My accent envy showed itself up in other, more subtle ways. There is a phrase for people like me, I had learned a few years ago, when, in my first year of medical school, some in the senior class seemed to take offence at my relative inability to speak in Kannada, as opposed to English. What a remarkable epithet! I envied people like my friend Kamath, who spoke English fluently and unashamedly in an unaffected accent, and also spoke his mother tongue, Tulu with equal felicity.
The details of the party themselves are the subject of another column, but what struck me was the accent of the other Indian guy there, Biju, who like me had an itinerant life. He had spent his early childhood in Nigeria, then India for ten years, and after that had been in the US for five years. Although I sometimes struggled with the use of an accent, feeling vaguely guilty about trying to speak slower for my American friends, and embarrassed that I was speaking in a different accent to my friends from home, and possibly — and I was not even sure here — in a slightly different accent and rhythm with my parents, Biju demonstrated an entirely different approach.
When he spoke with me, he did so in urban, Indian accented English, with all the familiarity of my friends at home.
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This place any good? He had demonstrated a simple truth, that accents are languages and just as you might switch languages while speaking with people from different countries if you were fluent in several languages , you can also legitimately switch accents. When you, without embarrassment, switch accents in order to facilitate communication, then that is far more authentic than changing your accent permanently. I went to a pub recently after a long hiatus, and they were playing the same songs that I got drunk to in my turbulent adolescent years in pubs all along MG Road.
He shrugged and smiled enigmatically.
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I contemplated the possibility that a compilation of these songs had been handed down from pub owner to pub owner, that these songs were not really popular with the public. But I heard the songs again at another establishment on another occasion, and then again at a karaoke night in another restaurant recently, where the most popular songs were these same old favourites. Of all the rock and pop songs ever recorded in the western world — and who knows how many there are? Must be all the Archie comics we read.
Oh God, I have started to pray recently, spare me… please spare me this song.
He had as much hair as I do see pic , but his sincerity and his passionate commitment to the song made me refrain from joking about it. These old rock songs, it might be argued, are the staple of classic rock playlists on radio stations all around the world. In other parts of the world, the Jay Z enthusiast is not down with Dire Straits, and the Lady Gaga fan thinks Deep Purple is a totally cool hair colouring choice.
But for the young Indian music fan, eclecticism is the norm.
So okay, the songs are still popular in Bangalore. In many cases, those old Bangalore cover bands were far better live acts than the original bands themselves. I have no evidence for such a radical statement of course, save for the anecdotal and empirical: But if the bands were stellar, the fans were no less committed to the music. They had to be, by natural selection, the most enthusiastic of listeners. Save a few music stores on Brigade Road, and a few stores in that egregiously named paradise of cheap imports and pirated goods, the Burma Bazaar, there was no western music to be had anywhere.
It took real sweat to source and to own music, pirated cassettes and bootlegs and gifts from visiting relatives from the US copied late into the night on a twin cassette deck, in real time. The revolution was not televised, but it sure as hell was recorded and distributed. And if you ever made a mix tape for someone, you were a part of the process. Bangalore had the perfect storm — local bands that covered the greatest western rock songs with a rabid ferocity, supported by a small but intensely dedicated tribe of fans. And so, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it came to be that these songs became a soundtrack of our generation, and then the soundtrack for this city.
Is that too much to ask? What is common to a Rabbi and dating? This ultra fast form of dating popularised in the s by Sex and the City and other TV shows in the US was devised by a Rabbi of an ultra orthodox Jewish community, as a way to get Jewish singles to meet.
I first heard about speed dating as a single guy in my late twenties in Illinois. I thought the whole thing was for losers, and even though I went dateless on many a weekend night, the loneliness was preferable to the ignominy of attending such events. Speed dating, as far as I was concerned, was for men and women who were socially challenged, unable to meet and to speak to people in the real world. I think that was the general perception back then. Even those who went to speed dating events seemed embarrassed by it, indulging in it almost furtively. Fast forward a decade and I now live in Bangalore, a city that has morphed from the small town it was when I left 14 years ago into a cosmopolitan chaotic dizzyingly diverse and energetic hub of activity.
Ten years back in Bangalore, dating was uncommon, speedy or slow, but now of course, times have changed. Speed dating has come to Bangalore and is here to stay. She described the event, conducted in the now well known format. I asked her if two minutes was enough time to decide if she liked someone or not. As I spoke to her, I was aware that in attending this speed dating event, and in choosing her dates, she was exercising a level of autonomy that would not have been possible in the old India.
But in the new India, the confident and independent single Indian woman is exercising her right of choice. And this should not be surprising at all, because after all, the original speed dating was not invented by a Rabbi. It was an accepted practice in some segments of Indian society centuries, maybe thousands of years ago. We just called it a different name — swayamvar. But let me remind you that the process was a noble celebration of female emancipation and autonomy. After several tests and examinations and trials, the bride would garland the best amongst the suitors and, it was hoped, they would live happily ever after.
Once I understood speed dating in the framework of female emancipation, in the light of our own cultural heritage, I changed my mind. Speed dating is just one more example of an evolving, emancipated society. Thankfully for the guys though, this time it is more egalitarian, more equal — the number of men and women are equal and therefore, theoretically at least, kinder on the men than the original version. But does speed dating really work? Not according to the research. Login using your account. Though chicago's a travel companion, voted we promise not to do it in london live now!
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