Generally on weekends, I accompany my mom to buy the week’s provision to a neighborhood supermarket. Since I am no good at picking veggies (tried my hands at it only to be shouted at by my mom for my unending inability to do so), I pick up the latest edition of any magazine and sit at the corner table of the in-house bakery. I smile at the bakers and they smile back. I know that they are wishing that at least once I buy something from them! They don’t bake well, so I avoid their food as much as I can and start reading.
I can’t pay complete attention to the magazine. Remember, I am only doing it to pass time? So, I occasionally lift my head up to observe people who are moving around. They are just not people! They are artists, actors, dramatists and linguistic experts. While some try to put on their best air, others try to teach the crowd around some English! Yeah! I once read, in old times, that the wind carried voices and messages. Now, the air-conditioning in the mall does it! When no one’s around, it is your mother tongue and then someone walks by, their ENGLISH switch turns on. The magazine’s content isn’t engaging anymore. These people are even more entertaining!
And then arrives the great Indian actor. He must have originated from some village. I am not ashamed to say that I originate from a village too but I stay true to my roots. Yeah, I can speak English but I try to keep it as functional as possible. I don’t talk to a hawker in English for god’s sake. Coming back to the actor. He walks around with no idea of what to buy. He walks like a macho man forgetting about his 40 size waist and gravity pulled belly. “What is this?” he asks the staff around. The staff is staring at him dumbfounded. “Bhaiya? Yeh Kya Hain?” (Same question in Hindi), he asks the staff again. The staff guy smiles and says it’s a room freshener. Yeah baby, now you are talking!
My eyes move to a family who enter with their extremely noisy kid. Oh by the way, the kid only knows English and his mommy is trying her best to keep him in control. “Beta. Don’t do that. That is not ours till we buy it!” Beta is not the measure of risk as some of us know it. BETA in hindi means kid or son or whatever! (I am not too good at HINDI!). Oh, forgot to tell you, they just migrated from BIHAR! (This statement is for all those people who think South India means Chennai and everyone here wears a LUNGI…and I am not racist!). This family comprises artists. They try to blend into the surroundings wearing clothes which define wardrobe disgrace and lipsticks which will send hot super models crying to their bedrooms. The poor kid is getting his education in artistry unknowingly from his dear parents. They paint a unrosy picture of MODERN INDIA.
And I just love the linguistic experts. So let me come back to them again. A guy was new to the city and this happened while I was walking back home from the supermarket.
“Excusssss Me. Where does this ROD go?”
I was like, “Whaaattt?”
“This ROD. Where does this ROD go?”
“See dude. I have a ROD but it goes nowhere!”
“Bhaiya, yeh rasta kidar chalti hain?” (Where does this ROAD lead to?), he said finally in HINDI.
“Ohhhh…ROAD…it goes to Banjara Hills.” I almost fainted. He meant ROAD and he was pronouncing it as ROD.
My local auto guys speak better language. Why be someone you aren’t? Why say something you don’t know? Why talk a language you aren’t comfortable with? India is a diverse country and people understand different languages. And people also understand you are acting. So beat it!
My SUPERMARKET isn’t SUPER in terms of goods, but in terms of the diversity of consumers, WOW, its HYPER! Welcome to the HYPERMARKET.