English Vinglish

When it comes to writing in English, I am comfortable and capable of expressing my thoughts through words. I have a blog for god’s sake. When it comes to listening and understanding, I have watched enough serials, movies, documentaries, talk shows to be called as a freak. But when it comes to speaking English, well, I am destitute. I sound like that guy from call center in Jimmy Kimmel live. I stop after few words, take some time, and then continue with my Indian accent. Every time something like this happens, I ask myself, when I am able to read, write, understand, listen, why can’t I speak properly?

My attempts at bettering my accent have been flop. One day, when our teacher had left the class early, I came back to hostel and noticed that all the rooms around my room were locked. It was still class time. I thought that was the best chance to lock myself inside the room and try singing some English songs. I put on earphones and started listening to jay-z’s “faint” from collision course. Take a moment to laugh at my song selection, you have every right to do so. Instead of Bryan Adams or Enrique Iglesias, I chose a rapper. Dr. Sheldon Cooper couldn’t recognize him remember? While I was at it, I took my phone and recorded my singing. To my surprise, I was better than I thought. Beginner’s luck maybe. Later, when I tried Eminem’s “no love” and listened back, I laughed and laughed at my accent. I had just raped the greatest verse of all time. 

And again, a month later, with just 3 days left for our first interview, me and my friend Shiva, realized how poor we speak English. We hadn’t given it much thought because we don’t normally bump into strangers asking us to tell him about ourselves. But this person, who is going to take my interview, will surely decide on the basis of how good I speak English. So we decided to speak English for the next three days so that we don’t miss a chance of grabbing a job at that good paying company. “Let’s speak English!” I said followed by a fist bump failure.

Then there was ten minutes of silence. Not because we had nothing to say but we waited for someone to start the conversation. Inside we were thinking in our mother tongue of course. Then I broke the silence and said “let’s move to dining hall”. We gave each other an awkward look and started walking. When we came outside I asked Shiva if he had seen darshan anywhere. A guy passed past us and kept looking at us till he was inches away from bumping into a wall. Good luck with concussion buddy, I thought. He felt this strange. People don’t walk around corridors speaking English in our hostel.

Being a great fan of sitcoms, I was humdumming Shiva by suggesting some of the best which I surely know he will never watch. This discussion was obviously going on in English because we had made a pact rite? I could bear one guy staring at me but it became intolerable when others in the mess started looking at us. It felt weird. That was the answer to my earlier question. I cannot speak proper English because people around me don’t speak in English with each other and when someone does, they either make fun of him or simply stare clueless. Trust me, it is difficult to ignore all those faces.

I have a goal. After I am out of this present environment, one day, I will go to Australia and master myself with whatever it takes to get Michael Clark’s accent. 

     

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9 thoughts on “English Vinglish

  1. miusho

    You can read and write perfectly, but the moment you open your mouth.. Took me 2 years to even try and speak English out of fear I’d sound like a moron..

    Reply
      1. miusho

        I sound a lot less like a moron these days, but I still feel like I have a lingering accent. It might be all just in my head though. 😉

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