One of the things I remember the most about my hostel days is, losing the novels I bought in the great reading circle that extends from ground floor to 4th floor and back. Sometimes I even get to borrow my own book from another student after a year or two, because no one really knows who owns the book once the book enters the hostel gates. The biggest bonus of this unofficial circulating library is that sometimes you get very old books that someone bought ( probably from the road side vendors on MG road) or sometimes left behind by foreign missionaries years ago and the book is being circulated around the hostel from seniors to juniors. One such book was a very old readers digest. There was a snippet about a teacher telling the students in some American school that if someone speaks with an accent, it means that they know one other language,
I studied in Malayalam medium and even the basic English that I was taught was fraught with mistakes, so was the translation of English words/names etc to Manglish. Karl Marx’s name was written as Karal Marx in my history text book. My classmates and I thought “widow Douglas” was the actual name of the person because no one taught us the meaning of the word widow.
I remember how much my Kannadiga classmates laughed, when I ordered Masala Dosha at the restaurant.
And I was determined, even though I knew to speak a lot of other languages that no one will ever laugh at my English pronunciation. So I sat in front of TV, every single day and listened to Gitanjali Iyer and other English newsreaders on Doordarshan News. I was determined not to say eggu for egg.
When I had kids and while we were living in Malaysia, I made a conscious effort not to speak with ‘la’ at home and even outside if the kids were with me. If there was a word I didn’t know how to pronounce, I checked the dictionary for help.
All was well, so I thought.
During the holidays, we went to a fair and I asked my kids if they want to go for a ride in the carousel..I pronounced it as karousel.. None of my kids understood what I was saying. So I pointed to the ‘karousel’..and they laughed and they laughed.
Now, don’t get me wrong, they weren’t laughing maliciously..they just can’t believe their mother didn’t know how to pronounce karasel !!
The time has finally arrived. .Before, I taught them A for apple…now they teach me when I pronounce a word wrong..Life is surely a great big ride!