The English speaking Tamils

I was at the parlour yesterday to get my son’s haircut and there was another mom-son duo already waiting, the mom fiddling with her S3 (maybe S4, I am no good at mobile models) probably looking for that unique smiley on whatsapp and the boy, a 6-7 year old just idly kicking around next to her. Note this – no conversation at this point. Then it was the boy’s turn. So the hairdresser sat the boy in his chair and the mom went along and stood beside the boy. The boy to his mom: “I want Shah Rukh type hair, oh wait – no, I want Aamir Khan’s haircut.” Mom: “Oh Like in Dhoom. Ok He’ll do it that way” (smiles at the hairdresser who pretends not to notice) Boy: “Mom, I want my hair to be gelled and spiked.” Mom:  “You are only 6 and you want it to be spiked. That’s not appropriate. I can’t allow that” Boy (whines): “But mom, that’s how I want it. You said I could choose my hair-style…” There was more but I couldn’t stand to listen. Without the audience, the mother would have probably not replied at all or just said “Nothing doing, keep quiet”. But with people around, they continued this fully English BBC conversation throughout the time the boy got his hair cut and quite loudly making sure everyone around approved of their English speaking abilities. This is in Chennai and I can safely say they are not British. Chances are they are tamil. I won’t blame the kid. I won’t blame any of the kids who go through these English-speaking performances. Lately in malls, restaurants and schools I see more and more moms and dads talk to their children in English and English only. And especially when there are people around. I can get beaten for this – but I feel housewives do this much more than working moms. You see super-singer daily, eat puliyodharai for lunch, go out to aapa kadai and saravana bhavan, watch “Naduvula konjam Pakkatha Kaanum”, are Kamal Hasan’s fan but cannot speak Tamil? Sowcarpet Sethjis speak Tamil. Our Telugu neighbours speak fluent Tamil. The pretty bharatnatyam learning American girl in the next street who cycles to Kalakshetra, speaks Tamil. Kushboo speaks Tamil. Shah Rukh Khan speaks konjam konjam Tamil. But Tamil-born Tamil mom of Tamil child in Tamil Nadu doesn’t speak Tamil to her...
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