSE-should-be-reformed. No as-revenge-all-Punjabis-must-be-made-to-learn-Classical-Tamil. No but-now-I-have-changed-having-learnt-practical-Hindi-by-trying-to-talk-with-auto-drivers-and-food-delivery-places-in-Mumbai-and-see-the-shortsightedness-of-my-youth. Nah, none of that.

And to prove so, I will end this post with something totally random.



sue said...

Loved the post... Similar story... Only good thing was that my teacher used to make us sing the poems out and play games, so one part of the subject was fine....
And, well, Hindi classes were where I got sit next to my crush and admire him :P So, I shan't complain too much.
But the horror did come back to haunt me in college. But as our teacher there would leave the room asking us not to 'make noise' (while she was gossiping in the canteen), and as I was asleep or day dreaming during the remaining classes, I think I was saved only by my lucky stars (I'd omitted 90% of my syllabus in 'choice', and thankfully there were enough questions from the 10% I'd studied, to help me scrape through )
Enough revelations :)
Loved the Wodehousean bits and the practical hindi part...
(P.S. : am a Southie too, which should be pretty obvious by now )

relativelytruthful said...

meh. i sailed through hindi.

tamil (3rd language) on the other hand...

Lavanya Jayashankar said...

Heh. As a TamBrahm born and raised in Bihar of all places, hindi should have been easy. And of course, compared to all the other Mallu classmates in Chinmaya, I practically breezed through it. But if I don't compare, then I struggled too - because you see, Biharis speak atrocious, extremely colloquial Hindi. And on more than one occasion I remember the teacher making a little too much fun of the crap I wrote in my papers! Hindi was my lowest mark in my 10th if I remember correctly - bought my average down too. Bloody CBSE and their expectations of perfect, civilized "Queen's Hindi" - I don't know what else to call it!

Eternal Child said...

Hindi was my third language and our text books were the same as those meant for Hindi as a second language.. for 3rd standard students. Whatte fun! :D

irsquared said...

Main South India hain.

Mere ko 10th mein Bombay school ka Indhi top karta.

Ok namashkar.

Krishna Prasad said...

I understand how it feels. Till today I struggle with the gender for inanimate it gaadi rukega or rukegi? :|
And yes classical tamil should me made mandatory for people in north India(sadistic smile)

mathangi_raghu said...

A dhaba. Dint know the word chaar.

"Baiya, ek roti. Phir ek aur ek aur ek aur"

Ammu said...

The should definitely have given me an option to dump that subject. If I remember it right, our Hindi teacher committed suicide in her hostel. This was after I reached 11th though. Just saying.


The Lone Ranger said...

Btw have you watched Sholay yet? :)

hamsini said...

Hated hindi from class 1 to class 10 from the bottom of my heart. It also didn't help that my class was full of North Indians (or above the Vindhyans) (for a Madras school this is pretty strange, I'm guessing!)

I've driven my Madras-bred but Hindi prathmic educated and college hindi topper nuts by making her simplify answers so that its easier to mug :-/ My mum taught me hindi until class 10. and for the boards, we spent atleast 3 weeks ONLY on hindi. finally, because i read a 15-mark question wrong, i lost that just like that! i got 54 in that paper, you can imaigne what it did to my average!

finally i took sanskrit from class XI to coll II year :D so much better, and thought my hindi nightmare was over for good.

imagine my trauma when we found out that I had to do a paper onhindi journalism in my POST GRADUATION. i almost thought i was never going to get my degree. thanks to a lenient professor who himself served as external examiner (:D) i passed.

and yeah. about my oral hindi. my bong friends (whove studied bong as second lang throughout and hindi as third) were shocked that i studied hindi in school from class I to class X. now, after, 2 years in pune and a year in hyd, my spoken hindi is slowly getting better, so much so that, that when i go back home to madras, i say bhaiya, kitna to auto drivers and shop keepers :D

Punvati said...

Didn't your mom give you a 'if you hate the sibject, it will hate you' lecture? Isn't that a very mom thing?

Subbaraman Krishnan said...

This reminds me of my school days.In those days we could choose Hindi/ Tamil. I choose Hindi which was lot easier compared to Thirukural & Tamil illakiam. Could pass Hindi exams till the 12th with the help of two essays, 'Pustakalay' and 'Samachar Patra'. Mugged up so thoroughly that even after 20 years I can narrate these essays even in my sleep. Its like " Samacharpatra adhunik sabhyatha ka abhibhajya ang hai. Jish desh my smaacharpatra tadad hai woh sabhya desh mana jhata hai & so on

longblackveil said...

I don't know what to say. Everyone know the appropriate multiple bracket usage is [{(...)}]. Are you trying to pull a fast one on us? WE HAVE ALL LEARNT BODMAS, OKAY?
Okay. Hi, very funny and touching and brave.

vigyata said...


Hindi (as a second language) was introduced to us in std V, along with English (as a third language).

from std VIII Sanskrit-Hindi partnership was there.

Results? They were interesting.

English > Sanskrit-Hindi > Marathi.

Also, Marathi Grammar is (don't have word to describe how horrible it is (as a first language, of course)).

PS: Hi!

nullinterface said...

You: me = Hindi : Sanskrit

Almost similar experience.

Kavitha Das said...

Just to inform you that i felt the Kutch earthquake while I was studying for the Hindi X std Board Exam.
The first thought that came to me was.. "God this is the one subject that I don't have to study to pass, please don't cancel this paper!!" :-D

Aswin said...

Whatay hain!

Rindo said...

How can I ever forget that subject? I know exactly how you felt


pulsecensor said...

Hindi is not the national language of India, it is just said to be so. The constitution only talks about two official languages, one hindi due to its majority and the other english due to its functionality.

ரமணன்... said...

Ha ha.. Loved it. Coincidentally penned a similar problem just a couple of days back :) :)

Tifosi Guy said...

I so badly wanted to give up Hindi after class V, but my damn school didn't have enough takers for French from Class VI onwards.. so stuck with CBSE Hindi upto Class X.

My overall average like a few folks here, went down the c****er thanks to it. Never felt more liberated when I knew after X boards NO MORE HINDI..

Anonymous said...

Paryayvachi and Anek Shabdon ke liye Ek shabd were probably the only reasons I got to clear that 35 mark limit in Hindi.

Vipin Ravindran said...

Ever been made to represent the house for Hindi Elocution just cuz no one else volunteered?...Imagine a hapless little (in the true sense) I-know-Hindi-for-nuts south Indian standing in front of a 200 strong crowd to recite a poem?...

I was "mantully" traumatized...

Merci mon ami for having my relive the nightmare...:P

Vipin Ravindran said...

Tum karthavakumbol Ho...Mein karthavakumbol "Hoom"...

Courtesy: Gajakesari Yogam (Mal Classic..Genre:Comdey)

The Umbrella said...

Though i laugh at the southie accented Hindi I bet it was a real pain to write Hindi exams.For that matter I hate all exams!

pri said...

haha total empathy.. want to shout out loud "Ek Gaun mein Ek kisaan Raghu thatha"

.. I dumped hindi and opted for Sanskrit in std IV so average shot up and all that.. The hindi students were always jealous of us, as if we committed some sin (you had an options, you chose hindi..).. Also unlike the multiple gender level confusion (why is the pen female or chair a male or some such wierd hindi rules), Sanskrit is logical - helps if you are good a math/logic (wait, since you are from south india, logic comes naturally..)

Hindi was still 3rd language (who cared for 3rd language anyways) till class 10 (acc to cbse rules).. but mom's hindi helped..

Though I gave up hindi in class III the hindi teachers were these old evil teachers who always featured in my nightmares.. they used red ink and circle stuff (how i hated that).. and that prayer (varde veena paani varde)still rings in my mind.. hindi periods (even when they were 3rd language) seemed to stretch forever..

Oh and when someone asks me why I didnt watch Sholay I usually ask them to watch "Ayiram Thalai Vangiya Aboorva Sigamani" .. Not cuz its a great movie, but like the expression on their face as I say that :D (i know!!)

santa said...

Baap ka betaa

Anonymous said...

too good. similar sentiments. My name is Kalyan I am from chennai & currently work in Bangalore. But I never had to study hindi in school since i was not in a CBSC school. with ur permission i am sharing ur stuff on facebook. my fellow dravida thamizha roommate will surely enjoy this ( he had to work in gurgaon for 2 years and god know how he survived ) ...

Anonymous said...

dae kalyanarama...romba mukiyam...have u ever thought how we both survived...

Jijo said...

I remember memorizing an answer which begun with the phrase "khudsawar ne kisan se poocha.."

Read it 100 times, learnt the damn thing by-heart.. In the exam hall, I realized that I did not know how to write khudsawar in Hindi.. F**K

Navaneeth V K said...

Factual corrections:
1. Hindi is not our national language - India doesn't have any national language.
2. It was not Karunanidhi who said that. It was Annadurai.

Btw, throughout your post I did not understand which Hindi you are talking about? Is it the punjabi mixed Hindi spoken in Delhi, or the Marathi mixed one in Bombay? Or Awadhi? Or Rajasthani? Or Haryanvi? Or Bhijpuri? Or Awadhi? Where is this Hindi spoken in the first place? :-)

anantha said...

Machi. Sounds like Hindi caused all of us problems. Yes, it brought my average down too. In the 10th standard. I got 59. After going for Hindi tutions! Wait, tutions where all we did was mug up answers! Man, What a scam! And I still dont know Hindi. I throw in a "abbeyaar" or "bhai" to make up the semblance of a line or two. And worst part is that I have never comprehend the gender specific sentence constructs. I am the guy who, in 2003, caused a lab full of Amits to go silent after I sang "Kaash Koi Ladka Mujhe Pyar karta" to impress a girl. The gal's happily married to someone else now, obviously.

Deepak Gopalakrishnan said...

Good to see so much hatred for CBSE Hindi >:D

Thank you to all of you who commented!