Talking the local language should be a marketing strategy to reach a wider audience. Rather the major strategy is to reach the high-class-educated-English-speaking-and-reading audience. And most of the shops have names in English. With foreign brands making it big and making big money, the local language is in the recesses of our consciousness. Honestly, it is rather weird to have foreign names in Marathi. That said it is no excuse for demeaning the Marathi manoos, as many of Marathi-lovers would say. The Marathi manoos is, after all, the all prevailing part of the cosmopolitan city of Amchi Mumbai.
I too am Marathi and I am proud of my language, my culture, my Gods and my land. I am also proud of being a part of the biggest democracy in the world where I can exercise my rights – to freedom of speech, freedom of talking in a language I choose to, of existence, of earning a livelihood, of living where I fancy.
Being a Marathi, I happy when my friends from other states speak some words in Marathi. I laugh at their mispronunciations and I secretly feel special for my language and its beauty. Then my pride should extend as now all the signboards, shops, restaurants, multiplexes, etc. are being re-named in Marathi. A affirmation of the all-prevailing existence of the Marathi-manoos. But I am neither proud, nor happy, when some extremist wakes up one morning and passes comments and threatens the citizens of a democracy. When he keeps the necessity of communicate in a certain language foremost before the right to live.
We are a people’s country and no one can tell us to talk, write or breathe in a certain language.
I wonder what will these extremists feel if they have no land, no means of earning a livelihood and when they see their children starve. Will they, then understand why people migrate?
It is easy to pass comments, gather some lathi-charging-jobless-youth and break things. It is more difficult to build things, build houses, build lives. Many Marathi-speaking-Marathi-breathing-Marathi-manoos will agree with me while many others will charge at me and say how can I be sympathetic towards these 'others'.
Living under fear, is no way of living. Force is no way of making people understand the importance of a language, a culture, a way of living and not a way of keeping the language alive by causing harm to other people. We all should understand that as much as we condemn the extremists who terrorised the whole world with collapsing the twin towers, as much as we battle against terrorism in this very city; bowing under yet another kind of extremism sounds hypocritical. Convenient.
Don't you think?
Why are you changing shop-keepers?
Why bow in front of these people?
Why be cowards?
Do it because you feel it.
Do it because the law tells you to.
Not for fear of someone sitting on a high-chair and talking.
Definitely not for extremists.