When I was young, children were encouraged to read newspapers and memorise grammar rules to help us improve our language skills, both in English and Hindi. Throughout most of my schooling, I studied in schools run by Christian missionaries, where our principals and teachers frowned at us if we dared to mix Hindi while speaking English. I know of friends and cousins who have been on the receiving end of many knuckle raps for ‘corrupting’ the language in this way. But over the last week, two things have showed me how much things have changed here.
There’s a complete acceptance of a new language of sorts that's in use across much of urban India now. It's called ‘Hinglish,’ and is a happy fusion of Hindi and English that’s become prevalent even in office settings, news publications and books.
A few days ago, I interviewed Anuja Chauha, a young author of breezy, Indian literature written in English. Her first book was a bestseller. And, her second book, Battle for Bittora, was released last month. It’s a funny, racy account of two political debutants falling in love amidst the hurly-burly of their election in a small constituency in northern India. Well, Chauhan's prose is peppered with Hinglish jokes and references that she doesn't take time to explain. We're expected to know what she's talking about.
Perhaps even more surprising, there have been rumours that a leading Hindi news channel plans to launch a Hinglish news channel. I'll definitely be looking out for more on this interesting suggestion.