Forgive me if this post is a bit of a mish mash of ideas and tends to be all over the place. However, given the political and social realities of the times in which we all live, I could not help making a few observations today, in a way interconnected, in others totally disconnected. As a language instructor at the Goethe Institute, I have the opportunity to participate in a lot of cultural and academic events. Today is the inauguration ceremony of one such conference. The evening started with the who’s who of the institute and the consulate – mostly Germans – lighting the ceremonial lamp. Normally I would not think twice about it, but in this day and era of extreme polarization, based to a large extent on religious and cultural differences, I could not help notice a nice, warm feeling spreading inside with the light emanating from those lamps. Christmas is celebrated with much gusto at the institute – it is as German as it can get in an Indian context. Onam is celebrated with huge flower rangolis and a feast on banana leaves, Diwali is also celebrated with rangolis, staff turning up in their festive best ….. it can’t get more “Multi-kulti” (as the Germans would call it) than this. What a wonderful feeling. I couldn’t help thinking – no sensible person would or could object to being part of any celebration, no matter which culture or religion they are a part of. Such times really take me back to my younger days when this was the “normal” – or to put it in today’s lingo, this was the “old normal”. What a stark contrast this is to the ‘not our culture’ attitude which is so all-pervasive in our society today! It would be hypocritical to say that a certain degree of resentment does not creep in, under circumstances when one feels that one section of society is being appeased at the cost of others. This, however, is more of a reaction to a political situation than any deep rooted hostility to other cultures/religions. From there, it is not a particularly huge leap to talk of language chauvinism. Just the other day, I saw a tweet in the German language, put out by an ex-colleague. It was political in nature. Needless to say, there was an instant response to his tweet, demanding to know what “kind of language” this was. Another time there was a disparaging remark because of his profession and his community – he is flowing against the tide and so some people of his own community really gun for him (figuratively speaking, so far, thank God!!!) The never-ending discord over regional languages and national language is one more issue in question. “Why should we accept any other language other than our regional language” was another argument at the centre of a fight between a courier and the security staff at the gate of a housing complex. So much so that it went live on Facebook, with a regional cultural group being involved. At this rate all of us who can only speak 2 or 3 regional and/or national languages have only two options – learn all the regional and official languages of our country or don’t travel outside the state. When will people learn that language is a means of communication, a doorway to the world, its peoples and cultures and that such chauvinism will shut all doors to any possibility of enriching one’s existence – damn, you can’t even curse any person in a language they understand!!!!! If someone is so dumb as not to be able to learn your language, you’d rather not communicate with that person, rather than speak he/she can understand? When did language become a divisive factor instead of a uniting one? God give us sense!!!