Arguably one of the best things about living in Mumbai as a Canadian expat is the fact that English is an official language here. Formal documents and most other print need not be decoded and is grammatically correct. But for the most part, everyday conversation is carried out in Hindi. That includes sending out WhatsApp messages, face-to-face dialogue, and local television programming.
Why the fake accent?
One thing I’ve observed is that sometimes Indians will put on a fake British or American accent when speaking to me. Why? Do they do it in an effort to impress me? Or do they do it to make me feel more welcome? Maybe they’re afraid I won’t understand them if they speak in their regular accents and intonations. Do Indians believe that the ability to speak English is a sign of higher education, and therefore higher status? What about in places like Kerala, where the literacy rate is 100%, but it’s rare to find anyone who speaks Hindi, let alone English?
Those who have left the country for school or work always make sure to mention it, too. Popular conversation starters include “When I went to school in London …”, or “When I worked in San Francisco …” Does it automatically make someone cool to have spent some time abroad and pick up a different accent along the way?
Indians are super proud of their culture. They love showing off their style of dress, or exposing you to a variety of foods. Sharing stories from all sorts of religious texts could very well be one of their favourite pastimes. Why, then, do they dissociate themselves from their homeland by putting on an accent?
Are modern Indians more colonized than they like to admit?
And if they are, do us Westerners have any right to judge them for not being “woke” enough? After all, they grow up watching their parents asking us for photos as if we were celebrities in their country.
PS – This #MondayMusings is super late but in my defense I couldn’t upload any images due to technical issues with my site!!! *Canadian voice* Sorry!
C R E D I T S
Photography: Arjun Soni @dirtypixels21