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Archive for March, 2008

Dreaming in Hmar, Writing in English

Barkha Dutt, one of India’s best journalists and MD of NDTV once wrote that she speaks Hindi and English, but dreams in English. I basically speak English and Hmar but still dream in Hmar. My children also speak English and Hmar but they dream in English.

As human beings we all need to belong. As we grow up we learn and unconsciously imbibe values from our parents, friends and the society that we grow up in. The values and traits we imbibe as children remain with us for life. We may ultimately live in a society very much different from the one we grew up in, but the ideals and values imbibed as children remain with us. They are imprinted in our subconscious, for life, for better or for worse. This is the reason that we dream in the language that we dream in. Because our dreams reveal our real and true personality. We cannot control our dreams – they come unbidden and show us what we really are deep down inside.

We are defined by the language that we dream in because the language of our dreams is the basis of what or who we are. The new Zohnathlak generation, especially those who have grown up away from home (and there are quite a few now), dream in a language other than their mother-tongue. They may speak Hmar/Mizo or whatever language they use at home, but they now dream in an alien language. Most probably it is English, or maybe even Hindi for those who have grown up in places like Delhi.

Does this mean that our new generation, especially those who now dream in a foreign language, are less Hmar or Mizo or any of the communities that make up the greater Zohnathlak community? If so, what are the implications for our society? What exactly do we mean by being a Hmar or Mizo anyway? Is it solely the ability to speak the language? What exactly do some, especially in Mizoram, mean by classifying people as Mizo-1, Mizo-2 and so on? Is being Hmar or Mizo by blood enough? Considering the times we are now living in, with many of our young generation now living and working away from home, these are relevant questions that, I think, we will have to seriously ask ourselves sooner or later.     

That who we are as a person and a human being is shaped by the values and experiences imbibed during our formative childhood years from our parents, friends or society in general, is amply demonstrated by the world that our subconscious minds return to in our dreams. I have had the privilege of living and working in as many as three continents and more than half my life has been spent in societies as different as can be from the world I grew up in. But when I dream, I am mostly always back in the world of my childhood, with old friends many of whom I haven’t met for the past 10/20 years. Old loves and dreams from my youth and childhood remain ever present in my subconscious.

Physically, I may be living as far away as is possible from my society and home, but mentally and in my dreams I have never left home. That is why I have my doubts that my children will ever be Hmars in the same way that I am a Hmar. Because they dream in English, and the world of their dreams is so far removed from my world that I sometimes seriously doubt that I have a place in that world. Though I still think that I somehow still fit into their scheme of things, I know that the reality could be quite the opposite and I may have to brace myself for some shock in the future.

Just some stray thoughts running through my mind as I sit in front of my computer listening to Remkimi Cherput telling me about her ‘perkhuang zaitin thiam’ this Sunday evening.

Tokyo 30 March 2008  

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(Not) Desperately Seeking Sakura

Finally, sakura (cherry blossom) season is here. Now that they are in bloom, there simply is no avoiding them. From the newspapers to television and anywhere you look, they are omnipresent. And beautiful. Here are a few photos I took today. If only I knew how to upload them properly…….

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The American Elections, Ed Shultz and Me

Driving home from office today, I listened to someone making a fool of himself and, I must admit, I took some vicarious pleasure in it. The person was Ed Shultz, an American radio talk show host, whose show I’ve been tuning into for the past two weeks every evening as I drive home from office. I had just read of Hillary winning in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island on the web before closing down for the day when I switched on my car radio and there was good ole Ed going on and on about how Obama would win Texas and Ohio, giving a thousand and one reasons. I don’t remember his exact words, but I clearly remember him saying he would ‘eat a thousand crows’ if Obama lost in these states. Obviously, the ‘live’ show I’ve been tuned into for the past two weeks is a recorded one. But, I must admit, Ed working himself up into a nice lather berating the Clinton campaign brought a whole new perspective to sayings like some people ‘tying their own noose’ or ‘putting one’s foot into one’s mouth’.

Listening to someone ‘predicting’ the (opposite) outcome of something when that someone is the only one who doesn’t know the outcome was a strange, eerie experience. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s show and hearing how he will justify his confident ‘predictions’. Though I doubt he’ll be able to talk properly if he goes through with his promise to eat a thousand crows if Obama lost in these states! But I think I already know what he’ll say. One point he will be driving again and again is how Obama is eventually going to win the nomination anyway because the math just isn’t right for Hillary.

But, whatever his fault, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to Ed these past few days. His confidence in and obvious admiration (bordering on hero-worship) for Obama, which he doesn’t hide at all, is itself admirable. Makes me wish I had an admirer like that 🙂 – though it would be a bit scary. From his show I’ve learned the difference between a ‘Clintonite’ and a ‘Clintonista’. The former is a loyal and faithful follower and believer in all that Hillary stands for and who would vote for her, no matter what, but still someone you can reason with. The latter, on the other hand, is an extremist version – a rabid and obsessive follower unwilling to even listen to anything remotely critical of Hillary and willing to practically kill anyone saying as much as a word against her. In other words, if the equivalent terms existed in the Obama camp, Ed would be an ‘Obamista’.

But whatever happens and whoever ultimately wins, it looks like I’m stuck with Ed till Election Day dawns in America for the simple reason that his show is the only English station I can catch on my car radio. Not that I’m against Obama or for him nor, for that matter, for or against Hillary or McCain or whoever. But I think I’ve become addicted to this fast-talkin’ dude who’s ever ready to take on any and all Clintonistas in the great tamasha that is the American Election. I just love the way he spars with his callers and mockingly puts down ‘Clintonista’ callers while at the same time fully agreeing with and prodding on his fellow ‘Obamista’ callers. I must also confess that the opening guitar riffs of Guns N Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine” that open his show is as big a reason as any to look forward to 6pm every day. That, and the end of another day in office.

Tokyo 5 March 2008

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