Wednesday, November 26, 2014


No, that's not what happens when you fall asleep over your keyboard and drag your nose along the keys. It is a real word !! Seriously ! I am not making this sh*t up, i tell ya! Don't believe me? Google it up.

And the lord of wisdom says "The word Mamihlapinatapai (sometimes spelled mamihlapinatapei) is derived from the Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego, listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the "most succinct word", and is considered one of the hardest words to translate."

And what does it mean exactly?? I am glad you asked. It means roughly "The wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start." Now is there anything more bitter-sweet than this? The first time I read this word here (and i do not remember how i stumbled upon it...might have something to do with excessive amount of time spend on Pinterest), maybe like most, the first image i had is of a romantic moment between two people. That painfully excruciating, endless, powerful, sweet, tense moment where two people are using all sorts of mental telepathy to make the other do something or say something. And if, the stars are aligned, the moment is right, and atleast one of them have enough pluck, that telepathy works. Or most of the time, it is just lost and just brings a tinge of regret when you think of it later. Never happened to you? Who are you kidding!

And then, when i think of the word a bit more... it is not just a moment in romantic relationship. We have so many Mami---blah-blah moments throughout our day at work and in personal life. Just think of the two people involved as you and your devil's-advocate-alter-ego (whatever adjective it has at that point of time. Mine ranges from the rational to the go-jump-off-cliff-to-see-what-happens states). You are not sure who would blink first. Most of the time, you wait...waiting for yourself to be overcome by the sheer intensity of your emotion/idea that you have no other choice but to act on it..or just wait for that moment to pass. And then, you shrug your shoulders and murmer 'hmm..that wasnt meant to be'. This could be a new project idea at work which isnt completely ironed out to be presented to the team rightaway, or just telling someone 'no' or 'yes', or changing your mind about something or someone even though you were party to the whole plan the whole time, or just about listening really intently to what your impulse wants you to do.

How often does that moment pass you by?

Sunday, May 04, 2014

The tongue that binds

Are you ashamed of the place you were born in? Ashamed of your mother tongue? Do you not want to pass on your cultural and linguistic heritage to the next generation? If not, why don't you speak to your kids in your/their mother tongue ..confound it !!

This behavior of new-age parents living in cities / towns outside their home-state baffles me to the core. Most Indians speak a minimum of 3 languages – their mother tongue, English & Hindi or language of state where they live. Earlier the journey towards mastering or rather at least managing these languages always started with one’s own mother tongue. That's what you hear your parents, grand-parents, relatives, neighbors and friends speak in. Even before stepping into a world of formalized and institutionalized education, the toddler will speak his/her mother tongue with absolute fluency.

With the increasing number of youngster moving out of their home-state, settling and raising a family in far-off metros or aspiring metros, it is inevitable that the young one hears a mix of tongues around him growing up. But why does it have to mean that the parents speak to the kids only in English? For getting ahead in school ? For better pronunciation and accent-neutralization in early age? for seeming hep and with-it? For making your kid the global citizen he is? If not the parents, who will get the kid in touch with their roots? Would the hapless grand-parents with halting English have to make do with sign languages?

Is there is a scientific or logical explanation that speaking their native language to children will hurt them socially or academically? In fact a short googling will show studies which support the fact that children with strong first language skills are more ready and able to learn a second language.  In other words, it’s difficult to build a second language if the first language foundation is not established and supported WHILE the second language is being learned.

A curious exception to the phenomenon is that of kids brought up outside India. There, somehow, I see a higher proportion of parents who make it a matter of principle to get the kid well-versed in their mother-tongue. It is a part of getting them know their cultural heritage. Ofcourse it takes time and effort to teach a kid anything – did anybody say parenting was easy?