Since I was born and brought up in Chennai, it was not considered mandatory to learn Hindi. Tamil and English were sufficient. Of course, the situation is changing now, but back then one needs to just study a third language for three years, getting to know some elementary words & mug up the remaining – That’s it.
When I was studying in Third Standard, the girl sitting next to me had opted for Hindi as her second language. Sometimes, she used to write her homework after coming to class. One day, she was writing in the Hindi Handwriting book (The one which has four rules per line and perfect handwriting printed above).
For some reason, the teacher asked her to stand up on the bench. So, I took the handwriting notebook from her desk and observed the Hindi script in it. I was fascinated by the script. I mean, you don’t write from above and over-line every word in Tamil or English. So, this was very new and I asked her if I could complete the handwriting. She said ok, and I did. I liked the language so much that I asked her to leave one page empty every week, so that I could complete it!
After a couple of years, my parents found me regularly watching Hindi serials, movies and songs at home. I mean, those days we had only DD-1 & DD-2 and there was very little programming in Tamil. So, there was no option – we had to see what was available! Since I was watching too much TV, they scolded me asking why I was watching Hindi programs when I did not understand Hindi?
Actually, their aim was to make me watch less TV. But me being me, I got enrolled in the Hindi classes immediately There is this Dakshina Bharata Hindi Sabha and they conduct certificate courses at various levels – Prathmic, Madhyama, Rashtrabasha, Praveshika, etc. Since my cousin sister had already passed Prathmic, I used that trump card to join the classes.
From that day, no one at home could question me on why I was watching Hindi programs There was this program called Superhit Muqabla in DD-2. I think it was telecast every Sunday from 9 – 10 PM. I fell in love with it, and got to know so many new songs. Yes, Hindi songs back then were as awesome as the A R Rehman, Illayaraja & Deva composed Tamil songs. My interest in songs were piqued by that single program! I watched it continuously for many years.
During that time, I also saw two Hindi movies – Hum Aapke Hain Koun and Dilwale Dunhaniyan Le Jayenge with my cousins in some movie hall in Chennai. There was no turning back after that – Most of the Hindi I know today was grasped from the Hindi movies/ songs that I got used to, back then.
You may not believe that I took Sanskrit as a Second Language in my 11th Standard, after studying Tamil for 10 Straight years! I used to memorize Hindi sentences, but while doing that I ensured that I knew their meanings.
But understanding Sanskrit was very difficult as there was no way to learn it methodically, that too for just two years. To me, Sanskrit was like joining all the Hindi words and putting one big line on the top with a “:” at the end! I started memorizing so much (without understanding) that for the first time in my life I started to hate a language. I opted for Sanskrit only to score more marks, but I regret that decision till now even though I got the marks I wanted.
I don’t know if you have admired the beauty in languages but I always did – I liked Tamil for the richness of its poetry, Telugu for the sweetness of its sound (to listen), Hindi for the script, English for its Royal eloquence & German for its authority. The last one has escaped my learning clutches till now, but it will not for ever
The posts in this category, ‘My Autobiography’ are supposed to be a record of certain important events/ incidents that happened when I was younger, so that I can refer to these articles when I write my actual Autobiography after many years. My book will come out in the name of, ‘Destination Infinity’. Please buy it when it comes out.