Monday, December 7, 2009

Marshmallows and Matribhasha

A family friend gifted us marshmallows the other day. In a flash of blinding clarity that followed, I realised the true purpose of marshmallows. The small non-toastable ones at any rate. They are boredom food (Note: Food you eat when you are bored.) There is a certain category of food that wears this title with grace. They don't taste Goooood. Because gooooood food deserves a little more involvement than boredom allows. But they definitely don't taste bad, 'cos that would be off-putting. In fact they don't taste like much at all.
And they have a very satisfying texture. Generally the kind you need to chew.
Finally, they are not heavy so you can go on, and ON, AND on eating.
That, is boredom food. That is marshmallows.

I realise I've been affected a lot by the commodities that have entered the house recently.
My mother bought this toothpaste a couple of days back. It's cover says-
The toothpaste for bleeding, inflamed gums and sensitive teeth.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who finds it funny. It is rather despicable to be The Sole Person under influence of American Social Steretotyping.

Oh Oh, speaking of American. This is nothing to do with those starred and stripy people. Basically the whole cultural issue reminded me of the new change in the CISCE structure. English is getting renewed emphasis. Which is ok. EVE's gonna get the sack. Which is Better than ok. But if I read correctly, IT ISN'T COMPULSORY TO PASS SECOND LANGUAGE ANYMORE. And this genuinely upsets me. Vernacular is going to become obsolete!

Bengali classes were a farce anyway. A bunch of smart-asses (us) who didn't give the syllabus a chance. A syllabus SO unbelievably outdated and dreary that it didn't deserve a chance. And a cluster of old teachers who saw themselves as valiant martyrs, championing their cause against us piddling little culture-deficient snobs.
I don't blame the teachers, honestly I don't. If I had to teach for YEARS, a subject no one cared for, I'd be bilious too. And I do blame us for being so unenthusiastic but honestly, the root of all trouble was the syllabus.

EVERYTHING was in shadhu bhasha. Hello Mr. ISC, I don't want to disturb you, but I dropped by to say that OCCASIONALLY, it would be nice to read things written the way we talk. Just to remind us that what we speak at home is Bengali too. And it was so fucking morbid! It was tough to keep track of whether more people died or cried. Actually, the latter wins because half the people who died Also cried. If only, if ONLY they'd plan out the syllabus better, the classes could be so inspiring. I've had my dad read out some Bengali short stories to me. I've had my Elective English tutor read out Bengali modern poetry to me. And I remember being enchanted, dazzled, mystified! No mild admiration, that.

In fact, sometimes, some things in our syllabus would Really get us.
'Bonolota Sen' was more poetic and Romantic than half the stuff I've read by British Romantics.
There was this one day when we completed a very depressing but beautifully written chhoto golpo. For a while there was an awkward pause. Then people suddenly start giggling and making idiotic jokes. The teacher could have been a bitch if she wanted to (it's not like she'd never been) but she just said- 'Either you guys didn't get it at all, or you're really moved.' And we were moved.
Then we LOVED the one by Parashuram. Mr. Rajshekhar Basu. Who translated the Mahabharat. Wrote a dictionary. Allegedly helped Aurobindo make bombs (yes through scientific procedures, not by reading aloud to gunpowder.) And produced the most UPROARIOUSLY funny satires I've ever read. We should have had more stuff by this guy. Instead of bloody essays telling us how our generation is doomed.

Well, I think I've exhausted my energy for now. But I needed to say this. I feel that as someone who loves Literature, I'd be a different person if my school had inspired me to go back home and pick up a Bengali book. Of course there were people who still did. And it's not like my parents didn't try. But in my defence, my reactions to literature tend to be quite strong. And after discovering Saki and Keats, when I had to go and bury my nose in specimens of archaic morality, and LEARN lists of adjectives-I developed a minor revulsion towards 2nd language. Not Bengali. Just 2nd language. But it was enough of a hurdle.

17 beep/s:

Clezevra said...

At least you know the language. What they did to Sanskrit at CBSE has got to make everybody speechless- because they have no bloody idea what's going on. Oh, and why a second language? CBSE has ruined English so that I feel like killing myself while writing English answers.

Kirra Serra said...

The marshmallows- I know. Peanuts would qualify too, as boredom food, but for the cracking and rubbing.
That thing about Emo-form- riot! Well spotted!
Cz- are you sure about the blame being on CBSE (meaningful glance).

Trisha said...

In school, I DID think the bangla syllabus had potential, and CBSE bangla is a bit easier too, prob'ly. But I'm in total agreement with Clezevra here - what the CBSE's done to English is rape, castrate, and brainwash it into sodden standardized *Indian-compatible* English. Yuck. If keeping to the word-limit is more important than the actual quality of the answer, the system is doomed to disappointment. as if we're all hoping to be doctors and engineers, so who needs stupid stuff like languages anyway *sigh*

blinknmiss said...

Yes, as has been stated, the System does create a natural aversion towards 2nd Language at an impressionable age. But then, if you are serious about studying Literature you can't leave out Bangla. Not when it's your native language. I know how limited I am when it comes to Bangla and have the good grace to regret it. Yes, the obstacle is there, but it's all in your mind and sometimes you have to make the extra effort to get something worth having.

In other words, I have spent the past month and a half reading Sunil Gangopadhyay. A late start, but now I'm hooked and honestly don't remember the last English novel I discarded midway. Hence the long absence from Blogspot and the Internet in general, in case you missed me :)

Deeptesh said...

Very true indeed!The other day I was gifted a Bengali book by my mom's colleague n my reaction was as usual of the 'oh-no-not-Bengali-again' type!But quite strangely I have started liking Bengali post-modern poetry after getting into JU.n 'Banalata Sen' remains my favourite poem...I was once inspired to compare it with Kubla Khan.

Prince of Mirkwood said...

Emoform? You'll be relieved to know you're not the only one who finds it funny.

And Anushka using the word 'fuck'? Never thought I'd live to see that day. Or the day would live to see that. Either way, a very valid post. I had Hindi, but I understand the sentiment.

The Orange Cat said...

Is there a single education board in India which teaches any language with the barest modicum of appeal?
English, for pete's sake, most people who score 98% in their english exams can't write a sentence worth squat.
Some people might just not be attracted to bengali or english for that matter.
I like 5 Stars myself.

Sherry Wasandi said...

Firstly, Emoform. That did cause to me guffaw out loud, in a manner that can only be referred to as "crass".

Trust me, you're not alone. I, for one, have a personal vendetta against them "starred and stripy" people. The only word association I can manage is "roadkill", and they give the goths a bad name. Sadly, it's not just an American social stereotype anymore. Last year, it was emo-kids everywhere you looked. Good ol' half-assed wannabe Delhi punks.

AND, don't tell me about how the vernacular languages don't stand a chance against the natives. My childhood years are scarred by the memory of the evil Marathi teacher who ruled every Tuesday morning of my 7 year old life. Being a northie living in Mumbai, was tough. Really. :)

Roshni said...

Long back when I was in seventh standard,a kid I came to know online,called Takun,was very disappointed when he came to know I don't cut myself every evening.'But I thought you said you like to reeaaad.How can you be like them preps and *not take recourse to physical pain*,then?'
Ouch.The pink-ness of the allegation.Made me shrivel up with sheer shame.Shotti bolchhi.
And Parashuram was BOSS.I have entire series.Read all?Or I'll lend :)

Reeju says... said...

isc bengali was fucking shit except banolata was bichhiri rokomer bhalo.

Sroyon said...

In 2007, I read an article about an indigenous language in southern Mexico which was in danger of disappearing because its last two speakers had stopped talking to one another. I don't know what happened in the end because I didn't follow the story.
And if you're interested, Language Log is full of articles like this about the Chinese government's suppression of languages other than Mandarin.

Anushka said...

@Trish- Yes, the English syllabus was marginally better but it was taught RIDICULOUSLY.

@Shalmi- I did miss you :) You know, when I am old and retired, I will read only Bengali books, learn to stitch, and travel like crazy.


@Upasana- An emo called Takun? How dare he indulge in stereotyping.

@Sroyon- Quizzer Bloggers make the world a happier place. I'm guessing you quiz?

Sroyon said...

@Anushka: Used to, in school. Now I suck at it.

D'Evil Sam said...

I don't mind Bangla getting the was a pain in the arse anyways and I'm not saying that 'cos I passed the damn subject only about twice in my life. The fuss over Nilkanto's attire and Chanakya's soliloquy in a shoshan was a little too much for my little Greene filled head.

Trust the Americans to come up with the silliest things. They spent millions on making a pen that could write in outer space and then the Russians said SCREW YOU and sent Gagarin up there with a pencil :D

JD said...

Observation from a place where there's people from all over the place - Most people are one of two extremes. They either stick entirely to their vernacular language, stick to only their language and the people who speak it or they talk English and English only, and totally dissociate themselves from the language. I realize I might be generalizing a wee bit more than what's good, but it's just one of those things that get to you.

And I've always been fascinated by the insane love Bengali people have for the arts in general. It's quite the happy feeling to read passionate writing about Bengali poetry!

Arse Poetica. said...

One post I cannot agree with. Most teachers of Bengali do not know where/how to place bengali literature in its context. Btw Jibanananda Das was modernist, and if banalata sen er romanticism was all that struck you then the way that jibanananda uses language so so differently from his predecessors was obviously not dwelt upon.

anyway, bangla lit is a passion of mine and i had great teachers in school also...perhaps the reason why a "loreto lalito lolona" like me could give up the chholona and embrace the language.

Anonymous said...

I truly believe that we have reached the point where technology has become one with our lives, and I am fairly confident when I say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as the price of memory falls, the possibility of copying our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could experience in my lifetime.

(Posted using KU2 for R4i Nintendo DS.)