Despite a marked preference for all films superhero, I haven’t seen The Amazing Spiderman yet. This is because I was supposed to see it with a young gent, whose company I find I no longer particularly desire.
At this point, I imagine my old friends are clutching at their bosoms dramatically, gleefully yipping, “Rimi changed her mind about going out? Surely notte!!! How utterly incredible! Really?”.
Bloody clowns. Never have old friends, is my advice to you.
Anyway, so there’s this young g., perfectly lovely, proportions quite pleasing, speaks softly with a lightly spiced London accent… so why is my affection waning? It’s waning, because English with a hint of cinnamon is all he speaks.
Now, had he been English born and bred — or a foreigner of any description other than Bangladeshi — this monolingual connection would have been fine by me. If, under those circs, he managed to so much as shriek “Haraaami!” after an auto-driver, I would have stood up and applauded loudly, and told everyone what a genius he was. But though legally English-born (but London bred — he tells me there’s significant difference, depending on which part of London did the breeding), ethnically, our hero is Bengali. He tries to play the cool ‘local boy’ with me — just another urban middle-class man with a nine-to-five grind, drifting through the crowded streets in search of Love, Meaning, and other garden-variety romcom conceits — but fails the very first test of such an identity: comfortable multilingualism, in at least three languages.
His English is fine, of course. Though he does look at me strangely when I say so-and-so’s eating my head. Hindi, well. Apart from instructions to taxi drivers, our man doesn’t speak Hindi at all. Explaining the nudge-nudge wit of Bollywood lyrics to him is a nightmare. But given his geocultural upbringing, I’d have overlooked this. I do not, after all, speak Swahili. And anyway, Hindi’s not my special darling. I much prefer the old, slightly Persian-flavoured ‘Hindustani’. But what I find nearly impossible to reconcile with is his stilted Bangla. Despite a lifetime with Bengali parents, and a decade in this city. A man who misses cues in his mother tongue — from winky little asides to the poignance of the daily mundane — is not, I’ve discovered, a man who is very attractive to me.
So… yes. I’ve lost interest in a perfectly all right man because he speaks just one languge well. This problem would disappear if he only conceded that linguistically, he’s really an Anglophone Westerner. My brain would arrange itself into a more comfortable pattern around him then. But out of a misguided notion of finding common ground with me, he insists on telling me he’s just as Bengali as I am.
Poor boy. He doesn’t understand that to be as Bengali as me, he first has to be fluent in butchered Hindi.