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Sanchit Rao

Children Drama


Sanchit Rao

Children Drama

The Telugu-Hindi Conundrum

The Telugu-Hindi Conundrum

4 mins 1.0K 4 mins 1.0K

“We are South Indians. We belong to a state called Andhra Pradesh and our language is Telugu. So start speaking in that language,” My mother told me seriously.



“But how can this be?”

“This is how it is. Start listening to how Papa and I speak and you will understand."

"What is this Telugu? Chiiiii!! I don’t like this language.”

“I will give you one tight slap if you say that again! Telugu is such a rich language, you have no idea. It is our mother tongue and you must respect it!” Mother said furiously. "Next month we are going to visit Nana and Nani’s place during summer vacation. They will teach you how to speak in Telugu."

“I don’t want to speak Telugu. I will only speak in Hindi.” With this the three year old me started to cry. In that very moment, I realized that my world had changed forever. My North Indian bubble had burst. I was now a South Indian.

This conundrum has its roots in the way my parents got married. My mother who had never crossed Andhra Pradesh border married a Telugu man who was living in Bhopal. His choice of food, songs, languages and everything else were a mixture of north and south. Very soon, mom had to learn Hindi and how to cook North Indian recipes like Chole and Rajma. Five years after their marriage, father changed his job and they moved to a city called Panipat in Haryana, where I was born.

When I was born, my parents feared that I wouldn’t be able to make friends and hence decided that I should learn Hindi first. Soon my favorite song was Tu cheez badi hai mast mast, Akshay Kumar became my favorite actor and Hum Paanch was my favourite TV serial. Until Mom’s revelation, I was growing up like every other North Indian kid.

With this new found identity, the grumpy me reached my grandparents’ place, Kakinada, a town near Vishakhapatnam. This was my first visit to Andhra and it did not look anything like the familiar Haryana. Coconut trees everywhere, men walking in Lungis, wall posters written in language I couldn’t understand.

My grandparents were overjoyed to see me. However for me it was like meeting them for the first time. My nani had prepared loads of south Indian snacks for us. As delicious as they were, they had the names I had never heard before. Bobbattlu (Pooran Poli), Pappu Chakkalu (Fried Rice Papads), Jantikalu, Chagodilu, suddenly my vocabulary was venturing into a different realm. Since this was Southern India, every day we were having rice and if this wasn’t enough for the three year old me, everyone was sitting on the floor and were eating with their hands. After 2 days, I asked my Nani “Aapke ghar mai atta nahi hai kya?” My Nani who obviously didn’t understand Hindi looked at my mother. My mother told her that I want roti. Poor Nana ji immediately went to the market and bought wheat flour with great difficulty. Back in those days finding wheat flour in a South Indian city like Kakinada was like searching for needle in haystack.

By the end of the vacation, Nani scolded mother saying ‘you have turned him into a north Indian!’. Once back, my Andhrafication process officially began. Cable Operator, somehow managed to give ETV Telugu channel. My sister and I were asked to see Telugu classic movies like Mayabazaar, Gundamma Katha, Lava Kusha. Mother bought a cassette on Telugu Rhymes for children. Every Sunday morning, listening to this cassette became a ritual. I personally preferred my Hindi Rhymes cassette over the Telugu one, but mother always forced me to listen to this. Also when a person is angry, he tries to use best possible vocabulary. Hence whenever mom and dad fought with each other or scolded my sister or myself, they used both Hindi and Telugu like soldiers with two swords. Though the situation was tense, however it improved our vocabulary for both the languages.

Years later, I joined a boarding school where we could talk to our parents only on Sundays. Every Sunday I would call my parents and incidentally, I would speak to them in Telugu. My mom once asked, How are you speaking in Telugu. You have no one there to speak to in Telugu there?” “Which is exactly why I am speaking in Telugu with you. Everyone here only speaks in Hindi. But home is where Hindi and Telugu both reside,” I said with a smile.

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